Skip to main content

tv   Amanpour Company  PBS  December 12, 2018 12:00am-1:01am PST

12:00 am
hello, everyone, and welcome to "amanpour & co." here is what's coming up. nothing according to plan, the british prime minister stakes it all on european union leaders saving her plan to lead that union. we take you to the european parliament. plus, some historical perspective. this is hardly the first time we've seen a disunited kingdom. superstar margot robbie on her portrayal of elizabeth i. and understanding america through the complex story of thomas jefferson. uniworld is a proud sponsor
12:01 am
of "amanpour & co." when bea tollman founded a collection of boutique hotels, she had bigger dreams, and those dreams were on the water -- a river, specifically -- multiple rivers that would one day be home to uniworld river cruises and their floating boutique hotels. today that dream sets sail in europe, asia, india, egypt, and more. bookings available through your travel agent. for more information, visit >> additional support has been provided by rosalind p. walter, bernard and irene schwartz, sue and edgar wachenheim iii, the cheryl and philip milstein family, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. welcome to the program, everyone. i'm christiane amanpour in london. despite the brexiteers' boast,
12:02 am
extricating the uk from the european union was never going to be easy. this week with the clock ticking dangerously down has proven just what a big mess it all is. today was meant to be prime minister theresa may's triumph when parliament would approve the deal she struck with the the eu after two and a half years of negotiating. instead, she's pulled the vote and is hopscotching around european capitals in a desperate attempt to get something, anything, to avoid it going down to defeat in as yet unscheduled next vote. first, she met the dutch prime minister in the hague. then to berlin where a sticking car door epitomized the slog she faces convincing angela merkel to budge and finally brussels where may may get the toughest reception of all. two options for the uk are looming larger and larger. staying in the eu, which would require a second referendum or an act of parliament or crashing out of the eu without a deal
12:03 am
which is what will happen in march unless the british parliament acts one way or another. and that disastrous scenario is what europe now seems to be bracing for at an emergency meeting of leaders planned for thursday. just moments ago in brussels, even may mentioned the unthinkable. >> we have already stepped up the no deal preparations. that has been happening in recent days, but cabinet will be discussing what is the sensible thing for government to do which is to make sure those contingency arrangements are in place. so we will be looking at what furthermore we need to do in relation to those no deal preparations. >> she is headed to dublin tomorrow to work on those contingency plans with the irish prime minister. mairead mcginnis is the vice president of the european parliament. of course the border between
12:04 am
is ireland and the uk is the crucial sticking point. she joins me from france. mairead mcguinness, welcome to the program. >> thank you. glad to be with you. >> can i ask you how serious it is for you as an mep, member of the european parliament, hearing that now the idea of planning and contingency plans for a no deal with really serious and that your own prime minister, the british prime minister, european leaders, are bracing for precisely that? how much of a chill does that send down yours and collective europeans' spines? >> well, look, i've had a chill about brexit since the vote. let's be frank. this has been a difficult time. we had hoped to have an agreement with the united kingdom. in fact, we have an agreement with the united kingdom. as you know yesterday, and your summary was so accurate, the prime minister facing defeat decided not to put this to the vote.
12:05 am
so when you say if i have more of a chill, of course i'm concerned about it. but it was never off the table. many of us, indeed our own government and commission, have been looking at all the possible scenarios. we want an agreement and early brexit. we have been mindful to say to our businesses, our universities, anyone impacted, which is every sector, they must look at the possibilities of a no deal while working towards trying to reach an agreement. maybe because we're closer to that moment we're perhaps taking it a little bit more as a possibility than we had done six months ago but, frankly, at this stage we're still hoping despite yesterday that we can get to a place where the house of commons will have a meaningful vote and support the agreement that's on the table because it was negotiated in good faith between the european union and the british prime minister. >> so to that end you're still hoping donald tusk, the european counsel president, tweeted just now long and frank discussion
12:06 am
with prime minister theresa may ahead of brexit summit and that we said was for thursday. clear that eu 27 wants to help. the question is how. so let me put it to you, how can the eu help if it's so inclined to do as he says it is. >> well, we are inclined to help and have been right from the get-go of this process. if you listened carefully yesterday to the prime minister's speech in the house of commons, which was interrupted on many occasions, she was at pains to say she would seek reassurance on issues and in particular on the backstop which relates to the border, or the invisible border between northern ireland and ireland and i represent all of the counties along that invisible border. it's personal and political for me when i speak about this. the reassurances i expect are around suggestions we want to
12:07 am
make sure the backstop doesn't have to be used and a very strong partnership with the united kingdom, and we do it in a timely fashion. i think we can make those positive noises and there are people are working on the text and reassurances. where i have some concern, will this be sufficient to persuade different views who are united against this agreement to actually support it and on that question that's where my concerns are. we have to see how the council responds later this week. what the declaration may be around a reassurance or several reassurances. one doesn't know at this stage. the other point that must be repeated when it comes to the european union and this parliament and around europe there is nobody willing to reopen the withdrawal agreement for renegotiation. and indeed yesterday there were some in the house of commons who not only want it reopened they
12:08 am
want it cut to pieces and some of it discarded. and that's not going to wash at the european union level. while we will work to try to assist the ratification of this agreement by way of reassurance, we would perhaps need some reassurance from the british prime minister that what we do will be of help and that it will, if you like, gather together sufficient numbers who at the moment are not there but they come together to support this agreement. we'd like to see the vote happen sooner, but it seems to me that a second vote might not happen. the first has been pulled from yesterday. we might not have that vote until the middle of january and then time becomes even more precious. >> you've only got a couple months. >> we're right up against it. a couple weeks really at that stage. >> incredibly tense and very complicated. so the backstop.
