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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Amanpour and Company.” Here’s what’s coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His rhetoric has been painful for many in our community and I think that people should stand up and say they are not
happy if they are not happy that he is coming.
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AMANPOUR: President and Mrs. Trump travel to Dayton and El Paso to offer prayer and condolence to grieving communities, victims of hate crimes. But
could their visit further divide a troubled nation. I’ll ask Karen Bass, chairman of Congressional Black Caucus.
Then a secretive evangelical network wields influence to the peak of power. A new series pulls back the veil on “The Family.”
And in China, parents forced to restrict their family size for almost 40 years. Filmmaker, Nanfu Wang, uncovers the history of the notorious one
Welcome to the program, everyone. I’m Christiane Amanpour in London.
President and Mrs. Trump have been visiting Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas today, defying a backlash many in both communities who urge them not to
come. While President Trump did come to offer sympathy and support, his anti-immigrant rhetoric spark protest.
His repeated use of words like invasion and infestation is cited as potential motivation for the El Paso killer. And while the president
claims he wants to stay out of the political fray, today, he tied the Dayton killer to Democratic presidential candidates.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: As I was saying and it just came out, the Dayton situation, he was a fan Antifa. He was a fan of Bernie Sanders and
Elizabeth Warren, nothing to do with Trump, but nobody ever mentions that.
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AMANPOUR: Antifa are the antifascists protesters whom President Trump lumps together with White supremist on his roster of hate groups.
Meanwhile, a shocking image shows just how far America still has to go to expunge the original sin of slavery. In Galveston, Texas, police officials
had to apologize to their community after these images went viral. Two officers on horseback leading a handcuffed Black man with what appears to
be a rope after he was arrested on Saturday. 400 years after the first African slaves arrived in Virginia, America still struggles with the stain
and the actions of racial terror.
Representative Karen Bass is just back from Ghana where she was part of a congressional delegation observing this anniversary of slavery by visiting
the door of no return, that’s the place where her ancestors and millions of others were first taken from Africa. Karen bass is chair of the
Congressional Black Caucus and she’s joining me from Los Angeles.
Congresswoman Bass, welcome to the program.
REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): Thank you. Thanks for having me on.
AMANPOUR: You know, we’ve mentioned this picture, this awful image because we just simply cannot believe that this is possible. And particularly,
after you have returned from Ghana commemorating this awful anniversary. Just tell me what you made of seeing that picture.
BASS: Well, I mean, it’s like being punched in your stomach, you know, it really is. But one of the problems in our country has been we have never
really come to grips with the fact that the United States was built off of 250 years of free labor, the enslavement of African-Americans. And then
for 100 years after that, we had our own version of apartheid.
And although that picture is horrible, just think about the picture of Eric Garner literally being executed, choked to death on video. And the police
officers that murdered him, you know, were not even prosecuted. As a matter of fact, they’re still debating whether or not to fire them. So,
that picture was terrible but watching Eric Garner murdered was even worse.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And everybody was shocked by that when we saw that in New York in 2014. And as you mentioned, that case goes on.
I wonder, since we’re talking about the events that have happened in El Paso and Dayton, whether these images, whether these actions, whether this
still obvious, not just Layton, but obvious stain that remains in America, you know, is part of what leads to these hate-filled killings.
BASS: There is no doubt in my mind, which is why I just think it is so consistent with the president’s arrogance and insensitivity that he would
actually go to El Paso. And although, of course, we know that it wasn’t his hand on the trigger, I absolutely charge him with inciting the
If you look at what that shooter, that murder wrote, it sounded like a script from a Trump rally. So, it is not just racism against
African-Americans. When Trump came into office, when he rode down that escalator, he rode that escalator attacking Latinos.
And so, for the last two-and-a-half years, African-American, Latinos and a lot of other people have suffered nothing but attack from this president.
It is actually an embarrassment to our country.
AMANPOUR: So, of course, the president denies it and his people and advisors deny it. I had a conversation with Kellyanne Conway earlier this
week in the immediate aftermath and they very, very firmly pushback and talk about what he says now, condemning racism, White supremacy, terrorism,
using all those words, you know, in one sentence for the first time. Do you believe as much as you’ve seen from this president that it is possible
that this could be a turning point?
BASS: Not for one minute. This president has had a lifelong history of attacking people of color. Back in the 60s with his father where he was
charged by the federal government with housing discrimination. What he said about African-Americans that worked for his companies, you know, not
wanting them on the casino floor because he thought the customers wouldn’t want to see Black people there. He’s had a long history of racial
So, what I think happened is someone wrote a speech for him, he did a good job reading it, and I promise you, you wait for a couple of weeks to go by,
the next time he has a rally and you will hear all of his vitriol spewed out again. Even what he said about the shooter in Dayton, they don’t know
what happened with that guy. They are still looking for the motive. He’s already blaming it on Democrats.
