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Interview with Political Communications Strategist and "Words to Win By" Podcast Host Anat Shenker-Osorio; Interview with "Melting Point" Author Rachel Cockerell; Interview with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; Interview with "Why We Remember" Author and U.C. Davis Professor of Psychology Charan Ranganath. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired March 08, 2024 - 13:00   ET



BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to Amanpour. Here's what's coming up.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, other people my age see it differently. The American story of resentment, revenge, and retribution.

That's not me.


GOLODRYGA: Biden makes his pitch. I speak with a political communications expert about how it went down.

Then "Melting Point." A new book tells the forgotten story of the search for a Jewish homeland in Texas. Author Rachel Cockerell joins me.

Plus --


CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE, AUTHOR, "AMERICANAH": It's very important that we live in a world that gives women room to be full people.


GOLODRYGA: Why we should all be feminists. We look back at Christiane's conversation with award-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on

International Women's Day.

Also, ahead --


CHARAN RANGANATH, AUTHOR, "WHY WE REMEMBER": The function of memory is really not about the past at all, it's about the present and about the



GOLODRYGA: "Why We Remember." Neuroscientist Charan Ranganath talks to Hari Sreenivasan about the misconceptions around memory.

Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga in London sitting in for Christiane Amanpour.

Well, the stakes were high for President Biden as he stepped up to the podium for this year's State of the Union. After a week in which the

election race was all but confirmed as a Biden-Trump rematch, pundits and likely many voters were listening and watching closely.

They were met with a fiery address, as Biden weaved between issues including the economy, the border, the Middle East, and even his own age.

He challenged Former President Trump without ever mentioning his name directly. But he started with something which usually takes a backseat at

these speeches, foreign policy, making the case that democracy is once again on the ballot.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What makes our moment rare is that freedom and democracy are under attack both at home and overseas at

the very same time.

Oversees, Putin of Russia is on the march, invading Ukraine, and sowing chaos throughout Europe and beyond. If anybody in this room thinks Putin

will stop at Ukraine, I assure you he will not.


GOLODRYGA: So, have democratic fears been allayed? And what is the address signal for the next eight months of campaigning? Anat Shenker-Osorio is a

political communication strategist who joins me now from California. And I thank you so much for joining us.

So, let's start there. It's a bit unusual for the president to start a State of the Union address focusing on foreign policy. Yet, that is exactly

what President Biden did, obviously, a lot of frustration among his administration and among the Democratic Party. And let's be honest, even

among the majority of Republicans that do want to see that extra supplemental of foreign aid funding pass, of some $60 billion waiting to be

sent to Ukraine, which needs that funding yesterday, desperately going through ammunition and needing additional resources and weapons.

What did you make of the president starting there? And do you think it was an effective decision?

ANAT SHENKER-OSORIO, POLITICAL COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGIST: Yes. I mean, absolutely extraordinary Biden in fighting for him and weaving together

what I would note really well at the top of the speech that foreign policy (INAUDIBLE) with the very real truth that he was giving that speech in the

very face of an at-home, home-baked authoritarian faction that is hellbent on taking our freedoms and has questioned the very basis of Democratic

governance in that very chamber by helping plan, pay for, and wanting to pardon the deadly January 6th attack. So, those two threads together.

Essentially, the same thread, authoritarianism, a faction of people who are going to rule for the wealthiest few, both abroad and at home. And he made

that point clearly. He made that point well, and he made that point forcefully as he had to do.

GOLODRYGA: And a lot of people pointing the blame at his predecessor, Donald Trump, for holding up that supplemental aid to Ukraine and Israel.


We should note as well, they're also pointing the blame at Donald Trump for holding up the border security legislation, also something that was

bipartisan support and drafted at some of the toughest border security we've seen in legislation and specifically coming from a Democratic

president. And President Biden noted the frustration there and signaled that there was a lot of support for this, but one man is holding it up.

Here's what he said.


BIDEN: In November, my team began serious negotiation with a bipartisan group of senators. The result was a bipartisan bill with the toughest set

of border security reforms we've ever seen. Oh, you don't think so? Oh, you don't like that bill, huh?


GOLODRYGA: It's interesting that we got a cutaway there of Senator James Lankford, a Republican of Oklahoma who co-drafted the Republican side of

that legislation, who mouthed, that's true. This is tough legislation. It's something that he'd really fought for, and yet, it is nowhere near passing

as well because it is being held up by the speaker of the house.

You poll a lot of people on this issue, and immigration has taken a real leap forward in terms of a concern for not only Republicans, which it

traditionally has, but Democrats as well. Do you think that President Biden put himself well-positioned, at least enough, in terms of saying the ball

is in the Republicans' court, not mine right now?

SHENKER-OSORIO: I think the part of the speech where he came to immigration, and I thing by any objective view, he kind of began to get a

little bit more convoluted and come out more -- less clearly, less strong than he did at the outset and at end. I think that really shows what an

Achilles heel that is.

And, unfortunately, if your electoral prospects, and I would argue more importantly, if the prospects of the continuation of experimental --

experiment with self-governance, with having representatives who actually act in our interests honor our freedom to vote, honor freedom to decide for

ourselves, basic things like weather and when we have kids.