12:09 am
i mean, obviously it's something designed to protect, as you say, that border and keep it an invisible border but the northern ireland don't like it and the brexiteers don't like it. they think it hooks the uk into the eu for way too long. they're seeking reassurance, i believe, that the british could unilaterally or at will discard or withdraw from the backstop. is that how you understand it? >> i mentioned some people wanted to cut up parts of the withdrawal agreement which has been agreed between the united kingdom and european union. those who favor a hard brexit in the house of commons are speaking to that point. clearly i want to repeat that is not on the table. europe is united around the cause of ireland. presidents of the commissioner junker made that statement this morning. i was chairing the debate.
12:10 am
on that issue it will not happen. the question then arises is there an understanding of what the backdrop means. >> tell us because this is so complex and for our audience it's complex. i want to you explain what the backstop is. >> okay. when the united kingdom leaves the european union at the end of march we won't have established the details of our future partnership that is set out in a political declaration. the details will not be worked out. the concern -- in the aftermath of the referendum, the brexit vote, was nobody thought about the consequences for this invisible border with northern ireland and ireland which becomes the external border, the only external land border between the european union, which my member state ireland is, and the united kingdom, which northern ireland is part thereof. so without the political concerns around the peace
12:11 am
process, one would say there will be a border because one is a third country with the european union so there has to be a border because that's how it is with europe with external countries. however, we now have a situation in northern ireland where we have the good friday agreement. we have 20 years of peace built on north/south cooperation, european support, declarations we never want to go back to the days of the past 20 years is not that long ago. we are working hard to make sure the peace we have built on the basis of the good friday agreement is not interfered with and the details of people's lives and i think people don't understand that, for example, i live in a county and when i'm driving to my constituents in one of the border counties, i go through northern ireland. there are no barriers. there's nothing to stop me, and there shouldn't be. potentially there could be.
12:12 am
and what we're trying to say is the people who live in that region, the businesses, those who get education and health care, they do it on a cross border basis. they don't even think anymore about it. it's just a natural flow of communities. and we want to protect that. of course peace is fundamental. and i would say already that between the communities there is more tension. northern ireland voted to remain in the european union and there are polarized positions is not helping. i hope i can explain to the wider viewers the sensitivity is there and the british prime minister has recommitted to having no hard border on ireland. the only way we'll achieve that, when we talk about the future, we work towards that objective. we want the backstop to be there. so that if we fail, that
12:13 am
we will not fail on this question of the border, this invisible border on the island of ireland. it is complex and trying to simplify complex issues does an injustice to them. we would rather have a good agreement with the united kingdom where we can trade closely together and do our business not quite the same as today because the united kingdom cannot have all the benefits of european union membership and leave. i think that's a key point as well. >> it's not a point the brexiteers are prepared to tolerate. they believe the united kingdom can have just as great a relationship out of the eu and perhaps that's where as lord peter hain said the idea of trying to jam a square peg into a round hole is showing up. what would you say to the doubters and to the people who are going to vote against theresa may's deal with the eu 27, what would you say to them
12:14 am
about how good a deal it is and conversely, what would you say from where you're sitting now would be the result of crashing out without a deal? >> this is the only deal there is. my view is the best deal is for the united kingdom to remain. we respect they are leaving. in the absence of them remaining this deal is the only deal. it sets the deal on citizens rights, on financial commitments and on the backstop towards ireland and it details a future partnership in the political declaration. i would ask people to read the details and try to understand it in its broadest sense. also, if you're not prepared to support it, look and come forward very clearly and honestly about what the options are if this deal goes down. what are you saying to your citizens in the united kingdom? when you ask what the scenario is here, we started out having a
12:15 am
conversation about planning for a no deal but hoping that we don't have to go there. i don't think we will be immune. even with a soft brexit there are negative consequences. in the scenario of a hard brexit i don't think we can imagine how damaging and dangerous it would be. first of all, it would signal a huge breakdown in the relationship between the european union and one of its member states today, a large member state, the united kingdom. it would signal a failure of diplomacy and politics. it would perhaps be part of a more global trend about this difficulty with political discourse and diplomacy. it would have a great effect on supply chains in the auto industry in the united kingdom, on drug supplies, on food
