In honor of National Poetry Month, Kojo explores new collections by local poets and finds out how poetry impacts our lives amid social, political and cultural upheaval.
It’s your turn to weigh in on the week’s news. The chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security begins controversial hearings on American Muslims. At city hall, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray faces more scrutiny over his inner circle. And a legislative maneuver strips Wisconsin’s unions of their collective bargaining rights. Is this the end of the unions’ fight? Call us about these issues, our wet weather, or anything else on your mind.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. It's your turn. Later in the broadcast, we will be talking about what to expect from your bank in general terms. And more specific terms, the fight going on between retailers and banks over debit card fees. But right now, your turn, 800-433-8850. Well, the long-awaited, sometimes feared, sometimes welcomed hearings have begun. Congressman Peter King of New York having hearings on what he calls the extent of the radicalization of Muslim Americans. If you'd like to venture your opinions on whether those hearings should be held at all, call us now, 800-433-8850.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIIf you feel that, well, there's nothing wrong with the hearings but the manner in which they were called and some of the earliest statements by Congressman King could lead people to believe that this is an effort to harass the nation's Muslims or that that will ultimately be the result of this all, you can call us. If, on the other hand, you believe that there is something useful to be learned if indeed there are organizations that are trying to use religion, the religion of Islam, to radicalize members in the United States for purposes of carrying out the acts of terrorism and if these hearings can be used to highlight that, if these hearings can be used to help that and you feel that they are properly held. If you feel that not paying attention to these attempts to radicalize Muslims in the United States is like sticking our heads in the sand, 800-433-8850 is the number to call.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIAnd Republicans in the state of Wisconsin have managed in what some would characterize as a slight of hand move to pass a measure removing the right of public employees to collectively bargain. Democratic state senators who had left the state in order not to participate in vote were apparently taken by surprise as were the demonstrators who were demonstrating against the measure at the Capitol. They are all very upset at this point. What do you think? Former D.C. mayor, Adrian Fenti, went on "Morning Joe" yesterday morning to support Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, saying that public managers should be the ones who should determine the salaries and working conditions of their employees because collective bargaining simply gets in the way of that. What do you think? 800-433-8850 is the number to call.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIAnd should the United States be involved in creating a no-fly zone over Libya? No-fly zone sounds innocent enough, but Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has pointed out that a no-fly zone begins with a bombing attack on the Libyan air force in order to cripple that air force, in order to enforce the no-fly zone. So, it would mean a military strike in Libya, which for some people would mean getting involved in another Mideast African country in which we don't know what the result is likely to be and the possibility of getting bogged down is great. But on the other hand, this is a situation in which the opponents of the Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi are asking for this. They are saying this is the only way that he can be brought down. This is the only way that democracy can come to Libya. What is your thinking? Should the U.S. stay out of it in that regard? 800-433-8850. We start with Anne in Silver Spring, Maryland. Anne, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
ANNEHi, Kojo, thank you for taking my call. I appreciate your show. I'm just calling to let you know that I think that Peter King's hearings are not only misguided, his, quote, "this desire to look into radicalization," into really a witch hunt targeting American Muslims. And it's led to, I believe, greater fear and suspicion about our Muslim neighbors. The hate crimes that...
NNAMDIYou said he's cloaked it. But you said, he -- I guess you mean he's turned it into a witch hunt. What are the indications that it is a witch hunt?
ANNEWell, the way in which he is actually not looking at and inviting individuals who are experts, but rather seeking commentary and speculation, not based in fact about radicalizations that impacts the security of our entire country regardless of whether the perpetrators of that, you know, the violence are neo-Nazi supremacists or, you know, individuals who are Muslim, who are claiming to be Muslim or individuals who are unstable and who, you know, commit tragic and horrendous crimes like what we witnessed in Arizona. And instead the way in which he's made comments, you know, in preparation for this hearing, saying that there are too many mosques in America and that 80 percent of the mosques are radical. I mean, but not willing to backup any of that.
NNAMDIWell, he has backed off of the latter statement that 80 percent of the leaders of mosques are radical because apparently he has been presented with evidence to the contrary.
ANNEThat's right. But I think that that evidence that he has been presented with hasn't shifted his focus or his tone. I think he's backing off from that particular fact. There have been so many opportunities, I think, for him and the appeals from Democratic leaders willing to stand up and say, look, broaden this, like Representative Thompson did, saying make this -- we need a larger conversation about radicalization by focusing on a some, which is, you know, a religion.
NNAMDIWell, allow me to make the argument of people who are not Congressman Peter King, but who believe that some form of hearings focusing on attempts to radicalize Muslim in the United States be the focus of hearings, rather than overall radicalism. Those people would argue that the biggest security threat facing the United States right now is the threat from terrorism on behalf of so-called radical Islam. Would you agree or do you think that the biggest security threat facing the country is from a broader array of radical organizations?