If the future prospects of this country hinge upon the American people, understand that this election is a confrontation between two different

futures, one in which we will continue to be able to elect our leaders, cast our votes, have them counted, and then another in, which this

authoritarian faction will keep chipping away at every one of our freedoms. If you need people to understand that, you cannot say on one day, hey,

these folks in Biden's parlance are semi-fascist, and I promise to work with these semi-fascists. That is an electoral story that doesn't make


When you try this gambit of exposing them for their hypocrisy by unwittingly crediting them as good policymakers, you're undermining your

overarching story, which I would argue is accurate, that these are deadly, dangerous people who do not have Americans' best interests at heart.

There is a way to seize the upper hand on the immigration debate, and it comes from leading with our own values. And, yes, calling out Republicans,

but not by crediting their policy ideas, but rather by exposing how they are employing the oldest trick in the authoritarian book, which is to shame

and blame a scapegoat, to tell people, look over there, your problems, it's because of those people, however that group is named and shamed. And they

are doing that in order to get you to look the other way while they take away everything, Social Security, health care, living wages, the right to

join together in union. That's the way to call out Republicans. It's not by crediting them as genius lawmakers by saying, hey, I'm going to make this

bill happen because they wrote it.

GOLODRYGA: Well, I don't think he's crediting them is genius law makers, at least that's not how I interpreted it. I interpreted it as a man who told

the American public that he can work with both sides of the aisle on sensible issues that are of relevance to American voters.

So, as far as this president trying to win over new voters, undecided voters perhaps, some of the Nikki Haley voters, I mean, is this an approach

you think that actually would be beneficial for him?

SHENKER-OSORIO: I think it's absolutely essential, as you rightly say, that we win over new voters by having a clear solutions-based message on

immigration, and we have one. It is most of us, no matter what we look like, where we come from or when we got here, will do whatever it takes to

provide for our families, including moving to a new place.


Immigrant Americans are moving here for the promise of freedom and opportunity in this country, and Democrats have real solutions, include

having a working border and having a pathway to citizenship for people who come here.

But Republicans block us at every turn. They want us pointing our finger in the wrong direction, so we'll look the other way while they take away what

families need. That's the way to win over, whether it be a Nikki Haley voter or another kind of conflicted voter.

GOLODRYGA: But isn't that what President Biden did last night? I mean, wasn't he doing effectively that, calling out those Republicans who win

presented with sensible, some of the toughest legislation that's getting support from both sides of the aisle still can't be passed? Isn't calling

him out by saying you're more focused on getting one man back into office or playing politics as opposed to focusing specifically on what would

benefit the American public?

SHENKER-OSORIO: He was doing a permutation of it. The essential difference -- and I'm arguing not just on the basis of my own logic, but rather on

actual testing. And when we look through randomized control trials at what moved voters and what doesn't move voters, he was doing that by first

crediting Republicans with having a good idea here, because what else does it mean to say, I'm going to pass this bipartisan piece of legislation that

Republicans hammered out? This is the toughest border bill ever. He's echoing their language.

And, unfortunately, in echoing their languages, as you probably noted, he even went so far as to use the word illegal as a noun, thereby giving

credence to their broader story line, which is of course, is one of fear- mongering, race-baiting, as they've done all along.

And so, yes, there is a way of calling their bluff, but the way of doing it is not saying, hey, here's their piece of legislation and I'm ready to pass

it. Because what that does is it reaffirms his predecessors, to use his language, storyline that he's the strong man and he is the one that's going

to come fix the border and is he the that needs to be bowed down to.

When Biden says, you know, I'll do it with you. I will come to you or you come to me, and we will do together, how does a voter both understand these

people are hellbent on taking your freedoms and, hey, I promise to work with these on this policy issue? Those are competing storylines.

GOLODRYGA: These two men, Biden and Trump, are both facing headwinds of their own, Trump in expanding his base, his core base and Biden trying to,

I guess, satisfy a big portion -- not a big portion, but a significant portion of the progressive Democrats who have spoken out on a number of

issues, one being his foreign policy with regards to the Israel-Hamas war, also his age, a number issues.

But in relation to the Israel-Hamas war, he did address this -- the war going on right now and the frustration that his administration now coming

public about with how this war is being conducted, specifically with the Netanyahu government and what else needs to be done. Here's what he said.


BIDEN: And Israel must do its part. Israel most allow more aid into Gaza to ensure humanitarian workers aren't caught in the crossfire.


GOLODRYGA: I mean, is this going to an Achilles heel for him come November, or is it a situation where those who protested and voted noncommittal made

their case, and we'll see that it comes down to a choice between President Biden or Former President Trump and go with the former?

SHENKER-OSORIO: I think that, you know, the idea of predicting what the U S. voter is going to do and what's going care about -- what they're going

about come November is losing proposition, as we've seen most people, most human beings are not actually paying any attention at all to the election.

I know that's hard for us political junkies to get into our heads, but as a person who watches focus groups on the weekly, I can assure you most people

are still in the wait, there is an election November. Oh, OK. Guess so, kind of a spot.

And so, the question really here is there are, there is a voting bloc, there's a base, there is a choir that is extraordinarily upset, and I would

argue understandably and rightly so, about what's going on. It's horrific. The loss of human life. You know, it's hard not to know about that, watch

that, and not feel completely and totally moved.


