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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  November 13, 2010 11:00pm-12:00am EST

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and i believe that you're burning down your community in the same way. you're looking at women, and you're looking at fellow blacks, and you're denigrating them and calling them all these names -- >> host: but within our community, ron. we live there. we had landlords and merchants. there was not our community, we couldn't get by in. we just lived there in a ghetto. and where are you going to go? the police and gestapos would be there to keep us from leaving our communities. >> guest: well, i absolutely disagree with you on that. if my late grandfather in trenton, new jersey, in one of the most impoverished sections of town was able to instill in his sons, my father and my uncles, that these are the norms and this is the way, this is the key, this is the path forward, then our parents can do that now. they were impoverished, they were in an urban area, they didn't have any hope if you looked at it on the surface. but it was that infusion of you do not let other people tell you what you can and can't do, and
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you will make it out of here. and my grandfather, god bless his soul, instilled that in my brother and i. i can assure you neither he nor my mother's parents who are still living, they wouldn't let us accept failure as an option. >> host: you were blessed in that. >> guest: so very blessed. >> host: in this conversation we've talked about your personal stories, we've talked about capitol hill and the white house. we haven't talked about that other branch of government where clarence thomas resides. he's been called a lot of things, and one of them is acting white. have you ever had a discussion with him about this subject of acting white? >> guest: i have, and i can actually thank c-span for the opportunity to have engaged with him in a conversation. there used to be a time when i was working on capitol hill that washington journal brought young capitol hill staffers in on saturday mornings, and i think it was the cut-off age was 32. they'd have a republican staffer and a democrat staffer, and
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you'd duke it out and talk about issues in the most respectful way possible. and ginny thomas, his wife, was working for dick armey. she had said the justice was a big fan of c-span and he had known who i was, and i said, oh, i think he's great. she said, why don't you write him a letter? i said, okay. so i wrote him a letter and be told him i admired his courage and the career path he had taken to be, ultimately, appointed to the supreme court. and i said it would be an honor to meet you. and i gave the letter to ginny, and nothing happened, and days went by. all of a sudden i got a call from dorothy in his office and said the justice wants to know if you're free in the next few minutes if you want to pop over. and i flew out of the longworth building, and i went over and spent probably four hours in the justice's chambers. and if you haven't read the book, you need to read "my grandfather's son," because it traces his life from the time he's born up until he's about to be sworn into the bench on the supreme court. and the stories that he had told
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me were heart wreaking -- heartbreaking, but they gave me inspiration that i was on the right track of trying to change people's mindset. he gave a specific story of when he was in school and he had won a latin prize, and he was awarded a statue. and he was so very proud of this statue, and then he had said that when he'd returned back that someone had taken the statue and had thrown it on the ground and smashed it, and it broken right off at the neck, and that he had glued that statue back, and he kept it with him as a prized possession. and there it is sitting in the his chambers right there as a model of inspiration. and i just looked at him, and i looked at the racial slurs, the uncle tom, the sellout, all the terrible pejoratives that he had been given, and i had told him even then when i was fairly young on capitol hill of some of the phone calls i'd received and some of the threatening mail i'd received while on capitol hill. and he had given me the inspiration to say, those are
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people who are threatened and scared, and you just keep going and don't pay them any mind. and that was a great source of energy for me. >> host: do you feel that his black detractors are threatened by him? >> guest: of course they are. >> host: why? >> guest: well, i look at one specific example that i cite in the book by a congressman from new york state. and with the passage of thurgood marshall, he had called on president bush to appoint another african-american to the black seat. and i thought, well, that's an interesting thing that we have black and white seats, but i'll let that go. and when president george h.w. bush had nominated then-judge thomas, his tone entirely changed, major owens' did, and essentially accused justice thomas of being a benedict arnold, and, well, he doesn't represent us and our communities. wait, our communities? he is as black as you get. he's from pinpoint, georgia. he came from abject poverty. he helped put himself through school. if that's not the elevation of someone from abject poverty to
