Samantha Power’s Human Rights

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S1: The following recording may contain explicit language I can’t get more explicit than May.

S2: With literacy it may be It’s Tuesday October twenty ninth 2019. From Slate’s The Gist I’m Mike Pesca.

S3: Earlier this month Melinda Gates announced a 1 billion dollar grant toward expanding women’s power and influence in the United States. She wrote in time of her goal to see more women in the position to make decisions control resources and shape policies and perspectives.

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S1: In this video she got to a little more detail.

S4: First we need to dismantle the barriers that prevent women from advancing professionally things like stereotypes about women and girls in the media and sexual harassment in workplaces Second we need to expand pathways to enter and fast track advancement for women into positions of leadership in the sectors with the biggest impact on our society including entrepreneurship politics and technology. Third we need to amplify external pressure on institutions that can change the status quo. Helping people raise their voices and demand equality now.

S5: One institution that has tried to change its status quo is Congress with its rule disallowing relationships between congressional members and their subordinates. I think we could all get on board with that. Even Melinda Gates who is in a position to give a grant to advance such work as addressing inherent power imbalances and workplace relationships why again. Here she talks about that magic moment back in 1987.

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S6: So it turned out his mom knew somebody who was on the board at Microsoft. It was on the board sorry at Duke. And so I guess he’d been asking for kind of some information about me. He knew I worked at Duke. I’ve gone to Duke and then came to work at Microsoft. So we’re working on a Saturday. I worked in a different building but I guess we’d parked somewhere near each other. And I was coming out of the building and so was he out of his building and he struck up a conversation and we started talking and then this was on a Saturday and he said he finally kind of got around he said What would you would you go out with me. You know two weeks from Friday night and I’m like two weeks from Friday night who knows their calendar that far out I go okay.

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S5: So that’s a little bit of light stocking via the Duke connection by the mom. But who wouldn’t be enthralled by this charismatic devil here’s a clip of Bill Gates.

S7: In 1987 1987 is an exciting year for graphics interface. The increased popularity of the interface has meant that the sales of the Macintosh have been accelerating as well as all the great software that sold on Macintosh.

S5: In 1987 Bill Gates was the chairman and CEO of a company Microsoft then with three hundred forty five million dollars in sales that had almost 2000 employees. One of those a mid-level employee was Melinda. So Melinda Gates now a hypocrite. No that is not how relationships work are we all hypocrites today. Now times have changed. Is Congress writing impossible to enforce rules for itself. I don’t know. They do seem an improvement on the easy to enforce total lack of rules that came before as did a lack of decorum. I think what we’re seeing with the example of Katie Hill is an enforcement of decorum and that’s not always easy. That’s not always agreed upon a consequence of a rigid system which is built to be rigid which is built without nuance and which is built without exceptions in mind. Billionaire philanthropist Melinda Gates is someone who benefited from a different set of rules but who we don’t see are the very many non beneficiaries of those rules. There were victims and there are still victims. I just don’t know the Katie Hill neatly falls into that category.

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S1: On the show today I will expand upon and modify my remarks. The Society for the defense and preservation of Katie Hill the minutes of their meetings are actually right there within Katie Hill’s Twitter feed. But first it is part two of my interview with the former ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power yesterday Syria. Today the world. Wait that is a quote of Vladimir Putin. So yesterday we heard from former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations former Obama Security Council member for human rights former Pulitzer Prize winning author Samantha Power.

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S5: Yes just one person in this interview. I start by asking her about her work in the study of preventing atrocities. And I wondered if she or others in academics or the government went back went back past the point of when the atrocity occurred back into the future and tried to isolate points and figure out which kinds of states might become states where atrocities occur and what can we do to intervene before.

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S8: Yeah I mean I’m cautious about use of the word intervene because I feel like nobody even knows what it means anymore. I think you’re meeting something about military intervention which you know post.

S9: TRUMP Well I mean well the tools to all the tools actually talk about like right like we look at Serbia and Bosnia and Croatia and trudge Mia and Milosevic were at each other and is there a tell. Is there a point where a study would say OK once things go bad from this point more likely than not you you’re going to get these sort of mass graves. I don’t know if there is. I don’t know.

