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Interview With Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder; Interview With "An American Martyr in Persia" Author Reza Aslan; Interview With "Of Boys And Men" Author Richard Reeves. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired October 11, 2022 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello everyone and welcome to "Amanpour". Here is what's coming up.
More contentious cases on the United States Supreme Court docket after gutting women's rights, democracy and voting rights come up for review. And
I speak to the former Attorney General Eric Holder.
Then a growing power vacuum. How Putin's war in Ukraine is hurting his influence elsewhere. Plus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Iran intensifies its crackdown but protesters show no sign of bowing to that pressure. The country's deep culture of protest with Reza
Aslan who looks at the historic but little-known role of "An American Martyr in Persia". Also, ahead --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD REEVES, AUTHOR, "OF BOYS AND MEN": There are too many pretty big gaps now that are disparate bring men in the labor market and boys in the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: "Of Boys and Men", scholar Richard V. Reeves tells Hari Sreenivasan why he believes the modern male is struggling and why it
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
The United States is gearing up for the midterms in just four weeks' time. The economy and abortion rights are at the top of peoples' minds as they
prepare to vote. And after the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe versus Wade, polls show that confidence is at a historic low with over half
of all Americans disapproving of the court's performance.
And as its new term gets underway, a raft of cases could drastically alter fundamental rights in the U.S. Like voting in LGBT rights and climate
regulation. Eric Holder was attorney general under President Obama. He's now an activist focusing on voting rights and democracy. And his name is on
Shelby versus Holder, the 2013 Supreme Court case that eviscerated the Voting Rights Act the first time. And he's joining me now from Washington.
Attorney General Holder, welcome back.
ERIC HOLDER, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: It's good to see you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you -- I mean, it really does sound dire. Can it get any worse for the American people in the Supreme Court's new term. And
I say that because a lot of their rulings have been out of step with what the majority of the people want.
HOLDER: Yes, the court has in the last term, especially, done things inconsistent with precedent. I would say inconsistent with principle, and
only consistent with personnel, like, who serves on the court and that is not a way in which the Supreme Court should appropriately conduct itself.
Could things get worse? Oh, absolutely. The remaining parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 could be eviscerated. Affirmative action could be made
unlawful. It's entirely possible that a climate change ruling could have a negative impact on America's ability to do its part with regard to climate
change. So, yes. As bad as things were in the last term, they could get worse this term.
AMANPOUR: And there is a new Supreme Court justice but that doesn't affect the balance of political power, right?
HOLDER: No, that's right. I mean, there is a pretty hard-core majority at six to three. The addition of the new justice, Justice Jackson, just
replaced one of the three more liberal justices. So, we still have a six to three Supreme Court.
AMANPOUR: So, apparently there are thousands of cases that Supreme Court, you know, could choose. It only can choose several dozens. What -- you
know, what goes into the choice of these cases that come before them? Why again are we talking about LGBT, voter's rights, things that seem to have
HOLDER: Well, that's the thing that's kind of worrisome. The -- you're right that the Supreme Court chooses -- essentially the cases that it will
hear. Some of the cases that has decided to hear in this term deal with issues that we thought had been settled. Had been decided. Some, you know,
fairly recently. And yet I think this activist conservative court has made the determination that it wants to rollback rights in places where it does
not ideological agree with what prior courts have done.
Prior decisions have entailed. And that's a dangerous path for the United States and Supreme Court to be on. People rely on the Supreme Court as they
order their lives. And for this kind of whiplash or this pairing back on previous court decisions has a negative impact on the ability of Americans
to order the lives in which they're trying to lead.
AMANPOUR: So, I want to get into specifics in a moment. But first I want to ask you to comment on what the Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts
said about peoples -- you know, a lot of negative reaction to the Roe versus Wade ruling and others in the last term. This is what John Roberts
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE, U.S. SUPREME COURT: Yes, the -- all of our opinions are open to criticism. In fact, our members do a great job of
criticizing some opinions from time to time. But simply because people disagree with an opinion is not a basis for questioning the legitimacy of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, how do you analyze that statement? Is it losing legitimacy according to that poll that I read out, simply because of disagreements?
HOLDER: No, I don't think the court is losing its legitimacy or the favorable views that the American public has traditionally had for the
court just based on those decisions. I think, certainly, the decisions have had an impact. You know, especially when it comes to overruling Roe. Again,
overruling the 50-year precedent over making more difficult for people, especially, women in this country to order their lives.
The process though by which the court has done these things, and the notion that you get a different Supreme Court view of fundamental rights based on
who serves on the court as opposed to looking at principle, looking at precedent, looking at the facts. All of these things, I think, have eroded
confidence in the court. So, it's not just a question of the popularity of the decisions. It also goes to the process by which the Supreme Court has
reached these unbelievably unpopular decisions.
AMANPOUR: So, let's drill down on a couple. So, again, voting rights and the idea of gerrymandering and influencing the ability to actually, you
know, have your voice heard. Specifically in Alabama, right? So, the court this month heard arguments in Merrill versus Milligan, that's a
redistricting case from Alabama. You tell us what our viewers and people need to know about what this means for voting rights?
