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Transcript:

June 8, 2007

BILL MOYERS: Hello. Welcome to the JOURNAL.

We begin with some immortal words from a great American tradition. They were uttered just 20 years ago by Michael Douglas, AKA the Goliath of Wall Street Gordon Gekko:

GORDON GEKKO: "Greed for lack of a better word - is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit."

BILL MOYERS: Gordon Gekko's words were ringing in my ears the other day as Northwest Airlines emerged from bankruptcy.

After 20 months of restructuring the company, CEO Doug Steenland rang the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange.

DOUG STEENLAND: The best way to secure job security, the best way to secure security of your pensions and the best way to increase standards of living is for the airline to be very successful and profitable."

BILL MOYERS: And if you feather your own nest in the process---more power to you. On top of Steenland's salary, reported at half a million dollars or more last year, he will get a total compensation package of $26.6 million in stock.

That's $5.8 million in stock options and $20.8 million worth of restricted stock that will vest over the next four years. And his official next-of-kin — the company's four Executive Vice Presidents - were offered more than 10 million dollars each, on top of their salaries, if they stay on for four years.

Oh, yes, Gary Wilson, the outgoing chairman — who already has $21 million dollars from stock he cashed in just before the bankruptcy — will get a two million-dollar good-bye gift plus medical and dental insurance for life — that's right — for life.

As for the folks who merely fly the planes, fix the engines, and serve those meals — I mean, snacks — well, they took pay cuts of 20 to 40 percent, as well as curtailed medical benefits, fewer days off and frozen pensions.

JUDITH FISHER, FLIGHT ATTENDANT: When you have veteran employees that have given a lifetime of commitment to service and good employment to this employer. It made me really really angry. Very sick to my stomach when I my pension has been cut and frozen.

BILL MOYERS: No wonder Northwest pilots, flight attendants and machinists were out in protest on the steps of the Minnesota state capitol last week.

To keep the airline aloft, pilots increased their working hours by as much as 20 percent while taking a pay cut of 40 percent.

PROTESTORS: We built these airlines, we built this company. Let's take it back today.

BILL MOYERS: To make ends meet, pilot Ron Hay has to sell his house and move his family back to his wife's hometown in Texas.

RON HAY, NORTHWEST PILOT: Our CEO's $26.6 million is one complete annual payment to our pension fund. Our pension fund could be one more step closer to whole. The $25 million is probably in excess any funds needed to bring us back down to a medical benefit that we wouldn't have to pay anything.

BILL MOYERS: Amanda and Trevor Olson are both flight attendants, and they are already feeling the cuts to their medical benefits. To cover the birth of their second child they had to pay almost $4000 out of pocket — that's more than ten percent of a flight attendant's yearly salary which tops out at only $35,000 dollars a year.

AMANDA OLSON: It just kind of points to how disgusting, to me, the executive compensation plan is. That they can reap so much in stock options and pay. And we're not even getting a cost of living increase in the next five years of our contract.

BILL MOYERS: Three of Northwest's unions cried foul...and filed objections in us bankruptcy court — calling the management equity plan "obscene."

Forget it, Judge Allen Gropper decided. He ruled that rewarding $300 million dollars in stock to the top executives is not illegal or unfair.

To the contrary, he said, "any incentive plan that is intended to keep management from jumping ship and leaving for another company in today's market must be very generous… "

RON HAY, NORTHWEST PILOT: The court testimony was that our executives need to be compensated along the realm of executives at GM or Dell or other large corporations that create a profit through selling a product and growing their company. Right now, Northwest Airlines is on the verge of making a profit because they took concessions from-- primarily labor..and of course the materials that they purchase and the aircraft leasing etc.

BILL MOYERS: In fact, of the $2.4 billion dollars in expenses Northwest had to slash — cuts in worker's pay and benefits accounted for 60 percent.

And workers have very little ability to jump ship the way that management can.

RON HAY: It's taken me 20 years to reach this period. And if I were to quit and go to a competitor, I start over on probationary year, first year pay. And right now, that's in the lower 30s at most places. And I can't feed a family.

BILL MOYERS: Now it's true that CEO Steenland has to stick around for all of four years to get his stock -- worth more than 20 million dollars. But don't blame him for making off with all that loot - his board of directors made him do it.

DOUG STEENLAND, CEO NORTHWEST: The decisions that were with respect to executive compensation were made by the Northwest board. Were made by the compensation committee of that board which is fully independent. Management had no say no participation or involvement in that.

BILL MOYERS: Gordon Gekko wasn't quite so humble. Remember that scene in WALL STREET when Gekko's young disciple, Bud Fox (played by Charlie Sheen) discovers that Gekko plans to eviscerate Blue Star Airlines?