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S8: Definitely there’s a huge. There are there’s a substantial academic literature. I think that in social science that looks at the set of factors that tend to predate crises that give rise to mass atrocities or genocide that exists. A couple things. I mean first I give examples in the book again of looking at the circumstances in the country of Sudan and recognizing that ahead of time there’s a referendum that’s going to happen. You know just to treason in the referendum the people of South Sudan who’ve been genocide by the government are going to vote shockingly to leave Sudan. And knowing that we know that the Sudanese government was going to try to stop that. That’s an a try. We’re in an Atrocity Prevention moment even though it hasn’t come to that. Like there’s not even a ballot box that’s been created or passed around. So we’re know a year and a half out even from the date of that referendum. And so that’s an example of looking ahead at some of those factors for example a history of mass atrocity can be a preview of future mass atrocity scarce resources climate change has been a major factor in sort of shrinking the pie. And then you see more tension and you know as we see even in Western democracies a temptation to kind of blame the other how it whether that’s defined religiously politically ethnically and a tendency on the part of politicians to demagogue on the basis of the other. But then a middle that is sort of back drops or steady state conditions. You tend to have some event that is a trigger. And so in South Sudan you had all of what I’ve just described. But then you had the knowledge that there was a trigger a coup can be a trigger for example so something you can’t predict but occasionally in an example like I’ve offered you can’t predict. And so you know in that instance as I tell in the book is The book is not only a story of Syria and Libya by the means it’s a very personal story an immigrant store and all the rest.

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S10: But it’s also a story of African republic of examples where where we’re doing all of this and it doesn’t make the headlines and tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of lives are saved. And indeed it not only does not make the headlines. It doesn’t deal with the underlying problems that give rise to a potential mass atrocity crisis in the first place so it doesn’t solve the problem.

S8: To be clear but as a policymaker your choices do you try to save lives. And then at the same time try to put in place the elements of a long game that’s aimed at dealing with the underlying factors that give rise to atrocity in the first place. So South Sudan is an example of that Central African Republic Ivory Coast.

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S10: There are other I mean because of the crisis of confidence I think now about U.S. leadership in the world. You know I also spend a lot of time talking about the response to the Ebola epidemic which is not a mass atrocity but ultimately was a circumstance in which ahead of time we knew from the epidemiologists that one point four million people were going to get infected with Ebola at that time 70 to 80 percent of those infected were dying. So that could have been you know close to a million people killed by this kind of ravaging horrible disease. And in in the face of that instead of bucking and battling to the politics in this country which were terrible on Ebola President Obama sent U.S. troops and health workers into the eye of the epidemic empowering me Secretary Kerry and others to mobilize a global coalition to get Cuban doctors to deploy and Malaysian the Malaysian government had to send rubber gloves and the Japanese government to build hams hazmat suits that were less hot in the equatorial sun and the Chinese government which wants to be a major player on the global stage for the first time being involved in a central way in a big humanitarian response. And and I think those examples are also really worth bearing in mind because the question of how stability is going to be achieved or preserved by the world as a whole and what role the United States has to play in that conversation is very much up for grabs right now in a way it hasn’t been in in our lifetimes.

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S9: Do you think the word genocide has been overused by activists and is there a cost to that.

S8: I think it’s been overused. I think groups who experience grave injustice of whatever kind.

S11: I mean police violence mass incarceration I think now you’re seeing even in the climate change movement the idea that that corporations or governments are sort of complicit in genocide. I think when it’s when it’s that horrible as the things I’ve just described you want the most horrible word that that you can deploy in order to sort of generate as much attention as you can in order to deal with the underlying terrible mess.

S8: And so I completely understand it. But I think what ends up happening is that over time the word loses a bit of currency I suppose if it does get overused but it but I care less about that it’s more that we have enough that is impeding our path to dealing with climate change we want an expeditious set of coalitions and initiatives to be put in place that go well beyond even what the Obamas Australian put in place.

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S11: To me the way station of getting that label puts us in in an argument that is not actually helping us get to our destination so if I’m going to convince try to convince Republicans to return to science and to believe what’s in front of them calling what corporations are doing what they’re doing you know completing genocide isn’t helping me. And there are plenty of people already plenty motivated. Even some of them might look askance and say oh well I’m all for dealing with climate change. But I think that terminology is that right.

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S12: And so I’m going to spend some time or die in the Holocaust. Yeah I’m going to spend some time looking into that that you know.

S8: And so this isn’t just a point about genocide.

