How We Win: Mobilizing Youth in the Fight Against Violent Extremism
Farah Pandith is an author, foreign policy strategist, and former diplomat. A world-leading expert and pioneer in countering violent extremism, she is a frequent media commentator and public speaker. She served as a political appointee under Presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, and most recently she was the first-ever Special Representative to Muslim Communities, serving both Secretaries Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. She has served on the National Security Council, at the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in various senior roles. She has also served on the Department of Homeland Security’s Advisory Council, chairing its task force on countering violent extremism.
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[00:00:09.610]- [Presenter] Today, you
are part of an important
[00:00:11.580]conversation about our shared future.
[00:00:14.700]The E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues
[00:00:16.850]explores a diversity of viewpoints
[00:00:19.040]on international and public policy issues
[00:00:21.640]to promote understanding
and encourage debate
[00:00:24.470]across the University and
the state of Nebraska.
[00:00:27.880]Since its inception in 1988,
[00:00:30.810]hundreds of distinguished speakers
[00:00:32.590]have challenged and inspired us,
[00:00:34.930]making this Forum one of the preeminent
[00:00:38.360]speaker series in higher education.
[00:00:42.110]It all started when E.N. Jack Thompson
[00:00:45.520]imagined a forum on global issues
[00:00:47.990]that would increase
[00:00:50.260]of cultures and events
from around the world.
[00:00:53.460]Jack's perspective was
influenced by his travels,
[00:00:56.880]his role in helping to
found the United Nations,
[00:00:59.640]and his work at the Carnegie
[00:01:01.670]Endowment for International Peace.
[00:01:04.780]As President of the Cooper
Foundation in Lincoln,
[00:01:07.800]Jack pledged substantial to the Forum,
[00:01:10.980]and the University of Nebraska
[00:01:12.790]and Lied Center for Performing
Arts agreed to co-sponsor.
[00:01:17.320]Later, Jack and his wife Katie
[00:01:19.540]created the Thompson Family Fund
[00:01:22.120]to support the Forum
and all their programs.
[00:01:25.270]Today, major support is provided
[00:01:28.500]by the Cooper Foundation, Lied
Center for Performing Arts,
[00:01:32.670]and University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
[00:01:35.510]We hope this talk sparks
[00:01:37.290]an exciting conversation among you.
[00:01:42.160]And now, on with the show.
[00:01:46.920]- Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.
[00:01:47.960]I'm Mike Zeleny, and it's
my pleasure to welcome you
[00:01:50.280]to our third and final E.N.
Thompson Forum on World Issues.
[00:01:54.090]As you know, the Forum is a partnership
[00:01:55.760]of the Cooper Foundation,
[00:01:57.120]the University of Nebraska-Lincoln,
[00:01:58.500]and its Leid Center for Performing Arts,
[00:02:00.090]now celebrating 30 years.
[00:02:02.190]This year's series is co-sponsored
[00:02:03.840]by UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green
[00:02:05.330]and the University Office
of Academic Affairs.
[00:02:08.780]Tonight we are honored
to present Farah Pandith.
[00:02:12.840]She's an author, a
foreign policy strategist,
[00:02:15.930]and a former diplomat.
[00:02:17.330]A world leading expert and pioneer
[00:02:19.100]in countering violent extremism,
[00:02:21.500]she served as a political appointee
[00:02:23.230]under presidents George H.W. Bush,
[00:02:25.620]George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.
[00:02:28.600]As America's first ever
to Muslim communities,
[00:02:32.480]Miss Pandith traveled
to Muslim communities
[00:02:34.590]in nearly 100 countries,
listening to youth
[00:02:37.640]and mobilized incredible
voices against the extremists.
[00:02:41.180]She lived in Afghanistan before joining
[00:02:43.010]the National Security Council
[00:02:44.600]to fill a new role dealing
with Muslim outreach.
[00:02:48.270]Later, in the wake of the
Danish cartoon crisis,
[00:02:50.690]the Bush administration
asked her to develop
[00:02:52.753]Muslim engagement strategies
across Western Europe.
[00:02:56.390]For over two years, she
traveled to 55 cities
[00:02:59.100]in almost two dozen countries
to meet with young Muslims
[00:03:01.920]and hear their perspectives.
[00:03:03.800]This in depth experience
with European Muslims
[00:03:06.180]convinced her that the
right talent and influencers
[00:03:09.560]could fundamentally disrupt
[00:03:12.870]Miss Pandith's book, "How We Win:
[00:03:15.157]"How Cutting-Edge Entrepreneurs,
[00:03:18.227]"Enlightened Business Leaders,
[00:03:19.677]"and Social Media Mavens Can
Defeat the Extremist Threat,"
[00:03:23.500]describes her experiences
with Muslim millennials
[00:03:26.190]and presents a far reaching redefinition
[00:03:28.740]of culture extremist policy solutions.
[00:03:31.770]She is currently a senior fellow
[00:03:33.630]with the Future of Diplomacy project
[00:03:35.520]at the Belfry Center for Science
and International Affairs
[00:03:38.760]at Harvard's Kennedy School,
[00:03:40.490]and an adjunct senior fellow
[00:03:41.880]at the Council on Foreign Relations.
[00:03:44.320]Tonight's event will include a
presentation by Miss Pandith,
[00:03:47.260]followed by a conversation
with our moderator,
[00:03:49.460]Preeta Bansal, and an audience
question and answer session.
[00:03:53.370]Following all that, she will be available
[00:03:55.830]for book signing in the orchestra lobby.
[00:03:58.290]Ladies and gentlemen,
please join me in welcoming
[00:04:00.520]for the first time to
Nebraska, Miss Farah Pandith.
[00:04:07.300]- Well, good evening to everybody.
[00:04:09.210]It's a pleasure to be here.
[00:04:10.530]Thank you so much, and Mike,
[00:04:11.770]I really appreciate that
very kind introduction.
[00:04:14.610]It is my first time in Lincoln,
[00:04:16.079]and I feel very honored to be here.
[00:04:19.670]I was welcomed yesterday on my cab ride
[00:04:23.160]from the airport to my
hotel by an Iraqi American
[00:04:27.570]who, upon hearing that
I had not had dinner,
[00:04:30.670]was kind enough to say,
[00:04:31.847]"What can I do to help you find food,
[00:04:33.857]"and where would you like to go?"
[00:04:35.130]And brought me to an Iraqi restaurant,
[00:04:37.307]and I ordered food, and
he was telling me about
[00:04:39.570]how diverse Lincoln is and that there are
[00:04:41.600]10,000 Iraqis here from all over Iraq.
[00:04:45.170]But it was a really warm
and very kind welcome.
[00:04:48.990]It wasn't the first time
[00:04:50.250]I had been around a Nebraskan warmth.
[00:04:53.480]When I worked at the US Agency
for International Development
[00:04:56.790]in the H.W. Bush administration,
[00:04:59.580]the head of USAID was a gentleman
named Dr. Ronald Roskens,
[00:05:04.020]who ran the university system here,
[00:05:06.140]and he had that same kind
of care and compassion
[00:05:10.510]in the way in which he dealt with people.
[00:05:12.780]So I feel very lucky
to be here in Lincoln,
[00:05:14.420]and thank you very much for having me.
[00:05:16.320]What I wanted to do before we have our
[00:05:19.700]fireside chat, was to give
you a little bit of a scope
[00:05:23.250]on the kind of extremism that I have
[00:05:26.330]been working on since our
country was attacked on 9/11.
[00:05:31.060]And I wanna be really clear,
[00:05:33.690]here we are in October of 2019,
[00:05:38.090]18 years after 9/11.
[00:05:40.230]And the kinds of extremists
our world is dealing with
[00:05:44.040]both here in the United
States and around the world
[00:05:46.740]don't just take part
[00:05:50.490]in the kind of ideology
that a group like Al-Qaeda,
[00:05:55.080]or the so-called Islamic State,
[00:05:57.070]has brought forward, but unfortunately,
[00:06:01.160]we are dealing with
extremists that are also using
[00:06:04.520]other kinds of us versus them ideologies.
[00:06:08.180]Whether they are white
supremacists or Neo-Nazis
[00:06:11.830]or Identitarians or other kinds of groups
[00:06:15.350]that exists on our planet today.
[00:06:17.860]So even though today's conversation
[00:06:20.411]is about what I experienced
in our government
[00:06:24.542]and how I sort of navigated
through thinking through
[00:06:28.290]how young people can be
mobilized so that they don't
[00:06:31.290]join groups like the
so-called Islamic State,
[00:06:33.590]it would not be effective
to really not be,
[00:06:36.230]fair, rather, than effective,
[00:06:38.720]to state that this is the
only kind of extremism
[00:06:40.643]that we're dealing with.
[00:06:42.080]So what is the threat that I was asked
[00:06:44.310]to focus on in the post-9/11 context?
[00:06:48.160]We know that one fourth
of the world is Muslim.
[00:06:53.500]And we know that more than
a billion young people
[00:06:57.640]who are Muslim exist on
planet Earth right now.
[00:07:01.310]That number moves to 1.2
billion by the year 2030.
[00:07:06.010]That is the demographic from
which the bad guys recruit.
[00:07:10.670]So the kinds of extremists
that I have been focused on
[00:07:14.540]are organizations, non-state actors,
[00:07:18.370]that use Islam for their nefarious ends.
[00:07:22.910]They recruit and lure in young kids
[00:07:26.100]who believe that they have
an affinity of some kind,
[00:07:29.000]either culturally or religiously,
[00:07:32.030]to Islam or being Muslim.
[00:07:34.250]And it's interesting because
when we are looking at
[00:07:37.240]this idea of how they recruit,
[00:07:39.850]one of the things that
was very clear to me
[00:07:42.630]in the work that you
just heard Mike describe
[00:07:45.130]was that the data point that connected
[00:07:47.610]a young person who was
growing up post-9/11
[00:07:50.930]was not about region, it wasn't about,
[00:07:53.530]did they grow up in Indonesia,
did they grow up in Kenya,
[00:07:56.490]did they grow up in Morocco,
did they grow up in Norway?
[00:07:59.450]The data point that connected them all,
[00:08:01.690]whether they lived in a
Muslim majority country
[00:08:04.440]or they lived as a minority,
was the issue of identity.
[00:08:09.590]Young kids growing up post-9/11
had seen the word Islam
[00:08:14.150]or Muslim on the front pages
of papers online and offline,
[00:08:18.350]and they were asking questions
[00:08:20.370]that were dramatically different
[00:08:22.240]from the kinds of questions their parents
[00:08:24.890]and their grandparents were asking.