HOLDER: Yes, the Alabama case comes out of -- centered around Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Alabama's population is about 27 percent
black. And yet, Alabamans -- black Alabamans have traditionally been denied the ability to have -- to choose a representative of their choice.
We have in Alabama what's called racially polarized voting. Whites tend to vote for whites, African American tend to vote for blacks. 27 percent of
the population, there are seven representatives of the United States House of Representatives. You would figure that African Americans would have the
ability to select a least two of the representatives to the House.
The determination has been made by a lower court including to Trump appointed judges that what the Alabama legislature did in drawing the new
lines that are to be applied in this decade were done in a way that's inconsistent with the Voting Rights Act -- Section 2 of the Voting Rights
Act of 1965.
The Supreme Court reached down and said that rather than put into place what this three-judge panel, including again, two Trump judges said should
happen, the court said, well, hold on. We're going to look at this case ourselves. And I think they're going to use these cases as a vehicle to
reexamine the viability of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. An act that has been reauthorize consistently by Congress since 1965. And
every reauthorization of the Act since '65 has been signed by a Republican president.
And so, that is a great concern to me. What is the court going to do? Not only in the Alabama case specifically but with regard to Section 2 of the
Voting Rights Act more generally.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, let me just explain Section 2. This prohibited -- prohibits practices that discriminate on the basis of color. And so, your
concern that that will be overturned. And then that will add to the eviscerating of other aspects of the Voting Rights Act in your case from
2013, Shelby versus Holder.
HOLDER: Yes -- I mean, the Shelby County case took away from the Justice Department the ability to look at proposals that were made by covered
restrictions, typically States in the south to make changes to voting procedures that had a negative impact on people of color.
If the Supreme Court really takes -- eviscerates, tries to really take a hard hand with regard to Section 2, it could render the 1965 Voting Rights
Act, you know, close to a meaningless. It would, in essence, rewrite the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which is not a function that the court should be
engaged in. That is something for the legislature, the Congress to do.
And as I said, the Congress is consistently, since 1965, reauthorized the Voting Rights Act. This court, it seems to me, is potentially poised to
ignore Congress, ignore those reauthorization's signed by Republican presidents and impose its own view on how the United States should look at
race when it comes to voting.
AMANPOUR: So, we mentioned the newest justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson. She has said in arguments on this case that we've just been discussing, the
Voting Rights Act should be considered in the context of the 14th Amendment. So, that was meant to protect the vote of former slaves. She
says that's not a race neutral or race blind and idea. Do you think she'll have an impact on the decision?
HOLDER: Well, I think hers will be a strong voice. A new voice. And I think her assessment of how the 14th Amendment should be viewed in connection
with the Voting Rights Act is absolutely correct. And this notion that somehow you extract from the Voting Rights Act considerations of race is
inconsistent with the 14th Amendment, inconsistent with the intent of Congress and ignores reality.
You know, in the Alabama case, you did -- it didn't -- it wasn't just by chance that you ended up with African Americans only having one out of the
seven representatives to the United States House of Representatives. There was a racial component to the determination by the Republican-led Alabama
State legislature to draw those lines. To exclude from the power to which they were entitled, African Americans in that state. So, the Supreme Court
has a deal, I think, not only with precedent but also with the reality that they -- that confronts them.
AMANPOUR: And Attorney General, I just want to ask you about another case which could have even, you know, more monumental implications for American
democracy. This one is called Moore versus Harper, on whether state legislatures can override state courts are constitutions when it comes to
election law. Can you explain that and why that could be a double and triple whammy?
HOLDER: That case essentially under the theory of the Independent State Legislature doctrine says that with regard to its redistricting case under
the theory of the Independent State Legislature that legislatures can draw the lines in redistricting without any involvement of the courts in those
states or without any involvement of the governors in those states. This is something that's fundamentally inconsistent with American -- the American
system of checks and balances where legislatures enact laws that are reviewed by courts and then in certain instances can be vetoed by the
The Independent State Legislature doctrine normally -- let me be very clear, this is a fringe, fringe theory. This is a case that should be
decided by the United States' Supreme Court, nine to zero. I am very concerned that the court even took this case. We'll see what the ultimate
But the case would stand on its head or do away with the notion of the American system of checks and balances and would put in the hands of a
gerrymandered Republican state legislatures the complete authority to decide how the legislative lines should be drawn.
They are concerned because as we have tried, or we have been successful in bringing these cases in the state Supreme Courts where state Supreme Courts
have said that what Republicans try to do in the legislative redistricting process was inconsistent with state constitutions. And they're trying to
exclude the state courts from that process. Inconsistent with the -- with fundamental American processes.
AMANPOUR: So, critics say -- I mean, further to what you're saying, is if this court case does win for North Carolina, the Republicans will be able
to maintain power regardless of the popular vote. I mean, anybody maintaining power regardless of the popular vote should be of concern, I
guess. And I'm wondering whether this puts America into the fast lane towards illiberal democracy. We're seeing the same kinds of things in
places like Hungary and to extend in Poland and elsewhere.
HOLDER: No, the danger really is that parts of the Republican Party have become comfortable with the notion that in terms of popular support, they
will be a minority party that has majority power.
