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PAULA ZAHN NOW

Koran in the Toilet: Hate Crime?; Political Bedtime Stories

Aired July 31, 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: Good evening, everybody. Glad to have you with us tonight.
Should it be a hate crime if you throw a Koran in a public toilet?

Also, a woman says she was gang-raped in her own home by 10 people for three hours. Why didn't anyone around her try to help?

And bedtime books with a political theme for little conservatives and liberals. How young is too young for political indoctrination?

We begin tonight with the Koran in the toilet. The Koran of course is the Muslim holy book, and any kind of mistreatment of it is deeply offensive to devout Muslims. But twice last fall someone left copies of the Koran in public toilets at Pace University in New York.

Just four days ago, police using surveillance pictures tracked down a suspect. He is Stanislav Shmulevich, a 23-year-old Ukrainian immigrant who was a student at Pace last fall. He is now accused of criminal mischief as a hate crime.

According to the police report, Shmulevich told them he was angry with a group of Muslim students after a recent disagreement. Well, his prosecution raises all sorts of questions about the definition of a hate crime, the limit of free speech, and if some people are too worried about offending Muslims.

Best-selling author Christopher Hitchens asked that very question in a piece for "Slate" magazine, saying: "Nothing repels me more than the burning or desecration of books. When I check into a hotel room and send my free and unsolicited copy of the Gideon Bible or the Book of Mormon spinning out of the window, I infringe no law, except perhaps one concerning litter."

Christopher Hitchens is also the author of "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything."

He joins me now, along with Ibrahim Hooper, the national communications director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Good to have both of you with us tonight.

IBRAHIM HOOPER, NATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, COUNCIL ON AMERICAN-ISLAMIC RELATIONS: Thanks for having us.

ZAHN: So, Mr. Hooper, I'm going start with you tonight. First of all, university officials called this nothing more than vandalism. But, after pressure from Muslims and Muslim groups, that was elevated to a felony hate crime. I want to put up on the screen what the definition of that is in New York State.

It states: "Hate crimes do more than threaten the safety and welfare of all citizens. They inflict on victims incalculable physical and emotional damage and tear at the very fabric of free society."

Can you tell us tonight where any physical damage was done or emotional?

HOOPER: Well, first of all, this person didn't do it to his own copy of the Koran. He stole Korans and did it in an act of intimidation. If he had done this in his own home, or, you know, on the public square as an act of some perverse free speech, nobody would care.

We get, you know, reports all the time of Korans being desecrated. But when it crosses the line from free speech to acts of intimidation, that's when you get into a hate crime.

ZAHN: But who was he intimidating by his action?

HOOPER: He was -- he was specifically targeting the Muslims on the campus to intimidate them. And we have actually had reports to our New York office that students, Muslim students have withdrawn from the university because of the hostile atmosphere created by not only this act, but other acts of hate.

ZAHN: All right, let's bring Christopher into the discussion now.

You don't think this is a hate crime. In fact, you went so far to ask the question in your piece -- quote -- "Why are we so scared of offending Muslims?"

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "VANITY FAIR": Yes. Well, the two things are very much connected.

First, contrast the semi-literate language of the statute you just read out from New York State to the very lucid and beautiful language of the First Amendment to our Constitution, which guarantees the right of freedom of expression. And that may very well involve and in fact was designed to protect criticism of religion. It may be expressed in a very vulgar manner in this case, but, if I don't like a book by James Joyce or Karl Marx or Ayn Rand, and I decide to spit on it or hurl it around, it is not the sort of thing I would be likely to do, but it is nobody's business legally.

HOOPER: But if you take that same book...

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS: It is not a hate crime. It is nothing to do with intimidation.

HOOPER: ... and use it as an act of intimidation -- I will give you an example.

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS: What's the act of intimidation here?

HOOPER: Someone sent us video of a Koran being shot. That wasn't a hate crime. But that same person took the Koran that was shot, and threw it at the door of a Tennessee mosque in an act of intimidation. That's when it crosses the line into a hate crime.

HITCHENS: It's not -- I'm sorry. I'm very sorry, Mr. Hooper. I don't see where that is an act of intimidation.

(CROSSTALK)

HOOPER: When you go to a house of worship and intimidate them, using desecrated religious texts?

(CROSSTALK)

HOOPER: I suppose I have to just wait my turn. I will wait my turn.

ZAHN: All right. Let's, Christopher, bring it back to Pace University.

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS: I'm sorry. Ms. Zahn?

ZAHN: Yes.

HITCHENS: Ms. Zahn, I'm sorry. I thought that question was for me.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Carry on about the...

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS: ... not for Mr. Hooper.

The second thing is this.

