North Carolina ‘moral Mondays’ protests gathering steam

The North Carolina State legislature is in recess, but a civil disobedience movement against the state government is going strong.

The “Moral Mondays” movement is on the road now, this time in Asheville. City Councilman Cecil Bothwell joins the Sex, Politics, and Religion Hour to discuss what’s expected to be the largest turnout for the weekly protests thus far. He also explains that there are few signs of North Carolinians curtailing their civil disobedience.


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Filibusterer Wendy Davis in DC

The Texas State Senator who filibustered her way onto the national stage a month ago made a stop in Washington, DC at the National Press Club.

VOR’s Jamila Bey was there, and took the time to talk with two of Davis’s colleagues who assisted her during the 13 hour effort to block Governor Rick Perry’s restrictive abortion law: Texas Senator Leticia Van de Putte, famous for inquiring “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?”, and Texas Senator Rodney Ellis, who helped Davis into her back brace during her effort.

They spoke about their hopes for the future of Texas politics.


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An International Conference on Creationism?

Creationists gathered this weekend in Pittsburgh to share resources and help more people to understand that the earth is thousands of years old, that God created it, and that “Evil-outionists” are to be distrusted because they simply don’t know everything.

VOR’s Jamila Bey went into the fiery furnace of anti-Darwinist thought to converse with Kevin Anderson of the Creationist Research Society and Henry Smith, Jr. of the Associates for Biblical Research about why they’re certain that a Christian biblical scientific worldview is correct.


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Pentagon Papers Lawyer: Manning Trial Shows Obama “Terrible” for Press Freedom

With the verdict in the Bradley Manning trial earlier this week, many have expressed concern that the conviction might chill the practice of whistleblowing… and even the practice of journalism.

We have been here before with the release of confidential information to the New York Times back in the early 70’s. indeed many have compared Manning to that of Daniel Ellsberg who released those Pentagon papers the Times started publishing in 1971. Chief counsel for the New York Times during the Pentagon Papers incident, James Goodale, has written that the Manning verdict – and likely harsh sentencing – sets a “bad precedent” for whisteblowers and journalists, especially when put in the context of the way the government is handling the cases of Wikileaks and James Rosen, the Fox News reporter who reported on a leak about North Korea’s nuclear plan. He argues that when it comes to press freedom, President Obama is even worse than Richard Nixon.


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Rise of the Warrior Cop: the Militarization of America’s Police Forces

Senior writer for the Huffington Post Radley Balko joins Jamila and co-host Ed Brayton to discuss his book on the state of policing in America.

Balko says he’s hoping to spark a larger conversation and some questions about policy that’s put SWAT teams in more and more police jurisdictions around the country, this despite proof that they overreach in their scope and, frankly, do not tend to deter or prevent crime.

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Will US return to Jim Crow era of Southern justice?

Author and media critic Amy Alexander has written a dissection of the Zimmerman verdict and its provocative title strikes to the heart of what some African-Americans fear greatly about the current era: a return to the Jim Crow era of Southern justice in which black people can receive no fairness.

Host Jamila Bey spoke with Alexander to discuss the verdict and what it means in terms of social intercourse and how black Americans exist in this country.


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Texas state rep. introduces new bill to combat freshly signed abortion law

Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed into law on Thursday a controversial bill that will ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and impose new restrictions on abortion clinics in the Lone Star State.

The bill drew hundreds and even thousands to the Texas state capital in recent weeks as opponents tried to stop the state’s conservatives from passing a measure that protesters said would harm the state’s women.

Host Jamila Bey spoke with Texas State Rep. Harold Dutton, author of HB 45, which stipulates that the abortion law would not go into effect until 60 days after Texas stops executing people, to discuss the law and his new bill.


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Secularists defend philanthropy efforts against misreporting

Philanthropy among those who are non-religious has gotten a bit of a boon of late. Despite magazine reporting to the contrary, the Foundation Beyond Belief has just hit a million dollar fundraising mark.

Host Jamila Bey and co-host Ed Brayton spoke with Sarah Morehead, head of the Recovering from Religion Foundation, and Todd Stiefel, founder of the Stiefel Freethought Foundation, to discuss doing good for goodness’ sake.