And we need to learn that from our -- from history, not only American history but from European history as well, some of our closest allies. You
know, fascism rose in the 20th century in a lot of those countries in Europe, not because fascism was strong but because the defense of democracy
was weak. And unless we, in America, defend our democracy and push back against those illiberal forces, we could be in a place where we could lose
It doesn't mean we will have a dictator. But we could have elections every two, four, and six years, which is how they're held in the United States
that are essentially made meaningless. And we could have minority rule in the United States. This could be a fundamentally different country if, for
instance, this independent State Legislature Doctrine is adopted by the Supreme Court.
AMANPOUR: So, Attorney General, I want to ask you whether you think these are motivating issues towards an election. I mean, I'm just looking at
Iran, for instance, and here people are coming out and facing the full force of the regime just to stand up for their legal and personal rights
and for their freedoms.
Do you expect these to be issues coming up to the next election, the midterms? And at what point do people take this stuff, do they get into the
streets? You know there's been this horrible talk about civil war in the U.S. and everything. I mean, I don't want to give credence to that kind of
stuff but people actually protesting to maintain their basic fundamental American rights.
HOLDER: Yes, I mean, the polling in this country, I think, is pretty interesting. After the overruling of Roe versus Wade, and asking American
citizens -- polls asking American citizens, what are the most important issues the country faces? And you saw the things that you would expect. You
know, inflation, the price of gas, you know, a range of things -- economic issues.
And yet, over the last few weeks, the thing that has broken through and is now identified as the largest component of concerns for the Americans is
the state of our democracy. And I think that is a good thing. There's a recognition on the part of the American populist now that how a democracy
is on the ballot this November. That the stakes are extremely high.
I think that we need to be focused on inflation. We need to be focused on gas prices. Those economic issues matter a great deal. But the most
important thing before the American people now is the state of our democracy. That is the thing that should be the driver for the American
people as they decide who they're going to vote for this November. And I think that we are seeing the American people coming to that same
AMANPOUR: OK. So, I'm just going to ask you one last question on this. You say you see them coming to that conclusion. But, apparently, the majority
of -- OK, 299 of Republican nominees for federal and statewide offices. An outright majority. They have either falsely denied the 2020 election or the
other things. They're on the ballot.
HOLDER: Right. Yes, they are on the ballot and that's why the stakes are so high. The fact that we have that number, about half of the people running
for Congress, important state legislative seats, governorships around the country this November are people who denied the results of the last
That figure, that number is becoming more widely known in the United States and it's another driver in addition to the overturning of Roe versus Wade.
The taking back of rights to which American women were entitled for the last 50 years. All of these are drivers, I think, for the American voting
population. And I think it's going to prove to be decisive this November.
It's going to be a hard thing for Democrats to maintain control of the United States House of Representatives. But I think to the extent that we
have the capacity to do so, it'll be because the American people realize that our democracy is at risk. Our democracy is under attack. And that
people not committed to our democracy are running for these very important positions.
AMANPOUR: Eric Holder, former attorney general of the United States, thank you very much for joining me tonight.
HOLDER: All right. Thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: Now, air raid sirens have once again sounded in several regions of Ukraine after Russia launched more missiles into the country. And it
comes as G7 leaders pledged again, today, to stand firmly with Kyiv for as long as it takes.
Putin has infamously called the collapse of the Soviet empire the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century. As he seeks to change the world
order and expand his fear of influence with his war in Ukraine. But some of Russia's allies, former Soviet republics have other ideas. As Ivan Watson
now reports from Kazakhstan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): On his 70th birthday, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with the leaders of
other former soviet republics and he called for the resolution of conflicts that erupt in the region.
Of course, Putin is directly responsible for launching the biggest war in recent history in this part of the world.
WATSON (on camera): Russia's invasion of Ukraine was aimed at reasserting Moscow's control over part of the former Soviet Union. Instead, this
increasingly disastrous war has weakened Russia's influence across the region, including here in Central Asia.
KADYR TOKTOGULOV, FORME KYRGYZSTAN AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: Unless something changes dramatically and Russia rebounds, we will see Russia's role
certainly diminishing in Central Asia for sure.
WATSON (voiceover): Kadyr Toktogulov is a former ambassador to Washington from Kyrgyzstan, a small former soviet republic close economic and security
ties to Moscow.
TOKTOGULOV: To see, you know, this kind of attack by Russia against Ukraine was certainly disorienting, because it, sort of, showed the things,
terrible things that Russia is capable of.
WATSON (voiceover): Of the leaders of the former soviet republics, only Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus has publicly supported Russia's war on
Ukraine. Russia conducts joint military exercises with each other for mutual defense treaty allies. But when it comes to the Ukraine war, they
have all stayed publicly neutral, and that includes Kazakhstan.
In January, the authorities here use deadly force to crush a violent uprising that left dozens dead. Moscow answered an urgent call for help
from the Kazakh government, leading a deployment of troops here on a brief peacekeeping mission.
WATSON (on camera): You can still see burn marks on some buildings after the violence last January. Russia came to the Kazakh's government help in
its time of need, but the Kazakh president has made it clear he will not be getting involved in Moscow's war in Ukraine.
WATSON (voiceover): As Russia's military faces more and more setbacks in Ukraine, tensions have exploded in other areas long seen as Russia's
backyard. Deadly fighting raged across the border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in September.
