Kojo interviews WHUR's former general manager on how his technical experience informed his leadership, and how he turned one station into a network of six.
What has become an annual tradition of withdrawal of college commencement speakers in the face of student protests is in full swing. The U.S. joins the search for kidnapped Nigerian girls. And a European court ruling raises new questions about privacy online and the so-called ‘right to be forgotten.’ It’s your turn to join the conversation about these and other stories in the news.
- Sam Ford WJLA-TV Channel 7 reporter
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. You can start calling now, 800-433-8850. You set the agenda this hour by sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by shooting us a tweet, @kojoshow. You can discuss recent events in the news, broadcasts you have heard on WAMU 88.5, or anything else on your mind, 800-433-8850.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFirst, a lot of people didn't know it, but, in the early 1800s, some members of the so-called five civilized tribes of Native Americans owned black slaves. The slaves followed their Indian masters who, according to some accounts, were mostly rich Southerners with some Indian blood on the Trail of Tears March to Oklahoma and were freed at the end of the Civil War. Now a dispute between descendants of the freed slaves, and one of those tribes, the Cherokee Nation, has landed in a D.C. federal courtroom.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFor more than a century, the black descendants of the freedmen were granted full voting rights and citizenship in the Cherokee Nation until Cherokee leaders decided that only people whose ancestors were Cherokee by blood were true citizens. A court battle over citizenship for the freedmen's descendants now hinges on how a judge interprets a treaty the Cherokees signed at the end of the Civil War in 1866. Joining me by phone to discuss this is Sam Ford. He's a reporter with WJLA TV Channel 7. Sam Ford, good to talk to you.
MR. SAM FORDHey, Kojo. How are you?
NNAMDII am doing well, Sam. You're a plaintiff in the lawsuit asking the descendants of the Cherokee Freedmen be reinstated as citizens of the Cherokee Nation. Tell us about your family's history documented in a documentary you did on Channel 7 back in 1990 that people can see a part of on our website kojoshow.org. But go ahead, Sam.
FORDYeah well, you know, it was one of those things, kind of interesting, Kojo. I have always known that my family had a connection to the Cherokees. I didn't know exactly what it was, but I knew that, in the '60s, both of my parents got what -- and my grandmother -- what's called their Indian money. I don't know what it was, but the federal government would occasionally pay people off -- pay off the tribes for various things. And the -- my family were members of the Cherokee Tribe.
FORDHow this happened was really interesting. I was out in Oklahoma one time doing a story on the Cherokees. And I said to the chief, whose name was Ross Swimmer -- who was Ross Swimmer at that time -- I says, you know, my folks have always been connected to the Cherokees. I said, look in your roll book and see if you can see my people. And he looked in there, found my father's name, my grandmother's name. And he said, they're on the Freedman rolls. And we said, Freedman. What's Freedman? He said, well, the former slaves.
FORDAnd I remember the crew -- television crew was wrapping up their equipment. They looked over, and they said, you mean the Indians had slaves? And he said, well, we don't like to talk about it, but it's true. And that sort of started me, you know, finding out about this whole thing. And that's like -- that was that documentary you saw from 1990.
FORDBut essentially it was this. They lived in the South, they were Southerners, and a lot of them were more white than Indian. In fact, John Ross, the chief at the time of removal when they were pushed from Georgia and Tennessee and places like that -- they called it the Trail of Tears -- when they were pushed from there to Oklahoma, the chief at that time was John Ross who was one-eighth Indian and seven-eighths white. And so they adopted a lot of the customs of the whites that lived there in Georgia. And one of them was slavery.
FORDOne of the things though is, after they got here and the Civil War came about, they sided with the South. Most of the tribes did. And then after the war, there were new treaties. A lot of things happened in these treaties. They had to let railroads pass through. They had to do a number of things, and they had to free their slaves.
FORDNow, those areas were not considered part of the United States at that time, and so therefore the slaves had to be freed by treaty. And the treaty was negotiated, and what they said in these treaties was that these various slaves would be members of the various tribes. And particularly in the Cherokees -- each tribe had its own treaty. But in the Cherokees case, they said, as if they were native -- they and their descendants were members of the tribe, that they were native Cherokees.
FORDNow you've got a group of Cherokees today who are trying to change all that. And that is the source of this dispute. That is the reason for this lawsuit. There have been a number of them. This is the most recent one. And I have a Cherokee membership card which they call a -- which is blue. The others are white. But the blue card is basically -- that means you're a Freedman.
FORDAnd they, in a sense, try to give you provisional membership that they can take away or whatever. The dispute has evolved to the point that a number of people have gone to court in these cases. They have the court here in the district court of the District of Columbia. And I was there. Now, one of the things they -- I mentioned -- you mentioned Cherokees by blood.
