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Interview with conservative columnist Mona Charen; Immigration: Truths and Myths. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired July 5, 2018 - 14:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST, AMANPOUR: Coming up, are women's rights at risk in America as President Trump prepares to name his choice to cement

conservative control of the Supreme Court. My conversation with the prominent conservative columnist Mona Charen, whose controversial new book,

"Sex Matters", looks at the cost of modern feminism.

Also ahead, truths and myths. Author and professor Alexander Betts on the great debate of our time, immigration, and what nations must do to ensure

sustainable migration for the future.

Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

The pendulum of justice is about to swing even further to the right, possibly for decades to come in the highest court of the United States.

President Trump reportedly has narrowed down his Supreme Court shortlist to a top three and says he will soon announce his nominee.

With a conservative voice on the Supreme Court, another one, some fear and some hope that Roe v. Wade, landmark ruling on a woman's right to choose,

could be overturned in the not-too-distant future.

To discuss this, I'm joined by a dyed in the wool Reagan conservative, columnist Mona Charen. Her new book, "Sex Matters" calls for a sexual

counterrevolution because she thinks feminism has gone too far, seeing off the nuclear family, for instance.

She became very well-known this year for daring to call out her own party and president on the issue of values and morals at CPAC, the Conservative

Political Action Conference. And I spoke to her from Washington.

Mona Charen, welcome to the program.

MONA CHAREN, AUTHOR, "SEX MATTERS": Thank you. So, as a real conservative, I want to ask you what you are hoping for, what you expect in

terms of naming the next Supreme Court justice?

CHAREN: I'm hoping as a conservative for someone who will not be a lawmaker. Over the last several decades, the Supreme Court has taken on

far too many lawmaking roles, and that properly belongs to Congress and the president.

And so, I'd like to see a return to the more traditional and modest role for the court where it doesn't make policy, but it simply rules on

constitutionality and fairness.

AMANPOUR: So, of course, there are a lot of decisions that could fall into that, a lot of cases. And particularly, when it comes to Anthony Kennedy,

he was always called a swing vote, but he was very reliably conservative. And he was the one who put over the top Citizens United, the whole idea of

money in politics. We have the idea of gay marriage that he sided with. And also, of course, Roe v. Wade.

It seems that most conservatives and most people around the United States are concerned about Roe v. Wade. So, I'd like to just play you a couple

of soundbites both from the Vice President Mike Pence and then candidate Donald Trump on the issue of abortion and women's rights in this area.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We appoint strict constructionists to the Supreme Court of the United States as Donald Trump

intends to do, I believe we will see Roe v. Wade consigned to the ash heap of history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe in punishment for abortion? Yes or no? As a principle.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment.


TRUMP: Yes. There has to be some form.


AMANPOUR: So, obviously, those are two different issues, but first and foremost, do you believe and do you hope that the next Supreme Court does

what Mike Pence says, consign Roe v. Wade to the dustbin of history?

CHAREN: Well, I do think that it was a very poor decision, one of the worst to come out of the Supreme Court, sort of comparable to Dred Scott.

So, I do hope to see it overturned, but please understand what that means. It does not mean a uniform outlaying of abortion around the country or

anything like it. It just returns these decisions to 50 state legislators and governors, who will make different rules in different states. That's

our federal system and I would like to see it argued out by the people and their elected representatives instead of by nine unelected lawyers.

AMANPOUR: Do you worry that if this goes back to states that something like, I don't know, 20 states will immediately overturn it and ban it and

make it illegal, which means that those women in those states will have to cross state lines, that it will disproportionately affect poor, maybe

minority women, and it's just yet another element of discrimination against some of the most vulnerable?

[14:05:10] CHAREN: Well, we look at this very differently. I see the most vulnerable as the unborn children. They really have no voice and they

really have no opportunity to say, look, I really would prefer to be born and adopted than aborted.

If you took a poll of the unborn, I think they would probably be 100 percent in favor of being born. So, I look at it from the point of view of

those disadvantaged people. It's hard to be more disadvantaged than you are as a baby in the womb.

