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PAULA ZAHN NOW

U.S. Government Discriminating Against Muslims?; Virginia Lawmaker Tells African-Americans to 'Get Over' Slavery

Aired January 17, 2007 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: And hi, everybody. Thank you all for joining us tonight.
Across America, racism and intolerance lurk just below the surface. Every night, we're finding and talking about these hidden secrets, bringing them right out into the open.

Tonight: the long wait. They are living the American dream. They qualify for U.S. citizenship. Is the government holding up their applications simply because they're Muslim?

Also: a liberal dose of blame. I will be talking with a controversial author who says America sowed the seeds of 9/11, liberals in particular, by promoting what he calls morally depraved values?

And should Virginia apologize to the descendants of slaves? A state lawmaker sparks outrage by telling black people to get over it.

The first story we're bringing out into the open involves hundreds of people who believe they are victims of religious discrimination. They are legal immigrants to this country. That's right, legal. But, after doing everything right, even qualifying to become U.S. citizens, they say the U.S. government is intentionally keeping them in legal limbo because they're Muslim.

Here's justice correspondent Kelli Arena.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jalal al- Lenazi (ph), a truck driver from Iraq, applied three years ago for U.S. citizenship. But he's been put on indefinite hold. Omar Abud (ph), from Sudan, waited two years.

Zuhair Mahd, a blind I.T. specialist from Jordan, has been waiting for more than two years.

ZUHAIR MAHD, I.T. CONSULTANT: I pretty much think like everyone else does here. So, I think that I have -- I have earned, really, my -- my citizenship.

ARENA: All three men hit a snag when their names were sent to the FBI to make sure they weren't a security risk. All three believe the only reason they have run into problems is because they're Muslim.

Jihad Muhaisen represents two of the men in lawsuits against the federal government.

JIHAD MUHAISEN, IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY: They are targeting people with Arabic names, people of national origin from Arab countries. And that is absolute nonsense. It is discrimination.

ARENA: Federal law says, once immigrants pass their tests and are interviewed to become citizens, the government has 120 days to accept or deny them. But these three men and hundreds of others have been left in a defense immigration limbo, victims, they say, of religious or ethnic discrimination.

(on camera): There are lawsuits winding their way through court in at least six states. Here in Denver, there are more than a dozen that are still pending. Now, in most of those cases, people haven't heard a thing about their application in years.

(voice-over): The men we spoke to say it's laughable to think they pose any security threat. Jalal al-Lenazi (ph) says he has worked as a translator for both the military and the FBI.

Zuhair Mahd says he was approached twice by the FBI to do some work as well. The men are here legally, and have green cards, and pay taxes. They are free to go about their business.

MAHD: If, in fact, there is a question about the safety of the people that are -- quote, unquote -- "being investigated," is it really sensible to leave them on the -- you know, to -- to wait for years? I mean, does that really make the country any more safe?

ARENA: The FBI won't comment on specific cases, but admits this:

MICHAEL CANNON, CHIEF, FBI NATIONAL NAME CHECK PROGRAM SECTION: Yes, there's -- there's a backlog. And a lot of it has to do with -- with the volume that we have.

ARENA: Cannon says the FBI runs about 65,000 names a week. He says the bureau is doing what it can to speed things up, including hiring contractors and computerizing files. But it comes down to a lack of manpower and money.

(on camera): There is a perception in the Muslim community, Arab-American community, that they are being targeted, that their wait is longer than other people's waits, that -- that -- that they are scrutinized more carefully than anyone else that is applying for citizenship. Is that true?

CANNON: That is absolutely not true. There's no way that that's happening. The FBI receives the names from USCIS on a tape. It's data tape. Each tape can hold up to 10,000 names. The names on the tape have certain fields that are completed, name, date of birth, Social Security number, things of that nature. Nowhere on that tape is their religious affiliation. So, there's no way for us, even if we wanted to, discriminate based on religious affiliation.

ARENA: But some Muslims involved in the process just don't buy it. MUHAISEN: That is absolute nonsense. This is happening with Middle East clients, primarily. I have an immigration practice. And you bring me a Mexican-American, you bring me a European-American, and you know what? They're getting approved in three months.

ARENA: Muhaisen has filed 25 lawsuits for Muslims who want to be American citizens. As a result, more than half of them now are. Some critics say that proves that there wasn't a real security issue in the first place, and that discrimination really is behind it all.

MAHD: I have got so much to offer. And, so, it saddens me that I'm being looked at and discriminated against for nothing that I know.

ARENA: Kelli Arena, CNN, Denver.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: So, is the U.S. government being intolerant or simply incompetent?

That's the first question I want to put to tonight's "Out in the Open" panel.

Joining me, Roland Martin -- glad to have you back -- executive editor...

ROLAND MARTIN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "THE CHICAGO DEFENDER": Glad to be here.

ZAHN: ... of "The Chicago Defender" newspaper and host of "The Roland S. Martin Show" on radio, Kamal Nawash, the founder and president of the Free Muslims Coalition.

Glad to have you back as well.

KAMAL NAWASH, PRESIDENT, FREE MUSLIMS COALITION: Nice to see you.

ZAHN: And another -- I don't know many times you have been back, a dozen or so -- Republican political strategist Amy Holmes, who was a speechwriter for former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

Welcome back.

AMY HOLMES, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Thank you.

MARTIN: Glad to be here.