ANNEI think I would disagree. And I think the numbers point to it. There is a recent report from the Triangle Center on Counterterrorism that specifically pointed to the fact that the majority of attacks of radicalization and terrorist attacks that we have been facing as a country have been perpetrated not by Muslims and I think, again, you know, we tend to look or exceptions in the rule. The reality is, Kojo, is that the fear about Islam, the lack of understanding about Islam in our country is one that is feeding with willingness to disregard the facts that actually would challenge the notion that we should just squarely be focusing on one particular aspect of radicalization that leads to violence. I think we should be looking at radicalization that, you know, leads to violence in all of its forms. And I think holding a congressional hearing, frankly, is not an appropriate activity for congressional hearing when it's focusing specifically, broadly on a religion. It's -- I mean, we're not fighting about...
NNAMDIOkay, okay. We do have other callers who'd like to get in. But I'd like to raise one more issue with you that others will say, what, you didn't notice 9/11? The largest terrorist attack in the U.S. history.
ANNEOf course, of course, of course. I mean, without a doubt, the, you know, the horrific violence and the tragic attacks on 9/11, you know, perpetrated from, you know, by al-Qaeda which is, you know, in my opinion, a cult that doesn't in any way Islam or any religion in the same way that I wouldn't say that David Koresh represents Christianity or, you know, that the Ku Klux Klan represents Christianity. I think that we have to recognize that all religions are subject to being manipulated by those with a political agenda.
NNAMDIOkay. Now, I do have to move on, Anne, because there are so many other people who would like to get in on the conversation. Allow me to go Al in Reston, Va. Al, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
ALHi, Kojo, thanks for taking my call.
ALI agree that we do need hearings on this issue. My concern is some of the things that Congressman King has come out with, especially the story the Times ran -- New York Times ran that we support...
NNAMDIOh, well, the New York Times was today. The Washington Post ran a story yesterday on Peter King's support for and involvement with the Irish Republican Army at a time when the IRA was targeting civilians for terrorist attacks.
ALYes, exactly. And my concern is he is so dismissive of that comparison, that it's different, that he supports the United States and not Ireland. I just -- it's very concerning to me that he seems to be very dismissive of any arguments at all. And I was actually very shocked by that revelation of his support for that. I mean, it's clearly a terrorist organization. I would -- I will agree that probably the circumstances can't be exactly compared, but clearly they were labeled a terrorist organization. And that just concerns me that with a person like that running the hearings, that they're not going to be fair and impartial.
NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much for your call. I should point out that one of the people who testified before the hearing this morning was Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota who is the only Muslim in the U.S. House of Representatives. He did not particularly like the manner in which the hearings had been called. But he said he thought it was an important opportunity to make the case that the overwhelming majority of Muslims in the United States are indeed patriotic Americans and told a story of Muslim paramedic this morning dying that reduced Congressman Ellison himself to tears. But thank you very much for your call, Al. We move on now to Douglas in Northern Virginia. Douglas, you're on the air. Go ahead please.
DOUGLASOh, yes, hello. Thank you for taking my call.
DOUGLASIt's more of a comment, not particularly about the hearings but more about the idea that the Obama administration on stepping back from making the decision of being the one to implement the no-fly zone, but allowing another country to take the lead and the proponents to that saying that it looks weak for the administration when I think it's actually the opposite. You know, especially with what happened in Iraq some years ago with us going in after 9/11, us getting back and being a support mechanism but allowing other countries to take the lead. And I think it takes a lot of courage on the Obama administration to do that, not to be the initial proponent of the no-fly zone.
NNAMDIBut do you think if it is some sanction by some aspects of the international community in general or the United Nations Security Council in particular that the U.S. should therefore go ahead?
DOUGLASYou know, I think that the -- sorry, sorry.
NNAMDIWell, I'm raising that in terms of -- in the context of the fact that we are already in Afghanistan and in and having withdrawn in large measure from Iraq and the concern of some people that, yes, it could start that way but it ends up with you getting bogged down.
DOUGLASSure. And definitely I think that it would be hard to certainly stay out of it. But I think that there's a lot of interest at stake that would involve us not getting involved on a military scale.
NNAMDIOkay, thank you very much for your call, Douglas. We move on now to Betty in Silver Spring, Md. Hi, Betty, you're on the air. It's your turn.
BETTYHi. Kojo, I'm just wondering, the no-fly zone over Libya, who's going to pay for that? You know, we've had two wars and this could, you know, be a third. We have no war pacts. You know, some people of this country are really, they don't have any more money.
NNAMDIWell, let me make the other side of that argument to you. There are people, innocent people dying in Libya apparently by the thousands at this point. There have been more than 3,000 deaths so far. They are seeking democracy and they are appealing to the world's largest democratic countries for assistance. Do you simply say to them, sorry, can't help you. It's a civil war.
BETTYActually, you know, it's not that I don't have compassion for them, I do. I just think that, you know, we just -- we don't have the money, losing our homes, we're not eating ourselves, our children are not being educated, our rights are being taken away and, you know, you know, I do understand. I do. I just say that we don't have any more money to pay for this.
