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Interview with Photojournalist and "It's What I do" Author Lynsey Addario; Interview with Photographer Wesaam Al-Badry; Interview with Futuro Investigates Executive Producer Peniley Ramirez and "USA v. Garcia Luna" Podcast Co-Host; Interview with Villanova University Professor and Director of African Studies Vincent Lloyd. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired March 17, 2023 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. And welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up on the program.
PIOTR HOFMANSKI, ICC PRESIDENT: The International Criminal Court's issue two warrant of arrest in the Ukraine situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Wanted man. The International Criminal Court issues an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for allegedly deporting
Ukrainian children to Russia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The days of Iraq acting as an outlaw state are coming to an end.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: The Iraq invasion 20 years on. Harrowing images of the human impact with acclaimed photographer Lynsey Addario, and Iraq born artist, Wesaam
Then, missing in Mexico. Investigative journalist Peniley Ramirez dives into cartels, drugs, immigration, and what's behind the epidemic of the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VINCENT LLOYD, PROFESSOR AND DIRECTOR OF AFRICAN STUDIES, VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY: The reaction of hearing something and being harmed and needing
to immediately stop everything and -- to mean that harm as creating an unsafe space, made it impossible to have a regular seminar.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Professor Vincent Lloyd talks to Michel Martin about his eye- catching essay, "A Black Professor Trapped in Anti-Racist Hell."
HOLMES: Hello, and welcome to the program. I'm Michael Holmes in Atlanta sitting in for Christiane Amanpour.
Well, Russia's Vladimir Putin now a wanted man. The International Criminal Court has issued a warrant for his arrest for alleged war crimes, including
deporting Ukrainian children to Russia. Now, Nic Robertson is standing by in London for us.
Nic, an arrest warrant for a head of state, a president of a nation that sits on the U.N. Security Council, just how extraordinary is this?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: There's never been something this big before to recuse some -- a leader of such a major nation
of being a war criminal. And if prosecuted, though that seems unlikely, that if prosecuted and found guilty he would be a war criminal.
His position as leader of one of the U.N. Security Council's permanent five members has meant in the past that he's been able to go to New York and
speak to the U.N. Security Council, stand at that podium. A member of the G20, he's been able to go and meet with other G20 leaders. In European
countries, in the past, that's going to end as well.
President Putin has put high stock in his ability to be the leader of a powerful nation and to stride the international stage and exert that
powered and influence and at health. That is no more. Now, the Kremlin says that the ICC has no writ with them. And it's clear with from within the
walls of the Kremlin this is not going to have a real impact on Putin.
But it is designed to get in his mind and to alter the way that he thinks about the war in Ukraine. His future world after the war in Ukraine is now
prescribed. Meeting the U.S. president, for example. Now, completely unimaginable. And he puts a huge stock in that. He's always wanted to
negotiate directly with President Biden over the war in Ukraine.
So, it radically changes his outlook and sends a huge message to anyone fighting for him in Ukraine. And that is what Ukrainian officials are
saying, Russia essentially, according to a prosecutor general in Ukraine, Russia essentially a criminal state.
HOLMES: Extraordinary times. Nic Robertson, our thanks to you.
And do make sure you tune to "Amanpour" next week when Christiane will be speaking to the International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan.
OK. Turning now to a memory etched in the minds of so many. 20 years ago next week, the skies lighting up over Baghdad, the moment America's
invasion of Iraq began. It goes without saying that the controversial decision to go to war there has had enormous consequences, death,
destruction, instability. Things Iraqis are still very much grappling with today.
That is a story I feel personally connected to. I first went to Iraq in April 2003, driving from Kuwait to Baghdad with a convoy of U.S. marines,
the day after Saddam's statue was toppled in Firdos Square. Arriving amid the chaos of looting and an almost complete lack of effort to stop it, it
seemed half the city was burning for days.
I returned 16 more times, the most recent during the battle to recapture Mosul from ISIS. So, with 20 years gone from the start of the war, we turn
now to two brilliant photographers who each document the human impact of it through different perspectives. Lynsey Addario was on the ground, and
Wesaam Al-Badry grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska as a refugee from the first Gulf War. Lynsey Addario and Wesaam Al-Badry, I really appreciate you
joining us here on the program.
Lynsey, let's begin with you. When you look back at the Iraq war 20 years on, how do you reflect on those years and the toll that they took on the
country and its people?
LYNSEY ADDARIO, PHOTOJOURNALIST AND AUTHOR, "IT'S WHAT I DO": I mean, it was sort of a tragedy, actually. I mean, I look back, it was the first
proper war I had ever covered. And just watching the unraveling of a country and the chaos, you talked about the fires, the looting, men rounded
up in the middle of the night by American troops who were given a directive to go find insurgents in the heart of the Sunni Triangle watching people
have bags put on their heads, zip ties on their wrists, you know. Some, of course, presumably innocent. And just, you know, really -- just watching
the demise and the chaos of a country.
HOLMES: Yes, those early months in particular were just horrible in terms of a disorganization, the chaos that you say. The lack of structure, of
Wesaam, you left Iraq as the first Gulf War started, the first one in 1991. What were your thoughts when the second one began in your country of birth
20 years ago?