ZAHN: Are we talking about religious discrimination here or incompetency on the part of the FBI...

MARTIN: I first we have to...

ZAHN: ... or backlog...

(CROSSTALK) MARTIN: I think we have to acknowledge that you do want to protect the borders; you do want to be able to analyze who is coming into the country.

But, certainly, for us to have a backlog in -- in this technology -- in this society, with all kinds of technology, we are able to find all kind of things, for us to have that kind of backlog makes no sense whatsoever.

ZAHN: All right.

MARTIN: But, then again, it's the federal government.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: ... answer the question. You said it didn't make good sense, but do you think that is a result of -- of somebody overtly discriminating against Muslims, or that we simply don't have the manpower to stay on top of this backlog?

MARTIN: I think we don't have the manpower, or we don't have the will to get it fixed. To -- to wait this long doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

But I cannot necessarily it is a matter of racism. Again, there are other examples where you have backlogs in the FBI with DNA testing and all kind of -- kinds of other things. So, that's the federal government.

ZAHN: Will you give the federal government the benefit of the doubt on this one?

NAWASH: I will give them...

ZAHN: The government is saying they have got to check everything in this post-9/11 environment, and this is how long it takes.

NAWASH: Now, I happen to have personal information about this. I'm also a lawyer, and I do see a lot of these clients.

Now, in all fairness to the government, the only thing I don't know, like, statistically, that I haven't been able to compare how non-Muslims are treated, whether it's faster or not.

But I will do say this. I don't think it's, per se, about religion, because a naturalization application doesn't have a question about religion. But, to the extent that something like this is happening, they could do it in another way. It could be from countries of origin, because I am getting a lot of clients.

And this -- and they -- they have gone through all the hoops. They have taken their exams. They have passed their exams, have gone through the character test, and they -- they get approved after the interview. And all that's supposed to happen is the oath. And that's supposed to be within days and weeks. And it's taking years. And there's almost nothing that can be done about it. So, something is happening there. And I did have some non-Muslim clients where it went much faster. I'm not ready to implicate the government.

MARTIN: So, you have personal evidence?

(CROSSTALK)

NAWASH: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

NAWASH: Well, I'm -- I'm not saying I have personal evidence. It could be coincidence, but I have seen something that makes you kind of wonder a little bit.

HOLMES: But I don't necessarily think that the backlog is entirely incompetence. We need to protect our national security.

And, if we don't have enough people being able to vet all of these people seeking citizenship, we shouldn't be granting them citizenship. As the piece said, the government has a responsibility to accept or deny.

And I would presume that these applicants wouldn't want the government, after 120 days, to deny them citizenship because there's a backlog.

ZAHN: But what does it say about the process, where there are people that, in many cases, have already qualified for U.S. citizenship, that have to sue our government to get there?

HOLMES: Well, they don't...

MARTIN: It shows...

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: ... that we are grossly unfair. It shows that we don't fully get what happens in private enterprise all the time.

And the bottom line is, we have all kinds of technology. So, how can we get it there, but not with the federal government? But, again, that's government. Whether you're about a federal, state, local, they're always slow. They pay their bills slow. So, for them to have a backlog, that's -- that's not surprising...

(CROSSTALK)

NAWASH: Look, we're making...

HOLMES: And -- and let's also remember, though -- let's also remember that immigration has always been discriminatory. We impose quotas. We have a preference for people who have relatives in the country. There is not a right to become an American citizen. As I said, it's a privilege. And we need to make sure... MARTIN: But it should be fair and just.

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: ... looking at country of origin, Jordan...

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: ... for example, al-Zarqawi came from Jordan. So, if you have a Jordanian seeking citizenship here, of course he's going to be scrutinized and looked at more carefully.

NAWASH: Look, no one disagrees that we need to protect our borders. No one needs to -- no one disagrees about that.

But the -- the -- it appears like there might be a problem there. Like, I, as an attorney, I see clients that get approved within -- very quickly, from beginning to end within less than a year.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Are they Muslim?

NAWASH: No.

HOLMES: But we don't know that these applicants...

ZAHN: Are they Christian?

HOLMES: ... are Muslim...

(CROSSTALK)

NAWASH: Well...

ZAHN: But he knows after the fact.

(CROSSTALK)

NAWASH: No.

(CROSSTALK)

NAWASH: But, you know, and I -- I'm not going willing to implicate the government, because we just don't know enough facts. But I see enough that you need to ask more questions. And there's something unusual happening.

MARTIN: So, you think -- should -- should be congressional hearings?

NAWASH: You know, I will leave that up to Congress.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: Well, I -- no, I -- I think it should be, because, again...

(CROSSTALK)

NAWASH: I think someone needs to look into it. I mean...

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: .. if people are waiting this long...

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: ... that is unfair and unjust.

NAWASH: Well, here's the thing. The -- the thing..

MARTIN: Three years is a long time.

(CROSSTALK)

NAWASH: The only reason I'm holding back...

(CROSSTALK)

NAWASH: The only reason I'm holding back is because I don't have any statistics compared how non-Muslims are being treated. I mean, it's not enough...

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: ... it probably hasn't been studied.

(LAUGHTER)

NAWASH: It's not enough for me to say, as a lawyer, because that's not scientifically viable.

ZAHN: Once again, you heard...

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: ... it's also...

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: ... the FBI vehemently defending its actions.