FORDWhen you look at these people -- and I see them in court -- they really don't look very Indian. I mean, they look like white people, which is what they mainly are. And they say they have Cherokee blood and that we don't. I would dispute that because my grandmother said we had Cherokee blood. We talked about her father. But it's the same thing. What happened was, back in, like, the turn of the century, from the 19th to the 20th century, a group of white people called the Dawes Commission went down there and designated who was what.
FORDSo they looked at this person and said, OK, you're an Indian, you're a black person, so therefore you're a Freedman. And so it's based on what our ancestors look like to somebody 100 years ago. Well, a hundred and some years ago, if you looked black -- just like today, you look black, you're black. It didn't matter whether you've got Indian blood or what you've got in you. So that's what I'm saying.
FORDSo I sort of reject this idea that Freedmen don't have any Indian blood because my grandmother said we did. And it makes sense that if you were living with -- if you were part of this tribe for, you know, over a hundred years, there's probably Indian blood, intermarriage or whatnot. And her father, I think, for sure, was part Indian. But, you know, that's neither here nor there. (unintelligible)...
NNAMDIIf they called on me to...
NNAMDIIf they called on me -- if they called on me to testify about you, Sam, I would say that, even though Sam is dark complexioned, he's always looked to me like he's got some Indian blood in him.
FORDWell, you know, how do you know what Indian blood looks like? But the thing I was going to say was this. An Indian in the United States today is a legal definition.
FORDAnd basically, if you were on some roll from over 100 years ago, you're officially an Indian. If you're not on that roll, you're not.
NNAMDIWhere does the case stand now, Sam? The judge has to decide how to interpret that 1866 treaty that you mentioned between the Cherokee Nation and the United States?
FORDYes. Basically that's it. I mean, the judge says he would interpret it. There have been a number of, you know, legal battles. There have been elections. There have been just a number of things. It's kind of almost comical. But back in the mid-2000s, 2006 or 7 -- I forget which -- they had this chief named Chad Smith who decided he wanted to kick the black people out of the tribe. And so he pushed for that and said he was going to have a referendum. So therefore, you know, there's a referendum amongst the people that are the Cherokees.
FORDAnd our thing is that everybody that's not Cherokee by blood, you know, under this Dawes roll, then they're out of the tribe. And of course it passed, and I wasn't surprised by that. But then, you know, we filed suit, and the U.S. government's position is that we're members of the tribe. The treaty's still in force. And so, when it came down to the U.S. government saying at one point to the tribe, well, OK, you know, if everybody in the tribe can't vote, then we're not going to issue you your payment. I think it was, like, $52 million or something.
FORDAnd so suddenly the Cherokee Tribe was like, oh, well, wait a minute. You know, let's back off of this. And then they -- and it was so interesting. I got letters in the mail saying I could vote -- could not vote because I'd been removed from the tribe. And then I got letters in the mail saying, oh, well, wait a minute, yes, you can vote now until this matter is determined.
FORDSo I voted. And I voted against that guy Chad Smith. And, you know, fortunately, he lost because I guess enough Cherokees decided they didn't want to risk losing federal funds over this issue.
NNAMDIAnd it's still all about finances, isn't it? You have said that the move to limit citizenship is financially motivated, that it's driven by the huge income the Cherokee Nation gets from casinos?
FORDWell, I think some of it is that. I mean, I think that, you know, whenever you've got money and issues like that, that always comes up. I think some of it is racism. Let me be clear about it. One of the interesting things, Kojo, there is a group of Cherokees that are, like, more Indian than white. And they are called the Keetoowah band of Cherokee. Anyway, for some reason, they came to Washington and somehow invited me -- got in touch with me and invited me to dinner.
FORDAnd so I said, sure, I'll meet the Keetoowah Cherokees. So we went over to Ruths Chris steakhouse which was next to the D.C. library. And they proceeded to kind of explain to me how the Cherokee Nation functioned 'cause the Freedmen -- we are one of, you know, a number of minority groups that are kind of under the umbrella of the Cherokee Nation, including the Keetoowahs. There's a tribe called the Shawnees and Delawares. And they all have problems with the hierarchy of the Cherokee Nation.
FORDHe said, you know, he says, I don't know how you're interpreting what's happening to you. He said, but we're interpreting it as it is racist. That's what it is. And, you know, he said, we're talking about white Cherokees. And when you think about it, in a way, if this were -- take out the word Cherokees -- it was just people that were slaveholders that were expected to be fair to their former slaves and descendants of their former slaves, well, you know, we've gone through that on a national basis, you know.
FORDAnd it's one of those things -- it's one of the reasons we have so many laws in this country. And I think it's happening in a kind of a microcosm in dealing with this group of people that were in the Cherokee Tribe at the moment. All the...
FORD...chief basically is saying, however this is settled, we're going to live with it. We're not going to continue to fight this battle.
NNAMDISam, when can we expect a ruling in this case?