I think that Biden made a good step forward in forthrightly addressing the crisis and the loss of human life among Palestinians, the devastation, and

in calling out Israel and needing to actually attend to human rights and alter. And then, I think, equally importantly, the explicit naming of a

two-state solution, the understanding that there is no security without peace. Security without peace does not exist.

Whether that's going to be enough, I think that talk without actions is unlikely to do enough. And I think the thing to really think about and

underscore is that even if it is, relatively speaking, a small grouping of voters who are really thinking about this, it's not the how many, it's the

who. And the who in many of our battleground states are the core activists that Democrats rely upon to do the calling, to do the texting, to do the

relational organizing, to drive out the vote.

And so, if that choir isn't willing to sing from the, hey, we need to elect Democrat's songbook, then the congregation isn't going to hear the joyful

noise. And that's why this is so critical. It's not the how many, it's the who.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. And as you noted, though, it still is early days. So, a lot could develop between now and then. But this is definitely a warning sign.

Quickly, last question to you. I don't think he ever named Donald Trump, but he referenced him a number of times, over a dozen, and talked about

their differences, but also their similarities.

Interestingly enough, both addressing that both of them are older men -- are old men, but said their views on the future of the country, their views

on the future of the global order are vastly different. Do you think he was effective in speaking out and calling out the elephant in the room, that's

his age, but also saying, you know, my predecessor also isn't a spring chicken?

SHENKER-OSORIO: Yes. I think that his line, which is he's used a couple of times now around it's not about how old you are, it's about how old your

ideas are is spot on.

Everything that we're seeing in testing is that casting the election more broadly, not as a contest between these two individuals, which let's face

it, people aren't that hooked into, we've had this exact same matchup before, voters are bored of it, just to speak in the most prosaic terms.

So, rather than making it a contest between two individuals, making it a contest between two potential futures. And as Biden rightly said, between

an America that moves forward together, intent on the full freedoms, the promise of liberty, opportunity, equality for all, and a MAGA Republican

desire to drag us into, I would argue, the Mesozoic era, where a handful of wealthy white men alone decide who gets to do what and how.

And when that contrast is presented. When we see voters flip from thinking about this as a contest between two rival teams, and they're not really

into either team, let's just be honest, so I'd rather just turn off the game, to a contest between what will my future be, where will my children

live, what will be their surroundings, and how will they experience life in America, that is when the switch really flips, and I think Biden did that

really well at the end there.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, and instead of offering those alternatives in real-time, Former President Trump, among other things, was responding on social media

posts by showing President Biden with some really, I don't know how else to describe it, but wacky Snapchat filters over his face. I'm not sure how

that's addressing and speaking to some of the concerns a lot of people in this country are having right now.

Anat Shenker-Osorio, thank you so much for your time.

SHENKER-OSORIO: Thanks so much for having me.

GOLODRYGA: Well, next to a little-known history, the search for a Jewish homeland in Texas. A new book, "Melting Point", tells the story of Jews

from Russia seeking refuge in this unlikely American state in the early 19th century.

Author Rachel Cockerell chose to narrate it entirely through original quotations and sources, and her own family history is intertwined. Her

great-grandfather is the man who persuaded passengers to make this journey. And Rachel joins me now here on set in London. Rachel, great to have you.

What a fascinating story. What a fascinating book. You started by wanting to write a family memoir. When did this turn into the Jewish immigration

out of Russia through, of all places, Galveston, Texas?

RACHEL COCKERELL, AUTHOR, "MELTING POINT": Yes, this book did start as a more conventional family memoir. I was interested in how my grandmother

came to England. All I knew was that she came to England from Russia as a child, speaking no English. This was sort of, you know, around 1910.

And -- but I didn't know how or why. There were a lot of stories in my family about my grandmother, Granny Fanny, she was called. She died years

before I was born, but she was such a vivid and, you know, someone so full of life that, you know, we talk about her to this day. But nothing was ever

mentioned about her parents or about her father. If anything, my father and his siblings and cousins said he was a businessman, somehow involved in

stocks and shares.


So, I wondered how my family came to England, and I started reading a little bit about my great-grandfather, David Jochelmann, and I found out

that he was involved in this thing called the Galveston Plan, where he led 10,000 Russian Jews to Texas in the years leading up to World War I. And

yes, no one in my family knew about it.

GOLODRYGA: A fascinating story. And one thinks of Theodor Herzl as sort of the founding father of Zionism, and he's featured heavily throughout this

book as well. But we also learned one of the main protagonists is a man by the name of Israel Zangwill. He's a leading Zionist activist as well.

And he came into the picture because we've had the British secretary of state for the colonies, Joseph Chamberlain, offering as the push from Herzl

for return to Palestine was on the table. Instead, he said, for now, let's at least offer parts of East Africa, known as the Uganda Scheme, it was

actually Kenya.

Is this -- was a sort of a temporary solution as a homeland in place of Palestine. This was rejected, and Zangwill comes into the picture with his

plan, with his search and journey for an alternative, and that led him to Galveston.

COCKERELL: Yes. Yes, Zangwill was originally a novelist. He was probably the most famous Jewish figure in the English-speaking world at the

beginning of the 20th century and would be horrified at how completely he's been forgotten in 2024.