[00:08:27.330]They were asking things like,
[00:08:29.010]what does it mean to be modern and Muslim?
[00:08:32.570]What's the difference
between culture and religion?
[00:08:37.120]Now, I wanna be really clear,
[00:08:38.409]all of us understand that
adolescence is a time
[00:08:41.919]when you're asking these
questions, like, who am I?
[00:08:44.630]What am I supposed to be doing?
[00:08:45.810]This is not unique to
a Christian or a Muslim
[00:08:48.070]or a Jew or a Hindu or anybody in between.
[00:08:51.200]But something profound
had happened on 9/11,
[00:08:54.670]which was the world's attention
[00:08:56.870]was focused on the religion of Islam,
[00:08:59.290]was focused on what it meant to be Muslim,
[00:09:01.870]and these kids felt it.
[00:09:03.900]And the reason I'm talking about this
[00:09:06.030]is because when we were attacked on 9/11,
[00:09:09.200]we did, we the United States did
[00:09:11.240]what we were supposed to do,
[00:09:12.410]which is how can we think
about defending our nation?
[00:09:16.210]What do we have to deploy
in order for us to be safe?
[00:09:20.510]So we were thinking on
the hard power mindset.
[00:09:25.830]How do we go after Osama bin Laden?
[00:09:28.680]How do we make sure we
break down Al-Qaeda?
[00:09:31.460]How do we think through
the defense of our nation,
[00:09:34.280]so we stood up departments,
[00:09:37.589]things like the Department
of Homeland Security
[00:09:39.450]or the National Counterterrorism Center,
[00:09:41.460]we were looking at intelligence,
[00:09:42.900]we were looking at following
the money of the bad guys
[00:09:45.830]so we could make sure that
we didn't inadvertently
[00:09:49.020]see that funding support
these kinds of groups.
[00:09:52.410]And it took us some
time to get to the place
[00:09:55.240]where we realized that's
only one part of the problem.
[00:09:59.380]The other part is how can we be sure
[00:10:02.090]that we're protecting
youth from the ideology
[00:10:05.250]of the bad guys that are trying
[00:10:06.710]to lure them into their armies?
[00:10:09.040]You cannot be Al-Qaeda or
the so-called Islamic State
[00:10:13.530]or Boko Haram or Al Shabaab or the Taliban
[00:10:17.570]if you have no armies.
[00:10:19.830]So how do they build their armies?
[00:10:22.130]That was the work of the
ideological component of the war,
[00:10:26.200]and that's what I was focused on.
[00:10:28.330]What we realized straight away
[00:10:31.890]was this emotional dimension
around identity and belonging
[00:10:36.000]was something that government
wasn't really good at.
[00:10:39.600]We didn't really know how to measure
[00:10:42.200]how we could succeed in this,
[00:10:43.560]we didn't know what
kind of money we needed,
[00:10:45.560]we didn't know what kind of programs
[00:10:47.260]we needed to put into place.
[00:10:49.100]And what I learned in the work that I did
[00:10:51.820]in the Bush and Obama administrations,
[00:10:54.180]that there were major
trends that were happening
[00:10:56.570]around the world that we
did not even account for,
[00:10:59.720]there was no strategy in
place for us to think about
[00:11:03.130]this profound identity crisis
[00:11:05.380]that was happening to millennials,
[00:11:07.720]and now to Generation Z.
[00:11:10.300]We had no posture, no
strategy, no funding,
[00:11:14.060]to be able to set up
an all day, every day,
[00:11:17.380]24 seven system in which
we were inoculating
[00:11:21.030]communities from that
us versus them ideology.
[00:11:25.240]That work of soft power
[00:11:28.150]is something that most people
can consciously understand.
[00:11:32.630]Obviously you wanna stop a young person
[00:11:34.550]from getting radicalized,
that's an obvious thing to do.
[00:11:38.040]But government wasn't
quite sure how to do it,
[00:11:40.560]and what we learned in
the years since 9/11,
[00:11:43.860]and what I can say to you now
[00:11:45.600]and why I wrote the book I did,
[00:11:47.880]is that solutions today are available
[00:11:50.970]and they are affordable,
they are at our fingertips.
[00:11:54.850]And the reason why we are
still seeing young people today
[00:11:58.440]who are finding their way
to these organizations
[00:12:02.340]is because we have not, we
humankind has not stood up
[00:12:07.080]the kind of antibodies in the system
[00:12:08.890]to push back against hate.
[00:12:11.400]We have made it okay for the
us versus them ideologies
[00:12:15.420]to thrive, both online and offline.
[00:12:19.160]And I know we will get
into the conversation
[00:12:21.310]about the solutions, but I wanna make
[00:12:23.390]a couple of things really clear.
[00:12:26.460]The information that we have
[00:12:28.260]after 18 years after 9/11 is profound.
[00:12:32.180]We have been able to
articulate and realize
[00:12:35.210]because of research
and basically diagnosis
[00:12:38.580]of what's happening
and what programs work.
[00:12:41.670]We know that government,
no government in the world
[00:12:44.900]has the capacity to tell a 16 year old kid
[00:12:48.290]or a 21 year old kid or a 12 year old kid
[00:12:51.500]that they ought to belong
[00:12:52.900]by doing something very specifically.
[00:12:55.090]We know, and so to you who are parents,
[00:12:57.890]you know that your kids
don't listen to you,
[00:13:00.510]they listen to their friends.
[00:13:02.700]And we know that peers make a difference.
[00:13:05.480]And we know that
authentic, credible voices
[00:13:08.630]that come from the community up
[00:13:12.750]is our resilience factor.
[00:13:14.780]That is where we must begin.
[00:13:17.540]We must begin at the grassroots,
[00:13:19.820]we must begin by talking to communities
[00:13:22.440]about how to fight hate and how young kids
[00:13:25.410]can understand that the bad
guys are recruiting them
[00:13:29.010]because they are asking
questions that they want solved
[00:13:31.970]and they're going to the wrong places.
[00:13:34.610]So as we think about the
threat that we're facing today,
[00:13:39.620]not just groups like Al-Qaeda
[00:13:42.060]and the so-called Islamic
State, but as I mentioned,
[00:13:44.840]white supremacists and
other groups like it,
[00:13:47.850]we've got to ask ourselves
a question as Americans
[00:13:51.120]and as citizens of the world.
[00:13:53.760]18 years after 9/11, we've
seen a surge of hate,
[00:13:58.330]a rise of antisemitism,
[00:14:00.890]a fracturing of communities
of us versus them.
[00:14:04.680]And we need to ask ourselves,
[00:14:06.857]are we interested in
protecting youth from that,
[00:14:09.340]or are we not?
[00:14:10.940]Because what I know, having witnessed
[00:14:13.987]these efforts around the
world by young people
[00:14:17.150]who are pushing back
against foreign ideologies
[00:14:20.280]that come into their backyard,
[00:14:22.300]I know that the solutions
do exist with these kids
[00:14:25.930]who have ideas that we government
[00:14:28.320]have not even thought about,
[00:14:29.800]that teachers haven't thought about,
[00:14:31.540]that parents haven't thought about.
[00:14:33.290]But if we just listened
[00:14:35.330]to how they think about their identity
[00:14:37.410]and their navigation of identity,
[00:14:39.520]we can offer them solutions
[00:14:41.960]by building networks of
[00:14:45.700]By connecting them with
others who have done research
[00:14:48.450]that can take their
idea and jump start it.
[00:14:51.460]And we can connect them to funders
[00:14:53.900]who are willing to give
seed money to scale
[00:14:57.490]the kind of ideas that they have,
[00:14:59.610]that push back against this
ideology of us versus them.
[00:15:04.210]Mobilizing young people is not hard.
[00:15:07.270]What's hard is that the adults,
[00:15:09.780]all of us, the adults in the room,
[00:15:12.110]have found it okay to focus on hard power
[00:15:15.740]and not give our efforts
[00:15:18.170]into the soft power the way we should.
[00:15:21.120]So as we get into the
Q&A, I hope that we have
[00:15:24.260]an opportunity to go
deep into the solutions.
[00:15:27.010]But I wanted to spell out the larger frame
[00:15:30.240]that the threat that we're
facing from the kinds of groups
[00:15:32.920]that I'm talking about is real.
[00:15:34.970]We have not defeated ISIS.
[00:15:36.970]The idea that this is a physical war,
[00:15:40.500]that this is something that is contained
[00:15:42.300]to Syria or Iraq is a faulty analysis.
[00:15:46.590]Ideas have no borders.
[00:15:50.480]And the ideologies of us versus them
[00:15:52.970]exist all over the world.
[00:15:55.420]And what we must see and
what we must do today
[00:15:58.920]is demand a recognition of this fact
[00:16:02.120]and do everything we can to scale
[00:16:05.780]the kinds of things that we
have pilot tested over 18 years.
[00:16:09.430]Only then are we gonna
be able to see a change.
[00:16:13.010]I look forward to having
a conversation with you.
[00:16:27.730]- [Mike] Thank you so much
for the overview, Farah.
[00:16:30.110]Joining us now to lead our
fireside chat is Preeta Bansal.
[00:16:33.650]Preeta has held senior roles
in the Obama White House
[00:16:35.960]with Solicitor General
of the State of New York,
[00:16:38.200]a lecturer at MIT and Harvard,
[00:16:40.350]and worked as an attorney in
business and public policy
[00:16:42.710]in New York City and London.
[00:16:44.320]She served for more than
six years as a commissioner
[00:16:46.540]and chair of the US Commission
[00:16:47.860]on International Religious Freedom.
[00:16:50.020]In that capacity, she
traveled as a US diplomat
[00:16:52.270]around the world to
meet with heads of state
[00:16:54.340]and faith and civil society leaders
[00:16:56.450]to promote human rights and
[00:16:59.680]She also advised on the drafting
[00:17:01.150]of the Iraqi and Afghan constitutions.
[00:17:03.640]She is a Lincoln native,
[00:17:05.010]and contributed to Nebraska's Brain Gain
[00:17:07.180]by returning as a resident recently,
[00:17:08.859]and we're delighted to have her here.
[00:17:10.430]Please join me in welcoming
my friend, Preeta Bansal.
[00:17:24.800]- Welcome, everyone.
[00:17:26.220]Thank you, Farah, it's
wonderful to be here with you.
[00:17:28.830]- It's a pleasure, are you kidding?
[00:17:30.010]It's nice to see you here in Lincoln
[00:17:31.549]and not just in Washington.
