« Making Sense with Sam Harris

#144 — Conquering Hate

2018-12-07 | 🔗

In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Deeyah Khan about her groundbreaking films "Jihad" and "White Right." They discuss her history as a target of religious intolerance, her adventures with neo-Nazis and other white supremacists, the similarities between extremist groups, the dangers of political correctness, and other topics.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Welcome to the maids Asthma against SAM Paris. Today, I'm sticking with your time, the USA to time any award winning and twice bath nominated Documentary film director she's the founder of fuse. That's if you yield has he a media and arts company that puts women and minority communities at the heart of telling their own stories. In twenty sixteen she became the first. UNESCO Goodwill ambassadors for artistic freedom and creativity, she's made at least three films to date. But not a love story. She hard and white right meeting the enemy,
We talk about the last to Jihad and right right you really have to see her films dear doing something truly extraordinary. She's, doing something extraordinary as a person even more than as a filmmaker. Now you'll hear in the second half of this podcast in the last hour, or so No, we don't agree about everything through Stephanie some daylight between how she view the collision between Islam and the modern world, and why I view it and she clearly doesn't fully line with my friends modred and on her sally. So there is a free a conversation we had on that front, but I hope you view the exchange we did have there is a model for the kind of conversation that millions of people could and should be having about these issues, Unfortunate audio quality for this podcast is a little spotty. There were few sound brow,
by her side, not too bad, but it goes in and out in a few points, I think it's worse in the beginning. So apologies for that and it goes. I love this conversation. I think DIA is fantastic. If you watch white right, you will understand why I think so. This agreement aside, I now bring you the akan. I am here dear con deah, thanks for him on the back ass Thank you for having me I know I mispronounced your last name. How do you say con when you're, not an american, who can't pronounce mill MR, now you know that's no bad! Actually can I mean do the only difference, I would say is HANS Sister, her wet, but I'm on your most people say: that's not bad. Ok. What is great meet you on my phone essentially were: we're over the internet, and you explain to me that there is some experts
and in the background you are not in a war zone. What what was going on? I'm not its guy folks night there's a lot of fireworks happening, but it should come down. In another hour or so hooker was long as you're safe. Absolutely you and I actually have met over the phone You might be aware of this, but these were less than auspicious circumstance. I think you were in the room for my ill fated conversation. With Marian Demoiselle due to have. I rose, that's correct, yes, because I still owe it was. It was this a couple of years ago now I think young I did a film about a policy and an basically in a young people that are leaving Islam both in England, but also in other countries and just what there appearances alike and then also the kind of support or lack of support that they find within
Muslim community and then organizations like Mary aims. The council makes Muslims that that provide that much needed support for for these, young people so was following Marian lots around my time, and then you know. Obviously, you guys had your conversation. I also happen to be in the room and eventually just and off the camera? Yeah yeah yeah and seeing the footage of that, but I experienced my side of the conversation first hand and I can only say or you are very briefly, a friendly voice on the line, and then I was delivered into a merry hands and we had. I am what men our view is perhaps my least successful, podcast or ITALY was in the top three, but it was called the as we agree about many things, but we got bogged down on debating. Open borders and just couldn't get back to dry land I do think I was a was a shame because I said you know. I think you have a lot a lot income,
when actually in what was a bit frustrating for me being, let me listen. I was just felt as if you were both sort of talking past each other, and you know you're, that's that's always just sort of sad and and and and a waste when that happens while I am virtually certain you- and I won't have that problem, having watched your too, I think your two most recent films that are available on Netflix Jihad and why right, I'm just so amazed at what you're doing and in such a huge fan- and I just hope everyone watches these films- our conversational will be absolutely no substitute offer for actually seen them, so you just have a an enormous fan and me- and am I just want to talk about what you're doing a filmmaker? That's very kind of you. Thank you will appreciate that it's. You know you you when you, when you do your work and your so I mean film such a sort of obsessive
really long, really hard process and its just hard for me to look up from the work that I do. It's it it just is so all consuming. So when people finally see the work Then the responses to the work is only you know, it's it's touching and confusing and an end in a quite amazing. Me too realise that other people have a relationship to the work that I do. You know because for me, it's a matter of just serve That is why my own curiosity really is is what films are an exercise in your area? Is God is something more than curiosity here? Those what you ve done here is you can responding a moral emergency in both films and putting yourself on the line in a way. That really seems unusual for a film makers have it, but before we jump into the to each film, Just tell us a little bit about your background Heaven. How do you come to be dealing with these topics and- and I was
I still our new european Norway, which you betray suddenly no evidence of so so who are you and where'd? You come from You're right, I was born and raised in in Oslo, Norway come from almost him family, my father's pakistani mothers. I've gone very, very broad very, I would say the sort of an eccentric family in the sense that we had lots of artists and activists and in the house, when was growing up as some of my earliest memories of of Vienna just sitting in playing on the carpet when my father and my mother would be. Attaining and having conversations about politics and about human rights and, above turn about music in and with with feminists and with activists and human rights defenders, from from that part from their part of the world old. So I sort of grew up Understanding that that's that's! That's what life is like. That's what you know.
