tv Consider This Al Jazeera December 22, 2014 11:00am-12:01pm EST
>> the world angerly reacts to the pakistani massacre of 130 school children. and a whole religion persecuted by isil. we'll hear from a woman whose emotional plea for help gained worldwide attention. i'm antonio mora, welcome to "consider this." those stories and more much ahead. >> the united states is changing its relationship with the people
of cuba. >> we hope in the normalization process the people of cuba are going to change cuba. >> in the rules of raul castro cuba has agreed to nothing. >> children were slaughtered in their school by the taliban. >> one of the worst attacks i by the taliban in years. >> if this does not jolt us out of the inability to come together, maybe nothing will. >> the nature of terrorism has been shifting. >> taking advantage of social media with its own form of propaganda. >> the problem is that you're fighting an idea. >> thousands of yazidis still trapped in the sinjar mountains in urgent need of humanitarian aid. >> they're hungry and cold and dress operate to get off the mountains. >> i feel relief. >> we begin with the debate over the historic decision to restore diplomatic ties with cuba after 50 years of hostility.
>> the president has had the leaders of both burma and china to the united states. and for that reason i wouldn't rule out a visit from president castro. >> and havana many cubans were cautiously optimistic as they celebrated the news. >> the obama administration's move has sharply divided south florida's cuban-american community. >> this is an awful day for cuba. i think the deal was bad because the cubans didn't get anything. we lost again. >> anything that brings change is a good day. >> the majority of americans have long favored normalizing relations. and a recent poll found that 68% of cuban-americans do as well.
but many older cuban-americans with longer memories say that this deal will only benefit the cuban government, not the cuban people. >> this is sad to see the president doing some sort of negotiation without getting anything in return. >> reporter: senator marco rubio went even further. >> the implications of this decision will extend far beyond just cuba. it has a chilling affect on democracy and freedom in the region. >> joining us now from haiti is ambassador huddleston. she was director of cuban affairs from 1989 to 1993, and during the clinton administration she had led the brooks brookings institution, i know you believe this opening to cuba was long overdue, but was
this a good deal? as you know, i'm sure in the days that you were dealing with cuba, the u.s. always approached negotiations requiring reforms from the cuban government on human rights and democracy, and we got none of that here. >> in my opinion this is exactly what should have been done ten years ago, even 20 years ago because what this does, what the obama bold moves on diplomatic relations on removing the communications, taking cuba off the terrorist list, which will probably happen in the next six months, he gives a chance for cuban civil society to build a democratic cuba. and a prosperous cuba. we don't need to negotiate it away. we need to get the information an opportunity for cubans to make those changes.
>> what do you say to the "washington post"? they had a harsh editorial. they called the president naive saying a 50-year-old failed regime got a new lease on life, and any progress towards democracy has been arrested by the president's short-sighted move. are you concerned that this could be a gift to the regime, a big bail out that ends up not catalyzing political performance inside cuba? >> absolutely not. let me give you an example. when i was in cuba i passed out am/fm little hand-held radios. fidel castro, he threatened to throw me out of cuba. he had a huge rally of 20,000 people to denounce this activity. there is nothing that the cuban government feared more than free communication.
now there can be sales, gifts of televisions thumb drives, computers. this is really going to provide the equipment and the interaction that will allow not just cuban participant and civil society to connect around the world. this is what happened in eastern europe as well. the electronic communication was not there at that time. >> i hope you're right about cuba. but you heard chris gillette talking about how the economy is struggling, how they're facing difficult times. so cuba likely is on the ropes because plunging oil prices are likely to stop a from patron venezuela. because of the drop in oil they
will probably not be able to subsidize their economy. are you afraid this is a bail out like in the wall street journal? >> not at all. i remember so well in the early 90s i had a conversation with fidel castro. at that point the sovietdown was breaking up. cuba was losing it's $4 billion annual subsidy, and cuban-americans were saying christmas in havana. things could in the have gotten worse in havana other than that's when we passed the cuban democracy act, which cut off a lot of medicines and food from third countries to cuba. here was the moment when cuba was really on the rails, and they made it through. to think that cuba is going to fail because of an economic
crisis just prolongs getting the sport and information in to cuba that will grow the economy and give cuban--young people in particular--a real opportunity for a future. >> looking at it from another side is this really not the game changer that as portrayed by supporters. liftindo you think that's really going to happen? there is still a lot of opposition in washington, and it's going to be a majority republican senate and congress next year. >> well, as the cubans like to say, obama did the hard part. he did the historic, bold move that is bound to get criticism, now it's up to the cuban people and the american people to deepen this, broaden this, and really make it work. not allow it to be rolled back.
