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49 Dead In Terror Attack At New Zealand Mosques; Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd Explores How Right-Wing Politics In Australia May Be Influencing Extremism; Peter Neumann And Jonathan Greenblatt Talk About The Attacker's Ideology And The Spread Of Far Right Extremism; The Groundbreaking Youth Climate Strikes Happening All Over the Globe; Public Discourse. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired March 15, 2019 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:13] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to Amanpour. Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Family and friends we known for 19 years, people who were there for my engagement.
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AMANPOUR: A self-declared white nationalist kills at least 49 people and injures dozen more in a terrorist attack on mosque in New Zealand. The
nation is indeed shock and mourning. And we get the truth about the global rise of violent white supremacy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It will continue until they do something.
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AMANPOUR: Plus, a movement for life. Students skip school in thousands of cities around the world to demand action on climate change. It is the
biggest day of protests yet, and we'll get the view from amongst them.
And when politics is everywhere and nowhere, Professor Michael Sandel speaks with our Hari Sreenivasan about perils of stifling public discourse.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. New Zealand is reeling after the worst terrorist attack in its history. At
least 49 are dead and scores have been injured during Friday prayers at two mosques in the hitherto (ph) peaceful city of Christchurch. It is unused
to this kind of hate and violence.
A white supremacist has been charged and will face courts this weekend. He's in his late 20s. Two others have ado been arrested and at least one
of the three is Australian. Witnesses describe the man entering the mosque during the Imam's sermon and firing indiscriminately. Here's how one
described that terrible scene.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FARID AHMED, SURVIVOR OF MOSQUE ATTACK: I was hearing shooting after shooting after shooting. It went on about six minutes or more, and I could
hear screaming and crying. I saw some people were, you know, drop dead and some people are running away. I was on the wheelchair. I could not go
anywhere. And also I didn't want to because I was afraid what was going to happen to the ladies, what was going to happen to my wife.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The New Zealand prime minister has called this an undeniable act of terror and one of her country's darkest days.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACINDA ARDERN, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: For those of you who are watching at home tonight, and questioning how this could have happened
here, we, New Zealand, we were not a target because we are safe harbor for those who hate. We were not chosen for this act of violence because we
condone racism, because we are an enclave for extremism. We were chosen for the very facts that we are none of these things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Residents were told to stay indoors. Mosques were told to close up. And security forces diffused IEDs and other devices that could have
killed even more people. And in a truly chilling twist, official say, the terrorists planned this meticulously and for maximum effect on media,
including on social media. Indeed, he streamed his rampage live on Facebook. It is extremely disturbing to watch and we won't be showing it
Just before the attack, an account believed to belong to one of the attackers posted a long rambling rant that glorified the white race and
spewed anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim hatred.
As we said, one of the suspects the police have arrested comes from Australia. To understand the political environment there that might have
led to his radicalization, I'm joined now by the former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and he's in New York. Prime Minister Rudd, welcome to the
KEVIN RUDD, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA: It's good to be with you on a very sad occasion, though, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Well it is. It's sad, it's tragic, it's a massive crime that has taken place. And I wonder what you say on a human level to the people
of New Zealand, you neighbors, who have been attacked, we believe, by at least one of them who is an Australian citizen.
RUDD: I think our first response as human beings is to -- mine certainly is to reach out to our Muslim brothers and sisters. You were a people
innocently in prayer before having this wanton act of violence meted against them for no reason. So, that is the first response.
I think also a sense of shock that in a peaceful country like New Zealand, this could have happened. But I think in that sense that we reflect on how
Norwegians felt back in 2011 when we had a white supremacist go on the rampage there.
[14:05:08] But also I think it's a sense of collective outrage. How could this have come about. What factors have fit in to the formation of such a
mind that could perpetrate such a terrorist attack against innocent citizens of New Zealand. And I think that's where much of the debate must
AMANPOUR: So, again, I said that one of these perpetrators is apparently Australian. The current prime minister, Scott Morrison, today tweeted, "I
condemn the violent extremist right wing terrorist attack that have stolen the lives of so many innocent New Zealanders as they went about their
peaceful practice of worship at their mosque in Christchurch today."
So, very similar obviously to what you as a prime minister have said. And he uses these words violent, extremist, right wing terrorist attack. As a
former prime minister, what should Australians be feeling? What is it about the connection with Australia that needs to be addressed?
RUDD: I think what we're looking at here, Christiane, is this, frankly, global white supremacist movement which anchors around this belief in
something called white genocide. It's a complete fiction, but it's perpetrated in the alt-right media.
And if you look at the reported writings of the alleged suspect in the Christchurch terrorist attack, there are terrible resonances of what we've
seen elsewhere from Brevik in Norway. And what we seen perpetrated by the alt-right type of racist, religiously intolerant movement around the world.
And this is something which we, as mainstream political leaders in all countries, need to address directly this fomenting of this hatred within
the closed ecosystem of this social media community of white genocide believing, white supremacists is where this hatred appears to come from.