As the leader of an American Muslim lobbying organization, which defends, for example, people like the crooner Cat Stevens, who under the name Yusuf Islam has publicly called for the murder of a novelist now living in New York...

(CROSSTALK)

HOOPER: He never did that. And he has explained that. (CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS: Mr. Hooper would be much better, much better employed in attacking what really is intimidating, which is the awareness among everyone in this profession, including CNN, which told me last year that it wouldn't run the cartoons from Denmark because it was afraid for the safety of its bureau chiefs, let's see where the real intimidation is coming from.

As long as this kind of thing is licensed in the name of religion, Mr. Hooper, you're going to have to expect that people can also be offended. You won't just be the only one to say that you're shocked or upset. Some people will say that they are fed up with religious bullying. And it is high time that they did, and high time you got used to it.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Mr. Hooper, don't you acknowledge, in the wake of 9/11, there are a lot of Americans who are afraid to cross Muslims?

HOOPER: Well, I think we should treat every incident equally. If there was a Bible that was desecrated and...

ZAHN: But you didn't answer the question.

HOOPER: What? Well, I understand...

ZAHN: Do you think Americans by and large are afraid to offend Muslims?

HOOPER: I think people should not offend each other, no matter what the faith they are. I think we should try and get along and not cause as much problems for people of other faiths.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

HITCHENS: I know. And, every day in Iraq, mosques are blown up, not by Christians or atheists or Jews.

HOOPER: Well, I'm not in Iraq. I'm not representing the Iraqi...

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS: Every day in Iraq, they're blown up by other -- they're blown up by other Muslims. And your organization doesn't protest about it.

HOOPER: And we have issued countless condemnations of those kinds of acts.

ZAHN: All right. Gentlemen, I want you to stand by, because I'm going to bring you back into another part of the discussion. Christopher Hitchens, Ibrahim Hooper, please stay right there. I want you to hear what my next guest has to say and come back to you for more reaction.

We're on the topic of intolerance against Muslims, I want to talk about a controversial word that you probably have heard over and over again in relation to the war on terror, Islamophobia, defined by some as undue fear of Muslims. But is it racist to fear an entire religious group?

Radio talk show host Dennis Prager says absolutely not. And he explained why in a provocative column that is making news today. And he joins me now from Los Angeles.

Welcome back, Dennis.

DENNIS PRAGER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Good to be with you.

ZAHN: Thank you.

So, let me read just a small part of what you wrote, so our viewers know what exactly we're talking about here: "One can rightly or wrongly fear Islam or more usually aspects of Islam and have absolutely no bias against all Muslims, let alone be a racist."

How can you say it is not racist to fear an entire group of people?

PRAGER: Well, that's the point. The brilliance of the term -- and that's the title of my piece, that it is a brilliant term, Islamophobia -- remember, it means fear of Islam, not fear of Muslims.

See, you have -- there is anti-Semite. There's racist. That is fear of people or hatred of people. Islamophobia was a brilliant term because it meant that any criticism of Islam, not of Muslims, but any criticism of Islam is equal to racism.

And I gave example after example where they're lumped together. But Islam has nothing to do with race. You might as well say that anybody who has fear of conservatism is a racist or fear of -- conservatism phobia or liberal phobia, anyone who fears liberalism, is a racist.

ZAHN: Would you be offended by...

PRAGER: But nobody would say that. It is absurd.

ZAHN: Would you be offended if someone used the word Jewophobia?

PRAGER: Judaism phobia would be fear of Judaism. But they don't use that term. There are people who may not like Judaism. There are people who could say anything they want about Judaism. That is my religion. It is criticized. Christopher Hitchens criticized it in his book. I don't think he has an anti-Semitic bone in his body. But that's the whole point. But, if you criticize Islam, you're considered to be a racist. But, if you criticize Judaism, nobody thinks you're a racist. That's the point of the brilliance of the term. That's why -- one of the many reasons you can no longer criticize only one group.

For example, to use the theme that you were using before, if you have a if you have a Koran in the toilet, which is disgusting, absolutely, and reprehensible, that's all of a sudden a hate crime. But if you have a crucifix in a man's pee, "Piss Christ," that's at galleries and museums and a man makes money on it, which gives you an idea, because there is no Christianophobia, Christianity phobia, but there is Islamophobia.

And, so, the word and the intimidation have been very effective in intimidating any equal reaction to the religion...

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: If you believe this intimidation is for real, do you think it is succeeding and suppressing criticism of Islam?

PRAGER: It is almost a rhetorical question that Christopher Hitchens mentioned earlier, about CNN, or any -- and it's not -- and I'm not picking on CNN. It was true for FOX News or anybody else.