S11: I think it’s about labels generally which can mean different things to different people in the case of genocide so there actually is a legal definition and it’s a pretty high bar or a different bar than some of the things that I’ve described. So I think it can tend to be diversionary and can detract. I heard it used for example recently even in terms of what Turkish President Erdogan is doing within Turkey to political opposition. And what I said to the person who who’d used the term as I said I said you know you then for an American audience especially that may not be familiar what with all the terrible things that Erdogan is doing to his people they end up in their head thinking well wait. It certainly wasn’t like what Hitler did and so therefore if it’s not like what Hitler did maybe it isn’t so bad and it’s like surely that’s not our standard for what horrific state behavior is. And so I just think it’s it can be distracting and we have courts that grew up unfortunately they’re not at the height of their sort of reach and and legitimacy right now the International Criminal Court. But it was good in the 90s and in through the first decade of the 21st century to see institutions in place who would actually adjudicate the question of of you know where does ethnic cleansing and and genocide begin and to further refine in the public imagination. You know what belonged in that category. I mean sort of almost like third degree murder second degree murder first degree murder or even like what the Supreme Court has done on free speech and whether you can shout fire in a crowded theater. I mean you needed courts to have cases come before it to figure out where those lines were. But I don’t think it helps anybody in there in the area. In general I should say it. I think it’s. It doesn’t necessarily give you the boon that you seek in Roane seizing the label you love baseball.

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S13: Yes. Finally something that isn’t about my last book.

S9: So it seems to me that at different times or maybe currently you’ve been a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates the Boston Red Sox the Washington Nationals. Am I missing anyone. No. Do you think that being a fan of so many teams comports with your diplomatic resolve or background.

S13: I think it’s pathetic. I don’t I don’t think with a straight face I can defend it but I will try. I grew up a Pittsburgh Pirates fan I moved to Pittsburgh in 1979 just before the playoffs started just before the pirates made their run won the World Series. Baseball was my way of fitting in.

S8: I ran around the neighborhood with a big wad of big league chew in my cheek and I collected baseball cards and baseball stickers to remember those. I think they have those anymore and I a Topps pink gum and ruin my teeth at an early age.

S10: And it was all pirates all the time. I went to high school in Atlanta Georgia did not was not so fickle that I you know jumped on the Braves bandwagon or anything like cause this was the late 80s.

S12: This is this was 70s into 80s a soft journey with the Braves were terrible. Okay so the great the Rays were terrible but I but I really was.

S13: There was no close call indeed as you know the Braves and the pirates would square off in the playoffs back when Pittsburgh could compete with the bigger market teams. And so I would state a Pirates fan then I went to Bosnia. I moved to Boston went to law school there and ended up living in a place that was I worked at Harvard and in order to get home I had to drive on store drive right by Fenway Park every night. I became friends with Doris Kearns Goodwin the sort of another person who changed her loyalties or not changed her loyal supplemented her abilities.

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S12: Well it’s easy when the Dodgers no longer exist. That’s true. But you could you know some people follow them.

S13: W But but what I said at the time because I felt incredibly guilty at the time not least because it was like selling out a small market team for you know a team with with a huge payroll. And but what I said was I have an American League slot vacant OK. In my heart. So I had a national league. There was nobody was going to compete with the pirates and then I had this. So then occasionally that through interleague play the Red Sox and the pirates would play and you know I depended on who was where in the standings in terms of but I mean I I concede that this is borderline unethical. However what I will defend now is I have a 10 year old son and 7 year old daughter my 10 year old son feels about baseball a greater intensity of conviction and dedication than even me at my most obsessive and I’m somebody who listened to Red Sox Yankee games on a Thursday a satellite phone in Darfur.

S8: During the genocide regular season games and who went to spring training every year and I’m a big fan. I have nothing on my son who can actually tell you the score of every regular season. Washington Nationals game not even because he has a great memory but he has just well he must have a great memory but he he he has tracked it that carefully and so now I’m in a situation where as I think most parents can identify with I care much more about his happiness than my own and his happiness turns linearly on the fate of the Washington Nationals and so that I think is more defensible than and had than sort of hedging my bets between the two leaks.

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S9: But do you think that that in any way relates to your diplomatic outlook. No no no.

S13: It has to do with like raw conviction as it but evolving conviction. But I I don’t. When I meet people who who are similarly situated and you know and they’re like Oh I like the Cubs and the White Sox I’m like what you know or are.

S12: You know I live in Connecticut so I you know I’m happy. I mean most years the Yankees or the Red Sox will make will make the play why it isn’t safe.

S9: So your husband is Cass Sunstein who’s been on this show as I told you five times because he’s written 38 books or something more in the five here. Rose did the show you you write excellent books your first book called Wild to publish but I think to write in interviews I’ve heard about how you’ve labored over this one. Does the fact that he’s so prolific drive you crazy the fact that you’re living with this person who’s churning out book after book after book as you’re working on one pretty much I mean other things drive me more crazy.