AMANPOUR: Just to be clear, white genocide, you mean white people who think the world is killing them off?
RUDD: Well, if you look at some of this literature, that's precisely what they apparently believe. Of course, it's a matter of fact. It is an
absolute nonsense. You know, if you look at New Zealand itself, New Zealand is 1 percent Muslim.
I mean, for god's sake, I mean this is just a nonsense proposition, but in a hot house environment of this closed violent social media ecosystem which
so many these individuals inhabit, both in the United States, and obviously in Australia as well, but in other parts of the world, this series of lies
just feeds on itself and creates this sort of also narcissistic behavior that we've seen from this terrorist attack in Christchurch.
AMANPOUR: So, look, I am going to keep pinning you down a little bit because Australia has had problems with its immigration policy, with
elements of society, including sitting senators, at least one of them, who have a real -- they spew bile, Mr. Rudd, they spew bile against Muslim and
against immigrant. Let's just go back a little bit.
In 2018, a man called Blair Cottrell, a neo-Nazi appeared on Sky News in Australia basically said it's OK to be white, in a motion there. It was
only narrowly voted down in the Australian Parliament. In the last election one nation a far-right party won their highest level of political
support of the federal level.
And this is a party that targets Muslim and Asian immigrants. This is not just one person who rampaged in New Zealand.
And then we know that this sitting senator said things like, "The truth is that Islam is not like any other faith. It is the religious equivalent of
fascism." To that point, let me play something that a fairly well known Australian journalist basically said, and broadcast earlier, Waleed Aly on
"The Project". I'm sure you've seen it but let's play it again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALEED ALY, "THE PROJECT", CO-HOST: The thing that's got me most when I was started reading the manifesto that one of the apparent perpetrator of
this attack published, not because it was deranged. But because it was so familiar. Let me share some quotes with you to show you what I mean.
"The truth is that Islam is not like any other faith. It is the religious equivalent of fascism" or "The real cause of blood shed is the immigration
program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate in the first place." Or, "As we read in Matthew 26:52, all they that take the sword shall perish by
the sword. And those who follow a violent religion that cause them to murder us cannot be surprised when someone who takes them at their word and
response in kind."
[14:10:10] How do those words sound now? Now how do they sound when I tell you that they weren't part of the manifesto? They were actually published
today after this terrorist attack on Australian parliamentary letterhead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean, it's shocking, isn't it?
RUDD: Well, absolutely, I agree entirely with Waleed Aly. I mean just so your viewers are familiar with my own background, Christiane, I've been
attacked in my country for being one of the biggest defenders of multi- culturalism, Asian immigration, as well as opening our doors wide to ensure that we are a tolerant people.
So I'm familiar with the forces of the far-right of my own country who regard me as public enemy number one. And so what Waleed is saying here is
right. The other point I was making earlier, though, that it has enormous resonances with what we see with the alt-right movement internationally as
The senator you refer to is an out and out racist. He has no place in the Australian parliament. He should not be there as a representative in the
state of Queensland. And I would hope in the event -- as a result of his comments, his grossly insensitive and racist comments and anti-Muslim
comments that he made just now, that he's not returned to the Senate to the next election.
AMANPOUR: Immigration has been dominating Australian politics for a long, long time. I just want to play a little bit of what Jacinda Ardern, the
prime minister of New Zealand, told me about her policies towards refugees and immigration shortly after she was elected and I interviewed her, just a
little clip here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARDERN: We have absolutely maintained our commitment to doubling the refugee quota that we have in New Zealand. It was an important point of
principle for us. When it comes to wider immigration, New Zealand is a country that's been built off the fact that migrants have chosen to make
New Zealand home. I'm only a third generation New Zealand myself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: She's there in your neighboring country with an open door and an open heart in a peaceful country that hasn't had this kind of terror
before. And yet your country -- with respect, your own party is always favoring offshore detention and immigration is a major issue that really
riles public opinion.
And Waleed Aly said the tragedy was that he wasn't surprised, he wasn't even shocked. He expected something like this might happen. Does
Australia need to reexamine its relationship with immigration, with refugees, with this whole Muslim question?
RUDD: Look, I think on the question of migration, Australia takes publicly per capita one of the largest migration intakes per year. So about 200,000
people. And maybe just a little less in the last couple of years under conservatives. It's a very expensive migration program. It's not racially
discriminatory. As many people come from Asia and elsewhere in the world, would come from Europe and the west. And that's as it's been a long, long
time under governance to be fair but political persuasion.
What has changed, however, in the last five years is a conscious policy of demonization of refugees as opposed to migrants by the current conservative
government. I've done this on a consistent basis in order to perpetuate the politics of fear within our own community, in a manner what you see
replicated in the United States, the United Kingdom and elsewhere by politics of the far-right as well. Do I regard that as acceptable? No, I
But the challenge for Australian governments in the future, there will be an election in May, is to maintain a strong migration program as Jacinda
said, and a compassionate refugee program, which in our case, under a labor government should be in creased as it has been under labor in the past to
the point where we would be probably the third largest annual recipient of refugees under the UNHCR Program.
