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The Era of Venomous Political Rhetoric; Childhood Under Siege: Surviving the Syrian War. Aied 3:30-4p ET

Aired November 4, 2016 - 15:00:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, with just days to go before the most bitter U.S. election in recent memory, a powerful lesson in combating

hate, division and fear. The husband of the murdered British MP Jo Cox speaks up for her legacy.


BRENDAN COX, HUSBAND OF BRITISH MP JO COX: Community cohesion is under threat. There are some people that are trying to pull communities apart,

trying to divide people and the thing that Jo would care about most of all at the moment is how we stop that. How we bring people back together.


AMANPOUR: Plus a desperate cry for help from the streets of Aleppo. Syrian journalist Rami Jarrah, who build a team of local reporters tells us

the residents there feel they have nothing left to lose in their daily life of horror.


RAMI JARRAH, SYRIAN JOURNALIST: The people inside are totally numb. They don't see what is happening around them anymore in the way that anyone who

is outside this war zone would understand it. These things are horrific. That this is unacceptable. Some people have become used to it.


AMANPOUR: Good everyone and welcome to the special weekend edition of our program, I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

Next week an election campaign of unprecedented rancor will finally come to an end. But it's been reflective of an increasingly venomous tone all

around the world.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: She wants to blame everyone else --


NIGEL FARAGE, MEMBER OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT: I know that virtually none of you have ever done a proper job in your lives.


RODRIGO DUTERTE, PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES: Just because you are a journalist, you are not exempted from assassination. If you're a son of a



AMANPOUR: It is not only that kind of noxious, rhetorical fumes that are blowing through politics, but it is also outright violence.

Now political assassination just doesn't happen in this country, but a week before the referendum on leaving the EU, a 52-year-old man shouting

"Britain first" stabbed and shot a brave, young, idealistic member of parliament, Jo Cox.

There was universal shock, anger and sadness at her death, not least because she stood for all that was positive and hopeful and can-do about



JO COX, BRITISH LABOUR PARTY MP: And as we celebrate our diversity, the thing that surprises me time and time again as I travel around the

constituency is that we are far more united and have far more in common that that which divides us.


AMANPOUR: Now her husband, Brandon Cox, himself an activist and a campaigner is raising their two small children and nurturing her legacy as

he told me here in the studio, determined that her beliefs and her optimism live on.


AMANPOUR: Brandon Cox, welcome to the program.

I want to start by asking you, because you've written about it, and you were in the United States in September and you and your children went to

the White House to meet President Obama.

B. COX: Yes.

AMANPOUR: What was that like?

B. COX: It was very surreal.

[15:05:00] The kids know quite a lot about politics. We've always talked to them with our kids, but they're three and five, so they don't know that

much about it, but they are very excited. And then when they went to see him, they've done a series of drawings and they gave him -- they gave him

some of those drawings.

AMANPOUR: Yes, and you tweeted, didn't you? "The kids and I met Potus today. He was excellent with the kids. We talked about Jo, fighting

extremism, and the kids gave him their best drawings."

B. COX: Yes. And they were, they were very unfazed by it. And actually the president was incredibly good with them. Very warm.

You know, we got some lovely pictures of him hugging the kids (INAUDIBLE). And then on the way out, he even said to me, daddy, that was great. Can we

come again tomorrow?

So I didn't ask. I thought that was probably overstaying our welcome, but it was a great thing to do.

AMANPOUR: Really sweet for them, too. Very special.

B. COX: Yes and lovely to have that memory. And also, you know, in the Oval Office, we talked about Jo and they told the president about their

mom. And it was a lovely thing.

AMANPOUR: And has the fact that the president called you, that the president received you, that the overwhelming sentiment of love and regret

for their mom -- you can't miss it. Have they been able to absorb that? Has that helped them in this terrible moment of grief?

