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Tensions in Jerusalem; Russia Advances in Ukraine; Outrage in Uvalde; Interview With German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck; Interview with Journalist Stefano Pozzebon; Interview with Boston College Historian and Professor and Write of "Letters From an American" Heather Cox Richardson. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired May 30, 2022 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Biden, we need help! We need help, President Biden!
GOLODRYGA (voice-over): As President Biden mourns with families, he pledges action too. Our report from Uvalde, where agony has turned to
Then: Russia advancing in the east. We will have the latest on the war in Ukraine.
ROBERT HABECK, GERMAN VICE CHANCELLOR: It's simply not understandable that the use of weapons in such amount is allowed.
GOLODRYGA: Germany's vice chancellor gives a frank assessment of America's shooting epidemic. In a wide-ranging discussion, he also says Hungary is
holding up efforts to drop Russian oil.
Plus: Tensions flare in Jerusalem, as Israeli nationalists march through Muslim quarters.
Then, we're live in Bogota, as a leftist ex-guerrilla and a populace outsider face off for the Colombian presidency.
HEATHER COX RICHARDSON, BOSTON COLLEGE: The way we fix it is for people who care about it to speak up and demand that we fix it.
GOLODRYGA: The widely followed historian Heather Cox Richardson puts America's relationship with guns in context for Michel Martin.
GOLODRYGA: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York City, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour, who will be back next week.
Well, this Memorial Day, America is a country once again in mourning. In the city of Uvalde, Texas, families will begin laying to rest their 10-
year-olds murdered while at school.
Across the country, in Buffalo, the last funerals are being held for the 10 victims of a racist attack at a supermarket, all innocent lives lost to the
epidemic of gun violence and hate.
Vice President Harris addressed the funeral of 86-year-old Ruth Whitfield, saying, enough is enough. And there were similar sentiments from the
president and the first lady in Uvalde as they met with grieving families there.
This was the president earlier on his return to Washington.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Folks who were victimized, their families, they spent three hours and 40 minutes.
And they waited all that time. And some came two hours early. And the pain is palpable. And I think a lot of it is unnecessary. So I'm going to
continue to push and we'll see how this works.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Their pain is palpable and unnecessary.
Well, meanwhile, law enforcement is coming under increasing criticism for failing to intervene sooner.
Here's CNN's Adrienne Broaddus.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need change. Our children don't deserve this!
ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Justice Department says it will review the law enforcement response to the Robb Elementary
REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D-TX): I'm glad that the Justice Department is listening and they're going to do a review of the law enforcement response.
Like I said, I think everybody was shocked that it took an hour for law enforcement to go in there and finally take out the shooter.
BROADDUS: Law enforcement latest timeline of events showing officers waited 75 minutes before entering the classroom and shooting the gunman.
The response is now under intense scrutiny, especially after the initial timeline provided by police had a number of inaccuracies, some believing
lives could have been saved had officers acted sooner.
STATE SEN. ROLAND GUTIERREZ (D-TX): I sat down with a parent -- a set of - - a family yesterday. The mom told me that her child had been shot by one bullet through the back, through the kidney area.
The first responder that they eventually talked to said that their child likely bled out. In that span of 30 or 40 minutes extra, that little girl
might have lived.
BROADDUS: The gunman was barricaded in the classroom, as students in the room called 911 begging for help. Even as gunshots rang out, police waited
in the hallway for backup, equipment and negotiators, before finally using a janitor's master key to unlock the door and kill the gunman, this as more
young students have come forward to describe that excruciating hour.
DANIEL, ROBB ELEMENTARY SURVIVOR: He just, like, shot, like, four bullets into our class. But, like, her nose broke, and then our teacher got shot in
her leg and her torso, but she's all right.
I was hiding under a table next to the wall that's -- it goes to, like, the end of the wall to, like, that start of the wall. And it's like a very big
table. But I could still see his face.
BROADDUS: Democrats in the Texas state Senate demanding Governor Greg Abbott call a special session to pass stricter gun control laws, this as
President Joe Biden visited the grieving Uvalde community on Sunday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Biden, we need help! We need help, President Biden!
BROADDUS: Residents pleading with the president for change in the wake of this massacre, Biden responding to the crowd as he was getting in his car.
The president and first lady visited a memorial at Robb Elementary to lay flowers. And then they attended a church service for the victims.
Afterward, Biden met privately with some of their families.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He cares.
JOSE CAZARES, FATHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM: He cared.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Truly cares.
CAZARES: I mean, yes, it's not -- it isn't fake. It wasn't fake.
VINCENT SALAZAR, FATHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM: It was really just all about my daughter. You know what I mean? That's all we talked about. And he --
like I said, they were very gracious. They showed compassion. And that's all we were here for.
You know what I'm saying? He listened to everything. And we listened to him. He shed some tears. We shed some tears.
