EPISODE 11: NIKY SHEA PART 2
SAMIA VO: Hey guys, I am recording this from my portable set-up in Paris. If I had been in New York, I would have recorded a new intro and outro to acknowledge, again, what happened last weekend in Charlottesville. This entire episode of the podcast was recorded before the deadly clash between white supremacists and peaceful anti-racism protestors, as was the last one. I know how on edge we all are over this. It’s frightening, and people are extremely angry and scared—and rightfully so. So I feel I need to amend and/or clarify some of the statements you’ll hear in this episode.
First off, I stand by what I said last week, about how Antifa protestors are automatically better in my mind than white supremacists, because they are fighting for equality. There’s no moral equivalency between the two, in my opinion. But I also stand by what you’ll hear me say within this episode, which is that I disagree strongly with their willingness to use violence at protests.
Like many other activists, I believe that violence is damaging to the work of trying to change people’s minds. There are many liberals right now who draw the line of compassion at white supremacists and other hate groups, and I can absolutely understand that. But whether or not we are willing to admit their humanity, they are human. There have been plenty of white supremacists who realized that their whole ideology was fucked, and have changed. They are often the people out there deradicalizing other white supremacists. There is the potential for positive change in every human being who’s not a bona fide psychopath - and those guys are extremely rare. We can and should consider the power of compassionate communication to change minds - even the ones that cling to the most hateful ideologies. It WORKS.
If you are a liberal who feels strongly that the only good fascist is a dead fascist, this is gonna piss you off, and I’m sorry about that. You can do whatever you feel is best for you and yours, but perhaps check out the data available on the effectiveness of nonviolent versus violent protest tactics.
I’ll put resources in the show notes giving you examples of white supremacists changing their minds, as well the data on nonviolent versus violent protest tactics. I’m also going to include a link to an article about a black man who says he’s gotten 200 KKK members to leave the group, by befriending them and watching their whole ideology crumble in the face of his compassion. That’s befriending, not defriending. His story is definitely worth a read. I’ll post all of that in the Episode 11 Show Notes as soon as I can - definitely within 24 hours of the release of this episode.
And just a head’s up, the rest of the show notes for this episode and Episode 10 will be up within the next week. It’s just not possible to stay stuck to a computer screen for days on end when you’re trying to see Europe for the first time. Thanks for understanding, and here’s Episode 11: Niky Shea Part 2.
SAMIA VO: This is Make America Relate Again. I’m Samia Mounts.
Welcome to the finale of Season 1! What?! I can’t believe we’re already here. Making this show has been the most challenging undertaking of my life, and also the most rewarding.
I began this podcast with the premise that each conversation would represent a sincere attempt by two people on opposite sides of the political spectrum to understand each other better, and not to try to change each other’s minds. What you’ve heard over the last few months as been an experiment I’ve been conducting to answer a few core questions. Is it possible for people to build relationships with each other, even when they disagree strongly about fundamental issues? Can conversations about those disagreements bring people together instead of wedging them apart? And lastly, if those relationships can be built, will they eventually influence both people in a way that does change their minds?
The answer to those first two questions is yes. It is possible to build a relationship over conversations about the things you disagree about—as long as you have respect and compassion for each other. A little humor never hurts either.
As for the third question, as to whether this style of communication has the power to change minds, the jury is still out. But I’m optimistic. Sharing and receiving information outside of our bubbles, in my opinion, can only be good. I know that I am better for having these conversations, that my own mind has changed in many beneficial ways.
Last week, I shared how my outlook and temperament have changed for the better as a direct result of working on this show. And I issued a challenge to you, dear listeners, that you go out and find someone whose views make you crazy and have a real conversation with them. A conversation in which your intention is not to change their mind, but to understand where they’re coming from. I’m re-issuing that challenge now. Go try it and let me know how it went by posting on the Make America Relate Again Facebook page. Every listener who completes this challenge will get a shout-out in mini-episodes I’ll be releasing during the season break! I’ll read your experiences on the show, so that other people can benefit from your bravery and willingness to connect. I want to turn this idea of introducing respect and compassion to political discourse into a national movement. I believe in the power of compassionate conversations to change the course of politics for the better. So join me—try it for yourself and post your experiences on Facebook. And if you don’t use Facebook, you can also just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The usual disclaimers. I’ve edited this interview for clarity and time, but have been careful not to change context or meaning. Because it’s important that my guests feel at home and comfortable during these interviews, there are noises at times of furniture shifting or hands gesturing. Also, we are not political experts, and we get plenty of stuff wrong. Check the Show Notes on the Episode 11 page at makeamericarelatepodcast.com for fact checks and extra resources.