Nobody showed the cartoons in the United States. I think "The Philadelphia Inquirer" might have been the one exception. That was one of the most newsworthy things, yet, no newspaper had a problem with showing the Virgin Mary surrounded by cow dung. It is a nonissue, or, for that matter, the crucifix in urine. Those are OK.

Or "Newsweek" puts the Jewish star with machine guns in it when it didn't like some Israeli policy. Nobody at "Newsweek" was afraid that Jews are going to blow up "Newsweek." But people are afraid that they will be blown up by Muslims, radical Muslims, Islamists, whatever term you wish to use. They're afraid they will be blown up by only one group of religious people on Earth at this time.

ZAHN: I want to bring Christopher Hitchens and Ibrahim Hooper back into the discussion.

Mr. Hooper, let me put up one more line from Dennis' column today where, he writes: "The term Islamophobia has one purpose, to suppress any criticism, legitimate or not, of Islam."

Do you buy that?

(CROSSTALK)

HOOPER: No.

Mr. Prager sets up a fall premise and then tries to defend it, first of all, that the use of the term is an attempt to suppress criticism. No one is saying you can't criticize any faith, discuss things openly, be critical of certain beliefs. But what we're talking about is hatred of Islam and Muslims. And we don't -- again, the second part of his false premise is that we call it racist.

Islam is an ideology. It's not a race. You can be a bigot. Maybe we should discuss whether Mr. Prager believes in anti-Muslim bigotry. But we have get on a daily basis things like, kill Mecca Monkeys, Islamo-Nazi rag heads. A message on a Web site supporting Mr. Prager's column said, Muslims are al Qaeda and al Qaeda are Muslim. Let's be done with it and kill them all.

Is he now ready to repudiate Robert Spencer and Jihad Watch, one of his top supporters?

ZAHN: Dennis Prager, a quick answer to that. Then I got to get Christopher into this conversation.

PRAGER: Jihad Watch is one of most honorable Web sites that I know of monitoring jihad in the world today.

HOOPER: Kill all Muslims?

PRAGER: Nobody says kill all Muslims.

ZAHN: Do you defend that kind of language, Dennis?

PRAGER: Who says kill all Muslims?

Oh, what you to think? It is despicable. Of course not.

ZAHN: All right.

PRAGER: It is absurd.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Christopher, fear isn't exactly the same thing as hate.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Christopher, isn't it possible to fear Islam or some aspects of it and be free of hate and not be a bigot?

HITCHENS: Well, phobia means -- phobia, I think as well as meaning fear, does imply dislike. And I dislike Islam, as I dislike all religion.

I'm just astounded by the turn the discussion has taken.

HOOPER: Equal opportunity hater.

HITCHENS: Every day, all the time, all the time, we have to hear propaganda pumped out of radio stations across the Muslim world telling children to kill Jews, telling children to kill Hindus, telling children to kill Christians, telling them that their sisters and mothers and aunts are inferior, telling them that homosexuals should be stoned.

We have to read and claim not to be offended about the stoning of 10 people in the Islamic Republic of Iran in the last week alone for crimes that they did not commit. They would not be crimes except under the mad religious laws that Islam proposes.

Mr. Hooper has to get used to this idea. Some of us find that offensive, too. But we don't demand that he be shut down or be prosecuted. We put up with his self-pity. We put up with his rantings and his distortions, because we believe in the First Amendment.

HOOPER: The rantings that led to the Muslim...

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS: All we ask -- all we ask in return -- all we ask in return is that he upholds...

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait.

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS: All we demand in return is he -- all we demand in return...

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Let's let Mr. Hitchens finish his thought.

HITCHENS: All we demand in return is he upholds the First Amendment, too. He has to uphold the First Amendment as well.

HOOPER: We love the First Amendment. We uphold it every day.

HITCHENS: Nonsense.

HOOPER: And the First Amendment also protects free expression of religion. And when you engage in acts of intimidation against a religious group, that goes against the First Amendment.

ZAHN: Dennis Prager, you get the last word tonight.

HITCHENS: You haven't read -- you have neither read nor understood the First Amendment, sir.

(CROSSTALK)

PRAGER: Mr. Hooper said that he welcomes criticism of Islam. Can one say that women, as a rule, are treated better in the Western world than the Islamic world? One who says that, is that person an Islamophobe?

HOOPER: No.

PRAGER: Yes or no?

HOOPER: We discuss that issue every day.

PRAGER: So, one can say that -- so, one can say that, and not be accused?

HOOPER: Again, you set up a false premise. We discuss that kind of issue all the time.

PRAGER: It's not a false premise. I ask that -- oh, well, really?

(CROSSTALK)

HOOPER: And by the way, the Web site that Mr. Prager is defending...

(CROSSTALK)

PRAGER: I asked that question in a "Los Angeles Time" article.