AMANPOUR: Regarding other social and cultural issues, you are a big proponent of marriage, and we'll get to your book in a second. And it has

been said that, in these troubled times, the gay population have also been big supporters, big proponents of marriage and they are upholding this, as

you see it, endangered institution in American life.

So, Anthony Kennedy cast the deciding vote that allowed gay marriage to stand? Is that something that you would like to see stand or do you think,

in a new conservative court, that will be overturned as well?

CHAREN: I'm very skeptical that that will happen. But I would say, look, my attitude is, we are conducting a huge social experiment. I hope that

marriage does for lesbians and gays what it has done for heterosexuals - that is, make them happier, healthier, wealthier and more stable. But it's

too soon to tell. And the jury is out.

And I do think that when it comes to raising children, there are special challenges for same-sex couples that we ought not to sugarcoat and we ought

to be very open about, that - you need role models of the other sex in order for kids to develop to their full potential.

AMANPOUR: What do you make of the current president of the United States, a Republican, who calls himself a conservative, having this power to

nominate potentially two, maybe more Supreme Court justices in his time because I know that you - you're not a pro-Trumper.

CHAREN: No, but I am pro-Constitution. And our Constitution gave that power to the president with the advice and consent of the Senate. The

courts and the presidency both have way too much power. And that can be fixed by Congress reasserting its privileges.

But the president does have the right to nominate. The Senate should vigorously advise and consent, and that's our system.

And as a conservative, I revere tradition and the Constitution.

AMANPOUR: So, could that explain why you decided to sort of off-script or off-piece at CPAC? You made a very conscious bold decision to speak out

about what you considered were the betrayals of moral values, of conservativism by the current president? And you were speaking out against

what could be termed the hypocrisy of your own party in this regard?

Let me just play the soundbite of what propelled you to viral stratospheric fame and that was what you said to the conservative audience at CPAC not

long ago.


CHAREN: I'm disappointed in people on our side for being hypocrites about sexual harassers and abusers of women who are in our party, who are sitting

in the White House, who brag about their extramarital affairs, who brag about mistreating women.

This is a party that was ready to endorse - the Republican Party endorsed Roy Moore for the Senate in the State of Alabama even though he was a

credibly accused child molester. You cannot claim that you stand for women -


CHAREN: And put up with that.


AMANPOUR: So, that was brave. I mean, it's really difficult to find people who will challenge their own tribe in this way and you did it. And

you got some boos. Just take me back to that moment and tell me how it felt and what was going on inside? Were you scared? Were you nervous

before you did this?

CHAREN: Well, of course, I was nervous, but I felt very strongly that this was something that had to be said. And I felt honestly that I was speaking

for many, many conservatives who - and moderates and liberals too, who feel the same way and that they deplore the direction that the Republican Party

is trending.

What pushed me over the edge in terms of fury at the CPAC organizers was their invitation to Marion Le Pen, niece of Marine Le Pen, who is a member

of the National Front and an apologist for her Nazi sympathizing grandfather, and so I then decided to also mention the hypocrisy about

sexual conduct.

[14:10:16] Look, I mean, part of being a conservative is upholding family values, but really meaning it and, unfortunately, we've seen hypocrisy on

both sides about this.

Liberals were quick to defend Bill Clinton even though they had been extremely vocal about sexual harassment before. For example, with Anita

Hill. And then, they gave him a pass.

And then, the Republicans now are giving Trump and Roy Moore a pass for similar or even worse behavior.

Look, if we don't call out our own sides, we will never get past this poisonous partisanship. It really does require people to say - it's easy

to point a finger at the other side, it's hard to point the finger at your own side.

So, I felt like I needed to speak for others who wanted to say these things.

AMANPOUR: Mona Charen, you have written a new book, "Sex Matters" and it has just come out. You take a very interesting look at feminism and how

you think feminism has failed not just women, but also American families and the like.

Tell me where exactly you stand because, clearly, you're not saying that you don't think women should be equal under the law, under unemployment,

under all those issues.