GOLODRYGA: The whole nation shedding tears.
Adrienne Broaddus reporting there. Thanks to Adrienne.
Well, we turn now to Ukraine and Russia's relentless offensive to control the Eastern Donbass region. The cities of and Severodonetsk and Lysychansk
are under heavy assault. However, the Ukrainian military says that it has begun a counteroffensive in the south and is making advances towards
Meanwhile, President Zelenskyy met with France's new foreign minister, Catherine Colonna, in Kyiv. This comes after he traveled outside the Kyiv
region and visited front-line positions. for the first time on Sunday, meeting soldiers in Kharkiv.
Our international security editor, Nick Paton Walsh, is in Kyiv for us.
Nick, good to see you.
So, first, let's talk about this trip for President Zelenskyy, the first trip leaving Kyiv region and going to the country's second largest city in
the north there, Kharkiv.
How significant was this move? And what message did it send to those troops that he met with?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: I think it shows the need that he clearly felt to be seen on the front lines now and
how I think he wanted clearly to be associated with what is comparatively the good news story of what's been happening around Kharkiv, a city
initially bombarded intensely at the start of the war that is now seeing -- we saw it ourselves a couple of weeks ago -- is now seeing Russian forces
pushed back away from the city limits and increasingly out of the easy range of the residential areas they were intensely shelling.
And so that is, to some degree, a success story. It's one, of course, like everything we're hearing here, qualified by Russian counteroffensives.
There was a brief moment where Ukraine thought it might be able to access the supply lines Russia needs for its offensive down to Izyum and the
Donbass area, but Russia pushed back and kicked Ukrainian forces away from there, but certainly still on the scene there, seen -- viewing Russian
armor destroyed at the beginning of the war, frankly, but the symbolic nature of that very clear.
But also too taking time to dismiss the local head of the internal security service, saying that he was more associated with his own interests than the
country's needs at the start of the war. So, showing himself hands on there, associating himself with a relative success story, while a time when
there's great challenges, certainly in the Donbass, for Ukraine at the moment -- Bianna.
GOLODRYGA: a relative success story there in Kharkiv, not the situation in Severodonetsk.
Talk about the inroads that the Russian troops are making there and the symbolism of them possibly taking hold of that city there.
WALSH: It's important to point out this is not a big place.
So, we aren't talking about a large territorial advance by Russia here. But it is a sign of their ability, some might say finally, for Russia's
interests here to focus on a specific objective and put resources towards it
Now, we have seen Russia now surrounds Severodonetsk. That's a city on one side of river. On the other side is Lysychansk. Lysychansk is on a hill. We
saw ourselves yesterday the damage, frankly, done to Severodonetsk, our second trip there, the skyline always full of black smoke, always the sound
of intense shelling there.
And it does seem from social media videos we have seen and from accounts that Russian troops are getting towards the center of Severodonetsk. I
spoke to three Ukrainian soldiers who just emerged two days ago now it would have been from fighting in Severodonetsk.
And they said, look, their city is surrounded. But there are varying accounts as to how much is currently still in Ukrainian hands. The only way
out is a bridge across that river there. And we heard ourselves fighting near that bridge just yesterday, so a deeply complex task for Ukrainians to
hold on to Severodonetsk and, by extension to that Lysychansk as well.
And if they are encircled by Russian forces, which appears to be the Russian goal here...
WALSH: ... then that does give Vladimir Putin the possibility of saying he's taken a lot of Luhansk and therefore got closer to achieving his much-
reduced second phase of the invasion goals -- Bianna.
GOLODRYGA: The violence and devastation, though, on full display, as you have reported there.
Nick Paton Walsh, thank you.
European Union leaders are meeting in Brussels today to discuss a sixth round of Russia sanctions. The big goal is to try and push through an oil
embargo. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says there is the will for consensus. But, over the weekend, his vice chancellor, Robert Habeck,
warned that E.U. unity is starting to crumble.
And he told this program that at least one nation is dragging its heels.
The Green Party pillow politician spoke to Christiane from last week's climate G7 amid the catastrophic mass shooting in Uvalde.
Here's their conversation.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Vice Chancellor Habeck, welcome to the program.
HABECK: Hello, and good evening.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you what your reaction, as a German, is to this horrendous massacre of children by a gunman in Texas in the United States?
HABECK: Well, first of all, let me express my deepest condolences for the families who lost members and the people in Texas who lost friends and
This is another terrible attack on humanity, I would say. So, first of all, all the best, all the strength in the world for the ones who are now
suffering or has have these grief, losses.
And then, secondly, well, of course, it's U.S. interior business, but, I mean, from a German point of view, it's simply not understandable that the
use of weapons in such amount is allowed. And I can't understand why really armed war weapons are allowed free on the market in the U.S.