After the interview, you’ll hear the debut of my brand new song, Change The World, which will play in its entirety before my final thoughts of the season. Make sure you listen through to the end. I have important stuff I wanna say.
Okay, I’m going to roll you into my conversation with Niky just before the point we cut off last week. Here we go.
Niky: Well, I think even conservatism, the word itself, is starting to have different meanings. When I say that I'm a conservative, like, I just explained to you, like, what I view as conservatism. Where like, to somebody else, they would be like, “Oh, you're a conservative? You know, like, you're a fascist Nazi, and you believe in this and that.”
Samia: They jump—right.
Niky: You know, where I'm like, no, no, no, no, no. That's not what I mean at all, I just meant, you know… So I think that the definition of conservatism is kind of, like, changing and evolving because of what's been happening.
Samia: Absolutely, and the Tea Party had a—
Niky: Yes. Yes.
Samia: —big part to play in that. I mean, really pushing the Republican party much further to the right than it was before.
Samia: George W. Bush was a president I was not a fan of. [Niky scoffs] You are rolling your eyes right now.
Niky: Oh my God. I just—I don't know.
Samia: But even George W. Bush, as terrible of a job as I think he did, and a lot of people think he did, he was—
Niky: He was another dummy.
Samia: But—yeah. But he was still a more decent—
Samia: —appropriate president than Donald Trump is proving to be. So this gets me to my—one of my big questions that I wanted to ask you. And I've got two more big ones that I want to get to. But I wanted to ask you, how do you think Donald trump is doing so far as president? Are you pleased with his performance?
Niky: To be honest, I haven't really been affected by anything. But what I have noticed, is that there are other people that are getting affected by some things that he's doing. And I'm not liking the way that he's doing them. Especially the most recent thing that I wanted to bring up was this transgender military ban. You know, I know that a lot of people are not going to agree with me on this. I mean, maybe they will, or at least see where I'm coming from. The way that I think he worded that, by calling them a burden, was absolutely disgusting to me. I was sick to my stomach when I read it. It made me feel so horrible, because I know transgender people, and I would never in my life ever consider them a burden. I don't know what I would do without gay people and the transgender community. Like, they just like, they bring me so much life, I just love them to death. And I just hate how discriminated they are being right now. I wanted to talk about this transgender ban in the military just because I have come from a military background.
Samia: Me too. I grew up on an army post in Korea.
Niky: Oooh, I’ve always wanted to go to Korea.
Samia: You should, it's great. My dad is career—was career Air Force, and so is my brother. So I came from—
Niky: Yeah. The majority of my family is in the Air Force. And I have some family that were—I have some friends that were in the army, I have friends that were Marines, I mean, I’ve—Navies, everybody. So the way that I look at the military, because a lot of people are saying nobody should take away someone's right to serve—which I agree with—but I believe that serving in the military, it’s kind of a touchy subject, but it's a privilege. You need to be accepted in. It's very hard to get accepted into the military. And a lot of people keep saying you can't compare transgender people to people that have depression or whatever, because if, you know, if you have really bad depression or, you know, a medical—
Samia: A lot of medical problems.