HOLMES: Well, we also know that the FBI has a backlog in hiring people that we need to be investigating potential terrorist cells who have Arabic-language skills. So, we knew this on 9/11, that we didn't have enough people with this kind of background in information to be able to protect our country.

As I said, if -- if it's a backlog, that's unfortunate. But these -- these people are here. They're in our country. They're not being kicked out. And I don't think that they would want the government, after 120 days, to say, go home. ZAHN: Roland Martin, Kamal Nawash, Amy Holmes, stay right where you are. We have got plenty more to discuss with you tonight, including the very controversial views of my next guest.

He says, liberals caused 9/11 by trying to force their depraved values on the rest of the world, and playing right into the holds of extremists who hate America.

Then, a little bit later on: A Virginia state lawmaker tells black Americans to get over slavery. What are people telling him? Wait until we show you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: We are bringing out in the open tonight some explosive words from one of the most respected conservative thinkers in the country.

Dinesh D'Souza is a former aide in the Reagan White House and the author of seven books. His latest is guaranteed to be controversial. Just look at the title, "The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11."

In it, D'Souza writes that the cultural left wants America to be a shining beacon of global depravity, a kind of Gomorrah on a hill," and is "the primary cause of the volcano of anger toward America that is erupting from the Islamic world."

The book raises a lot of questions about intolerance, conservative vs. liberal, Islam vs. the West, and the author's own views on subjects like homosexuality.

Dinesh D'Souza joins me now.

Welcome.

DINESH D'SOUZA, AUTHOR, "THE ENEMY AT HOME: THE CULTURAL LEFT AND ITS RESPONSIBILITY FOR 9/11": Thank you.

ZAHN: In your book, you blame, among others, Hillary Clinton, Michael Moore, the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, the National Organization for Women, in some way, causing al Qaeda to attack on 9/11.

Are you really going to say these individuals and these groups who promote tolerance are, in some way, responsible for bin Laden murdering thousands of Americans?

D'SOUZA: Well, we're -- we're five years from 9/11. We have a -- can have a little perspective on that event.

And I would say that there is a foreign policy and a cultural dimension to 9/11. If I can say one word about the foreign policy dimension, the radical Muslims were in the minority everywhere in the Muslim world. But, then, in 1979, they captured a major state, Iran.

Now, how did that happen? It happened because Jimmy Carter, with the help of the cultural left, said: Look, I believe in human rights. Here's the shah. He's a tyrant. I can't support him. We have to pull the Persian rug out.

So, we got rid of the bad guy, and we got the worse guy, Khomeini. So, this is a concrete way in which our foreign policy...

ZAHN: All right.

D'SOUZA: ... led by Carter, gave radical Islam control of a major state.

ZAHN: Before you talk about the cultural prong on this, let's jump forward to 1998, because you know -- you, no doubt, know your critics out there are saying that you have a surprising lack of understanding about jihadist theology.

They say, these attacks had nothing to do with freedom, nothing to do -- democracy, and everything to do with the presence of U.S. troops on Muslim soil. Bin Laden himself said that Americans had declared war on Muslims, and that the U.S. occupation of the Arab Peninsula that caused him to attack.

D'SOUZA: Well, he -- he -- bin Laden issued a letter to America right after 9/11. And about a third of the letter is about foreign policy. He talks about U.S. troops in Mecca. He talks about Israel.

But most of his letter is about gambling, fornication, adultery, homosexuality, gay marriage. He calls America the fount of global paganism in the world. He says, America used to be Christian; now it is atheist.

ZAHN: But you have to admit that there are millions of Muslims that consume our movies.

D'SOUZA: Yes.

ZAHN: When you poll them, they -- they say they like our movies.

D'SOUZA: Of course. And -- and -- so, this is the point. America...

ZAHN: They -- they -- and they don't seem to be bothered about watching "Baywatch." That, at one time, was a very -- very -- one of the most popular shows in the Middle East.

(CROSSTALK)

D'SOUZA: You see, no one will deny the appeal of America. But what I want to say is that -- and I have grown up in this -- outside of Europe and America, you have very traditional cultures in the world, South America, Africa, Asia, China, India, and the Middle East perhaps the most of all.

So, Muslims, traditional Muslims, are socially very conservative.

Now, here in America, we have a culture. It's very individualistic. It's very vital. There's a lot about it that I like. But there's some about it that, as a parent, I don't like, and I have to shield my 12-year-old daughter's eyes from it.

ZAHN: Right. You just don't consume it.

D'SOUZA: Right.

But, in America, you and I know that American popular culture, American music, American TV is not necessarily the -- the way you and I live. American life is different than American popular culture.

But now, to an ordinary Muslim in -- sitting in Riyadh or Islamabad, when they see American values, they see the projection of American values abroad, they don't make that distinction. To them, the values of our popular culture are America. And the radical Muslims exploit that.

They say: Look, see, these are people who have no shame. They have no modesty. They don't value virginity, chastity. The -- you have Planned Parenthood distributing condoms to teenage girls all over the world. You have people filing lawsuits to get rid of abortion laws in South America, a conservative Catholic culture.

So, I'm saying this is an assault on the values of traditional people abroad. And, if we believe in tolerance, we should respect the integrity of other cultures.

ZAHN: Hang on for one second, Dinesh, because I would like to bring in our panel to weigh in some of what you have just said, Roland Martin, Kamal Nawash, Amy Holmes.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: And I saw you shaking your head, not on the foreign policy prong on this, but the cultural prong. You do understand that...