But there is a political debate in Australia. And the right always seek to exploit the politics of race. That's what they do. They did it when I was
prime minister, they're doing it today and they'll do it in the future.
AMANPOUR: And I just want to ask you from federal leader to federal leader. You're a former prime minister. The current president of Turkey,
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he called on western and, you know, democratic nation to step up and to rapidly take measures against rising Islamophobia. He
said, "Unless precautions are taken immediately, new ones will inevitably add today this tragic news. We call on the entire world, especially
Western countries to rapidly take measures against this perilous course of events which threatens entire mankind."
[14:15:05] Again, it was an Australian who has been arrested and charged. I want to know whether you think this will reshape the dialogue in your
country? Are you surprised that it was an Australian who went to great lengths, as he's described, to plan, to go to New Zealand and to carry this
RUDD: Well, I'm as shocked by the events concerning this Australian, and I'm mindful that the court process is just beginning and the judicial
process is just beginning. In the same that Norwegians were shocked in 2011 one of their own turned one of the most peaceful countries in the
world into a killing field. These events shock our soul.
And as an Australian, of course, I'm horrified that this level of violence could be perpetrated against our Muslim brothers and sisters. My own
experience of Muslim in Australia, and I have had a lot of as prime minister is overwhelmingly the Muslim community in Australia is peace
loving, integrate into our community. The product of migration to our country over 100 years, and integrated into Australian life. And these
actions by this individual and those who have supported him, have no place in my country. Have no place in any civilized country.
But we need to get to the bottom of, as I said, this ecosystem, in the far- right around the western world which is feeding us sort of sentiment in many of our countries and many of our democracies, making these sorts of
AMANPOUR: Including, of course, the United States and parts of Western Europe. Kevin Rudd, former prime minister, thank you very much. We hope
this will be a global wake up call. Thank you for joining us on this really terrible day.
And as we said this attack highlights reality hiding in plain sight. Extremist white supremacist terrorism is a most serious threat to the
United States and the West. In just the past few years there have been mass killings at a black church in Charleston. On a summer camp in Norway
as we just discussed. At a mosque here in London. And indeed at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.
A U.S. government study found between 2001 and 2016, 73 percent of deadly attacks were waged by far-right extremist and 27 percent by Islamist
extremists. So what is fueling this trend? Peter Neumann, here in London, is the Founding Director of the International Center for the Study of
Radicalization and Political Violence. And Jonathan Greenblatt in New York, is CEO of the Anti-Defamation League and they are both joining me
Gentlemen, welcome to the program on this just horrendous day that really is hard even to compute. Let me ask you, Peter, because we just been
reading out. I've just been reading out this U.S. statistics talking about this massive rise. I mean triple the number of attacks were blamed on far-
right terrorists. What do you see in your studies and in your work right row?
PETER NEUMANN, DIRECTOR OF THE INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF RADICALIZATION AND POLITICAL VIOLENCE: So, what happened in the U.S. is
not exclusive to the U.S. across western counties we've seen an increase of many years now for four or five years increase in the numbers of hate
crimes and also right wing extremists, terrorist violence. And I attribute that to deepening polarization which has increased extremism not only on
the jihadist side, but also on the right wing extremist side.
Connected, of course, to virtual subcultures which also seem have played a role in this particular case where people can connect across borders and
create a sense of being part of a much bigger movement, being part of something significant. As this attacker today said being a crusader, being
someone who fights back. A member of the Knight Templars who is fighting against the Muslim invaders.
AMANPOUR: Were you -- I mean when I heard this, I was truly shocked. I just didn't imagine that in New Zealand which has peaceful open tolerant
AMANPOUR: And in fact people are leaving as we know famously, big take billionaires are leaving America to hide out in New Zealand for safety.
Were you shocked to see this happen there?
NEUMANN: Of course. And there isn't necessarily anything about New Zealand, per se. This was an Australian person who picked, according to
his own manifesto, almost in an arbitrary fashion, picked New Zealand as the place where he would carry out this attack. It could have happened in
any western country. It could have happened in any European country. It could also have happened in Australia.
AMANPOUR: Let me turn to you, Jonathan Greenblatt of the ADL. You put out a statement about what happened today and about the trends that you are
witnessing. And of course, I've said it's not just Islamophobia although that is a big rise. But the attack on the synagogue in Pittsburgh, the e
attack on the black church in the United States. What are you seeing and how do you react to what happened this Muslim house worship?
[14:20:06] JONATHAN GREENBLATT, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE, CEO: Well, my fir reaction (INAUDIBLE) and Muslims around the world who indeed their target
it and particularly lost their lives.