BETTYSo if it's going to happen, they're going to have to get some money, some place.
NNAMDIOKAY. Thank you very much. It should not be on the U.S. taxpayer says Betty. What say you, it's your turn, 800-433-8850. Here is Suzanne in McLean, Va. Hi, Suzanne.
NNAMDIYep, Suzanne, you're on the air.
SUZANNEHello. I wanted to say, I'm saddened with the level of discussion on both issues. For example, the hearing in the senate or whether U.S. should get involved in Libya. Because the most of the discussion is on the details. Well, what about the principals? Like, the hearing in the senate, what about the principal that we are supposed to be guaranteed? Certain (word?) rights and human rights. It is (word?) on our belief in a religion or even promoting certain ideology because they're supposed to have freedom of expression.
SUZANNEAnd just an (word?) ideology or does that mean that I should be condemned? According to what I believe, is the freedom of expression. And also the same thing with the Libya involvement. The fact that, whether we can pay for it or not or whether we can send more American men to die for it or not. The question is that, why should the United States be a country that goes to war in other countries which have not attacked America? This is the international law that we're breaking. And also we have to bring up again, the issue of oil.
SUZANNEWe know that in Libya, the oil is really important. And also it's a very important oil. Is a (word?) oil. It's an oil that caused 1/3 of what the Saudi-Arabian oil costs. And also the United States (unintelligible)...
NNAMDIWell, allow me to ask you. On the issue of oil, therefore you support the reluctance of the Obama administration to lead the way for any no-fly zone in Libya? That seems to...
SUZANNEThat's correct, yes.
NNAMDI...be what you're saying.
NNAMDIYes, and on the issue of the principal being violated in the hearings that are being conducted by Congressman King, I am not sure what principal is being violated. You say the principal of freedom of expression. You seem to be suggesting that if people feel that it is OKAY to indulge in their freedom of expression to advocate terrorism in the United States, then that's not necessary to be investigated?
SUZANNEI think, that even if that which is the extreme case because in this case (unintelligible)...
NNAMDIYes, I'm talking about the extreme cases of people who...
SUZANNEOKAY. The extreme case, yes, for example, if I write an article or I go out and say, like, Reverend Wright in the church in Ohio that Obama used to attend.
SUZANNEOr even many leaders in America, Martin Luther King Jr. in his speech in Vietnam, they may condemn the United States government of many crimes, they may be correct or not but that's their opinion. And we should be able to express an opinion. If I express an opinion that I believe that, for example, you know, there should be a movement which eventually over throw the American government because I believe we should have socialism. I shouldn't be condemned. That's an expression of opinion (unintelligible)...
NNAMDINo, but if you are living in an American city and you're expressing the opinion and making plans to kill American citizens, do you not believe that there should be some investigation about that?
SUZANNENo, if you make plans then, yes, you should be investigated.
SUZANNEAnd I should be investigated but not the whole community to which I belong.
SUZANNETo be brought into the senate.
SUZANNEYour (word?) should investigate me to see if I'm planning to kill people.
NNAMDIOKAY, thank you very much for your call. We do have to move on. We have one more and that would be Pierre in Centerville, Va. Pierre, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
PIERREHi you doing Mr. Kojo? I think at this point, Islam is in desperate need of reform in general. If you look at what is happening to religious minorities in Muslim countries, it's just absolutely devastating for being a Christian or being a Baha'i or being even a non-Sunni Muslim in a Muslim country like Egypt, for example, is so difficult. Being a Christian in Egypt is similar if not worse than being an African-American in the U.S. during the 1940s. The silence of modern Muslims in condemning attacks -- attacks against Christians, attacks against Baha'is...
NNAMDIBut, wait a minute, for one second, Pierre. When religious minorities who happen to be neither Muslim or Christian are repressed in other countries for one reason or another, people usually call for an end to the repression and the people who are carrying it out. They don't generally call for the entire religion to be reformed. You seem to be calling for the entire religion to be reformed which again, and this is what I think Muslims are afraid of, you seem to be suggesting that there is something fundamental in the religious principal of Islam itself that is leading to all of these principles. That is leading to all of these problems.
PIERREI'm afraid -- I think there is a problem with Muslim (unintelligible)...
NNAMDIAre you a Muslim? Have you studied the religion? Do you know it well enough to say that?
PIERREI think, I know enough to say that there is a problem with Muslim institutions right now.
NNAMDIAnd if there was somebody -- if presuming you were a Christian who says that, "Christianity needs to be reformed even though I am member of the Sikh faith. I am saying that Christianity needs to be reformed because of what Koresh did," would you agree with that person?
PIERREI would disagree.
NNAMDIWell, I'm afraid that's all time we have time for right now. But that's the kind of dialogue I'm trying to get people to be involved in, Pierre. So thank you very much for your call. And I'm afraid, as I said, we don't have any more time for calls in this segment. We're going to take a short break. When we come back, we will be talking about the fight over your debit card and other things. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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