FORDYou know, I don't know. This went before Judge Thomas Hogan of the U.S. District Court here. It's kind of interesting. You know, I've cover a lot of things in federal court, and the judge seemed fascinated by the case. I think a lot of people really don't know about this part of American history.
FORDAnd they're fascinated by this case, that this is a part of history. But, you know, and looking at it myself, Kojo, it is fascinating to me. As I look into it -- and I don't know if you saw this documentary. One part of this thing is I have a great-grandfather, Harry Ford, who was a Baptist Minister in Oklahoma who, when they changed from being a tribe and were making Oklahoma State, they had to divide up the land because, you know, in the time of the Indian control -- when it was Cherokees or whatever -- they didn't have private ownership of land. You could just, you know, start a farm anywhere if you were part of the tribe.
FORDWell, when they had private ownership of land, they started dividing it up and giving parcels of land to people. And there were a lot of black people down there who were really cut out because I guess they didn't have any legitimacy. So he came here to Washington in 1906 trying to find somebody to help the black people there in Indian territory who were about to lose out. I guess he was, like, you know, sent here to just see what could he do.
FORDWell, anyway, he came to this city and really wasn't familiar with the modern conveniences called things like gas lights because they had kerosene lights in Oklahoma. He checked into a hotel called the Philadelphia House, which is where the National Gallery of Art now is, blew out the light and went to bed, and he was asphyxiated. He died here basically because he didn't understand the conveniences.
FORDHe was a 75-year-old man. They shipped his body back to Oklahoma. He was my father's father's father who was...
NNAMDIOh, tragic, but fascinating.
FORDAnd so I thought this thing has been going on for a long time. It's affected our family for a long time. And, you know, some people say, well, why do you want to be Indian? Well, you know, I asked that question of a man named Lawrence Kudjo who was part of the Seminole Nation. He says, it's not who you're trying to be. It's what you are. You know, it is your heritage.
FORDAnd, you know, why should you let somebody, for racist, economic, whatever kind of reasons, try to take your heritage from you?
NNAMDISam, I'm afraid that's all the time we have. But it is as, especially in the case of your own relatives, a tragic yet fascinating story. It is Your Turn here, 800-433-8850. We'd like to know, in your view, can the Cherokee Nation revoke the citizenship of its black members? 800-433-8850. We're going to take a short break. And when we come back it'll be all your turn. Sam, thank you so much for joining us.
NNAMDISam Ford is a reporter with WJLA-TV Channel 7 in Washington. This is Your Turn. You can also shoot us an email to email@example.com or send us a tweet, @kojoshow. If you're on the line, stay on the line. We will get to you because it is Your Turn. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back to Your Turn. You know, last weekend, Sean Combs, also known as P. Diddy, Puff Daddy, gave the commencement speech at Howard University here in Washington. He talked about growing up in Harlem with a single mother, arriving at Howard, and then struggling after he dropped out. But what's notable here isn't what he said. It's the fact that he showed up and spoke even though some students protested his selection as the speaker.
NNAMDIIn recent years, protests over who will speak at graduation have grown. And this season has been another bumpy one on college campuses around the country. From former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to IMF Director Christine Legarde, high-profile speakers are pulling out at the 11th hour rather than face the wrath of the graduates.
NNAMDIBut if you can't welcome public figures onto a college campus to discuss the issues of the day, what message does that send to students about tolerance and freedom of expression? What do you say? 800-433-8850. You can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. On now to your calls. We go -- we start now with Sarah in Silver Spring, Md. Sarah, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
SARAHHi, Kojo. I wanted to let your listeners know about the D.C. area march against Monsanto. We're going to march on Saturday the 24th. We're meeting at 2:00 p.m. in Lafayette Square right across from the White House. And we're coming together...
NNAMDIWhy should people participate in this march?
SARAHWell, we're trying to draw attention and also educate any tourists who may be in the area to issues...
SARAH...surrounding genetically-modified foods. We'd like to see...
NNAMDIWhat would you say to people who say, but genetically-modified foods are in widespread usage in Europe and legal, and they don't seem to be doing much harm?
SARAHWell, they are labeled in Europe. So one of the issues that we have is that we would like them to be labeled in the United States.
SARAHWe also have concerns about the health effects of the chemicals that are used to grow the plants. And so the effects that they're having on us, our children, and our pollinators -- we know that bee populations are dwindling in the United States.
NNAMDIAnd so you'd like to draw attention to all of this.
NNAMDIOK. Thank you very much for your call. We would prefer that Your Turn not be used to simply make public service announcements, which is why I tried to draw out some conversation with Sarah about what the issue is. It's an issue that we have discussed on this broadcast before, genetically-modified foods, and obviously it's a very controversial issue. So if you've got something to say about it, it is Your Turn, 800-433-8850.