Bud's own father is a mechanic for Blue Star and it dawns on the son that his father is about to be hung out to dry...while Gekko is golden.

WALL STREET CLIP: Of course the beauty of this deal is the over-funded pension. Gekko makes 75 million dollars there. 15 million buys him the minimum annuity for $6000 employees and he walks away with the rest - I figure he'll clear 60-70 million dollars. Not bad for a month's work.

BILL MOYERS: As in the movies, so in real life: the big boss rakes it in...while the company's employees will continue to struggle for years to come.

Northwest is the last of four major carriers to come out of bankruptcy after the 9-11 terror attacks.

But it is not the first airline to use bankruptcy to keep operating while it cut costs, convinced creditors to exchange debt for equity, and rewarded executives after wringing concessions from the rank and file.

When US Airways emerged from bankruptcy in 2005 CEO Doug Parker was awarded almost six million dollars-worth of stock and cash.

Employees got pay cuts of up to 53 percent:

  • pilots' top salary is $120,000.
  • Mechanics earn at most $48,300.
  • And flight attendants' top salary is just over $34,000.

When United Airlines came out of bankruptcy in 2006, CEO Glenn Tilton was awarded stock options and awards that, over four years, would earn him almost $40 million dollars. More than the airline's $25 million dollar profit that year.

Employees, on the other hand, got pay cuts of up to 50 percent:

  • pilot's top pay is $158,200.
  • Mechanics earn at most just over $52,000.
  • And flight attendants at most $37,600.
Only Delta Airlines CEO Gerald Grinstein didn't follow the Wall Street script.

When Delta climbed back from bankruptcy this past April … it's employees took pay cuts of up to 40 percent. And Grinstein actually turned down 10 million dollars in compensation.

REP. ELLISON (D-MN): Let me tell you in 1980 a CEO made 40 the average worker today they make about 400 times. This is wrong.

BILL MOYERS: Back in Minnesota, a new member of Congress, Keith Ellison, is rallying Northwest's unhappy employees.

REP. ELLISON (D-MN): Let no one be in doubt about what's happening here stock options for them … paycuts for us. To hell with that. We can't have that anymore. No. No.

KATE DAY, FLIGHT ATTENDANT: You know, we know what's right. And when the rest of society catches on that this isn't just about your flight attendant, it's about your daughter. And it's about your son. And it's about what kind of life and fairness and compensation you expect for your children that they will see that this is everyone's fight. This is not about a flight attendant contract, or a pilot contract or a mechanic contract. It's not any more even about the money. It's about what's right in our culture. What's right?

GORDON GEKKO: "I look at you and I see myself. Why?"

BUD FOX: I don't know.

BILL MOYERS: Sometimes it turns out right, even if it's only in Hollywood. In WALL STREET Young Bud Fox comes to his senses, saves the airline, turns Gordon Gekko in — and gets caught himself — for insider trading.

But hold on: Gordon Gekko will soon be back. 20th Century Fox signed a deal recently to produce a sequel to WALL STREET titled, MONEY NEVER SLEEPS. So twenty years later Gekko is returning — no doubt this time as a hedge fund manager.

BILL MOYERS: As you know we return often on this broadcast to the subject of religion. That's because so many issues in this world are driven by religious passions and ideals, including the pursuit of fairness and justice, whether in economics and politics or in matters of gender and sexuality.

No one understands more clearly how seriously religion is in conflict over morality and values than the woman you are about to meet. She came to leadership in her church hoping to pursue healing, peace, and justice, and finds herself in the eye of the storm.

BILL MOYERS: It was quite a day last fall at The National Cathedral in Washington.

For the first time in its history the Episcopal Church of America was installing a woman as its presiding bishop.

NEWSFOOTAGE: Brothers and sisters in Christ, greet the 26th presiding bishop.

BILL MOYERS: Quite a moment for a faith community that traces its roots back over four centuries to the Anglican Church of England.

And quite a moment For Katharine Jefferts Schori. Raised as a Catholic, she only became an Episcopal priest in 1994. Now, just twelve years later, she had been elected to lead America's two-and-a-half million Episcopalians.

Before the priesthood, she was a marine biologist - as familiar with squids as she would become with scripture. Now she presides over a fellowship of 7,600 congregations…

But it's a troubled time for the church. Episcopalians are part of the worldwide Anglican Community of 78 million members and they are deeply divided over issues of sexuality and the Bible.

VOICE: It is the Bible that says man shall not lie with man neither shall woman lie with a woman - it is an abomination before God.

BILL MOYERS: At a global conference in 1998, their representatives declared homosexuality to be 'incompatible with scripture."

Five years later, defying the world body, U.S. Episcopalians consecrated Gene Robinson of New Hampshire as the first openly gay bishop in the history of the church.

