you can, in fact, more or less own your own home, but you can't get a mortgage on it. but you can't really inherit it. but you can't really use it as a deposit on something else. so we have this absurd situation whereby on the one hand we have laws that are not applicable, and in ingenious ways to get around to because reality demands that we get around them. ..
tonight is a very special event for us. our guest are not only be talking about his new book, "woodie guthrie: american radical." he will be giving you an audiovisual presentation that will show the life and sons of his subject and has performing some of the songs in the guthrie canon. most of us know of woodie guthrie's an american unofficial's ancorrect me, this land is your land and many know the depth of his social justice. our book takes a fresh look at the iconic guthrie and the context in which he struggled both personally and on a wide letter stage. tonight's author is a professor of american literature and culture at the university of central lancaster in england.
♪ ♪ it's muddy hard row ♪ that my poor hands have hold ♪ ♪ my poor feet have traveled a hot and trusty road ♪ ♪ out of your dust bowl and west roads we row ♪ ♪ and your deserts were hot and your mountains was cold ♪ ♪ i've worked in your on your peaches and fruit ♪ ♪ i've worked on the ground in the light of your moon ♪
♪ at the edge of your city, see us in ten ♪ ♪ we come with the dust and we go with the wind ♪ ♪ ♪ california, arizona, i worked all your crops ♪ ♪ and then it's north up to oregon to gather your huts ♪ ♪ dig the beach from your ground ♪ ♪ cup the grapes on your vines ♪ ♪ has a place at your table with life's sparkling wine ♪ ♪ green pastures of plenty from dry desert ground ♪ ♪ from the grand cooley dam where the waters run down ♪ ♪ every state in this union us migrants have been ♪ ♪ and we'll work in the fight and fight until we win ♪
♪ it's always we ramble this river and die ♪ ♪ all the long your green valley i will work until i die ♪ ♪ and this land i'll defend with my life if it be ♪ ♪ 'cause my pastures of plenty must always be free ♪ ♪ [applause] >> thank you. thank you, "woodie guthrie:american radical quoted was born on bastille day in a place called okemah, oklahoma, he said it was one of the
singest square danciest, yellingiest walkingiest talkingiest laughingiest, bleedingiest, gamblingiest fist identifieserst and gun carrying razor carryiest of our ranch towns. they discovered oil in okemah in 1920 when woodie was about 8 years old and so he saw the population overnight from 2,000 to 10,000. one day it was a asleep southern hamlet and the next he woke up and everybody was there and it was filled with these roughneck oil boomers or boom chasers who were making their fortunes hand over fist till 1928. when the oil ran out and okemah went from boom and bust. very quickly it was dead as an oil town so hundreds of these oil boomers roamed the countryside destitute. okemah and her children became
the microcosm of her fate in towns and communities across the southern plains the following year when the depression kicked in. in 1929, after a series of some pretty incredible family tragedies, the burning down of their family home, the burning have to death of his sister in another house fire. the near fatal burning of his father and a third fire and the incars nation of his mother. who he wasn't mentally ill. she had huntington's disease. his father went to pampa, texas, dropped out of high school after two years and became a sign painter, married had his first two children and then they all waded through the years out in the great plains. this was the wornout topsoil over 100,000 of square miles of
ravaged farm land. in november, 1933, the dust buried the midwest, came back the following year, buried the entire midwest again and also as far east as albany and buffalo new york and the dust continued to blow for the rest of the decade. the sky would turn black and red with thousands of tons of royaling dust. people choked to death. toddlers would go out and suffocate. and the single worst day any of the dust bowlers could remember was april 14th, 1935, palm sunday. they called it black sunday and that's when winds of more than 80 miles an hour whipped the topsoil and the red clay from as far as as nebraska and dumped it already on the dark town of pampa, texas and woodie recalled when the dust cloud hit it
