Read Full Transcript EXPAND
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Amanpour and Company.” Here’s what’s coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What they want is access to health care. And we just need to be clear about what Medicare
For All is all about.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Nobody yet said how much it’s going to cost.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The reviews are in after all top Democratic candidates appear on the same stage for the same time. I’ll speak with top Democrat and
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IRENE MONROE: To change an institution that you love, the only way to change it is to be in it and change it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The self-described black, radical, lesbian minister, Irene Monroe on talking across the widest of political divides.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The biggest ISIS cell will be the women. If the men aren’t release, I will go crazy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: ISIS down but not out. How their ideology prevails through the women left behind. Our special report from Syria.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AZADEH MOAVENI, AUTHOR, “GUEST HOUSE FOR YOUNG WIDOWS”: They wanted to be a citizen of this idea, this place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And I speak with Azadeh Moaveni about her new book “Guest House For Young Widows” among the women of ISIS.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I’m Christiane Amanpour in London.
Another week and another Democratic presidential debate, and the focus remains firmly on the contrast between frontrunner Joe Biden and his
nearest challengers, progressives, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. And in many ways, those differences highlight the struggle not just for the
nomination but for the future of the Democratic Party. As all the leading contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination took the same stage
for the first time in Houston last night.
Voters are tasked with choosing between two diverging parts. with Biden representing a return to Obama order in a post-Trump world, and Sanders and
Warren for a whole new order altogether. The matchup between the top three candidates may have taken center stage, but one of the most talked about
moments of the night involves some mudslinging from former cabinet secretary. Julian Castro.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Barack Obama’s vision was not to leave 10 million people uncovered. He wanted every single person in
this country covered. My plan would do that. Your plan would not.
SANDERS: They do not have to buy in. They do not have to buy in.
CASTRO: You just said that. You just said that two minutes ago.
SANDERS: They do not have to buy in —
CASTRO: You just said two minutes ago that they would have to buy in.
SANDERS: — if they can’t afford it.
CASTRO: You said they would have to buy in.
SANDERS: Their grandmother would not have to buy in. If she qualifies for Medicaid —
CASTRO: Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago? Are you forgetting already what you said just two minutes ago? I mean, I can’t
believe that you said two minutes ago that they had to buy in and now you’re saying they don’t have to buy — you’re forgetting that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: That attack on the former vice president’s memory was widely condemned by his fellow candidates. David Axelrod was a senior advisor to
President Obama and ran both of his presidential campaigns. And Mark McKinnon is a senior political adviser and strategist most famous for his
work with President George W. Bush and Senator John McCain. He joins me from the scene of the debate in Houston, Texas. And David Axelrod is
joining me from New York.
Gentlemen, welcome both to the program.
MARK MCKINNON, FORMER CAMPAIGN ADVISER TO GEORGE W. BUSH AND JOHN MCCAIN: Thanks, Christiane.
DAVID AXELFORD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND FORMER CHIEF CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST FOR BARACK OBAMA: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, let’s just talk about this so-called water cooler moment. It’s one of those, you know, typical moments of conflict we have
gotten used to seeing in these debates. And yet, as I said, it was condemned by fellow candidates and there were quite a few jeers, yes, there
were some cheers, but jeers also in the audience.
So, question, is this a turning point? Is this perhaps the last time we might see that kind of personal invective in the primaries within members
of the party? What do you think, Dave, since they are Democrats?
AXELFORD: Yes. No, I don’t — look, I think the history of these things is they don’t get calmer as they move on, they get more competitive. It
may be that people will stay away from the more personal sort of attack. I think Secretary Castro, who I know well, and like, made a bad mistake there
because Joe Biden, whether people have doubts about him or not, is a very well-liked figure within the Democratic Party, and that seemed like a
gratuitous shot and it wasn’t even completely true. He kind of misstated Biden’s position.
So, you know, it’s bad to be rude and it’s horrible to be rude and wrong at the same time, and he did both. And I think that he was a guy who was
trying to leverage his way into the race and he may have cost himself whatever small chance he had to do that.
AMANPOUR: Well, so, that’s interesting. Mark McKinnon, obviously, you are from the other camp, the Republican camp, and you’re clearly watching all
of this very closely. So, obviously, Biden is the frontrunner and Julian Castro, for secretary, is much, much, much lower down the pecking order.
What would you think in terms of watching it from the opposition’s point of view?
MCKINNON: Well, Julian Castro, who I admire, as well, I now him from Texas, he’s in the lower tier and he knows that he has to breakthrough in
these debates in order get traction and break — and get into the upper tier of the race, and there’s two ways to do that. One is to propose kind
of an outrageous or new policy idea, which he did at one of the last debates, decriminalizing border crossings, which got him a lo of press, or
attack the frontrunner.
And so, he did that last night. But, as David said, he did it in a way that it wasn’t really on policy so much and he did it more talking about
the sort of age thing and worse than that, he was wrong. So, the irony of that, to me, was that literally seconds before that moment, I was talking
with a colleague of mine about how well positioned Julian Castro was for the vice presidential slot and, you know, not only did he hurt his chances
for — to be the nominee, he may have hurt his chances to be the VP
AMANPOUR: Wow. That’s pretty serious. Can I ask you both then to weigh in on what you think? I mean, obviously, this is about whittling down the
Democratic field. That’s what the primary is about. Do you think that last night showed any clearer view of who in the bottom tier could be
further whittled down before the next debate?