His legacy really is the phrase melting pot. You know, we hear of America being spoken as the melting pot, and same with England, or maybe New York

specifically. And my book is called "Melting Point," and people often, as soon as I tell them the title, about four seconds later, they say, oh, your

book, "The Melting Pot."

So, it's this phrase that's really ingrained in our vocabulary, but it was made famous by Zangwill in a play written in 1908 called "The Melting Pot,"

premiered in Washington. Theodore Roosevelt, who was president at the time, led the standing ovation. And it sort of triggered this national discourse

about America as the great melting pot, and is it a good thing or a bad thing that immigrants come from Europe and from Russia and from elsewhere,

and they arrive in America and they amalgamate, whether it happens in their generation or the next generation or the generation after.

So, Zangwill saw America as the melting pot, and he actually felt ambivalent about this. He didn't know whether it was a good thing or a bad

thing. At one point he said, America is the euthanasia of the Jews, which is obviously strong language, but he also led -- you know, he was the

leader of the movement to send the Jews to Texas.

I mean, really, they were being saved from Russia. So, it's both. Is it a good thing? Is it a bad thing? I think my whole book is sort of about

things being, you know, two things at once.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. Because the fight for Zionism and a homeland for Jews had been ongoing for many years at this point. But the real critical point came

after the Kishinev pogroms, where it was clear that this was an existential threat the Jews were facing.

And in fact, I want to read a quote in your book from Zangwill, where he wrote, the only solution of the Jewish question is to take the Jews out of

Russia, and plant them in a soil of their own.

How did the pogrom really trigger his -- the urgency, behind this movement? And then I want to get to Galveston after that.

COCKERELL: Yes. So, at the beginning of the 20th century, Jews in Russia had their eyes turned to New York. New York was the greatest Jewish center

the world had ever known at that time, probably at 1900, 1905, specifically the Lower East Side of New York. If you walk through the Lower East Side of

New York in 1905, it would be like walking through a little piece of Russia, a Jewish ghetto, as the newspapers called it at the time.

Though you wouldn't really hear much English being spoken. It would be Yiddish and Russian. There would be signs in strange languages and, you

know, strange foods being cooked. A few American journalists talked about the surreal nature of the Lower East Side at that time.

GOLODRYGA: And the Galveston connection, I should note at this point. So, I was born in the former Soviet Union in Moldova. And my family, my parents

and I immigrated to the United States as political refugees. And I always knew that the story was -- there's photos of my dad and me in Galveston,

Texas, because that's where we landed. My parents didn't want to go where all of the other Russians were going, and that was New York at the time.

But take us back -- that's our first picture in America. That is Galveston as well. So, I just thought that was an interesting story, that parents had

never heard of Galveston. How did we end up in Galveston? But given the history there, and that this was an alternate port as well for Jews coming

from Europe, instead of necessarily going to New York and Ellis Island, the South played a role here as well.

COCKERELL: Yes, Galveston was called the Ellis Island of the West. And it was -- yes, it was -- 10,000 Jews went there.


And really, if you think of their descendants, this was, you know, over 100 years ago. I'm not very good at maths, but it must be in the hundreds of

thousands today of Jews who came from Russia to Galveston, Texas, and then spread out across the American West.

I spoke to someone the other day who went to high school in Nashville, and he said that -- oh, maybe it was Memphis, actually. Sorry, it was Memphis.

And he said that --

GOLODRYGA: Same, same.

COCKERELL: Yes, right, in Tennessee.


COCKERELL: And he said that all his friends, their ancestors had come through Galveston, and he was sort of the odd one out because his ancestors

had come through New York.

GOLODRYGA: So, did this project end up being a successful one?

COCKERELL: They had much greater aims. The organizers of this movement, including my great-grandfather, envisioned millions of Jews coming to

America through Galveston. And so, 10,000 fell short of their expectations. But really, you know, that was 10,000 Jews saved from Russia. So, from our

perspective, from a modern perspective, it was a huge success.

GOLODRYGA: And of course, there were economic challenges that Galveston faced as well in the years after. Another theme of this book is

assimilation, and I can't help but think of Jews and their plight to find a new home, a better home, a final home, and the constant theme in the rise,

sadly, present day of antisemitism, where you have some questioning, well, are we really safe here?

I'm just wondering what you've learned from your research in this book and how it relates to what we're experiencing today.

COCKERELL: Yes, assimilation is really the thing I've been thinking about for the last five years. You know, the title of the book, "Melting Point,"

is about that moment. Is there a moment where you can pinpoint your family assimilating? You know, especially Jews in America and in England, you try

to hold on to your past in many ways. You try and pass down stories and, you know, legacies, but really, maybe things sort of start dissolving

slowly away.

I've seen it in my own family. My grandmother, you know, everything that she grew up with, all the Russian, all the, perhaps Yiddish as well, I'm

not sure, but all -- you know, all the stories and poems and she celebrated Passover. I have none of that. None of that got passed down to me. Slowly,

through the generations, it went. She also married a non-Jew, and she was - - you know, some of my relatives said she was quite keen to become more English than the English. She wanted to shake off her foreignness.