(CROSSTALK)

HOOPER: The Web site that Mr. Prager is defending says that we should make the life of Muslims in the West so difficult, they will leave.

ZAHN: Gentlemen, I have got leave it there.

PRAGER: That, I don't agree with. I do not agree with that sentiment, for the record.

HOOPER: Well, then tell Mr. Spencer that.

PRAGER: I will.

ZAHN: I wish we had more time to continue this, but we don't.

Christopher Hitchens, Ibrahim Hooper, Dennis Prager, thank you, all.

PRAGER: Thank you.

ZAHN: Still ahead tonight: What kind of world is it when $3.5 million is a disappointment?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEX VOGEL, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: You can't make it to the White House when you're only raising $3 million a month, when you're up against Giuliani and Romney on your own side and obviously Hillary and Obama on the other side.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Can Fred Thompson's not quite a campaign yet make it in spite of disappointing fund-raising numbers? The truth is in those numbers. We will share them with you a little bit later on. And why didn't anyone rush to help a mother and son while they were attacked in their home by 10 people for three hours?

And the liberals under the bed. New children's books designed to scare your kids into hating the political opposition, republicans and Democrats are writing them. See what they're all about when we come back.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Some bad news and some good news today for Republican presidential contender Fred Thompson. First, the bad news. His fund- raising committee says it raised about $3.4 million. That is a lot less than the $5 million to $6 million Thompson supporters were expecting. The good news is that, even with money problems, Thompson's running a close second to Rudy Giuliani in most public opinion polls. And he hasn't even officially announced yet.

Here is senior political correspondent Candy Crowley.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fred Thompson raised $3.4 million in June. It is not blow-them-away money.

ALEX VOGEL, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: You can't make it to the White House when you're only raising $3 million a month, when you're up against Giuliani and Romney on your own side and obviously Hillary and Obama on the other side.

CROWLEY: It is OK money, but OK is not enough for team Thompson, burdened with great expectations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The country needs you, Fred!

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CROWLEY: One Republican strategist, not affiliated with any campaign, put it this way: If McCain is damaged because he only raised $10 million or $11 million, how is Fred a juggernaut with $3 million?

The Thompson crowd begs to differ, calling its 9,167 donors inspiring. And supporters note, it's the beginning, not the end.

REP. ZACH WAMP (R), TENNESSEE: Once he becomes a candidate -- and he will -- he will raise plenty of money to be competitive. But frankly when you're in the top of the polls or real close to the top, money is not as big an issue as most people make it out to be.

CROWLEY: Regardless of how you view the $3.4 million, it is clear that the Republican Party's knight on a white horse is getting roughed up. His time as a Washington lawyer and lobbyist is under scrutiny. His anti-abortion position is being questioned. He changed staff at the urging of his wife, said to be taking a lead role in a campaign that is running on tease.

FRED THOMPSON, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: I don't have any big announcements to make here tonight, but I will just say this. I will just say this. I plan on seeing a whole lot more of you. How about that?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CROWLEY: Now, after months of running without officially running, the act may be getting old. Sources say he will announce some time after Labor Day, but the natives are restless.

WAMP: We have got such a pent-up demand for him out here on the grassroots level that I believe August needs to be a definitive month, so that September can be the month that we rock 'n' roll.

CROWLEY: Rocking and rolling will have to include raising some real money. Team Thompson has its sights set on Mitt Romney in the fall. The way they figure it, Giuliani will not pass muster with the party faithful, leaving Romney, a guy with very deep pockets, the one to beat.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: OK, Candy, so, you have just showed us some of the big challenges that Fred Thompson faces. But how big of a risk is it for him to keep on teasing us with a potential announcement, suspending that, and waiting to Labor Day, and then perhaps all the momentum is gone?

CROWLEY: Well, you know, one of the things -- one of the factors that goes into this for the Thompson team is that they want to come out with a big splash. If their team isn't ready, if their financial mechanism isn't up to snuff, they really feel like they will get criticized. So, they would rather err on the side of having the campaign machinery all in place when they're going and knowing what they're going to do the first week and the second week and really putting on a show, rather than doing it what would be prematurely for them and not having all their ducks in a row.

ZAHN: Meanwhile, the amount of money that we're talking about being raised is mind-boggling. This could be the first billion-dollar election. How critical of a factor will that be?

CROWLEY: There is no getting around money in a campaign. Fred Thompson is trying to run what he calls a different campaign. They keep maintaining that they don't have to have a lot of money, but you got to buy ads, you got have money.

ZAHN: Candy Crowley, thanks for the road map.

CROWLEY: Sure.

ZAHN: A lot more ahead tonight, including this shocking story out of Florida where a woman says she was gang-raped by 10 people for three hours in her own home. Her neighbors were right next door. But no one came to help her.