B. COX: Definitely. The things I've been working with the child psychologist from the beginning of this, because, you know, you never

anticipate something like this happening. And their advice from the beginning has been to show that you're feeling your grief, not to hide

that, but also to try to expose them to other people feeling that grief as well.

And I think often that's hard when somebody dies in your family and the world goes on, but with this, it felt like there was a moment when people

reflected on it. And from the thousands of people in Chalcot Square or the rallies around the world or the thousands of people lining going to the

funeral --


AMANPOUR: Funeral, yes.

B. COX: They had a real sense that their mom was mourn not just by them, but by lots of other people. Of course more intensely by them. But seeing

that grief in other people, I think gave them a sense of solidarity to use a slightly weird word.

AMANPOUR: No, but it's really important for them to understand that she was so important and her work remains so important. So to that end, you

have started a foundation.

Tell me what you hope to achieve with that foundation in regards to the work, the anti-extremism, the sort of tolerance, the welcoming of the other

instead of the banishing of the other.

B. COX: So what we're trying to do is two things really. One is we set up this foundation to take forward some of the things that Jo cared about,

from autism to Syria, loneliness, to women in politics. A very diverse set of things. And that's about not trying to glorify Jo's name, but continue

the work that she cared about.

She doesn't have any ego, Jo, so having lots of people holding pictures of her is a slight weird thing, because that's not why she was in politics,

but taking forward that cause in that way.

And then the second thing that we're trying to do is to really under the more common banner that Jo talked about is the phrase that she used in her

maiden's speech to think about how in this country and in other country, is how we can bring communities together, because we're at this phase, I think

not just in the UK, but really around the world where community cohesion is under threat.

There are some people that are trying to pull communities apart, trying to divide people. And the thing that Joe would care about most of all at the

moment is how we stop that and how we bring people back together.

AMANPOUR: So you wrote in the "New York Times," you said "Political leaders and people generally must embrace the responsibility to speak out

against bigotry, unless the center holds against the insidious creep of extremism. History shows how quickly hatred is normalized."

I know you don't want to put your finger on somebody and blame somebody in particular for your wife's murder, which is what it was, but do you blame

the bitter environment for her death?

B. COX: So the person that killed her was the person that was responsible for her death. Do I think that the environment played a part in making

that action more likely? Yes, I think it probably did.

That's not to suggest that the 52 percent of people that voted for Brexit were in some way involved or complicit. Of course, they weren't. In fact,

you know, probably the people we heard from most were people saying that -- because actually a majority of Jo's constituency voted for Brexit.

And these are not rabidly racist or xenophobic people. They are people who wanted the U.K. to leave the EU. So it's not suggesting that there was any

agency or complicity on their part, but those people who used demonizing language who ramp up hate, that plays into an atmosphere in which crazy

people are more likely to take crazy actions.

AMANPOUR: And I know you were in the United States and you must be very rocked by the tone of the debate there.

[15:10:00] B. COX: I think the thing that worries me is that there's a complacency in the political center about how quickly this extreme populism

can come through.

And I think we're seeing it in the U.S. perhaps more clearly than anywhere else at the moment. But we're also seeing it in France with Front

National, in Germany with AfD, in the U.K. with UKIP.

And in each of those circumstances, it is often a charismatic individual who sees his very legitimate grievances from people, whether it was their

economic circumstances or worries about security, they seize those and they say the problem isn't the system, which is complicated and difficult. It's

actually this person that doesn't look like you, or speak like you, or watch the same TV programs as you.

And that is very simple, it's very attractive, it's very powerful. And it's the thing that drives hatred. And if we're not very careful about it

and don't respond to as I say, very quickly it becomes too late because it becomes normalized and that becomes the discourse.

So I don't think we're there yet. I think I have faith in people, in the U.S., in the forthcoming election. I have faith generally in the wisdom of

grounds, but if we're not careful, even if they don't win elections outright, they will make normal this hatred and this direction of bile

against minority groups, which even if they don't win elections will have far lasting implications.

