I'm Jennifer Palmieri, host of a new podcast from the recount on just something about her. After working on five presidential campaigns, I thought women could achieve the same success as men if they played by the rules. Then 2016 happened in my podcast to something about her. I'll talk with women, CEOs, athletes, politicians and more so together we can create our own girls. Listen to just something about her I heart radio app, Apple podcast, or wherever you get your podcasts.
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Hello, so good to see you in person, so to speak. As I say, down south, we're glad to be seen and not viewed.
Oh well you know, those viewers can be quite entertaining a lot. Yeah. Well, you know, I went to one viewing where I don't know exactly what happened, but a leg shot up Hamer's. Yeah.
She was clearly no longer of this world, but there was something that caused that leg to go back to some leg when I got it out the window to help help out.
Nurse, I'm Hillary Clinton and this is you and me both where I get into some of today's biggest questions with all kinds of amazing people, some of them I've known for years, others I'm meeting for the first time in front of this microphone. Today, we're talking about faith. For me, it's a deeply personal subject, but it's also something that informs my politics.
So I wanted to speak to three people who are exploring questions of faith in powerful ways.
I'm going to talk with Krista Tippett, longtime host of a public radio show that I have listened to for years, called On Being. And I'll also be talking to actor and comedian Aasif Mandvi, perhaps best known as The Daily Show's, quote, Muslim correspondent. And now let's get right into it with my friend, the Reverend Dr. William Barber. So I am absolutely delighted to welcome the Reverend Dr. William Barber the second he's not only been a pastor in North Carolina for a lot of years, but he became even better known for organizing the Moral Monday movement.
He serves as president of Repairers of the Breach, one of my favorite biblical phrases, he co-chairs the Poor People's Campaign, which is intentionally a reminder of the work that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was doing when he was murdered.
He was awarded one of those MacArthur genius grants while I was in jail.
Can you imagine? Hey, Barbara, you got a call?
That's exactly what I would do in handcuffs on the book anyway.
Yeah, they started talking on the bus and said, you know what?
Well, your life has been one interesting and challenging experience, my friend. But I want to start really at the beginning. Both of your parents were ministers, weren't they? And in addition to their faith work, they helped to desegregate schools in North Carolina. How did your childhood shape your faith?
Well, thank you so much from Secretary Clinton. And that's my southern way coming out. You know, we talk, so. Yes, ma'am. Secretary Clinton might get around to saying Hillary, but it's just think that's OK. So my parents my father was a minister. My mother was a minister of music. She was a concert pianist who spent a lot of time training young students. She's still living, just retired recently from the school, should be segregated after more than 52 years of service.
She's a real feisty woman. She I asked her if after 50 years, why don't you retire? She said, first of all, mind your business. And the second thing is, she said, when I came here, they didn't want me here. Now I'll stay here till I feel like me.
And, you know, my parents accepted a call to come from Indiana back home, my father home. They were actually called on by a black principal who was trying to prepare for desegregation. This was in the mid 60s. Mm hmm. And schools are still not desegregated in eastern North Carolina.
So basically, we were living in violation of the law. I was taught that there was no separation between Jesus and justice. Now, having said all of that, my father's more progressive than a lot of people in the church, like Dr. King. He faced some isolation. And I decided at that age I didn't really want to have anything to do with ministry. I would be in church, but not ministry. I told my daddy I might be a good deacon, but I want to reserve the right to tell people just what I feel, that pastors can't always do that because we still have a ministry.
And so I went to school to be a lawyer. And in my junior year I received a real sense of calling. And when I told my father about it, he said, come on, let's talk. And we went on a four hour drive and just talking about whether or not I could do better inside the formal church or outside the formal church and wrestle through that. And then I preached my sermon in March of nineteen eighty four. The day I preach my sermon, some people said, Oh my goodness, you're such a great teacher.
Our church has an opening. My dad looked at me and took me home. He said, You better not even think about it. He said, you're going to seminary. So I finished my senior year at North Carolina Central, the student government president and so forth. I went straight to some of the Duke University seminary in nineteen eighty five.
