Democracy Now! September 27, 2001

Program Title:
Democracy Now! September 27, 2001
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A GRIEVING FAMILY TELLS BUSH "NOT IN OUR SON'S NAME" Despite the Bush Administration's refusal to actually release evidence that might link Osama Bin Laden to the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, the mass media has lined up almost without exception in support of wide ranging military action against Afghanistan and perhaps other countries. In yesterday's Washington Post, for example, the opinion page featured two allegedly opposing op-ed pieces side by side. The first column called imminent US military action a "just struggle," warning that progressives must support war despite inevitable mistakes, restrictions on civil liberties and potentially unsavory alliances with murderous regimes. The second column charged that Pacifists are immoral, on the side of murderers, pro-fascist and "objectively pro-terrorist." This is what passes for debate on the question of war in the mass media. Almost lost in this media drumbeat is the growing number of families who have suffered terrible personal loss but oppose the Bush Administration's plans for military attacks against Afghanistan. Phyllis and Orlando Rodriguez (who is a professor at Fordham University) lost their son Gregory, aged 31, in the attack. He was the head of computer security for Cantor Fitzgerald. They wrote the New York Times and President Bush after the September 11 attacks with the message increasingly being voiced by victim's families: "Not in our son's name." Guest: Phyllis And Orlando Rodriguez THICH NAT HANH, PART 2 We continue now with a major address at the Riverside Church by Buddhist Peace Activist Thich Nhat Hanh. Thich Nhat Hanhis a Vietnamese Buddhist monk. During the US war in Vietnam, he worked tirelessly for reconciliation between North and South Vietnam. He championed a movement known as "engaged Buddhism," which intertwined traditional meditative practices with active nonviolent civil disobedience against the South Vietnamese Government and the US. Martin Luther King, Jr. nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967. Hanh's Buddhist delegation to the Paris peace talks resulted in accords between North Vietnam and the United States, but his pacifist efforts did not end with the war. He also helped organize rescue missions well into the 1970's for Vietnamese trying to escape from political oppression. He now lives in exile in a small community in France called Plum Village. Thich Nhat Hanh has written more than seventy-five books of prose, poetry, and prayers and continues to be banned from his native coun try of Vietnam. He spoke Tuesday night at the historic Riverside Church in Manhattan, where Martin Luther King first spoke out publicly against against the Vietnam War. The subject of his talk was "Embracing Anger." We pick up where he left off. Tape: Thich Nhat Hanh, speaking at the historic Riverside Church in Manhattan. SCAPEGOATING: THE WARTIME PATTERN? JERRY FALWELL AND PAT ROBERTSON ATTACK GAYS, FEMINISTS, AND PROGRESSIVES Two days after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, television evangelists Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, two of the most prominent voices of the religious right, said liberal civil liberties groups, feminists, homosexuals and abortion rights supporters bear partial responsibility for Tuesday's terrorist attacks because their actions have turned God's anger against America. On September 13, during one of his regular appearances on Pat Robertson's "The 700 Club," a TV show on the Christian Broadcasting Network, Jerry Falwell said, "And I fear, as Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense, said yesterday, that this is only the beginning. And with biological warfare available to these monsters; the Husseins, the Bin Ladens, the Arafats - what we saw on Tuesday, as terrible as it is, could be miniscule if, in fact - if, in fact - God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve." Tape: Jerry Falwell on Pat Robertson's "The 700 Club" As you can hear, Pat Robertson agreed with Falwell's statements throughou. Several days later, Falwell and Robertson apologized after a White house spokesperson called the remarks "inappropriate." Falwell admitted his statements were ill-timed, insensitive, and divisive at a time of national mourning. "I want to apologize to every American, including those I named," he said. Falwell said a White House spokesperson called him the day after he appeared on the show and told him the president disapproved. The outcry from commentators and social justice groups made a plea against scapegoating and blame, and a call for unity during a time of tragedy. But the Human Rights Campaign and other groups say that Falwell's comments reflect a larger nationwide pattern of scapegoating people of Middle Eastern origin or appearance. While these particular comments border on the ridiculous, they say, they may indicate the direction the country is moving--toward scapegoating ethnic groups and progressives. As we can see from Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's comments yesterday praising Western civilization as superior to the Islamic world, scapegoating takes many forms. We certainly don't have to look far to recall the dire consequences of scapegoating Jews, progressives, and artists during World War II. Guests: Sonia Ossorio, Vice President of public information for NOW NYC. David Smith, public