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the fulfillment of the american dream by being a judge and ultimately a justice on the supreme court -- >> host: i don't think people have a problem with his ascension or his success. i think we have a problem with the way he votes on issues in our interest. >> guest: but, see, i would challenge you and say what is in our interest? why is it that if a judge and a jurist is interpreting the constitution of the united states in a race-neutral manner that spow somehow they're supposed to interpret ways for black people? you don't see people saying justice scalia should interpret the -- >> host: well, italian-americans don't have the same history that black americans -- >> guest: again, being a student of history as justice thomas is and reading his opinions, i find that they are some of the best -- i mean, i'm also a recovering lawyer -- they are some of the best written opinions based in history. and if you look at his affirmative action cases and some of his opinions from there, people made assumptions about him, they made assumptions about me, and that's why i've written "acting white," that people make
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certain assumptions of people of color acting or dressing a certain way that when you look behind the substance, you find there is substance. and you look bewind what is perceived to be a tilt towards people based on ideology or the color of their skin. you find it's based on law or fact, and that's what we need to move towards. >> host: there's one thing i can agree with juan williams on and that is this is a must read. "acting white: the racial slur, the curious history of a racial slur." this has been enlightening, disturbing, yet hopeful. i've enjoyed it very much. >> guest: i've enjoyed it as well. thank you so much. >> host: thank you, ron. >> guest: thank you. >> houshang assadty who shared a april cell with current supreme leader eye tole ya ca maney talks about his years of imprisonment and torture following the iranian revolution. he spoke at barns and noble --
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barnes & noble booksellers. >> good evening, everyone, and thank you for coming. this is part of our barnes & noble and amnesty international lecture series, and i have the great honor right now of reading just a few passages from "letters to my torturer, "by the main speaker, houshang asadi. this is his story. it's chapter 15, woof woof, i am a spy. my little dog is yapping, licking my feet. he wants me to take him out. his name is sonny. he's my little boy, kind and loyal. he has no idea that under the pressure of the whip i, too, become a dog. he is the opposite of my broken, wounded and devastated self, but all this has nothing to do with my beautiful dog. he has no idea that once before i had to bark before i was allowed to speak. on this stormny parisian
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morning, i am writing my 15th letter to you and to history, and i am forced to return to the most bitter days of my life. there is a time when my battered body was shaking on the torture bed and my soul was running away to avoid surrendering to the devil. 12:18, march, 1983. you have left, and i am twisting and turning on the blanket. my shoulder blades want to break away from my body. i want to find some calm, to sleep for a few minutes, but it's not possible. i sit up with difficulty. i lean my head against the wall. the tooth ache has returned. i press my hand against the wall and stand up. i walk on my feet with difficulty. i get tired quickly and struggle to sit down. i am all yours. you might come back at any moment. first we'll show you your wife in her coffin. she's like my own sister, she's looking very pretty.
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by the way, would you like to see your wife on the night of eid? my wife's image appears. then i see the row of coffins. i read the names one by one. i know all of them. i've worked with all of them. like me, they wanted to help iran reach a better tomorrow. now they are sleeping inside their coffins. back then i had not read or heard anything about the coffin torture. only later would i hear the full story. the door of repentance is always open. repentance, repentance. how remote and hateful a word. repentance, life, revolution. the words repeat inside my brain and become one. i stretch out, i hold my head which is feeling hot between my hands. i try to get your words out of my head. brother hamid, i hear the voice of the woman prisoner. dear brother, please let me take these to my cell. she wanted to take two small tree branches into her cell.