Traditional Episcopalians at home and Anglicans abroad were outraged. Over 40 American congregations have now voted to leave the fellowship, many to join a new alliance led by Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria.

Last February, at an international conference in Tanzania, seven archbishops refused to take communion with Bishop Jefferts Schori.

Now there is speculation the Episcopal Church of America might be expelled from the worldwide Anglican Community.

As the controversy rages, Bishop Jefferts Schori finds serenity in her faith and her flying. Her new book is in fact entitled A WING AND A PRAYER.

This week she was down to Earth again and testifying before a Congressional hearing on global warming as both a biologist and Bishop.

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: The crisis of climate change presents an unprecedented challenge to the goodness, interconnectedness and sanctity to the world that God created and loved.

BILL MOYERS: When you look at a squid what does it tell you about the world?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: The incredible wonder of God's creation and the incredible diversity of God's creation. Things that come in different sizes and colors and shapes and body forms are all part of that incredible diversity of creation that's present below the waters where we never even see them. And the Psalms tell us that God delights in that. That creation is in some sense God's way of-- loving the world.

BILL MOYERS: Has being a trained biologist shaped your faith journey?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: Absolutely. My faith journey has been, as a scientist, about discovering the wonder of creation. That there's a prayer that we, in the Episcopal Church use after baptism that prays that the newly baptized may receive the gift of joy and wonder in all God's works. The kind of work that I did as a scientist was a piece of that, just a small piece.

BILL MOYERS: What do you personally believe brought this world into existence?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: As a scientist, I would embrace something that looks like the Big Bang as an accurate representation of how the best of knowledge today understands the origins of the universe.

As a person of faith-- Genesis tells me that God is in love with this world. That God creates and calls it good, and God finishes creation and calls it very good.

BILL MOYERS: What meaning comes from science?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: The origins of what is, of a connectedness of what is, the mechanism of how what is has come to be.

BILL MOYERS: And what meaning comes from religion?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: What it means to be in relationship with something beyond ourselves.

BILL MOYERS: With God.

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: With God, what it means to be in relationship with other human beings. What it means to be in relationship with the rest of creation.

Christians talk about the body of Christ. A theologian named Sally McFague talks about the body of God as being all of creation. When one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers. That's an essential piece of Paul's theology. If we're not caring adequately for the other parts of the body, we are not only destroying ourselves, but we're destroying our neighbors here and across the world.

The fact that, you know, how I use carbon might have some impact on a poor person in China.

BILL MOYERS: Or vice versa.

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: Absolutely.

BILL MOYERS: Or the old story that I've heard so often of butterflies motion--creates disturbances thousands of miles away And science tells us that, right?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: Absolutely. So does religion.

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: Religion and science are both ways of knowing, but they go at it from somewhat different perspectives. Science asks questions about how things happen and where they've come from. Religion and faith traditions ask questions of meaning, about why we're here and what we should do with what we have here, and how we should relate to the rest of creation.

BILL MOYERS: What is it about religion that provides that radical certainty for the people who are often on the other side of the issue from you on most or many things.

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: Religion is at its best, I think, an invitation into relationship. It's not necessarily a set of instructions for how you deal with every challenging person you run across in the world. It has that at its depth, but it does not give one permission to say, "This person is out, and this one's okay and acceptable." And it continually invites us into a larger understanding of that relationship.

BILL MOYERS: And yet so much of religion is about excluding, not connecting, not including.

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: Connection with the sacred is something that gives people a sense of what is beyond themselves. And the desire to control that I think is one of the basic human failings. If we can control access to the sacred or control how the larger world understands those we like or those we do not like-- we have the ability to change things in creative or destructive directions.

BILL MOYERS: As I read about the conflict in your church, what I find is that both sides treat the Bible as their source, but they come to totally opposite conclusions as to what the Bible says. What do you make of that? As a scientist and a believer.

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: Our ways of reading Scripture shape the conclusions we come to. And often what we go looking for shapes the conclusions about what we read. I'll give you, a loaded example. The story of David and Jonathan.

You know, Canonically, the traditional way of reading that has been about the friendship between two men. It says in the Scripture that David loved Jonathan with a love surpassing women. Many gay and lesbian people in our church today say, "This is a text that says something constructive about the love between people of the same gender." Yet our tradition has rarely been able to look at it with those eyes. I think that's a fertile ground for some serious Biblical scholarship and some encounter from people who come to different conclusions.

BILL MOYERS: If biology, as I understand it does, tells us that homosexuality is a genetic given. And religion says homosexuality is a sin in the eyes of God, can those two perceptions ever be reconciled?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: How do we come to a conclusion that it's a sin in the eyes of God?

BILL MOYERS: Well, you're the-

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: What texts do we read that-

BILL MOYERS: But you know, all of your adversaries say that it is.