Meanwhile, hundreds died in separate cross border clashes last month between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Moscow refused a call for military
assistance from its treaty ally Armenia. And now, the Armenian government is working with the European Union to negotiate a settlement. Moscow is on
the back foot due to its destructive war of choice, and that's leaving a growing power vacuum across the former Soviet Union.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Ivan Watson reporting there.
Now, in Iran, anti-government protests show no sign of ending. All of this from the United States to Ukraine to Iran is all about democracy and
freedom. And we explore tonight the country's deep culture of protest with three major revolutions in Iran over the last century. And the
Constitutional Revolution of 1906, in particular, offers insight into the current uprising.
It's a little-known thing and a little known but influential young American missionary called Howard Baskerville found himself swept up in that
movement. And his incredible story is told now in a new book by the Iranian American writer, Reza Aslan. It's called "An American Martyr in Persia: The
Epic Life and Tragic Death of Howard Baskerville". And Reza Aslan is joining me now from New York.
Welcome back to our program, Reza. This is an extraordinary story that I had heard of before. We're going to get into it in a moment. But first, you
know, it's coming up at a time when people are on the streets again in Iran and some are calling it, potentially, a very, very significant moment in
Iran's history of protests. Just tell me how you -- you know, assess what's happening on the streets today.
REZA ASLAN, AUTHOR, "AN AMERICAN MARTYR IN PERSIA": I think that the proper term to talk about what's happening in Iran right now is not uprising or
demonstrations. I think that the proper term is revolution. I think the reason that I say that is because a revolution requires a massive coalition
of people from across the cultural and economic and political spectrum.
And now, we have young and old, wealthier and poorer, conservatives and progressives. We have women dressed in chadors marching alongside gen zers
in jeans and t-shirts. And we have these uprisings taking place not just in the urbanized areas of Iran like we saw on 2009. But in actually the
majority of the provinces in Iran, including Qom, the spiritual center of Iran.
It really feels as though what's happening now is different. In fact, it feels like the fourth revolution, as you rightly said.
Iran has had three major revolutions over the last hundred years or so, and we might very well be looking at revolution number four.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, let's just take them off. Well, let's go to the original one that you talk about, which is 1906. That an -- obviously, there was a
revolution of a kind in a 1953. There was one in 1979. And as you say, you never know what's going to happen next. But tell us about 1906 because not
many people know that there was a, sort of, revolution for democracy back then.
ASLAN: That's right, the Constitutional Revolution of 1906, which is actually the first democratic revolution in the history of the Middle East.
And which was predicated on a very basic desire to create a constitution that would outline the rights and privileges of all Iranians regardless of
their social class or what have you. And the creation of a freely elected parliament that would have the ability to pass laws and to curtail the
absolute authority of the shah, as the monarchs of Iran.
The revolution began in 1905. But in 1906, they were successful and they actually got the shah at the time -- a man by the name of Muzaffar Adin, to
sign a constitution, allow for the creation of a parliament. But in one of those, kind of, historical accidents that seems to always happen in Iran,
three days after the shah signed the constitution, he died in his bed.
And the throne passed to his son, a man by the name of Mohammad Ali Shah, who almost immediately tore up that constitution. Rolled his cannons to the
parliament building, destroyed the building with the parliamentarians inside, and declared war on the constitutionalists.
And what we had occur at that moment was essentially a civil war. And then something remarkable happened at that moment, which is the revolutionaries
who had, sort of, backed into the city of Tabriz, in the northwest of the country, the kind of -- as their last bastion, sent an appeal to the rest
of the world. To the freedom loving people all over the world, the appeal said. And they asked people to look within themselves, regardless of their
cultural identity or their nationality, or their religion and to come to their aid in their fight for freedom.
And, Christiane, people came from Georgia and Russia, Armenians came, Turks came, Jews, Christians, Buddhist, Bahais, Zoroastrians. And amongst this
multifaith, multinational coalition of revolutionaries fighting the shah for the freedom of Iran was one single American. A 22-year-old missionary
named Howard Baskerville.
AMANPOUR: So, how on Earth did he find himself there? And what was the American government's reaction to one of their own being caught up in this?
ASLAN: At the age of 22, Howard Baskerville, you know, wanted an adventure. He applied with the Presbyterian Border Foreign Missions to become a
missionary. He desperately wanted to go to China or Japan because he'd read all these wonderful things about the culture and about how great the
missions were doing there. But much to his chagrin, he was sent to Persia, Iran at the time.
And he arrived in the middle of this revolution. And he arrived in Tabriz, the sort of, center of this resolution. And he was told that in no
uncertain terms by his church, by his -- the school where he taught, and certainly by the state department that he could have nothing to do with
In fact, the state department had already made the judgment that this revolution could not succeed because, "Islam seems to imply autocracy." The
state department issued a memo saying that there's never been, in history, a successful democracy in a state where the musulman religion rains. And
so, no American could possibly support this thing.
Meanwhile, the church is telling him that you're here to save souls, not lives. And for about a year and a half, Howard Baskerville put his head
down. He did his work. He taught his classes. He preached the gospel. But at the end when the shah's troops showed up and began to besiege Tabriz and
starve the population to death because it couldn't defeat it, Baskerville couldn't sit around any longer. And he gave up his missionary position. He
quit his teaching job. And ultimately handed over his American citizenship and joined the revolution headlong.