12:16 am
supplies. all of the things we take for granted today and in the united kingdom are governed by things we've developed over the decades by being together in the european union. if a member state decides to opt out with no parachute, no safety net, then i'm afraid that all of those things fall apart. and it's hard to see where they would land, and i don't say that to scare any of us because it is quite a frightening prospect but it might be to really wake us all up to the reality that, you know, a hard brexit or a sharp cliff edge brexit can happen by design or by accident. whatever way it happens, there is no good outcome. in the coming days before christmas and, indeed, afterwards we will have to focus long and hard on making sure that doesn't happen. >> you say either by design or default. as we know unless they take action, the default option is
12:17 am
the crash out by the end of march. to that end i wonder whether you put any stock or whether people are seriously talking about the possibility of a second referendum. let me play from what theresa may told parliament on this issue yesterday and then we can discuss it. >> many of the most controversial aspects of this deal including the backstop are inescapable facts of having a negotiated brexit. those members who continue to disagree need to shoulder the responsibility of advocating an alternative solution that can be delivered. and do so -- and do so without ducking its implications. so if you want a second referendum to overturn the result of the first, be honest that this risks dividing the country again. >> do you see her point or do you think -- i realize you're not going to get involved in british politics but you must all be talking about a second referendum.
12:18 am
you see this vote, the new vote, the people's vote is gaining sort of momentum, protests on the street both pro and con. how are you viewing it from over there? >> we're aware of all of this conversation. let's take it on a step-by-step basis. at the moment the idea of a second referendum is further down the line if at all in the sense it cannot be called tomorrow or next week. we still have to deal with the mess that we're in today. so i think we have to deal with the here and now. on the question of what the united kingdom will do should this deal fall, i imagine the house of commons will have to take its responsibility and decide what the options are. if there is to be a question, a different question, put to the people, then the prime minister will have to leave that and that takes time to put in place. frankly, i don't see the same question put to the british people. i believe it's a question do
12:19 am
they support this deal or no brexit. these are discussions that you have throw or four together. in terms of a political, we have to hope it will lead to their country in a direction which is positive and progressive rather than negative. and i have to say when i watched the house of commons debate yesterday, i did so with great trepidation because it seemed to me that the house of commons is divided between parties, within parties and regions, and that we are perhaps in a situation where the house of commons cannot decide on one option because there are people who see so many different options. the idea of a referendum, while some embrace it and think it will happen, i'm more circumspect about that happening in the short to medium term. it may be something for the future. >> one last question and quick because we're running out of
12:20 am
time, there's all sorts of rumblings now. it's not confirmed but maybe the trigger number for the leadership challenge has been reached. how would the european leaders deal with the fall of this government and the fall of this prime minister who they have been negotiating with? >> i think the biggest question is how would the united kingdom deal with the fall of this government and with the fall of the prime minister. to the great credit of prime minister theresa may she has stood steadfast in her defense of this deal. she has faced quite torrid debates in the house of commons and yet is still standing. i would say to those who want to remove her or become the leader, what do you offer in what will you say to the british people? can it be any different than the deal that's on the table? ink not. >> all right, mairead mcguinness, thank you for joining us from the parliament.
12:21 am
brexit has opened a deep divide in britain, but this now united kingdom has seen plenty of division in its long history. it was not until 1707 that england and scotland reunited as separate nations under one kingdom. cast your mind even further back to the 1500s. mary stuart ruled scotland and elizabeth the i ruled england, they're cousins. one is protestant and the other catholic, one has the other beheaded. this endlessly fascinating history has been made into a movie again. this time starring saoirse ronan and margot robbie, and here's a clip. >> your cousin mary has returned to take up her throne in scotland. >> the queen. >> my dear cousin elizabeth, i hope we might meet in person and i might embrace you. but ruling side-by-side we must do so in harmony not to a treaty drafted by men lesser than ourselves. >> my dear cousin, let our nations cherish each other as we would. two kingdoms united.
