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Interview With Immigration Attorney Andrea Martinez; Interview With Medical Assistance In Dying Provider And Psychiatrist Dr. Madeline Li; Interview With "Saying It Loud" Author Mark Whitaker. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired February 27, 2023 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone. And a warm welcome to AMANPOUR. Here's what's coming up.
An urgent search and rescue off Italy's coast, as a migrant shipwreck claims more than 60 lives. We will have a special report.
And across the Atlantic, the Biden administration gets tough on illegal immigration with a controversial new law. I'm joined by Immigration
Attorney Andrea Martinez, who knows firsthand what life is like for people seeking asylum.
Then, as Canada wrestles with who has the right to die, I talk to Dr. Madeline Li. One of the leaders in the country's assisted dying program.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK WHITAKER, AUTHOR, "SAYING IT LOUD": Within a matter of months, you see this new slogan of Black Power just scaring white people, changing the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: The year the civil rights movement changed forever. Author Mark Whitaker talks to Walter Isaacson about his new book, "Saying It Loud:
1966", and the rise of the Black Panthers.
And welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Paula Newton in New York. Where the government is cracking down on illegal immigration with a controversial
new law that seeks to curb crossings at Americas southern border. It will also make it harder for people claiming asylum legally, including those
entering the United States via third country, or those in fact who don't give advanced notice to the authorities.
Now, critics say, the law bears a striking resemblance, in fact, to a Trump-era law already struck down in court. And many lawmakers within
Biden's own party are voicing their opposition. Now, it's a notable departure in policy for the administration. Here is candidate Joe Biden
speaking back in March 2020 about his vision for the country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A nation where we live by the values that embraces immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers. Does not slam
the door on those fleeing persecution, violence and oppression. Does not seek -- make people seeking an asylum, have to stay in another country to
do it. We've never ever done -- gets children out of cages, reunites families.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: We will return to those comments. But, as you know, immigration, of course, is a global crisis impacting not just the United States but
Asia, Africa and, of course, Europe and with devastating results. More than 60 people are dead after a wooden boat sank off Italy's southeastern coast,
On board were migrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Iran. Dozens are still missing at this hour, and an urgent search and rescue is
underway. Now, in a, moment we will have more, of course, about the U.S. migration issue. But first, Correspondent Ben Wedeman has this report now
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): The tide brings in wreckage of a boat, the wreckage of more lives lost in the
Mediterranean. Among the dead to wash up on this lonely Calabrian Beach, an eight-month-old infant. The 20-meter-long wooden boat reportedly took to
see from Turkey, Thursday, with perhaps as many as 250 people on board, coming from, among other places, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and Syria.
Fishermen Luciano Vincenzo (ph) was one of the first on the scene before dawn.
When we arrived, we found 10 dead, he said. And as dawn broke, we found more and more.
Only around 80 people survived the ship wreck. The rest perhaps well over 100 by either dead or missing.
This type of tragedy should have been avoided, said the governor of Calabria, Roberto Occhiuto.
Sunday, Pope Francis told the faithful in St. Peters Square, I pray for each of them, for the missing and for the other migrants who survived. But
thoughts and prayers won't save lives.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in a foreign language).
WEDEMAN (voiceover): Since 2014, more than 20,000 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean. Escaping war, famine, repression, chaos, and
Increasingly, Europe, including Italy, is taking a hard line on those from the global south fleeing their native lands. In a statement, Italy's right-
wing Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni expressed what she called her profound pain at the disaster. But Meloni, rode to power on an anti-immigrant
platform. And last week, the Italian parliament approved new laws making it ever more difficult for volunteer groups to carry out rescues at sea.
What Europe can do for those in need has been made vividly clear by its embrace of millions of Ukrainian refugees. An embrace that does not extend
to those braving deadly voyages such as these to reach Europe's shores.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: And our thanks to Ben Wedeman there for that report. Now, turning back to the United States, what will the Biden administration's new law
mean for migrants and asylum seekers trying to enter the country? Immigration Lawyer, Andrea Martinez, knows firsthand how difficult the
process already is, and she joins me now live from Kansas City in Missouri.
And I thank you for bringing us your insights in this especially after so many years on the ground dealing with clients. You know, we just heard
candidate Biden, right? And he was clear. He was categorical. And yet the Biden as president now, he is now proposing a broad ban on asylum. That is,
you believe, would be illegal, dangerous, and could possibly lead to migrant deaths. What is the administration proposing here, as you
ANDREA MARTINEZ, IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY: So, the administration is proposing what is the most restrictive measure, so far, by the Biden administration.
And it is really to rebut any presumption of asylum eligibility for any non-Mexican asylum seeker who enters the United States between ports of
entry, if they have not first saw and been denied asylum in Mexico.
Now, of course the problem here is that the Mexican asylum system, by the U.S. Department of State's own country conditions reports, is subpar. It is
not adequate for people who are truly fleeing for their lives to feel safe and protected in a country that has rampant violence against migrants.