Muslim women are like even but the sort of my dad is a bit of a strange guy. He had a lot of experiences of racism in Norway and one of the thing. That he had in his mind was that the only way you can get past that is, and he gave me this lecture when I was actually quite won. He said: look there are only two professions in the world where your race won't matter your gender, your religion, your background, won't matter. If you work harder than everybody else, an you, remain patient and just stick to it then Usually you you're gonna, be able to do well. And one is what and the other is is within the arts, and particularly music is what his love was, and so at the age of seven, he basically decided that my profession was going to use it. The music. I started music and this was north, indian and pakistani classical music, but I studied from the age of seven
very, very rigorous training. Very me, my dad was wonderful, but also very strict, very harsh person when it came to her commitment to music, and I always thought of joke about this that you know my dad didn't arranged my man drawing like that, but he in a he chose my profession. For me, anyway, in no way, I very quickly started in public performance is both on tv and music festivals in various places and sort of became. I would say this must God for food for multicultural, Norway. You know this little strange girl who is doing the strange sort of music and kind of a symbol of, how well Norway was doing with all of its sort of end quote new arrivals from all around the world and everywhere. Felt very good about themselves and patted themselves on the back. But as my success continued, I started getting more negative reactions as well from two sides? One side was saying and what is this little basically packing
is a derogatory form for people from Pakistan and in South Asia? Doing on our tv all the time you send the inner people like this? You know they need to piss off back home and then Other side that I started also getting abuse from was from my parents, community and the muscle, Community Norway's, actually quite small, but harassment from Sign also started getting very, very intense to the point where by the age of seventeen I had to tackle, bags by a one way ticket to London and left? There was sort of welcome exiled from Norway, which is which is strange away, because a lot of people leave difficult countries in search for safety in Norway, but for me was it was the opposite of images, survive standards so you're you had very liberal muslim family and it sounds like you didn't escape all of the they southeast asian kinds of pressure. One can get from one's family.
It was directed towards music rather than religion or conservative social norms, and so your being a a female, for former put you on the radar of religiously conservative people who then made your life miserable units, yes and and and and there the reasoning was that they consider music to be unacceptable. They consider music, they They. They consider music to be very low profession, a profession that is engaged with by prostitutes, an dishonourable people and people would often say you do you come from a good family? You know why, are you engaging in such as such are immoral and dishonourable profession, and I remember I think I was in eleven twelve years old and you know we used to have these delegations of men would come to our house and try to talk sense into my father
saying you know, we don't even allow our boys to engage in this profession. What are you doing dragging your girl into this and he was, he would always show them the door. He would never care and he would always look. This is my daughter, my decision and an inner EU people. Just you leave you, you, you get you no jurisdiction over her and my grandfather on my father's side also lived in Norway. He was one of the first immigrants from Pakistan to come to. Norway to work is very, very, very religious, very conservative, he helped build several the mosques in Norway and very loved and respected in law, waste at when people had when they struggled with my father than they would go to me, grandfather, saying, look she's bring shame on the entire community. She is needed as a stray by showing them that they can do things like this, and this has turned this- has to stop stop him and he was unable to do that and then eventually, you know people started coming to me in the streets of of Oslo. You know people
Knives on me, I was at on, I was attacked at my own concerts people try to abduct me from my own schools. It became very, very difficult in the american age. This point, yeah yeah an end. You know my my mother always gets really upset whenever she thinks about this. You know cause she's she's she's, like you know, because I remember when we made the decision Yunus you sitting at the kitchen table and she sat me down as she said. Look: do you understand that we can no longer protect you? Do you understand that we can no longer keep you safe and that you're gonna have to go, and I remember going yes, I do understand that you know my heartbreak sort of at the time was, I mean only sales of free of what was going on also, you knows afraid for my family because they were, you know they stood by me an end. They paid a heavy price for that. You know they were completely isolated and serve pushed out by the rest of the community. But but you know,
still they still chose me instead of the community but I remember her justino having to send her her child away. You know, and still to this day she gets really really sad when she thinks of that time. You know, and my brother lost his sister, you know means we didn't have means of communicating like this back then it was really hard. You need. I left my career of my friends left my life left. My family left everything behind, so it was not. As you pointed out, it's amazing you to leave a western society. Yet this is not leaving Pakistan or Afghanistan, which would understandable, be you- and I think you know the heartbreak for me- was the my exit. A very public access in it wasn't something that should have happened in secret. It it was, you know, serve plastered across the UN's gives me the national newspapers in Norway, saying that I'd been threatened out of Norway and all of this and might be
I kind of just sorrow at the time sort of unit in the mind of a seventeen year old was you know that no one said anything nobody that hold on This is wrong and I remember the kind of my way of thinking that he again, you know the seventeen year Old was you know I couldn't help but feel if I We have been Blondin and blue eyed. Would people of behave differently when they have treated me differently, and would there have been any kind of outrage then, instead of just quietly letting me go like that, and I always sort of say this, but but I really felt, like you know, at the airport, where you have You know, there's always at one suit case that keeps no going round and round on the baggage carousel that nobody comes to claim. That suit case felt like that. I felt like I didn't belong to you to the pakistani human t and I felt like I didn't belong to my country. You know and on that, was a very painful, very, very difficult feeling to carry
seventeen year old because you eat, you don't feel like you, ve done anything wrong. I did everything right. I was Indians to my father's dream. You know I worked really hard. You know and this is what you end up with is is Loneliness and end just a sense of deep, deep loss in a wandering this its of London, having no idea what to do. Off who you are or how you rebuild your life so I mean it's a very long answer to your coming out: no good to get here. We're back story here, but ironically see you, you will you go to London, which is also a centre of Islamist and jihad? Extremism are often think of it as being one of the worst in the west. In terms of you and of your exposure to a radicalized community. I guess you ve, nobody knew who you were when you arrive, but just based on on your own films, Europe,