S11: So in his handwriting you know like exactly and his slovenly ness more generally all of the order in Karzai’s life is in his brain and in his writing and teaching and the rest of the disorder is all externalized unfortunately in our home. But I think it can I say something amazing about him is that he went no matter what I write for what publication or no matter what draft I was on of this book and I’m a person who just writes draft after draft and edits and edits and that it’s and edits the same thing that makes him sort of scarily prolific and the same thing that has him filling every crevice of the day with productivity makes him the most agile speedy reader and editor. And so actually the thing that could drive me crazy in that I’m shamed by the fact that he’s done seven books in the time it took me to do one I benefit from that you know because he just he’s he’s just capable he’s so ambidextrous kind of in his ability to do multiple things at once and just be very thorough and very speedy at once I’ve never met anyone like him the education of an idealist a memoir by Samantha Power thank you so much for coming in.

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S9: Thank you.

S5: And now the spiel. Dan Savage on his savage love podcast talked a little about Katie Hill today I wanted to play you what I thought was an interesting part of that discussion.

S14: The antonym for a subordinate isn’t dominant either it’s superior but you know you can’t fuck up actually you can’t fuck your superior because that means they’re fucking subordinate you and that would be inappropriate. So don’t fuck up or down. Fuck only laterally or you know Don’t fuck people who work for you or people you work for or people you work with because you don’t want to be fucking someone with less power than you. Someone who may feel coerced or pressured just like punching down in comedy power is relative and there are power differentials that have nothing to do with our workplaces and forbidding sex or dating in the workplace. You could have the opposite of the intended effect because when it comes to sex forbidding something doesn’t always make people not want to do it then goes on says general rule members of Congress coupling with subordinates.

S5: Not a great thing but we shouldn’t act shocked when it happens. That’s true for many a walk of life a flat out ban on any subordinate having a relationship with anyone in a supervisory position would be unfeasible but for Congress that is the band they wanted to put in place for a few reasons. One would be to make their workplace relatively free of scandal very important for Congress and to there are the knowing aspects of having such a rule. The military has such a rule one can enforce strict codes when the participants in a workplace have few rights. Many colleges have such a code because they want to again signal to the world that they are foursquare against that sort of coupling. A university is an ideologically driven workplace that may be one of the few workplaces in the world that exists to be ideological. Even when the ideas aren’t logical. The question this raises is should every workplace have this rule. There is a move to say when relationships are based on power imbalances they are inherently coercive. I believe that is overbroad. That seems to be a bit of rhetoric that borrows from the world of theory that fails when applied in the world of the actual world. As Dan Savage says attraction exists independent from the corporate org chart. People have relationships with subordinates all the time. Sometimes they marry subordinates and when they do it’s a cute story about how they met not a horrible story of the perils of power imbalance. I agree with Dan it’s not necessarily unethical in many circumstances for a subordinate and a superior to couple. But if Katie Hill agrees with that premise she is doing nothing to fight for that cause I understand. I really do. What she’s doing is weighing less bad options and the stance she has decided to take is one of resignation coupled with indignation. Right now Katie Hill’s Twitter feed is filled with Katie Hill or whoever controls her feed linking to sympathetic articles and interviews. So here is some of what Katie Hill wants her Twitter followers to know. USA Today former rep Katie Hill’s defenders say it wasn’t the alleged affair as that brought her down. It was revenge porn. Well I want to be clear here. One of the affairs was alleged. One was confirmed and I think technically neither were affairs. I mean if all parties are on board not an affair. Katie Hill also wants you to know that Time magazine wrote an essay described as Katie Hill is the first millennial lawmaker to resign because of nudes. She won’t be the last couple of things here. She didn’t resign because of nudes. She resigned because the nudes revealed a relationship she herself called inappropriate and a lapse in judgment with a campaign staffer. Again not against the Code of Conduct of Congress but one that relationship with a campaign staffer. She did originally dismiss it as a smear. Then she admitted to it. Then she resigned over it. And by the way her resignation also pulls the plug on a congressional inquiry that might have cleared her or might not have. Now the other part of this description Katie Hill is the first millennial lawmaker to resign because of nudes is the word millennial. She’s not the first lawmaker to leave office because of nudes. Republican Joe Barton of Texas 69 years old at the time was subject to nude pictures of himself being circulated on Twitter in an attempt to shame him. He quickly announced he would not seek re-election. With that in mind when Anna north in Vox writes quote media outlets didn’t promote scrutiny of Al Franken body or of his sex life outside of misconduct allegations other male members of Congress who resigned after allegations like sexual misconduct such as Blake Farenthold or Representative John Conyers also have not seen their bodies plastered across Web sites when she writes that she ignores the fact that that’s exactly what happened to Joe Barton his nude photos with the genitals obscured ran in The Daily Mail and yet she goes on to assert everything about Hill’s story from the way it became public to the way the Daily Mail and other Web sites encourage readers to examine her naked body is inextricably tied to the fact that Hill is a woman except Joe Barton got the same exact treatment as a man. Vox then quotes Brianna Wu a candidate for Congress in Massachusetts and an advocate for privacy legislation as saying quote You can not even imagine this happening with a male Congressman except you can because it did to Joe Barton of Texas to allege sexism it helps to consider what is the independent variable and what’s the control if you change the gender of the person in the middle of the scandal. Does the scandal change. Well we have an example of a man at the center of a scandal where the scandal doesn’t really change that would suggest that something other than gender is the total cause of the scandal. Or you could just ignore the complicating counter example which makes it easier to follow assertions like this one on Katie Hill’s Twitter feed quote there’s going to be a generation of politicians where there are thousands of images around we’re going to have to decide as a society if we’re going to let that be a permanent source of blackmail or Charlotte Clymer who writes Katie Hill wasn’t held accountable. She was thrown on a pyre for the benefit of men men men did this.