WESAAM AL-BADRY, PHOTOGRAPHER: Well, it was devastating. I mean, I just saw the images and my heart started pounding all over again. You know, there is
nothing that words can't really describe, you know, seeing your motherland being bombed by your new homeland.
So, it is still, like, something we still trying to process. And even though it is the 20th anniversary, it is the day before my birthday. So, it
holds a special place, like it always -- it's constant reminder of what, like, the toll of war does to a family and to a nation.
HOLMES: Yes, you put that so well. Watching your home country being bombed by your new country. When you look at some of your photographs now, Wesaam,
your work focuses a lot on family, extended family and friends as refugees from war. What has been the story you've want people to see through your
AL-BADRY: Well, my whole work is based on giving an understanding that, like, Arab-American, Muslims American are not, like, an archaic figure that
lives in the past, you know. That we are part of this country now and we are creating more part of this fabric.
So, my whole project is always taken -- I'm very interested in family because growing up a refugee camp family was everything. Then at the same
time, this work is a healing process for me and the community and, you know, the grander society that, like, how do we process war and how do we
speak about it? So, this is basically the war and, like, this whole project that takes the toll on what I am doing right now, and it is still ongoing.
HOLMES: Yes. Lynsey, a few years ago "American Photo Magazine" named you as one of the five most influential photographers of the last 25 years. Saying
that you changed the way we see the world's conflicts. I would agree with that. When it comes to Iraq, what do you think or hope your photographs
ADDARIO: You know, that was really the first war I covered. And those initial days were so chaotic, I was running around covering everything from
mass graves, to the protests of people who were frustrated because they're couldn't get money out of the banks. There was no water, no electricity,
watching sort of the beginning of the insurgency. And really, sort of, then doing my first military M-beds (ph).
And so, a lot of that was, sort of, a real awakening for me. Of course, I like so many journalists spent the first few months looking for weapons of
mass destruction that we were told existed in Iraq. And, you know, that of course was futile. But spent a lot of time trying to understand, you know,
why we were there and looking for those weapons.
HOLMES: Wesaam, I wanted to ask you about how important it is for you to put a human side to those you photographed, so that others, particularly in
the U.S. where you live now, see people not refugees or strangers or foreigners, you know, Arabs.
AL-BADRY: Yes. Well, I think we've been bombarded with that information. You know, years back, I read this amazing essay about Walter Benjamin
called "The Age of Mechanical Reproduction". And I think that really sparked something in me, every time I searched Arab or searched anything it
was the oldest negative imagery coming out.
And I wanted to challenge that notion because that is not the community, that is not the people, and that is not the million of Muslim Arab-
Americans living in this country. You know -- I mean, like, people are beautiful and people living their lives. So, I wanted to show that work and
just run with it. I think a lot of people agree with it because it wasn't really complicated to convince people to be part of a project. I just ask
them to come and be as you are.
HOLMES: Yes, so --
ADDARIO: So -- and it's a beautiful --
HOLMES: Yes, Lynsey, a similar point to you. I know -- you know, I know from my own experience, the -- and it was a frustrating aspect. The big
picture of war was often just a sea of numbers, casualties on both sides and so on. What is striking about both of your portfolios is how you
document the human side of the conflict, the people, the interactions, and so on. How important then, Lynsey, is that humanizing of people, giving
names and faces, not numbers?
ADDARIO: I mean, for me it's everything. You know, I think of myself as sort of a horrible combat photographer. You know, half the time I'm being
shot at, I forget to take photographs. Whereas, you know, really, for me, it's about the people. It's about the women, children, the civilians, the
elderly. And that is a threat I have carried through two decades of war coverage. And I think in Iraq it was also very important for me to find the
emotion, to find the tender moments. Really, to try to connect the audience around the world with what was happening on the ground to people
HOLMES: Yes. I -- Wesaam, I wanted to ask you, how difficult was it to adjust to a radically different life in the U.S.? How difficult were those
early years? Do you ever fully adjust?
AL-BADRY: Well, I mean, I -- so going back, I grew up in a refugee camp. So, the first go for happens, you know, then you live in a refugee camp for
four to half years and you get to move to the Midwest, you know. I mean, that is a big change regardless for you. Regardless of -- you know, I mean,
we live next to bypass, next to a plastic factory. But you know to you that's a safe home, and Lynsey can attest to that that, you know, being in
a refugee and being in a war zone, you just want a safe place. And that is what my parents were striving for, just for their kids to be safe.
And adjusting, you really never get to adjust because you're always the other, you know. There's always like this hyphenated American, you know.
So, it's like you get to adjust to it but it's like -- also society get to adjust to you. So, it's this going back and forth, and it has always been
that case, and it's -- we're not the first group. There is a lot of, you know, Americans who are still struggling with -- how to adjust to this
HOLMES: I'm going to throw something at you, Wesaam. And I know that you -- and I was reading some of your comments about Lynsey that you have always
admired and respected her and her photography.
HOLMES: You know, I wanted -- yes, your thoughts on the impact of Lynsey's work in Iraq and if there's anything you would like to ask her.
AL-BADRY: I mean, with Lynsey, it's like -- look, I was always as critical of photojournalist. But I think with Lynsey's work what hit the heart. And
there was like -- it's the human, you know, like, I'm not seen as a number. I mean, I am very like into working with the archives and everything I pick
up is just a number. Like, I am somebody's lapel, you know, somebody's shirt.