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: Well, I would have them go back to the very sources they find so black and white about that, and ask what's the context of this passage? What was it written to address? What was going on underneath it that this appears to speak to? And I think we find when we do some very serious scholarship, that in almost every case, it's speaking about a cultural context that looks nothing like the one in which we're wrestling with homosexuality today.

BILL MOYERS: So how do you read Jonathan and David, that story?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: I think it's got some challenging things to say to us who have said for hundreds of years, thousands of years that it's inappropriate for two men to love each other in that way.

BILL MOYERS: Is this a moral issue to you?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: It's a moral issue in the sense that part of the job of a church is to help all Christians grow up into the full stature of Christ. It's to help all of us to lead holy lives. The question is what does that holy life look like?

BILL MOYERS: Well, many conservative, traditional Christians say that the homosexual life is not a holy life.

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: They would say that it's only holy if it's celibate. And I think we've got more examples out of Scripture even, to offer in challenge to that.

BILL MOYERS: If it is a moral issue, is there a way somewhere between the positions on this? Or is it impossible for a church divided to agree on that way somewhere between the moral judgments?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: I do believe it's a moral issue because it's about how we love our neighbor. It's about how we live in relationship to God and our neighbors. When I look at other instances in church history, when we've been faced with something similar — the history in this country over the-- over slavery. The church in the north, much of it came to a different conclusion than the church in the south-- about the morality of slavery. And neither side was comfortable with the breadth of understanding that could include the other.

In practice, the Episcopal Church didn't kick out the Confederate part of the church. They kept calling the roll during the Civil War, and when the war was over, they welcomed them back. But in the heat of the moment it's pretty tough to live with that kind of breadth that can include a position that seems so radically opposed.

BILL MOYERS: It's not my intention to hold Episcopalians up as the only arbiter of this issue because the Catholics are facing it, the Mormons are facing it, the Southern Baptist Convention is facing it. Orthodox Jews are facing it. And Islam, of course. Why are so many religious people uptight about sex?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: Because we haven't done an adequate job of talking about the whole human being, I think. Teaching in our faith tradition about the whole human being. And actually Judaism has probably done a better job than most of Christianity.

Celebrating the Sabbath for a married couple was often understood to include sexual intercourse. A way of welcoming and rejoicing in the presence of God in the midst of the Sabbath. Christianity hasn't been able to say that very effectively.

BILL MOYERS: Why, do you think?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: I think part of it's our Greek heritage. You know, our tendency toward dualism, that-- you know, one part of a human being or a male human being-- exemplifies spirit and-- a female human being is somehow lesser and demonstrates the flesh

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: With our long-development of an anthropology that says that heterosexual male is a normative human being. We've only begun in the last 150 years to really question that.

And I believe that the wrestling with the place of women in leadership, particularly in public leadership, is directly related to the same kind of issue over the position of gay and lesbian people in leadership, in public leadership.

BILL MOYERS: When you look at what the other side says about homosexuality, and the Scriptural tradition, do you grant them anything?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: Absolutely. That has been the traditional way of seeing things. It was also why Galileo got in so much trouble. The traditional way of seeing things was that the sun went around the Earth, not the other way around. If you expect things to be in a certain way, it's hard to see data that ask you to see the world in a very different way.

BILL MOYERS: So you would concede that as people like you want to modernize the Canon, the tradition and the Scripture, the traditionalists who look back and say, "This is our sacred tradition," would not want to come along on that journey.

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: Absolutely. But, I would take them back into that tradition to see within it far more complexity than they've been willing to admit.

BILL MOYERS: But can there be compromise and conciliation within the church when the positions are so fixed and the feelings are so strong?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: I think if we're willing to hold our positions a little more lightly. To say, "Yes, this is where we come to as a conclusion out of faithfulness. We understand you may come to a different conclusion, also out of faithfulness. Perhaps we don't have to decide one way or the other immediately." If we're willing to live in that place of a little more humility, yes, we can live together.

BILL MOYERS: But isn't this what liberals say? We would like to talk and have a dialogue and listen. But do you get that coming back from this? I mean, the Bishop of Uganda would not meet with you. Now, you would be willing to meet and listen, but he won't. How can there then be any kind of reconciliation?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: Well, the larger structure of the communion did make that a possibility. He was at the table in Tanzania in February with me. We had one or two conversations. And clearly we disagree about matters of sexuality. But we do hold some other things in common.

BILL MOYERS: Did you recognize that? I mean, was there any sense of---kinship? Can you say communion with somebody who believes so differently from you on this issue?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: I can. I can.

BILL MOYERS: Can he? Would he? Will he?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: He was not willing to come to communion when I was present, which made me very sad. I know how painful it is to be excluded from the table.