One of the things we have suffered from for the last two-and-a-half years is a president who has no problem openly lying and essentially gets away
with it. So, he’s on record saying one thing. If he was not appalled by what happened in Charlottesville a couple of years ago, why on earth would
I think he would be appalled by what happened in El Paso?
AMANPOUR: Well, because there are 30 more deaths that happened in Charlottesville and, you know, one would hope that that would be a
galvanizing moment. But I want to ask you because we’re looking at pictures of protests in Dayton.
AMANPOUR: People that were against his visit there, some. You know, he tweeted today “Feeling blamed by this.” And he tweeted about President
Obama. He said, “Did George Bush ever condemn President Obama after Sandy Hook? President Obama had 32 mass shootings during his reign. Not many
people said Obama is out of control. Mass shootings were happening before the president even thought about running for president.” So, it’s a
retweet, I believe, of “Fox & Friends.”
BASS: Well, and that is one of the problems in our country right now, is that we have a president that his own TV network. So, the reality that he
spews out is not really challenged.
But just think about it for one minute, no one in eight years ever insinuated that President Obama incited violence. President Obama was an
incredible consoler in chief. He went to the place where the shootings took place and people welcomed him. The idea that Trump would actually go
to these two cities is just the height of his insensitivity.
But let me say, because I think it’s really important to note, this is not the first time. There were four acts of domestic terrorism before the last
election. The shooting at the synagogue, the shooter said that the reason why he killed people was because he believed that the Jewish community was
funding the invasion from Latin America, from Central America, and that’s why he went in and killed people. The guy that delivered the bombs had
nothing but Trump all over his van.
And so, this is not the first act of violence that he incited. My concern is, though, that in the United States we have such a short-term memory. We
need to connect all of these dots. There’s actually a shooter, a gunman, that they — is held up right now, as we speak, at USA today. Hopefully,
he hasn’t killed anybody but there — but police are going after a shooter right now. Where? It’s at the media. Who does Trump attack? The media.
He attacks the media. He attacks Latinos, he attacks African-Americans. We should not be surprised, and I do not believe his behavior going to
AMANPOUR: Well, we’re obviously going to look into that thing that you just mentioned, that would be troubling, indeed. But can I ask you this,
then, now, we hear politicians saying, “We must mourn the victims. We must think about them. It is not time to talk politics.” And yet, everybody,
of course, is talking politics and the politics of gun control or how to somehow mitigate this explosion of violence that is fueled by the
availability of guns.
President Trump has called for red flag measures and others. And also, he did say this about background check today. Let’s just play what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: There’s a great appetite and I mean, a very strong appetite for background checks and I think we can bring up background checks like we’ve
never had before.
We’re going to be very strong on background checks. We’d be doing very strong background checks, very strong emphasis on the mental health of
somebody. And we are going to do plenty of other things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: OK. So, Congresswoman, we butted two pieces together. One the president calling or suggesting background check action today. But the
other one was right after the Parkland shooting. And of course, nothing happened after the Parkland shooting in terms of background checks.
So, again, because of this terrible violence, do you believe Congress, which of you are part, will do something about background checks or other
BASS: Well, let me just say that I’m really glad that you played both of those clips because he said that and 24 hours later, he reversed his
position after the NRA called him up. So, I guarantee you tomorrow we’ll hear a new position. If we don’t hear a new position from him by the end
of the day. So, his words to me are meaningless.
I will tell you, though, in the House of Representatives where I sit, we did pass background legislation. I believe that it is possible that we
might go back even before recess is over and pass additional legislation. The problem is that the legislation has stalled in the Senate. The reason
it’s stalled in the Senate is because the president doesn’t want it to happen.
If the president sincerely wants it to happen, then he will call the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and make it happen. He has the power to
do that. So, we will see.
The other thing, though, that I do want to point out is that every time a mass shooter is a White man, and you know, the overwhelming majority, if
not almost 100%, are White men, my Republican colleagues always want to talk about mental health. If this was a person of color, the person would
be a terrorist even before there was an investigation. It would be an automatic thing.
But let’s just go with mental health for a minute. If mental health is the issue, why are the same people that call for mental health needing to be
addressed are the very same people that are trying to take away health care from the American people, period? So, the idea now that we’re going to
look at White supremacy as a mental illness like President Trump’s chief of staff said is just an excuse and it is a further example of why the United
States in 2019 still cannot deal with the issue of race.
AMANPOUR: Or guns. Because you have just talked about —
BASS: Or guns.
AMANPOUR: — potentially Congress coming back, the House coming back before recess. We understand from reporting that the Senate majority
leader, who you mentioned, Mitch McConnell, has no intention of calling the Senate back. And yet, in my conversation with Kellyanne Conway earlier
this week, I was talking about new laws and she said it was Congress’ responsibility. Listen to what she told me.