While with Lynsey's work, it's like -- it's this humanizing. And I think it got this -- let's say, a motherly look to it. Like the other person feels
like a human in the other end of the lens. Not just another -- so, you know, I'm always like, I don't want to be that -- you know, on the other
side of the lens with a runny nose, you know, and like you are just out of place. But with Lynsey's work, is like, you get to see both sides. And the
both sides, nobody wants war, I mean, that's the reality of it.
It's like -- it's not -- if it's an American soldier or if it's an Iraqi civilian, or whatever combatant, they all have families. They all have
loved ones. They all have that one. And that's what I said when I heard I'm -- Lynsey and I would be in conversation. It put a smile on my heart
because there is only a good few journalist or good people out there. And I really gauge the world as either you're a good person or you're not.
And Lynsey, to me, like, her work isn't that good (INAUDIBLE). Like, you're trying to make the world a better place for all of us. And you know, like,
I saw you're a parent as yourself, and I'm a parent too. So, we know what we're all -- we striving to create. So, yes, that's why I am really happy
to be an conversation with you.
ADDARIO: Thank you, Wesaam.
HOLMES: What a lovely comment.
Going back to the harshness of war, Lynsey, I want to show people a photograph, not from Iraq but from Ukraine.
And I'll give people a warning that, you know, it's graphic. It is that family killed on the outskirts of Kyiv by Russian shells. Their bodies are
on the street. My question though, is how do you strike the balance, as you do, of portraying the horror but also the human dignity. The agency of the
victims which that photo did. How do you strike that balance?
ADDARIO: I mean, that was an extraordinarily difficult moment because I, myself, survived that attack. I mean, the round that landed between myself
and Andriy Donchyk (ph) who I was working with and our security advisor, landed, sort of, equidistant between us and the family, and the family was
killed. The mother with her two children, and the church volunteer.
And, I think -- so, I was very much in shock when I was taking those photographs. And I remember approaching from the -- from their feet and,
sort of, being horrified and having to remind myself to actually photograph because I was so shocked. And I worked my way around because I've also been
doing this so long that I realized I had to try to find a respectful angle that wasn't too graphic, that showed what I had just witnessed, which was
the intentional killing of civilians. And it was important for me to shoot and to try to shoot in a way that was respectful.
HOLMES: Yes, and it did give them agency.
Wesaam, I found it fascinating -- actually, just before the program, I read that you told one of our producers that you became friends with U.S.
soldiers who had been in Iraq. And that you found their trauma similar to your own. You talk about a healing process for refugees from Iraq and other
places for your family, your friends, yourself. Tell us about that.
AL-BADRY: Well, when I was an undergrad, I went to, you know, we were at the San Francisco Institute. And there was like, you know, marines who went
through -- you know, served and they were in school. But it seems like, you know, there's a weird place in society when you come back. And people who
have similar experience or have been to similar places graphically toward each other.
And actually, one of my dear friends that -- we're still, like, in constant contact was in the marine. He served like nine years and we are still
talking about, like -- I'm not really -- my work is not about, like, in the judging business. I always say, my work just to put images forward and to
have a conversation.
And you really -- it's -- when war waged, it's not about -- I mean, it's not rich people going against each other, you know. It's people who are
trying to eat and trying live. So, sometimes you have more in common with people after, you know, after the dust settles, you can have a
conversation. You can talk about your experiences. And most time I -- you know, veterans I spoke with whether they were in the army or marine corps,
most of them didn't even want to be there, you know. It's -- and same, you know -- it's like -- and how do you process that when another human being
told you, like, I am sorry I don't want to be there, you know, or we were given orders.
HOLMES: I will say, I found that fascinating myself from going up at the beginning and -- I mean, you know, a lot of American soldiers wanted to be
there and then, you know, going three, four, five, six years, seven years later, they did not want to be there.
Lynsey, in another warning to viewers before this next question, because a couple of the photographs are quite vivid. But wanted to ask you about this
because so many of your photographs, you know, they achieved almost iconic status for the power and how they tell the story. Many of Iraqis, of
course, but crucially in Iraq, you shot a lot of American wounded which serves the purpose too of starkly reminding Americans at home of the cost
of the war. What was the reaction to that? What did you hope the reaction was for those photographs in particular?
ADDARIO: Well, the irony was I shot that story for "Life Magazine". It was commissioned by "Life Magazine". It was during the siege of Faluja,
November of 2004. We had this incredible exclusive access to the hospital in Balad (ph) where all of the wounded marines and soldiers were coming out
and being treated. And I shot for about five days and then flew with the wounded back to Ramstein in Germany for treatment in Landstuhl. And sent
the photographs to "Life Magazine" and they held them for almost four months. And finally, I got a message saying, they would never publish those
photographs, because they were just not appropriate for the American public.
Now, you can imagine my response after having covered Iraq for almost two straight years at that point. The Americans needed to see those
photographs, and the marines that I photographed we're so proud to be photographed for that peace. And so, you know, it was really unbelievable.
But luckily "The New York Times" magazine, Kathy Ryan, she took the photographs immediately and was able to get them published.
HOLMES: Yes, I remember running up against some walls trying to do story with the Med-Evac units. I got to do the story but there were a ton of
rules on that.