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yes, life's beautiful. we were walking along a dark tunnel. there was no light. i could hear the voice of my wife calling me from a disbs, and i -- distance, and i opened my eyes. i am in if my cell, cell number 15. the cries of a woman reach me from the room below. our aim is to save you. if i were you, i'd save myself, mr. asadi. the door of repentance is open to everyone in islam. i sit down, a faint light is appearing at the end of this dark tunnel. it's going to end. they are not going to hang me. they are not going to bring me in my wife. they're going to believe me. they're going to believe that i have written everything i know. there is only one thing i haven't written about. i'm going to write about that too. even though i was only a witness, nothing more. the whip descends. so now i'm going to actually introduce the writer of those very impassioned words, houshang asadi. he's a journalist, writer and translator and was member of
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both the writers' association of iran and the iranian journalists' syndicate. prior to the islamic revolution, he served as deputy editor at iran's largest daily newspaper and also was editor-in-chief of the country's largest circulation magazine. in 1983 following the iranian government's crackdown on all opposition parties, mr. asadi was sent to the infamous prison in tehran where he was kept in solitary confinement for almost two years and was severely tortured until he falsely confessed to operating as a spy for the british and russian intelligence agencies. he was sentenced to death by hanging but was freed after serving 60 years of his sentence. mr. asadi joins us this evening to discuss his book about his experiences, "letters to my torturer: love, revolution and imprisonment in iran." michael henderson, author of "no enemy to conquer: forgiveness in an unforgiving world," has
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called the book a testament to survival against all odds. so won't you please join me in welcoming houshang asadi. [applause] >> good evening and thanks a lot for coming. i am so happy for just this moment, one of most iranian directer. he was in prison too. and have a bad experience like me. my name is houshang asadi, and i now live in exile in paris. and first i ask you accept my apologize for my bad english
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because it's for a long time i live in exile, in paris, i have to live in paris, and i've lost a lot of practice my english. i live in exile in paris where i wrote a book about my experience in my homeland, iran. called "letters to my torturer." i was in prison in iran from 1983 to 1989 and was forced to leave iran in 2004. the summit of my book -- subject of my book is very painful. is very painful especially for the young people who have never been in prison. it is about what goes on behind prison walls in iran, but it's also about what goes on in be iran in general.
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it's my perm account -- personal account, but my experience during this six years i spent behind bars is not very different from the thousands of others are treated in iranian prison today. today our treatment is even worse. i was forced to make a false confession that i was an agent for the soviet union and the british intelligence service. today the torturers call the young prisoners prostitutes and sexual perverts. in additionin addition today's s are routinely raped with no recourse to justice. it's not an empty charge, it has been well documented by
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eyewitnesses. please don't think that iran is about torture. such practice are exercised by a group that has imposed itself on iran since 1979. iran is the 18th largest country in the world stretching from the caspian sea in the north to the persian gulf in the south and bordered by nine countries including russia, iraq, pakistan and turkey. iran is home to one of the world's oldest continuous civilization famous for its philosophy and achievement in medicine, astronomy and mathematics. it also boasts a rich literary heritage.
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with world famous poets such as -- [inaudible] today on display at the united nations. cyrus the great wrote a charter 500 years ago in deference to basic human dignity. people are curious about life in prison, especially in the islamic republic of iran where the rulers do everything in the name of god and the religion.
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in 1988 as the maaing of political prisoner was underway under direct orders of ayatollah khomeini, i was on the verge of being executed. i lied in the court and safed myself. saved myself. perhaps so that many years later one day i could stand in front of you to describe the tragic holocaust of islamic republic of iran. what i have tried to do is not simply record the past. today as i speech with you, my torturers who have not attained full political power of iran
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have started a new era of torture. for those of you who have not read my book, i would like to summarize its contents under three general headings. love, power and torture. love. the underlying tone of my book is love. love for free tom, love -- freedom, love for human beings and love for my wife. this loves intermingle into my love for my country. this love form shield against torture.
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my wife, my wife braves patience during my years in prison, is ever present in my story. it gave me strength at that time and continues to give me hope. as i was tortured in prison, she was tortured outside in, outside it. our common crime was love, a love for our country and for each other. that love gave hope and created life in hell inside and outside the prison. after two and a half years in solitary confinement during which we were denied any form of communication, i was finally allowed to write a six-line letter to my wife and receive an an of equal length every month.