looked like it was chopping on the children. and baptist and pentecostals, religious fundamentalists believed there was literally the end of the world. this was god's judgment beak visited upon a wicked people and as woodie recalled we thought we was done for. thousands of us just packed up and lit out. in that year, he wrote the first of many songs about the death of his community and hundreds of others like it across the southern plains. ♪ ♪ well, i've sung this song and i'll sing it again about the place i lived on the west texas plains ♪ ♪ in the city called pamp, county called gray ♪ ♪ they'd say so long, been good to know you ♪ ♪ so long, it's been to know you ♪ ♪ so long, been good to know
you, this dusty old dust storm is getting my home ♪ ♪ and i got to be drifting along ♪ ♪ well, that dust storm hit thunder ♪ ♪ blocked out the traffic ♪ blocked out the son ♪ straight from home the city did run ♪ ♪ so long, been good to know you ♪ ♪ so long been good to know you ♪ ♪ so long been good to know you ♪ ♪ this dusty old dust storm is getting my home ♪ ♪ and i got to be drifting along ♪ ♪ now, the sweethearts they sat in the dark day ♪ ♪ they kissed and hugged in that dusty old dark ♪ ♪ they sighed and they cried and they hugged and kissed ♪ ♪ instead of marriage they was
talking like this ♪ ♪ so long, honey, so good to know you ♪ ♪ so long, been good to know you ♪ ♪ so long, been to know you ♪ this dusty old duststorm is getting my home ♪ ♪ and i got to be drifting along ♪ ♪ now, the telephone rang and it jumped off-the-wall ♪ ♪ that was the preacher making his call ♪ ♪ and he said kind friends, this may be the end, you've got your last chance salvation from sin ♪ ♪ well, the churches was jammed, churches was packed, that dusty old dust storm it blew so black ♪ ♪ that the preacher could not read a word of his text, so he folded his specs and took up a collection and said, so long, well, it's been good to know you ♪ ♪ so long, been good to know you ♪ ♪ so long been to know you
♪ this dusty dust storm is getting my home ♪ ♪ and i got to be drifting along ♪ ♪ well, that was the did you sayiest dust storm ever blowed, most everybody took the road ♪ ♪ and they lit down the highway fastest they could go and they all sang these songs as they blowed ♪ ♪ so long it's been good to know you ♪ ♪ so long, been to know you ♪ so long, been good to know you ♪ ♪ this old dusty dust storm is getting my home ♪ ♪ and i got be drifting along ♪
[applause] >> thank you. well, woodie left his wife and his children, neither for the first or the last time. and he hit the road in the summer of 1937 so he would have been about 27 years old. and somewhere out there on those choked highways leading westward alongst jalopies filed highly and there was a woman named egg necessary and she would sing in a radical folk group with woodie guthrie and pete seger called the all maknack singers. and like woodie and countless other children of the dust bowl she would become radically politicized by her migratory experience. as she recalled it, along with other hundreds of dirt farmers, we fought to survive. we battled crop failures, hunger, illness without doctors, gully washes, hail storms, the death of livestock, fires.
now, we could have endured those normal disasters but there was no way in god's world to escape the shark's teeth of the bankers. and that's what happened. and woodie remembered the further west you walk, the browner, hotter, stiller and emptier the country gets. i met the old miners, prospectors, hitchhikers and magratory squatters with their little piles of belongings in the shade of the big sign boards out across the flat, hard crust frazzlely desert. kids chasing around in the blistering sun, ladies cooking scrappy meals and scouring the plates clean with sand. the young folks in work pants, copy and whip cords, slacks, cotton dresses, they'd gather around us and they'd sing, too. but sometimes they'd just stand
real quiet and listen. and i knew what they was thinking about. well, by 1936, the year of roosevelt's first election seemed that the western american family farm had pretty well blown away with the topsoil. that's the way joe klein describes it in woodie's biography. as he says a human conconsuggestion of epic proportions was in progress. the whole country signed seemed to heaved and growed as the farms emptied and the highways filled. on the country music stations, old jimmy rogers was up there i don't goling that the california waters taste just like cherry wine and woodie and half a million migrants from the dust bowl region crawled their way westwards those legendary of slenniards of california. they were what they were doing, they were chasing a dream something woodie called the stinkiest thing that i've ever run on too. and this was the promises of unscrupulous labor contractors out in california who were aware
