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Is U.S. Prepared To Go To War If China Invades Taiwan? Parent Debate Whether They Should Have A Say In What Kids Are Taught; New Superman Is Bisexual As Comic Tackles Social Issues. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired October 12, 2021 - 07:30   ET





REEVE: Yes, the Pfizer shot.

How would you feel if there had to be a mandate that you had to get it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that would violate my constitutional right. And where Shelby works, my daughter, she'll just quit.

REEVE: Really? You think she'll quit?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. So will about three or four others.

REEVE: Nurses?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. So, if they mandate it, we're going to be short a lot of nurses.

SHEILA BALCH, ADMISSIONS STAFF, SCOTLAND COUNTY HOSPITAL: I think a lot of people here just feel like it's not a necessity. That they have the system that can fight that and if their system can't fight that, the likelihood is they were going to probably pass from something else anyway.

REEVE: You're confident your body is strong enough to repel COVID?

BALCH: My mind is. Now, whether or not my body is is a whole nother situation. I wouldn't know until I had to have that. But I have made it this far in life


REEVE: So, the obvious question is why doesn't the hospital call their bluff? Like, where else are they going to work? But Sheila told us she'd be happy to mow lawns.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: She would be happy to mow lawns. Elle, I thought it was fascinating -- that discussion that you were

having, especially at the diner, where you saw people on different sides of this debate. And it was noteworthy that these were older folks, right, who -- some of them who tend to get the vaccine, but some who don't. I mean, that was incredible to hear that conversation.

REEVE: Yes, and we've been reporting on this for a long time from rural places. And I was encouraged by that because two out of three wanted to get the vaccine and that shows a little bit more receptiveness to it than we'd seen in previous stories.

KEILAR: Yes. Also, thank you for updating that gentleman that yes, indeed -- at least one of these vaccines is fully authorized by the FDA.

Elle, as always, great reporting. Thank you.

REEVE: Thank you.

KEILAR: Tensions growing between China and Taiwan, but is America prepared to go to war over the future of Taiwan?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And Miami's high-profile, some even say rockstar police chief, getting fired. Why? What did he do that offended so many?



BERMAN: Taiwan says that China has sent a record number of warplanes into its air defense identification zone, a sign of increasing tensions between the island and Beijing. China views Taiwan as an inseparable part of its territory. Chinese President Xi Jinping has not ruled out using military force t capture Taiwan if necessary.

Joining me now is Gordon Chang. He's a columnist at "The Daily Beast" and the author of "The Coming Collapse of China." Gordon, it's always an education to get to speak to you.

A record number of warplanes in October from China flying near Taiwan. Also, rhetoric from Taiwan at a different level than we've heard before. They seem more openly nervous or talking about it more than before.

So, what's different now? Why now?

GORDON CHANG, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST, AUTHOR, "THE COMING COLLAPSE OF CHINA": I think the difference now is, as you point out, the defense minister, the foreign minister, and the president, herself, have started to express alarm in public. In the past, they just used to sluff it off.

I think what's different now are two things.

First of all, there's Beijing's perception of the U.S. after the fall of Kabul. We've seen from their propaganda that they do believe they can push the U.S. around. But much more important than that is the political turmoil in Beijing. I think it's making Xi Jinping very nervous, himself. And I think that he wants to have something to unify the political system and the Chinese people behind him, and Taiwan is the issue that he's picked.

BERMAN: Yes. Jim Sciutto, who has covered the region for so long, says it's fair to talk about this as a matter of when, not if.

CHANG: Yes. And clearly, when you hear, for instance, U.S. officials talk about this, especially in the Indo-Pacific command, they talk either five years or six years.

Now, there's a lot of reasons why China wouldn't invade Taiwan. One of them is that simply, Xi Jinping would have to give some flag officer almost total control over the Chinese military. And that makes that general or admiral the most powerful person in China, and so Xi Jinping's not about to do that.

BERMAN: What kind of pressure does this put on the Biden administration? Because as you said, one of the things driving this is this perception the U.S. left Afghanistan -- walked away from that -- so would they walk away from Taiwan?

CHANG: Yes -- we don't know that. I mean, the U.S. has this policy of strategic ambiguity where we don't tell either side what we would do. And since President Biden's ambiguous comment (ph) Taiwan agreement of last Tuesday, the U.S. has done nothing to distance itself from the strategic ambiguity concept. Matter of fact, some of the explanations from the State Department have muddied the waters.

But I think we probably would defend Taiwan, and the reason is not to do so would be catastrophic. We disheartened friends and allies after Afghanistan. We couldn't do that again.

BERMAN: You're in the probably column.

CHANG: I'm in -- well, yes, and I'm in the probably column. And I think people in the administration probably don't know what they would do either.

BERMAN: What about the Olympics? The Winter Olympics, just a few months away, in China. The rest of the world is seeing what's going on here over Taiwan. Do you think there are any countries that would say we don't think it's time to go to an Olympic Game in China given their aggressive posture?