NNAMDIThe outcry over seemingly respectable commencement speakers raises the question, what in your view is the role of the commencement speaker? Are schools caving too easily to student protests? Are these speakers too unwilling to stand up to these objectives? It's Your Turn. What do you think? Sarah, thank you very much for your call. We move on now to Cindy in Washington, D.C. Cindy, it's your turn.
CINDYHi, Kojo. I'm calling about your last interview with Sam Ford.
NNAMDIThe lawsuit against the Cherokee Nation.
CINDYYes. Well, Sam and I are longtime neighbors. We've been neighbors since 1994. And over the course of the years, we've discovered that we're both from -- well, my dad's side of the family is from Fort Scott, Kan. And Sam grew up not far from there. I don't remember the name of the town.
CINDYBut, anyway, we -- I picked up right away that he had an accent that's very similar to my relatives' accent. And I think -- so -- but I recently discovered that I have Native American blood in my family and descended from Lucinda Walker. And so I'm just -- you know, it'll be an interesting conversation next time we meet on the street walking the dogs or something.
CINDYMaybe we're a lot -- you know, distant relatives. And I've always joked to him that, you remind me so much of my uncle. So I just thought it was a very good interview and very interesting (unintelligible)...
NNAMDICindy, here's an email we got from Magaui (sp?) in Burke, Va. who said, "I always thought that the purpose of designating people as members of tribes was to provide benefits to compensate for or to reverse the effects of past abuses and discrimination. If that's the case, then it seems disingenuous to deny citizenship to people who did not choose, in the first place, to join the society, in this case slaves. It would be as if white Americans decided that the descendants of black slaves should not be citizens." What do you think about that?
CINDYWell, I can only comment on, you know, my experience with my own family and that it was not discussed that we had Native American ancestry in our family.
NNAMDIIt was not discussed at all?
CINDYOnly when my grandmother did the family genealogy book was when it was revealed. And yet I have a relative who was, like, Native American since...
NNAMDIWhy do you think it wasn't discussed? Why do you think it wasn't discussed?
CINDYI think it goes back to racism and, you know, that period of history. So I think it's something that definitely needs to be addressed.
NNAMDIIt's such a complicated thing, racism.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call because Sam Ford is making...
NNAMDI...the point that predominantly white members who have Indian blood are now trying to keep blacks out of the Cherokee Nation. So it is a very complicated phenomena. But right now, it's Your Turn. So thank you very much for your call. And we move on now to Dan in Washington, D.C. Dan, it is your turn. Go ahead, please.
DANHi, Kojo. We are clear that saving green space and biomass is the way to reduce carbon emissions, to absorb CO2. In the District, we've got the mayor running the biggest development probably ever. And the 25-acre McMillan park is being surplused, you know, gigantic corporate giveaway to a conglomerate of developers to build 50 buildings where carbon emission traffic...
NNAMDIDan, do you think this issue will ever be settled?
DANKojo -- Kojo, we need support in this city to save that green space for every reason, common sense. It's a 25-acre park, desperately needed. We have the zoning commission cynically upgrading it from park to multiple story -- 13-stories commercial.
NNAMDIBut it seems that one of the problems is, Dan, that, despite the fact that there's a great deal of passion around what happens there, there isn't really unanimity, is there?
DANKojo, the mayor is abusing power. For 28 years, that park has been closed in gross malfeasance of office. The community has been denied use and enjoyment. We could be growing agriculture on that site underground, five times more productive than farms. Friends of McMillan needs public support. Get involved. Save that green space. Do you want to see the global warming...
NNAMDINo, it's not about what I want to see 'cause I don't happen to live in that community. But there are other people who live in that community who seem to want different kinds of amenities. How do you think this should be resolved?
DANKojo, we need to find soft solutions. We can do every service that's needed in softer ways. We have other ways of producing housing and infill. We are making decisions that are destructive.
DANWe're being forced by the government, Kojo, to give away multi-hundreds of millions of dollars of our land to private development, and this has to be stopped.
NNAMDIAnd believe you -- believe you me, Dan, we have heard that conversation several times. We've had that conversation on the air, and we'll probably have it here again. But I mention the passion. Those of you who are listening, you could hear that in Dan's voice. Thank you very much for your call. It is Your Turn, whatever issue you'd like to discuss.
NNAMDIYou know, we talked yesterday about a court ruling in Europe that seems to be a victory for people who want more privacy online and a blow to tech companies and free speech. The case involves a man in Spain who was upset that searches of his name turned up an old tax issue that he'd taken care of. He asked Google to stop including the link to that incident when people search his name. And the court told Google, take down the link.
NNAMDIThe case is interesting because European laws tend to favor privacy and the so-called right to be forgotten more than American laws do, thanks to our vigorous First Amendment right to free speech. But it raises questions for people who have been embarrassed by an unflattering photo or video or Facebook post that then lives on forever.