You know, to say that Jesus and justice are the same thing seems to me to be so obvious. I mean, how can you be. A Bible reading person, a church attending person, and not understand how profoundly true that simple phrase really is, and yet you've spent decades now preaching and being an activist. How are you trying to open up people's minds and hearts to understand what Christianity should mean and what should be expected of us who claim to be followers of Jesus?
Well, let's prosecute case a little bit and do a little theology and admit from at least Western culture and American culture, we have two great problems that have affected and infected theology in a bad way, and that is the genocide of first nation people and the enslavement of African-Americans that were all rooted in racism. And interestingly enough, the exclusion and oppression of women right now to do those three things that had to be a misinterpretation of scripture. Because you're right, if you read the Bible, there are over two thousand scriptures in the Bible that talk about how you should do justice, how you should treat these things, how you should treat the poor, the children, the women and the immigrant.
Jesus started his ministry to the poor, his public ministry, his first sermon, the spirit of the Lord upon me to preach good news to the poor and the word for poor. That is, of course, is one of three words in Greek. That word, Pattakos literally means those who have been made poor through political exploitation. Then when Jesus is dying or preparing to die, he said, the nations will be judged by when I was one, when I was sick, when I was an immigrant.
The text I said, Did you welcome me right now? How is it that so many people claim there to be, quote unquote Christians, but then have been anti-immigrant and to the freedom of black people and the liberation of women and treatment of indigenous people? Right. Well, in order to do that, somebody had to twist the scriptures.
So one of my professors said to be a Christian, to be born again, Sprink, or whatever you call it, and to claim the Holy Spirit is to have a quarrel with the world's systems of injustice. And if whatever you claim you have doesn't produce a quarrel with injustice, then your claim of it being the spirit with the big ass is suspect.
When you think about the very deliberate, concerted effort by one political party to basically try to own Christianity and it overlooks the role of the African-American church. It overlooks, as you say, a lot of theology, a lot of history. It also overlooks this moment in time. You know, Black Lives Matter. I view, as you know, very profoundly a theological statement. It is. And when you think about what's happening in our country right now, do you see that maybe we are finally going to have the moral reckoning that has been distorted and perverted and postponed for so long?
You know, I'm thinking a lot about that question because first of all, historically, we had slavery, religion, but we also had Frederick Douglass. We had the religion of the slave. We had the religion of the abolitionists. Let's not forget that the first people coming together to fight against racism was not new, you know? Yes, you had the racism in the South, but alongside that, you had Dr. King and so many others who preach the gospel of justice and liberation.
So we've always had these two streams, if you will, now. I hope so. When you say that about this moment that we're here and I think it will be a continuation because in every age has the Edmund Pettus Bridge, right. Every generation has their moment. We've had two reconstructions, one between eighteen sixty eight and eighteen ninety six. And then we had the second reconstruction, nineteen fifty four to nineteen sixty eight. And I think America needs is in the third reconstruction.
I think this is the birth pains of it. When I see all of the organized things that are happening in climate, the Black Lives Matter of poor people's campaign, of the women's movement, stand standing, all of these things coming together. But in this moment when George Cloward was killed, assassinated, strangled, lynched on a sidewalk, that young girl that kept that camera is the real hero because she forced us to see it, just like Emmett Till's mama forced us to see his death.
Now, the question is, though, is all that we see in the streets. Just about that and I see a respect for I don't think so. The reason is because that happened also during a time of covid when we have a lot of death going on and we found that 70, 80 percent of people didn't have to die if we'd done the right thing. On top of that, we have 700 people dying a day from poverty either before cope.
So there's a lot of hurt. So I think that when people saw this death and they saw it enacted or carried out by the state, the state is not supposed to kill you. Life is what the state supposed to protect. And when he said, I can't breathe, I can't breathe, I think internally and spiritually, a lot of people took that as shorthand for how many people are feeling, those workers being forced to go into work in lethal environments without protection.
I can't read people who are dying in hospitals that shouldn't even be dying. What are probably their last words? I can't breathe. And so there's a sense in which Secretary Clinton, that the country that all this movement in the street and all of this coming out is like the democracy, trying to bring the establishment of justice, trying to breathe, providing for the common good, promoting the general welfare, trying to brief, saying something's not right here.