12:22 am
>> how did the world come to this? wise men servicing the whims of women. >> the whims of women. that is the new movie "mary queen of scots." the english monarch, you'll recognize the 28-year-old from "the wolf of wall street" and "i, tonya." for which she won an oscar nomination. the movie just premiered here in london and robbie joined me in the studio to discuss a daunting role in a story that harks back to the real historical archive. margot robbie, welcome to the program. >> thank you for having me. >> here you are playing elizabeth the i. did you feel you were taking the second fiddle? >> yes, it's definitely a supporting role. it really is mary's story. so much of what happens when she lands back in scotland after being in france the last 12 years affects elizabeth's reign as she has a rightful claim to the throne.
12:23 am
so elizabeth and her have a very interesting relationship and it is crucial to her ultimate demise. spoiler alert. a supporting role, but that made it easier to take on, to be honest. >> it has been played by some of the greats. >> including my idol cate blanchett who played elizabeth in both elizabeth films most recently and nailed it. actually i haven't watched them and i stayed away from watching them in any other portrayal. >> judi dench. >> so i wouldn't freak myself out. >> it is a role that so many actresses have wanted to play. did you automatically say yes when they approached you? >> no, i automatically said no. i was terrified at the prospect. the script is brilliant and crafted in a very pacy political way.
12:24 am
he's brilliant and our director, this is her first major film but she's a very accomplished director in the theater world and in her own right. i loved talking to her and i knew saoirse was onboard. i knew her already through personal avenues and always adored her work and wanted to work with her. the role itself terrified me. >> she plays mary queen of scots. it is extraordinary. i found watching it that it is a slightly different narrative than the one we grew up in school reading about. in this one mary is portrayed as much more sympathetic and it is based on a historical book by john guy who says he went back to the actual archive and came out with the real facts rather than the sort of old wives tale, if you like, that had been passed down throughout the years.
12:25 am
>> william cecil, elizabeth's right hand man, dedicated his life to this endless smear campaign and rewrote history to view mary as this young girl who was in way over her head and just wanted to marry this guy and that guy. she was politically astute and a natural born leader. she came from a long lineage of the stuarts, who are fierce leaders, and was a very forgiving person and ultimately was deceived by a lot of people she forgave. maybe that was a part of her demise as well. you definitely see a version of mary you have not read about in the history books. >> and in a way, again, it's something you had to take on because to sort of build up mary, you almost have to build down elizabeth. elizabeth is the glorious queen,
12:26 am
the golden age, people have seen her as the most important british monarch ever. in this film she was not vilified but diminished. >> with any character i look at what is their purpose in the film and how does my role serve the bigger story. in this film this is a story about mary stuart and in order to support that storyline we explored some different sides of elizabeth that perhaps haven't been in other portrayals and that was to find her vulnerability and the insecurities and the paranoia and the caution and the restraint that built the image of the virgin queen that she became at the end of her life. it was interested. she reacted in a way i'm not used to -- i keep playing characters very outspoken and, in fact, she's very reserved and
12:27 am
keeps her judgments to herself and seeks advice from her counsel. >> you lead me into a clip. guy pearce and here is a scene where you, queen elizabeth i, is berating and trying to interrogate her counselors. let's watch. >> what have you produced in all your travels between our kingdoms? discord? war? death? now you have the boldness to doubt my judgment. you had better question yours. >> i regret you perceive me as a failure. >> we serve you fully with all our hearts. any one of us would gladly die for you. but mary is our foe and a catholic. >> she is only your queen if i should not produce an heir. >> and will you, madam? you have given us little hope so far.
12:28 am
>> it's really very dramatic for people in that history. she was the virgin queen and apparently didn't want to have kids. you say you explored her vulnerability and there is a scene in the film dramatic. she said i am a man and yet in this scene she's turning towards the shadow and there's a profile of her, you, creating a pregnant stomach, a bump with your coat. tell me about that and how that came about and what you felt about that. it was so counter intuitive. >> our director wanted to explore what it meant to be a woman in power and what sacrifices she had to make to sustain that power. along the way she severs ties with her womanhood, her friendships with other women, having a baby, marrying for love i think is particularly highlighted. robert dudley doesn't have ulterior motives.