Including just recently, migrants who were stoned in Mexico, Cartel violence. I call, it in my practice, the refugee hunger games.
It is a survival strategy just to make it through Mexico. And that is what many of my clients telling me stories about the Mexico-Guatemala border.
Being one of the most difficult places to cross because of Mexican police and Mexican government officials who actually turn over migrants to the
Cartels in Mexico, where they are kidnapped, tortured, held for ransom and worse.
NEWTON: The -- you know, that's quite stark, you calling it the refugee hunger games. But let us into the lives of some of your clients, given the
fact that they are already having a hard time. And yet, the new ban, as we understand it, you would be deemed ineligible for asylum unless you are
MARTINEZ: There is a rebuttable presumption of ineligibility. So, there are some exemptions under this proposed rule. Now, granted this has not
taken effect and there will be a 30-day comment period once it is formally published in the federal register. But yes, this would deem most asylum
applicants at the U.S. border, anyone who has crossed through Mexico to be basically ineligible unless they meet a few exceptions, including
humanitarian exceptions like a medical emergency, human trafficking, et cetera.
But for my clients, many of them fleeing the northern triangle countries of Central America, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador. This could be a death
sentence for them because they are fleeing from a country that has basic impunity for perpetrators of crime. I think of all the women that I
represent who are fleeing domestic violence. Some from partners who are police officers in that country and have total impunity to do whatever they
want to my female clients. They can murder without any repercussion by the government.
And then my clients travel, they take this courageous journey from their country, and they oftentimes are traveling on the tops of trains throughout
the country Mexico. They are bringing, sometimes, small children with them, fleeing this violence that they can get no protection from their own
government from. And then they are met with corruption by the Mexican government officials who are further persecuting them en-route to the
My clients tell me that they come to the United States because we have a functioning justice system. It's not perfect but it is much more
functioning and the rule of law exist in the United States in a way that it just simply does not in Mexico.
And so, my clients need the protection that the U.S. government can provide to them if the law is properly enforced.
Now, the problem here is that, I think, the Biden administration will be ultimately litigated for this proposed rule once it becomes a regulation
and goes through the comment period. And this will likely end up a lot like the Trump administration's attempt at the same kind of transit ban in 2020
where the Federal Court of Appeals will ultimately get involved and this will be in joint, because it is a clear violation of asylum law that allows
people to seek protection in the United States even through the ports of entry and within the United States outside of ports of entry.
So, I think it's important that the Biden administration take a close look at the asylum laws on the books in our country, because this will be
ultimately a waste of taxpayer dollars in unnecessary litigation that, in the meantime, will harm asylum seekers and refugees who are just simply
trying to flee for their lives and get the protection of the United States that they need.
NEWTON: I don't mean to be cynical here, Andrea, especially in the face of what you described. Your clients go through, and certainly, we've heard so
many stories from people themselves. And yet, this delay, the fact that it will be challenged in courts and probably struck down is -- does this not
play into the administration's hand? It buys some time, right? That's why even if they know it's going to be struck down, they may go forward with it
MARTINEZ: But why proposed it in the first place, right? That is what I think my associates at --
NEWTON: Why do you think? I mean --
MARTINEZ: I really don't know. It goes -- it's indirect contrast to everything that the Biden administration said in its campaign. And this is
certainly not the kind of welcoming America that Biden promised when he was running for office. And so, we the American people need to work together to
comment when this comment period becomes available to us.
NEWTON: I do want to get, though, to the response from the Biden administration. Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, defends
these proposed restrictions. And you said it yourself, there are exceptions, right? So, he says, we are a nation of immigrants and we are a
nation of laws. We are strengthening the availability of legal, orderly pathways for migrants to come to the United States, at the same time,
proposing new consequences on those who fail to use processes made available to them by the United States and its regional partners.
Why won't that work for your partners? What -- why isn't that enough?
MARTINEZ: So, the American Immigration Lawyers Association and most immigration advocates throughout the country understand that when an
immigrant or, in this, an asylum seeker, tries to navigate the complex asylum system and the asylum laws without the assistance of an attorney,
they are almost totally doomed. There are statistics that up to 95 percent of all asylum applications are denied by pro se applicants, which are
applicants for asylum without an attorney, because the system is just too complex for most people.
I'm a lawyer, and it's complex for me, and I do this every day for a living. And most of my clients do not have the education level that I have.
They're coming to the United States speaking a different language, many times they do not speak English. And they're expected to then navigate the
complex asylum system of the United States and try to rebut a presumption against them. When they don't -- in most cases, they will not have the
assistance of an attorney and they will be expeditiously removed back to the home country that they were fleeing and potentially killed.
NEWTON: This is clearly hitting a nerve, even with Democrats themselves. For prominent Democratic senators, you know, put out a statement saying
that they find it deeply disappointing. And, yet you also have the other side, the Democratic Congressman, for one, Henry Cuellar from Texas,
saying, look, there are compelling reasons for a new strategy at the border. And I know, Andrea, that you've seen this yourself, right?