And I think this moment can be a moment where we come to terms not just with systemic racism as it affects black people, but systemic racism in all of its manifestations against brown people, against first nation people, but also systemic poverty and ecological devastation and the war economy and the false narrative of religious nationalism. This is a moment if we don't miss the moment, if we match our policy decisions to the morning we see in the street. And if we don't treat this as a spectacle event, rather than recognizing this is a call for reconstruction.
This is a moment that we can fundamentalistic, but it's going to require a lot of shift is going to require politicians to show is going to require people that may run for office to be moderate, to recognize we're not in a moderate moment. We're in a reconstruction one. But we are the FDR moment. We are not in normal times. And God help us if we blow this moment. That's where we are.
Filiba, we're taking a quick break. Stay with us. Feeling lost then?
We've got the podcast for you, Laborites. I'm Amanda Knox. And I'm Christopher Robinson. I know what it's like to be absolutely stuck to wind up in a life I never expected. But everyone's got their own personal maids, complete with dead ends, shortcuts and Midnighters.
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Listen to Labyrinths and the I Heart radio app on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Hi, this is Hillary Clinton, host of the new podcast, You and Me both, there's a lot to be anxious and worried about right now, and it's made so much worse by the fact that we can't be together. So I find myself on the phone a lot, talking with friends, experts, really anyone who can help make some sense of these challenging times.
These conversations have been a lifeline for me.
And now I hope they will be for you to please listen to you and me both on the I Heart radio app, Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. How do you see now what the church should be doing, because a lot of people are leaving the church. A lot of young people are leaving the church in part because the way they understand what Christianity has become is so judgmental, so alienating that they think to themselves, well, I don't need that.
I don't want to be part of that. So this should also be a time for the church to take a hard look at itself and try to figure out how it can be a real partner in this moment of moral awakening.
So there's a book that I when I started my doctoral degree at Drew University, it was in pastoral care, public policy. And one of the books that was read said that you do not care about your people from a pastoral perspective if you are not willing, from a prophetic perspective, to challenge the systems that make them have the problems that need pastoral counseling in the first place.
So in this moment, we have to stop separating the two. You know, a lot of young people are leaving so-called white evangelicals. And I was told when we started working with young people, you know, you're not going to be able to be a preacher. So they don't like I said, no. I said what they don't like is this bland form of religion that tells them all religion is about is just praying and wishing for stuff. Young people are very open to faith.
That is about transformation, about love, about justice, about equality, about the essence, the essence of what it means to be people of faith. And I think we have to be engaged. There's no way in the days in which we live, the church can stay quarantined inside of the four walls because that's never what it was. Do you know, I've made a pact with some pastors, for instance, and we've said if anybody in our church dies from the lack of health care, we're going to do just like Emmett Till's mom called the media and said this is what bad government policy looks like.
I'm going to say, how in the world can you claim to follow Jesus who, if he did anything, he killed everybody free and he never charged a laparoscope.
Efforts just left for. OK, OK. I mean, really, how can you claim to follow? And I mean, it makes absolutely no sense to and our movement in a poor people's campaign was attracting people is three things. The counterintuitive mass of people coming together, coal miners of Kentucky, black folk from the Delta. Number two, that we saw the interlocking connection of the injustice. And young folk get this. They love it. They they love the moral fusion when you connect the dots because they understand that.
And then number three was attracting them is the teaching. And what I mean by that is we go in a room and say, did you know that one hundred and forty million for low wealth people and one.
And did you know that six to six million of my wife did you know about Joseph Stiglitz, about the cost of inequality. So what about the cost of inequality? Not what does it cost to fix it, but what's the cost of living at the same time? And we'll start hearing those numbers and realizing that it doesn't have to be that these are choices, then they are actually empowered and they are drawn in, because if it's a chance to do it, then we can until I absolutely we can choose something different.
You know, this year has been a tough year for so many of our fellow Americans. There's so much that has gone wrong, not only the ravages of the pandemic, but the economic devastation, the loss, jobs and livelihoods, some of which are not going to come back, a terrible sense of just confusion and loss at the core of our national identity.