12:29 am
he isn't trying to usurp her crown. he genuinely loves her yet she still denies it. depriving herself of that urge to conceive and have a child. you understand why she may have been trepidatious about that. >> her father henry viii had her mother executed and beheaded because she only produced a girl, elizabeth, and no heirs. >> exactly. elizabeth was a disappointment from the minute she was born because she wasn't a male. her mom was killed because she couldn't produce a male heir. the pressure to produce a male heir, they really were -- there were two things, a symbol of the nation and the nation's integrity and they were a vessel for bringing a king in charge essentially. >> how did you prepare for the role?
12:30 am
did you do a deep dive into the history? what about all the makeup and the wigs? they made a beautiful woman look pretty ugly in quite a lot of scenes. >> yeah, i do a lot to prepare for any character fictional or not and because she's such a historical, iconic character, there was a lot of history i had to brush up on. i really didn't learn any of this stuff in school. i was skipping class that day or something. i got to walk around the palace and i could read about what happened in 1571 but it was the intricate, the intimate details he let me in on that helped me find the character and to find the humanity in her and that was an easier way to access the character. beyond that i work with an acting coach, dialect coach and movement coach when i prepare for anything. >> and what was it like sort of barricading yourself in under those inches it looked like of white makeup and this blood red gash across your mouth and this
12:31 am
huge hair. >> it was really helpful. the costumes were restrictive. you're wearing a corset and layer after layer. incredibly heavy jewels and wigs. i had prosthetics for the pox marks scarring and really powdered, heavy make-up on top which in elizabeth's case had lead and arsenic in it. in our case not so. it was a lot and it felt restrictive and it was ironic and also helpful to feel trapped by the facade she created for herself. >> cut to the chase. we know the historical record, mary queen of scots was beheaded. her son became king of england. queen elizabeth ruled until she died. she never did marry. she never had a child. it is a fundamental story of history. it is incredible that elizabeth was one of the best monarchs ever to rule this land. >> she was. she had one of the most
12:32 am
successful and longest reigns for england and brought about years of piece. she and cecil had arguably the most successful political partnership in history. of course mary was kind of caught in the crossfire and was eventually beheaded after being imprisoned for many, many years. >> how much improvisation did you do? i know you are a bit of an improvisational maven. we'll show a clip from "i, tonya," and it is amazing this scene where she's putting on her makeup in front of the mirror. walk us through that. was that planned? what did they say to you? >> it wasn't planned at all. sometimes i think as actors you try things on set and sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't. in this scene obviously the
12:33 am
pressure is enormous by the point in the movie and it was a last-minute thing. i think our dp said just put on a bit of the make-up but look into camera and then i went with it in that way and tried to smile through it. i remember afterwards when craig called cut, i was like, sorry, if that's too weird, you don't have to use it. i think we can use it. he almost hugged me. >> that was it. >> that was just one. just one take and one of those things that just hams on set sometimes. >> it's basically said "the wolf of wall street" is the major feature film that launched your career. were you playing with the most bankable stars, leonardo dicaprio, martin scorcese was directing you and you had to do an audition and you had, what, several seconds to make an impression, and you decided to do what? >> at the end of the scene, not
12:34 am
that it was scripted, i slapped leo in the face. >> you do it like this -- was it a big slap? >> it was a big slap. yeah. especially since it wasn't meant -- i think the scene was meant to end, he says get over here and kiss me and that's the end of the scene. i don't know what took over in the moment, but it essentially got me the role. >> and then you swore at him. >> i did, yes. yeah. there was a lot of improvising. very different to mary queen of scots. a lot of improvising in the film. at some point i stopped looking at my script because it was inhibiting and made it harder because we improved everything. >> that got you the role, that slap. >> that's what him and marty said afterwards. >> what was their reaction as it was happening? >> there was silence for a couple seconds and then they just burst out laughing and marty was like, that was great, and leo was like, do that again. and i was like, i'm so sorry. no, do it again.
12:35 am
i won't do it as hard. >> do it as hard, quick, let's do it again. >> he's a sucker for punishment. you're also part of what is really, i don't know what to call it, a tribe, a gang, the australian company. you've really taken hollywood by storm. you, russell crowe, cate blanchett and on and on and on. we would like to play just a small clip of the australian tourism board ad that debuted at the super bowl during halftime this past year, 2018. >> it was. >> just a little bit here. >> he's lost in the outback. >> he is the outback. >> nobody talks about mick like that. >> that knife is pretty sharp. >> a knife? how big? >> what do you mean there's two of them? >> free beer! free beer! free beer!