AMANPOUR: OK. Jonathan, we've lost your audio briefly. We'll come back to you. But let me just carry on with you, then, Peter, for a moment.
This is a rise, as we've seen around the world. But it's really interesting for me because every time we've talked to you mostly it's about
the radical extremist Islamic terrorism. Are people like yourself and law enforcement and other such agencies having to turn the ship of
counterterrorism around to now focus on the equal and opposite?
NEUMANN: Absolutely. And to a greater and greater extent for example in U.K. last year, the intelligence service MI5 made it a priority for the
first time in the entire history of the country, they banned at terrorist organization that was right wing as opposed to jihadist.
You see that replicates across all European countries and it is a product of increasing radicalization, also of western European societies.
One important point I think is, if politicians on the populist right constantly speak about invaders, if they speak about the great
displacement, this is a very popular conspiracy theory which says that Western governments are systematically replacing Europe populations with
foreign population that creates a sense of existential threat in the minds of people.
And they shouldn't be surprised to some extent that some people draw completely different conclusions and want to take matters in their own
hands. So I think it's important that people take responsibility for what they say because it matters.
AMANPOUR: So let me turn to Jonathan Greenblatt because we have you back again. And I saw you nodding in what Peter was saying. Take
responsibility, words matter. I mean there is -- tell me from your perspective, from the ADL's perspective what you're seeing and what
concerns you the most.
GREENBLATT: Sure. So we've been tracking white supremacists, another form of extremist for decades. And I can tell you that one number -- this is
yet another piece of evidence which reinforces what we know to be true. White supremacy is an international terror threat. And we need people in
positions of authority, particularly law enforcement, to look at it as such.
Second thing that's really key to note, Christiane, and your other guest allude to it. We saw in this case and with other extremists preparing
their tweets is as important as preparing their guns. In this case, he used social media both in an event of his attack to publicize it and then
after his attack to amplify it. We really need Silicon Valley to step up and shut it kind of activity down.
AMANPOUR: What I do actually want to explore that with both of you next. And as I'm doing that, let us put up this graphic we have from the Southern
Poverty Law Center. Hate groups, 1999 to 2018, you can just see the spikes and the steady upward movement, it dropped for a little in 2014, but it's
climbing up again all this year, all these groups in the hate attacks.
And Ali Soufan, as you know, the Soufan Group, "We are in the midst of a surge of right-wing terrorism that has been metastasising in plain sight
while generating only a muted response from domestic counter-terrorism authorities. By every metric, right-wing extremism is the most serious
terrorist threat facing the U.S. although jihadists still garner the lion's share of media attention."
Do you have a comment on that? let me ask you Jonathan Greenblatt, because this is particularly intent in United States. Do you have a
comment on what Soufan says that while white --right-wing extremism is mounting, is that Islamic terrorism gone as the lion's hare of the law
enforcement and the media and officials comments?
GREENBLATT: Well, that's absolutely correct. I mean it's not to say global jihad might not be a threat of some kind, but right wing extremism
was responsible in the United States for 49 of 50 extremist related murders last year one alone. Look, we see this playing out in policy in 2017, the
Trump administration slashed the DHS budget focused on fighting all forms of extremism and eliminated funding that was focusing on right wing
GREENBLATT: And I would just say, we think -- it's crazy. We think there are three things that need to happen. Number one is your other guest said
words matter. And we need our leaders, from the president to other elected officials to call this out unambiguously and clearly. That's critical.
Beyond the fact that words matter, Christiane, algorithms matter.
We want to see YouTube and Facebook, and Twitter apply the same degree of innovation and ingenuity to tackling this problem and targeting terrorists,
that they have used to target consumers.
[14:25:10] AMANPOUR: Yes, go ahead.
GREENBLATT: It's critical.
AMANPOUR: Go ahead.
GREENBLATT: And finally, I think policy matters most, to whether it's the right amount of funding to fight right wing and all forms of extremism, or
encouraging law enforce to work together across borders. This is a transnational threat and we need transnational approaches to tackle.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you, Peter, do you think we're in for a 20-year wave of this kind of terrorism that's come off after a 20-year wave since
NEUMANN: So, first of all, I have to push back a little bit. I don't think this jihadist threat is over by any threat.
AMANPOUR: No, I'm not sure. I'm just saying it is at all.
NEUMANN: Exactly. And so we had the spikes starts in 2015-2016. It was certainly for Europeans absolutely justified to focus on that particular
threat. But I think it is equally important not to recognize that something has grown and that these different types of extremism almost
encouraging and benefiting from each other.
We've seen for example today the justification given by the attacker were jihadist attacks that happed in Europe in 2015 and 2016. We know that
jihadist are responding to right wing attacks our societies as a whole of becoming more polarized extremists are gaining in traction and that's why
it's so important as Jonathan said, to look at all forms of extremism, not to play them against each other. That's political point. We should focus
on that at the expense of the other. Our societies as a whole are becoming more extreme and that's why it's so important to counter all of them.