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my wife published these letters in exile which were censored as they traveled from prison to home and back. the name of book is "love and hope." power. the book also talks of power. i take the readers back to over 30 years to my first imprisonment in the 1973. 1974. and my tiny prison cell. which are shared for many months with a young muslim priest. a friendship developed between us. the priest was kind, and his face boyish with a smile. he was familiar with the church that i love. when i left this prisoner that had been tortured was brought
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into our prison cell, the priest fed him his own hand using his bare hands after saying his prayers. today people know that priest as ayatollah khomeini who rules iran as a dictator. that very hands that fed a leftist prisoner at that time today sign orders for the execution and torture of thousands of young muslims. my book also talks of other political figures, but ayatollah khomeini is most interesting. torture. when i was arrested once again in many 1983 -- in 1983, ayatollah khomeini had just
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become the president of iran. in prison they by chance took me to the very small cell where i had been locked up with mr. khomeini before. i remember it was winter when i had been transferred out of that cell in 974 -- 1974. on that day mr. khomeini who was very thin was shivering. i gave him my jacket. and with tears in his eyes, he told me, houshang, under the islamic government not a single tear will be shed by the innocent. houshang, under islamic -- excuse me.
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excuse me. he told me, houshang, under the islamic government not a single tear will be shed by the innocent, but, in fact, in the new islamic republic i had just been put in prison by the regime. my crime was that i worked at a newspaper belonging to a leftist political party that supported the islamic republic of iran. and in regime in which no tear was supposed to be shed, i learned of ideological torture. i have described this torture in my book, and it is very clear that its purple was to break
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the -- purpose was to break the person utterly. today almost 30 years since my imprisonment, my foot is still bare from the whipping. when i received my first slap on the face one midnight in 1983 blind folded and be completely confused, i was told that it was the first article of the islamic republican constitution. a hand also showed me handgun to represent the final article of the constitution. that was a big -- [inaudible] the next day i experienced my first flogging, and that was just the beginning.
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life repeatedly takes me back to those horrifying days. i was young, like most of you, and in love with freedom. i loved my country and the -- [inaudible] i dreamed that the world could be changed. i believed that one day love would be the ruler of the life. i took part in the iranian revolution with this dream and the hope that freedom would be one day provided. that bread would be available for all and -- [inaudible] would only be found in the museum.
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but i suddenly found myself in hell. for three months the only other person in my physical life was a person called torturer. his ideology of hate arose from his religious beliefs, and his instruments were the whip and handcuff. i was always blindfolded and defenseless like a deer, completely at the mercy of a brother. in the islamic republic of iran, brother is the general title of all believers. and all torturers were brothers. all of whom used nicknames. my life was in the hands of such, one such brothers whom everyone called hamid. anything i wanted or needed to
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do could only be done with his express permission. this included eating, sleeping and receiving medicine. etc. i could not even go to the restroom without his okay. he saw himself as the exclusive ruler of all lives and as a defender of holy regime. he viewed me as a traitor, a spy and immoral. he was the image of god while i was satan. i had to confess to whatever he dreamed up. i lost consciousness under his torture. i spent nights and days hanging from the ceiling with one arm twisted at my back.
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i was forbidden to sleep and even forced, and even forced to eat my own feces. and so i confessed. i had been turned from an idealistic young man to the most hateful person at the hands of brother hamid. i had barked like a dog. i had to spend 682 days in solitary confinement. and then, and then made confessions but would be used against me in my six minutes in court. make no mistake, please, the system of torture continues
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today. since the -- [inaudible] of 2009 torture of iran has entered a new phase which i call monitorture. monitorture. the rape of women and even of men has been added to the technical, inhuman torture practices. when that's i was released from prison -- when at last i was released from prison after six years, i didn't know that my torturer, hamid, had been rewarded with the position of ambassador of the islamic regime in kaszikstan. but i noticed that iran had been turned into a huge prison. also i had been released from prison, security agent routinely summoned me and my wife to
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officers and subjected us to detailed questioning over the most private aspects of our lives. i always thought if george orwell had been alive, he would have revised his animal farm story and would have written a new book called the republic of mobs. ..