>> what will the regime itself. raul castro, when he announced this, he was wearing military fatigues. he said that they did not announce a single principle. will the castros and the regime dig in their heels and resist change? >> well, they may well. their interest is to stay in power. it always has been that. but isolation has helped them to stay in power. what will weaken the cuban government is when their young people have the opportunity to get on the internet and find out what is going on. >> ambassador, good to have you with us and to get your perspective. >> thank you very much.
>> turn together barbaric massacre of 140 people, including 132 children, at a public military school in the pakistani city of peshawar, it is described how gunmen, some strapped with explosives stormed the school, classroom to classroom. with us is adviser to world bank on policy issues of pakistan and afghanistan and southeastern region. he is can you rememberly a columnist in the news, one of the largest english newspapers published in pakistan. good to have you with us. i know it has been a horrible 24 hours for you and for pakistan. pakistan, no stranger to terrorism, but this savagery is beyond--it's beyond any comprehension. children, muslim children massacred by these islamic
extremists. i know pakistan immediately launched airstrikes against the pakistani taliban, but do you think this horror will finally lead the government, the intelligence establishment, and the military, who just had their kids slaughtered, to unite and fight terrorism? >> we all want to be positive, but we have a track record here. it's not new to barbaricty. there were attacks, one that killed 120 people during a church service. one that killed 40 people in the biggest market in the city, and another that killed about 20 people in a bomb explosion on a bus taking people to work.
there have been other terror attacks in peshawar, and parts of peshawar have been made unliveable because of terroris terrorists. there was this sort of--i think the military coming together to conduct strikes against the terrorists is one very small part of a larger whole range of actions that we have to take as a society. not just put everything--obviously the government as a representative has to do a bunch of things. but there is awhile range of other things that need to happen in our society. and we have even in the last 12, whatever it is, 18 hours, we have not seen i think the kind of clarity that we see.
>> i wanted to ask you about the pakistani people. i asked you about the institutions, the government institutions. but the people have given some support to the pakistan taliban in the past. do you think, then given what you've seen over the past 24 hours, that this could be a transformative tragedy, or do you think that the divisions are too deeply rooted among muslims and islamic republic. >> i'm going to take exception. the first thing that pakistani need to do is take back their name. they're not the pakistani ta taliban. they don't represent who they are, what we're about. and they have no future in this country. they are the ttp. that's what i prefer to call them, and i would love it if everyone sort of made that choice. because we don't want that stain on our identity.
there are 200 million of us. you mentioned that we--some pakistanis supported the ttp in the past. i don't think that necessarily there has been explicit support. i think there has been confusion in our society, and i think there has been confusion all across the muslim world. since 9/11 we still have not created a coherent narrative about the rejection within our faith of this kind of behavior, and pakistan is one representative of a larger problem that plagues the entire muslim world. so no, we're not where we need to be. and i think these kinds of attacks make the lines much more clear, and i think that the vast majority of pakistanis are sickened, and would like this to end. >> do you think the group is getting more powerful, or is it just getting more horribly daring? you mentioned the attacks last
year. they also launched a major attack on the karachi airport in june. >> i think they're getting more and more desperate. i think over the last couple of years in pakistan the government, at least, there was a whole, about a year's worth of at least trying to engage in some kind of a dialogue with the taliban. it was a ridiculous notion. especially in the way that it was pursued. but what those--what that process did was if helped split up the original ttp into a number of factions. so i think there is both disunity in their ranks and there is also desperation. clearly what happened was desperate. unfortunately, we were bracing for more desperation. the tiger, the more they're squeezed the more desperate they will become. the question is how much space we will leave in discourse for
that kind of thing. for many of us in pakistan it will be about shutting down the oxygen in terms of the discourse. there just can't be any more room for confusion or duplicity in our national discourse. >> let's hope that they unite and figure out a way of fighting this, because a tragedy like this is just, again, as i said, inconceivable. good of you to join us. we wish you the best. >> keep us in your prayers. thanks. >> "consider this" will be right back.