AXELFORD: Well, first of all, they’re all going to be in the next debate and that will keep them in the race. One of the things that is happening
here is the Democratic Party has implemented rules that create entry barriers for candidates. Ten candidates didn’t make this debate, but those
rules don’t — the standards don’t go up until after the October debate.
So, there’s an impetus for the ten on the stage to stay there and to stay that most of the undercards, so-called undercard candidates on the stage
last night, I think, helped themselves, people who need a boost. Beto O’Rourke who came into the race with great ballyhoo and kind of faded has
found some — a new voice here around the issue of gun violence, and he was very, very powerful last night. And my guess is he’ll get a bump.
Amy Klobuchar, a moderate senator from Minnesota had her best night. Cory Booker, a senator from New Jersey, had a good night. I think they’ll all
get a little bit of a boost out of this and this will keep them there. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to rise to the top tier, but it
could keep them — it could give them the fuel to move forward for a while.
AMANPOUR: So, I want to put the next question to Mark then because it is about the issue that Beto O’Rourke stands out on with his passion and that
is gun control because, let’s face it, the last — one of the last terrible massacres is his — in his home district of El Paso. So, this is what he
said about gun control and about what he, you know, would want to ban should he become president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETO O’ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I met the mother of a 15-year- old girl who was shot by an AR-15, and that mother watched her bleed to death over the course of an hour because so many other people were shot by
that AR-15 in Odessa, in Midland. There weren’t enough ambulances to get them in time. Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We’re
not going to allow it be used against fellow Americans anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean, he’s very passionate. And let’s face it, Mark McKinnon, guns and the resistance to sensible gun control despite the overwhelming
polling amongst all Americans is a Republican problem. They don’t want to get to grips with this. Do you think that Beto O’Rourke basically stood
out on this and should that give the Republican candidates some — well, I know, it’s President Trump but there are others, two others who are
MCKINNON: Well, he is passionate about this issue and it has helped him kind of breakthrough in the last few weeks and last night at the debate, on
that issue. It’s going to help him in the Democratic primary but this could hurt Democrats in the general election because he finally said out
loud what Republicans have been saying for a long time, which is Democrats want to take your guns. And that’s what Beto O’Rourke now said as a former
policy proposal from the Democrats.
So, if — I’m thinking about this through the lens of a Republican strategies or what the Trump campaign is thinking now and here’s what they
are thinking, the Democrats now have said out loud they want to take away your guns, they want to take away your private health insurance, they want
to take away your border security, they want to giveaway health care to illegal immigrants, they want to giveaway reparations, they want to give
away free college and they want to give $1,000 to every American per month of your taxpayer dollar. That’s a pretty good bunch of strategy for
Republicans in the general election.
AXELFORD: No, I — look, I agree. That is where they want to go. I mean, Beto O’Rourke isn’t likely to be the nominee and the nominee is probably
going to be a little more conservative on — particularly the issue of seizing assault weapons than O’rourke was.
But in the short run, Mark is also right that there is going to be enthusiasm within. Nationally, the assault weapons ban is certainly
confiscation of assault weapons is definitely a mixed issue at best. But among Democrats, less so.
And frankly, the fact he took on an issue that was such a radioactive issue and was unhesitatingly embracing it, in the short run will give him some
cred with voters who are looking for authenticity, looking for courage.
So, yes, long run, the gun politics are complicated and all the other issues that Mark mentioned are potentially complicated for Democrats. In
the short run, I think he helped himself.
AMANPOUR: So, in the long run and all over the country, a major issue is health care. And we saw how that played out in the midterms, most
definitely to the Democrat’s benefit in Congress. And this was dominant in the debate. And let’s just play a little bit of a mash up of the views of
the three top tier candidates, Biden, Warren and Sanders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: We all owe a huge debt to President Obama who fundamentally transformed health care in America and committed this country to health
care for every human being. And now, the question is, how best can we improve on it?
BIDEN: My plan for health care cost a lot of money. It cost $740 billion. It doesn’t cost $30 trillion. $3.4 trillion a year, it turns out, is twice
what the entire federal budget is.
SANDERS: Joe said that Medicare For All would cost over $30 trillion. That’s right, Joe. Status quo over 10 years will be $50 trillion. Every
study done shows that Medicare For All is the most cost-effective approach to providing health care to every man, woman and child in this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, David, who do you think broke through on this issue and in terms of who pays for what and how much it’ll cost the country, knowing
that health care is dominant at every kitchen table in the United States?
AXELFORD: Well, you know, there’s also another central issue in addition to cost, which is that the Medicare For All plan that Senator Sanders has
proposed would, in four years, essentially eliminate the private insurance industry in this industry country. And there are 150 million people who
have private insurance. Many of whom don’t necessarily want to give it up.
And so, both Senator Sanders and Senator Warren who has embraced this proposal came under attack, not just for Biden but from others on the
platform because this issue of taking private insurance away before you even get to the cost of it is a very, very negative issue for many, even
I think this was a debate that Biden wanted. You know, when he said to Warren, “You’re — you say you’re with Bernie. I’m with Barack,” the
implication she was going too far, going too radical. She tried to throw some — a bouquet Obama in her answer. But on the whole, I think this was
the first debate that the Democrats had — where there was real pushback on the Medicare For All idea. And this was an exchange, I think, Biden wanted
and probably helped him with his base of voters, moderate voters who are unenthused about the Medicare For All proposal.
AMANPOUR: Mark, and to an extent, obviously, David, what do you think about this hug Obama tight strategy? Certainly, from Biden and you could
see, obviously, Elizabeth Warren paying homage to Obama, as she should, but then saying, “what more can we do on the issue?” How — I mean, he remains
unbelievably amazingly popular across the Democratic spectrum.