[00:17:32.780]- I think the last time
Farah and I met was probably,
[00:17:34.660]we were trying to remember,
probably in 2010 or 2011
[00:17:37.530]in the White House Mess.
[00:17:38.430]- In the White House,
yes, probably, exactly.
[00:17:40.850]- So you've written a wonderful book.
[00:17:43.210]and I wanna start a little
bit with your own background.
[00:17:46.700]You grew up as a Muslim
American in Massachusetts.
[00:17:50.970]And I think your family's
originally from Kashmir.
[00:17:53.680]So tell me a little bit about
[00:17:55.410]why do you think this
generation of Muslims,
[00:17:58.360]both in America and Europe
and around the world,
[00:18:00.550]are so much more radicalized than yours?
[00:18:03.290]- Well, I wanna be really
fair to a couple of things.
[00:18:07.640]One is the context,
post-9/11 is very unique
[00:18:11.070]for millennials and Generation
Z that are digital natives,
[00:18:14.070]that with a swipe of their finger
[00:18:15.980]are connecting to ideas around the world.
[00:18:18.350]And obviously when we grew up,
[00:18:20.916]we were not connected,
there was no internet.
[00:18:25.150]And so things were a little bit simpler
[00:18:26.970]in terms of the messaging
that we were getting.
[00:18:29.210]And there was also a very
different feeling around
[00:18:34.050]the religion of Islam in America.
[00:18:36.320]I grew up never being asked any
questions about my religion.
[00:18:41.790]I was very privileged in my education,
[00:18:45.260]but even in those
circumstances, was never teased,
[00:18:49.400]and it wasn't ever talked about,
[00:18:50.520]was never asked questions
that are being asked
[00:18:53.400]of young American kids today
who happen to be Muslim.
[00:18:56.560]Who was Osama bin Laden?
[00:18:57.920]Or, are you a terrorist,
[00:19:00.850]or all of this kind of
taunting that takes place.
[00:19:03.190]So I know that this is
a unique moment in time,
[00:19:07.580]but it actually really affects
[00:19:09.590]the way in which we think about
[00:19:12.110]a part of our American fabric,
[00:19:14.940]those people who happened to
be Muslim who are Americans,
[00:19:18.840]and it is also, there's a
consciousness change, too, Preeta,
[00:19:22.110]because one of the things that
I think is very interesting
[00:19:25.190]in the work that I've done since 9/11
[00:19:27.290]is I've realized how little
information Americans have
[00:19:31.660]about the history of
Islam in this country.
[00:19:35.360]And most Americans that I've
met don't, in fact, know
[00:19:38.570]that Islam came to this
country with the slaves,
[00:19:41.590]it has been here since the
very beginning of our nation.
[00:19:45.300]And if you think about
the context of our history
[00:19:48.300]in that way, and religions,
any religion in that way,
[00:19:52.834]you don't see an us versus them,
[00:19:55.160]you see that, in fact,
Islam has been here,
[00:19:57.150]and the waves of immigrants
that have come to our nation,
[00:20:00.320]some of whom are Muslim and
some are other religions,
[00:20:03.300]that they are part of
the story of America.
[00:20:06.700]- So in your book, you describe this,
[00:20:09.590]what you call an identity
crisis among young millennials
[00:20:12.970]of Muslim background, of Islamic faith.
[00:20:16.300]And you say, basically, that after 9/11,
[00:20:19.650]those that are in the West started feeling
[00:20:22.780]unsure about how to combine modernity
[00:20:26.260]and Western traditions with Islam.
[00:20:29.050]Particularly because they
were questioned constantly
[00:20:31.670]in the wake of 9/11 about their identity.
[00:20:35.890]And then you also say that the extremists
[00:20:38.870]were able to kind of come in and exploit
[00:20:41.980]their kind of striving for an identity.
[00:20:48.250]And I'm just curious, but
you also talk a lot about
[00:20:50.050]how Saudi Arabia financed that extremism.
[00:20:53.350]So as a government diplomat focusing on
[00:20:57.010]hearts and minds, so to speak,
or the ideological battle,
[00:21:00.400]I'm curious what you think is the role
[00:21:02.550]of just cutting off funding
and dealing with that
[00:21:05.380]versus really trying to be in
this much more nebulous world
[00:21:09.270]of trying to influence
[00:21:12.480]- Well, there are a couple of questions
[00:21:14.360]within the context of that question,
[00:21:15.790]so let me get to Saudi Arabia last,
[00:21:18.150]because it's an important piece.
[00:21:20.290]The aspect of the identity
crisis I talk about in the book,
[00:21:23.667]and I mentioned it a
little bit in the overview
[00:21:26.050]because it's the most essential thing,
[00:21:28.100]if you walk away from the speech tonight
[00:21:30.370]with no other piece of information,
[00:21:32.980]I hope you will remember
what I'm talking to you about
[00:21:35.450]in terms of the identity crisis.
[00:21:37.400]Because after 9/11, everybody believed
[00:21:40.460]that the only way you could
join a group like Al-Qaeda
[00:21:43.210]or the so-called Islamic State now
[00:21:45.100]is that you had to be poor
or you had to be uneducated,
[00:21:47.810]and this is a problem in the way,
[00:21:51.210]if you diagnose the problem incorrectly,
[00:21:53.550]the solutions are wrong.
[00:21:55.830]So I think it's important that
you're asking this question
[00:21:58.700]about what has happened to
these kids as they think about,
[00:22:02.177]"Well, everybody is asking me, who am I?"
[00:22:05.450]And who am I, when
they're asking who am I,
[00:22:08.440]they need to have
answers that come to them
[00:22:11.306]from sources that they find, not we find,
[00:22:15.090]that they find authentic and credible.
[00:22:18.390]So the guy with the longest
beard and the highest hat
[00:22:21.690]is not gonna be the person
that they necessarily go to.
[00:22:25.460]They may not go to their
parents for answers,
[00:22:27.530]they may not go to the
places that we think
[00:22:30.610]are the right places, just
the way a Catholic kid
[00:22:33.410]does not wake up every day asking,
[00:22:35.437]"What is the pope saying,
and I must follow them,"
[00:22:38.160]they're going to go to their peers,
[00:22:39.440]they're gonna watch what happens.
[00:22:40.660]So what we watched transpire
in the years after 9/11
[00:22:45.520]is these kids growing
up in a very different
[00:22:48.110]cultural context in America
and around the world,
[00:22:50.410]online and offline, severe attention
[00:22:53.760]on that identity component,
[00:22:55.410]and they were searching for answers.
[00:22:56.960]And so I have a chapter in my book
[00:22:58.680]that I call "Sheikh Google."
[00:23:00.830]Because they were doing what
any millennial would do,
[00:23:04.100]they're going online and they're saying,
[00:23:05.407]"Well, what does a real Muslim look like?
[00:23:07.577]"And how can I be a real Muslim?"
[00:23:09.500]And what's coming back to them?
[00:23:11.120]What's the content that's
coming back to them,
[00:23:13.070]the content that's coming back to them
[00:23:14.900]is not the content we
would wish they would see.
[00:23:17.530]And now, 2019, everybody in the audience
[00:23:20.560]understands algorithms, you
understand how they work,
[00:23:24.286]you know that you can
go down a rabbit hole
[00:23:27.520]very, very quickly, as this
was beginning to build,
[00:23:30.490]we were not understanding
the deep and real effect
[00:23:34.400]of technology on them
and the daily barrage
[00:23:38.080]of information about what they're
expected to be as Muslims.
[00:23:42.430]So that all made a difference
to how they thought
[00:23:44.670]about their identity crisis,
[00:23:46.900]and what was remarkable
for me was that, obviously,
[00:23:49.530]it was not just happening
where Muslims were living
[00:23:52.520]in a position of being a minority,
[00:23:55.390]but it was happening to Muslims who
[00:23:57.980]were in countries that
had hundreds of years
[00:24:00.680]of Islamic history, Malaysia and Indonesia
[00:24:04.340]and Morocco and Egypt.
[00:24:06.360]And you think to yourself,
well, how can it be
[00:24:11.219]if they're in an environment
that is, in fact, Islamic,
[00:24:15.490]where are they getting these messages
[00:24:16.930]that there's only one way to be Muslim?
[00:24:18.870]That monolithic Islam is
actually the only way,
[00:24:21.730]that you have to dress a particular way,
[00:24:23.570]eat a particular way,
pray a particular way.
[00:24:26.240]Those are the messages
that they were getting
[00:24:27.980]from content that was coming
from extremists online,
[00:24:30.930]but also, and this
connects very importantly
[00:24:33.640]to the question you
raised about Saudi Arabia,
[00:24:36.620]in a chapter that I call
"Plague from the Gulf,"
[00:24:40.120]I am not shy, I talk about
[00:24:43.060]what I saw around the world
that absolutely floored me.
[00:24:49.763]I did not know I was
going to see what I saw,
[00:24:52.360]but over, what I say in the book is,
[00:24:56.030]look, if you have gone to
a couple of dozen countries
[00:24:58.990]and you see the same thing,
[00:25:00.380]and then you get to country number 50
[00:25:02.240]and then you get to the number 70
[00:25:04.290]and then you get to the number 80
[00:25:05.900]and you're seeing the exact
same skills and technique
[00:25:09.170]that's been used over four
decades by Saudi Arabia,
[00:25:11.980]using billions of dollars
to be able to push forward
[00:25:15.660]a particular way of being
Islam, being a Muslim
[00:25:20.140]and saying that there's
only one way to be a Muslim,
[00:25:22.970]and the impact that has on
young kids saying, well,
[00:25:26.790]they're telling me that
that's how I will belong,
[00:25:29.280]I've gotta do it, you
begin to see a change.
[00:25:33.840]The translations of the Qurans
[00:25:35.570]that Saudi Arabia has given
for free around the world,
[00:25:39.168]and I can go through lots
of techniques that they use,
[00:25:41.770]I just wanna raise one because I think
[00:25:43.183]that there are some
members of the audience
[00:25:45.180]that will in fact understand this,
[00:25:47.170]because maybe there are some
people in this auditorium
[00:25:51.990]who have family members who
fought against the Nazis,
[00:25:55.560]Hitler did this, too.
[00:25:57.330]If you eradicate history,
you have an opportunity
[00:26:01.350]to tell a different story, don't you?
[00:26:03.900]And what the Saudis have done
is eradicate cultural history
[00:26:08.020]so that they can replace it
with their version of history.