MARTIN: I'm shaking my head on both.

ZAHN: All right. But -- but you do understand, some of these extremists would be fueled by what they perceive...

MARTIN: Oh, no, I understand.

ZAHN: ... as the moral depravity of America.

MARTIN: He -- he doesn't. I understand. He doesn't.

ZAHN: What is it that you understand that he doesn't?

MARTIN: How can you stop at 1979, when it comes to Iran? How can you overlook Mossadegh, when we chose to get mad because they wanted to split their oil proceeds?

Maybe the Iranians were still ticked off when we put the shah in control. Maybe that is what also angered them. You blame gamble? So, how about Mr. Moral -- Mr. Morality, Bill Bennett? What liberal made him gamble? What -- you talk about homosexuality, blame it on the left.

Mark Foley...

ZAHN: All right.

MARTIN: ... conservative, Republican.

D'SOUZA: But, see...

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Come on, now. I mean, come on.

ZAHN: But, as far as we know, bin Laden, except in one of his missives...

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: ... has not made any distinction between cultural liberals and conservatives in America.

D'SOUZA: Oh, no. No.

MARTIN: Thank you.

D'SOUZA: I'm not saying bin Laden is making the distinction. In fact, bin Laden...

MARTIN: You are.

D'SOUZA: ... blaming America. And he's only looking at one part of America.

Here is what interesting. If you go to Europe, and you find a Frenchman or a German who is anti-American, and you say, "What don't you like about America?" all they see is red America, cowboy in the White House, religious fundamentalists running around. They only see one part of America.

Now, what I'm saying is...

ZAHN: And that's a part of America that consumes...

D'SOUZA: And that is a part of America.

ZAHN: ... pornography...

D'SOUZA: Right. But I'm saying, when you talk to the Muslims...

ZAHN: ... drinks some booze.

D'SOUZA: When you talk to the Muslims, what they see is family breakdown, gay marriage. They're looking at blue America. So, I'm not saying either one is...

(CROSSTALK) ZAHN: All right.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: All right.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: All right. Hang on one second.

HOLMES: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: Let me jump in here. Let me jump in here.

(LAUGHTER)

HOLMES: Why should we accept Osama bin Laden's distorted, exploitative propaganda about our culture, number one?

And, number two, you mentioned, you know, other countries that are culturally conservative, and, yet, they're not waging jihad. So, at what point are you -- are you -- at what point does jihad have to take responsibility for itself?

D'SOUZA: Amy, my point has nothing to do with bin Laden, per se.

Here's my point. You have the radical Muslims, and then you have the traditional Muslims, who are the majority, the one billion Muslims in the world. The radical Muslims have been appealing to the moral conservatism of traditional Muslims.

ZAHN: Sure.

D'SOUZA: Right?

Now, we can't win the war on terror if we don't drive a wedge between traditional Islam and radical Islam. It doesn't matter how many radicals we kill, if twice as many traditional Muslims join them. So...

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: Which I -- I agree with, but the title of your book...

(CROSSTALK)

NAWASH: Can I jump in here?

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Let's -- let's lake Kamal come in here.

(CROSSTALK)

NAWASH: Look, as a -- as a Muslim, and -- who happens to be an Arab, and who also happens...

ZAHN: And he's the only Muslim on our panel tonight.

NAWASH: Yes, who also happens to watch a lot of Arab TV, you know, I -- when I knew I was coming here, I went and looked at some of the writings of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, bin Laden, and so on.

And, at the end of the day, most of their problems, whether you agree with it or not, they are real issues. They all talk about the same thing. They talk about being upset over Palestine. They talk about being upset over the sanctions that were put on Iraq long ago. They talk about U.S. troops being in Saudi Arabia.

So, whether you agree or not, I think these are real -- they're real issues.

Now...

(CROSSTALK)

NAWASH: Now...

(CROSSTALK)

NAWASH: All right. All right.

(CROSSTALK)

NAWASH: All right.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: ... political part of that is true.

NAWASH: But he's saying -- he's saying -- he's saying...

MARTIN: The title of his book...

(CROSSTALK)

NAWASH: He's saying they're affected, they're also affected by -- you know, they might not be happy with Britney Spears and -- and Lindsay Lohan, and so on. Yes, bin Laden might think she's a prostitute.

But I don't think -- I don't think he's going to get some people to blow up Americans because...

ZAHN: That's going to lead to a fatwa...

NAWASH: Yes. (CROSSTALK)

NAWASH: And, in -- in addition...

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: ... because Britney Spears is running around without underwear.

NAWASH: In addition, most Arab and Muslim countries have these same vices in their country.

If you go to Egypt, you have these things. If you go to Jordan, you have these things.

HOLMES: Sure.

(CROSSTALK)

NAWASH: So, even though I'm a conservative, I'm not about to bash, you know, the liberals to that degree. I think it's unfair.

ZAHN: All right. Just a closing thought.

MARTIN: First of all, don't point at me with the liberals.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Go ahead.

ZAHN: You have to acknowledge -- acknowledge that there is tremendous -- probably as much hypocrisy in the Muslim culture as there is in the American...

MARTIN: In any culture.

ZAHN: ... Christian culture.

D'SOUZA: I -- I don't deny that for a minute.