and about out of the frying pan into the fire, aren't you will will well yes, I know because I mean the reason I chose London is because will you know I'd been here at the age of twelve and growing up in Norway always felt, like you know the strange sort of dark child in the sea of the blonde and the blue Eyed, as always Siena had this feeling of never quite fitting in never quite being sort of enough for US either side. Now, norwegian enough nobbing pakistani enough, you know and then the fact you're a girl on top of it into just adds all those that extra baggage. But coming to the UK. When I remember NOS twelve, I loved it because I could suddenly see people who looked like me and I suddenly felt like I didn't stand out. In that way, and that's one of the reasons I chose that instead of instead of the? U S, for example, but were but also U S was too far, but anyway, I think you know to a huge extent. London is
as a symbol and an example of how sort of diverse cultures can coexist beautifully through through some of the art and the music and the other, the foods and end the friendships and an end. The kind of life that you see a lot of people leading. But then, of course, there is a flip side to that as well, that where you also see people on the margins of of of the society in these various communities also, obviously, and edging farther and farther towards violence and farther and farther towards separate division and fear of each other. So so yes, it's difficult place in some ways, but in other ways is also actually quite successful, which I think we don't really get to talk about her see very often in a when it comes to unify feminists within from from
the muslim context when it comes to robustly addressing some of the challenges that we face within various minority communities. I've seen that engagement in in in a much more impressive, robust form in eating and I've seen anywhere else. So I think the solutions, also reside in England as much as the problems you mustn't, Oh, my friend muttered now arises of you crossed paths with him. I have met him. Yes, du du align with his reform efforts. It is their daylight between how you come at Essen and how he does. I I dont know enough about the reform effort, but the little did I do know I dont think the wee wee wee align, I mean I I I
understand and respect? Some of the work that he's doing, but I think on the reform side of things it's it's. I don't particularly see how that effective. To be quite honest, I think people practice and manifest there there religiosity in in a multitude of ways everywhere, and I think that's where the key is. I don't think a kind of top down a kind of a choreographed reform is, is really needed, I think will actually can you explain to me What do you understand that he is doing and maybe a misunderstanding in the night near your work Basically, his him he's not cast himself as a theologian at all, in fact that the theologians that he relies on most of the time it is in your film jihadi, some of the song. I that film predates his association with colleagues, but I think I'm I'm not mistaken about that as the standing about the same person here
and but getting minded argument is simply that action. Following the line. You just suggested that, given that there is so much diversity in how people practice- long. The only answer is a respect for secularism. They mean that you just you, have to keep your version of the faith out of public policy and out of law, and everyone should be free to practice as they want. In so far as their practice does not infringe on the well being of anybody else, but it's just there is no solution. That gives you One right version of Islam is just there has to be a eight, a truly robust commitment to secularism in the muslim world, and so so what is the purpose then? So so so when we say that the dead, the reform,
What does that mean, then? Why does he attempts to do many things that seem to have happened to some of the subjects in your film jihadi medicine that you have people who used to be jihadists are used to be a woman. And we through some collision with modern values, they have relinquished their commitment to that theocratic project, and now there are far more live, oil and that's what happened a moderate and and that's what happened some people in your film and so that the Queen Foundation just tempted to form a lie. Is how one goes about real, reaching out to such people and changing their their views on things. I'm here he's just my judges finds himself in conversation with with people like many the subjects in your film. They bushes jump into talking about jihadi. Because
We want to spend most of the time talking about your second film white right or not you not your second home, but the second film I want to talk about which is too, which is about white supremacy in the? U S, because Mr State, an amazing document, you have produced there, but, let's start would you hi has already talked about this, so you're. You focus on this problem religious extremism under the banner of Islam and in the main figure in the film is somebody who I didn't I dont know, although much about, but I will not mundus- are maybe introduce him in and hat. And how did you come to make this particular film? Whilst I wanted to try and understand what that there's a couple things I was trying to do. One thing was that I won't to understand why we were starting to see our young people?
leaving the UK and other european countries and wanting to go to foreign battlefields, so young, muslim kids, who you know we would imagine, have have every reason to to want to live in and want to just lead their lives as young people. Here, instead of going on this format of yours, I was wanting to try to understand. Why is that? Why would somebody do that and then The second reason, which was much more personal, was after having all the experiences that I've had in my life. I sort of got to appoint an in life where I was sort of done being afraid and done.
Eating and done leaving country after country and wanted to do something that I've never done, which is to sit down with that with the kinds of men that were the reason why I had to leave Norway, for example, an unseen possible for us to sit across from each other and have a conversation just about life and an end about, and about each other and so ice eyes set out on that sort of search and then came across ever want to sit. Who, basically, is one of the sort of found? Figures of recruiting young people from the? U k of actually from America in the past as well: Denmark, Germany, across Europe, the recruiting young Muslims to go and fight on foreign battlefields. In his time it was Afghanistan. It was Bosnia, it was Chechnya, Kashmir and then he subsequently also than inspired, though, that this this kind.
Trend of of foreign fighters that we now have seen in recent years and what was really interesting and speaking to him is that in a he was saying that one of the biggest differences between his error and what were were witnessing now is that when he was going over there because they were fighting against the Soviet He said that they were considered. I may, as we already know it, they were considered to be performing a holy war that was of benefit to the west, so that so the west was encouraging it and an end supplying weapons to these guys and in providing other lives to support to the majority in the jar, basically and anything
Obviously, now the enemy is changed so now this force is viewed as as it has a very negative one, but anyway the point about him is that he managed to sow the seeds of this movement and of this trend that we now have seen blossom through through the recent years. An end he by the time I got to speak to him, he's completely renounced his actions. He utterly regrets everything that he's done and he has now completely dedicated every single moment of his life in trying to undo what he's done. Trying to I mean we spoke about forgiveness, a lot in both in the film and also of camera an end. I think he is trying to get to a place where he can for
himself for what he's the damage that he's caused, and I think that's. Why he's doing everything in its power now to try and work with young people both in prison in the in the community, and he still very much a believer but has understood that his understanding or his way of expressing his faith at that point was you know very misguided and and something that he really really feels a lot of pain? now here and that pain comes through. He breaks down at least twice and in interviews with you, and it is really white mesmerizing, to watch because he's mere he's right out of central casting us, as somebody he's exactly who you would think would be the bad jihadi in your movie of the war on terror, and yet he has had a total change of heart in its extreme.