of the dust bowl crisis and decided to exploit it by flooding the dust bowl region with hand bills like this promising work for every idle hands, hundreds of thousands of hands needed to pick the grapes and the ape cots. they didn't need hundreds of thousands of hands they needed a couple of thousand of hands of particular periods of time you can work out the implications of wages and engineer an crisis where you have 100,000 hands chasing a couple thousand jobs what they would do these labor contractors would give you the address of someone who may give you a job out in california and you'd have to give this person 5 or 10 bucks just to get the address. not knowing whether the job was there or not so woodie was incensed by this and then following promises like this and the dream of work, arriving at the california border the migrants were stopped cold, los angeles police department panicked. they set up these highly
illegal, highly unconstitutional road blocks on the major part of the state of california and they call it the bum blockade and they got the thanks of the "los angeles times" and william randolph hearst and the chambers of commerce and this huge antimigrant block. now, before this trip to the states, i'd never been to california but can i share a secret like this. i'd seen it on a map. and i'm pretty sure los angeles is about as far west as you could get. what the l.a.p.d. setting up an illegal roadblock hundreds of miles to the east stopping other americans from coming into the state of california as though it was a foreign? where does their jurisdiction end, long island? i just don't get it. it was unconstitutional. they didn't care about it. what they were doing stopping and turning back anybody who liked like unemployable. that's the words they used. now, how could you prove that you weren't an unemployable.
you would reach into your pocket and pull out 50 bucks and if you could doe 50 bucks to the border guard you might just make it into the golden state of california where you would be sure to get a less than warm welcome anyway. so woodie take a look at that situation and he sent kind of a musical postcard to the folks back home thinking of pulling up stakes and asking out of california maybe they better think again. ♪ now lots of folks back east they say they're leaving home most day ♪ ♪ they're beating that hard old dusty way to the california line ♪ ♪ across the desert sands they were all getting out of that dust bowl, they think they're coming to a sugar bowl, here's what they found notes ♪ the police at the port of
entry say, you're number 14,000 for today ♪ ♪ and if you ain't got the dough ray me, well, i'll tell you, if you can't get that doe ray me ♪ ♪ then you better go back to beautiful texas ♪ ♪ oklahoma, kansas, georgia, tennessee. ♪ ♪ california is a garden of eden, it's a paradise to live or sea ♪ ♪ but believe it or not, you won't find it so hot ♪ ♪ if you ain't got that doe ray me ♪ ♪ now you want to buy a home farm, well, can't do nobody no harm ♪ ♪ take your vacation by the mountains or the sea ♪ ♪ but you better not swap your cow for car ♪ ♪ you better stay right where you are ♪ ♪ better take this little tip from me ♪ ♪ 'cause i look through the want
ads every day ♪ ♪ and the headlines in the papers always say ♪ ♪ hey, now, you ain't got that doe ray my ♪ ♪ if you got that doe ray mi well, then you better go back to that beautiful texas, oklahoma, kansas, georgia ♪ ♪ california is a garden of eden ♪ ♪ and it's a paradise to live in or sea ♪ ♪ but believe it or not, you won't find it so hot, if you ain't got that doe ray me ♪ ♪ [applause] >> well, woodie made it into the state of california and it was there that he encountered the first time the word "okie," and
this was a slur. it was an insult being used to describe all of the migrants from the southern plains, whether, in fact, they were from oklahoma or not. i mean, those who are in the mexico might discriminate between arkies, and okies and the formula was like this, if you were poor, white, homeless, unemployed and in california at that time you were an okie. no matter what you came from. and if you were poor, black, homeless, unemployed, in california at that time, and from oklahoma, you were weren't okie. they were the target of a really hysterical campaign of zet phoba and if you went to a movie theater you might be meant outside negroes and okies