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KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Every time you talk about passing laws, you know, full well who passes the laws in this country,
Congress. But they’re on their six-week recess. Why did they leave in the first place? All this grand standing, call us back, call us back. And
they’re welcome to come back if they like. But will they?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, will they? Will the House, for instance?
BASS: I think that there is a chance that some of the committees might come back. But I do have to emphasize the House has already passed
legislation. We passed legislation on backgrounds and we also passed legislation on some of the loopholes that allows people to get guns.
So, it’s the Senate. The bills are sitting in the Senate. If Kellyanne Conway is — I mean, if she’s actually sincere then she will tell the
president to call the head of the Senate and to have the Senate come back. The bills are waiting for him to call a vote. And the president has the
power to tell the majority leader to do that. He listens to him, when we get a budget deal done, when we get anything done, it’s because there’s
agreement between the president and the Senate. The House has already acted.
AMANPOUR: So, yes, Kellyanne Conway. But — so, let me ask you about this, I mean, it does seem extraordinary that — well, the “New York times”
has reported that there have been thousands of uses by the campaign to re- elect the president, the re-election campaign of the word invasion in ads on Facebook, and a lot of emphasis on that very recently.
But, also, reports that the White House plans to try to woo African-Americans and minorities to bring them out, obviously, for the
election. Wooing them on the economic record, on, you know, low unemployment and the like. How likely is that message to go down?
BASS: Zero, zero. You know, I think it’s a cenacle effort that he wants to go after African-American men, in particular. Well, African-American,
women 88 percent voted for Clinton, 80 percent of Black men did. He has zero possibility of making inroads in the African-American community.
People are not stupid. People know that he did not impact the unemployment rate of African-Americans. He inherited the economy that President Obama
If he has done anything for African-Americans, I would like to know which program he’s actually put together. In the time he has been in office, he
has dismantled so much of the safety net that we have put in place, whether you are talking about civil rights departments within different agencies,
getting rid of consent decrees, not calling for officers to be prosecuted even when the Department of Justice has called for them be. So, he has
done absolutely nothing for the African-American community. He has only hurt the African-American community.
AMANPOUR: Can I just ask you something as we end this interview that is sad but happy. Sad because she passed, and that is the Great Toni
Morrison. But at some — you know —
AMANPOUR: Even, you know, Black community here in Great Britain, happy that they have been able to inhabit —
AMANPOUR: — the same earth as somebody of such legendary power in her time on this earth. Your pastor — you paid tribute, the Caucus paid
tribute to her yesterday. Just, in this time of deep, deep division and such blatant racism, just give us a sense of what she brought to her
community, to her country and to our world.
BASS: Well — and I so appreciate you raising her because, you know, she was such symbol, and a symbol for all of us. I love the fact that
President Obama paid tribute to her by giving her the medal that he did. You know, she was a storyteller, a person who told the truth, the
truthteller. And it’s interesting that one of her signature works “Beloved,” was about an enslaved family escaping slavery while we’re in the
400th anniversary of our arrival in the United States.
And so, it’s time to reflect on her message, on the beauty of her words and the fact she was a unifying voice. And at the same time, was a truthteller
but she brought us all together. And if anything, we are in a period in this country where we need healers, we need people who are able to speak
and bring us together because we most certainly do not have that at the top.
AMANPOUR: And our next story will show how much we need that, that unifying message. But for now, Congresswoman Karen Bass, thank you so much
indeed for joining me.
BASS: Thank you for having me on.
AMANPOUR: Now, on the issue of division, a new tape from the Nixon presidential archives shines harsh light on Americas history of
presidential racism. Then- California governor, Ronald Reagan, calls Richard Nixon to complain about African countries who oppose the United
States at the United Nations. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, THEN CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR: Last night, I tell you, to watch that thing on television.
RICHARD NIXON, THEN U.S. PRESIDENT: Yes.
REAGAN: To see those monkeys from those African countries. Damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Unpleasant. That was Ronald Reagan in 1971. And he was the first Republican president to ride a wave evangelical support to the White
House in 1980. Now, a new series called “The Family” dives into the deep links between religion and politics in the United States. The series,
which launches on Netflix on August 9th, shows how Christian leaders wield their political influence largely out of the political — sorry, out of the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They say it’s about faith but there’s a shared understanding that what we’re about here is power.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the family. God cares most about the elites.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God always uses imperfect vessels to do his perfect work. President Trump is an imperfect vessel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jesus is the answer, like Jesus in Capitol Hill don’t mix.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Jesse Moss produced and directed “The Family.” And Jeff Sharlet wrote the book that first exposed the group to the public. And I asked
them what motivates this deeply secretive and very influential organization.
Jeff Sharlet and Jesse Moss, welcome to the program.
JESSE MOSS, DIRECTOR, “THE FAMILY”: Hi. Thank you.
JEFF SHARLET, AUTHOR, “THE FAMILY”: Thanks for having us.