Also, preschool politics, a new crop of children's books, some written by liberals, others by conservatives, designed to demonize the opposition. Are we so polarized that even our kids are fair game? And, hey, would any of our kids really want to read these books themselves or have them read to them? Just wait until you see this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: On August 24, a former Klansman will be sentenced for murders he committed more than 40 years ago. The case is just one of several from the civil rights era that remained unsolved until the FBI started reopening its investigations.

In tonight "People You Should Know," Susan Roesgen has the story of a one-time FBI agent who is helping fight for justice a second time around.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM INGRAM, RETIRED FBI AGENT: This was a very important case to solve.

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the 1960s, Jim Ingram was a young FBI agent investigating civil rights cases in racially turbulent Mississippi.

INGRAM: We didn't realize what we were getting into, and many FBI agents resigned and quit the FBI to keep from being transferred to Mississippi. These Klan members were violent. They were nasty. They would kill you in a moment.

ROESGEN: Now, more than four decades later, the 75-year-old is back on the beat, after getting a surprising call from the FBI asking for his help in the bureau's effort to reexamine dozens of unsolved civil rights-era cases.

INGRAM: This is another old cold case here.

ROESGEN: Ingram sifts through archived evidence, tracks down witnesses, and even testifies in court. He says it feels good to finally achieve justice for the families of lost loved ones.

INGRAM: They felt a sense of relief that someone was convicted for killing their sons.

ROESGEN: In June, Ingram helped convict 71-year-old former Klansman James Ford Seale for the 1964 killings of Henry Dee and Charles Eddie Moore.

INGRAM: There is a feeling of satisfaction because I have been at this thing for years. As I told the FBI, as long as my memory holds up, I will help them.

ROESGEN: Helping to heal the wounds of the past.

Susan Roesgen, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Strong man.

Coming up next: a woman's harrowing story of a shocking attack by 10 people in her own home.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some of them had sex with me twice. Some of had sex with me two times. They are beating me up and make me do those things over and over.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Three hours of horror. Her neighbors were just next door, but why didn't anybody come to her rescue?

Also ahead, children's books with a political message aimed at preschoolers. No, it ain't "Pat Your Bunny" time. Harmless bedtime stories or brainwashing young minds? You decide.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Tonight, police in West Palm Beach Florida say they expect to make new arrests in the savage crime that took place at a notorious public housing project. We warn you the details are shocking.

Ten masked teenagers gang raped a Haitian immigrant and beat her 12-year-old son. Three suspects, 14, 15 and 16-year-olds have been indicted as adults, and face life in prison if convicted.

But tonight we're also bringing out in the open a war zone where people are simply afraid to talk with police. And it is just across the bridge from the Palm Beach mansions owned by people like Donald Trump. As John Zarrella reports, the people who live in this housing project call it hell.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Citoya Greenwood lives with her 4-year-old daughter in a back apartment in a place called Dunbar Village in West Palm Beach.

CITOYA GREENWOOD, DUNBAR VILLAGE RESIDENT: If you notice, the majority of my pictures, Joya carry a smile.

ZARRELLA (on camera): She really does. Look at that.

(voice-over): Joya's smiling photos were taken at school at relatives and friends' homes, but not here in this public housing project. Because this place, many residents say, does not breed smiles. They call it hell. GREENWOOD: She said, mommy, we have to get out. I'm tired of hearing gunshots. I'm tired not being able to go outside.

ZARRELLA: These days the fear is greater than ever. Greenwood, a single mother, lives four doors down from this now board up apartment. An apartment where last month no one seems to have heard the screams, the cries for help for another single mother in & her 12- year-old son. Hell, that night, lived up to its name.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The one had a big gun in the front and tow others had -- with a -- another shotgun.

ZARRELLA: The victim says up to 10 young men forced their way into her apartment and the nightmare began.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some of them have sex with me twice. Some have sex with me three times. They're beating me up and make me do those things over and over.

ZARRELLA: The horror lasted three hours. Before they were finished, the victim says the attackers forced her to perform oral sex on her son.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I told him, it doesn't matter, to save your life child -- to do it. I know you love me and I love you too, but you have to protect yourself.

ZARRELLA: The crime has led to an outpouring of support for the mother and child. St. Ann's Catholic Church gets 25 to 30 checks a day, thousands in donations. The crime has also focused attention on Dunbar Village, federally subsidized public housing that was built in 1940.

MAYOR LOIS FRANKEL, WEST PALM BEACH, FL: You have a poverty. You have poor people in projects that are really are outdated.