upstairs. at least one diner is on record of having posted a sign saying no negroes, dogs, or okies served. so it's in that atmosphere that woodie began circulating around the migrant camps around 1938. and this is where he began to run into the old radicals who had a sense of the bigger picture as they saw it. and, again, as joe klein it describes it in woodie's biography, he says these old radicals around the campfire they'd mudder half coherently about the capitalists, the rich bastards and then they'd reach into their pocket and pull out a battered old red card that proved they had been members of the wildest woolliest most violent joyous and completely disorganized gang of reds ever to strike fear into the hearts of the american bourgeois, the
iww union. they've been trying real hard -- a lot of people think that the wabs were wiped out in the red care scare, we weren't wiped out we just went underground until the internet was invented. they affected woodie with their humor and cynicism and particularly the songs they sang out of their little redbook and the ones woodie would have loved mostly the 26 parodies pricely funny written by joe hill, swedish born, immigrant to the united states who became a martyr to the cause of american labor with his execution on a very dubious murder charge in the state of utah in 1915. students of american history, labor history, will be aware of the stirring telegram that he sent to his colleagues the night before his execution. he said, don't waste mourning
for me. organize. i think fewer people will be aware that he also said this in the same telegram. can you do me a favor, when this is all over can you promise that you'll get my body across the state 'cause i don't want to be caught dead in utah. [laughter] >> well, the year before his death, joe hill wrote that a pamphlet, no matter how good, is never read more than once, but a song is learned by heart and it's repeated over and over. so that's sort of the first lesson that he taught woodie guthrie from beyond the grave as it were. he said take a few commonsense facts, put it into a song and then dress them up in a coat of humor to take the dryness off of them and i think a lot of people would think of joe hill's reworking of the old salvation army hymn in the sweet by and by as a case in point. joe hill took it and turned it into what did become the anthem to american labor in the first half of the 20th the preacher and the slave. there are people who think
that's the reason why joe hill was really executed for writing that song and, you know, the preacher and the slave -- do you all know that? i'll give you a little hint heaviest ♪ long haired preachers come out every night ♪ ♪ they try tell you what's wrong and what's right ♪ ♪ but when asked how about something to eat ♪ ♪ well, they will tell you invoices so sweet ♪ ♪ you will eat by and by ♪ in that glorious land up in the sky ♪ ♪ work and pray and live on hay ♪ ♪ you'll get by in the sky when you die ♪ ♪ very influential song in
american history and on woodie guthrie. [applause] >> thank you. >> woodie got himself a job hosting and singing on a progressive radio station in los angeles. that date is wrong. it couldn't have been any earlier than 1937 but as i said he began to circulate around the migrant camps and some of these were the cosmetic show places that were set up in the government and these were great places to be. they were democratically run, self-governing. they were well provided for and clean and sanitary the only problem there wasn't nearly enough them to cope with the magnitude of the dust bowl crisis out in california. so the majority of camps that woodie would have visited were just basically slums. they called them hoovervilles, anywhere across the country hoovervilles named after the president on whose watch the depression was ushered in. and these were places where maybe you had families of, say, eight or ten getting by on $3 a week between them picking cotton
in the san joaquin valley. but back east president roosevelt had actually declared if i went to work the first thing i would do was to join a union which sounded pretty good coming from the oval office. i don't think any president had gone so far to endorse the rights of labor to organize but even with that kind of backing, the reality for the radical migrants attempting to organize in the californian fields, well, they were crushed time and time again the bosses -- the fruit crop growers, they hated unions -- correction, they hated unions formed by working people. they were really happy to form their own unions. what is a chamber of commerce but a union. what's a manufacturer's association but a union. the fruit crop agrees they had their own union they called themselves the associated farmers whose declared aim was to stamp out all un-american activity of labor. and if you're a worker forming a union you're un-american.