AMANPOUR: And as Jonathan said, we do have major elected world leaders whether in United States, whether in Western Europe, I'm sorry, but doing
the opposite of countering and the opposite of bringing people together.
NEUMANN: And that's why I actually think the words are the most important part because if leaders, they set the tone for everything else and even if
people are not getting exact orders, kill people, they are within an environment, within a general climate where they feel they can do certain
things because leaders say these people are invaders, these people are enemies. These people are existential threats. That's really important to
set the tone.
AMANPOUR: Right, exactly. And Jonathan, look, the elephant in the room as well, of course, is the live streaming, is the Facebook. You just alluded
to algorithms and tech, and all the rest of it. This individual had a body cam on which he live streamed it. And not just not that. This wasn't an
accident. This was planned according to a lot of the writing that we're seeing that he left Australia to go to New Zealand and plan something like
this. And found, well, I'll just stay here and do it. There are plenty of Muslims here I can attack. I don't have to go somewhere else. And said
that it was partly designed to get the most media attention. The most social media. He live streamed the stuff and it stayed up for a long time
before it was taken down.
GREENBLATT: The perversion of these platforms by extremists is something that should alarm all of us, and not just stakeholders, but shareholders
should be concerned about this. Because the liability from a financial point of view, let alone the moral liability, is gargantuan.
Look, what we found with this attacker just like Robert Bowers, is for him it wasn't just about firearms, it was about Facebook. And so, it is long
overdue for the companies to apply again the same level of muscle and investment to dealing with this problem as they have with figuring out how
to monetize their systems.
I think they would find that the public and their shareholders and elected officials all would work and sport them in that endeavor.
AMANPOUR: You know, you say that and we all hope that they will somehow see the light and do the right thing.
AMANPOUR: But --
GREENBLATT: We do.
AMANPOUR: This has been going on for a long time. I'm reading articles about the pernicious effect of Facebook in places like Myanmar, WhatsApp in
India, in the Philippines. T his is leading to real-life death and destruction on the streets. This is not new. It's been out there for
years, since at least 2014 the complaints have lodged towards Facebook and others. And it hasn't materially significantly enough been addressed. You
have just raised a shareholder-stakeholder, Jonathan, you know, potential accountability or accounting. I mean flesh that out. Are people -- what?
Just -- why?
[14:30:00] GREENBLATT: I think we are going to start to see and you've already begun to see some of this happen with respect to Facebook in the
U.S. From Cambridge Analytica to the issues people are hearing about happening in Southeast Asia, there's a degree of concern that wasn't there
before. And there's been a -- it's pay -- their share has paid a price. I mean the stock has been humbled.
And I don't want to just boil this down to dollars and cents, it's really about principles and values. And I think we as consumers have the power to
not just vote with -- in the ballot box but to vote with the clicks of our mouse or the swipes on our phone and support those platforms that are
consistent with our values. That's the best way to demonstrate to the companies that they've lost our confidence.
AMANPOUR: Well, I think that's -- what do you think, Peter? Because again, you've been looking at the sort of social media aspect throughout
your studies. What is the way to deal with?
NEUMANN: So in my experience, having looked at this, especially on the Jihadist side, I think these platforms do respond to political pressure.
And they've done a lot on Jihadist videos. It's really difficult to find them now on YouTube, on Facebook. They haven't applied the same scrutiny
necessarily to right-wing extremists, not what they have to do now.
However, there's also another thing which is that these virtual subcultures in which the attacker was active are not only on the big mainstream social
media platforms, they are also in places like Reddit, Fortran; Atran, these are platforms that not so many people are familiar with. They also need to
be looked at because you have a really viable right-wing extremist subculture existing in these places too.
AMANPOUR: I mean it's really terrifying actually and this really has to be addressed. Both of you, thank you so much. Jonathan Greenblatt of the ADL
in New York, Peter Neumann, thank you very much indeed for joining us.
So on Friday morning, before the mosque shooting, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was paying attention to what should have been the biggest story in
the world today. She was attending a protest of student climate activist calling for immediate and urgent action.
Young people around the world were on the March, from Japan to Kenya, Italy, Germany, and Australia. In thousands of cities in over 100
countries, students skipped school to make it the biggest day of protests yet in what has become a weekly occurrence for children who are fed up with
the adults' inability to get serious about the climate emergency.
They were doing it here in London too, of course, just a short walk from where I sit now. Here's what two young students had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TABITHA SUMMER, CLIMATE CHANGE PROTESTOR: We need to save our planet because if the adults aren't going to do anything, then we need to because
we're going to be the people that are still living on this planet.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our future.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our future.
SUMMER: It's our future that we are ruining and the adults are ruining.
OKAN GURHKAN, CLIMATE CHANGE PROTESTOR: It makes me feel empowered as a whole, not only in the U.K. but, of course, the whole world. And that -- I
think that's really really good and it really makes me feel as if -- you know, we can actually make a change. We can stop this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It began in Stockholm with one young activist, Greta Thunberg who we've had on this program. And that's where we find our Atika Shubert
and in New York, Bill Weir, where the protest is just getting underway.