Mary, I mean to me. I will have to be honest. I started the film very, very pessimistic I mean at, and I was quite sure what I was going to find out. I had a feeling that I would just sit with these guys and that it would just be an uphill struggle and that we would never agree on anything an end. You know I've I've been afraid of men like this most of my life, an end to sit down with them and to be able to connect with them in the way that we did and for them to share as much with me as they did was really special and I left the project, far more hopeful. That change is possible. You know it's, it's no one is beyond redemption. No, is beyond the recognition that I did something wrong. I think it takes a lot of courage for people to admit that they
did something wrong and and and wanting to try and do better wanting to try and do something different and he gets a lot of Armenia, hee hee after the film came out as well. You know he got a lot of negative reactions and the film did too, it has been a lot of people say people. You know who used to love. Him were saying in her yourself out, and you know how you know what a coward you are, and he says that in the film too, but the backlash from sort of the rest of you, no society was also very, very intense for him, because you know people want to see him on the people want to see him. You know dad, for what he did and don't see the value in in where he stands today, and what his sort of wisdom that he's arrived at can contribute towards the younger people that now going through some of the same issues that he did.
And he was very different as a leader as a recruiter. He was very different than his followers is what I found, which I thought was quite interesting. He was absolutely committed to the cause. It was very, very dedicated both to his faith, but also to two candidates that the geopolitical realities at the time that he wanted her to participate or contribute in in some way. Where is his? Followers were much more driven by a sense of purpose, a sense of belonging and kind of revering him as the father figure that they didn't have in their life, and I just find that really interesting. That recruiters, like him and leaders like him, are able to sort of take those feelings and redirect them into a political cause. And then ultimately towards violence near me, I will that be
jihadi world view is incredibly compelling, and I often think of it is it you get to be a spirit James Bond right, I mean not only do get to organise all of your Craig in four meaning and profundity and other worldliness end whatever religious superstition. You have on board. It has all of the the satisfaction of supercharged religion, but in addition to that, you as a testosterone points Young man get to join a gang right and you get to channel all of your sexual repression and awkwardness and dissatisfaction into this project. Of becoming a warrior for God and it really interested checks all of the boxes and in need male imagination and search for
yourself aggrandizement and then, if you believe the doctrine, your expecting eternal reward, which is explicitly sexual ized raymie. You you get to hang with virgins with God forever and its. It really is they d, in my view, the scariest possible. Set of means to be spreading, but there's no mystery is too Why so compelling with a few basic assumptions? Just just mean assuming the paradise exists, and that martyrdom is the way to get there, but also, I think that's really interesting is is the fact that the sort of emotional Psychological vulnerabilities is, is underlying a lot of this and then the needs that these movements are satisfying for young man. I think it's interesting about that is a law that we can actually do something about, and one of the things that I did find is that as much as, as you know, these guys you go on about Religio
city in that. That's there you know that's their primary driver in that's kind of the. I always call us or the window dressing that they put on top of everything else. I did find that other than some of the very very committed guys like recruiters lake the leaders most of the followers were actually not particularly religious, actually an end. They were far more driven by sense of alienation, a unit and an insensitive and this system and I found quite similar actually between these guys and the white supremacist that I met is, is just this inability to deal with shame and humiliation in their life, whatever that's all of that might be, whether its annex iii and experiences of of of racism or abuse or trauma or or whatever the specifics might be. But just an inability to deal with it in both and also of extremist movements seem too equalize, whatever loss of of manhood and masculinity. These these these,
men feel whatever emasculation. They feel this sort of equalising and, like you say, sort of super charges it for you and then also look at the rewards. I mean never mind the rewards in the hereafter, but you don't look at the rewards that you get while you're here. Looking for someone who feels in the ball and powerless and insignificant. Suddenly everybody cares about you. Suddenly, you are on the front, covers of every single newspaper you're on every single newscast, the most important men on the planet in a man at the time, like Obama, has to now think about you and talk about you and worry about you. I mean that's extraordinarily intoxicating in a meaningful. So so I agree with you that the village, your city or religious aspects of it that these guys,
is Europe believe that their their loyal to is, of course, a part of the picture, and so is also in a foreign policy, because when I started making the film people were saying. Ah, you know my friends we're going to find out in is it foreign policy? even says, or is it religion What I found is obviously both are absolutely a part of the cocktail, but what makes somebody get up an act on that you and I have a lot of you know. I was against Iraq, where I have a lot of issues with you. No american british foreign policy, as well there's a reason. I pick up a Cameron. These guys pick up a gun, and I wondered why do they
Why are some muslim men want to this? That there are no one point: what six or seven billion Muslims walking around the world right now and if the only qualifiers too, to be a terrorist or to be a jihadi, is to be a Muslim, then everyone would be dead by now right. So so that's that's not enough of a qualified either. So what what underpins it- and I so that was interesting to me- is that it was the psychological, emotional vulnerabilities, that that were very much the reason why some of these guys are drawn to it and other people are not and how cynically these movements in these recruiters or targeting these vulnerabilities that young men have. I mean that actively looking for these guys. I remember somebody saying to me during the course of making that film is. You know when, when ISIS was very, very active online, you remember me I was a landmark written going on
and you know what I found is that their recruiters would spend hundreds of hours with young kids online hundreds of hours and you can only imagine you know some kid who, who is disengaged from the rest of his life. You know, maybe it isn't maybe doesn't have the kind of friendship circles or or a struggling at home, or is having some sort of expectations in his life from his family or from his country that he is unable to sort of live up to, and then you ve got this person spend hundreds of hours on you building, loyalty, building friendship. I mean that's extraordinary and same without said them the men, the his followers that I spoke to, they would have. I'd for him any day. They would have died for him in some ways before they would have died for their faith.