12:36 am
>> what do you make of that, though? suddenly this group of actors from this country down under is so prominent and sweeping up all the awards and taking all the great parts. what's in the water? >> i get asked that all the time. i really don't know what it is. we grow up watching american movies and american tv shows and the industry is limited and thankfully it is growing in australia but is limited. everyone makes the jump overseas. you don't make it that far unless you're ready to commit to it. >> are you playing barbie next? >> we're developing it. >> yours and your husband? >> our close friends as well. we started it all together. >> and what is the attraction to playing barbie who is roundly vilified as being an objectification of the female form? >> i think it's an opportunity to have a positive impact on children, not just girls but
12:37 am
children in general. there's wish fulfillment and stuff you get with any sort of play and imagination scenario. i appreciated they rebranded and paid attention to the positive effect they can have. now they have all sorts of barbies. barbie isn't one particular thing. i appreciate the message they're putting out there. >> what about quenton tarantino? >> i've wrapped it. >> it was called "once upon a time in hollywood." what's it about? >> 1969 in hollywood. it's mainly about -- leo, we got to work together again. >> he agreed even though the assault. >> the slap in the face. yeah, yeah, yeah. in this film quenton will show the world hollywood in 1969 and it was a time of change. it was the end of an era.
12:38 am
a lot of things were changing at the time. it's really hard to talk about it without giving anything away. i think it will be a good movie. >> what is the attraction of quenton tarantino? he's very controversial and there's a lot swirling around the media sphere about him, his tactics on set, the kinds of roles he puts women in. what is it about him because you have said you always dreamed of working with him. >> yeah, working on a tarantino film is a bucket list thing for me. i adore his films. a lot of people have issue with the violence and i don't like gruesome films myself, i don't like horror films. his genre sensationalized violence and i can disassociate it with anything real and know i'm watching a movie and can appreciate the entire thing as genre and art form. i love his movies and always
12:39 am
have. it definitely was a bucket list thing for me to work with him and see him work on set. now that i have -- >> lived up to your expectations? >> above and beyond. he was incredible and so enthusiastic and happy on set even though he spent years on set, he still walks on like a kid in a candy shop, excited about everything on the set. that's how i feel when i go on a set. it's just so nice to be a part of that. >> when you joined the australian exodus, i don't know, did you have the same issues -- you say you're doing a film about 1969 hollywood. we live in the me too plus one era, did you suffer those kinds of things in hollywood when you got to the west, so to speak, go through your own me too assault -- well, harassment, that kind of stuff? >> no, i definitely felt the
12:40 am
lack of female characters that really attracted me in the way i see a big shift now since the conversation has gotten so loud about having more opportunities for women in film. i see that shift happen which is great. as far as the harassment, that's not something i experienced in hollywood. as a woman in the world, yeah, of course. of course. i don't know many women who haven't experienced sexual harassment on some level in their life. >> margot robbie, thank you, indeed, for joining me. >> thank you. a very bright star indeed. we turn now to american politics. it is hard to imagine that the country today is what the founding fathers envisioned whether the toxic rhetoric in politics, the racial tensions or the systemic abuse of women who are finally saying enough. as the nation still searches for a path toward unity our walter isaacson sat down with renowned legal scholar annette gordon-reed.
12:41 am
she argues turning to history's great leaders is the best way to understand what she calls the american dilemma. >> professor, thank you for joining us. >> very happy to be here. >> we are going through a really divisive period, probably as bad as some parts of the '60s with the civil rights movement, vietnam, mccarthyism. what role in history that rippled through our time? >> anytime you have a diverse country with people having different understandings about the direction the country should take you're going to have this fighting. the 1790s jefferson and hamilton set the basic contours of a discussion about what kind of country this is going to be. very, very tough times.
12:42 am
we're seeing this again. >> the creed was out of many one, the notion that we had a creed not just one race or one nationality of people, are we losing that sense now? >> i would remind you that at the time they wrote that creed a good number of people were enslaved, half the population could not vote that is to say women. other people who were not propertied had trouble as well. the struggle in america is trying to bring everybody together to realize that creed. we've been steadily moving towards it. we're at a point thinking are we going to continue in that direction? is the progress going to continue? that's a real point of contention at this point. >> you talked about america's creed and it wasn't fully there for everybody including thomas jefferson, wrote the creed but didn't walk the walk.