relations officer, Human Rights Campaign [listen to the entire second hour] SECOND HOUR NEWS HEADLINES GUERRILLA PERFORMANCE AGAINST THE WAR IN TIMES SQUARE "Our Grief is not a cry for War!" - this was the statement that 70 artists and writers made in a guerilla performance at Times Square earlier this week. Guest: Ashton Applewhite, a writer with The Artist's Network of Refuse and Resist. Related link: Refuse and Resist THE WOMEN OF AFGHANISTAN: TERROR'S FIRST VICTIMS One thing that the international women's movement has demonstrated over the past few years is that the first victims of war are always women and children. Already, women have been the harshest victims of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Wherever the Taliban came to power, they banned women from working, prohibited women and girls from attending school, and forbid women from leaving their homes without being accompanied by a close male relative and wearing a head-to-toe burqa shroud. Women who violate Taliban decrees are beaten, imprisoned, or even killed. Women's groups on the ground in Afghanistan, like the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, have long worked to transform gender relations in Afghanistan. Three years ago, the Feminist Majority demanded that the U.S. government not recognize the Taliban government because of its treatment of women. Partly thanks to this pressure --a high profile campaign organized with a coalition of feminists-- the US government never recognized the Taliban government. Certainly, the Feminist Majority's campaign for Afghan women put the Taliban on the US radar for the first time. Although the US government has refused to acknowledge the Taliban for years, it is now the US that may wage war on the ravaged country. So the question becomes--what will happen to Afghan women now, as the US threatens retaliation on the Taliban government of Afghanistan? Guests: Eleanor Smeal, President, Feminist Majority Foundation. Sonali Kolhathar, Vice President, Afghan Women's Mission. WOMEN AND AFGHANISTAN CONTINUED The subjugation of women in extremist Islamic states like Afghanistan is carried out in the name of Islam, but it does not have much basis in the religion itself. In fact, when the religion of Islam was founded in the 7th century, it guaranteed women status in society, and offered them property and inheritance rights. The Islamic woman's body has become a battleground for religion, history, local culture and global politics. But the Taliban is hardly unique in its harsh treatment of women. In Saudi Arabia, one of the US's staunchest allies, women are not allowed to drive cars. They can't rent hotel rooms. They can't eat in a public place. Until conflicts tore Afghanistan apart, the country's constitution guaranteed basic rights to women and many devout Muslim women participated in public life. Half of the university students were women, and women made up 40 percent of the nation's doctors and 70 percent of its teachers. Women wore Islamic scarves covering their heads and long dresses, rather than the all-encompassing burqa. But when the loose group of Islamic militants called the mujahedin came to power in 1992, they suspended the constitution and imposed their extreme religious doctrines on the country. As the factions of the mujahedin battled each other for political supremacy, Afghan women lived under appalling conditions. They were regularly raped, abducted, sold into prostitution or killed. The fundamentalist Taliban -- many of whom were actually from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan -- came to power in 1996 in part because they promised to put an end to the chaos and anarchy. And the Taliban did halt the widespread rape and violence against the country's women. Unfortunately, they achieved this by essentially effacing women from society altogether, cloistering them behind the walls of their homes and underneath the veil. Guests: Fahima, grassroots Afghan activist, member of Afghan Solidarity. Nazi Etemadi, Afghan Women's Association of Southern California. ATTACKS AGAINST THE ASIAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY CONTINUE UNABATED ACROSS THE COUNTRY: THE SOUTH ASIAN COMMUNITY SPEAKS OUT The British newspaper the Guardian is reporting that US and British officials backtracked yesterday on threats to oust the ruling Taliban, after Pakistan threatened to withdraw its cooperation. Pakistan's foreign minister reminded the western allies of failed attempts to impose governments on Afghanistan, and said that any attempt to repeat the mistakes of the British and the Soviet Union "is a recipe for great suffering for the people of Afghanistan." Earlier in the week, the US announced the lifting of sanctions on Pakistan and India in an attempt to solidify the alliance. We are joined now by Aniruddha Das, who was the host of the Asia-Pacific forum on New York Pacifica station WBAI. He joins us now as co-host. Guest: Sin Yen Ling, Staff attorney with the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, responsible for handling the cases of racial bias attacks following since Sept 11. Salina Ali, member of SAYA, South Asian Youth Association. She is of Bangladeshi origin, now in the 12th grade at Richmond Hill High School, Queens.

Date Recorded on: 
September 27, 2001
Date Broadcast on: 
September 27, 2001
Item duration: 
118 min.
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WPFW; Amy Goodman, host. September 27, 2001
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