ZARRELLA: Dunbar Village needs to be torn down, says Mayor Lois Frankel. The kids need mentor and more youth programs, but every year, Frankel says, federal funds, the primary source of support to run public housing in West Palm Beach, have gone down. And millions of federal dollars that used to be earmarked to fight drugs and crime in housing projects, have now been eliminated.

Frankel says she went to Washington looking for $30 million to rebuild Dunbar. What did she get? Nothing.

FRANKEL: You know what? We don't have 30 million to give. And really the -- the federal government cutting off the funds, those people are left to fend for themselves.

ZARRELLA: So, people continue to live in fear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They deserve to be safe, here. And that's something that our city is not overlooking.

ZARRELLA: And cameras may be installed in streetlights fitted with bulletproof covers to keep them from being shot out. Police say fear is hampering their investigation. Residents won't talk. No one sees or hears anything. Citoya Greenwood is one that speaks out.

GREENWOOD: We're fighting a war zone every single day. and that's what I feel like. I'm fighting a battle zone in Iraq, and I'm not even there.

ZARRELLA: Greenwood hopes some good can come out of last month's tragic event. Perhaps now something will be done, she says, about this place she calls home and others call hell.

John Zarrella, CNN, West Palm Beach, Florida.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: The walls in Dunbar Village are almost paper thin, yet no one both toward call police. That is one of the most disturbing parts of this whole story. No one tried to help. And almost no one is willing to talk about this. Why not? Is it a code of silence or a wall of fear?

With me now, CNN's contributor Roland Martin, Republican strategist Cheri Jacobus, and Congress of Racial Equality spokesman, Niger Innis, who's also a political consultant. Welcome all.

So, no one is coming forward to investigators, but let's remind folks of how absolutely no one came forward during this assault. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nobody even called police force and those people in apartment one, even if they talking to themselves in the apartment, I can hear everything they say.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: How does anyone defend the callousness and why?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I don't think you can defend it, but you also have history, here. Kitty Genovese, 1964, woman coming down the street, middle class neighborhood in Queens, being stabbed, no one calls the police. Researchers go back they say -- people say, well, I assumed the next person was going to do it.

At the same time, understand if you're living in that kind of environment, this is not justification, but putting yourself in the mind of the person living there, they are fearful. The case in Baltimore, four years ago, whole family burned their house burned down because of drug dealers. And so people -- inside of their homes, that's safety. So, they're saying I don't want to be dead, I don't want to be killed next.

ZAHN: Cheri, the fear cuts both ways. They're scared of law enforcement, and then they're scared if they snitch of retribution by criminals. You get that, right? CHERI JACOBUS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think what it is -- yeah, there's a fear of retribution by the perpetrators of these crimes. I don't think that we should encourage this sort of victimization, though, attitude by police. I don't think that's as prevalent -- I mean, there certainly are problems. But if that is encouraged, then we lose all hope because these folks have to be able to count on law enforcement, they have to cooperate and that has to be encouraged.

And I think what we have is a culture developing, particularly within the Black community, we saw this recently in the rap community, where it's somehow manly to not snitch. And what that does is it puts a lot of Black women and their children at risk because their men are not there to protect them. They think it's more manly to protect each other.

ZAHN: All right, does this code of silence that rap music and some rap stars promote have anything to did with this at all -- Niger.

NIGER INNIS, CONGRESS OF RACIAL EQUALITY: Well, it does -- I mean, it does in a general sense and I actually came here prepared to pretty much say that line as well as Cheri. I agree with that. I mean, I've been the most ardent...

ZAHN: You're not supposed to prepare anything before you come here, this is all supposed to be spontaneous.

INNIS: All spontaneous. Buy, you know, I've been the hardest critic of rap music and the cultural impact in negative, particularly the criminal sheep that take (INAUDIBLE). So, there's no doubt that plays a role, here.

But, this was such a particularly vicious crime and savage crime and visited on a particular household. The fact that these thugs, these animals -- and that's what they should be called -- I mean, most of the people that lived in this project, most of the Black kids and Latino kids, if there are Latino kids, that live in this project are decent kids. These guys were animals and it needs to be said and needs to be said by all people because what happened was outrageous.

Having said that, it was such a specific crime, I get the feeling there's some drug business involved here, that somehow that this was some type of gang initiation or some type of message that was being sent. They only left the house -- the apartment with a few hundred dollars.

ZAHN: That's a lot of speculation going on, here, because the investigators certainly haven't told us that. But, come back to the point that Niger was making, that in some way rap music has had an impact on this culture and has certainly encouraged a code of silence. Are people afraid to snitch?

MARTIN: Look, there's a code of silence in nearly every business out here. This is another example of it's a matter of rap music. A code of silence, don't snitch existed before rap music. You have police officers right now, if they do something wrong, the fellow cop say hey, you're a cop, we're not going to say anything. There's a code of silence in police departments, there's a code of silence on the streets, there's a code of silence on Wall Street. So, let's not pretend all of a sudden it's rap music. That's nonsense.