Niky: —you cannot fight or be in the military. I can't even imagine what it's like to go through that transition, and I know that a lot of transgender people seek therapy when they're going through this transition, to help them go along with this. Now, if somebody's transgender and they're completely fine with theirselves, they're good to go, you know, if they want to fight, I think that they should be able to fight. But if you're on the front line, and you know, if a transgender soldier is on the frontline, and they're going through, you know, some sort of depression, or anxiety, or any type of issue because of, you know, whatever struggles they're having with their transition, I don't think that they should be accepted onto the front line because I wouldn't want them to get hurt. If they're not... If their head is not in the game and they are not ready to be on the front lines, you know, for anything that is going to happen—and that just goes for everybody, not just transgenders. War doesn't care what you are. War and fighting doesn't care if you're transgender, they don't care if you're depressed, they don't care if you're white, black, whatever. You know? War is war. So for me, if I had a transgender friend that was, you know, that wanted to fight in the military, but was going through a hard time with their transition, I would encourage them to not enroll or try to enlist, because I wouldn't want anything to happen to them. I feel like maybe if he would’ve... Because I know that Trump, he talked with a lot of military officials about this, because apparently there was a lot of, like, budget cuts that they had to do, because apparently it was really expensive. He mentioned something about, you know, paying for their surgeries?
Samia: Yeah. [crosstalk]
Niky: I've never heard of that.
Samia: Okay, so the thing, the thing is—
Niky: But I never understand his tweets. So I'm like—
Samia: Yeah. I've looked... Okay, so I had to fact-check this.
Samia: Just in the last week for another episode of this podcast and they only reversed the ban... There was a ban for a long time on transgender people.
Niky: Yeah, there was a ban for a long time, but Obama took it off.
Samia: Obama took it off last year, so it's very new that there are people openly serving—
Samia: —who identify as trans in the military. But there were trans people in the military long before that—
Niky: Yeah, before.
Samia: —who were closeted.
Samia: And you know—
Niky: It's been like that for years.
Samia: Navy Seal Kristen Beck comes to mind, but—
Niky: Life’s been like that for years.
Samia: And she—and she served as a Navy Seal for 20 years and like—
Samia: —was amazing, and I want to say transitioned after, but I'll double check that, after getting out of the service. But you know, it never compromised her ability to do her job.
Samia: The medical costs, according to the best information we have, are a drop in the bucket as compared to the military's entire healthcare budget. All they have are estimates, but the estimates that researchers have put together based on the data that's available, say that only between like 29 to 150 transgender people in the active duty are seeking gender reassignment surgery at any given time. The costs associated on an annual basis are estimated to be between like 2.3 and 8.2 million dollars a year.
Niky: I saw that. That's the one I saw.
Samia: Which is nothing.
Niky: Compared to—yeah.
Samia: The whole budget is like 40 something billion dollars, and Viagra prescriptions account for over 40 million dollars of the military's healthcare budget, so this is not a prohibitive cost. The fact is there are so few transgender people in society—
Niky: What do... what do guys in the military need Viagra for?
Samia: What do they need Viagra for? I don't know. I don't know.
Niky: I mean, I'm sorry but if I... I mean—
Samia: But they're getting it. They're getting... they're getting—
Niky: If I was in active duty, the last thing I'd be thinking of was trying to get my thing up. You know what I mean?
Samia: —40 million dollars a year worth of Viagra and then another... I mean the total number for erectile dysfunction drugs that the military spends per year is like 84 million dollars a year. When you look at those numbers, it seems ridiculous to say that transgender healthcare costs are prohibitive for the military. It's just... That's just not true. So you have a problem with the way Trump worded his tweets, and I have a problem with the fact that he just announced this on Twitter, but it's not actually a policy directive.
Niky: Oh, I had a problem with that, too. I said, first of all, the way that you worded this is completely ridiculous, and second of all, why are you announcing something like this on Twitter? That is not—
Samia: And it's not actually a policy.
Samia: Like, nothing has actually changed.
Niky: [crosstalk] And that's why I was like, "It hasn't even happened."
Samia: And what about all of the... and what about the thousands of transgender people in the military who came out after the rule got changed last year, who are now like, "Well shit—"
Samia: “—am I going to lose my job?"
Samia: "Because you guys said that I could be myself, and now I'm myself and now I can't be myself?"
Niky: Now I can't... Now I can't be. Yeah.
Samia: That's fucked up! Like—and—
Niky: Yeah. That's why—when I saw that, I was like—so I guess what I'm saying is like, how do I think he's doing so far? Nothing has affected me, but I have been noticing that there has been, you know, things that he's done that have been affecting other people that I'm not happy with. And I am all one for saying that, you know, "I made a mistake." I'm not saying that I think I made a mistake by voting for him, because every president has their ups and downs. No president's ever going to be perfect. I don't regret things, I learn from things.