Wesaam, I wanted to ask you, of course, you're in the U.S. now but after 20 years after the war began, what are your hopes for your country and its
AL-BADRY: I mean, my hope is for, like, everybody that -- I mean, peace, stability, you know. Freedom to vote, freedom of mobility, equal rights for
everybody, you know, the LGBTQ community, religious freedom.
I mean, you want all these things, you know. And I think Iraq is capable of reaching it, you know, having the right people. I don't really have high
hopes in politics there, but I think that I have a lot of faith in the people and the younger generation that is striving for change and I think
that is something that we need to nurture, you know. We need to be part of it and to have these conversations.
Iraq can't sustain -- I mean, Iraq had been at war since I ever was born, you know, like since the 80s, you know. It was like, people get tired, you
know. And people don't want to be at war. I never met a human being who's like, I want to be at war, you know. That's -- it's just not natural.
HOLMES: No. No, exactly. I could talk to you guys for the entire program. It's been an honor to speak with you both Lynsey Addario and Wesaam Al-
Badry, two enormously talented people. Thank you so much for what you are doing.
ADDARIO: Thank you so much.
AL-BADRY: Thank you.
HOLMES: All right.
Next, we turn to Mexico and what is now a harrowing epidemic. Missing people. More than 100,000 people have disappeared in Mexico, that's an
understatement, probably. The recent, kidnapping of four Americans in the country has once again brought the issue into focus. But the quick response
by authorities has left some questioning whether Mexicans themselves are forgotten. And it comes as the country continues, of course, to be plagued
by cartel violence.
Let's dig into some of these issues now with investigative journalist, Peniley Ramirez. She joins me now from New York. And thanks so much for
doing so. I mean, Americans getting kidnapped is always going to get attention. But Mexico's national database of missing and unlocated persons
currently list more than 112,000 Mexicans has disappeared, many say the numbers actually way higher than that. And of course, many are undocumented
migrants in Mexico are routinely taken for ransom or trafficking. How do the cartels impact the lives of ordinary Mexican?
PENILEY RAMIREZ, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, FUTURO INVESTIGATES AND CO-HOST, "USA V. GARCIA LUNA" PODCAST: Well, Mexico has been suffering crisis of violence
and people disappeared since the last 20 years, more than 20 years. And -- look, according to official data, just in Tamaulipas, they placed the state
where these four Americans were kidnapped, more than 10,000 people are still disappeared.
And Tamaulipas is not even the worst place in Mexico with the disappearing crisis. Jalisco is the worst place in Mexico. Mexico right now is the
deadliest country in the world to be a journalist. Even worse than other countries in war like Ukraine, and this is official data that we just to
see if last year from Reporters Without Borders.
So, you have a country when the -- they lit -- the violence, it's like, the way that we operate and we live every day. 10 women are killed in Mexico
every day. You see that more than 30,000 people are killed every year. Last year, for example, the Mexican government were saying, oh, we managed to
reduce by six, seven percent the death rate. But that is still more than 30,000 people for years.
RAMIREZ: And we have been having the same issue for the -- since -- particularly since 2003, 2004, but more after 2006, 2007 when Mexico
declared the so-called war on drugs. That has no results so far. More violence and more violence in the Mexico side. And in the U.S., you have
more people dying from overdoses because the war on drugs is against the trafficking but the drugs are still common.
HOLMES: I wanted to ask you about that. So, you bring me to the question very neatly, the drug side of this. I know you've written about cartel
involvement and fentanyl which, of course, is a huge story in the U.S. --
HOLMES: -- and fentanyl manufacturing and distribution. The president, though, has been saying it's not produced in Mexico. Here's what he said
about it yesterday. Let's have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDRES MANUEL LOPEZ OBRADOR, MEXICAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Mexico is not the country that introduces the most fentanyl into the United
States. I maintain it more fentanyl reaches the United States and Canada directly than reaches Mexico.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: You've reported on this. I know you are going to disagree with that. How do you respond to it? And also, just talk about how well
structure the cartels are. How organized their chains of command.
RAMIREZ: Well, I asked the same question about the fentanyl labs in Mexico to the Mexican president himself in 2019. And he said, oh, we don't have
labs in Mexico. And I was working then in an investigation about the fentanyl production in Mexico, and I was in a laboratory myself. And then
he is telling me, oh we don't have labs in Mexico. Well, I was in one of them.
And after me, several older journalists have been documenting how Mexico has becoming more protagonist, and the shame about the fentanyl production.
And there is an important context of this. Before Mexico became such an important place for the production of fentanyl, this was happening in
another place of the world that we now know really well which is Wuhan, China. The -- exactly the place where the COVID pandemic has started.
So, after the lockdowns in China, during the pandemic, all the production was moved to other places, especially to Mexico, because there you will
receive in a lot of the small parts that you will use, and then you'll produce it there.
So, it's crazy that you have the Mexican president saying that there are no fentanyl labs, and you have the journalists documenting this. And then you
have official data from his own government saying that, oh, we captured another laboratory. We have been doing this intelligence work. So, it
doesn't make any sense.
HOLMES: So, what then is the government effectively doing about the cartels? I mean, for an outsider it is easy to, sort of, think, you know,
who's really running that country? Obviously, these groups feel they can act with impunity, they do. And former -- you know, what's interesting,
former U.S. Attorney General William Barr, he recently described President Lopez Obrador as the cartels' chief enabler. Does he have a point?