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>> either get out or we will take care of you. it is this who last year used the most savage torture to destroy iran's new progressive movements. 30 years ago when brother hamid and his colleagues were torturing us to force us to say that we are agent of soviet union, they did it secretly. it took years for all of our voices to hear outside of the prison. today, they torture young girls and boys using the modern torture called for forced them to say they are agent of u.s. and israel. fortunately, every thing comes to light more quickly now. and the whole war here is what is going on.
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unfortunately, torture is not limited to iran. if we look about carefully, we will see which themes of torture all over. in view of everything that's going on in iran and elsewhere, my book "letters to my torturer" is more than just the memoir of a torture victim. it deals with issues that rest heavily on the consciousness of modern man. and, of course, it is surprising that in the modern century, people are still struggling with the issue of torture.
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i think that's enough. let me thank all of you. please ask any question. [applause] [applause] >> as you can see, this is being filmed for c-span. there's a gentleman with a boom mike. wait for him to come to you what you raise your hand. this gentleman is going to be some translating. raise your hand if you want to hear the question, and the gentleman will introduce you. >> in all of your prisonment, did you have any legal representation every at any time?
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[translating speaking] [speaking iranian] >> it's a joke. there's no accept concept. they don't believe in such concept. >> another question? >> so you were in courts? and if the defense lawyer is a joke, is it all for show? >> sorry, can you repeat the question? >> if there is no defense lawyer, why do they have courts? [translator speaking]
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>> speaking native tongue] >> they have courts in the islamic republic. it's more a show. it has no reality. i would like to give you an example. [speaking native tongue] >> i had a cell mate. [speaking native tongue] >> he was taken to his trial in front of the judge. and he came back ten minutes later. i said to him, where have you been? he said i've just been to my trial. took ten minutes. [speaking native tongue] > translator: i asked him what the child was like. he went in, young muslim priest.
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i took my blindfold off. [speaking native tongue] >> translator: he said to me what is your name? i same hamad safon. it's kind of an s or the other kind of an s? [speaking native tongue] >> translator: he said it's just the second s. in that case, get lost. 15 years. >> it was the court. >> if you are released from prison in 1989, how come it took 15 years for you to be exiled from iran? [translator speaking] [speaking native tongue]
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>> translator: as a generalist, i had decided that i wouldn't leave my country under some force. so i was trying to stay until the situation arose that forced me to leave. [speaking native tongue] >> translator: i honestly tried to arrest me again. [speaking native tongue] [speaking native tongue]
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>> translator: they would routinely ask us for questions, my wife and myself to go in for questioning. after a few years, they started the movie, kind of magazine dealing with movie reviews, film reviews, and they want to close that down as well. [speaking native tongue] >> translator: then eventually they came and told us and a group of other generalist that you are strangers here. you better go away or you will get in trouble. [speaking native tongue] > translator: we felt there was sufficient reason to be anxious about another arrest. we decided to leave fairly quickly. >> were you able to write letters to your wife while you were in the prison? [translator speaking]
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[speaking native tongue] >> translator: not for the first two and a half years. after that, they allowed us six lines every month. there was a piece of paper with a line in the middle. i could write six lines and she could respond six lines. which was i think as you mentioned before, these were censored correspondence between them. >> thank you so much for sharing your story. do you have any hope for the iranian people? what do you think will happen in the next 10 or 20 years in iran?
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[speaking native tongue] [speaking native tongue] >> translator: i'm a generalist. not a prophet. but i am positive about the future of iran. and in view of the role taken by woman and the youth in the recent uprising, i feel very positive that good things will come out. but to estimate a time scale would be very difficult.
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>> where there ever doctors or medical personnel at your torture? was this medically assisted? or was it just soldiers or prisoners? [translator speaking] [speaking native tongue]
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>> translator: there was one guard that he experienced, there was one revolutionary guard who had to sit basic medical training. and when they were with him, the prisoners feet, sole of their feet, after a while, they would lose all sensation because it would be so injured they couldn't feel anything. this guy would come and put something to restore some feeling back to the feet so that they would continue the beating. i think there were other examples in the book. >> two or three more questions. raise your hands. >> after everything that you've been through how do you find the strength to go on? >> how do you find the strength?