INNIS: But, there's only one self-imposed genocide that's taking place right now, it's not in the police force, it's not on Wall Street, it's in communities like this where young Black lives are being wiped out by other young Black men in a genocidal proportion.

MARTIN: Absolutely.

INNIS: So, if there is a code of silence and there's a snitch phenomenon and rap music has a role or culture has a role or if we, folk like Roland and myself, need to get in there and make sure the community sees the police as an ally as opposed to an enemy. We got to jump on it.

(CROSSTALK)

JACOBUS: People who are going to be hurt the most by this is...

MARTIN: We can't distance ourselves from the reality, though, there some folks in neighborhoods who do have an adversarial relationship with police officers.

ZAHN: Sure.

MARTIN: That there have been police officers...

JACOBUS: It doesn't matter. I think making any excuses at all for that type of behavior...

MARTIN: It's not an excuse, Cheri...

JACOBUS: An excuse -- that you have women and children...

MARTIN: Cheri...

JACOBUS: ...who need protection and you're making excuses...

MARTIN: Have you talked to these people, Cheri? I have. I know these people, Cheri. Come on.

ZAHN: But, Cheri, answer this question, though, do you not understand why a lot of people living in that community are skeptical about law enforcement?

JACOBUS: You know what? Being skeptical is one thing, but not cooperating with law enforcement because you're afraid of being a snitch and there is retribution and you're letting women and children be in that kind of danger...

MARTIN: No.

JACOBUS: There is no excuse for it...

MARTIN: Paula...

JACOBUS: You don't have to live in that neighborhood or know these people to understand that. Ultimately, it's going to be the women, you have mothers and grandmothers that are also trying to raise their sons to be good American men, citizens, and when they're growing up in a culture where they're making excuses for it and saying, well, you know...

MARTIN: Cheri, I agree 100 percent...

JACOBUS: ...we don't have a good relationship so it's OK.

MARTIN: Cheri...

JACOBUS: I'm sorry. There is no excuse for it.

MARTIN: I'm a reporter also and I know individuals where you have cops who have been busted for being in bed with drug dealers who also have turned on people. And you can't sit here and say, well, it's not necessary the case. There is documented facts...

(CROSSTALK)

INNIS: When cops in community are at war, there's one winner, the criminal.

MARTIN: Absolutely.

ZAHN: Niger Innis...

MARTIN: And it's a reality.

ZAHN: Roland Martin, Cheri Jacobus, we'll end on the only note of agreement, I think we've had all evening, there on that final note. Thank you. Appreciate your perspectives, tonight.

Coming up next, we're going to move on to politics and your children. Would you want your kids to hear bedtime stories like, "Help! Mom! There are Liberals Under my Bed?" Political indoctrination for preschoolers. Boy, that would make our kids sleep, whether talking about Republicans or Democrats, huh?

INNIS: I would sleep like a baby.

ZAHN: What 4-year-old going to listen to that stuff? Come on? Haven't parents ever read to their kids? We know the stories they like.

INNIS: ...partisanship starts?

ZAHN: Yeah, also ahead, you're meet a real CNN Heroine who's changing the face of education for kids with special needs. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ZAHN: Out in the open, tonight, politics for preschoolers. Have we become so polarized that now we want our kids reading bedtime stories with a blatant political message? Well, that's one way to put them to sleep. It seems that the days of "Green Eggs and Ham" have given way to tales about partisanship. Ted Rowlands has more on putting the right or the left in books for children.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Help! Mom! there are Liberals under my bed!

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Believe it or not, that's the title of a children's book, one of several with a political message aimed at kids.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And with that the Liberals took over Tommy and Lou's stands.

ROWLANDS: The main characters, Tommy and Lou, lose their lemonade stand because of "Liberals" including a Ted Kennedy look- alike and a character named Congresswoman Clunkton, who resembles Hillary Clinton. In the story, Tommy and Lou are legislated out of business.

ERIC JACKSON, WORLD AHEAD PUBLISHING: It has some Liberals who coincidentally look like Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton that try to tax and regulate a lemonade stand.

ROWLANDS: Eric Jackson is the publisher of this book and two other Conservative children's books including "Hollywood's in My Hamper" and "The 9th Circuit Nabbed the Nativity." Jackson says he doesn't think elementary school aged kids are too young for partisan politics.

JACKSON: A lot of parents are looking for a book that represents their Conservative or traditional point of view.

ROWLANDS: It's not just conservatives. The other side is doing it too.

JEREMY ZILBER, AUTHOR: Democrats make sure everyone is treated fairly, just like mommy does.