NNAMDISomebody could go in 20 years later, and it would still be there. Would you favor a similar right in the U.S. to be asked -- to be able to ask Google to stop linking to a photo or article about you? What about crime or rape victims? Should they be able to disconnect stories about the crimes from a search of their name? What do you think? 800-433-8850. It is Your Turn. Tom, in Washington, D.C., your turn.
TOMHi. I'm calling to -- commencement speakers that drop out because there's (word?) against them.
TOMWell, first of all, I think it's important to distinguish between just a speaker, any speaker, coming to a college campus or a university campus to speak and talk about their views, and the second is when they're the actual commencement speaker because when they're a commencement speaker, at least I think, generally, they're always conferred an honorary degree.
TOMSo this honorary degree is conferred upon them because the university believes one way or another that what they did was, to a certain extent, correct, or they give this academic backing to it.
TOMAnd I think that, in those cases, it is very fair for the academic and the student community to say, you know what, we are this university. We don't agree with this person, and we don't agree with them having a degree conferred on them. Briefly, one time in George Washington Law School, one of -- Musharraf, when he was President of Pakistan, one of his associate advisors came to speak at George Washington University at the Law School.
TOMAnd he gave a speech and a talk about how Musharraf and what he was doing, arresting the Supreme Court and disbanding the courts in Pakistan, was a great idea. And at the end of it, the school -- the school representative said, you know, thank you for coming. We haven't opened a forum for discussion here.
TOMBut we don't necessarily agree with what you said. And I think that is free speech. That should be always protected. People should always be able to give their thoughts. But commencement speakers, that's different. They're getting a degree conferred upon them, and so I think the protest is allowed.
NNAMDIBut here's the question -- here's the question, at one level of majority slash minority does a commencement speaker deserve to be banned? If it is a vocal minority of students who oppose that speaker or a vocal majority of students who oppose that speaker, or a vocal minority who oppose the speaker and a silent majority that says nothing, how does one decide?
TOMThat's a tough question, but I think that specifically this has come about because Condoleezza Rice herself decided not to go speak.
NNAMDIThis is true.
TOMFor example, the speaker at Howard University, they were also protesting against him, but he decided to go. It's Condoleezza that decided not to go. Part of free speech is that you're opening up yourself to public criticism. So she didn't feel like dealing with that criticism. Then that's her that she limited herself.
TOMThis is a free country. The protestors have just as much of a right to speak their thoughts as Condoleezza does.
NNAMDIOK. Tom, thank you very much for your call. I think we have a slightly different point of view from Roy in Davidsonville, Md. Roy, your turn.
ROYHey, Kojo. Well, I would have to kind of agree with what he said. But at the same time, you know, one of the things that is kind of unique about America now at this course is, you know, we form our national identity by discussing issues of the day. And I think that, you know, one of the reasons that some of these speakers are invited to give the commencement speeches at these schools is because they have a different viewpoint sometimes.
ROYAnd it's a healthy thing to listen to someone else's viewpoint. You know, one of the things that, you know, maybe our Congress needs to learn a little better is how to observe other people's viewpoints and understand where they're coming from.
NNAMDIThat's interesting because our previous caller made a distinction between people being invited on campus to make speeches where you can hear their viewpoint and commencement speakers who are conferred a degree. What do you see as the role of the commencement speaker?
ROYWell, you know, you're going out into the world. You have a degree which, you know, basically tells other people that, you know, you've gone through rigorous course work and that you, you know, are a more worldly person. So part of being worldly is understanding other points of view besides your own. And I believe that, you know, in the college experience, it's important to know -- experience other points of view, however different from your own.
NNAMDIWell, you know, the thing that I find interesting in all of this is that most college graduates, when asked if they remember anything that their commencement speaker said, generally say, not a word, don't remember anything at all the commencement speaker said.
ROYProbably true. They -- and then the party that ensues after probably pretty much contributes to utter forgetness of everything that happened.
NNAMDIBut there is something to be said, Roy, for living in the moment, if you will. And it's the moment for the graduating students that I think that counts much more than the memory. But we'll see what a lot of other people have to say because it is Your Turn. The number is 800-433-8850. Here is Lisa in Fairfax, Va. Lisa, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
LISAHi, Kojo. I was surprised today that you had the subject about the Indians owning slaves. I'm part Indian on both sides of my family, so I'm very familiar with that subject. And, last week, there was a gentleman that called in that was talking about the Redskins name and was talking about that the Indians' hands were not all that clean either because of the slave issue. And you seemed quite dismissive of him, so I was sort of very surprised when you brought on a gentleman who had in-depth knowledge of this subject. So...
NNAMDII was indeed quite dismissive of that caller. You are absolutely correct, Lisa. And that is one of the reasons we did this today because the caller couldn't remember exactly what the source of his historical reference was. And I was ignorant and so did not -- ignorant in the literal sense of the term -- did not know what he was talking about.