BILL MOYERS: So is this issue going to tear your church apart?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: I don't believe so. I think people are going to be uncomfortable for a while, but-- perhaps that's the kind of stress that leads to growth eventually. I believe that-- perhaps a few more people may decide they have to go somewhere else. That they can't live with this-- innovation, in their eyes. But I don't believe it's going to tear our church apart.

BILL MOYERS: It's a fact that the biggest and fastest growing churches in the world are in what we call the global south-- Africa, Latin America, Asia, where the authority of Scripture has not been challenged. In fact, the Anglican community in Nigeria — your counterpart to Episcopalians in this country — have seven times the numbers you do in this country. What are they doing right that you aren't?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: They're functioning in a very different context. They're functioning in an environment where radical Islam is very much a force in the community, where in fact Christianity and Islam are competing for converts. There's some indication that membership in a faith tradition is less clearly defined than it might be for people here in the United States.

Our context here is of a complex culture faced with issues that are not so often about life and death. That are not about where the next meal is going to come from in most people in mainline traditions. That are not about disease that's likely to kill 40 percent of us before we reach maturity. We're dealing with different, different radical questions of meaning

BILL MOYERS: Now I've been stunned to realize just how deep is the hostility to homosexuals in Africa. The penal code of Nigeria provides for up to 14 years imprisonment for homosexuality. It's considered illegal under Nigerian law. And, Islamists in Nigeria, as I understand it, are pressing right now as we speak-- for a new law that would provide for homosexuals to be stoned. So you're saying this would have some effect on the Christian-- Anglicans in Nigeria.

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: Absolutely. Right, and the Anglican Archbishop has been working for a similar kind of law to outlaw all kinds of-- not just homosexual activity, but even having conversations about it in public.

BILL MOYERS: Your colleague?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: Yes.

BILL MOYERS: Peter-- Peter Akinola?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: Yes.

BILL MOYERS: How can you ever make peace with that kind of people? Or he with you?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: Well, well, I look at where laws were in this country 50 years ago. How many laws were there about sodomy in this country 50 years ago? People were imprisoned for being open about their sexuality. It wasn't until Stonewall in the '60s that we began to-

BILL MOYERS: Here in New York.

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: --talk about that kind of thing openly.

BILL MOYERS: As I've watched the struggle grow within your community, with an American Episcopalian community growing more and more liberal. And the Nigerians and Rwandans and the others growing more and more conservative on this issue. Is it possible that a divorce is the right choice down the road?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: It's-- it's remotely possible. But if we give up and say that's the only solution, I think we would lose something very precious. The Anglican Communion is one of the only worldwide faith communities that is willing to live with significant diversity of opinion. I think we have something to offer the larger society in teaching people how to live with folks who don't agree with you. It's not always easy, but it is of the Gospel, in my understanding.

BILL MOYERS: What can you and Peter Akinola, the Archbishop of Nigeria, your counterpart, what can you all collaborate on?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: I think with the help of our colleagues, we can collaborate on more than either of us might expect. He has said quite clearly that he doesn't want the help of the Episcopal Church in any kind of mission work in Nigeria, which is incredibly sad. It also removes us from being able to learn about his context-- to learn about Christian evangelism in a culture where Islam is so present and vocal. It- prevents both of us from being converted by the conversation.

BILL MOYERS: Do you see any hope of that changing?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: God has a way of keeping us at things like this. Even when some of us would find it more comfortable to depart.

BILL MOYERS: What is God asking you to do?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: I think God is asking us to build a society where people can live together in peace with a sense of justice. Where people can develop their gifts to the fullest, where people can, in some sense, recover their presence in the garden.

BILL MOYERS: You've even been criticized by some of your liberal colleagues in the American fellowship because you have called for a moratorium for a season on ordaining more gay Bishops. Why did you do that?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: It was a very painful thing to do. My sense was that there might be hope of some kind of broader understanding if we were able to pause. Not go backwards, but pause.

BILL MOYERS: Is it fair to ask some aspiring gay or lesbian person who wants to become a Bishop, like Gene Robinson did in 2003, to wait?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: Is it fair? No. It's not fair.

BILL MOYERS: But it's necessary?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: It's a crucified place to stand.

BILL MOYERS: There are some of your dioceses that do not accept your ordination-

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: Uh-huh

BILL MOYERS: --because you are a woman.

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: There are three Bishops, three diocesan Bishops.

BILL MOYERS: Three Bishops out of how many?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: A hundred and ten.

BILL MOYERS: Women are still up against a stained glass ceiling in religion, are they not? You are an exception.

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: All of the traditions have within them the seeds of an alternate view. Paul's ability to say that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male and female. Islam-- the presence of women in the earliest strands of that tradition-- and women of some significant position. The Jewish tradition, with Miriam as one of the leaders of Israel-- Deborah, among the judges. Women whose places have been often marginalized or forgotten. The many women in the Christian Scriptures who are not named.