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[speaking native tongue] >> translator: because of my wife. >> two part question. first bit, when you are exiled, were you strategically placed in paris or did you choose that on your own? and the second part is, do you ever feel you will be able to return to your country some day and be able to not live in fear? [translator speaking] >>[speaking native tongue] >> translator: when we felt
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under threat of arrest, we had a visa from france. and so under eu regulation, if the country is letting you go there, you are obliged to go there basically. that's why they went to france. [speaking native tongue] >> translator: this is naturally my greatest wish to return to iran any minute that it becomes possible. >> we have two more questions. i'm going to let you decide. >> okay. okay. please. yes. >> it's been very difficult to read your book. i wanted to thank you so much for writing it. [translator speaking] >> thank you very much. i know it's very full and very difficult. thank you for read it. thank you.
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>> so what, if anything -- what type of international effort has been done to address the lack of human rights in iran? [translator speaking] [speaking native tongue] [speaking native tongue] >> translator: european countries and the united states
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have taken specific measures since last year's uprising to address the human rights situation in iran. and which is great. but iranians, many iranians, i think houshang being one of them, he thinks it's a mistake to think the nuclear issue is the most important issues in the negotiations between the united states and iran. that human rights should have a much higher priority in those discussions. >> one more question. >> do you think your life is in
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more danger from publishing? [translator speaking] [speaking native tongue] >> translator: for the last 100 years, the lives of many iranian intellectuals and writers have been in danger. even in there room, there's another gentleman here who is a highly accomplished film director who's life is also equally at risk. this is the nature of being iranian, i think.
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>> will you sign books? >> of course. >> thank you so much. [applause] [applause] >> for more on houshang asadi and his work, visit >> every weekend, 48 hours of history, biography, and public affairs. here's a portion of one of our programs. >> in addition to a questionnaire that covered a wide variety of background items, the afghan members were asked to imagine the nation's history from 1966 to the end of the century. in other words, the year 2000. so they were looking ahead for 34 years and imagining what they
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perceived or what they were viewing as what would happen to our country for the remainder of the century. and the graduate student who was doing this study, richard bromgart was surprised as the brief of members that a continued drift to the welfare state and socialism and moral decay would be reversed in the near future by an awakeness of the american people resulting in moving the train of events back to common sense. he also surveyed members of students for a democratic society which was the leading new left or leftest organization on campuses of the 60s. and the young democrats and the college republicans. and a report on his results in an article that he co-wrote and
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was published in an academic journal. it's interesting to view some of the projections of the yaf members in 1966. one yaf member predicted a new movement towards freedom and conservative principals. remember, he's writing in 1966. he's what he said. the united states led by hypocritical and unprincipalled leaders becomes very bureaucratic and increasingly socialistic. the united states generally loses the battles in foreign affairs because it does not present it's philosophy of free enterprise, libertarian beliefs, et cetera, as well as it should. sounds almost familiar to the current day, doesn't it? finally, as he predicted in the 1960s -- excuse me in the 1980s or thereabouts, the
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american people realize that economic security is not necessarily freedom. they realize their freedoms are being abridged. they realize the economy is becoming too regimented and the government too bureaucratic. the people will then change the trend of events back to common sense, conservative principals of government. remember, his prediction was 1980. if you recall from history, 1980, as it turned out, was indeed the year in which the american people voted for a conservative president. ronald reagan. who did -- [applause] [applause] >> who did indeed change the trend of events back to the common principals of government. he got sited about yafer as
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predicting the following events in the near future from 1966 to 2000. his predictions were as follows. 1968, republican victory. 1972 reagan elected president. 1976 reagan re-elected. 1976 fall of soviet union and red china. 1985 end of welfare, social security, and medicare. 2000, end of unions. now as him and his co-author noted compared with the counterparts on the left, yafers seemed to have a mountain of naive faith. well, let's look back nearly 45 years later. we can see the naive faith seems to have been rather accurate in it's prediction of future events. change a few of the dates, modify a few of the conclusions