Both of you, welcome. Let me just ask you, Bill, because I can see you trying to muffle your ears against the noise behind you. It's really
underway there near Columbus Circle I think. What's going on?
BILL WEIR, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, Christiane, we're at Columbus Circle. And the march from Columbus Circle up to the Museum of Natural History has
just touched off. That is a poignant site of the countless field trips for this generation to see the history of this planet and see some of the
predictions as to where this planet is headed.
When you put it in perspective, an infant born today according to some predictions won't be able to eat wild seafood by the time she's 30. Every
new drum beat report that comes either out of the United Nations, scientists, or from academies of science around the world, paints the
grimmest possible future for this generation.
Just a report came out yesterday that if the world were to stop burning carbon today, the heat that's already baked into the atmosphere will raise
the Arctic temperatures between three and five degrees Celsius which means sea level rise, hundreds, if not hundreds of millions of climate change
refugees by the middle of this century.
And so this generation, started by those young activists you talk about, are trying to get the grownups to sit up and pay attention to this. Greta
Thunberg in Sweden, who went before the billionaires at Davos and the politicians at the Climate Convention in Poland, put it in stark terms, we
don't want you to give us hope, we want you to panic.
WEIR: Treat this like the emergency it is, like the house is on fire because it is. And those sound bites [14:35:00] inspired some of the
activists that are here today, including 7th grade, 15-year-old named Alexandria Villasenor, who has been every Friday parked on a park bench
outside of the United Nations, a one-girl strike trying to generate more followers. And this is the result of the fruits of her labor.
WEIR: She says this is just the beginning, that they're not going away anytime soon.
AMANPOUR: Well, I tell you it's heartwarming, Bill. And it's nice to see you having to muffle your ears against the passion behind you. You
mentioned Greta Thunberg. Let us turn now to Atika Shubert who is in Stockholm. It looks like there the protest obviously ended. It is
nightfall there in Stockholm. What did you see? What was it like? And you did also talk to Greta today.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: We did. And it was incredibly inspiring to see thousands of students come out. And I think Greta herself
was a bit overwhelmed at the sheer number of students that turned up for this.
And remember, she started this protest on her own, alone, striking every day at first, skipping out on school with her placard that says, "School
strike for climate change" right here in front of Sweden's Parliament. And now, it's become this massive global movement.
But it's interesting, I spoke to her. I asked her if she was happy with what she's seeing, and even though she's happy to see the crowds, she's not
happy that there's no political results yet. And she's determined to keep the pressure on. Here's what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRETA THUNBERG, CLIMATE CHANGE PROTESTOR: I think just that we should just continue until they do something because this is not a one-time thing. We
are not just protesting to let them see that we care. We are protesting until they do something. We are going to put pressure on them and just
keep on going.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUBERT: Student activist today, why they were so -- why they were out here? Why weren't the adults doing more? And they said this is what we've
grown up with. We know this is an emergency. We need action now. And if it's going to take all of us coming out in the streets, that's what we're
going to do.
AMANPOUR: Let me move over to Bill if you can hear me, and there are all the protesters behind you. Bill Weir, can you hear me?
WEIR: I can actually.
AMANPOUR: Just so that both of you know, 23,000 German, Austrian, and Swiss scientists have signed a statement backing these children, saying
they deserve our respect and our support. More than 300 U.S. scientists are supporting these strikes. Bill, what are you hearing from the adults?
Are the adults supporting their children today?
WEIR: Yes, I see plenty of parents marching, the proud smiles alongside of them as well. And yes, these folks are giving voice to the scientific
community that frankly has struggled with how to sound this alarm for so many generations.
We've known about the effects of greenhouse -- the greenhouse effect for many generations. We came close to the global community to action. Of
course, the United States pulled out of the Paris Accord as well.
But if you really want to be depressed, go have a drink with a climatologist or a paleo geologist today because as the science gets
better, as the measuring systems in the sky and in the seas get better, even the most conservative predictions from 5 or 10 years ago, that's the
floor, not the ceiling of where they're headed.
So to try -- they'll take as much amplification of this message as possible. And it's all a matter of political will. All the scientists who
signed those, as well as those behind the IPCC reports, the technology exists to pull carbon on to the air. The money exists, the invention has
been invented, it's just a matter of political will.
And that's what these folks, these young folks are trying to generate. A child will lead us, an author once said, and this is sort of a display of
that. They're inspired by kids from Parkland School who rose up for the March For Our Lives after the mass shooting and seeing that carnage up
The political results of that, of course, are mixed. So this will have to sustain before the leaders in the corridors of power I think to take any
real, real notice.
AMANPOUR: Well, we do -- and I am not going to get depressed because I'm really energized by these young people who are showing us a little of what
it means to be active in their determination to save our civilization. Bill Weir, Atika Shubert, thank you so so much.