The point I'm trying to make is that, in Islamic -- look, homosexuality, pornography, these things exist all over the world. What the traditional Muslim is worried about is when these practices, which have been tolerated in just about every society, are seen as being glamorized or given social sanction.

So, it's one thing to have homosexuality, which is a worldwide issue. But gay marriage is seen as society putting its stamp of approval on something. So, bin Laden has been able to take advantage of this. I'm not saying we should change. I'm just saying, let's show the traditional world the other America.

ZAHN: All right.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: All right.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: All right. Hang on. Hang on.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Hang on.

MARTIN: I have got a question. Should we -- should we blow a country up because they oppress women? Should we use that rationale?

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: ... not the argument he's making in the book.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Guys, I have got 15 seconds.

MARTIN: That's my whole point.

ZAHN: And I have got to move on.

D'SOUZA: All right.

ZAHN: Do you want to make a closing thought?

NAWASH: Yes. They have countries much more liberal than the U.S. in Europe, and -- Holland, and all these things.

(CROSSTALK)

NAWASH: And these countries are not being attacked.

I really think...

(CROSSTALK)

NAWASH: I'm not going to dismiss you, but I think most of these Muslim and Arab countries, whether you agree or not, are upset over real issues, things like Palestine, Iraq, and all that, whether you agree or not.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: All right.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Team, we have got to leave it there.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Sorry, Dinesh.

NAWASH: Bin Laden might go out with Paris Hilton, if he got a chance.

(LAUGHTER)

ZAHN: We're going to continue to argue about this.

Dinesh D'Souza...

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: ... Whitney Houston...

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: ... thank you for talking about your book.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Hang on.

MARTIN: I'm sorry.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: We have got to move on, Roland.

MARTIN: I'm sorry.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Behave.

MARTIN: I'm sorry.

ZAHN: Kamal, Amy, stay right here. We're going to come back in just a little bit.

Did I sound like your mother?

MARTIN: You sound like Mike Myers.

(LAUGHTER)

ZAHN: Oh, behave.

(LAUGHTER)

ZAHN: A controversy over slavery is out in the open in Virginia tonight, where a state lawmaker has stirred up a hornets' nest by telling the descendants of slaves to -- quote -- "Get over it." We're going to check out that one in just a minute.

And, then, a little bit later on, my Headline Prime colleague Glenn Beck wants to sound off about the Duke lacrosse case. It says -- or he says it has made him understand racism, but not in the way you may think. He will explain when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Out in the open tonight: the stunning words of a Virginia lawmaker, who said blacks need to get over slavery. And that's not all he said that's causing outrage and accusations of intolerance.

It all started this week, as Virginia lawmakers decided whether the state should make a formal apology for slavery.

Kathleen Koch has that story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Virginia Delegate Donald McEachin thought his resolution would promote racial harmony, not provoke racial division -- the proposal, that, this year, the 400th anniversary of historic Jamestown, an early slave port, Virginia should apologize for its role in slavery.

DONALD MCEACHIN, VIRGINIA STATE ASSEMBLYMAN: I can't think of a better time for Virginia to apologize for and to atone for the sins of slavery than now, during this 400th anniversary.

KOCH: But one colleague in the Virginia General Assembly didn't like the idea, Delegate Frank Hargrove telling a local newspaper that, when it comes to slavery -- quote -- "Our black citizens should get over it." He added that no one alive today had anything to do with slavery, commenting, "Are we going to force Jews to apologize for killing Christ?

Dwight Jones heads the legislative black caucus.

DWIGHT JONES, PRESIDENT, VIRGINIA LEGISLATIVE BLACK CAUCUS: To suggest that we need to just get over slavery is an absolute affront, as though slavery was a birthday party that somebody had last Saturday night. It raped our mothers and fathers. It killed our sons and daughters.

KOCH: David Englin sits next to Hargrove on the assembly floor.

DAVID ENGLIN, VIRGINIA STATE ASSEMBLYMAN: I want my colleagues to understand, Mr. Speaker, what it means when people of -- of the respect and stature of a member of this body perpetuate the notion that Jews killed Christ.

KOCH: Hargrove won't apologize.

FRANK HARGROVE, VIRGINIA STATE ASSEMBLYMAN: I think your skin was a little too thin.

KOCH: He did defend his comments to CNN.

HARGROVE: I think slavery was horrible. There wasn't no -- no justification at all for slavery. But I didn't have any part in it.

KOCH: States and countries have long been reluctant to apologize for slavery. They fear it would open them up to reparations, lawsuits, like those already brought against major corporations alleged to have profited from the slave trade.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in December, expressed -- quote -- "deep sorrow" over his country's role in slavery. President Bill Clinton did the same in Africa in 1998.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: European Americans received the fruits of the slave trade. And we were wrong in that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOCH (on camera): But neither the U.S. Congress, nor any state has ever officially apologized for slavery.

(voice-over): Even if the Virginia measure passes, supporters worry it would only be a symbolic victory.

JONES: The bill could pass, and attitudes won't change. And, to me -- to me, it's more important that attitudes change.

KOCH: Kathleen Koch, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Let's go back to tonight's "Out in the Open" panel, Roland Martin, Kamal Nawash, Amy Holmes.

So, Kamal, when a comment like that comes out, that blacks should get over slavery, what message is this man sending to all blacks?

NAWASH: I -- I think his views -- first of all, I don't think this guy is a racist. I don't think Delegate Hargrove is a racist.