AMANPOUR: It's extraordinary. And then, of course, sadly, he was killed doing that. How and what happened to the movement?
ASLAN: By the spring of 1909, Tabriz had been under siege for three or four months. There was no more food left. There was hardly any water left.
And a decision had to be made that somebody would have to try to break through this siege and get help and bring food to the city. And Baskerville
volunteered himself and his students who had followed him from the classroom, actually, they had formed a militia. And on the morning of March
20,1909, they tried to break through the siege. It didn't last long. Howard Baskerville, as you say, was shot in the heart in the attempt.
But the international embarrassment about his death, this American who died fighting for freedom in Iran, caused such a headache to the shah that he
was forced to pull back on the blockade. The revolutionaries used that moment to march on Tehran and actually remove the shah from power, send him
The first time in Iranian history that the people were able to bring down the Shah. They reestablished the constitution. Rebuilt the parliament. Had
new elections. And the very first act of that new parliament was to declare this young 22-year-old Christian missionary from Nebraska to be a hero and
a martyr in the cause of Iran's freedom.
To this day, there is a golden bust of him in a museum in Tabriz. His tomb used to be a pilgrimage site for generations. Of course, that, you know,
experiment in constitutional monarchy didn't last after the first world war. Reza Khan, with the backing of the British empire, declared a military
coup and reestablished autocracy in Iran. This time under the Pahlavi dynasty, which as you rightly know, was itself overthrown in 1979.
AMANPOUR: Which is now overthrown by the Islamic republic which now more than 40 years later is under threat from the latest of what you say a
ASLAN: Here we go.
AMANPOUR: Yes. So, that does imply that there is far from what the Americans said, you know, the -- certainly these guys, you know, don't know
anything and don't want democracy. It does imply that Iran, of all the countries in that part of the world, has got this very deep culture of
wanting democracy and freedom. And people are putting their bodies on the line for it right now.
What do you make -- I mean, that's one point. What do you also make of the important turn from elements of the economy, you know, whether it's the oil
and gas, or the bizarre or others, coming out in support of these people in the streets of their desires?
ASLAN: When you look at the last hundred years of Iranian history, there have been countless protests and uprisings, as you rightly say. This is one
of the most robust protest cultures in the world. But in those instances, in which those protests have actually elevated to the place of actual
revolution, 1906, 1953, 1979, it has always happened when a coalition has formed amongst those young, zealous revolutionaries on the streets willing
to die for their beliefs and for their most basic rights.
Plus, the business interests. The merchants, the guild unions, the bazaars. Once they start to join the fray, calling for strikes, et cetera, et
cetera. And then there's always a third element. And that third element, for better or worse, is the pious masses in Iran. It has always been the
clergy. And I don't mean the high ayatollahs. I mean, the sort of seminary students, the SOPAC preachers, the local imams. It has always been those
people who have had the ability to reach out to the pious masses and get them onto the streets. That tripartite coalition has always been the recipe
for a successful revolution in Iran, for better or worse.
And so, what I'm looking for right now is precisely that tripartite coalition forming again. We've already got the young people on the streets.
It's already rich and poor across political spectrums, as I say. Now, we're seeing the business interests join in these protests. You have oil workers
and Abaddon (ph) calling for strikes. The Bazaari merchants calling for strikes, bringing pressure upon the government. Once you start seeing the
young seminary students and the, sort of, mid-level clerics, those who already disagree with the entire structures of the Islamic republic, once
you start seeing them speak out against the regime, Christiane, that could be all she wrote.
AMANPOUR: Well, it is very interesting the way it's progressing. But I want to ask you because I'm sure everybody asks you as well, what should the
outside world be doing? You mentioned during 1906, you know, just bring the attention, get the outside world to support, and they did. What do you
think the outside world should do right now, given the fact that every time they intervene things, sort of, turn to boomerang?
ASLAN: Yes, well, in 1906, the lovers of humanity who came to Iran's call, physically showed up with guns and weapons. Those days are over. But the
truth is, is that we have something that's even more powerful than guns and weapons. Certainly, something that the Iranian regime fears more than guns
and weapons. And that is we have our voices. We have our eyes.
Right now, the Iranian in government is trying to tell its people that no one cares about their calls for freedom. That they could turn out the
lights anytime they want to and kill everyone and nothing will happen. No one will notice. No one sees them. And what we need to make sure, not just
the mainstream media, but those of us who have a platform, who have a voice, we need to make sure that the voices on the ground in Iran are being
heard. That they know that we're watching.
That we are watching what the Iranian government does. That we are not looking away. And that there will be consequences for the continuing
crackdown in the human rights abuses. People don't realize, the Iranian government can be shamed. It really can be shamed into action. It's
happened in the past. And that's what we need to do right now.
AMANPOUR: It's --
ASLAN: The women in Iran are doing it. The rest of us need to do it as well.
AMANPOUR: Yes, well, we're certainly keeping the spotlight on because this is a moment in history and it's extraordinary. Reza Aslan, thank you so
much. And of course, for your book, too, putting it all in context, "An American Martyr in Persia." Thank you.