Samia: That's fair. I tend to take the same attitude.
Niky: And I guess now that I'm thinking, too, when you were asking me, like, what really stirred me away from Hillary, it kind of came to my mind when we started talking about Antifa, it was really that. The way that people started acting when the campaign was going on, because when Trump was campaigning and all these protests started happening—you know, I was raised to think that everything about being a Democrat was right. After my mom passed, and I started going to school and I started learning for myself, and I started looking at how, like, Antifa was acting, I was like, what is this? I'm like, I don't want this. And it’s, in a way, and not just me, it scared a lot of people, and it deterred a lot of people from voting for her, because they were like, "Well, if these are the people that are supporting that lady, like, we don't want to vote for her because like—"
Samia: And the people on the liberal side felt the same way about the conservative crazies.
Niky: Were looking at—about—about the country hicks that are... Yeah.
Samia: But you're confirming something that I've been saying all year, which is that when liberals are hostile and shitty to conservatives, instead of trying to build relationships and talk across the aisle, it hurts our cause.
Niky: It does.
Samia: And I think that goes both ways, too. Extremism in any form is a problem; it's not helpful. We have to be willing to talk to each other, to listen to each other, and to compromise. There's a lot of liberals out there who are like, "No, we will not compromise on anything."
Niky: Yeah. See and that... And to me—
Samia: You have to, because change is slow. Progress is slow.
Niky: And to me that—that also isn't liberalism, because to me, liberalism is about progressiveness and tolerance. And if you're not willing, if you're saying, "We're not going to change our mind. We're not going to agree with these people." Then you're not being progressive. You're not being tolerant. You know what I mean? Like you... like I identify you as a true liberal. You are a real progressive, because you are willing to listen to other people, and even if you don't agree with them, you still appreciate that they have their own opinion, and we're not sitting here choking each other because we voted for different people. That, to me, like, what we're doing right here, and your podcast, is to me what true progressivism is. Like, that is what I think. This is what real progressivism is, not Antifa. Like, that is just—no.
Samia: That's counterproductive. It drove reasonable people like you—
Samia: Away from voting for a Democratic candidate.
Niky: Yeah, because I also... I wasn't able to vote at the time, but I remember being in middle school and I liked John Kerry. You know what I mean?
Samia: I voted for him in that election.
Niky: You know? So I really liked him. I liked him a lot. I remember I was in my history class when the election was happening and they announced on the intercom at school. I remember standing in line. We were getting ready to leave class and I was standing right next to my history teacher and he voted for Kerry as well. And they announced, they had said that he lost and I was really upset. It was Bush, right?
Niky: Yeah, I remember they had said you know, George Bush was elected and I was... I remember. I won't forget that day because I was really upset about it. I really did not want Bush to be elected.
Samia: Do you remember John Kerry riding into whatever it was on a motorcycle with a leather jacket on?
Samia: He was trying to be cool.
Samia: And everybody knew he wasn't cool, but we all loved for it!
Niky: I'm telling you, I loved him. I think I was in the eighth grade. I was in like the eighth grade, seven or eighth grade. And one of the reasons, like, that was a huge reason why I wanted to come on here was to explain that it's not necessarily that I'm like, an avid Trump supporter, but the way that some of the liberal and Democratic people were acting freaked me out, because I wasn't used to seeing people like that. I was used to seeing crazy right-wing conservatives act like that because everybody's seen them be like that for years. I mean they’ve—it’s been around for a long time, but I've never seen... You know what I mean? Like, throughout history, you know, with the KKK and super right-wing Christians. Like, that’s always been around, but this whole new liberal thing that's happened.
Samia: It's been around for decades. It just hasn't been this prevalent in a long time.
Niky: Right. So I had never seen anything like it before, and not a lot of other people have. So to me, you know, obviously the people that are in the Ku Klux Klan and extreme right-wing conservatives, I'm used to that. I'm just like oh, you guys are, like, dumb. You don't even know what you guys are talking about.
Samia: You just write them off.
Samia: It doesn't for you reflect the entire conservative movement.
Samia: Because you consider yourself a conservative.