RAMIREZ: Well, I think that you can see in the last years in Mexico that the President Lopez Obrador had one -- he had been changing the way that
he's approaching this issue. Because he was -- when he was in campaign, he said that he will air -- end this so-called war on drugs. And he was -- he
popularized this saying of, oh, I prefer the hugs. I don't want any more bullets.
But after that, you see his administration announcing, oh, we captured this drug lord. We captured this other person. But effectively, the -- according
to data from the U.N., the Mexican cartels are still laundering more than $25 billion per year.
So, if you go to the numbers and the data, you still see a lot of people dying in Mexico because of the violence. You see the cartels laundering all
of this money. You see -- you still see Mexico as one of the five more corrupt places in America. One of the most corrupt places in the world. You
see all of the dangers of being a journalist. And you see all the drugs coming into the United States. We have an overdose crisis in the United
States. And most of those drugs, and that is official data, they are coming still from Mexico via Colombia, via South America but also via China to
Mexico and the to the United States.
HOLMES: And, you know, in the broader picture, President Lopez Obrador, Amlo, as he is called, you know, as you say, began his presidency promising
to defend the poor and crucially strengthen democracy. But what has actually happened in terms of, you spoke of efforts to silence critics,
HOLMES: But also eroding democratic checks and balances. Where is democracy?
RAMIREZ: Well, the thing is that in Mexico, you have a strong party. And it's the Lopez Obrador Party. It's also true that the opposition in Mexico
is kind of lost. They don't have a united message. They don't have a strong candidate.
So, you see, his party, Morena, it's how call it in Spanish, growing and growing. And you see more power to the military, you see more power to the
marines. And at the same time, you see him taking actions that really are red flags. For example, you saw on Mexico in the last weeks, we have been
seeing massive protests against a reform that he is introducing in the electoral law that will put in some awkward position, the actual national
institute that organized the elections in Mexico.
And the Mexicans are really proud of this institute and the work that this institute had done for Mexican democracy. And you have the president trying
to undermine openly the operation of this institute. And you have the Mexican president talking out loud against some judges because there are
dystopian things that he is trying to do.
So, you see a lot of things that we have seen in other countries that are, of course, red flags. Including in the United States during the Trump
administration. So, right now, I think that you have an opposition in Mexico that is quite not getting what they need to do. And at the same
time, you have more and more citizens saying that, OK, you are really popular. It is true that we don't have a lot of other options, but these
things that you are doing are just not right.
HOLMES: Speak to the level, you know, of corruption, which worries, you know, a lot of people in Mexico. According to the non-governmental group,
Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity, three out of four projects are awarded with no competing bids. I mean, you've got environmental laws being
flouted on any number of construction projects. You've got indigenous peoples not being consulted as the law demands. How deep do you believe can
direct corruption runs?
RAMIREZ: Well, the thing is, I have been an investigative reporter all of my career, and more of the clues that we have to follow corruption in
governments are especially those bids. But if you don't have the bids, if you just, you know, assign the contract to whoever you like, sometimes it's
your own friends and we have seen documentaries how they use front companies in Mexico and in other places to hide who are the real people
benefiting from these contracts.
And at the same time, you have all the things that you mentioned. You have a lot of loss that were up (INAUDIBLE) Mexico in the past years. And that
will help if you're building a train, he's building a big train that will go to the Riviera Maya. But you have people who lives there and they have
their voice unheard. And every time you try to document this as a journalist, as you said, including myself, you are targeted in this daily
conference that he has.
And then, you get a lot of hate in social media and other places. And it is, like, oh, you are lying, or this kind of strategy that we have seen
here and we have seen in other places that finally is undermining the democracy.
HOLMES: And, that's a sort of talk that, you know, in Mexico gets journalist killed as well, as you pointed out. We've only got a couple of
minutes left, but I wanted to sort of make the point. The Economist Intelligence Unit Index on democracy, they serve 165 nations, a variety of
criteria. They recently downgraded Mexico from floored democracy to hybrid regime. CNN's own Fareed Zakaria described the low as a "populist demagogue
straight out of the worst pages of Latin American history."
Is Mexico's very democracy in peril at the moment? It is that bad?
RAMIREZ: Well, I think that it is important to pay attention to what's happening with this electoral reform. I must say, I was born in Cuba before
I moved to Mexico. So, I see red flags, frankly, from my own experience, not just from my experience as a journalist. And it is true that Mexico is
close to the Cuban government. It is close to the Venezuelan government. It's kind of close also to Russia. So, I think that we should take those
signs and we should see those flags.
And the fact that something, it's happening in the continent, in the sub- continent of Latin America and we shall see how this is structurized (ph) by the laws and the laws that have been approved in Mexico are in
discussion right now in the Mexican Congress could be really worrying.
HOLMES: Peniley Ramirez, my goodness, worrying stuff. Great to speak to you. Thank you so much for making the time.
RAMIREZ: Thank you, so much.
HOLMES: Well, now to tackle complicated and controversial topics in class, we should all want to be doing that. Even more importantly, how do you have
a conversation that could end in agreeing to disagree? Our next guest has been living that dilemma. And his story is unique because he is a black
professor who wanted to challenge his students' pre-conceptions about racism, and it did not end well.