CHANG: Yes. I don't -- the boycott movement has petered out. What might happen is that countries, let's say, wouldn't send their president, wouldn't send political figures to Beijing. Probably, we'd see some of that. But in terms of boycott, I don't think that's going to occur.

BERMAN: Gordon, always a pleasure to speak with you. Thanks so much for being with us this morning. I appreciate it.

CHANG: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: So, how much of a role should parents play in what their children are being taught in school? We will discuss, next.

KEILAR: Plus, Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden resigns over his racist, homophobic, and misogynistic emails. So, what does the NFL's first openly bisexual player think of his remarks? He's going to join us at the top of the hour.




TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), VIRGINIA GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: I'm not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decision. I don't think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.


KEILAR: Virginia's Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe criticized over his comments about what should be taught in schools and saying that parents should stay out of it.

This comes as heated debates continue at local school board meetings across the country about whether public schools should teach critical race theory, which is a legal theory that recognizes that systemic racism is part of American society and challenges the beliefs that allow it to flourish.


Let's talk about this with people who are affected by this discussion. A Virginia mom against critical race theory teaching in school, Asra Nomani. And also with us is a Texas parent in favor of critical race theory being taught in schools, Kazique Prince. I want to thank both of you for coming on, for this is such an important discussion that we're having.

And look, I know that you both agree that parents should have a say, right? That they should have a say in what their kids are being taught. You differ on what schools should teach.

So, Asra, to you first. What do you think schools should not be teaching?

ASRA NOMANI, VIRGINIA PARENT AGAINST CRITICAL RACE THEORY TEACHING IN SCHOOL: So, schools should absolutely be teaching reading, writing, arithmetic. They should not be radicalizing our kids. And unfortunately, schools are now radicalizing our kids.

And this is the volume of the book from "Critical Race Theory" that, as you -- people say, teach in law schools. But unfortunately, it is now trickling down into little books for children, like "Woke Baby"; "Gender Queer," which is the book that actually inspired this mom to speak in the school board meeting in Fairfax County, to which Terry McAuliffe responded. In it, there is, unfortunately, very graphic symbols of pedophilia and pornography.

This book --

KEILAR: Can I ask you, though, why do you draw a line from one to the other? Because I have gone through "Critical Race Theory." I don't know that there's a direct line. Why do you think that there is?

NOMANI: So, just look at this idea that is in "Not My Idea." And it literally says here "Whiteness is a bad deal" and it has a symbol of Satan. And this is the contract that they say whiteness brings and children are getting this book. And so, there is a direct correlation from these ideas to these dangerous principles.

And I fit into the intersectional world. I'm a Muslim, I'm an immigrant, I'm a mom of color, I am a single mom. But yet, I deny all of these privileges in the new paradigm of the oppression matrix because we're all human beings. And that's what we need to teach our children.

Of course, race is an important issue. Our racial history is important. But right now, critical race theory is bringing into our schools racism, bigotry, and separation -- affinity circles, segregation. It's not OK and it's not healthy for our kids.

KEILAR: Kazique, what do you say to that?

KAZIQUE PRINCE, TEXAS PARENT IN FAVOR OF CRITICAL RACE THEORY TEACHING IN SCHOOL: What I say is that one of the big problems we have today -- and we've learned this during the pandemic situation that we're in today that we have too many people who know little or nothing about education trying to tell professional who are in this industry who have been working hard. If anything, we've learned that their jobs are much harder than we think they are. And we're coming in as weekend warriors trying to tell them about what education should look like.

And what I would say is that I think we need to put a little bit more trust in our educators. We need to put a little more trust in people who have actually researched this issue and who actually are better informed because they've actually spent the time and energy necessary to really understand some of the nuances that are being kind of just blown over here in this conversation.

And I think what's important to really be aware of is that having this conversation on race and racism is what this is really about. And what you oftentimes hear on the other side is this unwillingness to really call things out.

What they used to say in the Black churches -- you know, shame the devil and tell the truth. The truth is racism is real. It's having a real impact on our children. It's having an impact on the quality of life that people are experiencing.

And where else is a better place to have the conversation around race and racism but in the classroom, to make sure that they are -- have -- they're critical thinkers of their problem-solving, they're innovators -- so they're prepared for the world of work. So they can go out there and make a real difference in the world.

And if, basically, the response is well, let's not have this conversation so we can keep them silent and quiet and not able, and really make no real change in society.

NOMANI: Well, what's so ironic is that it is parents that they are trying to silence. I am wearing this shirt that says "I'm a mom, not a domestic terrorist" because the National School Board Association and now, the Justice Department have started a war on parents to silence us.

And, of course, I respect educators. I came to this country not knowing a word of English and it was teachers in West Virginia that allowed me to become a journalist. And this is what we're investigating, is that this is literally a poster that a parent sent to us of a picture. And I blanked out the "F" word, but it says "F --


KEILAR: From where?

NOMANI: From Los Angeles Unified School Districts. It's called --

KEILAR: That you say -- that you say was displayed.