12:43 am
you were able to pull sally hemings, his mistress, is that a proper word for it in context? >> people go back and forth on that question. people use concubine, rape victim, mistress. it was something that went on for 38 years, a person who was a significant part of his life. you can't write about him without thinking about that certainly. >> jefferson and hemings in two or three books now and you say that she was a slave but you're also saying in your work and just now that she also had some agency. she was in charge of herself a little bit. it was more complex. >> it was more complicated when they were in france. when she was in france with him, he was serving as the minister to france. she had the opportunity to be a free person and she, after jefferson's promises decided to
12:44 am
return to monticello and live with him. it's not the situation many women in the united states faced where they had no law. law made her an enslaved person in virginia but law gave her an opportunity to be a free person in france. she decided to come back to monticello. she's within his control and that's that. >> one of the wonderful things about your book you talk about what is really a negotiation that they have in paris. she is strong enough to say i might come back with you but here is what i want. why did she trust him? >> she was his wife, and this is the complicated part of this, his wife's half-sister, and he treated her and her siblings in a different way. >> his wife had died. >> and she had a half-sister by
12:45 am
her father but a black slave, i think. >> sally hemings' father was john wales who was an englishman. she saw him treat her family in a different way. as i'm writing this and thinking about this, my inclination is to construct him as her enemy and say you don't trust him. but she knew him and knew him in a particular context and thought he said -- he was going to do what he said. eventually he does. i'm sitting here writing this and thinking about this, this is crazy. this is a huge risk you are taking. >> part of the negotiation was to make sure their children, her children, would be free. >> yes. >> and that includes madison. >> a really interesting character. you used his writings to help you understand. >> madison hemings was living in ohio at the time and he talks
12:46 am
about life at monticello and sally hemming was his mother. it was a matter of fact story. you listen to him talk and he's talking about i got married. he's just telling his life story. that's just a part of the whole thing. it's not anything he's trying to prove nor argument he's making, and he describes what could only be considered the way he talks about his mother and father, he calls them mother and father, as a form of family. again, you recoil at that because we have an understanding of what family is. >> it evolves some equality. >> some notion of equality. he talks about father and my mother and mother took care of father's rooms. it was her duty all of her life to look after his room and his wardrobe and look after us
12:47 am
children and that's what she did for the rest of her life. it's a strange kind of story, and you think how this did play out all across the south. this was not a mistake that historians first made, sort of writing about this. as if it was a rare circumstance and it wasn't. it wasn't. you had these kinds of situations and you have if every slave society that's existed. it's difficult to see how people negotiated that but they did. >> the wonderful thing about history that you do is remind us it's always a bit more complex. >> absolutely. >> and in this case it's complex because jefferson keeps his promises, treats madison in some ways as a son, although he's a colder father -- >> a distant father. >> but he doesn't free any of the other slaves. the other slaves at monticello have to remain slaves. >> yes, yes. the only people he frees in his
12:48 am
lifetime are members of the hemings family, his own children or their uncles. >> you've been involved recently in monticello in helping them tell the story in a more historically complex way. >> to tell the story at all. the first time i went to monticello, i don't recall any discussion about sally hemings. there was some discussions about slavery. but since that time the place has really opened up and making it a place you discuss not only jefferson. jefferson was a great man and a person who contributed a lot to the united states. you have to talk about him. you also have to talk about the other people who lived there, jefferson when he was on the mountain would be there with upwards of 200 african-american people who were enslaved in a tiny number of white working. the story of monticello is him
12:49 am
but it's all these other people as well. >> you say jefferson was a great man. if we saw a monument to jefferson, would you be in favor of taking them down? >> of jefferson, no. i think jefferson is too much an integral part of the united states. i understand taking down monuments of other people. this has to be done on a case-by-case basis. you begin to lie to yourself in some way if you take out people who were integral to the nation's founding and who also have ideas or had ideas we still revere. the declaration, the words of the declaration are important and we've used that to be a part, as we said before, as an american creed. what you do is you talk about his life in a real way. you talk about the good points, the bad points, and he's perfect
12:50 am
in a lot of ways because he embodies the american dilemma. you can talk about race, slavery, politics, gender, all of those things through this man, good things and bad things. i can't think of anybody else that fits that bill. >> you were connected to charlottesville throughout your career. the white supremacists in charlottesville marched toward jefferson's statue. what was the significance of that? >> the significance is in the only book he ever wrote, jefferson talks about the possibility or impossibility of blacks and whites living together. without turmoil, without fighting. and his solution was separation. slaves should be emancipated but blacks should have their own country. at first he thought it was out west, it was in africa, but he
12:51 am
did not think they could live together in harmonies because whites would never give up their prejudices and black people would never forgive white people for what they've done. we typically think of jefferson as optimistic. he didn't see how we could live together and the people marching towards the statue, i think, were doing so as a way of claiming him for that kind of idea. there were people whether they liked jefferson or not were standing for the other ideals of jefferson, ideals of the declaration. pursuit of happiness, the american creed. you had this clash, are we one people embodied in that particular moment. >> how do we think through now what happened in charlottesville. >> well, it's really tough.