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‘Moral Monday’ arrests could bankrupt one NC county, councilman says

The civil disobedience movement that has been taking place weekly in North Carolina is marching on as hundreds of protestors speak out against what they consider harmful measures by the state legislature.

From restrictions on women’s health to not extending benefits to the unemployed and cutting Medicaid, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and other measures that could keep North Carolinians fed and medicated, the GOP-led legislature is under harsh criticism by its residents.

Host Jamila Bey spoke with Asheville City Councilman Cecil Bothwell and Melissa Price-Kromm, director for North Carolina Voters for Clean Elections, to discuss the issues facing the state. Bey also spoke with protesters Tom Colson and Elizabeth Ann Beckert to discuss how the issues will affect them.

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Experts: Imprisoned and vulnerable should never be subjected to medical experimentation

Between 2006 and 2010, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ordered doctors to perform tubal ligation surgeries on women who were deemed likely to become repeat offenders while they were pregnant, violating prison rules and a ban in California of forced sterilizations, according to a new report by the Center for Investigative Reporting.

Host Jamila Bey spoke with Dr. Matthew Butkus, a medical ethicist at McNeese State University; Dr. Danielle Lee, an evolutionary biologist and expert in the history of African-American interaction with science and medicine; Allen Hornblum, author of “Acres of Skin: Human Experiments at Holmesburg Prison” and the recently published, “Against Their Will: The Secret History of Medical Experimentation on Children in Cold War America;” and Carmen Russell-Sluchansky, chief legal and political correspondent with the Voice of Russia American Edition; to discuss the history of sterilization in the U.S. and how the Supreme Court has actually historically upheld the concept.

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To read the story by the Center for Investigating Reporting, click here.

To listen to our interview with the story’s reporter, click here.

New book finds parallels between current US military sex misconduct and WWII

In her new book called “What Soldiers Do: Sex and the American GI in World War II France,” historian Mary Louise Roberts uncovered the history of sexual improprieties of U.S. troops as they liberated France, and tells the story about how the U.S. military stood silent as troops took women as spoils of war.

In addition, the black American soldiers who were present on the front often were accused of rape and many were tried and executed on foreign soil within mere days of allegations.

Host Jamila Bey spoke with Roberts to talk about her book, the tales that haven’t been discussed in nearly 70 years and the startling parallels to modern day allegations of military sexual misconduct.

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The idea and the knowledge that there was a problem with U.S. troops and sexual impropriety in WWII, particularly in France, that’s not a story that many of us have ever heard about. How did you come upon this?

I was a French historian and I was a little frustrated with the way American historians tell the story of Normandy. They completely leave the French out of the picture. And if you think about films like “Saving Private Ryan,” they could be liberating any country- there’s nothing French about that. SO I was interested in bringing the French into the picture and I thought it would be fun to look at the ways in which the Americans look at the French and vice versa. So I started looking at documents in Normandy that had just opened up to the public. Those government archives are closed for sixty years in France and I discovered the sexual misbehavior. Somewhat shocking for me. I had the same visions of Normandy as everyone else of heroic men rescuing French women.

This is pretty anathema: the idea that U.S. troops behaved poorly in any way. That U.S. troops were sexual aggressors in some cases. What exactly went on when these men many of whom had fathers who fought in WWI and talked about the nature of French women and who encouraged their sons to go and enjoy France.

The problem that the U.S. military had in the European Theater was how to motivate the men. Unlike Japan who had attacked the Unites States, in the Pacific Theater, the men were motivated to fight the Japanese and to liberate the Philippines and places like that. But in the European Theater it was a different story because there was no racialized discourse of the Germans. They were a white European people and there was no real reason to rescue France in the same way that there was to fight the Japanese. So the U.S. military played on those old stereotypes of WWI servicemen coming back and talking about French brothels and what a sexy place it was. And I discovered this by looking at “Stars and Stripes,” the military newspaper. The way they were in great part motivating the G.I.s was to present France as a place where French women were waiting for rescue and would reward them. So what happened was that when the French did that, they produced a “tsunami” of American G.I. lust, and as a result the U.S. military realized that maybe the sex thing was getting a little out of control. There was a wave of rape in the summer 1944 in Normandy and there was also a lot of misbehavior in port towns; a lot of prostitution a lot of sex outside, sex in parks and cemeteries and abandoned building. So the initial drive to interest G.I.s in rescuing France in sexual terms kind of turned into a situation the U.S. military couldn’t handle.