[00:26:11.140]So all these things are
important for us to understand
[00:26:14.940]that they're existing
on the planet right now.
[00:26:16.990]I talked, as we began, that
there are a billion young kids
[00:26:20.400]under the age of 30 that are Muslim
[00:26:23.330]on planet Earth right now.
[00:26:24.860]That is a very large number,
they live all over the world,
[00:26:27.930]and the messages that they get should be
[00:26:31.600]messages around diversity,
[00:26:33.870]that the diversity of Islam is all right.
[00:26:37.170]Saudi Arabia wants you to
believe that that is not true.
[00:26:40.710]- Right, so in the age of
networks and technology,
[00:26:43.640]one would think that there
could be so many ways
[00:26:47.250]to portray being a Muslim
[00:26:49.580]and that it should be easier
to propagate different views.
[00:26:52.300]I mean, right before this
talk, we had Reverend Elnes
[00:26:55.990]from The Tri-Faith
Initiative in Omaha speak.
[00:26:58.800]And in Omaha, the only
co-located campus in the world
[00:27:03.650]where you have a mosque, a synagogue,
[00:27:06.300]and a church all co-located together.
[00:27:09.340]And why aren't stories like that
[00:27:11.350]able to spread more on the internet?
[00:27:13.360]- Well, so today's conversation
is about mobilizing youth.
[00:27:16.220]And the thing that I know for sure,
[00:27:19.730]and I talked about scale,
[00:27:22.070]we do this in a very micro way,
[00:27:24.350]there are little things that happen there
[00:27:26.050]or happen over there, and we all say like,
[00:27:27.907]"If we just saw good stories all the time,
[00:27:30.257]"we wouldn't have this problem."
[00:27:31.880]That's true, but that's
never going to happen.
[00:27:34.520]But within peers, within peer groups,
[00:27:37.160]you can see a change,
[00:27:41.213]when peers, where authentic
voices are connected together
[00:27:43.920]to be able to say, "No, wait a minute,
[00:27:45.527]"you're saying I'm supposed to wear that
[00:27:47.197]"and that's the way to be a Muslim?
[00:27:48.617]"Let me show you how
I wear this out loud."
[00:27:51.100]So belonging and identity, the
expression of that identity
[00:27:54.730]needs to be real and whole and celebrated
[00:27:57.180]in the way in which we understand things.
[00:27:59.160]And we're talking about Muslims right now,
[00:28:01.000]I can, in fact talk
about that with any faith
[00:28:03.640]or any ethnic group, we
cannot build caricatures
[00:28:07.050]of what we believe to be
a particular heritage.
[00:28:11.650]The strength of America, let
me just bring it back home,
[00:28:15.060]is our expression of that diversity.
[00:28:17.590]Of understanding, and here in America,
[00:28:19.700]where in fact for Muslim
communities that live here
[00:28:22.810]as American Muslims, look at
the history of Islam here,
[00:28:28.180]we are the most diverse group of Muslims
[00:28:30.670]anywhere in the world.
[00:28:31.770]And as we see that expression play out,
[00:28:35.370]it is a reflection of what
the world is at large,
[00:28:37.780]and we should actually understand that.
[00:28:40.100]- I'm wondering if you could share
[00:28:41.250]one story from your travels.
[00:28:43.490]You talked about seeing some
amazing grassroots initiatives
[00:28:46.530]and people really doing some amazing work
[00:28:48.810]in terms of encouraging
Muslim youth in particular
[00:28:52.210]to see different ways of practicing Islam.
[00:28:54.350]Is there a story you can tell us
[00:28:55.580]about a particularly effective initiative?
[00:28:57.360]- Well, one of the things that we did,
[00:28:58.720]and I wanna be really clear,
[00:29:01.850]I worked for both President Bush
[00:29:03.390]and President Obama in
the post-9/11 world.
[00:29:06.270]And what was really remarkable
[00:29:10.660]was that there were
opportunities for risk taking,
[00:29:14.850]and opportunities to say,
[00:29:16.157]"What would happen if we tried this?"
[00:29:17.940]And so when I talked about solutions being
[00:29:20.770]at our fingertips, it's
because we trialed and tested
[00:29:24.090]some of these things, one of which,
[00:29:25.970]let me just give you an example
[00:29:27.430]from the Obama administration
because it's recent.
[00:29:30.050]We started a network
called Generation Change.
[00:29:33.560]What we said is, we believe in young kids,
[00:29:36.276]these millennials, we know
they have amazing ideas,
[00:29:39.200]we can't come in and tell them
[00:29:41.030]how to live their life out loud.
[00:29:43.020]And they're telling us that
foreign ideology is coming in
[00:29:46.690]and telling them to be a
different kind of person.
[00:29:48.530]And they're standing up saying,
[00:29:49.867]"That isn't the way we wanna be,
[00:29:51.977]"and we don't want to
express ourselves that way."
[00:29:54.690]So we want to use, let's suppose,
[00:29:57.470]comic books to tell a different story,
[00:29:59.350]or we wanna use graffiti
to tell a different story,
[00:30:02.910]or poetry or an open mic night or hip hop.
[00:30:06.440]And so what we were doing
in the Obama administration
[00:30:08.830]is we were basically talent scouting,
[00:30:10.820]we were going around the
world talking to these
[00:30:13.000]and meeting these incredible young people.
[00:30:14.970]And we call them Generation Change
[00:30:16.860]because they were interested
in changing the narrative
[00:30:20.160]there of us versus them by doing
[00:30:22.400]all of the kinds of things
that I'm talking about.
[00:30:24.310]So by the end of the Obama administration,
[00:30:26.330]we had built a chapter,
well, there were over
[00:30:29.940]500 young people in 30
chapters around the world,
[00:30:34.180]from Ireland to the
Comoros to the Philippines
[00:30:37.220]and everywhere in between,
[00:30:38.630]of young people who are basically
social entrepreneur agents
[00:30:41.990]who are pushing back
against hate and extremism.
[00:30:44.640]What would have happened, may I ask,
[00:30:46.780]if we had taken those 500, and today,
[00:30:49.330]all these years later,
it's 5000 or 50,000?
[00:30:52.780]Because we know that they exist,
[00:30:54.620]we just haven't scaled them,
[00:30:55.960]and that's what I talk about here.
[00:30:58.100]It isn't as though we're
scratching our heads going,
[00:31:00.367]"What is it that we can do
to affect a 16 year old kid
[00:31:03.757]"or a 12 year old kid or a
25 year old young adult?"
[00:31:07.330]We know that there are
things that can be done,
[00:31:10.470]we just, we, all of us,
humans, have not said
[00:31:14.550]it is our responsibility to
help these ideas blossom.
[00:31:19.060]- So I wanna go back to when
[00:31:21.720]you got involved in these issues.
[00:31:23.490]It was in the Bush
administration, Bush 43.
[00:31:27.040]And you talk about in your book
[00:31:29.540]that there was a moment where you
[00:31:31.140]and members of the
National Security Council
[00:31:33.050]had to name your initiative,
[00:31:34.540]and you ended up calling it
Countering Violent Extremism,
[00:31:37.870]CVE, I believe.
[00:31:39.100]And you talked about how
there were different names
[00:31:41.270]that were being considered,
I think there was
[00:31:42.970]Countering Violent Islamic Extremism,
[00:31:45.150]countering different things.
[00:31:47.010]And you decided to settle on
taking out the Islam from it,
[00:31:50.560]because you said there's other
forms of extremism, also,
[00:31:52.990]like Nazism, other forms.
[00:31:55.850]So I wanna broaden out a little bit.
[00:31:58.670]'Cause you've also said in other contexts,
[00:32:00.530]you said that Americans
are lazy about hate.
[00:32:04.260]And I wanna ask you a little bit about
[00:32:07.030]what you're seeing in terms
of the rise of extremism
[00:32:10.100]in other contexts around
the world and in America,
[00:32:13.350]and what similarities you might see,
[00:32:15.680]what similarities you see in
what you were dealing with
[00:32:18.190]in terms of the rise of Islamic extremism.
[00:32:20.660]- Well, one of the things that
is so sobering for all of us,
[00:32:24.240]and you don't need to
have Farah on the stage
[00:32:26.750]to talk to you about this,
you can just spend a moment,
[00:32:29.040]close your eyes and think about
[00:32:30.180]what you've read and what you've seen,
[00:32:31.470]and some of you unfortunately
will have witnessed it.
[00:32:33.610]There is a change in
the way we think about
[00:32:36.340]people who look different than we do,
[00:32:39.410]who might practice their
faith in a different way,
[00:32:41.700]who might be a different gender,
[00:32:43.830]who might have a different
sexuality and orientation.
[00:32:47.510]I mean, all of the others that exists,
[00:32:50.040]there has been a profound
change globally in all of this,
[00:32:53.080]that we somehow have a
hierarchy of what is right
[00:32:55.360]and what is wrong, who is
pure and who is not pure.
[00:32:58.560]What we must do, I mean, we
are witnessing this globally,
[00:33:01.850]it's not just here in the United States.
[00:33:04.130]I began to see a change in Europe
[00:33:06.800]around the Danish cartoon crisis,
[00:33:08.260]where there was a rise of
antisemitism in Europe.
[00:33:10.950]And I couldn't believe the kinds of things
[00:33:12.790]that I was seeing and hearing,
[00:33:13.900]and I was coming back to America saying,
[00:33:15.827]"There's something really
crazy that's happening
[00:33:17.577]"in Europe around antisemitism,"
[00:33:19.420]but there wasn't this
movement that was built.
[00:33:22.040]And now horrifyingly,
all these years later,
[00:33:24.820]we're now looking at the
numbers of antisemitic
[00:33:28.990]hate crime in our country and
around the world thinking,
[00:33:32.537]"How did we get here?
[00:33:33.967]"How did we get to this place
[00:33:35.987]"where this is actually happening?"
[00:33:38.170]And so extremism, the us versus them,
[00:33:42.010]those that will use that kind
of ideology and framework
[00:33:45.542]to push forward what they want to do,
[00:33:48.400]sometimes for political
reasons, but others
[00:33:51.150]because they buy into
this idea of what is right
[00:33:54.860]and righteous and how they must belong.
[00:33:57.280]So when we were looking at this issue
[00:34:00.030]as policymakers right after 9/11,
[00:34:02.700]while we didn't, thankfully, at that time,
[00:34:05.220]see the kind of rise of white supremacists
[00:34:08.670]and Neo-Nazis as we do
in our country today,
[00:34:13.290]I think, we the interagency,
[00:34:14.810]it wasn't just me and the people,
[00:34:16.260]I mean, I talk about this in the book,
[00:34:17.650]that there were many people
within the interagency
[00:34:19.780]who are asking questions about,
[00:34:21.850]and this is what's important,
[00:34:23.380]not just what's happening today,
[00:34:25.520]but can you imagine what
could happen in the future?