I think what he's saying is what millions of Americans think. He's basically saying:, slavery was bad. Slavery was bad, and it's in the past. And we need to move forward. If you think what happened is bad...

ZAHN: Yes, he said let's not recycle it over and over again.

NAWASH: He said let's move forward. If you think there's inequality now, let's improve it. Let's talk about the future. I mean, why should someone like me have to apologize or you? Why would someone like you have to apologize?

In American culture and most cultures, it's all about individual responsibility. And why should the son of a criminal have to suffer for the crimes of his parent? It's not fair. If you think it's unfair, why don't you say, hey, why don't we have equality in the future. Why should we talk about the past?

HOLMES: No one is asking you personally to apologize. Virginia state is apologizing for its history of slavery and then from there moving forward. We know that if we don't remember our history we're doomed to repeat it. And this man's flip, thoughtless remarks, why can't blacks just get over it as if there has not been any consequences of slavery, lingering discrimination...

ZAHN: I don't think he's saying that there are no consequences of slavery. Is he?

NAWASH: I don't think he's saying that. You shouldn't put words in his mouth.

ZAHN: He did say it was a bad thing.

(CROSSTALK)

NAWASH: We shouldn't put words in his mouth.

MARTIN: But here's the piece that you were missing. An individual doesn't necessarily have to apologize. It was an institution. Slavery was approved by local council.

HOLMES: Exactly, a state-sponsored institution.

MARTIN: One second. By the state, by the federal government, governors, the Supreme Court. The point...

NAWASH: We corrected that. That was what Brown versus Board of Education. That was what Plessy versus Ferguson was all about.

HOLMES: OK, so help me to understand it. Why did we apologize for the Japanese.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Why did we apologize for Japanese internment camps.

NAWASH: I thought that was wrong. We shouldn't have apologized for that.

MARTIN: Why have be apologized -- no, but see, there's a reason. It's also why internationally when you have certain incidents, countries apologize for those incidents. You do it because it is right, it is proper.

(CROSSTALK)

NAWASH: Would you feel better if...

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: It's called ownership. It's called admitting it.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: But do individuals like Kalamie (ph) bear ownership of this? You're saying it purely should come from institutions and we bear no responsibility. MARTIN: No, it's a matter of institutions. When the United States Senate, when apologized for their failure to say anything and do anything about lynching, it does matter. You are establishing that you actually acknowledge what took place.

HOLMES: Acknowledging a wrong.

NAWASH: But isn't that what the Civil Rights Act all about -- when we passed the Civil Rights Act and say hey, there's no more separation, there's no more segregation?

(CROSSTALK)

NAWASH: But by point is now, in the eyes of the government you're completely equal.

MARTIN: No, I'm not.

NAWASH: And if you're not, then you should ask for equality. You should be asking for equality, not looking at the past.

MARTIN: No, and that's what happens when you don't have a full understanding of how it impacts people today. It does matter to apologize.

NAWASH: Maybe I don't. Maybe I don't.

ZAHN: Let me talk about this moral equivalence people are bringing out. In the same interview, Delegate Hargrove equated apologized to blacks for slavery to apologizing to Jews for killing Christ.

HOLMES: Well, clearly he doesn't know his Biblical history. That's a whole 'nother, you now, can of worms that I don't think we need to get into. I think he needs to apologize for having made that remark about Jews killing Christ. It's just completely unimaginable that he would say that. Nothing further to add.

ZAHN: He was just said he spoke his mind, we called...

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: He doesn't have his history correct. But I think the point that you're trying make and he maybe was trying to make and fumbling is it's the idea of individuals bearing white guilt of historic wrongs. I think those are things that we can...

ZAHN: Right, your family didn't have slaves.

(CROSSTALK)

NAWASH: No. We may be white but we didn't -- and I'm an immigrant.

MARTIN: But I want to say...

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: Hold on just a second, Roland. The point we're talking about, as I said, as I said earlier, is about institutions acknowledging this. We have newspapers from the Northeast -- they have published apologies...

NAWASH: Would it make a difference?

HOLMES: ... for having published advertisements for the slave trade. Now there's no slave trade today, but those newspapers have felt that it is appropriate that they acknowledge and take responsibility for their history and their part.

ZAHN: Hang on one second -- should there ever be a statute of limitations on these apologies that you're talking about? Are you talking for hundreds of more years that you still think institutions should be?

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: You get the final word, Roland.

MARTIN: The point is, there is no statue of limitations when you have never acknowledged the wrong. It's no different in the personal relationship when someone hurts someone else. What do they always say in a marriage? If you never acknowledge how you hurt the other person, then it continues. Acknowledging the wrong, it means something and we should never dismiss it.

ZAHN: All right. Roland Martin, Kamal Nawash, Amy Holmes, thank you. Fascinating discussion.

NAWASH: Thank you.

MARTIN: You're welcome.

We're going to move on and talk about presidential politics and race. Is the country ready for a black president? I'm going to ask my Headline Prime colleague Glenn Beck next.

And then a little bit later on, a British version of the reality TV show "Big Brother" brings a new controversy over tolerance or intolerance right out into the open. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Well, you can count on Headline Prime host Glenn Beck to be outspoken, sometimes even controversial in his weekly visit here. Let's see what he has to say about some of the stories we're bringing out in the open. Welcome back.

GLENN BECK, HEADLINE PRIME HOST: Thank you.

ZAHN: Last night we were in North Carolina...