AMANPOUR: So, Jeff, let me ask because, you know, this stems from your book to a large extent. Just tell us, because we saw the trailer say, in a
sense this is as much, if not more about power than just pure faith and that some of the so-called chosen leaders maybe, in the voice of the
trailer, imperfect vessels and yet, doing what the family, what the fellowship believes is the work of God. So, give us just a synopsis of
their core belief.
SHARLET: The family is the oldest, the most influential and most secretive Christian conservative organization in Washington bound by this idea that
the real message of Christ is not so much love as strength. The longtime leader, Doug Coe, would compare Christ, he’d say, not with a metaphor of
the lion or the lamb, but he’d say, “”Look at the strong men of history,” and I’m quoting him, “Hitler, Lennon, May,” he said, “that’s the kind of
strength we see in Christ.”
So, when they reach out to political leaders, many of whom are not nearly as terrifying as that, what they’re looking for is the strength to pursue
what they describe as a worldwide family of about 200 leaders who are bound together in, again, their words, in this invisible network under these
amorphous principles of Jesus.
AMANPOUR: For the leadership of an organization, that is a Christian organization, to point to such heinous monsters of history like Hitler and
Starlin, the like. What do they mean? How can these people be chosen as the vessels of God?
SHARLET: To emphasize this idea that it is not — it’s not for them to decide who is good, who is pious, but rather they look at power as it is in
the world. The organization began as a far-right semi-fascist organization in the 1930s. They are no longer fascist. And with this vision that the
founder had that Christianity had been getting it wrong for 2,000 years, by focusing on the poor, the suffering, the down and out.
The founder believed that God spoke to him personally and said, “I want you to serve the up and out,” the powerful, those whom he called keymen to
bring more power to the powerful who will, in turn, in their understanding, bring about the kingdom of God. It’s not a Christianity that is
recognizable to most people of faith.
AMANPOUR: Jesse, how did you and why did you think that this was worthy of this kind of attention at this time? Obviously, it’s based on the amazing
book, this inside job, if you like, by Jeff. But why, for you, as a filmmaker, this subject at this time?
MOSS: Sure. A couple of reasons. One was I wasn’t familiar with the book. It had come out 10 years ago but it had escaped my attention. And
when I read it, I nearly fell off my chair. I mean, here was this very secretive and very powerful organization that I knew nothing about. And
now, 10 years later, I had a big question, which was are they still relevant? Are they still powerful?
Also, I think, like many people, I had this question about the religious rights accommodation of Donald Trump, like how could that be explained?
Then I thought in the story that Jeff laid out, if we could find a way to tell it as a documentary might be the answer to that question in the
theology of the fellowship, which I think does explain this accommodation of the powerful, the unpious, seeing them as God’s instrument.
AMANPOUR: So, I wanted to get back to you then, Jeff. How did you — what made you infiltrate this group? And do you consider it infiltrating? Tell
us the circumstances of how you came away with so much of this evidence in this story.
SHARLET: I went in under my own name, talking about a book I was working on at the time. I write about the varieties of religious expression in the
United States. That’s been my subject for decades. And at the time, I was writing about religious communities around the country and I was traveling
A friend, long-time friend, asked me to meet with her brother who had joined the fellowship and sort of dropped out of his life. I knew him —
I’d known him for years. He invited me to come see for myself. And what he described was something sort of simultaneously very ordinary, a group of
young men who want live together in fellowship and Christ. And that’s a very familiar part of the Christian and evangelical world. And at the same
time described a kind of close relationship with politics.
Even, he said, “We don’t use the word Christian even. We don’t want to emphasize that.” And there was a sort of a stealthiness. You know, later
I would learn this organization, one of their sort of slogans is the more invisible you can make your organization, the more influence it will have. But I didn’t know that going in. So, I went under my own name, writing a book about religion.
And I think they didn’t — they couldn’t quite imagine that anyone would have serious questions about what they were doing because they felt so
firmly that they were on the side of God.
AMANPOUR: Have you faced any backlash for this book?
MOSS: Yes, yes. I ended up writing “The Family” and I followed up with a sequel on C Street called “C Street” in which I wrote about a fellowship
initiative in Uganda, something called the anti-homosexuality bill, popularly known as kill the gays bill. It was a death penalty for
homosexuality launched by the Ugandan branch. It’s a very international organization. And that provoked a lot of pushback at the time.
I think I am the only person at this organization that has worked with every kind of dictator, strongman, killer around the world and has never
sat in judgment or held any of them accountable. I think I am the only person that they decided was evil. I am an evil brother of the family, as
one man put it.