MCKINNON: Well, I think, actually, the big winner of the debate was President Obama. I mean, there couldn’t have been more kissing of the
rings last night for the former president. And to David’s point, it did highlight last night, particularly on the issue of health care, those
differences between kind of an Obama approach, an evolution of the Obama plan as opposed to a more radical revolutionary one.
Amy Klobuchar had a great line saying that she — Bernie Sanders may have written the bill but she read the bill and talked about 150 million people
that could lose their private health insurance. And I’ll just tell you, again, from a Republican point of view, the Trump forces and Republicans
are salivating at the notion of Democrats suggesting that you can take away your private health insurance. And, by the way, Elizabeth Warren said,
interestingly, last night that people don’t like health insurance companies, which may be true, but a lot of them like their plans.
AMANPOUR: Let us play the Amy Klobuchar soundbite, if we have it, because you both referenced it obviously was a standout moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR, (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: While Bernie wrote the bill, I read the bill. On page 8, on page 8 of the bill, it says that we
will no longer have private insurance as we know it. And that means that 149 million Americans will no longer be able to have their current
insurance. That’s in four years. I don’t think that’s a bold idea. I think it’s a bad idea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: OK. So, you’ve talked about the substance of it. But how about the overarching sort of existential nature of what is happening within the
Democratic Party right now? Because it focuses and zeros in on this choice between very progressive leading candidates who want to really sort of kind
of revolutionize the party and the country and pragmatists in the Obama mold, I suppose, like Biden and many others who want incremental but
serious change but not to throw the whole, you know, works up.
David, who is going to win this battle for the soul of the Democratic Party in this election?
AXELFORD: Well, there’s one more element of the equation, Christiane, and that is Donald Trump, and the degree to which Democrats are eager to feed
him. There’s enormous angst about him among Democrats. And one of the reasons that Joe Biden continues to lead in the primary electorate — among
the primary electorate is that he is currently seen as the person who is most likely to defeat Trump.
I also think there’s a larger dynamic that Trump creates and that is, there is an enormous sense of exhaustion in the country, not just among Democrats
but among independent voters and some formerly Trump voters. Because of the constant churn of Donald Trump waking up every day to the tweets and
the tantrums, the gratuitous fights and the chaos that reigns around him, the winning message for Democrats, I believe, is going to be, “Can we do
this for four more years?” But it is a less effective message, if what you’re promising is kind of seismic change and titanic battles.
So, you know, I do think that a candidate who promises some calm is going to be most effective. Even within the primary. The question is whether
Biden is the guy who can carry that to the finish line. Even though I thought it was inappropriate of Castro, unwise of Castro, to make the
attack that he did. There is this question about Biden who would be eight years older than any president who has ever taken office and whether he has
the stamina to go the distance here. If he doesn’t, there are plenty of people on that stage who are auditioning for the part last night.
AMANPOUR: And by the way, let’s just mention, that is a stage, I think, unlike any other we’ve seen. I mean, that is a Democratic Party with
gender diversity, racial diversity, age diversity, sexual orientation diversity. I mean, it is remarkable. And we have not seen that really at
all in the past.
Mark McKinnon, in terms of strategy. You have talked about — and both of you talk about the narrative of campaigns, the necessity to have the story,
to have the hero and the villain and the head and the heart and all those things that actually play into the average person’s, you know, impetus and
motive when they go to vote. Where do you see the narrative right now, Mark?
MCKINNON: Well, the candidate on the Democratic side, I think, has the clearest narrative is Elizabeth Warren. Interestingly, you know, I know
that my Republican counterpart, colleagues and friends salivate at the notion of having Elizabeth Warren who is very ideologically to left on the
policy side. But I say, beware of what you ask for because she has a clear narrative, and the narrative is not entirely unlike Donald Trump’s because
the basic idea that she’s talking about to voters is she’s saying to all those voters who have grievances, and there’s a lot of them out there what
we had found from Donald Trump, but her message is, “The system is rigged and you’re getting screwed,” which is what Donald Trump’s message was.
It’s just that her prescription and cause are different. It’s not immigrants and it’s not a wall we’re going to build. It’s greedy
capitalists and we’re going to redistribute that wealth. But it’s a clear narrative and it’s compel, even for some Trump voters.
AMANPOUR: Really interesting. Mark McKinnon and David Axelrod, thank you so much for being with us.
Later in the program, we bring you a riveting report about a vital issue that did not come up last night, Syria and ISIS rising through the widows
and children left behind.
But, first, how do you get beyond fiery debates to fostering real dialogue? Our next guest, the reverend, Irene Monroe, describes herself as an
African-American lesbian radical feminist. She’s got her work cut out for her as she tries to open up the religious community to LGBTQ issues. But
if anyone can do it, it’s her.
She has already overcome unbelievable odds. Abandoned as a baby. Monroe went on to study at Wellesley and Harvard. She now has a pod cast called
“All Rev’d Up” where she talks through the issues with an evangelical colleague. She told our Michel Martin how she made it to where she is and
the essential need for dialogue with people of different views.
MICHEL MARTIN, PBS HOST: I just have to start at the beginning. You don’t know who your birth parents are because you were literally found.
REV. IRENE MONROE, CO-HOST, “ALL REV’D UP”: You know, at six months, I was found in a trash can in Fort Green Park and was taken to the New York
Foundling Hospital. They had to give me a birth name, and that’s the name and date of birth.