CHAREN: Of course. And I applaud the greater range of choices that women have about how they will conduct their lives. For example, there is no

longer really a stigma about women who don't want to have children and families, and I think that's good.

Of course, the gains in the workplace also. Wonderful! Women's talents are now appreciated more than they once were.

At the same time, the feminists made some crucial errors. One of them was by devaluing the importance of family life and family relationships and we

are facing a real crisis - crisis is an overused word, but of connection.

There are so many people in American society who remain single, who have trouble finding spouses. Having children without marriage has now become

the norm for high school graduates and especially for high school dropouts.

We've created a bit of a caste system in our society where the people who most need the security and support of an intact family and a strong

marriage are the ones who are least likely to have it. And they are really struggling.

The women's movement has played a role in diminishing the importance of marriage. They thought marriage, and argued, I quote them in "Sex Matters"

a lot that marriage was a trap for women that had been designed by men to keep them down.

And I point out, looking at the social science data that we've accumulated over the last 50 years, that women are now less secure, less happy, less

fulfilled and have less rounded lives than they did.

And so, we need to look carefully at what the decline of families has done, especially to women at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale.

AMANPOUR: So, what would you say then as a final thought on the women who in the 2016 election, Republican women, who put Trump over the top? I

mean, knowing very moral turpitude that you identify and knowing all about it, and yet going into the voting booth and voting.

CHAREN: Right. That was probably the worst choice in American history. Clinton was also very morally comparable. And the voters had 25 years of

evidence that there was corruption and that she backed policies that they did not like. They were they were ready for a change. That's often the

case after two terms of a president of one party.

So, those are all the reasons. Whether people will vote to reelect Trump, that's an open question. And we will see.

AMANPOUR: Mona Charen, you said - what did you just say?

CHAREN: I said I hope not.

AMANPOUR: Mona Charen, author of "Sex Matters", thank you so much indeed.

CHAREN: My pleasure.

AMANPOUR: So, immigration, of course, is gripping America and much of the democratic world right now. This Independence Day, to protest migrant

family separations, one woman planted herself atop the mother of all refugees, Lady liberty herself.

Here in Europe, illegal border crossings to the EU have plummeted since their peak and Mediterranean crossings have plummeted too, but that has not

stopped the toxic political fear and loathing around migration.

[14:15:05] Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel, long seen as the refugees' biggest champion, has agreed to migrant transit centers along her country's


So, what's the solution? Alexander Betts of Oxford University's Migration Center has helped launch a sustainable migration framework for governments.

And he says, while it is a difficult task, there is a win-win way to resolve this issue for both the desperately needy and for our advanced

economies in desperate need of workers, but it does require the political will.

Alexander Betts, welcome back to the program.


AMANPOUR: So, the last time we spoke was about a year ago and yet another sort of crisis and spike in this refugee and migrant situation.

Back then, you told me, and you had written a book, that this is an issue that is fixable, and yet we've seen since Friday more than 200 refugees,

migrants die at sea, more than a thousand this year alone. Babies again washing up on shores, this time the Libya Shore. Why isn't it fixed yet?

BETTS: It's a horrific tragedy. This is not a crisis of numbers. It's a crisis of politics.

The numbers of asylum seekers coming to Europe from Africa and elsewhere is actually going down. In 2015, it was about 1.3 million; 2016, 1.2 million;

last year, it had halved to about 650,000.

And yet, public perception is otherwise. And the reason for that is what's going on amongst the electorate, in the democracies of Europe where

migration is becoming the scapegoat issue. And what's driving that is that publics are concerned, they want rule-based approaches to immigration.

AMANPOUR: Which is logical?

BETTS: It is. To be able to know who are refugees, who are economic migrants and to separate the two. And politicians are failing to come up

with a plan that's operational to address that very real concern.

AMANPOUR: Are they deliberately conflating for their own political reasons the difference between economic migrants, asylum seekers, refugees?

BETTS: Absolutely. It's such a muddle. Politicians are trying to say your lives as the electorate are being affected by migrants when actually

it's a scapegoat for a lot of underlying trends.