AMANPOUR: Now, lest we leave our viewers with the idea that this is some kind of little Podunk organization, they are actually the purveyors of
perhaps the most significant and most powerful group breakfast on the Washington Calendar, The National Prayer Breakfast, which presidents since
Eisenhower, to today, Donald Trump, have attended as a matter of annual pilgrimage. Let us play this little clip about the prayer breakfast and
then we’ll talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN THROCKMORTON: When I came to the prayer breakfast, it seems as though Congress is privileging Christianity. It certainly sends an
appearance that has to make you have some (INAUDIBLE) questions about blurring the lines between church and state.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a central idea going back to 1953. Their idea was, “What we want is a public ritual consecrating the United States to
Jesus.” Every president since has gone.
So, you think you’re going to this officer event. There’s an opening speaker, an opening prayer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are hundreds of the nation’s most respected leaders have gathered here in the name of our lord a savior, Jesus Christ.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Doug Coe does not speak. He’s always there. Every now and then, someone nods to him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This breakfast is the result of years of quiet diplomacy. I wouldn’t say secret diplomacy. A quiet diplomacy by an
ambassador of faith, Doug Coe, and I salute him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Jesse, when you saw that and when you saw the power of the breakfast and you saw the video and you see foreign leaders, even at the
Washington breakfast, including the king and queen of Jordan and other recognizable figures, Russian officials, and then you go back through the
archives and you see the breakfasts replicated in African countries, in Russia and other places, what did you think and what were the questions it
raised for you?
MOSS: Well, it’s a remarkable demonstration of political power. It’s obviously an enduring institution. We were invited to attend the prayer
breakfast without our cameras. They’re not permitted. To see Donald Trump address the masses. To see around all — around that address, days of
One of the questions, as I said, was the relevance of this organization and of this institution, the National Prayer Breakfast. Is it just a simple
benediction that is offered once a year? Is there something more going on. And while we were making the series, of course, the Russian spy, Maria
Butina, was arrested for infiltrating the National Prayer Breakfast in an attempt to influence U.S. policy toward Russia. The two organizations that
she infiltrated were the National Rifle Association and the National Prayer Breakfast.
So, on our watch, a real demonstration of enduring influence of this event. And, of course, it occupies a huge swath of the publics’ square where faith
and politics intersect.
AMANPOUR: You also basically describe those breakfasts, that one in Washington, as a giant lobbying opportunity for international actors to
come there, to see everything, to be — you know, see everyone who is important and to, you know, have the cloak of religion and Congress around
And I want to pick up about what, Jeff, you said, and that is the really insidious part of the evangelizing around the world, and you called it the
kill the gays bill in Uganda. You’ve raised the question, what is “The Family” or the fellowship’s foreign policy? And I just want to play this
clip and then we’ll talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It took a long time before I realized just who the family was and the influence they have had in the leadership of our
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was a group with tentacles around the world. Meaning with presidents, foreign leaders to spread their view of Jesus
throughout the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Jeff, talk to me about the power of what they were able to do in Uganda and particularly U.S. senators and Congresspeople who were involved.
SHARLET: Yes. In Uganda, it was a member of Ugandan parliament David Bahati who was the leader of the Uganda branch and who named men such as
Senator Mitch McConnell, former Senator John Henson as his mentors in his work.
He is a very savvy political operator. He understood the organizing hatred of LGBTQ people could be an effective political strategy, a sort of gender
nationalism. And he was able to launch that bill working with the long- time dictator of Uganda, another long-time associate of the family.
In the series, we see this work ongoing and we see Congressman Robert Aderholt preaching a similar anti-LGBTQ gospel. Not the death penalty. I
don’t think the Americans support that but preaching this kind of gospel of hate.
So odds with what people know, Christiane, need to be, in Romania and Eastern Europe where smaller countries where single U.S. congressmen who
may be back interested here comes representing the singular world power and has status and weight and can convince those countries, if you want to be
on good terms with the United States, you have to do it through these principles.
MOSS: In that case, Aderholt traveled paid for by the fellowship, according to congressional travel disclosures. A very on the surface
travel schedule meeting around reconciliation and the spirit of Jesus.
But when you actually look at what he did there, speaking on Romania television, lobbying for that anti-LGBTQ referendum, I think there’s clear
evidence that what we saw in Uganda is continuing.
AMANPOUR: And what happened in that referendum?
MOSS: Well, that referendum, which would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman was defeated at the polls. So Aderholt’s campaign was
unsuccessful in that instance.
AMANPOUR: And I have to say, it’s really troubling to think that Americans and Americans who call themselves Christians and religious are perpetuating
that kind of hate and division. And you see in your film the interviews with the LGBTQ community in Romania who are just shivering in fear. They
were terrified that what might happen to them if this referendum had not been defeated.
And you hear on a daily basis the terror of gay people in Nigeria or Uganda or elsewhere who knows that with the backing of this group of Americans,
you know, their lives are being put in terrible dangers. So this is really, really significant to digest.
So let’s, you know, roll all the way forward to now and President Trump’s election. He was, if you like, the hands of the Christian religious right
were laid upon him, Jerry Falwell Jr. Others really campaigned for him and spoke up his candidacy.