AMANPOUR: You talked about being on your houseboat together with your wife and discussing these issues. What was conversation like around this? You

both came from activist and campaign backgrounds.

B. COX: Yes. I mean, we mainly talked about Peppa Pig and, you know, whatever the kids will turn that day. So I don't want to suggest that --

AMANPOUR: I just meant between the two of you.

B. COX: Yes, even between the two of us. But, no, we were definitely -- there was definitely a concern I think that we had because we're so

optimistic people. We'd always been in our lives. And Jo was always this sort of bundle of positive energy. And we always had an expectation that

society was moving in the right direction. That, yes, there will be bumps along the way, but things would get progressively better.

And I think, really, just in the last year, maybe year and a half, we started to doubt that. With the coarsening of politics, the rise of

populism across Europe and in the U.S., we started the thing actually is what we're seeing now more like post the 1920s crash, where you had

something fundamentally changed in the context and the beginnings of a dissent away from liberalisms.

AMANPOUR: I mean, you're really talking about one of the worst episodes in modern history, the rise of fascism, the rise of totalitarianism.

B. COX: Yes. And I think the thing to remember with all these things is that's not how it starts, that's how it finishes. So it starts with small

shifts often highly perceptible and over time they become bigger and bigger shifts.

So you start with what sound like relatively anodyne policies, but are trying to -- this sort of dog whistle politics turn groups against each

other. And unless we stop that there, the trajectory you go down continues and it speeds up. And there's momentum in a spiral and politicians who

have stood against it become marginalized and it becomes, you know, for career politicians who just want to get ahead, they're willing to use that

language in a way that perhaps they don't feel it, but they start to use it and then it becomes the consensus.

So I'm still and Jo would still despite everything that happened, I think we would still be optimistic that that is stoppable, but it is only

stoppable if we do something about it.

There is no automatic break in society that stops us going in that direction unless people in the center, in the political center, which is

where I think the vast majority are end their complacency and take action to pull ourselves back together.

AMANPOUR: Brendan Cox, thank you very much indeed for joining us.

B. COX: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: Such an important message in this bitter election season.

Now, he has seen the destruction of Aleppo with his own eyes and he works tirelessly to bring the truce in our eyes. When we come back, my interview

with the Syrian journalist Rami Jarrah. That's after our break.


[15:15:40] AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

Though Vladimir Putin ordered another ten hour pause in the bombing of Aleppo on Friday, activists there tell us they feel Russia is preparing for

a final assault on the rebel-held eastern part of the city and that would have devastating consequences.

While the world watches and waits, we don't often get to see the daily reality of people's lives there and of childhoods that have been robbed.

Few foreign journalists can venture in. So it takes people like the British-Syrian journalist Rami Jarrah and the team from the media agency

that he co-founded.


AMANPOUR: Rami Jarrah, welcome to the program.

JARRAH: Thank you, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: We read in these huge headlines that the Russians are preparing a massive bombardment of Aleppo to seize advantage while the U.S. and

others are concerned with the election, et cetera.

What are you hearing from your reporters on the ground in besieged Eastern Aleppo?

JARRAH: What we are hearing now is that there is a ceasefire of some sort where air raids are not being carried out. This is what the Russian

government is portraying, but this is not true.

The attacks have continued by the Syrian regime and by the Russians continuously on a daily basis. And this has been acknowledged even by the

Syrian regime through its own state media, that the Syrian regime continues its attacks on these areas.

AMANPOUR: Can I play you something because you just described what the Russians and Syrians say, that they say they're only targeting terrorists.

Channel 4 has been in Damascus. There's a big sort of trip planned with a U.K. parliamentary delegation and quite a few journalists have managed to

get in as well. And Channel 4 doorstep the Syrian foreign minister about what was going on in Aleppo.

Listen to what he said and then we'll talk about it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: People have seen many images from East Aleppo that appear to show hospitals having been hit, schools having been hit and

civilian casualties in horrifying numbers.