[00:34:28.830]Are we designing the system to make sure
[00:34:31.820]we're in a preventative posture,
[00:34:34.090]not just a reactive posture?
[00:34:36.400]And if we understand
that, then we understand
[00:34:38.949]that there are all kinds
of extremists out there.
[00:34:41.400]So we have to broaden what
we're dealing with here,
[00:34:44.880]the war of ideas is not
just about Al-Qaeda.
[00:34:48.830]It's not just about the Taliban.
[00:34:50.530]It's not just about Boko Haram or now
[00:34:54.120]the so-called Islamic State,
[00:34:55.360]it is about something much
bigger, because in fact,
[00:34:58.450]Preeta, we unfortunately
are in a situation
[00:35:00.750]where horrifyingly, these groups,
[00:35:04.050]while they may hate each other,
[00:35:05.810]they will learn from each other.
[00:35:07.420]You're gonna go to the playbook
[00:35:08.730]of the group that wins, aren't you?
[00:35:10.860]If you're a white supremacist,
[00:35:12.370]you are reading the playbook of ISIS
[00:35:14.520]because you know that
they were successful,
[00:35:16.600]you know what they did online,
you know how they recruited,
[00:35:19.780]you know what kind of
formula they put in place,
[00:35:23.530]and you're gonna copy
that for your narratives,
[00:35:26.280]but you're gonna copy
that very same thing.
[00:35:29.410]So we are sitting in a situation today
[00:35:31.910]where this isn't about which
is the worst kind of extremism,
[00:35:35.090]that's the wrong question to ask.
[00:35:37.060]The question to ask is, has
there been a rise in hate?
[00:35:40.470]Yes, there has.
[00:35:41.780]Are the us versus them
[00:35:44.280]Sure they are.
[00:35:45.380]Are they getting money to
be able to do that, yes.
[00:35:48.070]Are they networked around
the world, they sure are.
[00:35:50.920]And are they building
their armies as we speak,
[00:35:55.170]they absolutely are,
and it's not just about
[00:35:58.290]what may happen in one part of the world.
[00:36:00.650]Because as we are connected online,
[00:36:03.470]these groups are connected
too, and they are looking at
[00:36:06.590]future posturing of things
that need to happen.
[00:36:09.420]Now, let me just say one other thing.
[00:36:11.600]If you're looking at preparedness
[00:36:13.890]and you're looking at how to think about
[00:36:15.790]stopping radicalization period,
[00:36:18.190]you aren't looking at the
moment when that person
[00:36:21.310]has already been radicalized
and preventing them
[00:36:24.110]from doing something bad.
[00:36:25.610]That's one piece of it,
and that's a very kinetic,
[00:36:27.930]that is a police force,
that is a defense posture.
[00:36:31.280]The work that we are
talking about here today
[00:36:34.230]is the work of making
sure that a young person
[00:36:36.470]never gets down to that place
[00:36:38.660]where they are willing
to do something violent.
[00:36:41.890]We are talking about
that space in between,
[00:36:44.150]and that's the space that we
have incredible opportunity.
[00:36:47.490]- So let's talk about that opportunity.
[00:36:50.240]As a single person, as an individual
[00:36:52.230]sitting here in the audience
in Lincoln, Nebraska,
[00:36:54.510]what are we to do to make
sure, or to help ensure,
[00:36:58.560]that extremism in whatever
form it takes, and the hate,
[00:37:03.170]doesn't grip our communities?
[00:37:05.190]- Well, I think that's the
most important question
[00:37:06.990]we can ask, and the micro solutions,
[00:37:09.780]what I talk about in the book,
[00:37:11.730]is that there are different
kinds of solutions out there.
[00:37:14.290]Some are mega solutions
and macro solutions,
[00:37:17.100]but there is power in the individual
[00:37:19.600]of how you conduct yourself
[00:37:21.550]and how you can control
your own environment.
[00:37:25.450]And one may say, "Give me a break,
[00:37:27.187]"that doesn't make a difference,
being kind to somebody,
[00:37:29.777]"how's that gonna make
a difference with ISIS?"
[00:37:32.750]What we understand is that
[00:37:34.610]you have to look at
this like an infection.
[00:37:37.120]You have to know that what you
can be doing deliberatively
[00:37:40.960]in how you conduct your daily life,
[00:37:44.900]how you teach your children,
what happens in your home,
[00:37:47.760]what happens in a school,
the words that you use,
[00:37:51.450]can, in fact, tremendously change
[00:37:54.460]the environment and the
feeling and the posture
[00:37:57.520]for people around identity and belonging.
[00:38:00.240]And I am not Pollyanna, I'm a realist.
[00:38:03.460]I've seen it from the inside out.
[00:38:05.180]And if you talk to former extremists,
[00:38:07.330]they will talk to you
about what it feels like
[00:38:11.090]to have these questions
and to be treated well,
[00:38:14.050]or to be not treated
well and how that can,
[00:38:16.380]it's not that one should
sitting in a position going,
[00:38:19.597]"Oh my God, if I'm not kind to somebody,
[00:38:21.557]"there could be a," you know,
everybody's ready to go off.
[00:38:25.220]It's human decency that we have lost,
[00:38:28.190]this idea of mutual
respect that we have lost.
[00:38:31.490]And that actually can do a lot
[00:38:34.140]to fortify against foreign ideologies
[00:38:37.060]that are going to come
into your community to say,
[00:38:39.720]if you wanna be an American,
[00:38:41.840]this is the only way
you can be an American,
[00:38:43.600]and we're gonna defend
our position in this way.
[00:38:45.870]Or if you wanna be a Muslim
or if you wanna be a Hindu
[00:38:50.260]or if you wanna be a Buddhist,
[00:38:51.370]this is the thing you need to do.
[00:38:52.980]We have a lot of work to do in making sure
[00:38:56.000]on the macro side that
there's more cooperation
[00:38:58.790]and coordination, but on the micro side,
[00:39:01.050]I urge all of us to think
about our daily actions
[00:39:04.160]and what we can do to push
back against us versus them.
[00:39:07.580]- Yeah, I'm reminded actually,
that this is the week
[00:39:09.700]of Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary.
[00:39:13.748]And actually, there's
another very important 9/11
[00:39:17.000]in history, which is on
September 11th, 1906,
[00:39:20.510]he announced in South Africa
[00:39:23.020]his strategy for
satyagraha or non-violence
[00:39:25.890]for the first time to the world,
[00:39:27.640]and started a whole mass movement there.
[00:39:30.390]So, the same 9/11 that mobilized hate
[00:39:33.700]in parts of the world
more than 100 years ago
[00:39:37.320]also mobilized a movement of love.
[00:39:39.540]And that was based on
individuals and small acts,
[00:39:42.750]not on governments and the power of big.
[00:39:45.290]- What you hear over and over
again with these young kids
[00:39:48.910]who are having an identity crisis is that
[00:39:51.530]the small conversations matter, too.
[00:39:54.420]And how their peers treat them
[00:39:56.380]and their ability to converse
in a way that's open,
[00:39:59.240]to be able to express themselves,
and to be able to pray.
[00:40:03.530]All of these kinds of
things that we would say
[00:40:06.640]are common sense kinds of
things really do matter.
[00:40:10.330]I remember being in France
[00:40:14.170]very soon after the Danish cartoon crisis,
[00:40:16.510]talking to a young woman who
was speaking about the fact
[00:40:19.790]that, she asked me questions about America
[00:40:23.060]and whether or not we could
practice our faith freely.
[00:40:27.350]She couldn't quite get
her head around this idea
[00:40:30.830]that we were a nation that respected that,
[00:40:34.180]that you can wear a cross
or you can wear a turban
[00:40:36.610]or you can wear a bindi or
you can wear a headscarf,
[00:40:39.140]you can not wear anything
on your head at all,
[00:40:41.370]and you can practice your faith in a way
[00:40:44.350]that was all right for you.
[00:40:46.370]And she said, "What I hear
[00:40:49.187]"and what I believe
America to be is not that,
[00:40:52.297]"because we keep hearing
the worst side of America."
[00:40:55.930]And I wanna just say to you that
[00:40:59.320]as we think about our role
in the world as Americans,
[00:41:05.766]our small actions have ripple effects
[00:41:08.270]in huge ways all over the world.
[00:41:11.420]I remember being in the
jungles of Cambodia,
[00:41:15.130]when I was Special Representative
to Muslim Communities,
[00:41:17.750]talking to a group of Muslims,
[00:41:19.187]and this story is in the book,
[00:41:21.480]where I was in a very humble village.
[00:41:25.700]And we were sitting in
a very simple mosque,
[00:41:29.608]outside of the mosque on
a porch, a wooden porch.
[00:41:32.550]And I was seated next to the translator
[00:41:35.050]because I don't speak the native language.
[00:41:37.160]And a woman raised her hand
and she asked a question,
[00:41:41.100]she said, and I'm gonna just use a blank
[00:41:43.300]for this person's name, I just wanna
[00:41:45.010]see if you guys can remember it.
[00:41:46.700]She said, "Does blank represent America?"
[00:41:50.610]And I was shocked by
this, absolutely floored,
[00:41:53.760]because this woman named the preacher
[00:41:56.060]in Gainesville, Florida, who
was going to burn a Quran.
[00:42:00.040]Do you guys remember this
from a few years ago?
[00:42:02.170]Yes, so I'm really surprised
[00:42:04.000]that somebody in this
audience has his name,
[00:42:05.330]because most of the time people are like,
[00:42:06.917]"Wait, I remember, I
don't remember his name."
[00:42:08.840]But he was given oxygen on TV,
[00:42:11.660]she thought he represented who we were.
[00:42:14.430]By name said his name.
[00:42:17.204]And that was a really
important message for me
[00:42:20.300]because I keep thinking,
"You know, our words matter,
[00:42:23.247]"how we speak about each other matters."
[00:42:25.290]And so when you ask the question about
[00:42:26.680]how an individual can make a difference,
[00:42:28.830]it's also how it is we
talk about each other.
[00:42:32.740]And I think that there's
a real power in that.
[00:42:36.170]- So I wanna ask one last question
[00:42:37.350]before we open it up to the audience.