here's three associated farmers engaged in the un-american activity of their activity which is book-burning. they're burning john steinbeck's the "grapes of wrath" as soon as it was published in 1939 because they don't come out so good and when they weren't book-burning they were hiring local thugs and goons and giving them ax handles, baseball bats, billy clubs, maybe a little tin badge to make them feel authentic, send them out to scatter picket lines and bust up union meetings to burn down and burn out entire migrant camps and, of course, to assassinate union organizers and this is with the grateful thanks of the l.a.p.d. and the "los angeles times" and hearst and this huge antimigrant block so woodie take a look at that situation drawing partly on the "grapes of wrath," and how many have read the "grapes of wrath"
man ♪ ♪ have you seen the vigilante man ♪ ♪ i've been hearing his name all over the land ♪ ♪ lonely nights down in the engine house ♪ ♪ sleeping just as still as a mouse ♪ ♪ a man come along, chases us out in the rain ♪ ♪ is that a vigilante man ♪ and now i've traveled around from town to town ♪ ♪ traveling around from town to town ♪ ♪ they hurd us around just like
a herd of wild cattle ♪ ♪ was that the vigilante man ♪ do you know preacher casey was just a working man ♪ ♪ he said unite all of you working men ♪ ♪ so they killed him in the river, some strange man ♪ ♪ was that the vigilante man ♪ tell me why does the vigilante man ♪ ♪ why does the vigilante man ♪ carry a sawed off shotgun in his hand ♪ ♪ would he shoot his brother and sister down ♪
♪ have you seen that vigilante man ♪ ♪ have you seen the vigilante man ♪ ♪ have you seen the vigilante man ♪ ♪ i've been hearing his name all over the land ♪ ♪ [applause] >> well, there's something interesting happening about now. woodie is beginning to listen to the radio really critically. all the migrants are gathered around the one radio in the camp and he's carrying the great big hit of 1938. his hero is the carter family taking the battle hymn this world is not my home. ♪ this world is not my home
♪ i'm just a-passing through ♪ my treasures and my hopes are all beyond the blue ♪ ♪ where many christian children have traveled on before ♪ ♪ i've got no home in this anymore ♪ >> now, woodie loved the carter family, of course, and he loved american church music but he hated the sentiments of songs like that and i'm pretty sure, for instance, that he would have had the little angel of joe hill jumping up onto his shoulder, saying, hey, woodie in a situation with this song, this is what i would do if i was you. say something like this. ♪ i got no home ♪ i'm just traveling around and i'm a wandering worker and i'm going from town to town ♪ ♪ and the police make it hard
wherever i may go ♪ ♪ and i ain't got no home in this world anymore ♪ >> you know, things like that. you got the market of joe hill all over it, i think. now, during the depression, woodie begins to get particularly angry at songs that are coming out of the popular music industry, you know, the great american song book which is pretty top heavy with titles back to those days, goody, goody on the sunny side of street and i like this packed packed with hoovervilles i'm just a shanty in a shanty and the greatest woodie would say, no, too damn tin pan alley. there are many good songs that do engage with the realities with the economic realities, for instance. ♪ once i built a railroad
♪ i made it run ♪ made it race against time ♪ once i built a railroad, now it's done ♪ ♪ brother, can you spare a dime ♪ >> great song, i love that song. >> there are a few songs that manage to catch the hopelessness and despair in the depression area but hopelessness and despair is what woodie wants to coral. he wants to lead an organized rebellion, redporgs of the social and economic system. at this point he's dedicated to nothing less than the overthrow of american capitalism. you know, so this is the time in contradiction to an approach like brother can you spare a dime written by someone who became a friend with his and associate later on, yip harbor.