Niky: Right, so when I saw, you know, Antifa and, you know, other strong liberal and Democrats that were, like, really kind of going nuts, I was like, I've voted Democrat in the past. Where did this come from? It kind of—it freaked me out a little bit and it deterred a lot of people. I mean, I’ve known people that were Democrats and voted Democrat their whole life and voted for Trump 'cause they were like, "We have no idea what's going on with these people."
Samia: But that's interesting. Can you see how people on the liberal side would, the same way that you sort of started identifying all liberals with that extreme group, how people on the liberal side could identify all conservatives?
Samia: And the thing is, is that, you know, the Antifa people are stupid and I don't like their tactics. They stand for all the same things I stand for.
Niky: Yeah, but they're just violent about it.
Samia: But they use violence to make their point. I don't—
Niky: Yeah, and that's not the way.
Samia: And I don't like that, but at the same time, the values on the conservative side that the extremists attach to are really dangerous, and they don't seem to be values that you share. So could you see how, like, your typical more moderate liberal would look at all conservatives under the same shadow of the right-wing extremists as you sort of started identifying all liberals under that shadow of the left-wing extremists?
Niky: Yes, and that's one of the things that I wanted to talk to you about because I think what's happening is both sides... I look at it on, like, a spectrum. You have your extreme left liberals. You have your extreme right conservatives, and then—
Samia: Is everybody else.
Niky: There's me and you.
Niky: And we're all like, "Hey guys, we're not—"
Samia: And that's really why we need to be talking to each other.
Niky: And that's why this podcast is so important, because the majority of people are really like us.
Niky: Antifa… They’re that small percentage and you know what? It sucks, but they're always gonna be like that. Those alt-right conservative people, they're always gonna be like that.
Samia: They need to stay in the very small minority for the rest of us.
Niky: Yeah, and they can just stay where they're at.
Niky: They're just gonna have to accept that the country is evolving. It evolves.
Samia: But here's the thing. Trump played directly to those people. He gave Alex Jones, fringe extremist right-wing extraordinaire, an interview. Because of Trump, Alex Jones has an audience of millions. He didn't before. He was very fringy. Now he has an audience because Trump praised him and went on his show. Trump plays to those bottom of the barrel extremists on the right. Alex Jones, I mean, for every liberal on the planet, lost all credibility when he said Sandy Hook was faked. And that's just one thing. That, the Obama birther conspiracy, the Pizzagate thing. These conspiracy theories that he says are absolutely, 100% true, and they're absolutely 100% not true. And they're resulting in real world consequences, like a man going into that pizza parlor in DC and shooting a rifle 'cause he was sure he was a hero who was gonna save the trapped children in the basement. The parents of the victims at Sandy Hook. I can't even imagine what it must feel like to have this asshole out there with an audience of millions saying that was faked and they were child actors. It's just so disgusting.
Niky: I saw that yeah, and I was kind of like, ummm… 18:04.918
Samia: He should not be allowed to have a platform to speak on.
Niky: Yeah, I don't watch Alex Jones. I only watch Paul. I think he's beautiful and he's British, so I'm like, "Oh my god." You know?
Samia: Oh, you got a crush.
Niky: Duh, girl! I'm just kidding.
Samia: I have friends who run a podcast called Unhireable, and they’re, like, Green Party libertarian types, and they have a term called—they used called "anyhole." So your "anyhole" is somebody that you would let inside any hole. And like, they have made some of, like, the top evil conservatives in the current administration... Like, “evil,” I put in air quotes. Like, Paul Ryan is one of those anyholes and Anthony Scaramucci is the most recent anyhole. I think it's so funny.
Niky: Oh my god. I almost spit my tea up.
Samia: So maybe this guy, Paul, is your anyhole.
Niky: Maybe. You can look him up.
Samia: I will. What's his name again?
Niky: Paul Joseph Watson. And the reason that I like him is because he—I love history. So he often talks a lot about historical context. He doesn't always talk about politics. And that's why I like watching him.
Samia: I like watching Rachel Maddow for the same reason. She's on the left, you know, being an M—
Niky: Oh, I know who she is.
Samia: Yeah. But she has a wonderful way of putting things into historical context, as well. And while I try to take things from anybody on MSNBC with a small grain of salt, her stuff does check out most of the time.