12:52 am
i wrote something about this afterwards and trying to think of how we can come together on the question of the values of a jefferson, of the declaration and keeping those things alive in those who want a country of blood and soil and we can't have been. we were kidding ourselves. we're not old enough for that. there are people of all different creeds and colors here and we can only talk about these kinds of issues and to confront them and realize that if you don't talk about or confront, well, evil, the people trying to divide us, you could slide into something that we don't want to go. we can't take for granted that america, american exceptionalism
12:53 am
will save us if we don't really stand up to a lot of values that are anathema for what the country has stood for. >> you talk about blood and soil. explain the historic resonance of that phrase. >> there's a people, certainly the nazis and people in other countries used the idea of the country and genetics and blood and your attachment to land. all of this is mythical in a lot of ways because people have been moving over all along. the united states is supposed to be a country based upon ideals. if you come here and accept the values of the american constitution, the spirit of all of that, then you can be an american. you pay your taxes and that's what makes you an american. not genetics, not your blood,
12:54 am
not 1,000-year attachment to a parcel or place. that's what makes us different and what we've celebrated. people maybe have envy or some notion of blood and soil. that's not who we've been. >> thank you for being with us. >> glad to be here. so we got a double dose of history but still so relevant to what's going on in so many parts of our world. and before we go, we want to take a moment to recognize the guardians. that is what "time" magazine has decided to call its people of the year, the guardians of the truth. jamal khashoggi, the saudi journalist murdered and dismembered by his own government for daring to speak truth to power. wa lone and kyaw soe oo, reuters reporters in myanmar who were sentenced to seven years in
12:55 am
prison after writing the truth about the government's massacre of muslims and maria ressa formerly of cnn targeted by the philippine government trying to silence her truth telling independent news site. and finally, because press freedom is not only under threat in dictatorships, the staff of maryland's "capital gazette," five colleagues were shot and killed in their own newsroom in june. we honor their memory and work and recommit ourselves to guarding the truth no matter the stakes or the consequences. we are all jamal khashoggi. we are all the guardian. and that is it for our program tonight. thanks for watching "amanpour & co." on pbs and join us again tomorrow night. uniworld is a proud sponsor of "amanpour & co." when bea tollman founded a collection of boutique hotels, she had bigger dreams, and those dreams were on the water --
12:56 am
a river, specifically -- multiple rivers that would one day be home to uniworld river cruises and their floating boutique hotels. today that dream sets sail in europe, asia, india, egypt, and more. bookings available through your travel agent. for more information, visit >> additional support has been provided by rosalind p. walter, bernard and irene schwartz, sue and edgar wachenheim iii, the cheryl and philip milstein family, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
12:57 am
12:58 am
steves: salzburg's cathedral, constructed in the early 1600s, was one of the first grand baroque buildings north of the alps. it's sunday morning. the 10:00 mass is famous for its music, and today it's mozart. enter the cathedral, and you're immersed in pure baroque grandeur. ♪ dona nobis ♪ ♪ nobis pacem ♪ since it was built in only about 15 years, the church boasts particularly harmonious art and architecture. in good baroque style, the art is symbolic, cohesive, and theatrical, creating a kind of festival procession that leads to the resurrected christ triumphing high above the altar. ♪ nobis ♪ ♪ dona nobis ♪ ♪ nobis pacem ♪ ♪ pacem ♪ music and the visual art complement each other.
12:59 am
the organ loft fills the church with glorious sounds as mozart, 250 years after his birth, is still powering worship with his musical genius. ♪ nobis ♪ ♪ nobis pacem ♪ ♪ nobis ♪ ♪ pacem ♪
1:00 am
♪ - this week we travel to umbria in italy to find out how to make porchetta at home. then we do smashed potatoes with horseradish with a drizzle of spicy oil. and, finally, a foolproof chocolate crostata with the flavor of chocolate and hazelnut. so, stay tuned for the perfect winter meal right here on milk street. - funding for this series was provided by the following.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on