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S15: The speaker of the House of Representatives a man. Perhaps you’ve heard of Nancy Pelosi. Katie Hill herself a man. The female staffer who Katie Hill had the relationship with a man. The people who wrote the congressional code of ethics disallowing relationships between members of Congress and staffers.

S5: You remember when Mazie Hirono and Jackie spears and Kirsten Gillibrand all led that charge Mad Men not just men straight white men Katie Hill linked to a thread by Fain Greenwood thread included this quote unfortunately a world where everyone has bad internet photos will still be a world where straight white men’s bad internet photos hurt them less. We’re seeing that go down now. We need strategy. We just can’t wait this out. Look I am not so naive as to think that gendered and play a role in this or that Hill’s sexuality didn’t play a role. Of course it did. Of course there are people who are against that or pretend to be against that for political gain. I also think that Katie Hill may very well be the victim of revenge porn. I say pursue a case against the ex-husband if it was indeed him who leaked the photos. Know sometimes the leakers break the law and then the public has knowledge and it’s up to the public to do something with that knowledge. Edward Snowden broke the law. Barack Obama said he appreciated the discussion of some of the revelations. Someone close to Donald Sterling likely broke the law leaking tapes that were made without Sterling’s consent. California being a two party consent state for taping but knowing what we know about Donald Sterling do we then say well I guess it’s OK that he keeps owning the Clippers as a racist because of some fruit of the poisonous tree dictum. Katie Hill out of probably to be humane about this you know ego saving an understandable exercise in salvaging what you can of your ego in a troubling time. She has grasped onto a defiance over the cause that she has come to see herself as being the champion of.

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S16: In her video to her now former constituents she says as I have before I will stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves because there is one thing that I know for sure I will not allow my experience to scare off other young women or girls from running for office.

S5: By resigning that is how you ensure that I want to be clear you know if no one were coming to Katy Hill’s defense for living in a country of cold Puritanism that didn’t see any gray areas. I would be saying something like You know what PTL shouldn’t necessarily have the death sentence here. Politically there are defenses to what Katie Hill did. One is that the Congressional code may be overly broad up to an including a central affair with a subordinate. Yeah but you know in this case it wasn’t even a subordinate who raised her hand and said I’ve been wronged. And obviously Katie Hill’s attackers obviously they are operating in bad faith. It does suck that they’ve won. Here’s another argument Katie Hill needs to step down so as not to be a distraction with the work of impeachment and in a sane world there would be no trump. There would be no desperate need to avoid distracting from the important work of congressional oversight. But my god the horrible arguments in defense of Hill the self-serving martyrdom. The lessons learned is being 100 percent Katie Hill victim 0 percent Katie Hill author of her own fate. Maybe I’m just overreacting to the media waters in which I swim. But at the very least can we admit that Katie Hill might have been wronged but also be wrong.

S3: And that’s it for today’s show that just was produced by Daniel Schrader. Like Samantha Power there are 27 major league baseball teams he does not root for. He’s pretty pure because the other three doesn’t care about. Christina. To Jose also produces the gist the Dolce and Gabbana and de Joseph Foundation.

S1: Provides grants empowering the discount rack at Century 21.

S3: The gist you know she shouldn’t think of it as a scandal she should think of it as a martyr starter kit and poor devil to Peru. And thanks for listening.