So, from a European perspective, from a German perspective, the loss of lives is too high. It's a price too high to pay for this allowance and this
rule. So, maybe a second thought would be helpful.
AMANPOUR: You mentioned the idea of military-style weapons being bought by civilians and used in this way.
I want to just ask you to reflect on the fact that so many in the United States attribute the use of guns -- I'm not talking about massacres -- but
the ability to buy guns, have guns to the idea of freedom. It's kind of become a strange sort of slogan, that freedom exists even up to this level.
Again, how do you see that connection?
HABECK: Well, I would always argue that Europe is a continent with a lot of freedom, and we haven't these grief attacks. Of course, there are other
terror attacks in Europe as well. And I would also argue that Germany is a safe and maybe safer country than the U.S., and we don't allow the use of
weapons and the selling of weapons in such amount.
So, I mean, isn't -- it's -- from my point of view, it's not so -- it's not so difficult to understand lesser weapons, lesser death.
AMANPOUR: Let me move to the big geopolitical issue of our time.
And that is the legitimate defense of freedom and independence and sovereignty of Ukraine, which Germany, NATO, the West is all committed to.
You have just returned from Davos, where you must have been having conversations with many of the officials involved in helping Ukraine.
And you also heard via remote from President Zelenskyy. How do you assess the current status of the war right now between Russia and Ukraine?
HABECK: Well, the war lasts longer than most of the experts, even experts, have expected.
And this says us something about the estimations. The Ukraine, they fight with huge bravery. Putin get it all wrong. He underestimated the power and
the willingness of Ukraine army to fight. He overestimated the power of his own army. He underestimated the solidarity given in Europe and in the
So -- and he hoped that he was welcomed as a liberator. But he's not. The Ukraine people, they see him as an aggressor. So he got it all wrong. But
we must admit that also some of our experts in the West estimated the situation wrong.
The Ukraine army with the solidarity of the West and with the weapons Europe and the U.S. and Canada are delivering, they are really doing a
great job. This is -- sounds cynical, but, of course, defending their country, defending their democracy, defending the freedom is a great job.
But make no mistake. A lot of people are dying there, young soldiers. And, definitely, on both sides, they had better ideas for their lives, for the
plan their lives than dying for Putin or dying in this terrible war.
Right now, the situation seems like this war will on -- go over a period of time, maybe weeks, maybe months. So this means that we have to change our
strategy as well. We have to deliver more weapons and other weapons to Ukraine. And we're doing it in Europe, in the U.S., and in Germany as well.
And we have to give energy and money as well to Ukraine to support the country in this difficult period.
AMANPOUR: Mr. Vice Chancellor, you just said we in the West got certain things wrong.
As you know, President Zelenskyy has said that about 100 people, citizen soldiers, members of the military, are being killed every day right now.
You said in April: "We certainly should have supported Ukraine military much earlier. And I'm not just talking about days or weeks, but years."
You have turned your military on a dime. For the first time in your postwar history, Germany is involved in lethal aid to another country, but you
still say it should have happened earlier. Explain what you mean, and how it might have changed the current status on the ground.
HABECK: We haven't helped Ukraine enough. And especially in Germany, also in my party -- I'm from the Green Party in Germany -- there was a strong
attitude that we will not deliver weapons to Ukraine because the fear was that we would -- that we raise the conflict even more or feed the conflict
there in the Donbass.
I personally thought this was wrong. I had this argument with my own party one year ago when I visited Ukraine. But this was the overall idea in
Germany. But this was wrong. Nobody knows, of course, what will happen if we delivered more weapons to Ukraine before, but definitely the idea was
that a war would be -- would not happen.
And now it's happening. And now we're delivering the weapons. Fine enough, but maybe it would be -- would have been better that we had done it before.
AMANPOUR: And Germany is spending something like $100 billion to actually modernize the military. Again, that's a complete shift on your military
At Davos, the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said -- and I quote -- "We are draining the Kremlin's war machine."
So she's saying that the sanctions are having an effect. But, as you know, President Putin is still able to sell oil. Oil is very expensive. He's
making a good profit. Do you feel confident that his ability to wage this war is being affected by the E.U. sanctions, by the global sanctions?
HABECK: Yes, the sanctions are working. They are economic sanctions. So, it's always takes a time.
But think about the end of the Soviet republic. This was mainly also because of economic decrease. Yes, of course, the economy in Russia is
still ongoing, but, on a level like 1980 or something. So, the longer it takes, the more they lose track of the world economy and the world
So this is severe damage to the Russian economy. But, of course, it's a big country. It's a country full of energy, fossil energy, gas and oil. They
have enough food for the people and their soldiers. So they can go on feeding the war out of their own resources for quite a long time.
So you can't even say that our bans on whatever economic goods are direct, have a direct impact for their capability to lead the war. But an indirect
impact, they have definitely. So Ursula von der Leyen is right.