These communities are struggling. The mayors, many of them Democratic are saying, we cannot deal with 400,000 a month, let alone 5 million a year.
So, what do you propose is the solution there?
MARTINEZ: Well, there are many options. And the American Immigration Lawyers Association actually has an entire website dedicated to this. But
in some, it is important to understand that fixing the immigration system to begin with, which is very outdated and antiquated, last really updated
by the Reagan administration, is what we first have to do as a nation. Because until we fix the broken immigration system, we will not see any
change in what we are seeing now at the southern border.
Also, supporting the justice systems of descending countries, so that there is justice, there is rules -- the rule of law. And that the people who are
currently fleeing have a safer and more just society to live in.
Those are really what we would need to do in order to stem or curb --
NEWTON: But is there any realistic --
MARTINEZ: -- this refugee --
NEWTON: -- but is there any realistic hope of that? You said it yourself it's been the Reagan administration since we've seen this. I mean, what do
you see on the ground that would bring, you know, what is a common cause, really, to get a humanitarian orderly basis of immigration into the United
States and get it done?
MARTINEZ: It has to be both parties working together. And it something -- I'm in Kansas City, Missouri, we have a very purple city in a red state.
And I am often working with my friends on both sides of the aisle to work together. And we are advocating for comprehensive immigration reform, but
that has to be done by both houses and both parties working together to find a solution to this problem because, otherwise, it will continue.
And so, Republicans are Democrats must work together. And at this point, it would be the best for our economy in the United States to have a
functioning immigration system so that we can have the workers that we need. We can provide the protections that the asylum laws require. And
also, we can stop sending businesses overseas and have that work done in the United States. There are so many benefits to immigration reform.
NEWTON: Yes, and you make a good point. Some CEOs have said that if you want to help the economy, you should certainly engage in a robust
discussion about immigration reform and that will help the economy.
I do want to point out, though, that Congressman Cuellar, again, a Democrat, is saying that, look, people tend to romanticize the notion of
asylum. That on a practical level, we could have a humanitarian crisis on the U.S. southern border if there isn't a solution to this. And that these
are band-aids that worked in the short term because the long-term solution your proposing may not happen.
NEWTON: And that is why we have to expand the asylum officers and the department of homeland security's resources at the southern border so that
there is a just and fair asylum process which would include increasing the amount of asylum officers who are trauma informed to be able to work
through the asylum backlog. Because without additional resources and the additional officers at the southern border, there will continue to be what
we are seeing today, which is this piecemeal, you might catch one person and multiple people get different kinds of responses in different kinds of
We have to have a streamlined system and well-educated asylum officers. But right now, the amount of asylum officers at the southern border just simply
is not keeping up with the demand. So, we -- that is the first thing that I think the Biden administration could do. And that's a budgetary process to
expand the amount of funds that the Department of Homeland Security, CBP, and the asylum office can work together to, at this point, that's the first
thing we can do.
NEWTON: You know, we heard from Ben Wedeman's report from Italy as well, some have drawn, you know, really disturbing comparisons to the treatment
of Ukrainian refugees, you know, about a quarter million have been granted some sort of status here in the United States. Does it concern you? Do you
believe there is bias there that works against those arriving at the southern border?
MARTINEZ: No, I don't. I think that the United States is trying to do its best with multiple different fires going on off at the same time. And what
I think that we are doing, as a nation, is attempting to help the humanitarian crisis both in Ukraine. I'm also seeing a lot of Venezuelans
and people from Afghanistan still that are working through the parole process.
But there's just simply not enough immigration officers across the board. And there's so much demand for protection in this great country, because it
is a country of law, it is a country that follows the law. And that's why this Biden administration proposed rule must be struck down because it is
simply in contrast to the law that the United States, I think, is attempting to follow. So, I think, this is really a question of resources
MARTINEZ: And it's about getting the resources necessary to the southern border.
NEWTON: You know, some have described you as a warrior in this very divisive immigration debate. You know, you say you were injured, in fact,
in an incident with U.S. officials in 2018. It was captured in that Netflix documentary that some people might have seen, which is "Living
Undocumented". You know, I have to ask you though, having been through this for so many years -- I mean, we're showing part of that documentary now.
What are the personal stories that still stick with you? Because it -- you kind of get lost in the numbers here sometime, and forget that lives are at
NEWTON: And that's what I always tell people when asked. We have to remember that these are not political pawns, these are humans. And I have
the great blessing of being able to serve these amazing survivors every day for a living. But I do see that they are people who have suffered a lot.
And then to experience suffering not only en-route to the United States but once they get here is what I think just really breaks my heart the most.
Because I believe that that's not the America that we want as a nation and that that we believe in. We -- and I just feel so thankful that when my
ancestors came over from northern Europe, the rules were different. You just had to basically show that you didn't have tuberculosis and it was
good luck, come on in. That's what they were showed at Ellis Island.