So, I was found on July 11th. And so, gave me a birthday of January 11th. They estimated that I was six months. I get the name Irene Monroe because
Sister Irene of the New York Foundling Hospital was the head nun and a Marilyn Monroe fan. So, I mean, I think that adds a little levity there in
and off itself.
MARTIN: OK. And you knew that? Growing up, you knew?
MONROE: Yes. I knew that. I knew that growing up. And you know, you have to laugh at that. We’re talking about, you know, the 50s here and
stuff and Marylin Monroe was, indeed, you know, a super star.
MONROE: For some people, that would have been just the defining fact of their lives but you graduated from college, grad school, became a minister.
MONROE: Why? Well, you know, there’s a couple of things here. You know, a lot of people liked to always have the sort of story about, “Oh, I just
picked myself up by my boot straps.” But, you know, my story is about community and very much about what King talked about this beloved
So, although I had no mother. And my foster mother, she used to have this, this was her mantra to me, “You come from nothing, you are nothing, you’ll
be nothing.” So, this is a woman — yes. Well, listen, but I resided in a community in Brooklyn that where — really, where there was a little bit of
help and even less and less hope here.
But the point is, is that there were many mothers. I mean, I grew up in a black community that clearly you had a lot of mothers raising you. “Girls
stop that. Don’t do that, OK?” I mean, the church, the black church was very central at the time that I was growing up.
So, I’m a kid who is hungry, looking for food. It’s not that I was a religious kid at all. It had everything to do that if you know anything
about black church at that time, that on Saturdays they were fixing dinners because on Sundays we all would gather down, you know, in the basement and
have a meal. And it was also a place that I could be somebody. You know, the whole sort of social gospel. You know what I mean?
It didn’t matter what your station is — in life and it reminds me of a sermon by, you know, Martin Luther King. You know, “If you lot us to be a
street cleaner, be the best that you can.” So, this was a place where you can be a janitor, you could be a maid, but you come in this church, you’re
the mother of the church, you’re the deacon of the church. I was on the children’s usher board because I couldn’t sing a lick, you know. So, they
found something for me as a place I could be and it helped me to think of me, the individual and me the community. And I think that has a lot to do
with the kind of work that I do today and the necessity, in many ways to pay it forward.
MARTIN: Do you remember the point at which it was formed in your mind that you would become a minister yourself, especially if you don’t mind me —
MARTIN: — saying, when you learned your sexual orientation —
MONROE: That’s right.
MARTIN: — when you came to an understanding that you’re not — you’re a woman, you’re African-American —
MONROE: And a lesbian.
MARTIN: — and a lesbian?
MONROE: That’s right. I’m (INAUDIBLE) so.
MONROE: Everyone always asks you, you know, “Why did you go to seminary?’ And I always say, “Some are called, some are sent and some just went.” And
so — but always I say this year that it’s to change an institution that you love. The only way to change it is to be in it and change it. And so,
I felt that if my coming out gives permission for more to come out, even some of the ministers to come out, and that we need to wrestle with what
the bible say.
So, if we have a liberation discourse that clearly says that the God we serve, and we got this cannon within a cannon, that says that as black
people we are not three-fifth human but we’re human and we are precious in God’s sight. There is something up in the bible too that we can
use about LGBT folks as well as about women and that we need to stop using these texts of terror to denigrate and to demean and to damn people.
MARTIN: What do — I mean, you have pastored a church and you’ve worked at Harvard, you’ve been on the staff at Harvard University. And now, you’ve
MONROE: (INAUDIBLE). Yes.
MARTIN: Yes. And now, you’ve got a pod cast.
MONROE: Pod cast. Right, right.
MARTIN: So, you are kind of walking the walk in your way.
MARTIN: You’re talking the talking and walking the walk, I guess is what I would say.
MONROE: Right, right.
MARTIN: Tell me about that. It’s called “All Rev’d Up.”
MONROE: “All Rev’d Up.” It’s a segment that I do every Monday with Reverend Emmett Price on WGBH, a member station of NPR. Emmett and I are
two different people. Emmett is a black male, evangelical and teaches at a white evangelical institution. And I am a black, radical, lesbian
minister. Even on a bad day.
So, any event, what we try to model is how to talk across our differences. And so, let me give, you know, a good example. You know, gun control. You
know, how do we find a middle ground? Not take away people’s guns but understand not only that life is sacred, then what’s — you know, what —
maybe we should have background checks.
I think when you speak it sort of broad terms and you skip over the nuances. So, we try to — we wrestle. We really do, verbally, we wrestle.
We’re the best of friends. At the end of the day, you know, I may have, you know, moved a little. He may have. But what we’re trying to do,
particularly, in this election year is how will we reach — what I depict as the movable middle. There’s a movable middle.
And we talk too much in extremes and say, either this or that. And so, why can’t we be in the middle? And I think we can find a middle ground around
MARTIN: But for the most part, I mean, we hear, that, for example, white evangelicals are among the president’s strongest constituents.
MONROE: That’s right.
MARTIN: And they certainly have a right to their political views. But what I’m asking you as a person of faith leader, as a faith leader yourself
is, first of all, why is that?
MARTIN: And secondly, you know, what about that? Why is that the group of people for whom we most often hear when it comes to matters of faith and
MONROE: Well, one is that white evangelicals, number one, has good messaging in a way that your liberal left and progressives don’t. What we
do is that — and I saw this when I was at Union Theological Seminary as an MDEV student and then clearly, when I was at Harvard as a doctoral student
is that we have some brilliant theological voices and thinking that would really open the discourse, because always say that we got to make a
distinction between blind obedience and reasoned faith.