Talk to me a little bit about that because he’s not known to be a deep believer or a churchgoer. And yet he has gathered around him some of the
staunchest, some might call most fundamentalists of American Christians in political life.
SHARLET: Yes, certainly Mike Pence, a long-time associate of the fellowship worked with them in years past with the government of Sri Lanka
while he’s committing war crimes against his own people and all through the Trump administration.
Trump is, as we know, a transactional figure. He believes in the art of the deal. He understood that to get the support of the Christian right, he
was going to have to give something.
He’s given them more than they’ve ever had before. This is, I think, hands down the most fundamentalist administration in U.S. history despite the
impiety of the man at top.
And that’s a deal that the fellowship knows how to make. It’s a deal that they’ve been seeking.
The long-time leader of it sort of describes it with a parable saying that Christ came not — in his view, Christ came not for the sheep
but for the wolves. And he says you look at leaders like Trump and you understand them as leaders of the pack.
And if you can come alongside them, then you’ll have the strength of what he calls, it’s sort of chilling language, what he calls the Wolf King.
Trump is in that view of the world there, Wolf King, with whom they can work.
AMANPOUR: And I wonder whether you think, Jesse or either of you, whether they would have any views as to President Trump’s — you know, he’s being
accused of all sorts of racist tropes and hate speech. And in the, you know, in the aftermath of these terrible mass killings and the confession
by one of the killer, that it was that language of invasion that inspired him. Is this, do you think, what the fellowship, the family would make a
MOSS: Well, we’ve seen that in their history. One episode, and this comes from a quote from an interview, is around their relationship with
dictators, murderers, and thieves.
The more awful the person, the greater the work of Christ. This goes back, as Jeff explained or explored in his book, to their work to Abraham
Verrilli, the founder of the group, and his work with Nazis in the post-war — in post-war Germany.
So they’ve prided themselves on their willingness and ability to work with people, the worst people around the world and here at home. So there —
and whether that is out of a political expediency, accommodation or transaction or through purely their faith and an openness to all commerce,
as Jeff points out around the National Prayer Breakfast and the Buthaina story that Russian spy, is this naivete or cynicism? And it’s the
achievement of the family that it manages to be both at the same time.
AMANPOUR: Incredible story. Jesse Moss, director, Jeff Sharlet on whose book this was based, thank you very much indeed for joining us.
MOSS: Thank you so much, Christiane.
SHARLET: Thanks for having us.
AMANPOUR: And as we say, it’s on Netflix this week.
Now, from that intersection of faith and politics to one between politics and family with our next guest, the filmmaker Nanfu Wang. She’s using her
lens to capture the devastating cost of China’s One-Child Policy for her new award-winning film, One Child Nation.
Nanfu Wang sat down with our Hari Sreenivasan.
HARI SREENIVASAN, CONTRIBUTOR: So first, let’s just talk about the One- Child Policy for people who don’t know that. The Chinese government says that they prevented 380 million births. How does a state pull something
like that off?
NANFU WANG, CO-DIRECTOR, PRODUCER, ONE CHILD NATION: Well, those 380 million is actually a number that was released years ago, like decades ago.
So the number is much — the real number is much, much higher than that.
WANG: And you know, it’s a country with a billion people and the policy was enforced throughout just the country. And almost every woman I know,
my mom’s generation, even my grandma’s generation. My grandma was one of the first generations in the village who got the first sterilization.
Every woman basically had gone through either force abortion or definitely forced sterilization.
SREENIVASAN: Because the policy ran for, what, 35 years?
WANG: Yes, over 35 years.
SREENIVASAN: So it affected multiple generations of childbearing women?
SREENIVASAN: And if a woman did not want a forced sterilization or an abortion, what happened?
WANG: That’s what is a kind of forest. Every level of the government, there is village, town, city and the province, there are family planning
Their entire job responsibility is to find out whether a woman is pregnant with her second child or not and to who had just had a baby, and making
sure that once a woman have had a child, then the next thing they would do is to sterilize that woman.
SREENIVASAN: All right. Let’s take a look at a clip from your trailer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WANG: None of my family questioned the policy or how it was implemented.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I were born a girl, I would have been put unto a basket and sent away.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You still think the One-Child Policy is good, right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, people used to starve to death.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was the one who killed. I was the executioner.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was like fighting a war. Death is inevitable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Chinese government would come in and they’d bash down your house, take the child.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: About eight or nine people came and took her away. This is where we hid.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My dad told me that I have an identical twin sister who lives in the U.S. now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The fraud and corruption I discovered was nationwide. Were you and your family the biggest traffickers in the country?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Throughout my life, I was taught to believe the love of my country was equal to love the government and the
party. I was so angry, even with my own family, that there wasn’t more to be said or done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SREENIVASAN: So the Chinese government, their rationale for this was what?
WANG: China has too many people and they are starving. There isn’t — there wasn’t enough food and resources for so many people so they had to
control the population.