Does that make sense lay so so that that intensity of their relationships within these groups it cannot be underestimated. I think we have a cult like structure messages. You have a charismatic leader, you have various beliefs, which convey meaning intrinsically a mere talking about a person's place in the universe and what happens after death and what what answer, makes sense of every apparent injustice and struggle and failure in this life They will all be rectified at a certain point. It's interesting because it to compare the two, who phenomenon with these phenomena jihadism in the phenomenon of white supremacy. They have so much income and as you say it's either. The recruiting tactics are the same: the vulnerability, of the young men in many cases are the same. I think there are few differences,
religion is, is one part of any their religion does show up in the white supremacist side as well, because they they have their own christian beliefs. They they gonna graft onto their their racism and xenophobia. But it's not is clearly not as integral to white supremacy as religious belief. Here's to try harder them. I think some of them. It really is quite intensely and that's why it might might my head was sort of wanting to explode went when I was listening to some of the White Supremacist Anne and that using some of the same terminology say You know and suddenly I'm a warrior forgot your and I'm sitting there going on my goodness. I can't believe I'm. This is like a repeat. This is hardly the the slogans and the flags are different, and
you know, but but it's the same guy and also having been on the receiving end of death threats from from both very rare from both a famous yeah, I mean, I have to say, reading some of those threats it might as well be the same guy and in what they say that they're going to do to somebody like me. It's the same kind of stuff. You know really interesting and telling I think, but if of course, there are differences as well, but I just find that that that that type of personalities that are drawn to this seemed to be there a very similar across extremist groups, and also that the tactics are very very similar to here and also others there's honour culture at the back of both her out. I would think that the honor cultures a little more intense in the DE jihadist context, but still there white supremacy. Trying a lot of energy from southern honour culture is, is easy to see some of the same dynamics there
You know I mean gender as a huge part of this. You know- and I think in other term, toxic masculinity, I think, is absolutely appropriate for both as well and also sort of harping on two to a past to a golden past. You known when, when, when everything used to be so much better when it used to be great an end, you know, and they can be a part of of ushering in that power, asked, which includes you, know, bizarrely, Vienna, putting women back into the home and into very, very severe and rigid gender roles, and you know only too to continue having- either muslim babies or or white babies. You know it's really interesting all the similarities there. It seems like in your encounters with your subjects, entry hard. These were, I think, almost to a man. People who had thought better of the whole project had come out there
side did at least to some significant degree. What was there, I reminded? Was there any one in the film who was just fundamentally hostile to you and anyway, a current jihadi store or Islamist whose because views? at the very core of everything you are trying to talk about the recovery of guys who are active now, but but you being a muslim woman myself, it's even the most hard core of men, the hard core fanatic jihadi types in many, many of them depending on how you approached them. What will find it difficult to be hostile just to be what style Joe said that there's this kind of strange courtesy thing, and since I was there to have a kind of an attack in the stick conversation or to have, I wasn't really there to have a fight. It actually went for the most part. It went ok
But I was very clear. You know I mean I am slim, but you know I dont cover my hair. You know I come from the background that I come from an mai my sort of condition was that I am I I come as me. You come as you and we did it. We both leave our baggage at the door, and then we meet each other, as as it is true, we are an animal Fine, but I must say you you do bring out the best in your subjects. Amidst I've been describing you with reference to you to the film on white supremacist as kryptonite for white supremacist has just amazing the effect you have on these guys. So it let us just pivot to white right which again people just have to oh see it's on Netflix in the: U S, a dear, do no other is globally available on effort. No, it's not it's it's available in, whereas in the U S and in the U K, I think and then
in Australia and Canada. The places that there are their own broadcasters are streaming it online. Where people have to get there eyeballs pointing in the right direction and watch. This is our along film. So let's just talk about how you got into position to even shoot this could eat. You find yourself in Charlottesville just at the right time, when all of this famously goes off we're. How did you come to be in charge villain and Emma you? You must have just heard that there's gotta be a big demonstration and understand that. Would be a good thing to film wheels? I submit that there's been several events at Charlottesville or rallies at Charlottesville, Renate Sommer scares me. I went to the first one, which was, which was the cake. A k was going to basically protest
that the sum of the statues being removed. So I went to that end. It was maybe about forty fifty clan people and what felt like at least a thousand counter testers and then there's some people were saying that actually there's going to be another Robbie coming up in a couple of months, the EU Coming to that, and I kept going up- I don't know I mean I'd. I dont by barely even you were transfer was until have void, and then in the meantime. I went to that and then the entire process of trying to get people to speak to me. Very, as you can imagine very, very difficult and very time consuming, because most people that I contacted were not interested in speaking to me because I explained again, I was very clear why I'm ok background. I have a kind of politics I have because I didn't want anyone to feel like I was being springing anything on them in person. I wanted them to know. Clearly. This is who I am, and this is what I would like to do, which is to try- and
not necessarily speak about the old ideology, but try and find ways to discuss why people are drawn to these movements, so most of them said no. No, interested and one guy, which is his name, is Jeff Scoop and he was the head of the. He is the head of the National Socialist Movement, which is the largest NEO Nazi group in America, and one of the oldest one He wrote back and was not particularly interested, and but I thought you will at least he's you know not saying a complete. No, so let me just poyser pushed him for such a long time. Any finally said: okay, you get one hour you come to where I live there
the specific motel you come to that one hour and then you just leave, and I said ok thank you find no problem at all and five hours later he says we're going to rally which will be in Charlottesville, and you are welcome to join us and- and I said well, ok great and then I actually flew to Detroit, which is why he and he drove, and I sat in the car with him filming for nine hours he drove from Detroit to Charlottesville and then you had one person in another cameramen or or he was just an end. My colleague producer also films and that's it so the two of us or the calm with Nazis base from ours. Talking about all kinds of very inappropriate stuff, because nine hours is a very long. One hundred point out her someone is number nine hours in a car, her, my goodness absolute an end, and he basically said look I guarantee of safety and the Euro.