NNAMDIBut I later saw a column by Courtland Milloy in The Washington Post referring to this lawsuit. And when it mentioned that my old friend Sam Ford from Channel 7 was a part of this lawsuit, I thought I would do something both to correct my own ignorance and to address the issue that the last caller had been raising.
NNAMDIThe last caller was saying that the -- he would not think that the Washington football team should change its name from Redskins until Native Americans apologized to African-Americans for slavery. And I got the impression that he was blaming all Native Americans for what, in this case, the Cherokee Nation did.
LISANo, no. Yeah, I understand the situation. But I was kind of, I guess, disappointed when you were dismissive. But, you know what, it is heartening that you went out and went the whole nine yards to find out what the real truth was. So I have to applaud you for that. You know, that was excellent, and thank you. And that's why I keep listening to NPR because you folks really do your homework. So you take care. Have a wonderful day.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call. Sometimes I do disappoint myself. That was one of those occasions. You can call us at 800-433-8850. This is Your Turn. We move on to Nat in Washington, D.C. Nat, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
NATHi there. With respect to the universities getting themselves continually in hot water with the choice of speakers, and Condi Rice in particular, it strikes me that this is kind of a tempest in a teapot. The universities inflict this upon themselves. Some of your prior callers got it right, I believe, by talking about the fact that you would expect controversy. If you're going to bring somebody in that's going to represent a very definite political point of view, you're going to get controversy. And that's always going to be the case from one side or the other.
NNAMDISo your recommendation would be avoid commencement speakers who embrace a specific political point of view?
NATPolitical point of view. Absolutely. And there are so many fun, interesting, crosscutting speaker out there that could be had. It's just a form of madness to choose political people when you've got so many others. So, back when I was in college -- and think about it from a graduation point of view. A graduating student doesn't want to get another lecture. They really don't want another lecture.
NATSo what do you give them? You give them something fun. We had Alfred Hitchcock. And in the student body, we had far right and far left-wing people all over the place. The campus was, at that time, a pretty famous campus for its political activity. And everybody burst out in song as he walked up to the stage, (singing) ba-rum, ba-da-ba-da, bum-ba-dum. And it was fun.
NNAMDIThe theme from the television show, yes.
NATSure. And it was fun. There was -- it was -- this is a tempest in a teapot. And every university that makes a choice like this is just aiming at their foot and pulling the trigger.
NNAMDIThe -- OK. Did Hitch give a long or a short speech? What do you remember about his speech?
NATHis speech was absolutely silly and small and completely forgettable. And we laughed our way through the whole thing.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call, Nat. We're going to take a short break. But, you know, it's been a full month since the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram, kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria. The militants released a video this week of some of the girls and say that they will sell the girls or trade them for jailed comrades. Now that the Nigerian government has accepted help from other nations, the U.S. is flying manned surveillance planes over the country, has a couple of dozen FBI, State and Defense Department people on the ground helping with the search.
NNAMDIThe kidnapping has shocked the world, prompted a Twitter campaign, other efforts to win the girls' release. What are your thoughts? 800-433-8850. Should Nigeria take the United States' advice and refuse to negotiate with the kidnappers? It's Your Turn. Shoot us an email to email@example.com, or call at 800-433-8850, or tweet, @kojoshow. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back. It is Your Turn. You can participate in the conversation. Set the agenda by calling 800-433-8850. Climate change is in the news after two new studies, one on melting glaciers and one on hurricane formation, raised new concerns about our future. Researchers say six fast-melting glaciers in Antarctica could cause sea levels to rise significantly in coming centuries because they're destabilizing a critical ice sheet. And the glaciers' retreat may have already reached the point of no return.
NNAMDIAnother report says the buildup of greenhouse gases from human activity may be pushing the strongest and most destructive sections of hurricanes towards the poles. One politician, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, waded into the debate this week, drew criticism when he said on a Sunday talk show that the impact of manmade climate change is overstated, two days later, back off, acknowledged that climate change exists, but said he doesn't think that there's much we can do about it and that current legislative proposals cannot stop it.
NNAMDIWhat do you think? 800-433-8850. Do you think the U.S. Congress can or should play a role in addressing climate change? It is your turn though. So we will start with Torrance (sp?) in College Park, Md. Torrance, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
TORRANCEHow you doing, Kojo?
TORRANCEI was calling in reference to the lawsuit that's going on right now with the Cherokee nation.
TORRANCEAnd my point on that would simply be to take something from someone that you weren't allowed to give to them would essentially be the same problem that happened to Native Americans when they had everything taken from them. And to forget history is to commit the greatest fault that you can because you (word?) going to reach destruction. That's the issue at hand.
NNAMDIDid you get the impression that that's point that Sam Ford was trying to make?