But now, things are more complex. The rules have changed. We have to make the United States a place that is a welcoming land. Of course, with law in
place, but law that is also in line with our current economic demands. Not a law from the 80s before there was internet, before any of us had cell
MARTINEZ: We have to make the immigration laws of the United States meet today's economic demands. And then that will help my clients that I see
every day that are just wanting a chance. They're just wanting the same chance that my ancestors got hundreds of years ago. And now, when I get to
do that for a client, when I get to see a generation change, people protected. That is truly why I feel like it's a calling and it's what
brings me joy and I'm so grateful to be able to know the people I know and serve the people I serve because they are heroes.
NEWTON: And we will, indeed, continue to follow the story, as this proposed ban makes its way through this consultation period. Andrea
Martinez, again, for us, thanks so much.
And now, to a subject which is, again, often the source of an incredibly polarizing debate. And that, in truth, is deeply nuanced as well. Medical
Assistance in Dying, it has been legal in Canada for six years now and increasingly used to render mercy in the final moments of life.
Now, currently, only people with a serious, irreversible condition are eligible for the program there and it's known as MAID. But an expansion of
the law would include those with mental illness. And that, as you can imagine, raising concerns and the government has now decided that it would
be prudent to temporarily delay it.
So, we're going to go through some of the issues involved here and what it could mean for end-of-life care right around the world. Dr. Madeline Li is
a psychiatrist who has helped hundreds of patients through medically assisted death and led the university health network's MAID program. She
joins us now live from Toronto.
And I thank you for being with us on what is a very difficult subject for so many families, let alone governments trying to grapple with this. You
know, I think it's important, and you've had the benefit of your experience, for you to explain to us, what is assisted dying? What does the
law in Canada allow for now? How does it work? And why is it necessary in some cases?
DR. MADELINE LI, PROVIDER, MEDICAL ASSISTANCE IN DYING AND PSYCHIATRIST: OK. Thank you for the invitation to speak on this really challenging topic.
The way Medical Assistance in Dying or MAID in Canada works right now is that you have to -- you have to have -- you have to be a competent adult
who has something called a grievous and irredeemable medical condition.
And there's four -- there are criteria for that. You have to have an incurable condition. You have to be in an advanced state of irreversible
decline and capability or functioning. And you have to have physical or psychological suffering that is unrelievable by any means acceptable to
you. You used to need a reasonably foreseeable natural death, which is a construct that wasn't well-defined. But because of court challenges, that
was removed in 2021, and now, the government has to tracks for access to MAID, one where you do have a reasonably foreseeable natural death and one
where you don't, which is more highly safeguarded.
And then to clinicians. And in Canada it can be a medical doctor or a nurse practitioner assess you against those eligibility criteria. And if you have
them, we can provide MAID to you either by giving you an intravenous injection of lethal medication or by prescribing an oral medication that
you take yourself.
NEWTON: And you, as we say, are a practitioner in this. The law in Canada, as you say, was just expanded at the last few years, but it's made a
profound impact. You know, how has the right to die affected you as a doctor and as well as the patients, the patient stories, you know, that
come through your life every day?
DR. LI: Boy, that's a big question. You know, I -- the law has changed over time. And I would say, even when it first started, I was a little
uncomfortable with having it because I wasn't sure about the need. You know, I'm a cancer psychologist who works in the end-of-life care.
And I felt that we have, in Canada, good palliative care. Most people who receive MAID have received good palliative care. So, they're not physically
suffering. Most of it is psychological suffering. And that's my vocation, that's what I do. I help people with end-of-life suffering. I learned to be
very comfortable with it.
So, you asked earlier, what is the need? I have certainly seen patients who benefit from having the option of MAID. There is something about being able
to control the circumstances of your death that is more quickly and powerfully therapeutic than anything else I might have given them. There's
a certain portion, and it's a minority, but there's a certain group of patients who really benefit therapeutically from having the option. And
I've seen that there is a need for it. I've become --
NEWTON: So, you're saying that --
DR. LI: -- much less --
NEWTON: So, you -- sorry to interrupt. So, you're saying that autonomy, at the end-of-life can actually be therapeutic in death?
DR. LI: I think a lot of patients feel that their disease is taking away their control. I'm not actually saying my experience has been -- that's the
primary psychological driver for wanting MAID for patients, it's because they want control back, yes. And then having the option is therapeutic.
NEWTON: OK. So, that's where the law rests now. The debate, though, for it going further has been, you know, visceral and for good reason, right?
Then, we should point out, you know, that there's no right and wrong here. These decisions rest on a continuum and they're personal decisions. Now,
you have been very frank that the expansion of the law to include mental illness worries you. Just explain some of your reasons why.