Across Europe, we see the disappearance of low-skilled manufacturing jobs. We see structural economic trends where people feel disenfranchised. They

feel that, with austerity programs across Europe, their lives are being affected.

And the easy option for politicians is to say this is because of immigration when it's deeper trends that are going on and we're failing to

come up with narratives on the liberal side of politics, whereas it's the far-right, the populists, who are saying it's the migrants.

And that's why the issue is rising in political salience even as the numbers of asylum seekers come down.

AMANPOUR: So, let's dig into these numbers because it's an issue of fear versus reality. The figures, as you've alluded to, according to the EU as

of last month, the number of illegal border crossings into the EU is down by 95 percent from its peak, which was back in October 2015.

According to the UN refugee agency, 42,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe this year compared to more than a million at peak

levels, which were in 2015.

So, we've addressed why. Now, let's look at what's happening. So, you've got the most welcoming person in Europe, Angela Merkel, who opened her

doors to these people in 2015, forced now by some of the politics you're talking about to do this thing, which I want to get your view on, but to

agree to set up control points and camps on her southern border.

How dramatic is that? Or is that something she should do?

BETTS: It's a complete U-turn. August 2015, the German approach was "Wir schaffen das" - we will cope. Merkel told her public, we are a big

country, we can cope with large numbers of Syrian refugees, but gradually there's been a backlash domestically.

AMANPOUR: But they did cope, right?

BETTS: They coped fairly briefly. Civil society, to its credit, has done awful lot to integrate Syrian refugees in Germany, but, politically, we've

seen the rise of Alternative for Deutschland. We've seen far-right politicians being elected for the first time in nearly 70 years in Germany,

and that's shocked Europe to its core.

Now, Merkel's position in the coalition is under threat. We see in her coalition, the CSU towards the right-wing end of the coalition.

AMANPOUR: Worried about AfD at elections coming up.

BETTS: Very worried.

AMANPOUR: Forcing Merkel right.

BETTS: Forcing Merkel right in order to save her job. And that in a way reflects the unsustainability of the open-door policy because even as

numbers go down we see a backlash because people are concerned.

And what many people want, the middle, the moderate middle, is to be able to distinguish between who are refugees in need of international protection

and who are people who are taking advantage of the system.

And the challenge is, operationally, it's very hard for Europe's asylum system and those of other countries to distinguish. It requires a way of

saying this is a refugee, this is somebody who's coming for other reasons, aspirational migration, for instance.

And then it requires us to know how to equitably distribute refugees across Europe, and there's no agreement on that, and what to do with those who are

screened out. And return levels are very low. So, the public is losing trust. And some of that is a justifiable loss of trust and some of it is

just unnecessary fear.

AMANPOUR: You're talking about absolute necessity to distinguish between refugees, asylum seekers and economic migrants. This is what Manfred

Weber, who is also CSU politician, deputy leader and an actual ally of Angela Merkel, this is what he told me about this.


MANFRED WEBER, GERMAN MEP: If somebody's an illegal migrant, he has to be refused. He has to be rejected. He has to go back home. If he is a

refugee from Syria, then he can be accepted. And I am sure that the people in Europe when we can guarantee a state that those who are arriving here

are real refugees and asylum seekers, are really people who're fleeing from the bombs of Assad from Syria, then a lot of people in the European Union

know, a very majority of people are ready to help those people. So, that is what is at stake in the European Union, not generally the numbers, it's

about the separation between the different criterias.


AMANPOUR: So, he's reinforcing what you've been saying, but really the question then is, what next? You've talked about how European countries

are not stepping up to take their share in an equitable way. And this has been something Merkel has tried to do for years and years, try to get the

EU to deal with this, but it hasn't.

So, what is the answer? How does one get them to do it?

BETTS: We've seen last week, in Brussels, Europe and the European Union trying to come up with a practical deal that can work. And they actually

agreed on very little. What they've got to agree on is that process of how they distinguish refugees from other migrants.

AMANPOUR: As you study this yourself in your center at Oxford and you've written books about all of this, do you have a solution? How does one do


BETTS: We've got to allow people who have a genuine need to claim refuge to claim at different stages, claim nearer to home, claim in transit

countries, not close detention centers like often being proposed in Libya and the Australian model in Nauru.