Professor Vincent Lloyd spoke with Michel Martin about his article, "A Black Professor Trapped an Anti-Racist Hell."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Professor Vincent. Lloyd, thanks so much for talking to us.
VINCENT LLOYD, PROFESSOR AND DIRECTOR OF AFRICAN STUDIES, VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY: Thanks for having me.
MARTIN: So, you wrote a piece for -- an essay for "Compact" magazine which "The Atlantic" later picked up, and you had a conversation with them about
it. It was titled, "A Black Professor Trapped in the Anti-Racist Hell." And you give your account of a really -- I don't know how to say it -- bracing,
disturbing experience that you had teaching a seminar, race in the limits of law in America. This was a class of high school students. It was part of
a summer program at Telluride
You taught there before, but not for some time. So, before we get into the -- kind of the substance of your essay, just talk a little bit about why
some people might be surprised that you are the person, you know,, writing an essay about the -- you know, the anti-racist hell?
LLOYD: Thanks. Yes. So, I am a professor of Villanova. I am affiliated with the Africana Studies Program. I directed our black studies program here for
a few years here. My research focuses on anti-blackness in religion and in philosophy. And I have been writing books and articles around this topic
for a long time. The focus of this course that I was teaching for Telluride was based in the limits of law with -- four of the six weeks focused on
MARTIN: And tell me a little bit about the students. Like who were there in this seminar?
LLOYD: Yes. So, this is a highly selective program. These are the best of the best high school students from around the U.S. and from beyond the U.S.
Students who are on the track to Ivy League colleges.
MARTIN: And you had taught that class or a similar class before, right? Tell me what the experience had been.
LLOYD: Yes. So, I taught -- co-taught a version of this class in 2014 at Cornell. And then, again, in 2022 at the University of Michigan, through
the Telluride Association Program. We read legal cases from Dred Scott and Brown v. Board of Education, to more recent cases on immigration and
indigeneity and mass incarceration and informative action. We also read novels. We read memoirs. We read short stories. We also read critical
theory and histories that could give us a three-dimensional view of problems of anti-blackness and related issues of oppression in the U.S.
MARTIN: And tell me about the seminal format. What had you hope to do? And then, we'll talk about what actually happened.
LLOYD: Yes. So, unlike a lecture course where the professor is just conveying information to the students. A seminar is based on a belief that
each of us can approach a text with our own experiences, our own critical reading skills, and through -- pushing against each other through sharing
our ideas and bouncing off in conversation our ideas against others' ideas, new knowledge can be produced.
And, you know, when I did this in 2014, it was a really fruitful and rewarding discussion. Each day, there was some awkwardness. These are 16-
and 17-year-olds. Some people are saying things that were clearly off. But through the process of conversation, we could think for deeply together and
move toward a deeper understanding of what we were reading, that didn't happen again in 2022.
MARTIN: In your recounting, this went way off the rails. I mean, from your experience. I mean, and obviously, we are just getting your point of view
on this, but when did you start to see things kind of go off the rails, at least in your estimation of it?
LLOYD: The first week of the seminar was planned to be on indigeneity, thinking about the genocide of Native Americans and the continuing effects
of that on native communities in the U.S. At the end of the first week as a teaching assistant who has also a sort of camp counselor who is
coordinating the 21 hours of the students' lives outside of the seminar came to me and said, it seems like we are missing something really
important in the seminar. We are not talking about anti-blackness. I tried to point to the syllabus that, you know, we have four weeks coming up an
anti-blackness. But she kept insisting that something was off, you know, if we are spending a week on indigeneity and the injustices suffered by Native
Americans. That was the first week.
By the second, we were trying to do a mock court. You know, an exercise where students are divided into teams. Some of them are lawyers for one
side, some of them are lawyers for another side. We were trying to see, you know, what is it like to be a lawyer? Does law really get to justice or is
there something missing if you are adjudicating questions of justice in a court? By the end of that, the students were, again, complaining that they
were forced to inhabit the position even just in this exercise of sides that they didn't believe in. Even if it was just for the purpose of
learning the logic of their opponents.
MARTIN: You really do describe, like the way you talk about it is like this anti-racist hell, like this kind of hothouse atmosphere of just accusations
and on kindness. Let me just read a little bit. The allegations levy. I had used racist language. I had misgendered Brittney Griner. I had repeatedly
confused the names of two black students. My body language harm to them. I hadn't corrected facts that were harmful to hear when the now-purge
students introduced them in class.
In fact, you're saying that they actually, what, kicked out or voted to kick out two students because they didn't like what they had to say.
I invited them to think about the reasoning of both sides of an argument, when only one side was correct. The students ended with the demand, in
light of all the harms they had suffered, they could only continue in the class if I abandoned the seminar format and instead lectured each day about
anti-blackness, correcting any of them who questioned orthodoxy. Like, wow.
OK. Wow. How did this -- was this all presented like on one day?
LLOYD: Yes. On the very final day that we met together, the students all came in about 10 minutes after the class was about to start. They were all
were carrying a piece of paper that had a very long statement written on it. Each of them read in sequence a paragraph from the statement and that
MARTIN: So, how far into the seminar was this before the students kind of presented to you with this manifesto?