DR. LI: I'd qualify that a little, actually. It's not just the expansion to mental illness, actually. It was 2021 when it expanded to non-terminal
illness. I think, when MAID was first introduced, the thought was that all the criteria I described. Described as somebody on a trajectory towards the
end-of-life. And we thought it would be restricted to end-of-life conditions.
In 2021, it clearly opened up to people with chronic illness, and that's where I started to become uncomfortable. Because it's a different
circumstance, if you're going to apply MAID -- if you're going to give assisted dying to somebody who is already dying and would die whether you
gave them MAID or not, that is one thing. It's quite something else to end the life of somebody who wouldn't, otherwise, die. And so, I struggled a
little more with that in 2021.
The expansion to mental illness is just a part of that. That if you are going to allow MAID for people with chronic disease, then you really can't
stigmatize and exceptionalize (ph) mental illness. But there are extra considerations around mental illness, which is why the government put a
two-year hold on expanding it to mental illness, which they've just extended for a further year.
NEWTON: You say you've struggled with that. You made some very good points there. Can you let us into some of the bedside conversations that obviously
have given you pause?
DR. LI: So, the opponents to expansion to mental illness talk about how hard it is to know when a mental disorder is actually incurable or
irremediable, right. That we don't have good science to say when treatment is now futile. I'm not sure that that's the main issue, I mean, that is
true. But actually, our law allows patients to refuse treatment. And to me, that's one of the problems with our law. But our law doesn't require a
patient to accept treatment that is available.
I think the bigger challenge is, how do you assess somebody for capacity to choose to die when suicidality is a common symptom? It's a common part of a
mental disorder. And I think we don't have a really good frameworks for how to do this. And I also think the other reason the government delayed the
expansion is the health system isn't prepared to do this in terms of balancing patients' rights to access MAID for mental disorders, but there
is very limited access to mental health treatment.
And so, it's not clear what we're supposed to do when a patient actually wants treatment but can't access it. And they're eligible for MAID but
then, do we approve them for it because they can't access treatment. I think those are the struggles.
NEWTON: Yes, and the struggle is real, as they say. The government will continue to look at this now, they're saying, for at least a year. We
should point out that in Canada most of this is public medicine, right? People aren't paying for this. This is part of the publicly funded medical
system. And yet, at this point, what more needs to be put in place? Because, as you say, the fear is that people that cannot access mental
health support, that they need, that they're entitled to will then instead opt for MAID.
DR. LI: So, I actually also think it's a bit of a red herring that part of preparing the health system is ensuring access to mental health care
completely. I think we'll never be able to provide enough mental health care to make MAID a safe practice. It's not about a safe practice, it's
about making it a safer practice.
I think we have to recognize that there's always going to be a trade-off. In a system that prioritizes autonomy, there's going to be some people who
qualify and receive MAID when arguably they shouldn't have. And if you -- on the other side, prioritize protection of patients, there is going to be
some people who are left to suffer longer than they would want.
And we have to figure out which errors we are going to make on either side, you know. I think that the way to safeguard that, make it safer a little is
to make sure that clinicians are assessing well. And for clinicians to do that, they need the law to give them adequate safeguards to apply.
So, I think there are many things that can happen in this next year. I think, for sure, we are already working on practice guidelines for how to
apply MAID more safely. We're developing a standardized educational curriculum to train health care providers. Because when MAID was first
introduced into the country, no one had ever learned how to do this in medical or nursing school. We were just starting, blind to it. And that's
why there have been problematic cases.
We now -- those materials are almost ready. We need time to implement them. So, we'll do that over this next year. But I also, I'm hoping that there
will be time over this next year for the government to reconsider their legislation. Canada has quite a unique legislation, and that it's very
patchwork. It's evolved over time and it's left huge gaps in terms of safety. I think our legislation right now is very autonomy focused. And it
doesn't have enough of a clinical lens that allows the clinicians providing this to protect their patients.
NEWTON: Yes, and you make a forceful argument there for those safeguards. As you said, as a clinician, you say it's undeniable. It's stunning,
really, that you say, of course errors will be made it one direction or the other. And that's just, you know, the fallibility of all of us, clearly.
I want to point, though, to the debate in Canada because it is one that will continue to resonate around the world. One group that's opposed to the
expansion in Canada. Tim Seaton, quite a direct statement, he is with the Canadian Institute for Inclusion and Citizenship at the University of
British Columbia. He described Canada's law as, probably the biggest existential threat to disabled people since the Nazis' program in Germany
with the 1930s.
You know, some people have said, look, of you -- from the outside looking into Canada here, that this almost seems dystopian in practice. Do you see
any truth to that?
DR. LI: I've described MAID in Canada not quite as dramatic language as that, but as a bit of a brave new world myself, right. Whether it's
inspired or dystopian, I think it can be a bit of both. I think, for sure, there are concerns from disabilities, groups about how we are applying the
laws. I think those are valid concerns. I also think there's a valid reason why MAID should exist.