>> is waterboarding torture. in the wake of last week's release of the report on the >> is ward boarding torture. 69% of americans believe it is. even so, 49% think aggressive tactics are sometimes justified while only 36% say they are never justified. meanwhile, former vice president dick cheney remained defiant, strongly defending the harsh
interrogation techniques. and the author of the torture memos used for man by many for the enhanced interrogation techniques reports that many went beyond what was authorized. bruce, good to have you with us. we'll start by listening to dick cheney on "meet the press." >> for 13 years we avoided another mass attack against the united states. we did capture bin laden and senior guys of al-qaeda who were responsible for that attack on 9/11. i would do it again in a minute. >> in essence he's saying the ends justify the means. what is your reaction to that? >> there is no justification for committing torture and crimes that maybe you had a pleasant result. the fact is that there are
certain prohibitions that we undertake because of who we are as a people. the torture convention that we ratified as a treaty make no exceptions with regards to torture. same with regards to slavery. even if we enslaved some of the al-qaeda people and thought that enslaving them would deter others from joining, it still does not make it legal. it would still be criminal. mr. cheney seems to think that the reason why we haven't had another terrorist attack here is because we flouted the law, because we violated the prohibitions on torture. there is no reason to believe that that's true. our constitution is not a suicide pact. there are ample influence, ample available tools by which we can throughout and prevent terrorism. that's what prevented the additional terrorist attacks. if anything serves as a recruiting tool to the international terrorist and makes the problem more
difficult, not less. >> as we know cheney is not alone here. three former cia directors agree with him. they say what was done was not torture and it did produce intelligence. jails woolsey defended waterboarding by saying this. >> if you want to call onward boarding torture, which some people do, and some do not. there is no single official answer to that, most u.s. law would not call it torture. >> he went on to say that there is no long-term health impact to the person from the effects of the interrogation. like pulling someone's nails out. then it's not torture. legally, does he have a point? >> no, for example, on waterboarding the torture statutes specifically prohibits or defines as mental torture simulated death. the purpose of waterboarding is to make the victim the person who is the subject of waterboarding to fear death from
drowning. those are the specific words from the torture prohibition. when it becomes questionable whether waterboarding is tortu torture, we prosecuted japanese forward boarding americans. how is it torture if japanese do it but not if we do it. >> they argue that it was different, that it was a safer version. let's go on to waterboarding. there were harsh actions taken. rectal feeding, being forced to stand on broken limbs. they said that people who did this are at risk legally because they were acting outside of their orders.