They're a disaster from a humanitarian and human rights perspective, but open spaces, consulate, where a claim can be lodged in transit, so people

don't have to resort to (INAUDIBLE), don't have to resort to embarking on very dangerous journeys and lose their lives in the Mediterranean.

When they get to Europe, we've got to have a sincere commitment by politicians to work together. Yes, it makes sense for the first arrival

country. (INAUDIBLE) to assess a claim, but not for them to take responsibility for all the refugees who come to those territories.

There, we have to have a commitment to reallocate across Europe, but we don't have to do that on an arbitrary basis. We can ask refugees where in

Europe do you want to go? We could ask countries across Europe, what kinds of refugees do you want, what skill sets do you want, make allowances for

the most vulnerable and preference match.

AMANPOUR: That's really remarkable. That is a remarkable solution.

BETTS: And that way, it works with voter preferences across the European Union. It can be sold to the European Union as just. But, equally, we've

got to manage those people who fall outside the system and say, for those who can be returned humanely, justly, in a way that respects their human

rights, we have to follow through on that.

But there may be creative, innovative schemes for those who are not recognized as refugees. Could we poll a group of countries who have needs

for low and particular skilled areas of labor migration and say, actually, we can give you an opportunity in a third country.

So, I think out of that, there is a vision, but it requires politicians to listen, politicians to have a commitment and articulate to their electorate

a vision rather than following and exploiting the topic opportunistically.

AMANPOUR: Obviously, one devil's advocate question there is, if you might find a lot of countries saying, well, we just want white, highly-skilled

workers and all the majority of the people who are coming over are not that.

BETTS: Yes. There's a complete paradox here. Many governments need low- skilled and high-skilled labor. In this country, the United Kingdom, for instance, we see, with the prospect of Brexit, there's going to be less

migration from the rest of Europe and the retail sector, the construction sector, the hospitality sector, they need workers.

Now, refugees, with a real need to be here on humanitarian grounds, can be an asset. They can be economic contributors. They don't have to be a

burden. And we have gaps in our labor market.

In the longer run, there are concerns about what automation will do. There are concerns in Europe and North America about whether those jobs will

still be there, but certainly there are gaps in the labor market. There are ways in which preferences can be matched.

AMANPOUR: And I don't know whether you study the United States, but clearly this is a major issue across the US border right now under the

Trump administration. And there's a whole load of demagoguery about it, toxic politics about it.

Is there a similar solution for the United States? In other words, matching refugees, migrants with economic needs from, let's say, Central

and Latin America, Mexico into the United States?

BETTS: What's been happening on the US-Mexican border with the detention of minors is shocking, tragic and absolutely unnecessary, but it shows as

in Europe that the toxic narratives around migration often have an electoral payoff.

They're often something that politicians can benefit from and do benefit from. Now, we've seen examples where the US with labor migration has used

schemes like circular migration that benefit the US economy and benefit migrants.

For instance, with Haiti, in the aftermath of the earthquake, the US, certain states with agricultural needs and worker needs in those sectors,

took Haitian employers to come for a period, six months a year, they earned money, they went back to Haiti.

And the studies that have been done show that the US economy benefited, the Haitian migrants benefited and Haiti's economy also benefited. Those

schemes can be available for migrants in a way that's sustainable migration, not unsustainable migration that risks political backlash.

If you're fleeing cartel violence, if you can't find safety and sanctuary within your own country and you cross a border, you are a refugee. And the

US hasn't really grappled with that.

They see the southern border as a labor migration issue, an aspirational migration issue. Part of it is a refugee challenge, part of it is people

fleeing violence, people fleeing a desperate lack of their basic rights and having to cross borders. And the US needs to confront that reality as all

civilized countries should do to recognize who is making a choice and who has no choice and has a human rights based claim to cross that border.

AMANPOUR: Really important food for thought. Alexander Betts, thank you so much for joining us.

And that is our program for tonight. Thanks for watching. And goodbye from London.