And that there are ways, if we can more -- if we can provide the training and better safeguard the law itself, if we can think about this carefully,
that hopefully we can decide what the society wants to prioritize, autonomy or protection. And then there are ways of making this fit into the value
system of Canadians.
NEWTON: You know, and at its core, there is dignity and sometimes people say, I'm sure, you've seen it yourself, you know, beauty in dying, and some
people have described that. I wonder if you could take us to the bedside though, again. Because you, again, have been candid about the fact that
you've been a practitioner and at times unsettled by what has been done as a clinician, obviously, with the wishes of the patient included.
But take us to that bedside. What are those wrenching decisions like, not just for the person seeking autonomy, but for the family around them?
DR. LI: Well, I think we've heard about those challenging cases in the news. They've been all over the news in the last few months, including the
perspectives of family who have concerns that patients are not being properly assessed. That there's actually a mental disorder driving the
request, as opposed to the underlying medical condition.
You know, my experience has been -- I want to emphasize the vast majority of MAID cases are meaningful and beneficial to patients. I -- at the
bedside, one of my first cases was actually a nun who became a philosophy professor. And she recorded a video for us, talking about how much -- I
mean, this was a woman who had a Ph.D., and she was still teaching at the age of 80. And how -- she talked about how much her intellect meant to her,
and how the cancer was taking away bits of who she was every day, and what it meant to her to be able to die with her cognitive faculties intact.
There's no other intervention that could give that to her. No medication or counseling I could give to her would let her retain to die with her
cognitive faculties. So, I think -- I don't want to underestimate or make people think that it isn't a positive for many patients who choose it.
On the other hand, we've heard all these cases that are in the news. You know, I might even describe a case or a scenario that have been dystopian
depending on the clinicians involved. And this is the problem with the law in Canada, that it depends on the clinicians involved.
We've had, early on, several cases of just elderly women who, after a fall or an exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, where they'd
recovered from those medical conditions but had just said, I've had enough. I don't want to get any older, and I don't want to go to a nursing home.
And apply for MAID. And many clinicians assessed them and said, you are not particularly frail. There's nothing is going to end your life soon. You
And they were very upset by this. That their autonomy was being violated. And they wind up appealing and getting other assessors, eventually finding
people who said, yes, you do qualify.
DR. LI: In many ways, those are equivalent to what we would call completed life, retired of life cases, which are very controversial even in, like,
the Netherlands, where law is a very liberal. But in Canada, those cases are actually happening. And it's really a question of, do we think they
NEWTON: Right. And --
DR. LI: Is that an appropriate reason?
NEWTON: -- and we do have to leave it there for now. But thank you so much for giving us what is important insight for people all over the world to
understand what Canada is grappling with at this moment. And you, as a practitioner. Thank you so much, Dr. Li, appreciate it.
DR. LI: Thank you again.
NEWTON: And now, to the Black Power movement and the year that redefined America's fight for civil rights. In 1966, journalist and critically
acclaimed author Mark Whitaker explores that momentous year and the people who shaped it in his new book, "Saying It Loud". He joins Walter Isaacson
to explain how Black Power challenge the civil rights movement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Mark Whitaker, welcome to the show.
MARK WHITAKER, AUTHOR, "SAYING IT LOUD": Walter, it's so great to see you. Thanks for having me.
ISAACSON: Yes, your new book, "Saying it Loud", about the rise of the Black Power movement, the Black Panthers, has this amazing central
character, of course, Stokely Carmichael. Tell me about him and how he became a charismatic leader.
WHITAKER: Well, Stokely Carmichael, he was born in the Caribbean. He was raised in New York, he went to Howard University, became involved with
activism there. He had been a -- an organizer in the deep south, registering blacks to vote in Mississippi and then in Alabama. And then in
early -- in the spring of 1966, at a retreat, a SNCC retreat outside of Tennessee where John Lewis, who had been the chairman of the SNCC was
expecting to be easily re-elected to get --
ISAACSON: We're talking about the student on violent coordinating committee, which was rising then from 1965 onward as a civil rights group.
WHITAKER: Right, exactly. Formed by young people who had, you know, come out of the sit-in movement in the south in the early '60s. And John Lewis,
you know, who is a national figure at this point, after being beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge during the Selma March, arrives at this retreat
expecting to be re-elected. And is on the first ballot, on the first vote, but then a re-vote is demanded and this -- there's this wild scene, which
is a whole chapter of my book, of this night long meeting and increasingly heated vote that -- and discussion that goes until dawn.
And then, finally, in the second vote, Stokely Carmichael is elected the new chairman. Representing a more militant message. It crushed John Lewis
and it put Stokely, all of a sudden, who was not really a very well-known figure at that time on the national map.
ISAACSON: You're talking about this meeting in Tennessee, in New Kingston. What was the philosophical difference between Stokely Carmichael and then
WHITAKER: Well, you know, John Lewis was very close to Dr. King and supported his whole, sort of, vision of integration and tactics of non-
violence. He also, you know, had been invited to, you know, meet with President Johnson. And so, there was this more militant faction within SNCC
by 1966 that was questioning all of that. And also, a thought that John Lewis was sort of out of touch with it all.