could those people--are they at risk legally? could they be prosecuted? >> well, under the statute everybody is at risk. even those who got some kind of approval from the justice department under the statute that john mccain authored, still, that's just a partial justification. the reliance upon the legal memo has to be reasonable, and something that an objective person would believe is plausible. but if we go beyond that and say where, if they haven't gotten legal approval from the justice department could they still be prosecuted? the answer is yes. the law does not say that you have to get approval from the justice department before you do something. that is automatically illegal. certainly they're at greater vulnerability. the statute of limitations is typically five years. maybe with regard to torture you want to lift the statute of
limitations. i don't think there would be a problem with ex-toe fact toe laws of that sort, torture is an uniform crime, and any nation who wants to exert jurisdiction may do so. >> the obama administration has said that the noise they made is they will not proces prosecute. i should bring up that supreme court justice scalia has come out on this. he said, listen, i think it's very fasel for people to say torture is terrible. you pause at a situation where you know a person knows where the nuclear bomb has been planted in los angeles and will kill millions of people. you think it's an easy question? you think you would not use
extreme measures to get that information out that have person? that's an extreme case. >> it shows how ridiculous the argument is. because that extreme case never occurred. certainly not during the enhance the interrogation techniques that were utilized by the cia. we've stopped them for seven years, and we haven't had a disaster, have we? there is no one who said that since 2007 when we stop them we lost all sorts of vital intelligence. that's non-existent. if you have to make up an extreme case that has never happened ever in the history of the world, it shows you on what thin ice you are skating. >> similar argue--some would argue in the philippines case, the use of case that torture ended up foiling a plot. but i want to get one final question in to you. an len dersherwitz, a fellow harvard law school fellow, he
said that torture may in some cases be warranted. and maybe we should develop laws that gives torture warrants so that if there is an extreme case that you would go to the judge and ask for permission. >> well, then he needs to change the law. right now the convention against torture to make zero exceptions for it, zero. he needs to convince people that the law needs to be changed. you don't get to decide that the law is not a good idea and flout it. the way in which you have civilized government is that you need to change the law and convince the majority and legislators that the law needs to be changed. the torture convention is not ambiguous. we ratified that law and we can't decide to disregard it because the president, dick
cheney or alan dersherwitz chooses to disregard it. >> a pleasure to have you with us. thank you. >> thank you. >> turning to the stand off in sydney, australia. for 16 hours 17 hostages could be seen through the window with their armed raised or holding a black flag demonstrating a muslim profession of faith. thin shortly after 2:00 a.m. tuesday morning the police heard a loud bang and reacted by storming in that hostages fled. two of the hostages and the gunmen were killed. the suspect, man haron monis, appears to have acted alone, but he has had a big presence on social media. a group that says that works to combat extremism by counting their narrative, david, great to have you with us. >> thank you.
>> you said recently we're only starting to recognize how far ahead extremists are in social media. we invented this stuff. why are we having so much trouble dealing with the threat they pose on social media? >> i think it's the application. the application of the ideology. extremism has been around for a very long time, and so have counter-extremist efforts. but the extremists are far head for using social media platforms for their efforts, propagandize and spread their message. >> do you think it has a role in motivating people like monis d to do what he did? >> yes, i do believe it has a role. developing clearinghouses where individuals can go to report
accounts that have been suspended, then they create a new account to take its place. they have current attacks against groups like us. >> the clearinghouses are telling people where to go. >> where to go. >> if an u.s. company has managed to take down their account? >> exactly and how to counterattack groups like counter extreme projects and undermine our efforts. part of the problem is that social media platforms like twitter, google and facebook have not developed strategies and are not responsive enough to experts coming to them saying this is a real problem. we need you to do more. >> what would you like them to do? there are obviously many complaints to twitter and facebook about accounts of all sorts that people think they should pull down. are they not paying enough attention to issues of extremism? >> absolutely. all complaints aren't the same. all objectible activity on social media is not the same. if you have people inciting
violence, recruiting jihadi efforts and someone flags that information, that account, it should be treated differently and in an expedient manner. >> your group has demanded twitter to take action and stop them from doing this. and this guy, man horan monis, he was very active on social media. he wrote: >> doesn't twitter and facebook--why don't they put you at the top of the line given these things can incite violence? >> this is something that we would like them to do, to give groups like cep who are experts preferring status. too often we look at activity on social media as just recruitment, isis saying come to syria and fight with us. these types of activities that we're seeing now in australia,
it becomes a sounding board and echo chamber where he can feed his animosity and hate and the outcomes are just as bad. >> it makes the individual, the lone wolf more extreme because of the fact that they can post all this and get the kind of feedback online? >> absolutely. they gain more followers. they get new ideas. >> thesthis guy had a lot of followers. he had a facebook page that that had been taken down, but not before it had 14,700 likes. again, it would seem something like that would come to the attention of the american companies. so why--why is it not happening? there is just too much out there? >> it may be that there is certainly a lot of propaganda out there and they have a lot of complaints. they have not prioritized this, and there is also an argument on the other side that we need to track those individuals and not report them. there is a point there, but we see that as a crimina critical
mass where people are participating in violent acts. >> what do you think about that argument? that argument has been made, this is a way of tracking some of these guys, and that it could help us prevent violence because it does give us an entry into the way of thinking and what they may be planning to do? >> i think there is validity to the argument that there is intelligence an and imperative to track these individuals. at some point these individuals who are violent will commit violent acts, and we have interrupt that cycle where it goes from writ rick to violent action. . you once this account was taken down, others came down because they were afraid.