Now, from the classroom to the workplace, many American boys and men are struggling. There have been decades of efforts to empower women and girls,
especially over the last few years. But in his new book, scholar Richard Reeves says that not enough attention is being paid to their male
counterparts. And he joins Hari Sreenivasan to explain why this issue must be addressed and how it can be solved.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Richard Reeves, thanks for joining us. Richard, you have been studying all
kinds of inequality and poverty for a long time at Brookings. Why this specific focus, this book on boys and men and now?
RICHARD REEVES, AUTHOR, "OF BOYS AND MEN": Well, because of my interest in equality, honestly. The class gaps that we've looked at, the stubborn race
gaps we've looked at, also intersect with some gender gaps. So, the more I look at some of the trends in economic inequality, and educational
inequality, the more I started seeing some gender gaps. But not in the way that we, perhaps, are used to talking about gender gaps.
We're used to talking about gender inequality in a way that disfavors women and girls. And of course, there are plenty of those still to tackle. But
increasingly, I was seeing evidence that many men, especially black men and men who are working class from poorer backgrounds are really struggling in
education, in employment, and in the family.
And so, it seemed to me that the issue is all of a piece. The -- in order to understand inequality, we also have to understand what's happening to a
lot of our boys and men.
SREENIVASAN: When you look back and dove into the data, what did you? How bad is the problem? Give us some examples?
REEVES: We know, for example, that young women are doing much better in education now than young men and boys and girls. But I don't think many
people realize just how quickly the gender inequality has flipped. So, we go back to 1972, when Title IX was passed, to promote women and girls in
education, especially in higher education. Men were 13 percentage points more likely to be getting a college degree than women. So, it was a -- that
was a big hill to climb. But, today, it's 15 percentage points more likely that a woman will get a degree than a man.
And so, in the space of a very short period of time, it's not just the women who've caught up in college education, they've blown right past. And
in fact, we have a big agenda with -- gender inequality in higher education than we did 50 years ago. It's just that it's reversed. And some of the
statistics, honestly, took me a little bit by surprise to realize just how big some of these gaps have gotten.
SREENIVASAN: So, when you look at higher education -- look, I can hear people watching this conversation saying, OK, fine. So, they might be
getting more college degrees but how does that translate into power when you look at -- you know, there's three members of Congress that are men for
every woman. And you look at the Forbes 500 companies and there is, you know, 10 times as many CEOs who are men. How do you, sort of, square that
REEVES: Yes, so, I think there's a couple of things there. One is it really does depend where you look. And I think if you're just looking around the
apex of society, looking at the very top of politics and business, then clearly, there's still a long way to go in getting even close to gender
parity on behalf of women and girls. And you've already mentioned a couple of examples.
But if you take the Fortune 500 companies, for example, only 44 of them, I think, right now are led by women. So, that's very, very far from parity.
It's worth saying, however, that it was zero only 20 years ago, or so, 25 years ago. And so, huge progress but much further to go.
But if you only look around at the elite, you don't look down. You don't see what's happening further down. And most American men earn less today
than most American men did in 1979. Well, as you --
SREENIVASAN: In '79. Wow.
REEVES: In '79, yes. So, if American men were a country and we're thinking about economic progress, overall, men's wages have declined for most men.
Now, for men at the top, that's not true. And so, in economic inequality has been widening, even as gender equality has been narrowing, which is why
I have to look at both of these factors.
So, I get it. I think if you're looking around elite circles, you'll see what remains to be done by in-large for women and girls, but that's not the
world that most people live in. And in a world where most people live, there are too many pretty big gaps now that are disparate bring men in the
labor market and boys in the education system.
SREENIVASAN: So, how far down that education system do you go or can you start to see these inequities where girls are outperforming boys?
REEVES: Well, it's now true that it's at every level. So, we've just seen women overtake men in pertinent PhDs and post-graduate degrees. Obviously,
they're well ahead in terms of four-year degrees, we've just discussed. But it's now at every level.
And so, in terms of high school GPA, for example, which is a pretty good measure of all kinds of things and important for college admissions, so, if
you take the top 10 percent of highschoolers in terms of their GPA, two- thirds of them are girls. And the bottom 10 percent, two-thirds of them are boys. And the line is pretty straight between those two.
So, there's a very big advantage in high school GPA. But the truth is pretty much at every level now. And it's also important to say that pretty
much every advanced economy. This is not just a U.S. problem. It's not just to say a grade five problem or a post-secondary education problem. Because
it's everywhere in every level in every age.
I do think -- and that means we have to look to some structural problems there are in the system. So, I think -- I mean, one of the things I
learned, for example, is I had it sense, I knew that girls are way ahead in English. And in the average U.S. school districts, girls were almost a
grade level ahead in English on average.
REEVES: But I still had a sense that -- yes, that the boy we're kind of ahead in math, and they're not. And actually, in the average school
district, they're now dead hit (ph) in math. And in poorer school districts, the girls are quite a long way head in math and English.
And so, I had this idea -- I think a lot of you have ideas. Like, girls are better at some things, boys are better at some things, it kind of comes out
in the wash. That's basically not true anymore. There are essentially no subjects at pretty much any level where girls are behind boys but there are
many, many where boys are now behind girls.