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and the yaf members who were then only high school and college students have laid out the political history of the last 1/3 of the 20th century. because consider nixon's victory in 1968 brought a realignment of american politics as well as admittedly, the disgrace of watergate, impeachment, and resignation. reagan's victory came eight years after the yafer had predicted. but was indeed followed by a landslide re-election. it took nine more years for the berlin wall to follow, closely by the demise of the soviet union. then in his 1996 state of the union message, a new democratic president promised to quote, end welfare as we know it. and the performs of our welfare
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system were enacted a short while later when republicans gained the majority in congress in 1994. two years after that original state of the union message, that same president declared quote, the error of big government is over in his state of the union message. >> to watch this program in it's entirety, go to simply type the title or the authors name at the top left of the screen and click search. >> in an idea world, the fact that there are people authoritying the mortgage would have sent the signals, wow, there has to be smart investors. the market was opaque you couldn't see it the way you can see it in the stock market. you were not bidding on real mortgages, but the casino
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version of a mortgage. >> in 2002 bethany wrote about enron. this week, the current financial crisis and the economy in "all the devils are here" sunday night at 8 eastern on c-span's q & a. >> richard rhodes, winner of the pulitzer prison in "twilight of the bombs" richard rhodes realistically speaking is there a prospect for no nuclear weapons on the planet? >> i think so. it cost us $50 billion a year. president obama has aknowned it's official u.s. policy that we move towards zero. it's a matter of working out some of the security relationships standing in the way. >> with regard to working out the relationships, will we be able to come to an agreement with countries like north korea and iran who seem to be on the
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path to making their own nuclear weapons. >> they do. partly because that's the only way they feel they can defend themselves against the major nuclear powers like the united states. but each of them has security needs. if we can find a way to satisfy those, north korea would like to be an ally of the united states. they have been saying that for 40 years. they'd like to build them power plants to replace the electric we destroyed in the korean war. >> you talk the secret program under saddam hussein. how did the story of the bomb program grow? even if they didn't or we haven't found any so senator >> you -- so far? >> you know, we went into the first gulf war arguing they did have a bomb program. but afterwards when inspectors from the united nations and the international atomic energy agency went in, they found a huge effort to enrich uranium to
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make material for a bomb. they cleaned all of that out and so did the iraqis. they were tired of having our people walking around. they blew up the stuff but didn't keep records. when they wanted to get rid of saddam, there wasn't any proof. but the fact is it was fully cleaned up by 1998. >> speaking of cleaning up, you talk also in the book you talk about the scramble of what was left over for the soviet nuclear arsenal. talk to us about that. >> it wasn't the arsenal, los alamos director said to me, they serial numbers. it was the uranium and plutonium. it was the prison camp. there was no way to get the
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stuff us. when the walls game down, we went in and spent lot of money and heavenned them -- helped them begin to put the materials under lock and key. we estimate about 60% are now carefully guarded and accounted for. so the job still remains to be finished. we made a good start. >> earlier today you had a presentation at the national book festival. tell us about that. during the question and answer period, who was most foremost on the minds of the people that were asking you questions there? >> i really went through my new book "twilight of the bombs" and talked about some of the serious issues, but also some of the amazing kind of cops and robbers stories that came out of inspecting iraq after the first gulf war. but ultimately, what i talked about was the very serious question of can we get rid of nuclear weapons. i think the questions, there was the usual question today what
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about iran? as if a country that has yet figured out how to build a bomb is as much a threat to the world like a major power. like the united states who has at least 1200, 2,000, maybe 5,000 jobs still in the arsenal. we tend to think we're the good guys. that makes it okay. it's a basic imbalance in the world that we maintain large nuclear arsenals but say other countries can't. that was the kind of issue that i discussed in talking about how we get to zero. >> the book "the twilight of the bombs: recent challenges, new dangers, and the prospects for a world without nuclear weapons." it's author richard rhodes. :


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