>> one that acted as a reprisal. >> from his rhetoric, strategy and online tactic there is were other cells that grew and pro live rated. >> that is getting a lot of foreign fighters to go to the middle east to take up arms for the struggle there. thank you for being with us. that's on important topic. >> thank you for having me. >> we'll be back with more of "consider this." primetime news. >> welcome to al jazeera america. >> stories that impact the world, affect the nation and touch your life. >> i'm back. i'm not going anywhere this time. >> only on al jazeera america.
hundreds of thousands of yazidi refugees continue to suffer in kurdistan. right now there is no chance they can return to home when run out by isil. my next guess, the sole yazidi in iraq's parliament gained national attention when she made a plea. >> we're being slaughtered under the barn of there is no god but allah. 500 yazidi men have been slaughtered. our women have been taken as slaves and sold into slavery. please, brothers. >> for more i'm joined by the only yazidi member of iraq's parliament. she sustained injuries when a helicopter, an aid helicopter crashed while delivering supplies to yazidi refugees
besieged by isil. she's trying to do more to help the yazidis. thank you for being with us. i know you're struggling from your sen accident with the helicopter. you're still walking with a cane. you were there to help many people and now you're here in the united states to try and also get help for your people. you met with u.s. ambassador to united nations samantha power today. what help do you hope to get. >> thank you for this interview. yes, i was meeting with samantha powell today. we are speaking about many things , especially the yazidi people. i think it's good news to maybe
to help the yazidi people. >> what kind of help do you need now? >> we need two kinds of help now. humanitarian aids, and more military support. >> how bad is the situation for the yazidi women? i know you've spoken to some who are still left behind. the reports are horrible of how they've been treated by isil. >> yes. after there are 5,000 girls and men are kidnapped by isis. even now nobody does anything for those girls. the situation is very, very bad with those women and girls, our children. >> there are thousands more
yazidis who are still stuck on mount sinjar? >> yes, 1,200 families. about 6 or 7,000 people. >> how are they living there in the wintertime? >> i don't know really because it is wintertime. very cold weather without food, without --without tents, without blankets. only 20% of aid are received until few. >> it's incredible that they're receiving there. it's not even just the ones on mount sinjar. we have half million yazidis living as refugees mostly in kurdistan, how are they doing? >> when we spoke about the situation of the refugee
, we have a camp, but it's a very bad camp. very bad tents. not waterproof, not fireproof. the tents, it's on mud. maybe i can show you some pictures today or tonight of the situation of those refugees in the camp, in the different camps, it is very, very bad. it is very little, and it's not enough. another thing that is very, very important thing, the healthcare
for children, for women. >> terrible conditions. do you feel after the rescue on mount sinjar, that the world has forgotten the yazidis? >> i think that it may be before the yazidis. i think after this isis attack, i think most of the people , i think when i go back home that it's a very complex issue because it's not a problem only
with isis. those who grew up with isis are coming from outside. it is a small group. maybe two or three hundred. but the big problem, the big issue is that orvilleages ar other villages, our problem for our neighbor, for our friends, how can we go back to live in sinjar with those neighbors? >> because you still live in towns that had many sunnies, and those sunnies ended up helping isil. that was one of the problems, and of course you have that in the future, where will the yazidis be able to live. i wish you the best in your efforts. it is a horrible tragedy that
has fallen on your people, and i do hope that something is done to help. thank you. >> thank you. >> "consider this" will be right back. >> a crisis on the border... >> thery're vulnarable... these are refugees... >> migrent kids flooding into the u.s. >> we're gonna go and see josue who's just been deported... >> why are so many children fleeing? >> your children will be a part of my group or killed... >> fault lines, al jazeera america's hard hitting... >> today they will be arrested... >> ground breaking... they're firing canisters of gas at us... emmy award winning investigative series... fault lines no refuge: children at the border only on al jazeera america
to 86 colleges. some are starting to worry that this all may be causing american young minds more harm than good. joining us now is thomas frank and has written about education for salon and other publication. you know, for the longest time the notion was if a school advertised it wasn't a school you wanted to go to. the good ones didn't need to do that kind of thing. i've got a college high school senior next year, and these are the e-mails i've been flooded with. at one point yesterday, times from the best colleges in the country to some you have never heard of. one school offered to fly her to the campus. why are these colleges try something hard to recruit applicants? >> one thing that you have keep