Mary Magdalene, who is apostle to the apostles, is first to tell the news of the Resurrection, but is rejected and marginalized as a prostitute in later Christian thought. Some of what those insights are-- have been apparently too uncomfortable to maintain in the religious tradition.

The reality is that women have always been very important tradents and passers-on of the tradition. In most cultures in the West women have passed on the faith at home. They continue to do that. This church and some other faith traditions have begun to affirm women's ability to do that in the larger public sphere. The early church did it until it got too uncomfortable.

BILL MOYERS: Early in the Christian story, women were a very dynamic presence, and leaders of local congregations. Then came the Bishops.

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: There's a very intriguing mosaic somewhere in Italy that apparently says, "Theodora Episcopa" in the feminine. Who knows? Who knows?

BILL MOYERS: I'll bet in the last year, there have been moments when you wished it was just you and that squid again in the-

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: Oh, no.

BILL MOYERS: --is that right?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: I miss going to sea. I loved that. But I'm finding this a blessed ministry. Sure, there are challenges to it, but that's what keeps life interesting.

BILL MOYERS: What brings you the greatest joy in a day?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: I think seeing the signs of health and vitality in the church around the larger church. And they exist everywhere, places where people are focused on serving their neighbors. Places where people are doing new and creative things. Seeing partnerships between a church in Iowa and the diocese of Swaziland that's providing clean water. Things like that, that show people at work doing Gospel work.

BILL MOYERS: Bishop Katharine, thank you very much.

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: Thank you, it's been a joy to be here.

BILL MOYERS: Same here.

BILL MOYERS: May was the deadliest month of the year for American forces in Iraq — 126 dead and 652 wounded. Seventeen more have already died in June. This escalating carnage in Iraq makes it difficult to remember there is another war going on in Afghanistan.

Five and a half years ago, American forces went after Osama bin Laden and the Taliban regime of religious fundamentalists who had given him sanctuary. Osama bin Laden escaped but the Taliban were routed. When the Bush administration turned immediately to planning the invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan became America's forgotten war — old news if news at all. In fact, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was in Afghanistan this week, meeting with President Karzai, who made this announcement: "The war has been won. It is the finish touch that we're dealing with now."

BILL MOYERS: But is that true? According to other accounts, the Taliban are once again gaining in strength and just as determined to foist strict Muslim law on the country. Over the last year, the Taliban guerrillas have been using tactics employed by Iraqi insurgents: car bombs, suicide attacks and the targeting of civilians. a thousand Afghan civilians were killed last year alone according to human rights watch, the most since 2001. Nearly 400 civilians have died this year.

BILL MOYERS: While most of these civilian deaths have come from insurgent attacks, many Afghans have been killed during air strikes and ground operations by American and NATO forces — so called collateral damage. The deaths have produced protests from angry Afghans and new sympathy for the Taliban in towns and villages outside the main cities. Some government officials are even calling for negotiations with the Taliban and the withdrawal of American and NATO troops.

Security is said to be fast disappearing across the country, and reconstruction projects have been slowed. So Afghan farmers are once again growing poppies in order to survive, and the flourishing trade has made the country the number one provider of the world's heroin supply...just this week the commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan told reporters that poppy is a defining characteristic of the country- with the Taliban linked to the drug trade.

Here to talk about the story in Afghanistan is Christian Parenti, who has just returned from his fourth trip there. The author of three books and the recent recipient of a Stanley Foundation Reporting Award, Parenti was on assignment this time for PLAYBOY. Thanks for joining me.

BILL MOYERS: Your fourth trip. Why do you keep going back?

CHRISTIAN PARENTI: Well, I like Afghanistan, and huge pieces of world politics hinge on what is happening in that country.

BILL MOYERS: How so?

CHRISTIAN PARENTI: It was the kick-off for Bush's global war on terror. It was the stepping stone that his administration used to get to Iraq, and in that regard, and there's still 17,000 U.S. troops there, and 26 NATO countries there. And so it matters what is happening in that country.

BILL MOYERS: Is it a safer place to be today than those first three visits?

CHRISTIAN PARENTI: No, each time it becomes less safe. Each time I've gone there, the Taliban control more and more territory. And what's particularly disturbing is that the Taliban even have a type default popular support among people who originally supported the government. And it's not that many people who are starting to support the Taliban like the Taliban program, but they've become so frustrated with the corruption and criminality of the Kabul government that they

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean corruption?