BECK: Yes. ZAHN: ... discussing the rape charges that were filed against the Duke lacrosse players, charges that were ultimately dropped, and the extent to which race played in their being charged in the first place. We had whites and blacks saying that they were railroaded. How has this case opened your eyes about racism, racism directed at whites and blacks.

BECK: I think that this is the perfect weekend to really go into it, the perfect week, with Martin Luther King Day on Monday. I'm the whitest white guy you'll ever meet.

I grew up in Seattle and I remember the first time I saw a black man. My father only said this: Don't stare. So I don't really understand race, and I don't claim to now. However, my eyes were opened this weekend as I was seeing these guys -- I believe -- just railroaded for political reasons.

ZAHN: And we should explain, for folks who have not been following this closely, the district attorney has been accused by some of his critics, for trying to curry the black vote in a close race for district attorney and going after these white guys really, really hard.

BECK: This guy is either the sloppiest guy or he had intentions of just stirring the pot to be able to get himself elected. I don't know what it is. But that's the way it appears to me at this point.

As I'm watching this, I think to myself, you know what? Man, I can't believe the injustice that's going on here. And for the first time I understood how people could cheer for O.J. Simpson being released and being found not guilty.

ZAHN: Why is that?

BECK: Because, if you take how I feel, or how the white community might feel about this particular case, and you times it by 200 years of this kind of stuff, you can finally -- at least I could. I could see myself finally saying if somebody else got off -- if a white guy got off who was clearly guilty, I would -- horrible to admit -- say, stick it to the man. I would.

ZAHN: So what you're saying is you believe in revenge verdicts?

BECK: No, I don't, but I could understand it for the first time. Before this -- it's interesting. To me the Duke rape case is kind of an ending to, for me, a personal journey with the O.J. Simpson trial. I lost my respect or my understanding of -- I always thought the good guys won, the bad guys lost until O.J. Simpson.

And then I saw a community stand up and cheer for a guy who was clearly guilty in my eyes. And I didn't understand it. This is the other end. I understand their anger and their frustration. I don't condone it, but I understand it.

ZAHN: So today in America, how guilty is our society of buying into stereotypes, the white, privileged guys who went to Duke versus the poor, black victim in America?

BECK: I think we're all about stereotypes, unfortunately. And, you know, it's a way to make the snap judgment, you know? And sometimes you need that snap judgment. Sometimes police officers, people who are screening people at the airport, you need to have that first snap judgment and say, "Wait a minute, I need some extra time."

ZAHN: So you think racial profiling a good thing?

BECK: No. I think racial profiling, not necessarily, but profiling of behavior, et cetera, is. If you come up and you're sweating and you're in line, I don't care what religion you are. I don't care what you look like. If you're sweating, I'm going to use that as a snap judgment and say, "I'm going to spend more time with you."

However, you don't blow it into a federal case. You take it step by step.

ZAHN: All right. So now, I need a snap judgment from you.

BECK: Yes.

ZAHN: Barack Obama announced he's formed an exploratory committee to run for president. A lot of people in America say they'll vote for a black guy for president. But we know from mayoral races sometimes whites will say that and they don't end up casting the vote for the black candidate.

Is his race going to hurt him?

BECK: No, I think we're so sick and tired of all of this garbage I think as Americans, we want an honest person. I don't care what color they are.

Mitt Romney, is his Mormonism going to hurt him? No. If he's honest, if he has values that Americans are looking for, if you can trust, if he looks like a guy who's not going to play politics, people will vote for a Mormon. People will vote for a black man.

Let's wait and see what this guy really is before we can judge America and how they're going to vote.

Race -- there are going to be bigots that don't vote for him. and there will be bigots on the other side that vote for him because he is black and that's the only issue. That's just stupid people that are voting. Let's just see what he's all about and what he stands for.

ZAHN: Glenn Beck.

BECK: Thanks.

ZAHN: Appreciate your dropping by. Always good to see you. See you next week.

BECK: Thank you.

ZAHN: And we're going to move along now. The "Big Brother" reality TV show is huge overseas, but now the British version of "Big Brother" has started a huge argument over intolerance and the way a contestant from India is being treated on the show.

A little bit later on, a new development into the controversy over parents who stunted their disabled child's -- daughter's growth to make her easier to care for and, they say, to make here more comfortable. Some other parents are saying they wish they could have done the same thing with their own child.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: We're bringing the uproar over alleged racial intolerance on a hit really TV show right out into the open tonight. Thousands of people in Britain are absolutely outraged about the treatment of an Indian movie star who has been taunted and mocked by her fellow contestants on the "Big Brother" show.

Well, today the controversy sparked protests in India and now the Indian government wants to know if Britain's race laws are being broken.

Paula Hancocks is in London with the latest on this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Reality TV shows thrive on turmoil. Arguments boost ratings and profits. But the trouble on Britain's "Celebrity Big Brother" now involves allegations of racism and bullying.

SHILPA SHETTY, ACTRESS: My name is Shilpa.

HANCOCKS: At the center of it all, this Indian actress, Shilpa Shetty, and the way some contestants are treating her. One house mate couldn't pronounce Shulpa's name, so referred to her as "the Indian".

SHETTY: You don't need to understand it. It's not a sentence. It's a (CENSORED) name.

HANCOCKS: Fellow house mates have made fun of her accent and her eating habits.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do they do that in India, eat with the hands?