And that what happens here is that — this is what we do too much, I think, as progressives, we either look to the church or we look to the academy and
that we now need to look towards the world. And the evangelicals have always looked to the world first, more importantly to the white house to
get their messaging, to shake their policy and then to get their constituents to rally behind them.
MARTIN: So, how is that possible? I mean, when you consider, like who is one of the — if no — if let’s say that, for example, you were raised on
island and you are completely disconnected from Christianity in America, who is the person you are likely to know? Martin Luther King, right? I
mean, so, how did it happen that Martin Luther King is, for some people, like the foremost articulator of a social justice message, you know, right
or wrong, but that’s the person people — I mean, we have a holiday named after him, for heaven’s sake. But somehow, the progressive left no longer
has the supports in American life. Why is that?
MONROE: Well, there are a couple of things here. One, King died, OK. Because clearly, when he was alive, he was considered one of the dangerous,
you know, men in America here. But I think what happened is that we also had a movement, and we don’t have that. We don’t have what we used to have
in terms of a movement.
And I’m not pointing the type of movement that we have now, but you had people from, you know, parts of the south that you could have never
imagined protesting. These people were protesting, you know, out of fear but actually were thinking about a future for their children, if not for
So, King becomes even bigger because, by that time, the moral sort of — you know, I would say the moral fabric of America is changing and it’s
changing for a couple of reasons here. We certainly have the Civil Rights Act — you know, bill passed in ’64. The Voting Right Act in ’65. But we
also had JFK And LBJ in the House.
We did not have someone in the White House spewing the kind of virtual and hatred that, you know, that we’re now, you know, hearing.
MICHEL MARTIN, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Do you see a revival on the religious left?
MONROE: What I’m hoping for — you know, very it’s interesting. I remember listening to one of the presidential debates and Pete Buttigieg,
Buttigieg — Mayor Pete, OK, he said we need — in many ways I heard there is sort of a clarifying call. Please, you know, religious progressives and
the left, come out, speak. You know, we have to.
And the interesting thing we have to think about church differently anyway and we have to think about faith differently because millennials don’t want
anything to do with organized religion and understandably so.
But this is what happens when you get fed up with a church, because you don’t been change it from the inside and so many of us have left. I’m not
saying that go back to church, but what I am saying is that many of us can change the messages in our church to have a much more embracive gospel.
And what I’m hoping is a kind of social gospel.
MARTIN: You said that millennials are fleeing the church and you said and rightly so.
MONROE: Right, right.
MARTIN: Your words. Why do you say that? Why rightly so?
MONROE: Well, rightly so because, listen, it’s very interesting because a lot of millennials will get me to do their weddings. So it will be at a
wedding venue or a backyard or someplace and even then come back, you know, after they’ve, you know, been married and they have a kid to baptize their
kids. And so that’s —
MARTIN: But they don’t come. But you’re saying they’ll come for these life cycle events but they won’t become part of a congregation.
MONROE: Right. They won’t — that’s right. Absolutely will not, but they want those rites of passages. So it’s there to me where you meet them.
And when they do that, not only do they want sort of the ritual, but then in some way they’re begging for community.
And we got to do community, as I say, in a way that when you think about community, you think of yourself as the individual and the community. But
I think that — and I’m not booing social media, but I think that we’ve lost that human connectedness, the way in which we do community, the social
skills of learning how to talk across our differences in a very civil way.
MARTIN: We are seeing, though, for example, in North Carolina the Moral Mondays movement.
MONROE: By reverend — yes, Reverend Barber. Yes.
MARTIN: Reverend Barber who’s been named a MacArthur Fellow for —
MONROE: Rightly so, yes.
MARTIN: And there’s also — we’re seeing, for example, members of the Jewish community demonstrating around immigration policies because they —
those who are participating see a communion with their own experience —
MONROE: That’s right.
MARTIN: — of being cast out and are being very vocal and visible.
MONROE: And what those two models really show is a kind of sort of I call it intersectional activism as a spiritual practice. They got their
community riled up or revved up, if you don’t mind my saying, in a way that they feel called to do this in this particular time. Not enough of that is
Some of it could be, OK, the pews are empty. Many of them are trying to survive. But I think that you can survive if you face the world, if you
find — if you pull in more millennials. And I do think millennials will come. I mean, we see it with — we saw it with the Occupy movement. That
was something greater than themselves. We see it now with Black Lives Matter.
I mean, so it’s not that we don’t have a younger generation that is not interested in righting wrongs and in pushing back the kind of just sort —
I would say white nationalism that is certainly happening. I don’t think that a lot of ministers are doing enough in the progressive realm about it.
And I don’t think that enough theologians that are, again, in the academy or in the church doing enough to reach the outside world. We’re very
MARTIN: Have you ever considered leaving yourself?
MONROE: Oh, yes. You know, just about every Sunday.
MONROE: So when people say to me, you know, you’re a minister. I said, well, on a good day. It really depends here. Yes, because it’s a
struggle. It really is a struggle, because sometimes you say the same thing over and over again but there is a kind of tenacity around the way in
which religion is just promoted in this country.
I really do say you’ve got to make a distinction between blind obedience in recent (ph) faith. We — and a lot of people say, well, because it’s in
the Bible. Well, the Bible says a whole lot of things here.
Why are you uplifting this particular, you know, passage over and against the really sort of heart of the text, you know, the sentiment of the book,
which is about love — which is about a universal love and in many ways a multicultural society and a participatory government, if we want to use
some of what, you know, evangelicals use.