Incredible determination from our youth and it's -- they are a beacon of light on a horribly dark day and hopefully, their voices will be heard.
Although our next guest says, the art of listening is becoming extinct. Michael Sandel is a political philosophy professor at Harvard and he told
our Hari Sreenivasan that unless we unplug our ears and our minds, we will lose the ability to reason or argue on issues that shape our political
arena, such as climate and immigration and gun violence and a whole myriad of difficult but urgent issues.
[14:40:40] HARI SREENIVASAN, CONTRIBUTOR: We're at a place where people don't even talk about politics anymore. They just say you know what, I'm
not going to engage if I want to continue to have this relationship with my friend or my neighbor or my relative. How can this be changed?
MICHAEL SANDEL, LAW SCHOOL PROFESSOR, HARVARD: Well, the only way to change it is to fundamentally change the terms of public discourse. What
passes for political argument these days consists of shouting matches on cable television and talk radio, ideological food fights on the floors of
And this I think is why citizens are so frustrated with politics, with politicians. I think it animated a lot of the sense of anger and
resentment that led to the election of Trump. We're seeing this not only in the U.S. but in democracies around the world. It's the emptiness, the
hollowing out that we've seen in recent decades of the terms of public discourse.
People want politics to be about big things, including questions of values. What makes for a just society? What should we do about rising inequality?
What do we owe one another as fellow citizens?
There's precious little talk about those topics today and that's what it would take I think to revitalize public discourse, and for that matter,
SREENIVASAN: You've said that the progressive left has sort of missed really the underlying tensions that fueled the president into office. What
are those tensions?
SANDEL: I think the success of Trump and of right-wing populism generally is usually the failure of progressive politics. The mission, the purpose
traditionally of center-left or progressive political parties, the mission has been to tame capitalism, to hold economic power to Democratic account,
and to promote the dignity of workers.
Now, if you look at the Democratic Party in the last few decades, it hasn't really been about those things. The Democratic Party today is more closely
aligned with the professional classes than with the working class and middle-class voters that traditionally constituted its base and its reason
And I think this is partly because during the '90s and in through the 2000s, the Democratic Party, and this is true of center-left parties in
Europe as well, cast their lot with a kind of market-driven version of globalization with the deregulation of the financial industry.
And when this resulted in widening inequality, and a sense of disempowerment, and a growing role for big money in politics, the
Democratic Party did very little about those problems. And I think that's why the progressive parties, generally center-left parties, have been
discredited in the eyes of many ordinary citizens.
SREENIVASAN: Right. So let's take a topic that is in the news right now, immigration. What should we be talking about versus what we are talking
SANDEL: When workers feel that their country cares more about cheap goods and cheap labor than it does about the job prospects of its own people,
there's a sense of betrayal. And I think liberals and progressives have failed to appreciate that as they've gone headlong from the -- over the
last few decades promoting free trade agreements and deregulation, including the financial -- welcoming the financialization of the economy,
they've missed the sense of betrayal. They've missed the legitimate grievances associated with the resentments that have arisen.
SREENIVASAN: It seems the president has picked up on that far better than the Democrats, even have the capacity to. I mean we are getting -- when he
says -- multiple campaign rallies, he says what is a country without borders?
SANDEL: Right. Well, he is addressing this question though, a kind of xenophobic nationalism that is dark and dangerous but he is addressing it.
And the way to respond I think is not simply to say any talk about the moral significance of borders is racist or xenophobic. The way to address
it is to offer an alternative vision of what it means to be members of the national political community.
Patriotism in recent decades has become increasingly the property so to speak of the right. There's no reason in principle why that has to be. So
I think that liberals and progressives need to articulate a sense of national community, of civic obligation, of [14:45:00] pride in country
that addresses people's hunger for a politics of the common good, sense of membership and belonging to provide an affirmative inspiring alternative to
the strident nationalism and xenophobia that Trump's sense of national community takes.
SREENIVASAN: Where do the Republicans come out in all this? Have they done a good job about this?
SANDEL: By and large, the Republican Party has been taken over by Trump. I don't mean so much in terms of personnel but in terms of ideology and
So I think one of the tragedies of this moment has been the weakness I've spoken about the problems the Democrats have had in offering an alternative
vision. But another part of the tragedy is the failure of the responsible voices within that the Republican Party to voice a robust criticism of
SREENIVASAN: I remember the quote that Ronald Reagan had in his Oval Office farewell speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD RAEGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have spoken of the shining city all my political life but I don't know if I ever quite
communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind, it was a tall proud city built on rock stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and
teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors, and the doors were open to
anyone with the will and the heart to get here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SREENIVASAN: That is very different than where the Republican ideas of immigration are today, both for immigrants and for refugees. It's a big
shift in a very short period of time.
SANDEL: It is. And I think that as we are searching for a sense of national community for sources of unity that seem in scare supply, I think
we shouldn't underestimate the contribution to the common good of Syria's regress debates.