CHRISTIAN PARENTI: The government in Afghanistan is one of the most corrupt institutions on the planet. Policeman pay to get jobs as cops, not because they want the $80 to $100 a month salary, but because they want the right to shakedown traffic on the highways for bribes. A friend of mine who worked for the ministry of women's affairs told me that that ministry had to bribe the transportation ministry to get licenses for their vehicles to drive around. So that's the level of corruption that government ministries have to bribe each other.

BILL MOYERS: Life under the Taliban was no bed of roses. I mean

CHRISTIAN PARENTI: It wasn't at all. But what happens is people start getting nostalgic, and then they also start hoping that the Taliban have changed. This friend of mine, Ajmal, who ended up being killed by the Taliban, before a couple of months before that happened was thinking that "Oh, the Taliban had changed, and at least they won't be corrupt. It'll be severe. I'll have to grow a beard. I'll be, you know, forced to pray five times a day..." But he thought, "Well, at least I won't be shaken down by judges and I won't have to pay bribes at every turn."

BILL MOYERS: Your friend was a translator and he was a Muslim and he believed in the future of Afghanistan and he was killed.

CHRISTIAN PARENTI: Yes, my friend and translator named Ajmal Naqshbandi was captured, interviewing the Taliban, in Helmand Province. He was with an Italian journalist and

BILL MOYERS: Captured by?

CHRISTIAN PARENTI: The Taliban, kidnapped.

BILL MOYERS: How did they kill him?

CHRISTIAN PARENTI: They cut his head off.

BILL MOYERS: He was a journalist.

CHRISTIAN PARENTI: He was a journalist. He wrote for a Japanese newspaper and he shot video sometimes for a Korean television station. And he would work as a fixer which is to say, you know, arranging interviews and helping journalists like myself, and an interpreter.

BILL MOYERS: Do you think he got overly confident about his ability to relate to the Taliban?

CHRISTIAN PARENTI: He did. I think the wishful thinking that was borne from his frustration with the corruption of the Karzai government made him think that the Taliban wouldn't kill him, because he was a Muslim, because he was an Afghan. And he had had contact he'd arranged interviews. And I think he thought that he had good enough relations with various sections of the Taliban and nothing could go wrong, but it did. Horribly.

It was just wishful thinking. That was born of frustration about the lack of real progress, the lack of meaningful development. There has been some economic development. There's been the paving of several major roads, and in the cities there's a burgeoning service sector because of the money both aid money and drug money that flushes through those areas. But most of Afghanistan's 28 million people live in the countryside they suffer under seven year drought and they are not seeing any of those benefits.

BILL MOYERS: Did he have a family?

CHRISTIAN PARENTI: He had just gotten married to a young woman. And the situation for women in Afghanistan is such even middle class, urban women that-- it will be very hard for this woman to relaunch her life.

BILL MOYERS: Why?

CHRISTIAN PARENTI: Having been married, not being a virgin, means that it will be very hard for her to marry someone her age or that she would have be compatible with and the life of a widow is very hard in Afghanistan, even if she's in this case, the woman is, I think, 18 or 19. And she was only with Ajmal for six months. So, in those situations typically the best thing that can happen for a woman is she marries the brother of her former husband. Maybe she becomes somebody's second or third wife. It's the life of a widow is very, very hard.

BILL MOYERS: Did you see his widow when you were there?

CHRISTIAN PARENTI: No, I mean, Afghan culture is such that even in Kabul, you would never see somebody's wife. I didn't see his mother. I went to his house, his father's house many you know, four or five times. I spent afternoons there. And in mixed company, maybe one on one with his father, you know, it would be okay to ask about his mother or his widow. But for example if there were other men in the room, it would be very rude and impolite to even inquire after the wellbeing of this woman. The polite thing is to just not acknowledge her existence. And when you when you're in a living room in an Afghan house and the guests, the male guests get up to leave, one of the younger men will go before you, leave the room, and shoo the women out of the way so you don't even see them. And this is in the city, in Kabul.

This is also helpful you know, to understand that kind of culture might help people understand why Afghans pick up the gun. It is it would no American would like a SWAT team or a foreign military to come through their house and look through their underwear drawers and in their bookshelves.

But can you imagine how infuriating and humiliating a search by U.S. soldiers, even a politely conducted search, would be for people who have this set of cultural standards where guests are not supposed to see women or it's rude to ask about women, and then foreign troops come in and search the women's quarters at four in the morning? And this kind of thing happens. That's part of counter-insurgency. And believe me, it infuriates Afghan men and will drive them to pick up the gun again.

BILL MOYERS: How do you explain the fact that Americans don't seem to American policymakers don't seem to grasp that?