And, you know, Stokely was -- stood for a couple of things. One was, you know, questioning whether the whole vision and agenda of integration
really, you know, was working. And also, whether blacks should be necessarily always committed unconditionally to non-violence. That black
folks -- poor black folks in the south than in the urban north, when confronted with violence, perhaps should have the right to defend
ISAACSON: You talk about nonviolence. So, let me read a great sentence from your book which goes right to the heart of that. It's Stokely
Carmichael saying of Dr. Martin Luther King, he made only one fallacious assumption. In order for nonviolence to work, your opponent has to have a
conscience. The United States does not have a conscience. That seems to be an amazing difference between Dr. King and Stokely Carmichael.
WHITAKER: Yes, and look, the leaders that emerged in the Black Power movement in 1966, there -- in the south, you have this new leadership
within SNCC. They had spent the previous four or five years organizing voters, black voters, to vote.
In deep, you know, Alabama, Mississippi, places where the Ku Klux Klan operated with impunity. Where even the police, you know, were incredibly
violent towards black communities. Where black folks had shotguns to protect themselves. So, their attitude was like, we can't go into places
like that and expect blacks to put down their arms and not defend themselves.
Meanwhile, the -- Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, who founded the Black Panther Party in Oakland later that year, they were dealing with, you know,
the violence of the white police in their neighborhood. And when you think about, you know, what we're still living with today, the idea that black
folks, you know, didn't have a right, somehow, to defend themselves, or, you know protect themselves against police violence, also was something
that, you know, was not at all unreasonable.
ISAACSON: That's what the Black Panther Party's original name was about, right?
WHITAKER: The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. And they had actually taken that symbol, it's an interesting story because the original by Black
Panther Party had been founded by Stokely Carmichael or at least he helped organize it in rural Alabama, in a place called Lowndes County. Where he
had, not only organized blacks who vote, but it actually gotten them to form their own political party. And they, adopted as a symbol for -- to be
recognized by people at the polls who couldn't necessarily read a Black Panther.
And later that year, that symbol was adopted by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. And again, they had a 10-point program. A lot of, sort of, demands
that were perhaps impractical. But their main agenda and their main program was this idea of civilian patrols that would go around Oakland, keeping an
eye on the police. And because California had open carry gun laws, at the time, that they would be armed. Not necessarily to confront the police but
just to keep an eye on them.
ISAACSON: Stokely Carmichael uses the phrase Black Power, I think in a speech early in 1966, maybe in Greenwood, Mississippi. Tell me, did he
really popularize that phrase? And what did he mean by it? Where did it come from?
WHITAKER: Well, you know, actually, the real credit for just coming up with the slogan and encouraging Stokely to use it goes to another SNCC
organizer named Willie Ricks, and I tell his story in the book. But you know, it's interesting because as soon -- you know, it just -- there was
just something about that slogan that was catnip to the press.
So, as soon as the story started, you know -- it was reported that Stokely had used to this phrase, all of a sudden, these stories were picked up by
papers around the country. He was booked a few days later on "Face the Nation". And the white press was very intrigued, but immediately assumed
the worst. That it meant -- it was meant -- the rejection of nonviolence. It meant it was anti-white.
In fact, what Stokely was talking about at the beginning was what he had done in Lowndes County, which was this idea of don't just register to vote
but use your voting now power to elect black officials. It wasn't at all a crazy or radical idea.
But as I show at several points during the book --
-- when given an opportunity to explain what Black Power was to white audiences on shows like "Face the Nation" and "Meet the Press" and later in
a primetime special interviewed by Mike Wallace, Stokely, who was very charismatic, but could also be sort of provocative, did not really take the
opportunity. And as a result, you know, I think the slogan was badly misunderstood by a lot of people.
ISAACSON: This notion though of pushing Black Power, I think you say in the book that it was the most dramatic shift in the long struggle for
racial justice in America since the dawn of the modern civil rights movement. What was the shift?
WHITAKER: It was questioning the goal of integration, you know, which everybody associates with Dr. King in the "I Have a Dream" speech. And
essentially, what Stokely and this, you know, the younger generation was saying was, you know what, when people talk about integration, you know,
it's really middle-class black folks talking to enlightened middle-class whites about whether they could integrate.
But the evidence that they had seen in places like Lowndes County, Alabama, and in places like Oakland, California, where the Panthers were started was
that white folks had no interest in integrating with poor blacks in the south. No interest in integrating with folks in the inner city.
When Dr. King tried to take the civil rights movement to Chicago in 1966, he found that the white residents of Chicago had no interest in having
blacks move into their neighborhoods. So, it was really a question of, how do we move forward trying to kind of person an agenda of racial justice in
the absence of integration?
ISAACSON: So, tell me more about the white backlash that happens in 1966.