in mind. that was interesting if a school has to advertise then you know it's not any good. there was a time when we said the same thing about lawyers and other professions. what you see is an institution that you once regarded as part of the america tocacy, above the ugly demands and has become predatory. i think that's pretty much across the board. if you examine the way universities behave, private schools, some public schools as well. but pretty much across the board they behave like predatory institutions. >> i will forward you that e-mail, and i'm telling you, it was a good college. but you're talking about this
competitive, vicious circle, colleges trying to attract students with gentleman could youciescould jacuzzis. you wrote a pretty strong statement that it's a ripoff on too many levels of too many victims. >> i don't think loans are at fault. we had student loans before this whole thing got out of control. we had the g.i. bill in the 1940s. we know when the tuition spiral took off, it was 1981, and student loans have been around before that. i don't think that's the cause. i want to go back to what you were saying about university spending money on frivolous things, which is, of course, true. and news pales of these outrages in the news all the time. there was one of colleges
building a lazy river. you know what this is? it's like a slow-moving swimming pool. okay, now everybody has to have one, right? and you sit i in a an inner tube and ride on this thing. but there is one aspect that they're not spending money on and they're going in the other direction on, it's the most important aspect of the college experience, professor, the education. these are people who have been essentially deprofessionalized just in a matter of 20 years. >> is this about the colleges acting as competitive options, you know, trying to be as high as they can on the best colleges list that are published every year? because if they get more applicanted obviously they're getting more money, but then that looks better because their acceptance rate goes down. it seems that they're going after applicanted they know they're never going to accept. >> yes, that's probably right.
i often find that in these situations the most mercenary and cynical explanation is so frequently the one that turns out to be right. all i know about this is what i read in the newspapers, and yes, they're trying to--if they can get those numbers of applicanted up, and then deny a whole bunch of them, it bumps their score of best ranking of best colleges. it has an announcing authority over what high schoolers value and where parents want to send their children, this list of best colleges in america. yes, it will bump their ratings there. >> what will it do for their high school students? you wrote that higher education is the industry that sells tickets to an affluent life? do kids apply to college in the desperate hope of getting that all-important ticket to the
affluent life? >> this is the only ticket to the middle class. or upper middle class that our society acknowledges any more. once upon a time you worked your way up. but today the only credential that matters is the college diploma. it has little to do with what you learn from college. it has more about the college brand signifier. you know, the sticker that you put on the rear window of your suv. that's what matters. colleges, high school students know this. they know they have to get into college and in to a better college, the better off they'll be somewhere down the road. and they essentially have no power in the this sort of negotiation, right? where this manifests it is, the awful way in which this all turns out you graduate these classes of students who are
$30,000 in debt. $40,000 in debt. these are people just starting out their lives as adults with the same kind of debt if you bought a house. >> and some people with more than that. it's an important topic, and it's certainly changing. thomas, good to have you. thanks. >> any time. >> we'll be back with more of "consider this." >> start with one issue ad guests on all sides of the debate. and a host willing to ask the tough questions and you'll get... the inside story ray suarez hosts inside story weekdays at 5pm et / 2pm pt only on al jazeera america
>> church going is on the decline in much of america and in a free fall in western europe. but the desire to travel to a sacred place and experience a transcend ant moment is happening every year. following american pilgrims making spiritual journeys , and follows america's wounded warriors in france. there staff sergeant rodan, who
had been badly wounded in iraq, found peace. >> the most beautiful experience that i had while here was when we went to the grato. >> every year thousands take part of bathing and renewal. >> they put me inside the water. as soon as they placed that water over my head i felt a sense of relief. i don't know how to explain that, but it's incredible. that changed me completely. >> for more on these remarkable journeys i'm joined by bruce filer. "sacred journeys" aired tuesday on pbs and online. thankgreat to have you with us. >> thank you. >> you 200 million go every year, why the seeming contradiction.