in contrast to that approach woodie is beginning at this point to get interested in the old outlaw ballards that his mother used to sing with him when he was growing newspaper oklahoma. the border ballads in britain that take a highway man and turn into him sort of a crusader and social for economic justice and this is when woodie is jotting bo into his notebooks i love a good man outside of the law as much as i hate a bad man inside the law. and he wrote his own outlaw ballads and somebody who didn't deserved the honor conferred upon him this is a local petty thief bank robbery sort of general all around scumbag named charles arthur floyd, pretty boy floyd. there's really no evidence in the historical record had any kind of social conscience, whatsoever. it doesn't matter, in woodie's hands he said begging for a dime
is an actor of self-portrayal. he takes on the responsibilities with capital. he writes about dick tur pin who takes all the money and deliberates it and spreads it out equal just like the bible and the prove if either suggest and i think of all of woodie's outlaw ballads the one that really shows which one is going is an outlaw ballad was someone working as a plain old working man and the world's first socialist as he puts in the mouths of one of his character novel bound for glory he's got these hobos sitting around a campfire in a boxcar or something like that and one guy says to everybody else -- he says i'll tell you one thing if jesus christ was sitting here right here right now he would say this very same dam thing he'd tell you we all got to work
together, build things together, fix up old things together and own things together. sure, they'll call us some bad "ism" but jesus don't know if you care about socialism, communism or just me and you and i think it's significant his ballard of jesus christ makes this connection with the holy outlaw even stronger because he bases the tune and the format -- well, correction, he rips off 100% lock, stock and barrel the tune in the format from the old american outlaw ballad jesse james. ♪ ♪ jesus christ was a man who traveled through the land ♪ ♪ he was a hard-working man and brave ♪ ♪ he set to the rich area goods
out with the poor so they lay jesus christ in his grave. jesus was a man and a carpenter by hand. with followers true and brave ♪ >> but that dirty little coward they called judas escariot, he laid jesus christ in his grave ♪ ♪ he went up to the preacher, and he went up to the sheriff, and he told them all the same ♪ ♪ he told them that the poor would one day win the world, that's why they laid jesus christ at his grave ♪ >> they took jesus by the hand and they followed him up far and wide. ♪ >> he said i not to bring peace, no, i come to bring a sword so
they called jesus christ on the sly ♪ ♪ jest was a man and a carpenter by the hand with followers true and brave ♪ ♪ but that dirty little coward that they called judas escariot, well, he laid jesus christ in his grave ♪ ♪ and people held their breath when they learned about his death ♪ ♪ and everybody wondered why ♪ it was the landlords and the lawyers and the soldiers that he hired ♪ ♪ that nailed jesus christ in the sky ♪ ♪ oh, this song was written down in new york city ♪ ♪ of rich men and preacher and slave ♪ ♪ and if jesus preached today like he preached in galilee ♪ ♪ they would lay jesus in his grave ♪
♪ jesus was a carpenter by hand with followers true and brave ♪ ♪ but that dirty little coward that they call judas escariot, he lay jesus christ in his grave ♪ ♪ now there's a unrecorded verse it's written down in woodie's book hard hitting songs for hard hitting people, never recorded ♪ ♪ now if the love of the poor should one day turn to hate, and the patience of the workers fades away ♪ ♪ it will be better for you rich if you had never been poor ♪ ♪ 'cause you laid jesus christ in his grave ♪ ♪ jesus was a man and a carpenter by hand ♪ ♪ with followers true and brave ♪ ♪ but that dirty little coward, that they called judas escariot, he laid jesus christ, laid jesus
christ in his grave ♪ ♪ [applaus [applause] >> well, that song was written in the late 1930s and roosevelt said the first social expert of the new deal was wound up and the government's resources were being redirected to concentrate on increasingly, shall we say, global issues? and so it's the bitter cold new year's of 1940. woodie guthrie has decided to make new york city his home and he's hitchhiking north and east out of texas. and it seems on every car radio, on every roadhouse juke box he hears what appears to him to be
the latest complacient patriotic offering from tin pan alley kate smith singing god bless america. now, there are two ways of reading that song, you know, you could read it as the fervent and fearful hope of a russian jues immigrant to the united states irving per lynn who's watching the live of fascism in europe and praying it's not coming here. woodie saw it as yet another unbelievable assertion from the industry that there could possibly be an unearthly solution to earthly promise. he hated this song so much that he sat down an angry song in response to it and it became his most popular. nearly 30 years later after woodie had finally died from the huntington disease that he inherited from his mother that
silenced him from the 19 '60s and 19 '70s he described the song's history. i remember him coming home from the hospital and taking me out to the backyard just him and me and him teaching me the last three versus to this land is your land because he thinks that if i don't learn them, no one will remember them. his friends think hem drunk and crazy and they stick him in a puke green mental hospital and when he can't write or talk or do anything anymore, he hits it big. all of a sudden, everyone is singing his songs, kids are singing this land is your land in schools and people are talking about making it the national anthem. bob dylan and all those others are copying him and he can't even react it. the disease doesn't affect his mind. he's sitting in a mental institution and he knows what's going on but he can't tell anyone how he feels. or what he thinks.