And about the ban on oil, well, we have a little bit of a problem there, because, of course, it's right and it's morally necessary that we ban oil
and maybe later on gas and other products from Russia. But because they sell it on the world market, a ban on oil, as U.S. has -- starts in, I
think it was end of February, has increased the prices on the world market.
So Putin earns more money with lesser selling of oil. And this is a problem, of course. And we have to find a solution there. Otherwise, we
destroy with the right hand what we build with the left hand, or vice versa.
So, actually, the ban on -- the ban on oil hasn't had the effect we hoped so far.
So let me ask you this because, a couple of days ago, you yourself said that the Russian oil embargo by the E.U. will actually happen in a couple
of days. Then we hear from "The F.T." that the Hungarian prime minister, Orban, has ruled out discussing the E.U.'s proposed oil embargo of Russia
at next week's summit of leaders. He said that to Charles Michel, council leader, in a letter.
And his spokesman told me a few weeks ago that Hungary had no physical alternative to Russian gas and oil for the moment. So, there's two
questions there. Is Hungary going to hold up unanimity in the E.U.? But what you have just said is, it may be having the reverse effect, this oil
HABECK: Well, that's right.
We have a great majority for a ban on oil, with all the problems I mentioned before, in Europe, but Hungary is against it. And this must be a
unanimous vote in the European Council. So, therefore, I hope and I hoped that the leaders will find a solution on the council. This is in some days.
And I know that intense talks are ongoing with Hungary. And Hungary, they get a lot of oil from Russia. So, say, tomorrow, we stop it, this will
bankrupt Hungary. I understand their problem. But working on a problem can be mirrored in the sanction package.
So, saying, well, we have a ban on oil now, but, some states, they have more time, this is a possible solution. The question is, is Viktor Orban
and Hungary willing to stay in the solidarity of Europe and the transatlantic partnership? And, right now, it does not seem this way.
So, if it's find -- if it's about finding a practical solution for existing -- in reality, existing problem, this can be solved. If it's about
bargaining, then you never know what the Hungarians, Viktor Orban will negotiate.
AMANPOUR: Mr. Vice Chancellor, you are also the minister for economic and climate affairs., the federal minister
I just want to ask you about some practicalities. You yourself have been securing deals with countries like Norway, Qatar, UAE in order to replace
Russian gas. But, also, your country has decided to move away from nuclear energy.
Was that shortsighted? Was it a mistake for Germany to say no to nuclear energy? We know that even the Finland Green Party has voted overwhelmingly
to adopt a fully pro-nuclear stance at its national meeting. And it has done that this week.
HABECK: For Germany, I can say that our strategy is a very good one. And I think we will have a cheap and affordable energy.
And we will have clean energy. And we will be very competitive in the market because the renewables, they are flexible. They need digitalization.
So we will invent the new form of economic models here in Germany, here in Europe.
Coming to nuclear energy, we have now still three nuclear power plants running, raised 4 and 5 percent of the German electricity, electricity
production. It's only 5 percent. And this is -- I wouldn't say this is nothing. But it's a very small amount.
And we replace the other nuclear power plants mainly by renewables.
AMANPOUR: Except, Mr. Vice Chancellor, you're talking about green and renewable and sustainable, and you are the Green Party. You plan to phase
out nuclear, which is clean, about 10 years or eight years sooner than you plan to phase out dirty, horrible coal.
That doesn't make sense.
HABECK: Well, this is the plan the old government made. And the contracts are written. And I think we should -- we can and we should stick to the
contracts with the firms. Otherwise, we have to rebuild the whole energy system, the grid, systematic, that was built in the past years.
So if you would start from the scratch, maybe you have second thoughts about the order of phasing out. I can imagine that the discussion would be
in another way, but, right now, we have the routes, we have the laws, and we have a clear path that we will follow.
AMANPOUR: And, finally, Mr. Vice Chancellor, I guess I'm asking you to predict as best you can what you think is going to happen down the line.
How much pain can your citizens take, can our citizens of the world take with these sanctions, with the inflation, with the rise of prices, with the
threat, because Russia is blockading very important quantities of Ukrainian wheat, even stealing that Ukrainian wheat? A recession, maybe some people
are talking about down the line.
What is your big nightmare right now?
HABECK: Well, looking at the world economy, one must be serious that we are facing a difficult situation
And, of course, this is also the case in Germany and in the U.S. We have high inflation. We have high energy prices. A lot of people, and a lot of
companies, they are really worried if they can pay all the prices. There are solutions, of course, increased amount of energy, and state aid for the
transformation we are ongoing right now. Maybe the central banks, they can do their part as well.