So -- and, you know, so I've really melted into the melting pot. But I can't condemn that as a terrible thing because, you know, I'm quite happy

with my life. But, yes, it's that two -- it's that sort of double dichotomy again.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, and then her sister married a Jew, a Zionist, and moved to Israel. So, two really different sides of the same story and how it's

evolved. One moved to Israel, the other stayed in England. And the question of assimilation is one we continue to talk about.


GOLODRYGA: Rachel, thank you so much.

COCKERELL: Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: Thank you.

COCKERELL: Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: Well, now on this International Women's Day, an opportunity to take stock and remember the women around the world still being denied their

fundamental rights.

In Afghanistan and Iran, women continue to face repression and violence. Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai is today again urging the world to confront

the Taliban's gender apartheid against women. In Ukraine, Israel and Gaza, women often pay the highest price for a conflict not of their making.

Yet, no country is immune from the scourge of violence against women. Here in the U.K., on average, two women a week are killed by a current or a

former partner. But there is progress as well. France this week enshrined reproductive rights for women as a constitutional right. And in Ireland

today, people go to the polls in a referendum to remove a reference to women in the home from its constitution.

So, today, we want to revisit Christiane's conversation with the renowned feminists, the award-winning novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. They spoke

in the early days of the Trump administration presidency about the political uncertainty of that moment, race in America, and why we should

all be feminists.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome to the program, and thanks for joining us from New York.

CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE, AUTHOR, "AMERICANAH": Thank you. Thanks for having me.

AMANPOUR: So, this is a moment where all sectors of society, including artists and writers, and everybody are sort of reacting and laying down

their own markers to the political upheaval that we're seeing in the U.S. and all over the world.

You have written a very big article for the "New Yorker" magazine, basically saying now is the time. What do you mean by that exactly in this


ADICHIE: Because I grew up in Nigeria and having grown up there, political uncertainty is not unfamiliar to me. I grew up during the 1980s where we

had coups. But the U.S., I think, hasn't quite had to deal with the kind of political uncertainty that I think happened with the election of President



And my essay was really about how it's now time for people to find new ways to talk about politics, to push back, to stand up for what is true and what

is right. It's really not the time to make excuses or to hold onto this idea of optimism. It's time to maybe be a bit more realistic and also time

to accept that difficulty is part of the reality of political life.

AMANPOUR: And I want to move on to one of your most famous works, "Americanah." Because you do live in the United States now. But you are

Nigerian. You come from a black country, and yet you said you never experienced really what it meant to be black until you came to the United


ADICHIE: I think in some ways it's because everyone in Nigeria is black. And so, we didn't really think actively of race as an identity marker. And

when I went to the U.S., I suddenly realized that race was this identity that was thrust on me.

But what's interesting, I think, about race is that it's not that I have dark skin, which I actually find quite glorious. It is instead that having

this skin comes with assumptions, that people who look at people with skin like mine and make assumptions about their ability, about what they should

and shouldn't do, and that's why it is a problem. So, it's not the physical manifestation of race, it's all of the assumptions that come with them,

with looking a certain way.

AMANPOUR: Well, listen, you are right. It is glorious. So, I second your comment there. But, you know, you came to the United States as a 19-year-

old university student and you see that there are huge race relation problems. Obviously much has improved, but there are still dramatic race

relation problems and some of them exacerbated by the current campaign. What is your take on the state of race, so to speak, in the United States

right now?

ADICHIE: I mean, I think that race is America's original sin. And it's not surprising that it remains a problem. Actually, sometimes I find it

surprising that some people find it surprising that it remains a problem.

I do think, though, that the political leaders can set the tone that one uses to talk about race. I think that President Obama was wonderful at

setting this tone in which racism did not disappear, but it wasn't overt. I think what's happened with this administration is that they've set a tone

in which casual racism has become OK in a way. And because you have the leader of a country who himself sort of engages in casual racism, I think

that's the same for Mr. Jimmy (ph) as well.

And so, the political leadership can set the tone. And I'm not very encouraged about the tone that's been set in this country.

AMANPOUR: Well, that's for race. What about for feminism and the respect of women? You have even before this election, in fact, way before this

election, you gave a very famous TED talk about feminism. I want to play some of it and then talk to you about what you said and what your manifesto

is today.


ADICHIE: We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to

be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you will threaten the man.

If you are the breadwinner in your relationship with a man, you have to pretend that you're not, especially in public. Otherwise, you will

emasculate him. But what if we question the premise itself. Why should a woman's success be a threat to a man?


AMANPOUR: I mean, there's so much to unpick there, Chimamanda. Were you angry? Are you trying to persuade people? Are you trying to knock people

over their heads? What do you think needs to be done to resolve this situation, which is still a situation when it comes to gender equality?

ADICHIE: All of those things. I am angry, and I think everyone should be angry about the state of gender. But I also want to persuade. I want to

talk. I want to have conversations. I think that there's gender imbalance everywhere in the world. And lots of it is infuriating to me because it's

about injustice. It is so unjust that so many people, who make up half the world's population, don't have the access and opportunities that they


But at the same time, I don't think that it means that all men are evil or terrible. I think that privilege means often that one is blinded. I dream

of a world where we no longer need feminism because it will be redundant.

AMANPOUR: And you have actually taken another step and you've written sort of a new feminist manifesto. You've called it "Dear Ijeawele" or "A

Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions."