You come it'll be fine and so the whole deal was that I am going to March with them, I'm going, I'm going to basically do whatever they do so that I can get a chance to work in their shoes. And you see we know what happens so, as you can imagine you know we pull up to these. You know different parts lots beforehand. All these various in white nationalists and all these various white supremacist groups are gathering from all around America and there and I'm the only brown person and and the very very few women Emmy, never mind even brown, but just even one of the few women there. And everybody it just looks at me like like arduous. They wanted like slip, my throat or something it was absolutely horrendous. Even though Jeff had said it's fine, you're gonna will look out for you, it's ok, it was horrible man. I kept
pulled off by different groups, grew to unify the. Therefore you you know what are you doing here? You blah blah blah an then, and then they also start say than Jeff. Also start saying, you know that the anti foster the anti fascist will also be in a counter protesting at the rally and no we usually get into physical fights with each other. You know sometimes there's there's been hammers that have come out and an understanding there going all. My goodness me. What have I just agreed to do was that's the point. What were you fell away? safe, physically and in making either of the two films yes But but there were several instances in in this film, I felt very, very, very unsafe I mean this was just one of them. I mean after during the actual Charlottesville sometime
fourchan with them and their chanting? You know Jews will not replace us and their chanting about deportations that they need to become the about. What is their charge anyway they now he struck the deportations and you're, not a marching in with these people and then the local community of a you know. People from Charlottesville and the counter protesters are shouting, and screaming at us as well, and I'm trying to film in the middle of all of this and I'm wearing a helmet and then suddenly I get pepper spray because they were trying to pepper spray somebody else. It was just a mess and it was terrifying when all the violence broke out, because that the the entire time, even before it turned into violence, does the intensity of all of these people everybody was on edge and you could tell both sides were just rearing to go at each other, so wanted when it huh
and it was just it was really really terrifying and managed to anyway get back safely to the barely took her parking lot again. And then one of the guys said. Oh there's going to be this gathering afterwards and its fine future bring cameras. You can talk to some of the people there and circular in the mountains of agenda somewhere. I off some dirt road in this compound was about sixty seventy guys there- and I remember talking to my colleagues angle killers- just get our cameras and go down and he goes no look. Listless just wait. Keep the Cameroon, the car and if everything is ok, we'll come back at the camera. I said: look he said it's fine. Let's just get, he said, not adjust, let's wait and stop walking down the dirt road, and the guy start gathering and start shouting and screaming and cursing I mean, I probably can't say the stuff there what every Warner? Ok, you know that
What are you know you fucking media? Are you fucking Jew or you? I just. I shall any kind, even really see me at in a put your fucking hands up, and then they start bringing out weapons, and some more topless and they ve got bruises on their body from from earlier in the day and their drink I see lots of Venus you're in one hand and weapons. On the other hand- and this isn't like I mean I'm already used to seeing that many weapons anyway, I'm coming from Europe, but this was stuffed and I've seen like in battlefields like this wasn't hummed guns. These were massive machines, I'm fine to get down there and they start getting in my face and start shouting and what kind of a fucking Muslim are you? Are you a she or your Sony, and I start chuckling a little bit going. What does that have to do with anything and why is your fucking head not covered? What kind of a fucking Muslim are you and I'm going up? My goodness me and I remember looking glancing at my phone and because they ve got my.
My colleague circled as well and shouting. I sit up where your nazi friends at this point, because at this point you ve got tat. You ve got nazi friends For these gone said he I suddenly. I can't see him and he's frantically looking for whatever person had said. It was ok for us to come because he kept going to be cool. It's unison so set its four is fine, and so he kind of this appears, and these guys are slowing, Smyrna blowing cigarette. In my face and end you know, and just just its it was so frantic and more and more of them coming. Yet like getting in my face like no space between us at all and an ever but glancing at my phone and it says no signal and appoint I'm thinking or they can put a bullet in my head and they can put me in the ground right here in the middle of nowhere and no one's going to find out no ones
to know because then everything starts running through my head going. I haven't told my colleagues that I'm here, I'm until my family haven't told the tv channel haven't, told anybody that I'm actually hears. If something happens, to me. This they'll know I'm gone, but they're not gonna ever ever, find me again and finally, the guy Brian Culpepper is his name. He came and he managed to negotiate away out Salif world. To finally leave browser. He didn't have to negotiate you're staying there and fell men and he was unable to reckon residents guys have meal, they got so hysterical and they were in a worse cursing. I mean it was the people of very, very riled up, and so finally, left, and my colleague is white, he was just me was not like them, I remember just you to immediately getting back to the hotel and an m. You know writing my my colleague Joanne into saying to her look. You know this is where I am.
This is what I am doing his my mother's phone number, here's my brother's phone number. Even if you don't hear from me every couple of days, he just Nita any to let them know you know about this was. Is one of many many very unpleasant experiences at another place. I went to a training. Camp where I was allowed to feel part of it in the not another part- and I remember a guy sitting there, with again gaunt everybody's drinking, Everybody has guns out and he's got his gun on his lap and he's holding it and is looking up just just staring at me, not talking just staring at me, I'm talking to other people and then finally he says you know that the best thing about serving in Iraq and serving in Afghanistan is a former soldier. He is getting paid to shoot rag. Heads like you, I'm sitting there going. Ok that that's that's great. That's thank you. Ok and just you know my way away from there and its it was just horrifying in some,
a guy following me around. You know clearly on medication, also for former soldier kind of twitching and kind of glossy I'd. Do you know I'm gonna, perfect fucking bullet through your head and put a fucking bullet through your camera? Don't fucking fill me in I'm going on my goodness, I'm not filming you stop following. Well, this is this is amazing to here, because this is virtually none of this comes through in your film. A mere your film is a far more hopeful document. I'm I'm beginning to worry that it is a document for another world, because the main The import of your film is you put a wide support. This is in a room with dear con and there's. No, that there's no way to maintain the white supremacy for very long under the empathic. Insistence of it wasn't interviewer nobody. You saw that with a mean nevermind these guys. We also see it in the film with with Richard spent here and the german swell
I was going to ask and remarking that difference, because you have a few guys whose names escape me, but this price, three guys who you you seem, spend a lot of time with an each falls under your sway to a degree that is frankly pretty adorable and they are effectively deep programmed of their white supremacy in your presence based on questions, you ask, and am I gotta say the fact that you are, you also happen to be beautiful. Woman can't have been irrelevant the effect on the viewers you, I basically felt like I was watching Threeg his fall in love with you and encounter a level of cognitive dissonance with their world view. That was just completely unsustainable. Don't know you felt that yourself, but it was just like this. You're out your hear you when you get around asking them, so you mean to tell me You would want to deport me and you think I should be stripped of my rights and each one of them aside No, no, no, I mean I mean it and it's amazing.