LLOYD: At the start of the fifth week of a sixth weeks --
MARTIN: The start of the fifth week. OK. So, what did you do?
LLOYD: Yes. So, I -- my co-instructor and I said, you know, we need to think about this. And as soon as we left, we talked to the Telluride
Association Leadership and said, this doesn't seem sustainable. We need the Telluride Association Leadership to communicate to these students and to
this teaching assistant that these two -- this faculty team have been contracted to teach a college level seminar. This is what a college level
seminar looks like, and we have faith in these instructors to teach this.
MARTIN: You didn't go from week one, everybody showing up to the seminar, and then ending in, you know, week five. People are just not showing up or
presenting you with this manifesto. What happened in between? Like what was going on before you were presented with this?
LLOYD: Yes. So, each week, there was some other incident that students would raise that they found concerning. For example, when we were
discussing Brown v. The Board of Education, a famous Supreme Court case that ended school segregation in the U.S., one of the aspects of that case
was a doll test where psychologists were asking students, you know, is this -- do you see this doll as white, colored, or negro?
And the students in my seminar claim that they were harmed by hearing the word negro, which, you know, I framed as, you know, at the beginning of the
classes, saying, we will encounter controversial language. We can talk about that. If you feel uncomfortable, we can have conversations about why
we might or might not use different language. But the reaction of hearing something and being harmed and needing to immediately stop everything and
to name that harm as creating an unsafe space made it impossible to have a regular seminar.
MARTIN: What was going through your mind when all of this was going on?
LLOYD: I was thinking back to the -- what I read about the '60s and '70s, when they were really powerful important civil rights movements, and
movements against the Vietnam War and quickly turned into movements that had cult like characteristics, movements that we're turning it on
themselves. And we are no longer pursuing justice in the world but we're sort of eating themselves with the language of the pursuit of justice.
MARTIN: How did the whole thing end up?
LLOYD: So, I told the Telluride Association Leadership, either you come and intervene and explain what the Telluride Association has asked me to do to
the students or, you know, we can't continue in these seminars. It is not a seminar anymore. The Telluride Association Leadership believing in radical
democracy, believing that the students in their autonomous community should get to choose to do whatever they want. And, you know, even if it is a
failure, they will learn from it for next year. The Telluride Association Leadership decided not to intervene.
I understand in the last two weeks, this teaching assistant just basically lectured herself each day for the final two weeks.
MARTIN: OK. So, you know what, you can imagine that people hearing this have had quite a range of reactions to what has been you've just described.
But I'm kind of just going back to the fact that these are 16 and 17-year- old kids and you are the adult. And I'm just wondering if you thought that this was going -- becoming cult like, why didn't you intervene? Why did you
let it go on for so long?
LLOYD: Yes. So, I believe in the Telluride Association mission that, you know, having a democratic community with self-governing of students is
really exciting. If I were 16 or 17, I would want to be in that kind of community. And that community -- that kind of community brings risks and it
is something that the organization, the Telluride Association, to manage those risks.
And when things are starting to off the rails, to create bumpers so that things don't become courtly (ph) cult like as they seemed to in this case.
So, the idea, the spirit of the thing strikes me as really important. Like we should be empowering students to figure out -- empowering young people
to figure out how to live together. That is something that they will be doing throughout their lives, and to do it on their own and not to turn to
outside authorities as ways -- as guides to tell them how to live.
MARTIN: So, obviously, you wrote this please, not because you had a particularly disturbing and unpleasant experience, but because you feel it
says something larger. What do you think this experience says?
LLOYD: I think as a nation and as universities and educators, we're at a moment of a paradigm shift. We've been thinking about race in one way in
terms of multiculturalism, in terms of many different races and communities all getting along and -- or on the path to getting along. And then, you
know, thankfully, black justice movement said, you're missing something. Like there's deep anti-blackness in this nation, in communities, in
ourselves that we need to root out.
And, you know, that's -- we're at a moment of paradigm shift, and it's not clear what's coming next. It's not clear what new structures and
institutions or habits that center anti-blackness look like. We're experimenting in different ways with what that could look like and we need
to be critical about those experience, see what works and see what doesn't.
And I think this Telluride example is, you know, one experiment that didn't work, but that just means that we should try harder, try new experience
because we can't go back to that old paradigm. But, you know, the kind of story that I recount is one that I hear over and over again form
colleagues, particularly liberal arts college kids, particularly at some public institutions, it's not just what happened in one extreme case that
happened in extreme circumstances, although, the circumstances sort of intensified the dynamic. But it's something that I do hear happening in
various versions from colleagues across the country.
MARTIN: But one of the reasons I'm interested in how -- what you draw from this is that you said at the outset of your essay that you really dismissed
people like John McWhorter, the linguist and social commentator, who has become very impassioned about what he sees as a kind of an anti-
intellectualism, an identity driven sort of systems of thinking that he thinks have just taken over to many educational institutions.
And I got some from your essay that you were not very sympathetic to this argument at first but now, you are.
LLOYD: Right. So, I think the content is hugely important. Content of, you know, the sort of precepts of -- the theories of anti-blackness are hugely
important, right? There are -- the afterlives of slavery still inform American society. We need to listen to black women. We need to empower
black communities to have self-determination and so on, right? This is hugely important.