ADICHIE: I wrote it because it started actually as a letter to a friend of mine who had just had a baby. And she asked me to tell her how to raise her

baby girl a feminist. And so, I started to write down the things that I think we can do differently in raising girls.


I think a lot of this also applies to raising boys, but not all of them. And then, I often would have these sort of brilliant asking me, you know,

how is this feminist, how is this not feminist. They were confused. It's very important that we live in a world that gives women room to be full

people, rather than having them be defined solely on very narrow, domestic terms.

And also, the idea of rejecting likeability. I think that young girls everywhere in the world are raised to make themselves likable, by which I

mean that I think it's wonderful to be polite and to be civil. Everybody should be. But I think girls are raised in a particularly insidious idea

that they have to cater to the egos of men, sometimes you have to pretend not to be as intelligent as you are. And you can't be too forward.

AMANPOUR: I want to know your take on Hillary Clinton, who, you know, is one of the most professional women in all of American politics, the most

experienced. And yet there was this likeability thing that kept getting thrown at her.

ADICHIE: I remember thinking when I was read all this coverage about her, why we had to keep hearing about whether or not she was likeable. Why was

that even a subject? Why didn't we hear that about her male opponent? I think women who seek power or women who have power make people

uncomfortable. And so, we find ways to judge them in ways that we wouldn't judge men who are seeking power or men who have power.

AMANPOUR: On that note, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, thank you so much indeed for joining me tonight.

ADICHIE: Thank you very much. It's been lovely.


GOLODRYGA: And as we mentioned earlier, President Biden dispelled doubts about his age at last night's State of the Union. Since the start of his

presidential campaign, Biden's every slip-up has been under the microscope, from momentary forgetfulness to misspoken words. Well, our next guest

believes that we have been oversimplifying the way we think about age and memory.

In his new book, "Why We Remember," neuroscientist Charan Ranganath shares years of his research on how we remember. And he joins Hari Sreenivasan in

this conversation.


HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Charan Ranganath, thanks so much for being here.


SREENIVASAN: First, I want to talk a little bit about the ideas that you discuss in your book. And for me, it sort of distills down as someone who

is entering full stride midlife, about memories and how my brain is forming them.

What are we getting wrong about our understanding of memory, how we form them, how important they are?

RANGANATH: I think the big thing that people get wrong about memory is this expectation that we're supposed to remember everything and we're supposed

to remember everything as it actually happened. And we know just from the science that that's not true. Nobody that's ever been studied remembers


So, right off the bat, we know that people's expectations are out of whack. And so, then the question is, well, what is the function of memory? And as

I talk about in my book, almost all the science points to this idea that the function of memory is really not about the past at all, it's about the

present and about the future.

SREENIVASAN: Explain that. What does memory have to do with the future or the present?

RANGANATH: Well, so let's just take the present, for example. So, we and others have found that when people watch a movie, say, or they listen to a

story, we can see the same circuitry that's involved in memory that is currently being involved in just understanding what people are saying in

the moment.

And the reason is that even to understand what's happening in your news show, which is exceptionally clear, people are going back and engaging in

this kind of memory retrieval in the moment just to follow what's going on. And the reason they're doing that is because they really want to know not

where you are now, but where you're going.

And so, that's just a very mundane example of the kinds of functions that memory has in everyday life. But, you know, think about you wake up in a

hotel room, for instance. Your first question is, where am I? Without memory, you have no idea. You're floating in time and space, right?

And as much as this is something that just kind of comes automatically to us, if you have a memory disorder, that's it. You are just there, right?

So, this is something that's both anchors us in time and space and gives us a sense of who we are in the moment.

SREENIVASAN: Your book is called "Why We Remember: Unlocking Memory's Power to Hold On to What Matters." So, the what matters, how does that happen on

figuring out what's important and what's not important so that we can recall it later?


RANGANATH: So, events that tend to evoke emotions like things that scare you or events where you're angry or event where are you sad. And we could

see chemicals in the brain called neuromodulators, which viewers might know of some of these chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. And these chemicals

promote plasticity. So, they allow the experiences to be more resilient over time and those memories stick around.

So, sometimes there are things that your brain has just decided off-hand, and I don't want to be anthropomorphic with the brain, but basically your

brain has decided these are the things are important.


RANGANATH: And then sometimes, there's also your own attention. And the thing that you pay attention to can also tag those experiences as


SREENIVASAN: You describe a phenomenon called event boundaries. Explain to our audience a little bit of what that is.

RANGANATH: Well, so, event boundaries in the real world tend to be things like I show up in my kitchen and all of a sudden, I'm like, oh, what am I

doing here? I have no idea. I grab a bag of chips, I start eating and then I go back to my home office and I realize, oh, wait a minute, left my phone

there. And I go back and if I am lucky, I don't forget why I went to the kitchen again.


RANGANATH: And so, these experiences tend happen because when we change our mental context, that is our sense of where we are and what's going on, what

happens is that all of the information that we're keeping in our head tends to get flushed out.

And so, what I mean by that is like when you cross a doorway, for instance, your sense is that I'm in another room, right? You usually do different

activities in the kitchen than you do in a home office. And, so your brain's already preparing for, OK, well, I am in my kitchen. What am I

supposed to do? What typically happens in your kitchen? I tend to get food. So, you end up with a lot of empty calories because you've hit this

boundary and now your brain is switching into food mode.