Would you just say a few words to all of these people who are struggling? You know, how can they keep the faith? How can they regain the faith? How can they understand that, you know, Jesus and justice mean the same thing if only we are liberated from a political, shortsighted, oppressive religion. And once again, you know, our fellow seekers. How would you address those who are really hurting right now?
Well, I think that several things. Number one is I'm reminded the words of Frederick Douglass when the Dred Scott decision came down in 1850 and everybody said it was over. That said, there's nothing we can do, slavery. It's going to be what it is. And he was invited to speak to a women's group in May. And Frederick Douglass said this decision is monstrous in all. All of its considerations. But you need to know that every attempt to allow.
Our movement has only served to embolden and intensify our agitation. And what if this moment of pain isn't necessarily in the breaking of the chains of oppression? I think we have to remember that people have come through some very, very despairing situations before, and when people ask me about optimistic, no, am I hopeful? Yes, but there's the hope that has to come through the despair. I think the third thing is to recognize that a lot of what we're seeing, even with covid is not God made is human ineptitude.
And if humans, as James Baldwin said, messed it up afraid, then we can fix it. The next thing is, remember in history that it was after the swine flu, after all that pain that Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the New Deal that is announced after this.
So I say to folks in this moment, don't give up, join the movement. Don't like popping champagne, because every time people have come together in the most difficult moments, whether it was Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Lucretia Mott, the coming together, they were able to fundamentally shift the direction of history. History is not said. We can affect history. Is it hard? Years is going to be challenging. Yes. So some of us have decided to say this particular Clinton, that if right now, in this moment, within 48 hours, any one of us could be on a ventilator breathing our last breath.
If that's the possibility in this moment, then what are we going to do with? Well, one of the things we can do with the insight, if I knew I only had two days to breathe, what would I fight for? My last breath? What kind of love, what kind of grace, what kind to and then start living like that? All of us. We might be forty eight more years. But in this meantime and I do mean mean to me again in this mania that we decide that we are not going to join with the means that we want to use our last breath and everything we have, our activism, our voting, our conversation, our building community, because I don't have any breath to waste.
And if I all of the people who have died and lost everything, then the only way I can honor them is to use the breath I have to fight for a better world that would not have cost them their life. And I think if we do that, we can, in fact, hew out of this great moment of despair, as King was, say, a stone of hope. We can be repairers of the breach. We really can be repaired to breathe, and we can be a movement that is going to mean we must push, push, and sometimes that's coming.
Your friends are not going to like it necessarily, but it's better to be pushed by our friend to be made them black and white and brown and red and yellow and gay and straight, trans. Whoever we are, we are this movement. And the last thing we can do is just that.
They know that you are a man after my own heart, my friend. Yeah. I mean, that's how I feel every day. And I cannot tell you how much I have loved having this conversation with you.
And for those who have listened, who want to hear more from Reverend Dr. William Barber, his sermons at his church are streamed live on Facebook. But there are so many other ways you can find him. His writings, his speaking, his incredible work of purpose and mission on behalf of forming as our mutual friend John Lewis would say, a beloved community, a community in America that finally lives up to our our values and our faith. Thank you so much, my friend.
It's wonderful having this chance to talk with you. And I look forward to continuing the conversation. Thank you so much.
If you're looking for more wisdom from Reverend Barber, pick up a copy of his new book, we are called To Be a Movement. Nearly two decades ago, Krista Tippett recognized that most Americans have a hard time talking about religion and spirituality outside of places of worship. So she started a conversation that continues to this day, not only with religious leaders, but with everyone from poets to physicists. I am so excited to dig into this topic with her. It's just a sheer delight to have this chance to talk with you, Krista.
No. Well, it's an honor and really a delight to be here.
I particularly resonate to a saying of your describing your own work that I read where you seek to address what you call a black hole, where intelligent public conversation about the religious, spiritual and moral aspects of human life might be.
Yeah, Krista, talk to me about how you see this present time. Are we filling the black hole? Are we ignoring it?