And the way to do it is to have fewer people in each family. Thus when they came up with the idea of each family should just be allowed to have
one child and they haven’t anticipated the consequences of implementing the policy in such a massive country.
SREENIVASAN: You interviewed the midwife who delivered you, right. And — but she’s also performed these sterilizations and she’s saying this out
loud on camera and she’s even admitting to worse.
WANG: Yes. That was a long interview that really surprised me. I wanted to know from her. She’s 84-years-old and she delivered every baby in my
village, including myself.
So I went to see her and I asked her a very simple question, I was like how many babies do you think you delivered in your whole life? And she said,
“Oh, I don’t remember that number. But I do remember I had done 50 to 60,000 abortions to the women, like throughout my career.”
And that was complete shock in one — on the one hand of her openness. And on the second hand, it’s like, you know, how the number since she’s only a
midwife in the village and there are midwives, you know, in the city, throughout the country, there are thousands of people like her. And that
number a complete shock to me.
SREENIVASAN: And it’s sterilizations and abortions? And that’s over a period of 30 years?
WANG: Twenty-eight years, I believe.
SREENIVASAN: Twenty-eight years. And how — is it — do they keep all these records of all these?
WANG: She did the math for me. So the way that she would do it is because the midwife and the medical officials were in demand.
So through January to June, like every day for six months, she would travel in a bus like among other midwives across the country, the region and like
work seven days a week. They would take from town to town.
And every day they would be at a place and officials would just bring women to that space and she would perform one sterilization. Each one takes 10
to 15 minutes.
And then she would have — in June, she would have two weeks of a vacation. And then from after that to December, she would be on the road again and do
this, every day.
And then she would have two weeks for the New Year and she did this for almost three decades. She described that they were like almost a tied like
pigs to brought to her.
SREENIVASAN: I’m sorry. They were brought like what?
WANG: They were — the women were tied up like sometimes with ropes and almost like they’re tied pigs.
WANG: Yes, when they brought to her to operate.
SREENIVASAN: Because these are women who did not consent?
SREENIVASAN: And they had to be sterilized?
SREENIVASAN: And she’s also describing really late-term abortions and she’s describing actually taking the life —
SREENIVASAN: — of children after they are out?
WANG: Yes. One thing that she said to me and she was really painful when she said that was, you know when she performed all those abortions as a
midwife, sometimes the babies were born — nine-month pregnancy, they were born a life.
And because of the policy and her job, she had to kill them after they were born alive. And she is really traumatized by that.
So today, she’s living with the guilt and trauma that she decided to only treat infertility disorders. She believed that if she can now help a
couple to bring a baby to the world, she can kind of like —
WANG: Yes, atone her sins. In 2016, the One-Child Policy ended.
So right now, it’s Two-Child Policy. And the government has realized over the past almost 40 years, the country now is facing the lack of workforce
and a rapidly aging society. And there is a lack of, you know, young people to work and to care for the elderly.
Ironically, the same kind of propaganda slogans are being used. And the same kind of tactics, fines, money, incentives are being used to
encourage people to have more tuition. It’s almost like it’s opening a new chapter but with the same language and tactics of One-Child Policy.
SREENIVASAN: Let’s take a look at some of the tactics in another clip we have here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Men like Yosha Win (ph) worked all over China to promote the One-Child Policy. Since before I could even speak, I was
surrounded by messages facing the policy.
There was T.V., theatrical performances.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The One-Child Policy is truly great.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fully implement our national policy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And even children songs.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you have a second child, you violate the law. Then you’ll be detained. If you try to escape, you will end up in jail.
Think twice about it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SREENIVASAN: Your family, your mom, your aunts, relatives all still support the government’s position that this was necessary and frankly that
WANG: Yes. When I talked to my mom and my whole family, and they were like the policy was necessary. It contributed to the economic growth and
that’s why our country and us survived.
And I tried to argue with my mom but then I realized I couldn’t change her mind. And even after she has seen the film, she still believed it still.
And it was so hard for me to understand.
And I thought of it a lot. And eventually, I understood how effective the propaganda was. It was decades of message in education and every single
message around them was saying how great the policy was and how necessary it was.
And it was really hard to change the way that they think because they were not encouraged to ask questions and throughout their life, they were taught
to not question.
SREENIVASAN: OK. Let’s take a look at a clip here as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WANG: Becoming the mother felt like giving birth to my memories. The rash of images from my early life came back to me.
I thought of my own parents and the name they give me. They chose the name Nanfu before I was born. Nan means man and Fu means pillar. They hoped
for a boy who would grow up to be the pillar of the family.
When I was born a girl, they named me Nanfu anyway. Hoping that I would grow up strong like a man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SREENIVASAN: You know it’s interesting that this brings into this intersection, this sort of deep-rooted cultural sexism, that it’s
impossible to separate from the One-Child Policy. It added, as you point out, to the volume of abandoned babies that were literally being discarded.