well, this land is your land began life with the title god blest america and it contains a couple of killer anticapitalist versus that i don't remember singing in school, do you? [laughter] >> a lot of americans never heard them until january of 2009 when pete seger and bruce springsteen sang them from the steps of the memorial at barack obama memorial concert and next day reporters say that's the way woodie wrote it? yes, he wrote it. i'll leave you a version that charts the progression of this song from the angry and bitter satire it was to the unofficial national anthem that it eventually became and i'll also thank you for coming out and listening to know. ♪
♪ well, i walk that ribbon highway ♪ ♪ saw above me the endless sky wane ♪ ♪ saw below me the golden valley, they're all singing god bless america for me ♪ ♪ ♪ i roamed and i rambled, followed my own footsteps through the sparkling sand ♪ ♪ of her diamond deserts and all around me ♪ ♪ that voice kept singing, god bless america for me ♪
♪ the sun came shining while i was strolling ♪ ♪ through wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling ♪ ♪ and as the fog was lifting ♪ that old voice kept swinging ♪ ♪ god bless america for me ♪ there was a big high wall there and it tried to stop me, had a painted sign there saying, private property ♪ ♪ and on the other side, it didn't say nothing, except god bless america for me ♪ ♪ and down in your cities, in the shadow of the steeple ♪ i saw my people ♪
♪ and his face stood hungry, i stood there wondering ♪ ♪ about god bless america for me ♪ ♪ nobody living can ever stop me, 'cause i go walking back to freedom highway, nobody living can ever make me turn back ♪ ♪ 'cause this land was made for you and me ♪ ♪ this land is your land ♪ this land is my land ♪ from california, to the new york island ♪ ♪ and from the redwood forest ♪ to the gulfstream waters ♪ this land was made for you and me ♪ ♪
[applause] >> thank you very much. thank you. on >> you're watching booktv on c-span2. 48 hours of nonfiction authors and books every weekend. >> ms. donahue, what made you write this book, slave of allah, and why was it important to write it as an anthropologist? >> well, i've done field work in france before 9/11 in fact in the '90s off and on for about 10 years. and i did field work in an area
nearby where zach ras moussaoui did work and i read an article somebody had been picked up at 9/11 he was in a flight school in minnesota and he realized he had grown up in this area which i was quite familiar with and he had a background that i knew something about. he's the son of moroccans who had moved to france before he was born so had difficulty growing in an area of france that was not always acceptable to north africans. >> and what was your relationship you know with the people involved in this trial, how did you come about covering that trial? what was that process? >> curiously, i was the only academic to think of going to this trial. i have a friend from graduate school who had told me she had a connection to the trial. i learned quickly that anyone
was able to go, any person could go to the trial as long as there's space for you in the courtroom, so i thought, okay, i think i need to go there and the trial actually was in alexandria, virginia, in the eastern district court. that site was chosen actually because the pentagon was in that district and they were trying to have the trial somewhere in the same area where one of the attacks had happened. and i got to be at the trial. i was actually the initial jury drawing and then at the two different phases of the trial so i got to know the members of the press. there were no other people who were there as academics attending the trial. i really acting good eyesight into what the -- insight into the way in which the press was writing about this person. >> and what role did the media play during the trial? did their coverage affect the outcome or affect the way that people were thinking about it? >> you know, i've been thinking
about that. and of course, the jurors were told not to read any coverage when they got home -- they did go home at night. they weren't sequestered then. they were told, however, read nothing, talk about nothing, don't talk to your family. if you go to work -- 'cause they could go back on fridays to their own job but don't talk to anybody there. but there were a pew people on the jury who said when they were being interviewed, i don't do news, you know? i don't read the news i think there was a big attempt to keep the jury separate from the press. on the other hand, the nation was reading of the coverage and actually was being covered by al-jazeera and others in the arabic speaking world so people were following this trial. the french media because particularly interested especially as it came closer to decide whether he would get the death penalty or spend life in prison. >> and you write about the
unexpected that happened. i mean, there were a lot of unexpected events in this trial. it took longer to go to trial than people thought. there was some witness tampering. what was the lasting effects of those and did the public perception of this trial change because of that? >> well, it was deemed a circus for a while because there were so many attempts to start the trial and then they decided to, you know, put it off. there was an attempt to get witnesses such as khalid sheikh mohammed, the mastermind of 911 to be able to come to the trial to give testimony or to interview him through some other means. and that was prevented by the u.s. government. there was no way that those people could be interviewed. -- there was a legal fight in which the judge threatened to throw the whole thing out and it went up to the supreme court and there was a decision and they had interviews with people like khalid sheikh mohammed be rewritten into a format that