MARTIN: How would you —
MONROE: That’s what I’m hoping for.
MARTIN: And so people who are a young woman like you —
MONROE: An old woman.
MARTIN: No. When you were a young woman discovering yourself as queer, is I think the term you prefer —
MARTIN: — you know, understanding that as a young black girl there are a lot of people who didn’t think you were worth a whole lot and you found
that place in the church. What do you say to the young people who say, you know what, I see myself in you and I don’t see a place from you. What do
you say to them?
MONROE: Yes. And I say that it’s really not true. And that — when people tell me that, I also give them a list of places and other people
that they can talk to, along with me, because what happens is, one, your silence will not protect you. That certainly what the Lord has taught us
through her writings and own experience.
And number two is this that when you feel you’re isolated, you continue to be isolated. But when you really step out in the world, you’ll be
surprised how many people are just like you, struggling with you, and also will be allies with you in the struggle here.
This is what I say, you know, in any struggle. I say that the power of the people is far greater than the people in power. That’s whether the
government or whether that is the church. And then I tell them this, OK, we will fight until hell freezes over and then we will fight on the ice.
MARTIN: OK. Reverend Irene Monroe, the host of “All Rev’d Up,” podcast and the author of many, many, many articles and thank you so much for
talking with me.
MONROE: Thank you so much for having me. It’s my absolute pleasure, really.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: So back to the issues not raised at the debate, we turn now to Syria where the President assures us ISIS is
defeated, but where they are, in fact, finding new and fertile ground to breed their ideology. They’re doing it through the women, the foot
soldiers have left behind, the wives, widows, and children of ISIS militants and now languishing in refugee camps across Syria.
Correspondent Arwa Damon has been inside one of those sprawling camps, Al- Hol, in the northeast of the country. It’s been described as a ticking time bomb. Here is her report.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It called Al-Hol, a camp that sprung from nowhere, now the size of a small town. The
wind and sand mercilessly blow through the tents and the baking heat of the Syrian summer. But it’s the anger, the seething hostility that strikes
you. To step into this camp is to witness a strange mutation of the caliphate kept alive by the widows and wives of ISIS.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): There are cells here, they are organized.
DAMON: A spirit of vengeance steeps into the next generation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): I tell them your father was killed by the infidels.
DAMON: Hatred and enmity is magnified by the wretched conditions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See, you think it’s a camp but it’s a prison.
DAMON: It’s a place in limbo like no other refugee camp on earth shunned by the international community. Kurdish forces say this place is a ticking
time bomb, an ISIS academy where its brutal ideology is incubating. They don’t have the resources to keep control.
Many of the women here don’t know where their husbands and teenage sons are. They tell us quite openly they’re teaching their children to hate the
infidels who imprisoned and killed their fathers and brothers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): If the prisoners aren’t released, the hatred will grow.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): The biggest ISIS cell will be the woman. If the men aren’t released, I will go crazy.
DAMON: The camp’s population swelled while ISIS was making its last stand, not far from Al-Hol. Many of the new arrivals have direct ties to ISIS.
They were organized and quickly establish their version of the moral police terrorizing those who refuse to wear the full veil. Beneath the black
uniformity, some women want nothing more than to leave.
I don’t care if it’s the Kurds or even the Americans who control my town, this woman pleads. But there is no reintegration program. This is an open
(on camera) What do you want?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to go home. I escaped from us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should I be?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I’m just asking a lot of people that’s why they’re talking in our countries because they’re scared to take us back.
DAMON: If they gave you an option, let’s say, of creating another caliphate for you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: no.
DAMON: No? You’re done?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of women, they think the same.
DAMON (voice-over): But few countries are repatriating their nationals. The living conditions are horrendous. It’s filthy. There’s little access
to medical care. Clean water is scarce. Food is rationed.
A telegram chat group has turned this place into a cause for ISIS, referring to it to as a Al-Hol death camp, alleging atrocities by the
pig enemies of Islam.
(on camera) There is a lot of propaganda here, a lot of promoting of the ISIS ideology. But then they’re also using this platform to send messages.
(voice-over) It’s where they posted this video, the ISIS flag being raised inside the camp. That happened here, in a part of the camp for Syrians.
It’s their reaction to the psychological pressure on us, one woman says. They should know that more can be done than the raising of a flag and more
has been done.
Foreign women here are no longer allowed to leave their annex and go to the market after two incidents when Kurdish guards were stabbed. The more
radicalized women threaten and terrorize those less devoted to ISIS. One woman says her tent was burned down. Another said that she’s afraid of
being stabbed, she barely sleeps at night.
Outside the camp, we get access to a prison, a surreal scene. Former ISIS fighters painting and crafting paper mache models. This man says ISIS held
his family hostage to coerce him to join. ISIS gave me the bombs, he tells us, and then showed me on what step how to plant them. He’s serving 20
years, the maximum sentence.
In the crowded cell, some men say they never supported ISIS.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): My cousin turned us in, he said we were ISIS. But he is an ISIS spy.
DAMON: Others accept their fate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): I raised my hand, I said I am ISIS. I’m not scared, I’m here, I will pay the price.
DAMON: The Kurds are doing their best to separate the true believers from the rest. In this rehabilitation center, there are scores of teenage boys.
This 15-year-old was an ISIS fighter. His first mission, to plant explosives at a U.S. base.