TORRANCEI feel that he is trying to alleviate issues. But the point to that would be alleviating issues do not always solve them. Sometimes they bring up many more new ones. So if you take something from someone, you should expect for that person to have an adverse reaction if that was given to them rightfully. And that's something that has to be considered, something that -- something else that has to be considered is...
NNAMDIWell, that's all -- those are all things that I suspect the judge will be considering in this case. Don't you think?
TORRANCEI do. I do. It's more so a point to those who (unintelligible) throughout -- for their greater good and not paying attention to the rest of the public or the rest of their tribe.
TORRANCEAnd they just don't want to acknowledge that.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call. As we said, it's in the hands of a judge right now. And we don't know when that ruling is going to take place. Should be an interesting ruling, especially if the judge attempts to explain it. Thank you for your call, Torrance. We move on to Nick in Hyattsville, Md. Nick, it's your turn. You're on the air. Go ahead, please.
NICKHi, Kojo. Thanks for taking my call.
NICKI just wanted to touch on immigration reform. It's been brought to my attention that the illegal workers are just getting Social Security numbers, false IDs, and then applying for jobs. And I think -- and for us to have good immigration reform, we need to go back and look at the idea of the national ID. You want to comment on that?
NNAMDIYou think -- well, I don't want to comment on it. I have questions for you about it.
NNAMDIWhen you say, it has been brought to my attention that "the illegal workers are going out and getting fake Social Security numbers and applying for jobs," A, who brought that to your attention? And exactly how many undocumented immigrants do you think are doing that?
NICKWell, I'm in the landscape industry. And it's common knowledge that over half of the workers in the industry are just getting false identifications. The employers are just required to see a Social Security number and another photo ID, and they can hire them. And this is how a lot of the illegal immigrants are getting jobs here in the United States.
NNAMDIWell, if the identifications and the Social Security numbers are false, doesn't that imply -- suggest that it is their employers who are not checking?
NICKWell, no. The employers are only obliged to check the Social Security number and -- I think it's one form of photo ID.
NNAMDIWell, if they check the Social...
NNAMDIIf they check the Social Security number, wouldn't they discover that it is false, that it does not belong to the individual who's applying?
NICKThey don't check it. All they do is they write it down on the taxes that are withheld, and that's all they have to do.
NNAMDIWell, I don't know. Where did you -- you say it has been brought to my attention. And then you said this is common knowledge. Did you see it reported someplace? Or is this what people are saying? Because hearsay can't always be trusted.
NICKWell, this is common knowledge in the landscape industry that they will take in anybody that has a Social Security number and a photo ID. So this is how they get their employees. And you see the landscape industry has a lot of Latino workers in it.
NICKAnd that's how they get their workers.
NNAMDIWhat you're saying is that the individuals you're talking about are working and that they are paying taxes and that therefore, what?
NICKTherefore they're not legal, and a lot of them will get deportation. And they just change their name and get another set of false IDs. And this is (unintelligible)...
NNAMDIAnd you think that if we were -- you think if we were to introduce a national ID, it could solve that problem?
NICKYes. Because the only reason people are afraid of a national ID is they think that the government is going to be keeping tabs on them. Well, the government already has your Social Security number. And so they keep tabs on you that way. If you're not doing anything wrong, why (unintelligible)...
NNAMDIWell, the other reason people object to a national ID is that they feel, if I am an American citizen, why do I need to be walking around with ID so that somebody who feels like it can ask me to whip it out at any point when I have done absolutely nothing? Why do I need to be walking around with some form of government-issued ID?
NICKBecause they do it in a lot of other countries. And also this would keep the illegal immigrants out because you could have a solid national ID. And that would...
NNAMDIWhich, see, the problem, I think, that we're facing now is that we have, by various counts, at least 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.
NNAMDIAnd the notion that we can somehow get them out is, frankly, impractical. It's not going to happen. And the question that faces the government now is, what do we do about these millions of people?
NICKWhat you would do is require everybody in the United States to get a national ID, and then those people could apply for citizenship and their ID. And you could figure out if they're criminals, if they absconded from the law and go from there 'cause right now there's just (unintelligible)...
NNAMDISo what you are describing is what, in your view, is a path to citizenship.
NNAMDIOK. Well, thank you very much for your call. We'll see how other people feel about that idea, 800-433-8850. This is Your Turn. We move on to Laura in Washington, D.C. Laura, it's your turn.
LAURAHi. I just have a couple comments about ways to ease climate change.
LAURAI think we're rewarding bad behavior when it comes to transportation and where people live. I think if it was favorable tax reasons or if there were, you know, other kinds of incentives, like stipends for people to walk to work, to bike to work -- there already are some for mass transit -- and also for people to live closer to where they work, so people could live closer to each other, instead of having big backyards and living far away where, you know, they have to use a car to get around. If there were ways to, you know, create incentives so people would get around on their own two feet or through their own power, I think it would make a huge difference.