[00:42:42.100]You represented the
United States government,
[00:42:43.880]the most powerful government in the world.
[00:42:45.570]You traveled 100 countries.
[00:42:46.910]We're now talking about
the value of small acts.
[00:42:50.130]Where do you see, where are you moved
[00:42:53.110]along this grand spectrum to act now?
[00:42:56.250]And what's the role of business,
[00:42:57.700]where do you see yourself moving
[00:42:59.170]in terms of trying to address this issue?
[00:43:01.840]- The greatest privilege of my life
[00:43:03.220]has been able to serve my country.
[00:43:07.100]As you know, there's no
other thing like that.
[00:43:10.070]And I know that there is great power
[00:43:12.450]in the US government, as you said.
[00:43:14.740]But I think around this
issue of fighting hate
[00:43:17.660]and extremism, we are not
at a place where America
[00:43:20.570]is at its strength at this moment in time.
[00:43:23.010]And as I was writing this
book, there's an entire chapter
[00:43:26.900]on the role of the corporate sector.
[00:43:28.860]And I feel more strongly than I ever have
[00:43:32.720]that American corporations especially,
[00:43:35.750]that have a consciousness
around corporate purpose
[00:43:39.580]and are talking about this in real ways,
[00:43:41.840]those of you who are in
the private sector know
[00:43:43.810]that the Business Roundtable recently
[00:43:46.090]gave a statement about how the bottom line
[00:43:48.630]actually matters around corporate purpose.
[00:43:50.980]I want corporations to fight poverty
[00:43:53.730]and increase education and
do all the amazing things
[00:43:56.830]that they're doing.
[00:43:57.890]But they have a role to play
[00:43:59.820]in the day to day actions of a community,
[00:44:02.230]and I believe that there's
more that they can do
[00:44:04.870]to fight hate and extremism by helping
[00:44:07.570]the non-government organizations
and schools and others
[00:44:10.600]that have ideas on what they can do.
[00:44:12.940]So I wanna see effective change
[00:44:15.560]by corporates around these issues,
[00:44:18.170]because it is not only necessary
[00:44:21.010]for us to see change globally,
[00:44:22.680]it cannot just happen with one
country or a dozen countries,
[00:44:25.320]it has to happen for corporates that say
[00:44:28.190]how can this matter to us,
[00:44:30.550]but I also feel very strongly that
[00:44:34.110]in the work that I've
seen around the world,
[00:44:37.060]we often talk about the President,
[00:44:40.500]what the President needs to say.
[00:44:42.330]I wanna bring us back
down to the very basics
[00:44:45.440]around mayors and around governors.
[00:44:48.590]There are mayors in America that are doing
[00:44:50.650]incredible things with their cities.
[00:44:52.890]There's a mayor in Louisville, Kentucky,
[00:44:54.470]who's named Louisville
a city of compassion.
[00:44:57.990]And Mayor Greg Fisher is increasing,
[00:45:00.830]I mean, he uses the word
compassion every day,
[00:45:03.280]dozens and dozens of times,
which makes a difference.
[00:45:05.720]There are things that have happened
[00:45:07.100]in the curriculums of these
schools that make kids
[00:45:09.870]think about compassion differently.
[00:45:11.227]"Who are we?" they ask themselves.
[00:45:13.107]"Are we a city that shows compassion?"
[00:45:17.360]So my response to you is,
[00:45:20.390]I'd like to see corporates do
far more than they've done,
[00:45:23.550]not just in dollars and in recognition
[00:45:26.210]that their cultural data can
help NGOs make a difference
[00:45:29.430]in the kinds of programs
that they're doing.
[00:45:31.360]But I also know that mayors,
[00:45:33.800]and there's a Strong Cities program
[00:45:35.870]that was started in the
[00:45:38.140]that pulls together mayors
from all over the world
[00:45:40.760]that are pushing back
against extremism and hate,
[00:45:44.140]and I think that we ought to be doing more
[00:45:46.820]to build that momentum.
[00:45:48.860]- Great, thank you.
[00:45:50.373]I think we'll open it up now.
[00:46:01.220]- Thank you, Preeta, thank you, Farah.
[00:46:03.160]Ladies and gentlemen, now it's your turn.
[00:46:05.820]If you have a question
for Farah and or Preeta,
[00:46:08.450]there are ushers in each of the aisles
[00:46:09.900]here in the Lied Center to
collect your written questions
[00:46:11.890]and bring them to the stage.
[00:46:13.290]Also, please tweet your
questions to #enthompsonforum.
[00:46:17.720]We look forward to engaging
this afternoon or this evening.
[00:46:21.320]I think I'll open up with one
question from the audience.
[00:46:24.060]Farah, do you think we're
moving toward a future
[00:46:26.430]where factors like ethnicity and religion
[00:46:28.860]will be pulled into mainstream
campaigning and politics?
[00:46:32.320]- What a great question.
[00:46:33.640]I think we already have, haven't we?
[00:46:35.980]I don't think it's are
we moving into that era,
[00:46:38.210]it's a sobering moment for all of us
[00:46:40.490]to think about what we
stand for and who we are.
[00:46:44.370]I'm not gonna make a political statement,
[00:46:46.050]I've been very honored
to serve both Republicans
[00:46:48.800]and Democrats, this is
not about political party.
[00:46:52.460]This is about who we are as Americans.
[00:46:54.740]And I think I see, what
I find really interesting
[00:46:57.320]is Americans are, and I've
been on this book tour
[00:46:59.420]for several months now,
[00:47:01.410]it's been very interesting for me.
[00:47:05.350]I've gotten questions like,
[00:47:07.417]"Farah, how can you have
served in the White House
[00:47:10.167]"if you're not an American?"
[00:47:13.868]I've gotten questions or comments like,
[00:47:16.277]"You speak English really well."
[00:47:23.880]I mean, so if people are
looking at me that way
[00:47:25.810]rather than, oh boy,
she was a public servant
[00:47:27.700]and has spent a lot of her career
[00:47:29.680]serving our nation in this way
[00:47:31.890]but she's still an other over there,
[00:47:35.470]you can imagine that we are going to see,
[00:47:39.410]I think, a new wrinkle in the way
[00:47:41.190]in which we talk about these things.
[00:47:42.840]The other data point I
just wanna say to you is
[00:47:44.730]isn't it interesting that Americans
[00:47:47.780]are going crazy for genetic testing?
[00:47:50.720]We wanna know where we came from,
[00:47:52.540]we wanna know our history and our origin.
[00:47:55.100]And that by nature, obviously,
[00:47:57.510]you understand that
your blood is not pure,
[00:47:59.380]that you've come from some other place,
[00:48:01.010]that we're all connected.
[00:48:02.440]At the same time that that is happening
[00:48:04.610]is the same time we're
going internally, saying
[00:48:07.710]but this is who I am and that my story
[00:48:10.550]is more important than your
story, that's already happening.
[00:48:14.700]- Thank you very much.
[00:48:15.670]We have a question from our
Twitter audience this evening.
[00:48:18.990]Al-Qaeda arose via sermons
recorded on cassette tapes.
[00:48:22.780]Hate now thrives in the
caverns of social media.
[00:48:25.470]How do we disrupt the myriad
channels of online hate?
[00:48:28.330]- What a great, great question.
[00:48:30.280]Yeah, the videotape and the audio tape,
[00:48:32.530]if we can remember that.
[00:48:34.267]And I also will just say one other thing.
[00:48:37.350]For those who are young in the audience,
[00:48:38.870]you may not recognize
this or realize this,
[00:48:40.560]but when 9/11 happened,
[00:48:43.080]there were conversations in
America about freedom of speech
[00:48:45.860]and what we would allow
Osama bin Laden to do,
[00:48:48.840]and we were having conversations like,
[00:48:51.010]we should be allowed to let him speak
[00:48:55.390]for free on TV so that we
can hear his point of view.
[00:48:59.710]It's remarkable to think about that,
[00:49:02.170]but those are the kinds of
things that we've come a long way
[00:49:04.480]in our conversation about not
yelling fire in an auditorium.
[00:49:08.960]And what we are willing to do
[00:49:11.490]and what the red lines
are around hate speech.
[00:49:14.430]Companies, too, the big
[00:49:17.770]are also having to deal with the aftermath
[00:49:20.400]of live streaming of horrific
things like Christchurch
[00:49:24.220]and what they're going to do about that.
[00:49:25.950]But we as humans and
consumers of these platforms
[00:49:30.770]are also asking, what
do we wanna stand for?
[00:49:34.260]So while those
conversations are happening,
[00:49:36.360]I would say this to the
person who asked the question.
[00:49:39.900]It isn't only about doing one thing,
[00:49:42.500]it's not just about
take down, which is what
[00:49:45.330]everybody thinks is gonna
solve everybody's problem,
[00:49:47.210]it's not the only thing that's
gonna solve the problem.
[00:49:49.840]It's, in addition to doing that
[00:49:54.210]and asking for algorithms
to be tweaked in such a way
[00:49:57.620]that you don't go down a
rabbit hole the way we are
[00:50:00.900]when we start on these social platforms,
[00:50:03.720]are we giving forth more and more content
[00:50:07.610]that actually is able to push back
[00:50:09.730]against what the extremists
are showing out there?
[00:50:12.280]And are we, and this is
the most important thing
[00:50:14.440]as far as I'm concerned for parents,
[00:50:16.420]do you understand what it
is your kids are watching?
[00:50:22.230]Do you understand how they are
[00:50:24.450]absorbing what they're seeing,
[00:50:26.810]both through the images
and through the content?
[00:50:29.650]And that technology hygiene
component and that awareness
[00:50:33.580]is something we often
haven't talked about,
[00:50:35.347]and I think that's part
of the answer here.
[00:50:37.880]- Thank you, let's make it
a little more personal now.
[00:50:41.120]We have several college
students here in the audience,
[00:50:43.120]some of whom someday might like to work
[00:50:44.940]for the United Nations
or serve their country
[00:50:46.730]or world in another way.
[00:50:48.110]Can you talk a bit about
some obstacles you faced
[00:50:50.840]and how you got to where you are today?
[00:50:52.540]And Preeta, perhaps you wanna
chime in on this as well.
[00:50:55.475]- I love that question.
[00:50:56.640]I really hope many of you do decide
[00:50:58.670]to join not only our country or whatever
[00:51:03.090]position you think is interesting
to you in our government,
[00:51:07.480]but also in a place
like the United Nations.