The forum in which we pursue that is also really important, to be careful about, right? We can't just say, here are a set of dogmas, now, you need to
believe them. These are things that we need to reach overtime, right? Going back and forth in conversation. We each need to develop into these sorts of
commitments that they can't just be impounded on us, especially on young folks.
MARTIN: You said that this is something that you were initially not very sympathetic to. but then this happened to you. And now, you're -- it sounds
to me like you're sort of questioning some of the same things that the students are questioning. Just, what is this seminar? Like, what is it for?
Should you be forced to read things that are upsetting to you that characterize your ethnicity in a light -- in a certain light? I mean, is
that accurate, that you're sort of now in a third phase of thinking like, what did really happen here? Are the students write in some way?
LLOYD: I think we all ought to be interrogating ourselves and, you know, taking the experiences that we have to ask me questions about what we once
believe. That's exactly what the seminar was for, right? To invite students, to hear from others, to think about their own experiences, to re-
text and to think more deeply about the beliefs that they once help and to develop new beliefs.
You know, I'm still a believer in a seminar format. I think we do need to make changes to the seminar format, which some of the changes I try to
make, as I was teaching 2022 as opposed to 2014, changes that involved, you know, doing small group activities, doing partner activities, doing things
that could allow students to develop their own voice in a more private circumstance so they could feel empowered when we're in a big group. And
those who might feel less comfortable speaking or who are more shy, like I am, this position (ph), could feel more willing to speak in that big group.
So, I -- you know, I think the seminar needs to evolve.
But reading great books together whether, there are Angela Davis and Frederick Douglas or Plato and Kant, you know, I think that's important
stuff that we need to do and we need to continue doing in smart ways.
MARTIN: But the reason you wrote the essay and I think the reason that people are reacting to it is that it speaks to a larger debate. And so, the
question is, is there something in these institutions more broadly that needs to be addressed? And we're not just talking about, obviously,
colleges and universities, although they all can have that hothouse atmosphere you've described.
But, you know, lots of institutions seem to feel that they are debating, like, how -- what are the terms of our engagement? Who gets to decide with
those terms are? And I guess that's for the main question going forward for the rest of us, who were not part of this particular experiences. Is there
something we need to learn from that? And what is it. I mean, how do you balance allowing new thoughts to be emerged without allowing a new form of
smug self-righteousness and bullying to take over?
LLOYD: Yes. I think this is a difficult question that they were all grappling with in different ways. You know, we need strong institutions
that are resilient, that have clear roles and clear duties assigned to those roles. But we also need to differentiate space, right? Spaces where
we're asking difficult questions and spaces where we can be vulnerable. Spaces where we can be frustrated. From spaces where we need work together,
right, where we need to pursue one goal and, you know, get in line to get that goal done.
And I think one of the challenges that we're having right now culturally is that there's a collapse of this differentiation of space, right, where
we're thinking, you know, everywhere like we need to either have open discussion or, you know, just get in line and be on the same page. And in
fact, you know, these are both important things. They just have to operate in different sorts of domains.
MARTIN: Professor Vincent Lloyd, thanks so much for talking with us.
LLOYD: Thanks for having me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Now, in a statement from Telluride Association about Professor Lloyd's claims, they say in part, and I'll just read some of it for you,
the students in the seminar asked Professor Lloyd and his co-faculty to "engage critically with points raised during the classroom discussion."
Adding, "Though harmful or erroneous comments need to be addressed, we want to leave the seminar having been challenged, learned things, and gained a
As for professor Lloyd's request for Telluride to intervene, they said this, "The board declined to do so, and instead asked Professor Lloyd to
work with a teaching assistants and students to adjust his teaching to meet student's needs. This process has worked successfully without other
faculty, and with Professor in his past work with Telluride Association."
Telluride also says that the claim that two students were voted out of the seminar by classmates is simply not true.
And finally, what was once a symbol of wealth and power, these days a boat that belonged to Saddam Hussein in his heyday is more a tourist store and
picnic spot, as you can see there. The 120-meter yacht called the Al-Mansur has been rusting away on the riverbed ever since it was attacked by the
U.S. led forces, and later capsized almost 20 years ago.
It was actually one of three yachts owned by Saddam with room for 200 guests, complete with a helipad. And though they were calls to preserve it
after his downfall, successive governments never wanted to spend the money on recovering it or removing it for that matter. So, what was once an
emblem of Saddam Hussein's ill-gotten gains and excesses is now a handy spot for local fishermen to reminisce about days gone by.
And before we leave, a viewer reminder of our top story, Russia's Vladimir Putin is now a wanted man. The International Criminal Court issuing a
warrant for his arrest for alleged war crimes, including deporting Ukrainian children into Russia. The ICC says there are "reasonable grounds
to believe Putin bears individual criminal responsibility for the alleged crimes" and for his "failure to exercise control properly over civilian and
military subordinates who committed the acts." The Kremlin calls the ICC's arrest warrant "outrageous and unacceptable."
Now, make sure you tune into "Amanpour" next week when Christiane will be speaking to the International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan. Also,
next week, Christiane has Yusuf Cat Stevens on the show, talking about his long-awaited seventh album, "King of a Land."
All right. That is it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast, and across social media. And thanks for watching and spending part
of your day with me, and good-bye from Atlanta.