SREENIVASAN: Is the advancement of girls in math, does that have anything to do with the policies and the programs that we have, sort of, tried to
make a concerted effort for science, technology, engineering, math, and trying to make sure that girls get in this? I mean, is this a success in
some senses that --
REEVES: Yes, yes.
SREENIVASAN: --that our intervention has worked?
REEVES: It's a huge success. And I think, just to take a step back for a moment, just generally, to make the point that the transformation and the
educational outcomes for girls and women, and the economic outcomes for women has been stunning in the last 50 years. Arguably, it's the greatest
economic liberation in human history. It's just been astonishing.
And I think -- I don't think anybody listening to this, I hope, would say that was anything other than a great thing. But the key thing is it didn't
happen by itself. It took intention. It took effort. It took political capital. It took the courage of many women, absolutely, to push on these
So, take STEM as a great example. They worked incredibly hard to get more women into science, technology, engineering, and math with really very
significant success. More scientists in the U.S. now are actually women. And we've significantly increased the number of women who are entering
Now, I think it's time to look at why -- how badly many of our boys are doing in subjects like English. And think about whether we might need some
more male teachers in English. One of the ways that we helped girls and women to do much better was by getting more educators in those subjects.
But there are very few men teaching in schools at all, and fewer and fewer overtime. But also, there are particularly few men teaching the subjects
the boys are struggling in.
And so, I think we can take a lesson of the women's movement on how well it did in terms of breaking some of those barriers down for women, and apply
them to boys and men.
SREENIVASAN: When you look at some of this data, how much of it is influenced by class and race? I mean, because -- you know, depending on who
in the audience is watching this, they're going to say, well how is this possible if your kid is going to a good school already or if it's a private
school and you're paying for it? You might be affluent and not see what you are defining and what the numbers are defining as the average male or the
average boy in school.
REEVES: That's exactly right. Like, at this point, the average is looking around at the top. We're not looking down. And the truth is that the gender
gaps in education, and more generally in education and employment, are just much, much smaller at the top. And in some ways, of course, in the very
elite circles, it's still the other way around.
I think it's important even there to say we've made huge progress. I was really interested to discover, for example, that the law review at every
top law school in the U.S. two years ago was edited by a woman. Which is kind of unthinkable when (INAUDIBLE) like every single one of the top 16
law schools had a woman editing the law journal which is just amazing when you think what that means.
So, we're making progress even there. But it's true, as you suggest, that this gender gap just gets much bigger for working class kids and for black
kids, especially. And if you look in education, for example, for every two black women getting college degrees, there's only one black man, which is
even bigger than for other races.
And so, when you look at this through a race and class lines, you really do see much bigger gender gaps. And the question then is why that is? For what
it's worth, I think it's because parents with the means, the resources are actually investing heavily in their sons. They're actually helping them
through an education system that may not actually suit them as well as their sisters. But they're helping them more.
And I've raised three kids -- three boys myself, I'm sure many people will resonate with this, is that actually which of your kids needs the most help
with their homework, turning it on time, tutoring, et cetera? And it's very often the boys. And so, what's happening is upper middle-class parents are
investing in their boys so that they don't fall so far behind.
SREENIVASAN: So, how does this translate when it comes to finding jobs? How they perform in the labor market? Because even if there is a better
pipeline today of women that are pursuing STEM fields, getting more college degrees, et cetera, it doesn't necessarily seem to still translate into $1
earned versus $1 earned whether you are a man or woman.
REEVES: That's right. Well, there's two things on this. Overtaking in education we've seen has happened in the last two or three decades. And so,
it's taken a while to play out in the labor market. The gender pay gap is narrowing however. And in particular, it's essentially disappeared among
those before they have -- men and women before they have children, not completely but it's really -- the pay gap is really now a parenting pay
What happens is that when we have kids, women are much more likely to take the time out from the labor market or work part-time and fathers are not.
And so, that's -- that doesn't mean it's not a problem. It just means it's a different kind of problem. It's no longer a problem by in-large of
employers discriminating so, too.
The other thing is worth saying though is that it used to be true that men were more able to get decently paid jobs even at lower levels of education.
So, you can come out of high school and still get a decent manufacturing job to say. But those jobs are increasingly disappearing. And so, to the
extent that there used to be a labor market where modestly educated men could outperform even better educated women, overtime that's becoming less
SREENIVASAN: So, how do you fix that? I mean, when you were talking about the labor market of the future, I don't see a manufacturing plant saying,
let's put the robots away and let's put hundreds of humans back on the line.
REEVES: I can point you to a number of politicians who are going to promise to bring back manufacturing jobs, including pretty much every president
whoever takes there (ph). We're going to bring back factory jobs. And honestly, I think it's a little bit irresponsible because what it does is
it suggests to these men that all they got to do is wait for this magic wand that's going to rip -- bring back the economy of the '50s and they'll
In the meantime, they're just being benched by the current economy. And instead, we need to help men adapt and take these new jobs which are more
about soft skills, relationships, which remain female dominated rather than pretending that we can save men by magically going into a time machine or
bring back the factory jobs of the past. That's not going to happen. And pretending so doesn't help anyone.
SREENIVASAN: All right. Let's talk about the third of your book or so, that really deals with, kind of, prescriptions and solutions. One of the things
you touched on already a little bit but trying to encourage more males to become teachers. Why is that important?