HANCOCKS: One contestant suggested Indians are thin because they undercook their food and so, are always sick. The strain on Shetty is clear.

SHETTY: Why do they hate me? Why am I (INAUDIBLE)?

HANCOCKS: Those locked inside the house are unaware of the turmoil they're causing outside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... you've probably said about people in the house, the way some eats...

HANCOCKS: Tens of thousands of viewers are complaining about what they say as racism and bullying. British newspapers are filled with comment and analysis. The prime minister was even asked about it in Parliament.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I would agree entirely with the principal that he has outlined, which is that we should oppose racism in all its forms.

CROWD: (SHOUTING)

HANCOCKS: Some fans of Shilpa Shetty are furious of her treatment, burning effigies of the organizers of "Big Brother".

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

HANCOCKS: This man says, "In the name of racism she was abused and insulted. And all Indians are feeling insulted."

The protests continue and some in the house accused of bullying Shetty are said to be receiving death threats. One former contestant is trying to calm things down.

CAROLE MALONE, FORMER "BIG BROTHER" CONTESTANT: All the calls of racism should stop. This is how this sort of thing gets out of control. It isn't racism. It's just girls being very silly and very childish and very mean.

HANCOCKS: The show's producers say there has been no overt racial abuse or racist behavior. They put it down to a clash of culture and class.

But whatever they call it, with all the publicity, ratings jumped 20 percent overnight.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And the agency that regulates all TV programming in Britain is now investigating those charges of alleged racist abuse.

(BUSINESS HEADLINES)

ZAHN: And there are some developments in a story we helped bring out in the open. Next, the parents who are defending a family's decision to stunt the growth of a severely disabled child they nicknamed, their "Pillow Angel". Hear what they have to say when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ZAHN: We have some new developments in a story we've been telling you about for a couple weeks now. The controversy over Ashley, a severely disabled girl, whose parents call her their pillow angel. They decided to sterilize Ashley and stunt her growth, to make it easier for her and they say to make her more comfortable. Some critics say it is an outrage, an act of intolerance against the disabled. Well tonight, we're bringing out in the open another family's story and their wish to keep their disabled child forever small. Medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has tonight's "Vital Signs."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There you go. That was really special.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Annie Clatterbuck has the mind of a 2-year-old in the body of an 11-year-old.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hop up on your bed. Can we get up on your bed? Yep. Yes, you do.

COHEN (on camera): It must be hard to manage her at this size.

KARIN CLATTERBUCK, ANNIE'S MOTHER: Very. And this is actually -- she's doing pretty good. This is a good day, she's not kicking us.

COHEN: Has she ever hurt you?

CLATTERBUCK: Oh, yes.

COHEN: In what way?

CLATTERBUCK: She's bruised me. I've had scratches. I wear her spit.

COHEN (voice-over): Annie has epilepsy. She has terrible seizures and falls down. Her birth mother was a meth addict. Her adopted mother Karin says the bigger Annie gets, the harder it is to protect her.

(on camera): So she's 100 pounds now. You have no idea what she'll be like full grown.

CLATTERBUCK: No. I have no idea where she's going in her growth. Her birth mother is over six foot. So yes, it's pretty scary to think that, you know, I'll be dealing with an infant that's six foot tall. That's very frightening. Not so much for me, but her.

COHEN (voice-over): So Karin was thrilled when she saw that this mother faced with a similar situation did something about it. Nine- year-old Ashley has received a lot of publicity lately. Her parents stunted her growth with hormones and had her uterus and breast buds surgically removed. Karin says at age 11 her daughter is too old for these procedures. But when Karin read Ashley's parents blog, she wrote them an e-mail saying "we applaud you both in your decision. I'm sure there is a wonderful castle waiting for you all up in heaven." Not everyone agrees. Many disabled people and some medical ethicists accuse Ashley's parents of doing something very wrong, keeping her small for their own convenience. But Karin says the activists should butt out, that her child would be happier if she were smaller.

(on camera): Do you wish that you could put Annie on your lap and cuddle her and hold her like you used to be able to do?

CLATTERBUCK: More than anything in the world because that's where she was happiest.

COHEN (voice-over): Karin says she wishes her daughter could be Ashley's size the rest of her life, around 65 pounds and four feet tall. She says Annie doesn't need to become a woman.

CLATTERBUCK: She's not going to prom. She's not going to get married. She's going to be at home and we're going to be taking care of her.

COHEN: Karin wishes years ago she could have stopped the clock and kept her daughter forever small. But even at this size, she never regrets giving Annie a loving home.

CLATTERBUCK: It's a lovely burden.

COHEN: A burden, she says, only a parent of a child like Annie can truly understand.

CLATTERBUCK: Very affectionate. Oh see, she wants to give you a hug.

COHEN: Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Port Orange, Florida.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And we are just minutes away from the top of the hour. On "LARRY KING LIVE" tonight, a shocking video of teenagers beating up one of their classmates, all caught on tape. Doctor Laura is among Larry's guests tonight. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: And that wraps it up for all of us here tonight. Thanks so much for joining us.

Tomorrow night, intolerance with a dollar sign. Out in the open, a southwestern pizza chain is cooking up a huge controversy by letting customers pay for their pizzas with pesos. It has generated a bunch of hate mail, even death threats. Details coming up for you tomorrow. We hope you join us then. Until then, have a great night. Again, thanks for dropping by tonight. "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.

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