But what really worries me, and I think where we really need some political concentration, is the global situation. You're right. Ukraine and Russia is
a great supplier of food, of wheat, actually. Most of the wheat is going to the Arabic Peninsula on North Africa.
If people get into stuff next summer, so this winter would be all right, but next summer, this would be really a horrible situation -- then it's not
it's not a very stable political environment there. What's going to happen?
So we are facing maybe the next crisis, the next security crisis in these countries. So we need more wheat on the market. We have to keep the markets
open. We maybe -- we need to find a solution that all the wheat in the Ukraine harvest can be shifted out. And if this is not going to happen,
then we are not talking about inflation alone, but about a world food crisis, which will lead to a worldwide recession, if we are unlucky.
But, actually, we are politicians. We are human beings. We can decide about our fate. So, facing and knowing a problem is the beginning of solving the
AMANPOUR: That's really fascinating.
Thank you so much. It's been great to talk to you, Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck. Thanks a lot for being with us.
HABECK: Thank you. All the best.
GOLODRYGA: A sobering assessment there from the head of Europe's largest economy.
Well, coming up: Tensions rise in Jerusalem, how a controversial procession turned violent.
That's up next.
GOLODRYGA: Welcome back.
Dozens of Palestinians have been injured in violence around a flag-waving march by Israeli nationalists through Eastern Jerusalem.
CNN's Atika Shubert reports from Jerusalem.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jerusalem Day is a day that shows just how bitterly contested this city is. For Israelis, particularly
Jewish nationalists, it has become a day to mark Israel's capturing of all the city, including East Jerusalem, in the 1967 war and the holiest site in
Judaism, the Western Wall.
Thousands upon thousands converge on Jerusalem's Old City, marching through with Israeli flags. Some chant, "Death to Arabs."
This is one extreme among the marchers. Others here say the day should be a celebration, not a provocation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most of the people want to live in peace and as you can see, we live in peace. I didn't come to provoke someone. You understand I
didn't come for it. And I'm not making problem. I'm not shouting, die to the Arabs. You saw the guy that wanted Arabs to be dead, I told him not
because I don't want them to be dead. I want them to be my neighbors. But you know, I don't want them to kill me the same time.
SHUBERT: But for Palestinians, this is a day of provocation. When the Israeli flag march goes through one of the most disputed areas of East
Jerusalem and it's almost inevitable that tensions will boil over.
SHUBERT (voiceover): Thousands of police are deployed. But scuffles still break out in the narrow cobblestone streets. Police fire pepper spray and
swing batons. Palestinian residents say, they feel angry, frustrated, and exhausted.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cannot live. No peace at home. No peace in the shop. No peace in the street. No peace anywhere. Now, a settler could come hit
me, he will go and arrest me. Where is justice?
SHUBERT (voiceover): In a sea of flags, there is one that cannot be flown, the Palestinian flag. Israeli police quickly tackled the elderly man who
dared to unfurl it. If the march of flags went ahead, Hamas warned, it would fire rockets from Gaza. Watch the skies, the militant group warned,
what came instead was a small gesture of defiance instead of rockets, keeping Jerusalem's uneasy peace for another day. Atika Shubert for CNN in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Our thanks to Atika for that report.
And still to come, in the wake of the Uvalde massacre, a unique look at politics, cowboys, and Americas failure to tackle gun violence.
BADR JAFAR, CEO, CRESCENT ENTERPRISES: The regions, post-pandemic or mid- pandemic, I should say, performance is as you go across the 20 or so countries that make up the Middle East and North Africa is as diverse as
the 500 million people are so that live in it. We've been saying for a long time that the only way we can address as a sort of a silver bullet, the
youth unemployment crisis and socioeconomic problems that we have and challenge we have across the region is by nurturing small businesses to
create jobs, create opportunities and pursue innovation.
The problem is no one was investing in small businesses. But I see that changing. We need to create businesses as change agents who can in turn
create the solutions, both on a social and economic objective. One of the other trends we're seeing is where businesses are aligning with their
social and environmental impact, in addition to their of course financial impact as being one of the same in terms of stakeholder returns. So, that,
I think, is a positive trend. We have to nurture.
GOLODRYGA: Welcome back. Colombia is one step closer to electing its first-ever leftist leader. After Sunday's election, a runoff in June is
that between the top two candidates. Left-wing Gustavo Petro, a former guerrilla fighter and former mayor of Bogota will face populist Rodolfo
Hernandez whose campaign has been compared to that of Donald Trump. Stefano Pozzebon is live for us in Bogota right now.
So, Stefano, a real blow to the establishment here.
What were voters trying to send in their message here, really, bringing up two extremists, one from the right and one from the left in a sign of their
frustration in the country right now?
STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, definitely, Bianna. We see, you know, growing social discontent, social growing frustration with the status
quo. Of course, inflation is hitting hard in Colombia, just like every other country in the region, as part of the consequences of the war in
Ukraine. The country is still dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. And Duque, who is the sitting president, is leaving office with
more than 70 percent of disapproval rates. So, definitely, he didn't do a good job.