What is your view of these videos? You say these are all made up?

WALID AL-MOALLEM, SYRIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: You are from TV and you know how to make them up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: So you do think they're all false?

AL-MOALLEM: Yes, because we never shelled civilian. We are aiming only on the --


AMANPOUR: So, Rami, I see you smiling ruefully.

How do you cope with the fact that the Russians and the Syrians simply tell the world that they are not shelling civilians as you just heard?

JARRAH: Christiane, I'm laughing but I'm disgusted because this is -- I mean this is the sort of thing that Syrians have gone through for years.

We're not talking about these five years of war in Syria. We are talking about 50 years of dictatorship, where the government can say whatever it


We have a saying in Arabic which would translate to lie, lie, lie again and then eventually someone is going to believe you. And that is the tactic,

the strategy of the Syrian regime, that no civilians are being targeted. It is ridiculous to claim such.

We have half a million civilians that have been killed in Syria throughout the conflict. The majority of those civilians, the vast majority were

killed through use of air strikes. We are talking about use of indiscriminate weapons such as napalm, phosphorus, chlorine, barrel bombs.

This man is a liar. This man, his whole government are used to the art of deception.

The only difference between their government and the Nazi regime is that these people have learned the art of deception. And the fact that they are

able to deceive the whole world into believing in some way or another that they have some legitimacy only makes them legitimate as opposed to the

likes of Adolf Hitler. There is no difference.

If we look at the numbers, if we look at the tactics, if we look at the weapons that are being used, if we look at the themes of torture that have

been used, over 5,500 victims who have been documented in pictures one by one, 12,000 pictures that were presented by Caesar, who is code named, and

presented in a number of countries now and in a U.S. court of law, this is all proof that this regime has carried out mass murder against its own

people, anyone that opposes it.

And what we're looking at now is people, we see the international community gradually step closer to shaking hands with the root cause of this whole


AMANPOUR: We just saw that heartbreaking story, but so instructive of the little boy who tries to go to school and hides from all these bombs in

caves at night.

How can you tell the story in pictures and people's voices that you're so passionately revealing right now?

[15:20:07] JARRAH: It's, honestly, an almost impossible task. And the reason for that is the fact that if you point your camera at anyone in

besieged Aleppo today, they will say to you, what do we gain from being filmed other than being exposed, other than the regime knowing who we are

and one day maybe Assad's troops come pulsing into this area, and they know who we are, and they'll punish us.

It is almost impossible to get people to talk, and this is why we have so little footage that comes out of Syria, where there are actually human

stories, where there are actually people speaking because they have no faith in the media.

The other problem that we face is our own reporters, and the fact that they have been in this situation for such a long time. I have tried to be in

that situation for two and a half months maximum. And when I did reach that stage, I will be honest, I reached a point where I couldn't identify

the things that were horrific.

I can't -- I didn't even notice that there were things that were happening around me that were important or significant, or that an international

audience or an Arab audience or anyone should actually see.

AMANPOUR: You mean because you got numb to it, Rami?

JARRAH: The people inside are totally numb. They don't see what is happening around them anymore in the way that anyone who is outside this

war zone would understand it. These things are horrific, but this is unacceptable.

Some people have become used to it in a sense where they just feel, you know what? This is our lives. There are children who are 14 years old,

who are now 19 years old. You cannot convince them otherwise. This is all that they've seen as they've gone into adulthood.

If you look at the amount of oppression that has been used, and all of the evidence that is there to show for that, I don't see how we would expect

that people would remain in their straight minds.

Right now, the offensive that has been launched by the rebels against the Syrian regime to break that siege of Aleppo and free 300,000 people, it is

being led by groups that are considered radical groups. It is being led by people that are considered a bit fundamental.

And what I would ask is in 9/11, when there were attacks on the two buildings, that horrific attack that killed 3,000 people, I remember

explicitly George Bush going into Congress and actually praying. And this is what is happening in Syria, but this is happening on a daily basis.