REEVES: Well, the first thing to say is that the teaching profession used to be much more gender equal but it's becoming more and more female
dominated overtime. So, whereas many professions that used to be male dominated, like law or medicine and others we could talk about, have become
much more equal. That law and medicine now are pretty much at gender parity.
Teaching has become more and more female dominated. So, it's only 24 percent of K-12 teachers are now men down from 33 percent only a few
decades ago. In elementary schools there's only one in 10. And in early years, education, essentially, there are no men.
In fact, as a share of the profession, there are fewer men teaching kindergarten than there are women flying U.S. fighter jets. And I'm all for
having people -- more people flying fighter jets, I think it's great. In fact, I just want the best people at flying to fly the fighter jets, to be
But there's no discussion, really, for a lack of men in the classroom. And why does it matter? Well, it seems as if -- for reasons that -- to be
honest, we're not entirely clear about. But having men in the classroom does seem to help boys to learn. Especially in the subjects where they're
traditionally weaker, like English.
And that's interesting because it's a direct -- it's a directly mirror image of what we know about girls. Girls and women seem to do better in
traditional male subjects like STEM when they have a female teacher. Men and boys seemed to do better when they have a male teaching subjects, like
SREENIVASAN: So, besides encouraging more men to teach, what else can we do?
REEVES: I was, again, somewhat shocked to discover that a lot of policy interventions in education training and some in employment just seem to
work pretty well for women and girls, but not very well for men and boys. The most dramatic example was a free college program in Kalamazoo,
Michigan. I ended up going to Kalamazoo to interview as many men as I could find out -- find to say, what's going on here?
But what they found in Kalamazoo is that free college programs, all tuition paid for for those who graduate from the school, they increased women's
college completion by 50 percent. It was a huge impact. And increased male college completion by zero. So, it had no impact on men at all. Which is an
extraordinary finding and one that wasn't getting as much attention as I thought it deserved. And there's bunch of others, a mentoring program in a
community college, some school choice programs.
And I think the message here is that if you have a group, you seem to be having particular struggles, like many men and boys than a gender-neutral
policy might not help them. It will help the ones who are already strong or doing well. But it won't necessarily help the one who are struggling most.
And so, I think we need some more male specific policies, if you like. It wouldn't be restricted to men, of course. But things like vocational
training, which does seem to help boys and men on average a bit more than girls and women. We've already talked about male teachers. I argue also
that we should consider starting boys in school a year later just because they are developmentally behind girls throughout school, essentially. So,
this is called redshirting, just hold them back for a year.
But all of those would be a recognition of the fact that there are some problems in the education system that are specific to boys and men. And so,
just a gender-neutral approach won't necessarily work.
SREENIVASAN: You know, what you seem to be asking your readers to do is -- I guess, America to do is to hold two thoughts at the same time. That's
it's not a zero-sum game. That you can agree that there are still more work to be done to get women on a level playing field and point out what's
happening to men and boys.
And that is, right now in this era that we are having this conversation in, that seems right at the center of so many different types of culture wars.
That you cannot have two thoughts that can be equal without being labeled a misogynist, because I'm pretty sure I've seen some of that on Twitter, of
people who clearly haven't read the book and saying, oh, my God. I can't believe he's saying this. And so -- I mean, I'm assuming that you're
getting critique here from both sides of the political spectrum.
REEVES: If we dig in on the culture war, as you say -- I mean, like at zero sum. And you say, look, even to talk about the issues of boys and men
requires them to give up your commitment to women's rights. If we frame it that way, that means the only people talking about it are going to be the
most-fringy folks. That sort of manosphere folks rather than people of good faith. You can in fact hold two thoughts in your head at the same time.
And I think very -- one of the reasons I wrote the book, honestly, is I couldn't tell you how many very liberal women would -- really worried about
boys and men in private. But worried about saying anything in public because they felt that would somehow diminish their feminist credentials.
So, there's this difference between the private discourse that people are having and the public discourse. And it turns out that most people away
from the heat and lie (ph) of the culture war don't see a zero sum. They want their sons and their daughters to flourish. They want their sisters to
have great jobs just as they have great jobs. They don't see it as zero sum.
And it's an unfortunate biproduct of the culture war that some of our politicians are engaged in. It makes it hard even to have this conversation
in the first place and to think two thoughts at once. But most people I talked to are perfectly capable of having both of these thoughts at once.
It's not one or the other, it's both.
SREENIVASAN: The book is called, "Of Boys and Men". Richard Reeves, thanks so much.
REEVES: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: An important and fascinating conversation there.
And finally tonight, at a time when many countries in Europe chose to look the other way and still do, one leader chose humanity and flung open her
doors. The former German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has received the U.N. Refugee Agency's prestigious Nansen award for welcoming more than a million
refugees, mostly from Syria, at the height of the migrant crisis in 2015 and 2016. This is what she said about it.
She said that it was really important to be able to do that and that she hoped that there would be wiser politics to end wars. And of course, we
would all benefit from wiser politics and cooler heads right now.
That is it for now. Remember, you can always catch us online, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Plus, on our podcast. You can find that at
cnn.com/podcast and on all major platforms. Just search "Amanpour". Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.