But, I think, if you take a step back and look a little bit at the wider Colombian history angle, this is a country that has been in conflict for
more than 60 years. With rebels from both the left and the right, taking up arms against the State. That season has finished in 2016 with a historic
peace deal that was praised around the world.
Now, security is still a challenge for whoever will come to become Duque's successor, or whoever will take power after Duque. But it really seems that
Colombia is ready to turn the page and open a new chapter in its history. And that is what I think the voters decided to express by, really, running
away from the traditional historic political parties and putting two outsiders in this new runoff that we have said for June 19th, Bianna.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, just had a potential historic turn of events there and the runoff just weeks away. Stefano, thank you so much for joining us.
Well, returning now to the tragedy in Uvalde, and a closer look at the scourge of gun violence in America. Historian Heather Cox Richardson has
written, "Americas' gun-free for all is a symptom of the takeover of our nation by or radical extremist minority." Richardson has built a huge
following with her newsletter, letters from an American. And here she is speaking with Michel Martin about the failure to enact real change.
MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Heather Cox Richardson, thank you so much for talking with us.
HEATHER COX RICHARDSON, HISTORIAN AND PROFESSOR, BOSTON COLLEGE, AND WRITER, "LETTERS FROM AN AMERICAN": It's a pleasure to be here.
MARTIN: How did we get here? It is a fact, is it not, that a majority of Americans favor some form of gun safety regulations, correct?
RICHARDSON: Oh, yes.
MARTIN: So, given that a majority, an overwhelming majority of Americans favor these kinds of things, how did we get to the point where a minority
of the population, including a gun-owning minority, so controls the policy here? The policies under which we all live. So, take us back to the
beginning. I mean, obviously, the National Rifle Association essential to that, which was founded -- what -- the 19th century? Did they always have
this uncompromising position toward regulation of firearms?
RICHARDSON: No, they didn't. And that's part of the really interesting story of how we got to this moment. The NRA actually starts in 1871. And it
starts as an opportunity for people who fought in the Civil War. Men who fought in the Civil War to continue their firearm skills and the
camaraderie of being in camp together. Doing things like having shooting games at tin cans, for example. At the same time, there was the rise as
well of a sport of shooting, especially in Europe, for which there were pretty large prizes.
And so, Americans get together and begin to have shooting competitions that are eventually under the umbrella of the National Rifle Association. And
that association is designed not only to promote the sport of shooting, the camaraderie of the campfire from the Civil War days, and also gun safety.
So, when I was a kid growing up in rural Maine, the NRA actually was in our schools teaching us gun safety because we were a hunting community and
there were a lot of guns around. That changes dramatically in the 1980s.
MARTIN: Why did it change and how did it change?
RICHARDSON: The story of the change is an interesting one because it's so deeply embedded in our politics. And this is something important to
remember when we talk about gun safety or gun regulation, is the idea that it's not just about guns, that you can't separate that issue off. It's very
much part of what happened to our American politics in the 1970s and the 1980s. And what happened then was a dramatic backlash against the new deal
coalition that had used the government to regulate business, and provide a basic social safety net, and promote infrastructure.
You know, that world that we had lived under since the 1930s and especially since after the 1950s it protected American civil rights. That backlash
against that activist government that protected Americans, takes shape in this image of the American Cowboy who stands alone against a grasping
A government that, by the way, in the 18 -- 1870s when the cowboy image rose was called a socialist government. That whole language is not new. And
that image of the gun-toting cowboy takes its shape from people like Barry Goldwater who runs for president in 1954 as a Republican. As a cowboy, it's
an image that Ronald Reagan picks up. Remember the image of Reagan in his cowboy hat. And what that image does, is it solidifies a political movement
that pushes against business regulation primarily.
Taxes, a basic social safety net. The idea of an investment in our infrastructure. And part of that, attack on government regulation focuses
on things like civil rights, of course, but also on regulations about guns. And that image of that, the lone cowboy, is really the image that comes out
of the 1980s. And you can think about things like the fact that in 1977, the blockbuster image was that of Luke Skywalker who is this individual guy
taking on the empire and a lot of Americans envision themselves as that in that period.
And that's the moment the NRA changes from being about gun safety and about protecting the sport of shooting, which is still a big sport in America and
becomes about what they call gun rights. The right of the individual to act as he almost always wishes.
MARTIN: So, how did it get to be that the level of violence that we are now experiencing, in communities across the country, that this kind of
violence, especially mass violence, has become so prevalent, and yet the political systems completely unable to deal with it? How did that happen?