WHITAKER: I had not realized what a turning point 1966 was in American political history. I mean, again, we all think of 1968 and the election of
Richard Nixon and the Democratic Convention. But it was really in 1966 that the republican party starts to rebound. Ronald Reagan was elected governor
in California, the Republicans in the midterms picked up a bunch of seats in the House, State Houses.
And it's largely on the strength of white backlash against what was happening in the civil rights movement. You know, there was -- there were
more -- there were race riots in 1966, as there had been a 1965 in Watts. But also, you know, just -- within a matter of months, you see this new
slogan of Black Power just scaring white people, changing the poll numbers on racial attitudes, and then leading to this huge rebound by the
Republican Party in the midterm elections, which also is a moment when Richard Nixon starts thinking about, well, maybe I could have another shot
at running for president.
ISAACSON: In your book, you talk about the unrest in 1965, and then the Black Power movement and that slogan in 1966 causing a white backlash. To
what extent do you see echoes of that in the backlash against the Black Lives Matter and some of the unrest we've seen recently?
WHITAKER: I see very strong echoes, you know. And it's interesting because I was in the middle of writing this book in the summer of 2020 when you had
this, you know, very moving and historic Black Lives Matter response to the murder of George Floyd. And we've had people on the streets, both black and
white, across the country and around the world, and everybody was talking about this moment of racial reckoning and things are really different this
And I was thinking, you know what, I don't know if this is going to last. If you look at the lessons of 1966, this could be followed by very strong
pushback very quickly. And indeed, that's what we see just a couple years later. I mean, you look at what's happening with, you know, obviously --
you know, a lot of voter suppression efforts around the country, particularly right now. This whole attack on black studies led by Governor
DeSantis in Florida. And that's where the discussion is now. It's, you know, it's entirely reminiscent of what happened in 1966.
ISAACSON: Your father was actually one of the pioneers of black studies, a professor at Princeton, if I remember correctly.
WHITAKER: Yes, the first head of African American studies at Princeton.
ISAACSON: And the notion of African American studies and black history was not done for the purposes that you see people accusing it of now,
especially Governor DeSantis in Florida. Explain how that changed.
WHITAKER: I mean, If you listen to Ron DeSantis, you would think that the whole purpose of black studies was to make white -- young white people
understand the history of white supremacy and feel badly about their privilege. That wasn't at all the original idea of the original advocates
of black studies.
When black students on campuses around the country in the -- in -- starting in 1966 and over the subsequent years were marching, protesting, demanding
black studies, it was really for their own edification. They thought that they didn't know black history well enough.
And honestly, you know, when I look at it today, I -- you know, the idea that in the, sort of, multicultural world that we live in today, that
you're going to tell young people that they have to study just one version of history, this kind of, you know, old-fashioned, which was mostly about
the achievements of powerful white man. You know, of course that's not the only, you know, kind of history they should learn.
So, you know, there's also a sort of citizenship component to it that really proponents of black studies were saying, look, you know, we want to
be Americans. We want to stay here. We don't want -- you know, we're not going to, you know, take up arms and try to overthrow the government. But
we feel like, you know, just to accept our position and our future as American citizens we have a right to understand the role that we have
played in the journey and historical journey of America and so forth.
ISAACSON: You talk about the Black Power movement shifting the politics of the civil rights movement. But it also, in 1966, in your book, I noticed
changes black culture. I mean, the whole notion of everything from music to literature, whatever, is that still resonant today?
WHITAKER: I think it's very resonant. I mean, in some ways, you know, we talked about how we're still fighting a lot of the same fights and a lot of
the problems that gave rise to Black Power are still with us, and that is absolutely true. I actually think that it's, in some ways, the cultural
legacy is the one that, you know, really changed for good and is -- you know, has really been irreversible.
But also saying, look, you know, we can, you know, have aspirations for education professionally, for achievement of different sorts, but we don't
have to hide our blackness in the process. We don't have to process our hair. We can wear dashikis. We don't have to dress like the white people.
We can have our own, you know, culture and -- that doesn't just emulate white culture.
When you think about the transition, for example, from Motown and R&B where black folks -- I mean, it's great music, but they're all dressing and
straightening their hair and trying to sort of, you know, look white in some ways. And, you know, the transition to hip-hop and so forth.
So -- and again, it was partly, I think, this realization that America was not moving, you know, very quickly towards being a truly integrated
society. So, how are black folks going to think of themselves and live and move ahead side by side with whites but within the absence of true and
total integration? I think that aspect of Black Power is something -- it was revolutionary and it changed forever and I think that's, in some ways,
you know, perhaps the most positive outcome of this radical shift in that year of 1966.
ISAACSON: Mark Whitaker, thank you so much for joining us.
WHITAKER: Thank you, Walter. That was a pleasure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: And that does it for us. And if you ever miss our show, you can find the latest episode shortly after it airs on our podcast. Now, on your
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