He describes how they were given the bombs, weapons, and suicide vests. We covered everything with the women’s black kneecap (ph), he says, so the
jets in the sky would not target us. The operation failed and he ended up in prison. But even there, ISIS ruled, he says. But at the rehab center,
things are different.
I’ve left ISIS behind, he tells us. It was a mistake. I learned from it. But the center barely reaches a fraction of the children indoctrinated.
There just aren’t enough resources.
If the situation stays like this and nations don’t help, ISIS will come back, Musab Khalaf (ph), an administrator here tells us. We hear about it,
the sleeper cells. They take advantage of the children trying to recruit them.
And the children are so vulnerable. They know nothing but conflict, destruction, and grief. Some have no parents like this little boy.
(on camera) He’s just visiting his friends here. His tent is somewhere else. And he says that his mom was killed. His dad has been detained and
it’s just him and his siblings, the oldest of which is 16.
(voice-over) Children pay the price for the sins of their parents, but in turn are preyed upon. There’s only so much Kurdish officials can do to
contain the situation. And there is shocking lack of international involvement here.
The place is forgotten, the legacy of yesterday’s war, and that makes it uniquely dangerous because if allowed to fester, the sprawling camp contain
the seeds of the next war and ISIS’ revenge generation.
Arwa Damon, Al-Hol Camp, Syria.
AMANPOUR: So there we see where many of these women, the wives of terrorists, have ended up. But what about where it all began, what drove
them, especially young western girls to flee home for the caliphate?
Author Azadeh Moaveni examines that very question in her new book “Guest House for Young Widows: Among the Women of ISIS.” It follows 13 women who
were just girls as they leave their countries, their homes, and their families to marry militants. But Moaveni has discovered some of the
AMANPOUR: Azadeh Moaveni, welcome to the program.
AZADEH MOAVENI, AUTHOR, “GUEST HOUSE FOR YOUNG WIDOWS: AMONG THE WOMEN OF ISIS”: Thank you for having me.
AMANPOUR: So, first, let me ask you about the title of your book, “Guest House for Young Widows: Among the Women of ISIS.” What is the guest house?
MOAVENI: So the guest house is the place where women would be taken upon arrival to the so-called caliphate. They would wait there to be matched
with fighters that they were meant to marry, and it was a place that they would be taken when their fighter has been died, when they’re waiting to
So it was really a place that was terrible. It was meant to be — it was full. There were children everywhere and it was meant to be so unbearable
that women would want to marry anyone to get out.
AMANPOUR: So that was the point then, right, the point of this recruitment of women, which we know happened. Often ISIS women would be
online grooming and recruiting women.
It wasn’t from their perspective then to bring all these women over to have nice romances. It was — they needed fighters married and they figured
they could get a pool of willing women from overseas.
MOAVENI: Well, it was sort of two things. Promising women to fighters was something that ISIS did, in particular. So it was part of the lure of ISIS
as oppose to its other Jihadist rivals. So women have to be part of (INAUDIBLE) from men, but also women weren’t really attracted with the idea
or drawn to simply being someone’s wife.
I mean, they were promised to have a role in this utopian society. So, whether they were coming from Europe or, you know, Arab countries, they
were promised some kind of, you know, activist, sometimes role in building a new society. So, it was a kind of pathway to women and a sort of
perverse promise of empowerment and a lure for men at the same time.
AMANPOUR: That’s really interesting. I think the really thing I want to ask you right now is women were promised to the men. Flesh that out. I
MOAVENI: The idea was that everyone would be building an Islamic community, that this would be a homeland where Muslims could live piously.
They would not have to face the racism and discrimination of Europe. They would not have to live under the corrupt dictators of the Arab world.
And so the idea was for families even to come. We had all families go, three generations from the U.K. One family was grandparents, you know,
children, children of the children. So the idea was to go and build a society, so whether that would be a place where people can be matched
together or to come altogether as a family unit.
AMANPOUR: So you follow about 13 girls, right, and you have very close access to them. I mean, how did you get this access? Where did you find
them? I mean, I guess they are all widows and probably you found them all in the camps there. But, how was the reporting conducted?
MOAVENI: I started quite early. So I started working on this in early 2015, around when those three schoolgirls from East London went.
AMANPOUR: Professional (ph) green girls.
MOAVENI: Professional green girls.
AMANPOUR: We have pictures of them. Yes.
MOAVENI: So I was riveted by that. I was struck by how they were excommunicated in the presses, so they were no longer British anymore. So
they weren’t, you know, citizens of the U.K., girl citizens.
But at the same time, what had happened to them to me seemed intelligent. I mean, I had been reporting from the Middle East for 20 years, so the
challenges that women faced at the corruption, the state repression in those societies, I thought I wanted to tell the story of what had happened
to them in an intelligible way. So I started early.
I met with girls who had tried to go and had been stopped. Eventually when the caliphate — when the so-called caliphate started to collapse and women
fled or were captured, I went to the Raqqa and to the camps in the northeast of Syria and met women there, as well.
AMANPOUR: Did you find, because many, if not most of the girls in your book express regrets of having being lured, having taken part. Do you find
their regrets were genuine or are they trying to figure out whatever to say to be able to come back to their countries of origin?
MOAVENI: I think most of the women that I spoke to were genuinely regretful. They — many of them hadn’t participated in crimes themselves,
but they knew that they had been part of something that became horrific, that hurt and oppressed so many others.