RICHARDSON: It's crazy. I mean it's worth -- I will answer that but it's really worth sitting for a moment with the idea that we are literally a
country in which our children, our elderand ly, our churchgoers are gunned down in our system says this is the way --this is the price of freedom as
Bill O'Reilly once put it.
So, the question if that -- to answer the question that you just asked of how we got to a place where the government seems unable to handle the fact
that 90 percent of us want common-sense gun regulations and at the same time, we have legislators saying, you know, this is not the time to talk
about gun safety regulations.
Again, it's about politics. So, beginning in 1986, we get the Republican Party beginning to talk about voter suppression. They call it ballot
integrity at the time, but their private memo saying that they were expecting to throw black people off the rolls. We get opposition to the
Motor Voter Act of 1993, which enables people to enroll in voting at motor vehicle registration places and welfare offices, for example. And we
increasingly get focusing on -- we get the focus on voter suppression and making sure that only certain people get to have a say in our society.
Now, at the same time, gerrymandering in the States, which really takes off after 2010 with what was called Operation Red Map, the idea of controlling
State legislatures by the Republican Party in such a way that they could redistrict those States dramatically to favor Republicans took off after
2010. And then, of course, we get a number of Supreme Court decisions like the Citizens United decision that enables corporations to pour money into
the -- into political contests and decisions that Shelby versus Holder decision that cuts back on the voting rights act.
Those things enable, first of all, people like the NRA to funnel money into the Republican Party. And also make sure that the majority really does not
have the power to influence our -- the direction of our country. And then if you throw on top of that, the senate, which is heavily weighted toward
rural communities. And the fact that the Senate Filibuster, which has been so extraordinarily abused of late. It means that the majority of Americans
don't get to have a say in their government.
And when you look at the horror that is happening right now in the country, part of the fury, I think, is that the murder of our children and our
elderly and our churchgoers illustrates that we are in fact experiencing a tyranny of the minority. And a lot of the majority is no longer willing to
put up with that.
MARTIN: Former President Ronald Reagan was shot and nearly killed by a gunman in 1981. His press secretary, James Brady, was paralyzed for life
and it wounded secret service agent Tim McCarthy, and a police officer Tom Delahanty. And after that, then-Congressman Schumer, now a senator from New
York introduced legislation that became known as the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act to require background checks before gun purchases.
Now, Ronald Reagan, a lifetime member of the NRA, he actually endorsed this bill but the NRA opposed it. And there had been similar instances where
people who are members of the NRA came forward to say, trigger locks are acceptable.
But somehow these measures continue to be killed. So, then the question is, is the NRA more powerful than the political leaders who presumably
represent all of these parties? I guess I'm just trying to understand how does a small interest group wield so much power over people who represent
the entire country? Does that make sense?
RICHARDSON: It does. It's worth remembering, first of all, if you're just looking at the NRA, that they're extraordinarily effective at pressuring
lawmakers, it also puts a ton of money behind political contests. Nonetheless -- I mean, there's plenty of lobbies that do that sort of
thing. Nonetheless, I think what's really important to look at when we look at gun safety issues in America is that the confluence of the interest of
the NRA, which, by the way, really no longer represents the average gun owner. The NRA represents the guns arms industry and the ammunition
industry which are both big businesses. Guns and ammunition are very expensive and their sales are off the charts.
So, you have the interest of the NRA as a body that represents the gun industry. You also have the confluence of our political moment with that.
The Heller decision that Justice Antonin Scalia very famously wrote the opinion for in 2008, said that the government could not regulate the --
under the terms that the cases -- that were in that case. And Scalia was famous for his insistence on what he called, I think quite unjustly, an
originalist interpretation of a constitution.
Well, the whole point of originalism in the justice system and the Supreme Court is to get beyond regulation, to get before regulation to say the
original constitution didn't have this sort of regulation. Not only of guns but also of business and of civil rights and of the many things that the
modern-day Republican movement doesn't want to have.
So, the idea of regulation of guns is not just about guns. It's a wedge issue that talks much more largely about our governments. About who gets to
have a say in our government and what that government can do. At the same time, the people who oppose that have that cultural image of the cowboy.
And the idea of having your guns, which again, I grew up with people having guns on the back of their pickup trucks, it was not part of people's
identity. It was not a part of their political identity. It becomes so as a political movement after 1980 as this image of the cowboy who was standing
against a government that does, in fact, regulate what our society -- members of our society can do.
So, we're in this weird moment which is a new moment. It's very much a new moment in our society. Because -- not just because of the NRA but because
of the confluence of the interest of what is now the National Rifle Association with the political moment that says that any kind of regulation
is bad. And those two things have married and they have produced this American identity that depends on the idea that a single person can be
armed to the teeth and there's nothing that the rest of us can do about it.