ROWLANDS: Jeremy Zilber wrote, "Why Mommy is a Democrat," which he sells mainly over the Internet from his house in Madison, Wisconsin. His book tells children that Democrats are just like mommy, they are nice to everyone, they make sure sick people can see a doctor, and according to the book, they make sure we're always safe.

ZILBER: We teach them science, we teach them math, we teach them history, we teach them...

ROWLANDS (on camera): But, all that is factual, isn't it? I mean, this is not factual in that Democrats aren't all these great things.

ZILBER: Well, I think this is -- it's certainly based on fact.

ROWLANDS (voice-over): The fact is both sides believe their political message is so important that it's worth delivering to children.

According to a children's book expert, at the University of Wisconsin, none of the books are very well written for young readers.

KATHLEEN HORNING, CHILDREN'S BOOKS CTR U OF WI: I can't really imagine a child wanting, "Help! Mom! Hollywood's in My Hamper," for example, read multiple times.

ROWLANDS (on camera): Political messages in children's books is nothing new. More than 20 years ago, Dr. Seuss did it in "The Butter Battle Book," the story of the Zooks (ph) and the Yooks (ph), neighbors that build up competing arsenals, mimicking a nuclear arms race.

(voice-over): While this wave of books takes partisanship to what some think is a disturbing level, those behind the books, from both the left and the right, disagree.

JACKSON: Our response to that is that this is for parents to decide.

ZILBER: No child is forced to read this book. We all agree that parents have the right to tell their children this is what I believe about the world.

ROWLANDS: Whether it's right or left.

Ted Rowland, CNN, Madison, Wisconsin.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Coming up, at the top of the hour, Larry King sits down for a rare one-on-one interview with Vice President Dick Cheney. Larry spoke with the vice president today and asked the questions that we all want to know the answers to about the future for embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, LARRY KING LIVE: Alberto Gonzales, you stand by him?

DICK CHENEY, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I do. Al's a good man. A good friend and in a difficult assignment.

KING: Are you troubled by what appears to have happened with -- the appearance of him not telling the truth?

CHENEY: Well, don't want to get into the specifics with respect to his testimony, and the questions that were asked. I just, I know Al on a personal and professional basis and I hold him in high regard.

KING: You're going to stand by him? CHENEY: Yes, sir.

KING: No doubt about that?

CHENEY: Correct.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Did make that pretty clear. And hear more in a few minutes. Larry King with Vice President Cheney at 9:00 p.m.

Coming up next, a woman fighting for change. She's giving special needs kids a whole new chance in her native Egypt.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Every week we introduce you to someone who's working to make life a little bit better for all of us, we call them "CNN Heroes." Right now we want you to meet a woman who is fighting to end the stigma that keeps many disabled children in her native Egypt isolated from the rest of society. Her name is Dina Abdel Wahab and she's tonight's "CNN Hero."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, let's do it again.

DINA ABDEL WAHAB, THE BABY ACADEMY FOUNDER: I remember when my son was born eight years ago, I didn't hear anything about inclusion in Egypt.

Very good reading.

When we first learned that Ali had Downs Syndrome when he was 3- months-old and, of course, it took us some time to really learn what to do, and we did a lot of research. We went to the states and we did some programs for Ali. And it was, to my surprise, when I went there to see that children were with special needs were just integrated into the main school system and they went in the same classroom with other children.

If it can happen around the world, it should happen here. And this is how The Baby Academy started. I was absolutely convinced if you want to talk about mainstreaming and if you want to talk about inclusion of children with special needs, you have to start at the very young age. You need to prepare him academically, need to prepare him socially.

We prepare the children who don't have special needs to be with their peers in the classroom and accept their differences.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It has taught us to see disability in a new and different light and to learn how to deal with it in a positive way.

WAHAB: Because it was a new concept in Egypt and because not everybody really understood, can they really be together. We have prepared and opened the doors for them to see things in a different perspective.

We really believe that it is a right for every child to have a proper education and just see that there is a shift in mentality now is a plus and is hope for the future and not only for Ali, but for all other children.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: What an impact she's had. To find out more about Dina Abdel Wahab or nominate your own hero, just go to our Website, cnn.com/heroes.

Coming up at the top of the hour, Larry King has a one-on-one interview with Vice President Dick Cheney.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: That's all for tonight. Tomorrow night, what the FBI calls the most lethal two miles in America. We're going to take you to a stretch in New Jersey filled with chemical plants. If they were struck by terrorists, some say 12 million people could be killed. And critics say the chemical industry and its money have blocked legislation to improve security. I hope you'll join us for that story. We've been investigating it for some time. But until then, we want you to have a great night and please drop by and say hi same place tomorrow night. LARRY KING LIVE starts right now. Good night.

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