[00:51:10.480]I think it's fair to say
[00:51:12.152]that when one thinks back on their career,
[00:51:15.500]you kind of sometimes
forget all the difficult
[00:51:17.970]valleys that you've gone in,
and when you tell your story,
[00:51:20.520]it's I did this and then I did this,
[00:51:22.120]and so it's like you're
jumping from mountain top
[00:51:24.250]to mountain top and everything seems fine.
[00:51:26.470]I think the big message I
would say to those people
[00:51:29.310]who are at university now is that
[00:51:31.950]the thing that you can control,
[00:51:33.530]the only thing that you
can control is who you are
[00:51:37.747]and what you're passionate about.
[00:51:39.350]And for me, the ability
to be able to look within
[00:51:43.240]and to be honest with myself about
[00:51:44.930]what makes me happy about what I'm doing
[00:51:47.150]is the thing that allowed me to move
[00:51:48.740]from one place to the other.
[00:51:50.400]The challenges will always come,
[00:51:52.360]you will not get the fellowship you want.
[00:51:54.550]You will not get into the school you want.
[00:51:56.830]You will not get the job you want.
[00:51:58.670]I mean, this is part of life,
[00:52:00.725]it's not about the end of life,
[00:52:03.360]it's about learning
from those experiences.
[00:52:05.300]But the thing that kept me the most sane
[00:52:08.200]was going back to the
question that I have to ask
[00:52:11.440]within myself, which is,
what's important to me,
[00:52:14.080]who am I, and what do I wanna
do while I live on this earth?
[00:52:18.600]- Yeah, and I would just add to that,
[00:52:20.790]I agree completely, it's really
identifying your passion,
[00:52:23.930]what are your life experiences
[00:52:26.760]and what do you uniquely
have to offer to the world,
[00:52:30.460]honoring all that you are
[00:52:31.830]and all of the experiences
that you've had?
[00:52:33.820]And I guess I would, so
often we think of things
[00:52:36.920]like whether you're thinking
about corporate jobs
[00:52:38.930]or government jobs or
whatever you think about,
[00:52:40.940]how do I get this, how do I get this?
[00:52:42.770]So often it's just the
relationships you have
[00:52:47.050]and keeping those relationships
at every stage of your life.
[00:52:50.420]It's serving people, caring
for people along the way.
[00:52:53.260]And you just never know when those people,
[00:52:56.910]like people I went to law school with,
[00:52:58.430]end up becoming the President
of the United States.
[00:53:01.000]It's extraordinary how just really caring
[00:53:04.640]for the people around you
[00:53:06.210]and just being a decent human being
[00:53:07.810]and then obviously
caring about what you do,
[00:53:11.030]being passionate about what you do
[00:53:12.330]and being focused on excellence,
[00:53:14.000]all of that will work out,
[00:53:15.080]but a lot of times it doesn't work out.
[00:53:16.450]And I find that the
difference between the people
[00:53:18.420]who make it and the
people who don't make it,
[00:53:19.960]it's the relationships they
cultivate along the way
[00:53:22.110]and how genuine they are.
[00:53:24.000]- A similar question from our
Twitter feed this evening.
[00:53:26.810]As someone who aspires to be a diplomat,
[00:53:28.920]I would love to know how
you work for your positions
[00:53:31.620]and what advice you have.
[00:53:32.650]In particular, what sort of diplomats
[00:53:34.390]do you believe America and
the world needs in the future?
[00:53:41.300]- Well, there are many
ways to be a diplomat.
[00:53:44.190]You don't only have to
be somebody who joins
[00:53:46.660]the civil service or the Foreign Service,
[00:53:49.540]there are many dimensions
to diplomacy, actually,
[00:53:53.000]if you take it most broadly.
[00:53:54.620]But the kind of diplomat
that we need in America
[00:53:59.330]is the kind of diplomat that
when you put your hand up
[00:54:02.770]and you say you're gonna defend
[00:54:04.100]and protect the Constitution,
[00:54:06.760]you do that in every thing that you do.
[00:54:10.000]That you're transparent,
that you're honest,
[00:54:12.450]and that you respect the country that is,
[00:54:14.850]in fact, the best country in the world.
[00:54:24.617]- And a question from
our live audience here
[00:54:27.120]at the Lied Center, earlier you called
[00:54:28.680]for a grassroots movement to
counter the identity crisis.
[00:54:32.010]How would you not so much enact
a mass change as sustain it?
[00:54:35.900]How do you keep a movement going
[00:54:37.600]for months, years, or decades?
[00:54:39.510]- What a great question.
[00:54:41.500]A movement is a recognition,
[00:54:43.870]is an awakening, it's an awareness.
[00:54:45.880]And it will have stages along the way of,
[00:54:49.020]sometimes it surges,
sometimes it comes back
[00:54:51.590]depending on what's needed.
[00:54:53.040]But when I talk about the identity,
[00:54:54.710]the movement around fighting
the ideology of us versus them,
[00:54:59.830]it's in every crevice, unfortunately,
[00:55:01.650]that we see in our world today.
[00:55:03.340]And so what I'd like to
see in terms of sustaining
[00:55:07.330]the power to do this, is to recognize
[00:55:09.690]that there are actors around
us that each of us know
[00:55:12.050]that have ideas or are doing things
[00:55:13.990]in small ways that needs support.
[00:55:15.910]I often talk about the people
that are the frontlines
[00:55:18.390]of the kind of extremism
that I was working on.
[00:55:20.710]The frontline workers are
not the government workers.
[00:55:23.930]The frontline workers are the NGOs
[00:55:27.220]that are building the
programs that are working
[00:55:30.920]literally at the grassroots to make sure
[00:55:33.310]that the programs are operational.
[00:55:35.987]And these are NGOs, and
so what are they doing?
[00:55:39.016]They are finding money
to keep the lights on
[00:55:43.640]and pay the salary, because
that's what NGOs do.
[00:55:46.620]They are unfortunately watching horrendous
[00:55:49.700]beheading videos and other things like it
[00:55:51.700]to understand what the bad guys are doing
[00:55:53.880]and how to fortify, these
are not big entities
[00:55:57.110]that have the capacity to
have somebody who can help
[00:56:01.160]on the mental health side of things.
[00:56:03.160]So the sustaining of this movement
[00:56:06.400]is going to require us to
pay attention to these NGOs,
[00:56:09.780]to give them what it is that they need
[00:56:11.810]as they are developing and continually
[00:56:15.530]mobilizing different methods
[00:56:17.920]to fight this kind of extremist threat.
[00:56:21.230]- Thank you.
[00:56:22.860]- Can I just add to that?
- Please, Preeta.
[00:56:23.823]I would just add it goes back a little bit
[00:56:25.860]to the earlier question
about diplomacy as well.
[00:56:27.770]I mean, I think we're all
diplomats every single day
[00:56:31.380]and in every situation we're in.
[00:56:33.830]You don't have to have the formal title
[00:56:35.750]of the US government to be a diplomat.
[00:56:37.420]When you're traveling abroad,
every day we represent
[00:56:41.230]our country, how we interact.
[00:56:44.070]So in the same way, I think that
[00:56:47.190]just really focusing
on the individual acts,
[00:56:51.100]I mean, I'm of the belief,
[00:56:52.390]and I think this comes
across in your book also,
[00:56:54.360]I think the ways in which we
have organized our governments,
[00:56:57.270]our corporations, a lot of those ways
[00:56:58.930]are being disrupted by
technology, by networks.
[00:57:01.830]It's really loose groups, fluid groups
[00:57:04.700]of people and networks coming together
[00:57:06.810]that are making change,
that are creating movements.
[00:57:09.220]You don't need the institutional apparatus
[00:57:11.930]in the same ways as in the past.
[00:57:13.600]So it's really developing
one's own skills,
[00:57:15.770]one's own abilities to organize
[00:57:17.960]and get together with people.
[00:57:20.210]- Thank you, how can our
schools and universities
[00:57:22.550]influence students to reject extremism?
[00:57:26.690]- Look, I think one of the things that,
[00:57:28.870]I was really fortunate this morning,
[00:57:30.790]I went to a high school here in Lincoln
[00:57:33.700]and spoke to sophomores, and
[00:57:37.300]was asked really excellent
questions around these issues.
[00:57:40.690]And one young man said, "How
can I make a difference?
[00:57:44.487]"What can I do?"
[00:57:46.400]And I think about that,
[00:57:48.330]and I've heard other
young people say that too,
[00:57:50.410]it seems too big in a school
to actually deal with it,
[00:57:54.280]because there are all kinds of things
[00:57:55.410]that you sort of have to
navigate through as a teenager,
[00:57:58.290]and school's tough and it's complicated.
[00:58:01.510]But there are two things I wanna say
[00:58:02.920]about what schools can do.
[00:58:04.770]The first is history.
[00:58:06.320]And I know history
curriculums have been cut
[00:58:10.760]all over our country.
[00:58:12.230]People roll their eyes when I say this,
[00:58:15.480]but I believe very strongly
[00:58:18.130]that if you have facts about
who we are as a nation,
[00:58:20.910]it will help you to tell our
story in a different way,
[00:58:23.920]and I'll give you a very personal example.
[00:58:26.340]I talked to you about the fact
that I was very privileged
[00:58:29.450]in my education, and I was,
I went to private school
[00:58:31.450]from the time I was five and a half
[00:58:33.530]until graduate school, okay?
[00:58:35.680]And even in that most elite of places,
[00:58:39.620]I was never told anything
about Islam in America.
[00:58:43.850]I was never educated about
[00:58:46.030]what I told you today on the stage.
[00:58:47.930]And when I became Special Representative
[00:58:50.300]to Muslim Communities, I said,
[00:58:51.477]"How can I go around the
world talking about my country
[00:58:54.577]"if I don't even know the
history of Islam and our nation?
[00:58:57.467]"And I don't even know
what American presidents
[00:58:59.717]"have said about Islam and diplomacy,
[00:59:02.727]"and I need to learn more."
[00:59:05.440]And so I worked with a young woman
[00:59:09.501]whose name is Precious
Muhammad, and I asked her,
[00:59:12.090]she was a historian and
she went to Harvard,
[00:59:14.020]and I said, "Can you just
create a timeline for me
[00:59:17.817]"of American presidents
and what they've said
[00:59:19.877]"about Islam and Muslims?
[00:59:23.277]"And in the context of
all the different periods
[00:59:26.837]"of American history," and
you know what I found out?
[00:59:29.520]That every single American president,
[00:59:32.100]from George Washington all
the way to Barack Obama,
[00:59:35.700]every single president had incredibly
[00:59:39.850]respectful things to say
about Islam and Muslims.