MARTIN: So, your argument is that this is no longer just a political issue, it's become a matter of identity. And some argue, just to be frank
about it, is it become a part of white male identity or white nationalists' identity. Well, if freedom is so profound, why are some of the same people
who are most likely to own guns the most willing to regulate access to abortion? Just to be -- I mean, just to be brutally frank about it. Why is
it, like, white evangelicals, for example, are far more likely to own a gun than just about any other segment of the population? But white
evangelicals, for example, are far more likely to disfavor abortion rights. So, how is that on one hand, there is this belief in ultimate freedom, sort
of, an absolutist view -- vision of freedom but that doesn't extend to women's rights to control their bodies?
RICHARDSON: So, I think that you are missing the distinction between logic and image. So, logically, of course, which is where somebody like Barry
Goldwater would have been in 1964 in which he said, yes, I don't want the government to regulate civil rights. I don't want the government to
regulate women's rights. Because I believe in, a sort of, a libertarian branch of freedom. That's no longer where we are.
You know, we're a generation further along than that. And one of the things that was crucial about that cowboy image when it rose with Barry Goldwater,
and it actually slightly before him and with the Republican Party in the 1980s and post-1980s, is that the image of the cowboy was never about
freedom. That wasn't really even part of the language when it rose in the late 1860s mediately after the American Civil War. It was an image of a
man, a young man, almost always unmarried.
And the image was of a white man. Now, historically, cowboys -- a third of cowboys were men of color. That's not the way the image played out. And
that man lived in what I call, a world of bromance that is there are not women in the cowboy mythology except as wives and mothers or sex workers.
And the cowboy is this independent guy who doesn't need the government for anything, which again, is not true. The government is more invested in the
American plains than it is in any other region in the country.
And at the same time, what he is doing is he's using his gun, again, something that would not have been in a cowboy setting because it spooks
the cow. He's using his gun to protect his people against the bad guys. And those bad guys are indigenous Americans, Mexican-Americans, sometimes
Chinese-Americans, and Mexicans as well.
There is encoded in that cowboy imagery, not only racism but also a brand of sexism. And that dovetailed really beautifully, of course, with the rise
of evangelical Christianity in its current incarnation in that same period.
So, when -- people who embrace the cowboy image now, and we know about three percent of Americans owned 50 percent of our guns, they're not
embracing a libertarian world where they say, hey, women should be able to do whatever they want. They're embracing an image that is very deliberately
a hierarchical image in which they're the ones on top and they get to exercise dominance over women and people of color, and the government
should not do anything to stop them from doing it. And then that seems very logical that you take away women's rights at the same time you insist on
your own right to own a couple of AR-15s.
MARTIN: For those who consider the level of violence in this country unacceptable, what do they do? How does that -- how is that addressed?
RICHARDSON: I do think that you have put your thumb on a crucial problem and that is that in the 1980s the beginning to start this snowball rolling
of being an American is being a good cowboy has now moved beyond the political class that started that. I think that the Republican leadership
is now running behind those people who insist that their gun ownership is crucial to their identity. And that's a crisis.
Our political system doesn't automatically create this kind of minority rule. The -- we have gotten here by a series of deliberate decisions and
they are deliberate decisions that have managed to give us a system that has frankly does no longer work. I mean, think about it, realistically. Are
Americans going to put up with minority rule?
I mean, every once in a while, in our history, we've gotten a president who was elected with a minority of the popular vote. I mean, Rutherford B.
Hayes, William -- Benjamin Harrison. But it's happening all the time now. We need to fix this. And the way we fix it is for people who care about it
to speak up and demand that we fix it.
And obviously, that means voting. But it also means talking about how our system works and it means talking about who we are as Americans. That we
are not cowboys. We are not Shane. We're the people in the community after Shane rides off and we move that person offstage. And we write our
government in such a way that it in fact does protect our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And that our government is, now to
move us to Lincoln, a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
That's our history. That's who we are. Not this skewed moment that has been put in place in the 20th century by a minority. Really reaching back all
the way back to 1929 when they began to mess around with the electoral college. This is itself, an unusual moment. What I'm hoping we can do is
reclaim the meaning of American democracy. And we can only do that if everybody pitches again.
MARTIN: Professor Heather Cox Richardson, thank you so much for talking with us today.
RICHARDSON: Thank you. It's been a pleasure.
GOLODRYGA: A really fascinating conversation. When we come back, how Ukraine's national heroes and Eurovision winners have found a new way to
raise money and morale for their war-torn country.
And finally, can music bolster the Ukrainian army fighting Russia's invasion? Well, apparently so. The Ukrainian brand -- band, Kalush
Orchestra, which won the Eurovision song contest earlier this month has auctioned off its crystal trophy for an amazing $900,000. Now, that money
raised will be used to buy drones for the country's armed forces. Creative way of combining talent and patriotism.
Well, that is it for now. Thank you so much for watching. And goodbye from New York.