Hmm. Where is the opportunity for what I think is a much needed spiritual reckoning about what it means to be human and trying to be more focused in how we live, the life we are given, both alone and in company?
Yeah, well, I do agree with you that as I've watched this moment, I feel that it has brought into relief, it has surfaced that the questions before us have deep moral content and and in fact, are about, you know, the soul of our nation.
And we still have to develop the muscles and the language and the practices, public practices to take those things on together.
But I think more of us are aware that that's what we're called to do.
And theology does have a contribution to make as part of the human enterprise. What does it mean to be human? How do we want to live and who will we be to each other?
Those questions are so alive in our life together right now between our pandemic and our racial rupture and awakening, I mean, I am really turning now to words and practices that I feel, again, like I would say, have to are offered up to all of us as part of the human enterprise of contemplation, of repentance, of redemption, of healing, of I was talked to some rabbis the other day about lamentations.
Right. Like in that tradition, that lamentations is supposed to be a public practice. And I don't know about you, but that word lands so with relief in me. Mm hmm.
I want to lament. Right. I mean, to lament and I want to lament with others and instead was just so good at all.
The other we leap over element and we point fingers and we blame and we yell and we get mad. And there are these other places in us that these traditions are the bearers of not the only bearers, but I feel like they are great resources and companions for now.
I wish there were a way, as we think about the. Time we're living through right now and how necessary it is for people to slow down, to take a deep breath, to think about their lives and the lives of those around them, to maybe explore some of the spiritual and religious practices and the and the great questions that haven't gone away just because we don't address them.
I'm with you.
I you know, my quick definition of spiritual life is befriending reality.
Hmm. Unpack that for us. Uncheck that.
That's great to befriend reality, which means all its complexity.
Right. We are all so complicated in our life together, so complicated. And all of these challenges that we face are so complicated.
But resisting that complexity doesn't get us where we want to go. And I think when I say that befriending reality, also what I mean by that is that these traditions, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, they contain not just conversation and wisdom across time and generations about who God might be or what transcendence is. But this matter of being human, the complexity of being human and so much of what the traditions have taught and cultivated is now being borne out in our disciplines of neuroscience and and social psychology.
So, you know, one of the things we're learning is the corrosive effect that fear has when human beings are afraid, we are literally unable to rise to our best selves. It's literally too much to ask of somebody.
That's right. The system is overwhelmed. Yeah. Can't do it. If you feel threatened, the feeling of threatened is enough. You may not actually be in danger. So that's reality.
And so the pragmatism of these spiritual tools and practices and teachings is that it gives us the power to settle into our best selves.
This move of not letting fear dominate or finding ways to control that in ourselves, to step into our best selves, to transmit to others that that is possible to move through the world that way. We cannot face the challenges before us. We cannot face how we have distorted ourselves with this construction of race, right. I mean, to name just one of the things that is before us, which which kind of has underpinned so many of the others, if we don't find ways to rise into the best and deepest and most complex aspects of our humanity and character, our moral imagination.
Oh, I feel literally thrilled by that phrase. Befriending reality and your. Description of what it means, what it could mean, that really is just truly music to my ears, Krista. We'll be back right after this quick break.
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You know, I will say, since I'm here with you, I know and I've known this, but I hear it in your voice, even even though you're mostly just asking questions now.
But I. I know that this is a huge part of you, the tradition you grew up in, that there is a religious and spiritual grounding to your life that I assume has evolved because I think if if this part of life like anything, if you're alive, it's evolving and you have had an adventurous life.
And I just think it must have been I have thought this before. It must have been frustrating for this even this part of yourself to not be able to show, because as we've talked about, there's not a place where the complexity and richness and fullness of this part of us gets honored and has a place to show itself. I don't know if that's a question, but.
Well, no, but I take it as a question because it's one that I've thought about a lot. And I was raised as a Methodist. I was raised, you know, going to Sunday school. I had a really influential youth minister who took us to a different level of thinking about life and and what it meant to be a Christian, what it meant to be a person of faith. He was the one who took me as a young teenager to hear Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr. speak. And he was constantly challenging us with art and poetry and different ways of thinking about the world than the ones we had grown up with in our suburb of Chicago. And so I always believed that faith was a constant in my life.