And they were very prepared to come back and be prosecuted and to pay the price for what they did and to have, you know, to them, what seemed like
the privilege of returning to a normal life. But most of all, I think they wanted the chance to be prosecuted as citizens of the countries that they
AMANPOUR: So that’s really interesting. But obviously the big case is Shamima Begum. They took away her citizenship, the government here, and
she’s still hanging out in Syria in a camp there and they’re refusing to allow her back. Is that what you found that most western governments are
not going to allow the women back?
MOAVENI: The reaction of western governments has been really uneven. The U.S. is really in favor of women being brought back. They think that it’s
safer from a security perspective knowing where everyone is, putting dangerous women, prosecuting them, putting them in prison.
And, also, you know, getting the victims home because they’re all kind of mixed in together in this camp that I was at a couple of months ago. You
know, there are hard core ISIS loyalists living aside people — women who suffered intensely under ISIS. So leaving them there, kind of abandoning
them is not really a solution.
The British are very in favor of just washing their hands of the whole thing and they have used the stripping of nationality much more
energetically. Interestingly, courts in Europe have ruled on this. Very often I think challenging governments who are dealing with this is an issue
of domestic politics. So of course, the kind of far right parties are all saying we don’t want these women back and it’s a challenge on that score,
But I think privately, the kind of acknowledgment is that eventually a lot of these women and their children, at least on a case by
case basis, will need to come back.
AMANPOUR: And we’re interested by the way you focus on this word jihadi brides. That has become the western buzz word for these girls. But you
write that, you know, it basically takes away their agency, their free will and it puts sort of a romantic gloss on it.
I mean, I think you’ve written a little some of the writing around your book and said that some of these girls thought they were going to ride off
on camels into the sunset and be part, as you said, of this great romantic new society. But what is your issue with the use of brides? Since they
were, they were groomed to be given to these guys.
MOAVENI: They were certainly eventually brides and many serially brides. But I think the focus on their femininity obscures the political context as
well. I mean, they wanted to be brides and something else. Whether they wanted to take up a gun and fight or whether they wanted to run their own
media unit or whether they wanted to train other women in religious studies, they wanted to be a citizen of this idea of this place.
AMANPOUR: Did any of them talk to you — I mean, were they abused? Were they forced into either sex or other actions? I mean, did any of them, I
guess, they wouldn’t have admit it, but taken part in any attacks on westerners or others who are held by ISIS?
MOAVENI: So, there are three characteristics in the book who are Syrian who participated in the morality police of ISIS. They’re all female
brigades that would go around policing. They dress in the comportment (ph) of others. And so they chose to collaborate.
A lot of them — a lot of the women I spoke to, though, you know, suffered greatly. If they refused to marry again, they were put in prison. They
had their children taken away from them. They were abused.
So, many of them were able to escaped and ended up, you know, despite kind of on paper and in the eyes of the world being members of ISIS were very
much also the victims of ISIS at the same time.
AMANPOUR: You talked about one of them in the epilogue, a woman Kohaja (ph), who you said, “In a sense, she is the ISIS woman I’ve been waiting
for, all these months and years. A true believer, a real female jihadist.” What about her made her that?
MOAVENI: She believed in the whole thing. She believed in the apocalyptic vision. She said that the streets and the towns of Syria would be awash in
blood. She believed the whole manorial, you know, kind of most intense vision of ISIS. I think that was alarming thing is that kind of
sectarianism, you know, has really infected a generation.
AMANPOUR: Meantime, President Trump, because countries that we’ve been talking about won’t have them back, he has said the following about all
these people who are effectively in some form of U.S. imprisonment in these camps. Their allies were manning these camps. Let’s just listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We’re holding thousands of ISIS fighters right now and Europe has to take them. And if Europe doesn’t
take them, I’ll have no choice but to release them into the countries from which they came, which is Germany and France, and other places.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So he said he’s going to release them back to their countries of origin, but we get to that same point. Those countries of origin don’t
want them, right, especially the men.
MOAVENI: There are very few men, we should say, because a lot of men have been killed. There are few thousand.
AMANPOUR: Is he talking about the women then?
MOAVENI: He seems to be talking about all of them. But it’s the women that are the more numerous problem, the women and the children. I mean,
there’s one camp alone that has 13,000 foreign women and children. So we’re talking about women and children in terms of numbers more than men.
It’s an interesting moment where the United States and President Trump seem to be taking, you know, the higher path than Europe. And also, the idea,
again of citizenship, you know, what does it mean to be no longer British or French or German because you made a terrible mistake as a 15-year-old.
AMANPOUR: You, Iranian-American. You were born in the United States in 1976, so before the revolution. Iranians and Iranian-Americans have been
swept up in this sort of anger from the Trump administration. How does your extended family feel? Do they still feel at home in the United
In the last several years, there’s been an anti-Muslim campaign, Muslim ban on countries like Iran. And many foreigners are feeling very ill at ease,
particularly Muslim people in the United States. How does your family feel?
MOAVENI: I think they feel a great dismay. Because, of course, that was our experience in the ’80s, you know, growing up at a time of the hostage
crisis when Iran was the great American enemy. And to kind of go through that, a second time in a lifetime, is quite bitter I think.
You know, that was humiliating, which I grow up. It seemed like something that was in the past for our generation that had been kind of
cast out of the Iran by the revolution. But to go through it again, to be once again, you know, the face of the barbarian or the boogeyman I think is
AMANPOUR: Azadeh Moaveni, thank you very much, indeed.
MOAVENI: Thank you.
MOAVENI: A vital perspective, but that’s it for now.
Remember, you can always follow me, Michel, and the show on Twitter.
Thanks for watching Amanpour and Company on PBS, and join us again tomorrow night.