CHRISTIAN PARENTI: I think it has to do with a number of things. One is that people cycle through these war zones on one year contracts and their goal is primarily the advancement of their career, secondarily the advancement of the larger project. And it's usually not good for your career to say, "Hey, the larger project isn't going well. Sorry to be the jerk in the organization, but I disagree with the scenario that's being laid here." That's usually not good for an intelligence analyst you know, State Department person. So, there's institutional pressures to just keep your mouth shut and go along with the program. And then that means that the higher-ups have no idea what's really happening. And there are there are people on the ground in Kabul who know who know what's happening, but no one wants to hear from them.

I think it's similar to Vietnam which, you know, nobody wanted to say, "Things aren't working out," because it was bad for their careers. So, the decision makers were genuinely, despite all their power and all of the information presumably at their disposal, were often genuinely confused about the real nature of what was happening on the ground.

BILL MOYERS: It will soon be six years since from Afghanistan Osama bin Laden masterminded the attacks of 9/11. Why can't we find him?

CHRISTIAN PARENTI: Well, I think partly it has to do with the fact that our indispensable ally in the war on terror, Pakistan, is playing both sides of the game. That the Pakistani intelligence is not in fact committed to finding Osama bin Laden. That elements of the Pakistani intelligence actually are allowing him to continue operating out of parts of Pakistan. So, that's one reason. And the other reason is that it's you know, it's an enormous terrain.

CHRISTIAN PARENTI: It's like flying over the Rocky Mountains and imagine looking down for one guy who might be hiding out there. And, you can't do that simply with hi-tech gadgetry. If you don't have the people on the side of the project of trying to find Osama bin Laden he will never be turned in. If he can find sanctuary in these villages, if he's seen as a liberator who's opposing these infidel invaders who are defiling the culture and the religion, then it'll be very, very hard to find him.

CHRISTIAN PARENTI: I think sometimes there's a misperception, and we think that because America has such incredible hi-tech intelligence and military capacities and can drop satellite guided bombs on to people cell phones that it should be easy to find Osama bin Laden. But there's a cultural, political human element to the whole thing which is that if the people in the place where he's operating don't support the U.S. and they do support him, then the project of tracking him down is pretty hopeless.

BILL MOYERS: Musharraf, the President of Pakistan, recently reiterated his support for the war on terrorism. What do you make of that?

CHRISTIAN PARENTI: Musharraf is brilliant at saying what the U.S. wants to hear and doing on the ground, on the border in Afghanistan, what is good for -- what he thinks is good for Pakistan's interests and what the military, the officer class in Pakistan, for the entire 50 years of its history has thought was good to do -- which is to weaken Afghanistan and to use the tribal militias on the border to fight a proxy war against the Afghan government.

So, there's no reason he can't have it both ways. Write a book, publish it in D.C., say whatever people want to hear in America and then do something different on the border with Afghanistan.

BILL MOYERS: Americans keep talking about wanting a capitalist democracy in Afghanistan. Any chance that a capitalist democracy taking root, any signs, any seeds?

CHRISTIAN PARENTI: One can travel around Kabul and imagine that that's what's happening, because unlike Iraq, the central cities tend to be fairly safe in Afghanistan. There are suicide bombings — there was one when I was there but it's not the front lines like cities are in Iraq.

You do see lots of new buildings going up. A lot of that is drug profits being laundered through real estate, and there were elections. And so, you know, if you blur your eyes, you can look around in the cities and say, "Well, this looks like a capitalist democracy taking form." But if you drive out of town, you see that the economy is based on growing poppies to produce heroin and opium, and that there is no democracy or free speech and that there is a state of criminality and war unfortunately throughout much of the countryside.

BILL MOYERS: What is the endgame to the American NATO in Afghanistan?

CHRISTIAN PARENTI: The optimistic state department types and who pass through for one year have a version of the endgame that I think is highly unrealistic which is the originally story we were all told. That Afghanistan turns into a functioning capitalist democracy with a developed economy. More realistically people talk quietly about negotiating with the Taliban and letting the Taliban into the government. And then a sort of third version of things is a return to the collapse and open civil war that marked life in Afghanistan during the 1990s.

BILL MOYERS: So this would lead to Afghanistan once again becoming a rogue state from which terrorists are free to operate.

CHRISTIAN PARENTI: Yeah, and the south of it sort of already is. It already is essentially a failed narco-state which harbors terrorists. But within this failed narco-state there are there's an archipelago of cities, Herat, Kabul, Mazar-i-sharif where law and order functions and where foreigners can operate in relative safety despite, you know, the bi-weekly suicide bombings, but essentially it already is, yes, a failed state a failed narco-state that's a operating ground for terrorists.

BILL MOYERS: Christian Parenti, thank you.

Because the drug trade in Afghanistan is so pervasive, Congress stepped in this week - with the House passing a bill to cut off American money to local governments with ties to the opium market. The White House said that's unrealistic.

That's it for this week. you can submit questions for Christian Parenti on the blog at pbs.org. See you next week. I'm Bill Moyers.

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