Every day people are praying that God is going to save them because they have no faith in the international community. And I do not blame

radicalism on Islam. I blame radicalism on an absence of justice in Syria.

People are now reacting to what is happening by saying that, you know, we will defend ourselves. It doesn't matter if we're going to kill civilians.

Are our children not worth anything? Why do we not solve the root problem in Syria before we demand that there is a solution to our repercussions and

the way that we react to defend ourselves? This is the problem.

AMANPOUR: Well, Rami Jarrah, we really appreciate you being here and giving us that really impassioned and important perspective from the

ground. Thank you.

JARRAH: Thank you, Christiane.


AMANPOUR: And when we come back, to the United States again, where we imagine a conversation happening at dinner tables all over the country, as

the election drop counts down, breaking bread with a family at breaking point. That's next.


AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, with one week to go before people go to the polls in the United States, we imagine a house divided.

This house in Long Island, New York, trouble is brewing in the kitchen and at the dinner table where political debate is pushing the parents apart and

plaguing the children.

And guess who is coming to dinner to figure out why? It is our Paula Newton.


[15:25:00] PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Imagine you're standing on the sidewalk --

CHERYL BROWN, TEACHER AND CLINTON SUPPORTER: As a woman that was absolutely appalling.


NEWTON: Outside this all-American home and you listen in.

R. BROWN: The society that we live in, now we can --

C. BROWN: But Trump is going to think things are rigged, you know.

R. BROWN: Again, noise.

NEWTON: What was that? I mean everything inside looks so blissful. Rob and Cheryl Brown, a firefighter and a teacher with their three kids, Sarah,

Robby and Thomas, prepping for dinner.

And then it starts.

C. BROWN: We know what we're going to get with Hillary. Donald's erratic -- erraticness and the way that he presents himself is not what I believe

that the United States deserves in terms of a president at all.

NEWTON (on-camera): You keep looking at him. It doesn't bother you the way he acts?

R. BROWN: For me --


C. BROWN: We get into -- we get into very heated debates.

R. BROWN: This election is, I think, polarized us more than any other time.

C. BROWN: Definitely.

R. BROWN: And we're both union, you know, middle class jobs, and this election really has divided the house in that regard.

C. BROWN: This is really -- this is a big election.

R. BROWN: Yes.

C. BROWN: And we're definitely divided.

NEWTON: Rob and Cheryl are reasoned, thoughtful voters, who still have love in their hearts, but now there's rage on their tongues, too.

C. BROWN: And it's been proven time and time again that he does not seem to have any respect for women, and that concerns me.

R. BROWN: I don't see him as an evil person. I see him as someone that's willing to shake the tree a little bit, and I think our country needs that

a little bit right now.


NEWTON: This election is already shaking the family foundation like never before and in most cases the fault line is obvious.

R. BROWN: There's a few divided households, and I think many times it is down the gender line.

C. BROWN: I have relatives who are not, you know, are not speaking, you know, and that's really sad.

NEWTON: They're not speaking because of the political situation?

C. BROWN: Yes, it's sad.

NEWTON (voice-over): Most agree with the children here, the sooner this election is over, the better.

(on-camera): You ever say to your parents, I just don't want you guys to talk about politics anymore. Do you ever say that?

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Yes, all the time.

NEWTON: But will the symptoms of this, let's call it pre-traumatic stress mercifully disappear with the election?

C. BROWN: It's going to be a long night in this house.

R. BROWN: It's going to be a long night. I will be sleeping on the couch if Donald Trump wins.

C. BROWN: He will definitely be sleeping on the couch.

NEWTON: Don't you think that's a bit unfair.

R. BROWN: Just for a year.

NEWTON: At least they did still joke.

C. BROWN: For four years.


NEWTON: She is joking, right?

Paula Newton, CNN, Long Island, New York.


AMANPOUR: Four years.

That's it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast, see us online at and follow me on Facebook and

Twitter. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.