both the defense and the prosecution could allow to be presented in the trial. >> and you're writing from the point of view of an anthropologist and you raised the question of representation. so his national and his personal identity, what can we learn about representation in this case. >> i wrote that he had -- he was attempting to represent himself in three different ways. one war for legally and for 17 months he represented himself. he fired his attorneys, his defense attorneys so there was an issue of legal representation. did he have the right to do so? well, the judge decided, yes. he actually did quite a good job for a while and he for a while stalled out the proceedings. he would actually write his open pleadings. he would do it in his own handwriting and he would write these remarkable proceedings that you could read online which were full of jokes and plays on words and finally the judge had
had enough. so that was his legal representation and then there was his social representation. who was this guy in terms of his nationality and his religion and he was at that point beginning to say i'm not french. i have nothing to do with them. i am a member of al-qaeda and he was trying to make that clear to the public he knew the public was reading his pleadings and then there was his own personal representation. who is this person? and he was feeling, i thin -- s forward and explain who he was. so the way in which he managed to get around that was to -- as the judge left the courtroom, he would wait until she was halfway out and then he would stand up and he would say something like, you know, god bless allah. long live osama. and say whatever he could before he was then taken out of the courtroom. and the media would -- the press would also press forward and they would all try to figure out
what it was that he was saying and then duly write it all done and publish it in the newspapers. >> 9/11 was a day that affected most people in america in some way. so how are you able to separate yourself from the coverage and the news media and whatever feelings you had to put together this book? >> uh-huh. well, one thing is that it was -- the trial was in 2006. and so it was five years after 911. i mean, i had not immediate family members but i had known people who had died horribly but you get into the courtroom setting and somehow there's a way of removing yourself from those personal feelings. i think courts are designed to try to do that. on the other hand, the prosecution would try to bring back all of those memories especially when mayor giuliani came to testify. he was determined to personalize the impact of 9/11. i wasn't in the courtroom at that time. but certainly the website has
the coverage and footage of horrifying images and you just figure out how to find the person behind this excruciating experience and who was this man? and that's really what i tried to focus on. >> and it's been 10 years since september 11 so have we learned anything from this trial as a country and what can we still learn from this case? >> well, sadly, we haven't learned that we can actually have a trial civilly in court. instead, there's going to be this move to try them like khalid sheikh mohammed in guantanamo. it's very expensive. some of the reporters covering this case particularly for the arabic tv press through the bbc
was saying to me that he was amazed at the fairness of this trial. he had the right to speak. he had the right to express himself. he had the right to make pleadings. he was not taken out and hanged or executed. he could speak. and the judge, i think, to her credit bent over backwards to make sure he did have those rights. and there are certain rights in the u.s. court system that i hope people will realize that in the military commissions that similar rights need to be afforded to those people. >> thank you for your time. >> thank you. >> should always start with the assumption that when a politician or a ceo is saying something, they're not telling you the truth. now they may be telling you the truth but the burden should be on them to prove it. >> he's an eagle scout, held a brief stint as editor of "mother jones" magazine and directed and produced three of the top ten documentaries of all time and
also a bestselling author. his latest a memoir is here comes trouble and later today on in-depth your chance to call, email and tweet michael moore live noon eastern on booktv 2. >> no webster at the age of 25 has this bestseller and he's very brash and he always thinks he knows everything. and sometimes he really does. and in 1785 he decides what's wrong with america. and he was spot on. the problem he says is that under the articles of confederation, the federal government didn't have enough power so he writes this pamphlet called sketches of american history and when noah webster has an idea and he takes it and he takes it to mount vernon and he takes it to george washington and washington was not a college guy. now, webster was a yale man. madison was a princeton man. john adams was a