>> i think there is a correlation. for many centuries our religion was handed to us. where we live and who we married was handed to us. religious identity is much more fluid. we know half of americans will change faith in their lives. four in ten americans are in " in inter faith marriage. you get up and you decide for yourself what you believe. >> what were these americans doing? were they going to express their faith? or were they going to find it? >> the answer is yes, all sorts of things. i went on six of these pilgrimages, india, mecca. you see people in moments of transition. they're just graduating from school, lost a parent, lost a job. you see people going through a divorce, retiring. it is in those moments of transition that people open
their up to something higher. some people are going to walk in the footsteps and have that sort of experience. other people are not. we have a couple that we meet who just graduated from medical school. >> in japan. >> yes, in japan on a buddhist track. they said, we are people of science. we're not people of faith. >> many people have heard of jerusalem and mecca. you went to japan, and also to india, the biggest of all . >> to me the one mentioned in nigeria was the eye opening. >> one that i never heard of. >> most of the slaves that came to the united states were taken from this one part of west africa, and a lot of tradition decisions have lived in african-americans. now you have african-americans going back to reclaim their cultural identity. as one priest says to us, we
left africa, but africa never left us. >> now these pilgrimage s, if if you have back to history, were not for the faint of heart. it was rough and sometimes you had to beg for food in some of these places. some have said that there is a disney edification at some of these events. mecca has hotels, some of the most expensive in the world. has that changed the experience for pilgrims. >> if you were with me you wouldn't have thought that the food was that good. suffering is part of it. even in mecca you may be buying your way in to a fancy hotel room, it's rigorous and demanding. some on foot. the people aren't always generous, but that's part of it. if you look at the scriptural
part through all this. when we're fat, happy and comfortable, who needs this. but when we need it we open up to something higher in our lives. >> you had made a 10,000-mile pilgrimage of your own. you wrote "walking the bible," and it became a pbs series. you traveled for a long time. you wrote that at one point in your journey "i began to feel a certain pull from the landscape, a feeling of gravity, a feeling that i wanted to take off all my clothes and lie face down on the soil." now you're jewish, you went to these sites. did you feel any particular tug, any particular spiritual moment? >> i always thought of myself as a bungee cord. i would pop out and bounce back, pop out and then bounce back. being in the middle east the bungee cord was caught.
knowing that these are connected. there are all these special places where the universe opens in some way, and we're attracted to that. what i've taken away from all these pilgrimages is we don't have to sit back and accept what the institution or the people on the high mountain tell us. we're called to decide for ourselves what we believe. there is only one way to do that. get up off the sofa and go. >> it's been great to have you with us. >> thank you. >> again, "sacred journeys" on pbs . we're on facebook and twitter and you can tweet me @amora >> consider this: the news of the day plus so much more. >> we begin with the growing controversy. >> answers to the questions no one else will ask. >> real perspective, consider this