These are amazing, encounters you ve, captured on film. They are, but you at your You did not have that effect on Richard Spencer and Jared tailor it seems and it was at based on on them or the let or that you have less access to them or had he perceive the difference between those encounters well over the men that I just spoke about, that these very kind of vicious encounters. The sum the men were one of the men who in the film leaves Brian Culpepper, she saw me being treated like this and part of his reason for leaving was that he couldn't see me treated like this, because he starting to consider me to be your friend, and this was very so. I think he started seeing his movement in a different light when he
seeing it relates to his friend somebody like me, where's beforehand in this hadn't, really occurred to him. If it wasn't personal, it doesnt become personal, but when it comes to the richest answers on the direct tales of the world, I did not get to spend as much time with with them. But all So I actually find them to be more more sort of sinister. In many ways I you know and also more dangerous. I mean the. What surprised me most about making this film actually was was the very deep difference between sort of the working class. Guys only say blue collar, don't you guys and and these kind of this sort of certain time, brigade of Richard Spencer and Jared Taylor and and others. Like them an end, I mean I found the kind of camaraderie and the kind of love between these various groups really telling
as well, because you see rigid spends its treating his own followers with with a lot of contempt and a lot of disrespect, which I think is in resting, whereas you know Jeff and some of the Nazis that I spend time with you a day. For example. It Charlottesville, you know they were when it when the worst violence started happening. There were several cars that were brought up. To one of the areas to pick up all the leaders of the different groups and riches sir, you know it was, you know, escorted off into a car and animal and a lot of the Beatles and Jeff was actually one of the only guys who said no, I'm going to this one was one able to fit into the car's, so I'm going to walk back, so he walked back to old account to protest with the rest of his group because he didn't want to, separate, and in that way I think that was really telling. But the season your question is: why was my encounters with with those guys different? I think, because the
The aim is something different and their reason for being in the movement is something different. I think for for the NEO Nazis that I spoke to a lot of. It is about emotions. And where is for the Jared tailors and the rigid Spencer's it's much more by ideology in its much more about power, and I think it's also about wanting acts two more power at, whereas for the other guys it's it's just trying to regain some sense of dignity and, in some sense of purpose and meaning in belonging in all the other. The words that we said earlier about the previous film. So I think it's hard to get through. You know a lot of people who are deeply fitted to an ideology. You know they have a barrage of arguments, tactics an end. Their worldview is something that's been built over a long period of time and they ve spent ages. Cherry picking
arguments and and and reading biased materials into constantly reinforce their world view and reinforce, reaffirming I'm refining their arguments against the other side, and I think Richard Spencer ensure a tailor fit into that, whereas the other guys were able to sort of connected humanity and therefore also their own, you have, the difference is really striking, just as you know, Isaiah its when you're you're, nazi friends or warming up to it. Really and back you know, adorable is not as strong a word. It was really got. Those were. It was very cute to see you just kind of cut through their world view and the result is just super human eyes in, and you feel compassion for these guys and then to see you walk into a room with Richard Spencer and he he's got this kind of,
up till now and glare, and he really is a sinister guy who images, there's no warmth and his own ego, centrist iii and cruelty are so obvious, amid the guys just a colossal ass the as a viewer, your soldiers, I just want you can get out of the room with him. You know I just I was uncomfortable having you in his company, but when you went into these situations, your technique, an interview or is it really pretty interest Again, I am aware that is so much happening off camera that I'm not seeing but you're just really directly seeking to build, empathic connection with someone you not arguing with them. You're not trying to give
Let me have reasons why they're wrong about anything you're, trying to understand them and then just juxtapose the report, that's being built by that just basic human communication with the fact they have a set of beliefs wherein you are branded as the the other. So probably as to really suggests a day. They should want to murder you or have someone else, murder you a certain point. You just juxtapose those two facts and in the cases of at least three of the guys, it proves totally untenable. How did you think about your approach That's because really are you really are just putting yourself on the line and in a very interesting way? I think you have to or at least I feel like. I had two because in I've, I've had experiences of racism most of my life and
I. As a result, I've I've been an anti racist, anti fascist campaigner, most of my life as well, and I ve done sort of everything that that you would imagine I've gone too. You know you know I've gone to you, no anti fascist protest. I've shouted at these guys. I have you, no flip them off. I have thrown stuff at them. I have in I've done all of that, and none of that really did anything. You know it it's. The other thing that I was always told drawing up you know is that just give it time and these movements will just disappear and and its true, you know they. They sort of you know reduced in size and engines and noise and but then they come back. You know they never quite ever go away, and here we are today with wood, serve this resurgence again, and so I just got to a point where I realized. I again that I'm I'm
done being afraid of people. Like this an end, I need to try something that I have never done before, which is to sit down and to listen and to see if its possible for us, you see me seemingly enemies, and I mean they're my enemy as much as I am there in many ways and to see, if its possible for us to build a human connection, an end to work, work with that and use them. As a starting point, not using the ideology as a starting point, and that's very much the same with with the jihadi side as well. As you know, if it's possible for us to build human connections first, the ideology eventually falls apart for most people, because it's always about something else. It's always about other human needs that are not being met, and if you can acknowledge that, and if you can sort of sit through that together- and I think a sincerity
and a real wish to listen and not condemning people. Not you know it's very easy to condemn them. I have to say both sides is very, very easy to condemn. The jihad, isn't condemned the white supremacist as well and is very very satisfying, I have to say it feels great to condemn them and to judge them, but it doesn't provide any answers and it doesn't provide any results an end. I didn't to make the film with the hopes of changing anyone or changing anyone's mind or anything like that. I actually made the film to try and understand why people do the things that they do why people believe the things that they believe and to see, if its possible for us to sit across from each other just human beings and use that as a starting point towards something something else, just of greater understanding. For so the fact that you, Some of them started using words like friend. For me, the fact that we were able to build,
a real relationship with each other of of friendship, was absolutely shocking to me and then confusing, seeing and Anne and something I never would have expected. If you would have said to me a year ago that I'm going to become, of your best friends or not. I did this hour I would have. I would have loved that you at first and then. Secondly, I think I would have been offended that you would think that I wouldn't do that. You know and Anne and here we are, you Know- and it's very very strange, but it does give me a lot of hope and back to the Richard Spencer, Anne and that kind of dynamic. Also, what's with the biggest difference between him, and some of these guys is, I spoke to these guys alone. I spent a lot of time with them alone. Richard Svensson, never was around me alone. Here are covered differ.