SREENIVASAN: So, I wonder what's happening to those boundaries in our alleged multitasking world where we seem to really take pride in doing so

many different things at once. I wondered if we're kind of erasing those boundaries and making it harder for us to recall things in proper context

because, well, I could be doing this interview, I'm also on my phone, whatever, there's three things going on.

RANGANATH: But I am sure you're actually paying full attention --


RANGANATH: So, it's a great question. It's something I struggle with too, because sometimes I'll sit in conferences and I am under stress and

checking e-mail during talks. And I'm not proud of this, because what happens is, every time I switch between one task and another, here. My

brain is now shifting my mental context, and so I've created a little event boundary that's a moment that says, OK, brain, let's just pack this event

into memory.

But I'm packaging these little impoverished events. And every time I switch over, my brain takes a little bit of time in using some of my medical

resources just to get caught up again. So, now, imagine what's happening is you're getting a fragment of information in memory every time a switch. And

those fragments are never really there in the first place because I just getting caught up. And so, it's no surprise that afterwards you have almost

this sense of amnesia, like what happened.

But you can have the opposite problem too of not enough boundaries. And I think for many of us during the pandemic, we had this where we're just

sitting for hours and hours at a time in front of our computers and you end the week and be like, well, what's happened? And this is because we just

have these long experiences that are just monotonous and nothing that sticks out to us as something that's memorable.

SREENIVASAN: You had a section in the book where you're comparing humans to robots, and you said humans won, robots zero. What's that about?

RANGANATH: Well, if you look at a lot of the tools of generative A.I., what you notice is they require gobs and gobs of data to be trained

appropriately. And they use tons of energy. Think of a carbon footprint of something like ChatGPT. And now, you look at humans, I mean, some of the

estimates suggest that our energy expenditure is 10 to 20 watts. So, we're doing a lot with very little power expenditure.

And part of reason, I think, is that we actually do a lot more with a lot less. And humans have this capability, which we call episodic memory, this

ability to recall our lived experiences that happen at one time, one place.

And so, for instance, you have a favorite restaurant that you go to and then one day you show up and you see a sign that says under new management,

you have terrible meal. Well, you don't have to go back there. You can stop on a dime and change. And it's almost like your brain is like the sports

car. It is high performance, but somehow, it uses very low amounts of fuel.

Now, ChatGPT is more like this lumbering cargo truck or even like a container ship and you try to stop it on the dime, in turn, good luck to

you. It's going to take a lot more data to do that.


And so, this is where humans have real opportunities because my experiences are different than your experiences. And we all have idiosyncratic things

we've read or people we know. And the more we can rely on that diversifier set of training data, the more creative we can be and the more relevant we

can be in the age of A.I.

SREENIVASAN: You know, you wrote last month an op-ed for "The Times" that said, I'm a neuroscientist. We're thinking about Biden's memory and age in

the wrong way. For people who might not have read that, what are we getting wrong when we look at somebody like President Biden and when we consider

that memory as or his ability to remember things in the context of whether or not he's qualified to be commander-in-chief?

RANGANATH: Well, when I read the summaries in the news about the special counsel's report where they described him as an elderly man with a poor

memory, I immediately was attracted to this because I say, well, I studied memory. Let's see what happened.

And so, I went into the report and the cases that I found and the things that were being discussed in the media were not the kinds of things that

would concern me because I think when people say elderly man, poor memory, it's buttons on stereotypes that we have, especially in the U.S. about

older adults. And I think the first thing that comes to mind for many people is Alzheimer's disease.

And what I wanted to make clear in this editorial is, number one, there's a lot of variability in aging. If you follow up people who are older adults,

what you find is some people, their memory drops up precipitously, but other people, it goes pretty well and they preserve a lot of those


Now, the second thing is that often as we get older, there are these retrieval failures that we just talked about where the memory is there, but

we just can't get details or we're struggling to pull up information or sometimes we make a mistake and it takes us a while to correct it.

And the examples that I saw in the special counsel's report were all of these kinds of phenomena where it's not that Biden didn't remember his last

year of the presidency or he had no memories of his son's death, but it was that he couldn't pull out the year that these things happened when we

needed it. And I would be hard pressed to find somebody at his age who doesn't have that problem from time to time.

So, I looked at this and I said, well, when other people are looking at Biden, what are they seeing? And it's like they see somebody maybe with

gray hair, maybe they're judging him on his appearance or Trump too. I want to be clear that this is not something that's a partisan issue. I mean, one

in six Americans are over the age of 65.

And I think when people look at someone who's older, especially in this country, and they see someone who maybe is not moving as well as a young

adult, they're not speaking as remotely as a young adult, they make assumptions about memory that are just untrue.

SREENIVASAN: I wonder, I mean, considering that we have two of the oldest candidates ever running for the highest office in the land, you know, there

are people saying, hey, maybe we should have cognitive tests be part of the qualifications? Or I mean, some of that sounds just ageist on its face. And

then I also wonder, you know, biology doesn't lie. The physical recovery at 85 from even a sudden slip and fall is going to be very different than it

is at 65, which is different than it is at 45, right?

So, I wonder whether we should be thinking about a candidate's cognitive ability and how we would even measure that.