You share the story of your cousin and what happened to her. Something that your uncle had never really talked about and yet he did on camera
about this. Tell us about that.
WANG: My uncle had a daughter and his mom wanted a grandson. So my grandma sort of like a threat on him is either me or your daughter. If you
keep her, I’m going to commit suicide.
And so my uncle was forced to give away the daughter. But at the time, no one wanted a daughter so he couldn’t give her away.
And what he did was leaving the girl, the infant girl, I think she was only 20-days-old, and in the market where everybody was going to shop for
grocery, the village market. And he was hoping that someone who goes to the market would see this girl and want it or like adopt her and take her
And what happened was it was summer and he left her there overnight. No one showed up. No one wanted her. Another day, and the girl was bitten by
mosquitoes all over her body and she died.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WANG: My mom said that you cried for a long time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course I did. Who wouldn’t? I cried non-stop when I gave her away.
WANG: After becoming a mom myself, I can’t even bear to listen to my child cry for more than three minutes. How did you deal with that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My mom threatened to kill herself and said, ” If you keep this baby girl, I will either kill myself or I will strangle her to
death first before killing myself.” I thought I could save her life by giving her away but she ended up dead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SREENIVASAN: You know, again and again throughout the film, you see people say they just had no choice. How did they — how did you get to that point
where consistently all these people are able to sit by or they’re able to carry out policy?
You spoke to a government worker that’s received lots of honors and so forth, and she was almost proud of it. You see the village elder who has
his own reservations. There’s lots of different people even down to your family.
SREENIVASAN: Had no choice.
WANG: When we started the film, I thought it was going to be a simple story. You know, there are perpetrators, there are victims.
And then as soon as I met with the officials, the midwives, the people who carried out the policy, I soon realized that this were not bad people.
They were not evil or they were not perpetrators.
They were actually great people. They wanted to do a good job. They wanted to be contributing to the government.
And I started thinking, like, what made these good people do evil things? And that was a narrative that I think throughout the world that we are
familiar with that people say, “I follow the order, I don’t have a choice. The policy is the policy.”
And especially in China, when people were educated to follow the order and especially to sacrifice their individuality and follow the collective
belief, the collective, the greater good.
SREENIVASAN: You also examined another thread which is the trafficking of these babies. In 1992, China made it possible for foreigners to adopt
children. And all of a sudden the world started to look at orphanages, “Wow, two Chinese baby girls, there’s so many of them. Can we adopt them?”
You find a couple of different characters. One, a journalist in Hong Kong and a family in Utah who’ve been chronicling and cataloging the kind of
unintended consequences of what happens when you basically create a market incentive.
WANG: What I learned was sometimes the government realized that they could actually make a profit out of the international adoption program. Each
adoptive family go to China and they adopt the child and they would pay a fee. And all the orphanages were owned by the state.
So they realized they could make money out of it. Then they would wait for a pregnant woman to carry the baby to full term, allow that to happen.
And then once the baby was born, they would go then take the baby away, saying that they violated the One-Child Policy, and then put the baby in
the orphanage for adoption.
SREENIVASAN: Is there any way the local governments did not know about this?
WANG: This was done by the local governments and it was not even one province or two. It happened in many different provinces across the
And the journalists that we interviewed had done a lot of research. And he eventually was banned to live in China and then he had to move to Hong
SREENIVASAN: And the family that’s in Utah that’s trying to do DNA tests and trying to build a database. Basically, with limited success, they’ve
been trying. But some of these are situations where twins have been separated at birth and they’re adopted and living in the United States
without any knowledge that they have a sibling, a sister, more likely than not.
WANG: Yes. One of the examples was there were twin sisters and the government went and say they violated the One-Child Policy. So one twin
was taken away and put in the orphanage and soon the twin was adopted by an American family. So they were separated like when they were infants.
SREENIVASAN: And the parents who adopted in the United States, it was also what tough for them to understand that what they thought was an orphanage
and — but actually could have been a nefarious situation?
WANG: Absolutely. It was really hard for some families to accept the truth that their daughters, their children were not orphans.
They have families. They have parents. And the government fabricated all the information.
SREENIVASAN: Ironically, China gets credited with pulling up out of abject poverty to 300 million people in a very short period of time, which is
something no country has ever accomplished.
WANG: Yes, there is a lot of debate among economists, sociologists, anthropologists whether and how much the One-Child Policy
really had an effect on the country’s economy. And I think both sides of the debate, there’s no way to prove like this is the only factors that made
it work or this does not have any contribution toward it. But I think one thing is clear is this policy had very severe human consequences.
SREENIVASAN: Nanfu Wang, thanks so much for joining us.
WANG: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And it is shocking stuff but that’s it for our program tonight.
Thanks for watching Amanpour and Company on PBS and join us again tomorrow.