You might hear the rain beating on the top of the roof of my home, my little by little attic office where I am recording this, which seems kind of appropriate.
But it was really difficult to ever express any of these feelings or experiences or even the questions raised by my own faith in my own upbringing and my own searching in my public life. For example, when my father died, I had given, you know, several weeks of my time by his bedside as he passed away. And I was just totally overwhelmed by what we all experience, the death of a loved one. And I had promised to speak at the University of Texas before my father's stroke and.
I was trying to get out of it, and the indomitable Liz Carpenter, who had asked me to deliver the speech, said, no, no, Hillary, you got to come. You know, we fill the field house, tens of thousands of people. You have to come. Well, I had no idea what I was going to say. I didn't feel up to the occasion. But, you know, I'm a dutiful Methodist person. And so, of course, I went and it was an incredibly emotional experience for me.
And I talked about meaning and life. And I remember just being ridiculed by the press. What right did I have to raise these issues in public? What was a, quote, first lady doing talking about issues of life and death and meaning? Yeah, and spirituality. It was a very, very difficult time in my life, and to feel that I had no public outlet for exploring these issues meant that I just became more personal as well.
So that was kind of you you then decided you needed to keep that in. Yeah. Yeah. And it's it in terms of a personal experience, it certainly has continued.
But I have felt often that, you know, maybe if I could think of a better way of talking about it, a more, oh, understandable and acceptable way, I might possibly make a better impact.
But, you know, I I feel very fortunate that I've had this grounding in faith, not just emotionally, but intellectually. Yeah. Yeah.
Because I have I have fallen back on it, you know, time and time again. So it's it's it's challenging. If you're in the public eye and known for being in the public eye as a political person, there's an acceptable range to talk about religion. But if you go into these deeper questions, the press and and and certain elements of the public get immediately anxious about it.
Yeah, we just we don't have that. We don't have the vocabulary. I mean, I don't and I don't think it's somehow appropriate to have this conversation in public. Like, don't talk about this in public, for heaven's sakes.
Yeah. I also think that word you used searching among the crazy thing is that the religion that does get somehow sanctioned is the certainty, right? It's yes. It's the doctrinaire.
Yes. And that's actually not how people live this. I like you. You described this being it's your it's somebody dies. It's like these moments in life, right. It doesn't all add up. And that's right. And and nothing else is there. This is where we are turned into our interior existence.
And these questions of meaning that makes so much sense, what you just said.
And and it feels painful to me from afar. It's painful to hear about.
Well, thank you again for spending this time with me. Thank you. You can hear Krista Tippett every week tune into and being from Minnesota Public Radio and Prick's.
I want to turn now to someone else who has shed new light on the issue of faith in his case through humor, Christianity, it's the dominant religion in our country.
But did you know it's also in serious trouble?
No, it's not gays, not science, not liberal Hollywood. According to Alabama, it's Sharia law.
Aasif Mandvi is perhaps best known for his role as The Daily Show's senior Muslim correspondent or alternatively, the senior foreign looking correspondent.
He was also the lead actor and co-writer and producer of the Web series Halal in the Family. What a great name. They say if you want to make people think, try making them laugh. And that's exactly what our does all while confronting racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and bigotry. And then there's the latest development. This past March, USCIRF became a dad. And of course, I wanted to hear all about that.
So before we get started on all this other stuff, what's your son's name?
His name is is Shaun Amir Mondavi. My wife is Hindu and I'm Muslim. So we shot is a Hindu name. Amir is Muslim and his initials are. I am. Which is Jewish. Yeah, we are white.
So we got all the bases covered in our walking advertisement for religious tolerance.
No, it was it was actually amazing because we had an interfaith wedding, a Hindu Muslim wedding, and we had to make it up because, you know, there's a world in which family and I would never have gotten married, you know.
That's right. And how did you grow up? I mean, I know you spent part of your childhood in the UK, then your family moved to Florida. How did it feel to you growing up Muslim in those two settings?
Well, you know, I did grow up Muslim and I grew up in a relatively religious home. My grandparents were religious, you know, so Islam was always just part of the DNA of my childhood. You know, maybe not ironically, but interestingly, it didn't really become a thing until after 9/11.