NOMANI: It was displayed, and the school district acknowledged it. Being a journalist, we checked.


NOMANI: We have this organization -- so, Parents Defending Education -- and we get pics.

KEILAR: Asra, let me -- let me ask you about this because I think --


KEILAR: -- Kazique -- and I'm curious what you think about this. There are -- there are some books, there are some pictures that certainly are things that should be discussed and debated. And clearly, parents have -- you know, they have a stake in whether some of these things are read or said.

But I wonder if you see this as fully representative of the discussion of race. Like, are you arguing that all of these things should be included, or are you saying that this sort of blanket argument against critical race theory is actually an effort to avoid discussing racism?

PRINCE: Yes, it's a -- it's an effort and it's oftentimes hidden behind the rhetoric. I mean, just the language that I'm hearing used here doesn't really speak to the level of sophistication that I think is necessary to help our young people be prepared for the world of work -- for the society that they're going to be living in. As someone who worked in universities, we had too many students who were coming to the university who had little or no experience of knowing how to navigate the conversations and relationships that were related to race. And so, oftentimes they were ill-prepared.

And so, I'm now saying every piece of material that's out there is appropriate and useful, but that's what parents -- I think having their involvement is so critical. This doesn't mean that we have no involvement from parents. As a parent myself, I was definitely involved in my children's education, not just at school but also at home.

And so, I think it's really important to really -- not to really kind of lowball this conversation and really make it oversimplified. This is actually pretty nuanced. And so, I think parents have the means of becoming more informed to kind of be aware of what's available out there for them so they can make really good decisions. But I don't think that means we need to abuse and really speak down to educators as if they are not prepared or have the information that's necessary.

And on occasion, I think there's times where we should be saying you know what, I'm not sure about this. I have questions. But that's what this whole conversation about being critical is about. It's about having the means of having an intelligent, meaningful conversation about this instead of just kind of throwing it all out and thinking oh well, this -- it's just -- it's not an appropriate way to dealing with some of these challenges.

KEILAR: Well look, I know that we have only scratched the surface of this topic. There is so much more. And when we're talking about our children, obviously, this is something that we're all very invested in.

But I thank both of you for having a discussion.


KEILAR: A civil discussion that needs to continue. Asra Nomani and Kazique Prince, thank you.

NOMANI: Thank you so much.

PRINCE: Thank you.

NOMANI: Have courage, everyone.

PRINCE: Thank you.

KEILAR: Up next, the new Superman has a boyfriend. We're going to speak with a comic book writer about the decision that is sparking all types of reactions.

BERMAN: And the standoff escalates over the January sixth subpoenas. Will the committee let Steve Bannon and others get away with not showing up? Congressman Adam Schiff will tell us that latest, next.



BERMAN: A national coming out day. DC Comics announced that Superman, Jonathan Kent, will be bisexual. Kent, the child of Clark Kent and Lois Lane, will explore his identity and other social issues in the new comic "Son of Kal-El."

Joining me now is Tom Taylor, the comic book writer behind it all and a "New York Times" bestselling author. Tom, it's great to meet you. I'm a little bit of a comic book junkie, so I appreciate you joining us.

Tell us about Superman and his friend Jay Nakamura. What's their relationship like?

TOM TAYLOR, SUPERMAN COMIC BOOK WRITER (via Webex by Cisco): Sure. Well, their relationship, if you've seen the pictures today, is obviously a close one. But this Superman is not Clark Kent -- I do want to make that clear from the get-go. This is Jon Kent, who is actually the son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane.

BERMAN: Why? Why did you make this decision?

TAYLOR: Why did I make this decision? Well, when I was offered the gig to have a new Superman and a new Superman number-one for DC Comics, that's a very big thing. And I think the first question I had to ask myself was what does Superman -- what should Superman represent today -- a new Superman? If you're going to make a new Superman, what should that look like?

And it struck me as it would be a real opportunity lost if we had another -- if we had Clark Kent replaced by another straight white savior. So, here was an opportunity to create a Superman who could represent a whole new group of people. And I think that was one that we had to leave them.

BERMAN: And will be addressing modern-day issues like?

TAYLOR: Like the climate crisis, like refugees. Jon, in the last issue, has just been arrested attending a protest trying to stop the refoulement of asylum seekers. He does 45 minutes of hard time; is how he puts it. But as a -- as a stand, it's a very powerful thing.

And, yes. So, this is one of the things for him. He is trying to work out who he is. Who he is as Superman, who he is as Jon Kent. And so, us, as the writer and everybody at DC Comics is watching him go through this process of finding himself and seeing that on the page.

BERMAN: What do you say to people who say Superman should just be fighting robots, shooting lasers, and Lex Luthor in the Legion of Doom, not dealing with this kind of staff?

TAYLOR: Well, what I'd say to those people is that he is going to be -- I promise he will punch a robot. That's just a guarantee. He will come up against Lex Luthor in our upcoming annual.