RANGANATH: So, I believe that it would make sense and we certainly need to have a national conversation about this. I'm not in a position to tell

voters, you know, I'm a scientist, I'm not in a position to tell voters what they should do. But what I would say is that you're absolutely right,

that as we get older, risk for all sorts of health problems changes. And public perception is just often inaccurate, right?

I mean, people are often making their perceptions on things that have no bearing on people's actual cognitive abilities. So, you can do a fairly

rigorous cognitive assessment over the course of a couple of days and the ability to predict functioning won't be perfect, but it would be pretty


And what I would say is that those kinds of assessments combined with people -- combined with a health assessment -- and this should -- I love

memory, but there's all sorts of other abilities. And some of these shouldn't change with age, like compassion or the ability to regulate your

emotions so you don't go unhinged or semantic knowledge, which is your knowledge of the facts. And a president should be aware of a lot of the

facts that are needed to do the job.


There's no obvious line as to how good someone has to be in any of these things. What I can tell you is I've talked to people who have serious

disorders that have no ability to function in the real world, and they sound fluent. They seem confident. They look good. And so, I would

seriously caution the public -- because I got a lot of letters about this where you're saying, well, you're expecting me not to believe what I've

seen with my own eyes. And I say, yes, because you don't know what you're talking about.

SREENIVASAN: You know, when it comes to not believing what we've seen with our own eyes, I wonder what happens in a world where artificial

intelligence creates more opportunities for your eyes to be fooled. So, how do we reconcile that in the brain?

RANGANATH: We're right now still catching up to where the technology is in terms of our understanding of how people respond to misinformation. What we

know is that it's very difficult to tell the difference, even if we have been informed, hey, this is fake news. It's very difficult to tell in

memory whether or not something was fake or whether it was real. And it takes people time. You have to use these resources that you use to keep

your memory accurate, these mental resources.

And yes, it does get worse when you're under stress. It gets worse when you're not sleeping well. It gets worse when you get older. And these are

all features of modern life. So, what I would say is that there is research out there to mitigate the effects of misinformation. And definitely the

media, especially social media companies, I think have a responsibility to -- and I hope the Supreme Court keeps this in mind, that we really have a

responsibility to label things that are obvious misinformation.

But people also need to play their part in terms of giving themselves the time to actually critically evaluate their memory for the media.

SREENIVASAN: So, what's happening in our brains when we see a piece of fake news?

RANGANATH: What we can say is that there's probably -- if it's very convincing fake news, it would be just like watching real news, right?

You're struggling to understand it and you make sense of it somehow. And so, sometimes there's a little bit of a sense of mental conflict if it

doesn't agree with what you think.

But the problem is that people's memory biases tend to reinforce what they think. So, even if you watch true news, you'll see two people watch a

debate and they'll walk away with different memories of how that debate went based on their beliefs, the partisan beliefs they had to begin with.

So, now, you get into the world of fake news and it starts to get harder because you see something that makes you happy and you like it and you go

with that rather than putting in the work to try to figure out if this was accurate or not.

SREENIVASAN: You also talk in the book a little bit about how we might be susceptible to a societal or collective memory. How does that work? Because

it does seem that, well, in some cases we don't learn from history, we repeat the mistakes, but that even if it's a specific incident, given the

benefit or cost of time, that we collectively seem to remember something differently.

RANGANATH: So, one of the factors that's been studied in collective memory, which is essentially how people's memories are transformed by social

interactions, one of the factors that's been studied is how selective people can be. So, often if you and I remember the same event and we talk

about it, at the end of the day, we will remember less than had we experienced these things on our own and not talked about.

So, what that suggests is that somehow there's some process by which you and I talk about it and there's some pruning of the memories. And so,

Suparna Rajaram at SUNY Stony Brook has studied this, for instance. And one of the things that people have found is that people who are the dominant

narrators, meaning people who tend to be more powerful, tend to be more loud and obnoxious can take up a lot of the discussion.

And so, what people remember that would normally be idiosyncratic, like I talked about before, tends to kind of hone in on the shared amount of

information that overlaps with this dominant speaker. And so, the only way around this is to listen to the people who might otherwise be ignored. And

this often happens to be people who are older or elderly or people who are children or from marginalized groups. And that's actually key to how

collective memory can be improved.

And so, this is science. This isn't just some political statement. It's just the way things are.

SREENIVASAN: Charan Ranganath, the book is called "Why We Remember: Unlocking Memory's Power to Hold On to What Matters." Thank you so much for

joining us.

RANGANATH: Thank you, Hari. It's been great to be here.


GOLODRYGA: And finally, for us, this Greek grandmother is spreading love to children around the globe, one crochet stitch at a time. Surrounded by

granny squares, 93-year-old Ayanna (ph) Matsouka spends her days making scarves at home. What began as gifts for friends quickly snowballed into

bags of vibrant donations, which she then sends to kids in Ukraine and refugee camps in Greece.


Boys and girls wearing her creations have shown their appreciation with letters and drawings. And despite her declining health, Matsouka says,

until I die, I will be knitting. What an amazing woman.

Well, that is it for now. If you ever miss our show, you can find the latest episode shortly after it airs on our podcast. And remember, always

catch us online, on our website, and all-over social media.

Thank you so much for watching, and goodbye from London.