At his hands. He always had so so so that kind of dynamic, of always wanting to sort of show yourself as this this you know whatever in a tough guy. Is very different and the same thing with the Nazis as well all the difficult experiences that I had only happen when they're all big groups and the testosterone and the anger and the name calling in all of that is really intense and whipped up, maybe superpowers only come out when you're one on one year, you're a superhero that has to get alone with her target came back. That's my god. It's nonetheless Superman the effect is really. It's really is pretty mesmerizing watch touched by and by I have to say it you know and can one of the guys. You know that that's the guy who was gonna, throwing the anti semitic fly as out of his his window. You know he called me cause in the foot
he doesn't leave. He uses the word friend for me, but he doesn't actually leave, but in an end in the film. I also ask him, I said: ok, so you, and what does this mean? You know now Vienna going forward. What is this going to me and he said well, I think you know this opens me up to you know. Maybe speaking to other people were different to me, he actually state true to that. He actually he actually did do that and he ended up speaking too after I'd gone. Are we kept in touch and he was also a man who was expelled from his university and I try to help him with with some of that. I think they were worried that he was gonna shoot there. I don't have a photo the reporter on Facebook, exactly
and then I tried actually, I haven't really said this out loud before, but but I tried reasoning with some of the people that is university, some of them the professors to try and say that look. I dont believe that he has it in him to do that. An end. Somebody like him at the crucial point where he stands in his life right now. The best place for him to be right now is in in in this in a space where he can continue his education think, if you take that away from him, then we do run the risk of him. You know going over the edge, but he really needs to continue learning and needs to be done in an environment of knowledge and people and thinking in reading. Nevertheless, they kicked him out and I am not as well but anyway he there's a black pastor in his african american pastoral, his apartment complex, who he started talking to, and then this pasta.
Hated him to his congregation, which is an old black congregation and then can goes. There talks about his past as a as a cook looks clan, member and currency as NEO Nazi and his views, and all of this and the response to him was kindness and was compassion and an inner people apparently came up and hugged him after and said. You obviously would disagree with you and dislike. You know what you stand for, but it takes a lot of courage for you to come in here and say in any sort of speak in this way, and we are put yourself out there like that and that completely just unpicked everything for her. So he called of months ago and said: look there. I've completely left. I've left the ideology. I've left the group.
I've left everything and I'm so sorry- and he said you know, the hate was eating me from the inside and he said you know I want to try and and do better an end you and it's. It's tells me that we can't really afford to give up on people you know people who seem like him. I mean he has a massive swastikas. You seen the film you a massive massive swastika tattooed on his chest and a clan tattoo utterly committed to to his cause an inner today here he's left and in the film he says, oh, you know, but I'm never going to break bread with it with a german unity. Her two or three weeks ago I heard that. That's exactly what he's our marking must have you removed? You know it's. So there is high. Hope. I am not saying that you know let's hugger nazi and everything's going to be fine, but but what what I've learned is that I think you know no Platt forming these people and and and completely just rejecting them. I think feeds
to their kind of story of victimhood and as if you know they are speaking some sort of forbidden truth, and I think, if anything, we need to expose racism. We need to challenge it and we need to win confronted, rather than allowing it to just marinate in its own kind of madness, no I'm going back to, and you are talking about your interviewing technique. I mean, I don't think I really have an interviewing technique other than just I think empathy is very employers. Minority doesn't seem like a technique. It seems like a willingness to hold all of your judgment in a bands and make a connection with his people here, because I think
that the judgment and in the kind of feelings of self righteousness for holding all the right opinions and having all the correct in politics and all of you all of that kind of stuff, I think, is just counter productive. I think it's. It actually adds to the problem and an and adds to people's radicalization rather than not an end. You know, in speaking with you, the jihad, these who left and then also with former violent neonazis in this movement in this film. You know what struck me after the fact is that what in corrupted. People's kind of hatred and people's ideology is for some one who represents the other in their eyes to treat them with dignity and with respect and with some level of kindness. And that doesn't immediately change somebody but then began the process of unravelling some of this. Our minds, and that was just as true for some of the jihad these as well. You know, for example, being treated by
american nurse. For example, you know associates it's, so Somebody doesnt suddenly become new, no longer jihadi, but but again human connection, and I think empathy and I asked Jeff at the end of our five hours, those posted just have been one hour. I asked myself look why or use sort of tolerating me why? Why are you wanting to continue this conversation, and he said he said I completely dislike what you say. I completely disagree with what you stand for and the world that you want to live in, and he said now actively fight against it, and he said, but I respect that you believe in something, and he said I respect that you are sincerely and activist, and he said so that I can actually
later. He said everything that you stand for the union, but I would like to continue with mended Ponto you'll need to subscribe at San Aristotle. You get access to all full length, episodes of making sense, pontio and other subscriber only content, including bonus episodes and animals, and the conversations I've been having an awakening that make us has passed the outbreak and rely entirely on with your support and even five now at samharris dot
Transcript generated on 2020-03-23.