And, you know, up until then, I have this religion that felt very private and it felt like it was my thing that I did with my family. We went to the mosque. Sometimes we prayed at home. You know, we went to religious ceremonies of things, but it never became something that was looked on from the outside until after 9/11. And then suddenly there was a different relationship to it. And suddenly I was dealing with the explanation of it or having to somehow defend it or somehow, you know, Islam became politicized.
But growing up, it just felt like it was a very personal, private thing. And I used it as my own way of connecting with whatever highest spirit, you know, God, universe, whatever that is.
When you think about politicizing religion and then the Islamophobia that resulted after 9/11, you have been one of the very few high profile people who have walked right into that. Yeah, you and I want to I want to understand your thinking about it, because, you know, I'm sure that there were people who said, you know, don't go there, don't don't make it an issue. How did you come to grips with what you wanted to do to try to, you know, in your own way, combat what you saw as the politicization and the really demonization in so many different quarters of Islam?
Well, you know, it's funny because I was well, this is going to sometimes life just happens to you. And what you do in that moment defines what happens in the next moment. And for me, what happened, I wasn't trying to be political. I wasn't trying to, like, be outspoken about it. Even after 9/11, I was dealing with it on a personal level, but never in a public forum. And then The Daily Show happens and I got this job that I never expected to get.
I never was I wasn't looking for it. It literally happened. I went I went to this audition. Jon Stewart hired me. And suddenly I was now the Muslim correspondent on The Daily Show, much to the terror of my parents.
And I remember my dad saying to me, listen, if Jon Stewart ever asks you anything about Islam, you just have him call your mother because you don't know her doubting.
So they were terrified and I was going to be out there like just, you know, seeing all kinds of nonsense that didn't make any. And then I what it did for me was. It gave me this platform, and at that time in 2006, there were not a lot of a lot of people representing in that way that felt like it was truthful.
I mean, you had, like, the terrorist on twenty four or, you know, I mean, I got so many scripts in the aftermath of 9/11 where I was literally the first scene of the movie or the TV show is the towers coming down and Muslims cheering and praying every script. And so this was the first time there was something where I thought, oh, this is a an actual conversation. Like we're actually talking about this. And I think that when I got on The Daily Show, I ended up there and I thought to myself, OK, this is what I'm going to end up being.
And I realized, like, oh, there was a need for it. So I leaned into it and then I found a voice around it. Then as I stepped into it further and further, I realized, oh, this is I'm actually finding a voice that I had not allowed myself to find. So sometimes it's just about being given the opportunity to express that. Then you realize, like, I got a lot to say. You know, I didn't know that I had this much to say around this.
Yeah. And let me sort of bring this back to both faith, but also fatherhood.
So here you are, a new father, thinking about all that's going on in the world around you.
How do you hope the world looks in five years when he starts school, in 18 years when he graduates from high school? And how do you see how raising your son at this moment is going to play out?
Well, I feel I do believe and maybe this is the glass half full guy in me, which is that I do believe that after a break down, there is a break through. And if we're going through some kind of sort of profound breakdown, there is going to be a moment of breakthrough. And I also believe something that I discovered recently, which is the difference for me between faith and belief, you know, and belief is I believe something is going to happen.
I believe that I'm going to get that job or I believe that I'm going to be whatever it is. Faith is understanding that no matter what happens, I have the capacity to move forward and to be OK. And that is something that I feel like I want my son to understand. It's a much more difficult thing to inhabit, which is this idea that, like, I'm going to be and we will be OK no matter what happens. And that is faith and that we cannot be destroyed because faith is larger than adversity, you know.
Yeah, I love that. And I'm with you in hoping that, you know, this breakdown leads through a breakthrough.
Yeah, but I just can't thank you enough. I loved love talking to you. I just wish the best for you and your wife and your son. Thank you so much. This has been such a pleasure. Thanks so much.
When he's not changing diapers, Aasif Mandvi has his hands in many new projects, including a highly entertaining new supernatural drama series called Evil on CBS. Check it out.
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