[00:59:44.060]- [Preeta] Prior to the constitution, too.
[00:59:47.400]And I'm not just talking about this
[00:59:49.790]because it's Muslim, I'm
talking about it from my role.
[00:59:52.380]When I think about that and I think about
giving land to Muslims
[00:59:58.132]in Washington, D.C. because there was no
[01:00:01.884]place for a mosque to
be built, he gave land,
[01:00:04.670]Eisenhower, so that
they could pray freely.
[01:00:07.680]When I think about, I mean, I could go on,
[01:00:10.920]but I learned a lot from this experiment.
[01:00:14.080]What I would love to see
schools do not just about Islam,
[01:00:17.160]but our own history of
[01:00:20.120]and of our different stories, to be honest
[01:00:23.340]about the stories that we have to tell.
[01:00:25.900]It isn't just what the cute little stories
[01:00:28.460]about Columbus discovering America.
[01:00:31.850]There's a lot more there that
we should be sober about,
[01:00:35.730]but we also should teach
our next generation.
[01:00:37.910]So one piece is, how do we teach history
[01:00:40.137]and what is the real history we tell?
[01:00:42.810]There's an amazing NGO called
Facing History and Ourselves
[01:00:46.460]that has curriculums
and incredible stories
[01:00:49.330]about all kinds of things,
and race and heritage,
[01:00:52.080]and many other aspects that I
urge teachers to look and use.
[01:00:55.860]And the second thing in terms of schools
[01:00:58.060]is to at least raise the
question of us versus them,
[01:01:02.850]and to explore what that
means within your community
[01:01:06.040]as a school and what you stand for,
[01:01:08.240]and perhaps a mission
statement for your own class
[01:01:11.860]in terms of how you think about diversity
[01:01:14.850]and what it means to be together.
[01:01:17.860]- And I would just add, encouraging people
[01:01:20.260]and teaching people how to have
[01:01:22.270]dialogues, like true conversations.
[01:01:25.060]When I went to high school
here at Lincoln East,
[01:01:27.640]we had this amazing
speech and debate team,
[01:01:30.130]it was the national champions.
[01:01:31.760]And I learned a lot about
how to speak, how to debate.
[01:01:34.530]But what it took later
in life for me to do
[01:01:36.540]was to learn how to deeply listen.
[01:01:38.820]So often we're taught to kind
of have the quick answers,
[01:01:42.180]to use our heads, but how do
you really unlock your heart?
[01:01:45.750]And how do you help people and students
[01:01:47.610]really understand that
and listen to others?
[01:01:50.030]So, oftentimes you can disagree
with people's opinions,
[01:01:52.110]but you can't disagree with their stories.
[01:01:53.900]So it's really teaching people to learn
[01:01:55.500]to hear other people's stories.
[01:01:58.570]- Well Preeta, you just
answered my next question
[01:02:00.370]without asking it, so I appreciate that.
[01:02:03.190]But I did wanna point out,
[01:02:04.460]a member of our audience
here tonight said,
[01:02:07.190]in recent years, there's
been a rise in opinions
[01:02:09.030]on a polar opposite scale,
[01:02:10.260]whether it's politics or other topics.
[01:02:12.730]UNL researchers recently published a study
[01:02:15.330]that 40% of Americans
are stressed by politics,
[01:02:18.100]and another 32% are driven crazy
[01:02:20.420]by opposing media views
from their personal beliefs.
[01:02:24.330]So how do we overcome
the tendency to shut out
[01:02:26.980]or shut down while encountering opinions
[01:02:29.310]different from ours?
[01:02:30.230]Is it deep listening,
or is it something else?
[01:02:32.350]How do we help open minds of others?
[01:02:36.930]Anything further to expound on?
[01:02:39.270]- [Preeta] Go for it, yeah.
[01:02:40.340]- I was gonna say
meditation worked for me,
[01:02:43.450]and I'm really not even kidding.
[01:02:46.470]It's hard, it's very hard right now.
[01:02:49.090]And I know sometimes what
Preeta was saying about
[01:02:53.340]being able to listen to
someone and understanding
[01:02:56.510]that what they have to say
may not be what you believe,
[01:03:00.520]but to have the capacity to breathe
[01:03:04.730]and to hear through what
they're saying and understand.
[01:03:07.310]I think the question that I've,
[01:03:09.880]a technique that I have used a lot is,
[01:03:12.460]tell me why it is that you
believe what you believe.
[01:03:16.360]And understanding the why,
you can't hate somebody
[01:03:20.730]just because they have a
different opinion than you,
[01:03:23.260]you need to understand
where they're coming from.
[01:03:26.270]You're not, again, agree with
it in the end of the day,
[01:03:31.040]so some of this stuff is going,
[01:03:32.510]where are they getting this information?
[01:03:35.200]What is it that I can do to help heal
[01:03:37.890]on those levels, as well?
[01:03:39.660]I don't recommend seven hours
of Twitter reading a day
[01:03:44.790]at all, which is going
down that rabbit hole.
[01:03:47.960]I was recently in Singapore,
[01:03:50.430]and the statistic that blew my mind
[01:03:52.780]is that the average young Asian
[01:03:55.870]spends six hours of their
day on social media a day.
[01:04:01.180]And I kept thinking, "Oh my
God, what is it doing to them
[01:04:04.487]"and how they think about ourselves?"
[01:04:05.990]So the way we talk about
how we balance ourselves
[01:04:09.640]away from that kind of
thing is important too.
[01:04:11.790]- And I would just echo that.
[01:04:12.970]I mean, I think when I say deep listening,
[01:04:14.330]I mean deep listening of
one's self, of ourselves,
[01:04:17.030]as well as of others, it's
giving ourselves that space.
[01:04:20.630]I think so often,
[01:04:23.444]when we have conversations
at schools or universities
[01:04:26.720]where we have conversations
about public issues
[01:04:29.360]like guns or abortion or whatever,
[01:04:31.630]people speak from the head,
[01:04:33.340]they tell their opinions,
they marshal facts.
[01:04:36.300]We all know that there's
[01:04:38.210]that you're not gonna change
anyone's mind with facts.
[01:04:41.150]But what you can do is share
[01:04:43.630]why you believe what you
believe, not what you believe,
[01:04:46.500]we're not trying convincing
people what you believe.
[01:04:48.500]But oftentimes, people will have had very
[01:04:50.290]similar life experiences and have come
[01:04:52.160]to other different conclusions about it.
[01:04:54.080]And it's fascinating to understand, again,
[01:04:57.190]you might not agree with
[01:04:59.170]but you can't dislike them
for their life experience.
[01:05:02.550]When you know why they
think what they think,
[01:05:04.350]maybe they had an experience with guns,
[01:05:06.250]maybe they had an experience with someone
[01:05:07.940]in the family having
an unwanted pregnancy.
[01:05:10.040]Whatever it is, when you learn
the story, it humanizes them
[01:05:13.490]and it makes it very
difficult to hate them.
[01:05:16.820]- So there's one other piece
of this, if I can just jump in.
[01:05:20.360]I often ask, what are
you worried about, also.
[01:05:23.930]Because the fear piece,
there's a lot of fear
[01:05:27.602]in the hate that comes out,
[01:05:29.800]and understanding why that fear
exists is really important,
[01:05:34.830]it helps to make you
[01:05:38.370]conscious of things that
maybe we're not conscious of.
[01:05:42.370]- Ladies and the audience,
thank you so much
[01:05:44.300]for the fascinating
conversation in this evening's
[01:05:46.530]E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues.
[01:05:48.500]One last question from our
Twitter feed this evening.
[01:05:52.550]How do parents talk to their
children about identity?
[01:05:55.110]NPR reports only 50% have
[01:06:00.390]Well, the first is the consciousness
[01:06:03.380]that you're even asking that question,
[01:06:04.760]I really applaud you 'cause
I think it's important.
[01:06:07.580]I don't know how to answer
that because I'm not a parent.
[01:06:15.210]I can only speak to you from
a very personal perspective,
[01:06:18.180]and that is that when I was raised,
[01:06:21.130]when I was growing up, Preeta told you
[01:06:22.810]I grew up outside of Boston,
[01:06:24.710]and my mom was able to somehow
[01:06:29.860]explain to me the cultural
components of my heritage
[01:06:33.680]in a way that made it easy for me
[01:06:38.180]to navigate being proud of my history
[01:06:41.830]and also being proud to be an American.
[01:06:45.052]And she did that not by saying
[01:06:47.840]one was better than the other,
[01:06:49.940]but to ask me questions
or to allow me to say,
[01:06:53.470]why do we do things in this way?
[01:06:55.850]And I would urge parents
[01:06:59.252]to explore the question of
identity not when the kids
[01:07:02.887]are at a teenage moment, but
really as they're growing up
[01:07:07.050]to explain more about where they come from
[01:07:11.390]and the many expressions of their identity
[01:07:14.480]rather than there's only
one way to do something.
[01:07:18.980]- And I would just add that, I mean,
[01:07:20.020]identity is such a fluid thing.
[01:07:21.650]We have identities, obviously.
[01:07:23.600]But we give to other groups,
we receive from other groups,
[01:07:28.170]and the gifts that we have to give,
[01:07:30.920]they're not the heritage of
any one particular identity.
[01:07:33.620]I think, I grew up Indian American and
[01:07:36.450]always very proud of Gandhi
and the Gandhian tradition.
[01:07:39.100]Well, Gandhi drew extensively
[01:07:40.560]from Emerson and Thoreau in America.
[01:07:43.250]He in turn influenced
Martin Luther King, Jr.
[01:07:46.980]Who in turn influenced Mandela and Chavez.
[01:07:49.900]I mean, these are ideas that
are as old as the hills.
[01:07:53.070]And yes, there are different
groups that might bring them
[01:07:55.600]to the forefront at different times
[01:07:57.990]and it's important to be
proud and aware of that,
[01:08:00.830]but it's also important to
understand the ways in which
[01:08:03.730]our identities are formed
by so many other groups
[01:08:06.410]and we're all kind of
interconnected in that way.
[01:08:10.187]- Fabulous, I can't think
of a better way to end,
[01:08:12.610]except reminding you,
ladies and gentlemen,
[01:08:14.470]that Farah has graciously
agreed to sign any books
[01:08:17.450]in the orchestra lobby, so
please take advantage of that.
[01:08:20.250]Thank you so much for
attending tonight's forum.
[01:08:22.640]Please let's give one round of
applause to Preeta and Farah.
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