What we're lacking is not a green light or consensus on this or that issues. I don't think that's our problem. What we've lost is the art of
Democratic argument, the ability to reason together and argue together about big questions like justice and the common good and the meaning of
Because those -- being able to disagree, but on the basis of civility and mutual respect, that is what holds a pluralist society like ours together.
And it also involves the art of listening, listening not just for the words that are being spoken by the political opponent, but listening for the
convictions and the principles that lie behind the passions and the opinions that the opponent may have. This art of listening is a civic art
that we need to recover.
SREENIVASAN: From Robert Reich to Steve Bannon, there are predictions that this is going to get worse before it gets better, that there is going to be
even greater unrest, a greater fracturing. Is that inevitable?
SANDEL: Well, it's not inevitable. Though, it may be likely. I think that the Democrats have made a mistake to pin their hopes on the Mueller
report, the expectation that he will deliver a legal verdict that will resolve the problem of the Trump presidency as the Democrats see it.
I think impeachment would be a mistake, not because I think this president is fit for office, but because I think it's important that he be repudiated
by the voters, not impeached which inescapably would be seen as a leap politicians trying to get rid of a guy they couldn't beat in an election.
So I think it's very important that Democrats resist the temptation to spend the next two years on impeachment.
There's another reason it would be risky for Democrats. It will distract them from developing an affirmative, inspiring politics of persuasion of
their own. Preoccupying themselves with Trump and his misdeeds is too easy an excuse for Democrats.
Well, he's terrible, he's violating democratic and constitutional law, all that may be true and yet, less Democrats and progressives find a way to
speak [14:50:00] convincingly to the resentments and the grievances and the frustrations of ordinary voters. They're not going to be able to defeat
him in the next election.
SREENIVASAN: One of those grievances is that we, as a country, have sold a meritocracy for a long time. Work hard, play by the rules. You can get
ahead. In fact, we share stories often about the exceptions versus the rule.
And we're now heading into a period where this is one of the first generations who are not going to do better than their parents on average.
And I think and if you break it down by quintiles, the lowest quintile has a four percent chance of ever getting to the top.
SREENIVASAN: But we still all want to believe that you can make it with just hard work.
SREENIVASAN: That there's -- as soon as people figure out that that's not the case, that's a pretty deep frustration.
SANDEL: There's also a damaging message that this preoccupation with meritocracy gives about the attitudes towards the success of those who land
on top. The message it sends is you land on top, that as your own doing. You don't owe anybody else for that.
SREENIVASAN: And the inverse.
SREENIVASAN: If you aren't successful, this failure is of your own doing as well.
SANDEL: It's of your own doing. And so this attitude toward success, which is bred by a focus on meritocracy, upward mobility, scrambling up the
ladder even as the rungs grow further apart, it has a toxic effect on our attitudes toward success.
And if I believe I've succeeded, thanks to my own doing. It's very hard for me to look at someone else in my society less fortunate and say there -
- but for accident or the luck of the lottery or the grace of God, it's harder and harder to say that if the successful inhale so deeply of their
own success, they believe they've done it on their own. And this is corrosive of solidarity, of commonality, with the sense that we are all in
this together. It's corrosive of democratic citizenship.
SREENIVASAN: But it seems we're caught up more in moral victories than anything else. I mean we could legislate our way through practical
solutions to problems but we want to score a point and we want to make sure the other guy or gal doesn't. We're almost locked into the structure that
we have because we can't agree that it needs to change.
SANDEL: One of the most damaging effects of the inequality of recent decades is that we are losing those common spaces and public places in
everyday life. I call it the skyboxification of American life, thinking back to sports stadia and the fact that when I was growing up going to a
baseball game or -- brought people together. There was class mixing. Whereas now we have these skyboxes where the affluent can watch in air-
conditioned comfort and not have to stand in long lines for the restroom.
But this is happening throughout our society. There are fewer occasions of class mixing. Those who are affluent and those who are of modest means
live and work and shop and play in different places. We send our children to different schools.
And this is damaging to democracy. Democracy doesn't require perfect equality. But what it does require is that people from different
backgrounds, different walks of life, bump up against one another in the course of their everyday lives because this is how we learn to negotiate
and to abide our differences. And this is how we come to care for the common good.
So one of the big tasks in revitalizing politics is to revive public neighborhoods, and parks, and recreation centers, and public
transportation, cultural facilities, and above all the public schools that bring people out of their segregated privatized forms of community into a
shared life a democratic citizenship. That's a big project but wouldn't it be refreshing if the two parties started debating ways of achieving that?
SREENIVASAN: Thanks so much for joining us.
SANDEL: My pleasure.
AMANPOUR: And that's the time you plea for coming together as one country, as one people.
That is it for now. And we leave you with these images of grief and solidarity at a mosque in New Zealand.
You can always watch us online. Thanks and good night from London.