You begin the book with the exchange between French and U.S. authorities discussing the problem. But the U.S. didn’t want to be seen as sanctioning prostitution or other licentious behavior.

If you were living in a place like La Havre, that’s a port town where a lot of G.I.s came in and out of that French port and you could not take a walk in a park, you could not visit your mother’s grave. You could not even walk down the street and I’m including children without seeing a sexual deed- without seeing a G.I. having sex with a woman. That is how overrun the town was with prostitution.

So I found this amazing correspondence in the municipal archives of La Havre between the mayor and the American commander. The mayor asked, “Couldn’t you create a regulated brothel?” He just wanted to get the guys out of town! And he wanted to make sure that it was medically supervised so that the women who were prostitutes would not get venereal diseases. And he was summarily turned down by the American commander. Because, if the U.S. military institutionalized sexual labor, then at home they would find out. And ironically, so that American sweethearts and wives could be kept from the knowledge of prostitutes the French people had to deal with it visually every day.

The U.S. troops were told that they should be mindful of encounters with French women and prostitutes in rather strong terms. What did the rates of sexual disease look like?

The U.S. army did not care if the G.I.s had sex with people. They cared that the G.I.s not contract venereal disease. This is 1944, only months before penicillin is starting to be widely used. No sooner do the U.S. servicemen arrive in France than venereal diseases start to soar. Again, they didn’t care about the women, but they just cared about the soldiers getting diseases because it would be time away from the line. There were some officials who believed it was the top military medical problem. So a lot of the effort to control prostitution was an effort to control the health of the American soldier.

The idea that women were fully human and not spoils of war to be enjoyed was a notion that would take decades longer to gain wider support.

Yes, but I also think it was a colonial mindset. In fact this is why I became interested in the whole issue of sexual misbehavior. I was interested in that blind spot that they treated the French so badly in this one respect. The relations between Americans and French were good in many ways but that aspect of sexual exploitation of women was really about power and dominance. I shaped the relationship between the nations and showed the U.S. as a rising global superpower asserting a new dominance over the European continent.

Black soldiers were overwhelmingly blamed for the rapes and misconduct that went on.

Yes. I found the documents that show this transition from worrying about the unruly American G.I. in the summer and fall of 1944 and needing to make it a so-called “Negro problem” and not an American problem. Because the American mission was to rescue France from Nazi oppression, and France at that time was mostly women, an even greater myth was the damsel in distress. So they didn’t want the sexual misbehavior to ruin that myth, and obviously an army that rapes will undermine that myth. So increasingly the U.S. army decides to disproportionately charge African-American men with accusations of rape, and to use those false accusations to create the notion that sexual misbehavior and sexual violence was a black problem not an American problem.

The trials were quick and these men were hung. But the French had a problem with executions by hanging.

The Jim Crow South was brought to France. Not only were many black men falsely accused, but they were also executed in disproportionate amounts. In the land of the guillotine, it was hard to find a person who would execute via hanging, so they literally brought in someone from Texas to do the job. And a lot of that was symbolic. It’s pretty obvious to anyone who knows the history of lynching that the idea was to equate rape with lynching in France and to scare African American soldiers.

But there was collusion between the French and the Americans in terms of these accusations of rape.

I’m not the first to research this topic, but most people have ascribed these rape accusations simply to the U.S. military and its racism. That is true. But the French women were the people who brought the accusations. And I had to disabuse the idea that France was an oasis of racial tolerance particularly in this period. The age of Josephine Baker. I found a bit of racism in Normandy, a provincial area, unlike Paris which is cosmopolitan. They were hysterically afraid of African American soldiers. They projected a great deal of the prejudices they had of people of African descent which were based on France as colonizer of African countries. Then they were humiliated and hysterical with fear about having a war in their backyard. They projected all that onto African American men. And I believe that many of the accusations were false. But it was more complicated than the racism of the U.S. military.

Activists takes off on ride to promote women’s right to choose

Activist and author Sunsara Taylor is embarking on a Freedom Ride from North Dakota, through Kansas and down to Mississippi to call attention to the need for the protection abortion rights in the U.S.

She’s running an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the project run in conjunction with

Host Jamila Bey spoke with Taylor to discuss her efforts.


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