NNAMDIYou're saying -- you're talking financial incentives?
LAURAYeah. 'Cause right now we spend a lot of taxpayer money on road construction and their highways and things for people to go fast. But there isn't a lot of investment for bike lanes, for instance, or sidewalks. There's a lot of places where it's just difficult to walk around. So I think it should be more (unintelligible)...
NNAMDISo instead of people who are driving cars, thinking that something is being taken away from them, you're saying that you can financially incentivize those people to move closer to the city, to live in a different kind of environment if they see it as being financially rewarding to them?
LAURARight. And, I mean, you can even ease climate change by giving people breaks in your health insurance by having premiums that are lower for people who have certain body mass indexes. If you have a low body mass index because you walk to work or bike to work, you know, you can be rewarded for that, rather than having (unintelligible)...
NNAMDIHow about if you have a larger body mass index because of something that you cannot prevent yourself? Won't that amount to discrimination?
LAURAI think most people -- well, I think a lot of people who are overweight say that they have a low metabolism. But, clearly, that can't be the case for everybody. But, I mean, I'm not being (unintelligible)...
NNAMDIYeah. But what you're suggesting is that everybody who's overweight is lazy. Is that what you're suggesting?
LAURANo. And I'm not saying you have to punish people for being overweight. They already get to cash in more on the healthcare system. But there are ways to make it more favorable for people to have a normal body weight. And it actually affects climate change. So if you don't eat a heavy meat diet, which affects climate change...
NNAMDIWell, see, I was saying that you were going in a good direction with the financial incentives for people to be able to help climate change. But when you started getting into people's individual body weight without being able to assess individually what causes people to be overweight, you kind of lost me there.
LAURA(unintelligible) I feel the strongest about transportation and, you know, creating incentives for people to use their own human power to get around.
NNAMDIIf I were you -- I would stick with that if I were you. Thank you very much for your call. Here is Joe in Poolesville, Md. Joe, your turn.
JOEYou did a show a few months ago about obituaries.
JOEAnd I don't think you talked about probably the person who had the most profound effect on both domestic and foreign policy of this country. And he just passed away in November at -- he was 102 years old. This guy's name is Gen. Giap.
NNAMDIGen. Vo Nguyen Giap.
NNAMDIHe was the North Vietnamese general whose campaigns drove both France and the United States out of Vietnam, according to The New York Times.
JOEYes. Do you know his previous campaign before that though? And this is why I take umbrage with The Times and The Post in their obituaries.
JOEHe was a member of the French Resistance, along with Ho Chi Minh. His wife was tortured to death. In The New York Times, they mentioned in a French prison. Well, in that French prison -- that's Klaus Barbie's prison in Lyon. That's first. You should dedicate a show to this guy because it -- his doings also has an effect on climate change. And I -- that -- derivatively speaking, that's the military industrial complex.
NNAMDII'm -- you lost me with the climate change connection.
JOEWell, military industrial complex is -- they're going to do it this way no matter what, despite the climate. We've been going down this route.
JOEPart of the reason why we have territorial wars and, you know...
NNAMDINow, I agree with you that this was a very important individual in history who deserves more attention. It's the link to climate change that, you know...
JOEWell, understand that the business philosophy in the '70s -- '60s and '70s keep pumping -- I'm -- my ancestral home is Clairton, P-A, home of the deer hunter. And there are also deals with college. This guy deals with college. All those people that hit on in college at what -- listening to Alfred Hitchcock, my dad's two cousins were in the A Shau Valley, Screaming Eagles. My dad's a combat Marine (word?) Korea.
NNAMDIOK. But you've gone away from Nguyen Giap which is who I really thought you wanted to talk about.
JOEI do. I'm saying this is how profound an effect he's had on domestic policy of this country.
NNAMDIOK. Well, I...
JOEAnd people like the Clintons who waved the flag...
NNAMDIBut you're relating him to way too many things for me. That's something we'll have to look at in greater detail when we have more time and see if we can talk about his history without kind of trying to relate it to every single other thing that ever existed since that time. Finally, we got about 20 seconds for Joni in Bethesda, Md. Joni, your turn.
JONIThank you. I think the protestors would welcome Dr. Condoleezza Rice if she would announce, I'm going to come and express my point of view about why torture is good, and it should be an American policy for the future, and also why it was good for me to talk about mushroom clouds and going through (unintelligible).
NNAMDIYou think if she said those things that she would be welcomed on campus?
JONIYeah. It would be her point of view, yes. And then the protestors could say, that's good. We'd like to hear her point of view about why those (unintelligible).
NNAMDIOK. You actually get the last word, Joni, because we're out of time. Thanks to all of those you -- who participated in this edition of Your Turn. And thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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