Niky: I did kind of laugh, though, when she was like, "I got Trump's tax returns." And he kind of like—
Samia: And it wasn't really, it was just like a—
Niky: He kind of like—he did pay what he was supposed to pay. And I like—I kind of laughed about it. I was like, "Really, Rachel.” Like—
Samia: Well, that wasn't his tax returns. It was a couple of pages.
Niky: I forget what it was. But I remember she ...
Samia: We do need to see his tax returns. Mostly because of what's going on with this Russia investigation. Because it's unthinkable that a businessman with as many global enterprises as he has wouldn't have dealings with Russian entities. And I, personally, would like to know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my president isn't in the pocket of Vladimir Putin, who I do not trust. And would not want my country to be run the way his country is run.
Niky: Yeah. No. Yeah, I—
Samia: And it's frightening to me how Trump sort of praises and idolizes Putin and other world leaders who are autocratic like him. And Putin, technically, is an elected official. But he runs his country much like an autocracy. The elections are fucked. Like, they’re not—they’re not fair elections.
Niky: It's time for some more scotch.
Samia: It is. I agree. We are so far into this interview.
Niky: I know.
Samia: I’m going to have to cut out a lot to make this the right length. Although I don't mind making it a double feature.
Niky: I'm so okay with that, because I'm having so much fun talking about this stuff.
Samia: I am too. This is great.
Niky: Yeah. The whole Russia Trump thing. I can't make heads or tails of it. Because there's just so much stuff going on with it.
Samia: Luckily you don't have to. Special Counsel Robert Mueller, as long as Trump doesn't find a way to fire him, will make heads and tails of it.
Niky: As long as we're not going to war with Russia, I'm okay. You know, and the other thing that—and I don't know if this was a propaganda tactic—the only thing i think of when I hear the Trump-Russia collusion, which I don't know if many people know about this, during the campaign, Putin went on TV and said if you vote for Hillary, Russia's going to war with you.
Samia: Oh yeah. Mm hmm.
Niky: And to me...
Samia: I heard about that.
Niky: I think that that was a propaganda tactic.
Niky: Because I was like, "I don't want to go to war with Russia, so I'm not going to vote for her." And I'm sure, you know—that’s not why I didn’t, but I think that's another reason why a lot of people didn't. And even though I'm pretty sure that it was probably propaganda.
Samia: Of course it was.
Niky: I still was like, "Do I want to take this chance?" Like I—you know, this whole election I was like this. I looked like my hair. I was like, "Arrgh." What do I do?
Samia: I think everybody was.
Niky: I don't know what's going on. You know, like, what is life? I know a lot of people that didn't vote, because they didn't know.
Samia: Yeah. So I have a couple things to say about that. One has to do with Russia and their treatment of LGBTQ people. It's disgusting.
Niky: Oh, awful. And women.
Samia: And women.
Niky: Over there.
Niky: A lot of countries in Europe, even some Middle Eastern countries, I know that there’s...
Samia: Oh my god. The Middle East needs to get it together with women.
Niky: And with the gays. They're still throwing gays off roofs.
Niky: That stuff, I get teared up when I think about that, because like, so many of my—you know, I'm a dancer—like, so many of my friends are gay and I love them.
Samia: Right. I can relate.
Niky: Like, if I saw someone throwing one of my gay friends off of a roof, like, I would lose my shit. I don't know what i would do with myself. Literally just because they're gay. Because the fact that my gay friends are gay is what makes me love them so much. They give me so much life. They are so hilarious. They make me so happy. They bring so much light to my world. And I wish that people, you know, like, especially extreme conservatives, I just wish that people could see that.
Samia: Did you hear about how the Justice Department, out of no where, for no reason announced to the world that gay people were no longer going to be considered covered by workplace anti-discrimination laws?
Niky: Yes. yes.
Samia: What the fuck is that?
Niky: I saw that and I was like, what? I don't understand that. Everything that I ever watched when Trump was campaigning, I personally never heard him say anything bad about gay people or transgender people.
Samia: He said he was going to be the most pro-gay Republican ever.
Niky: Right. Right.
Samia: One of the first things he did was sign an Executive Order that reversed an Obama rule that protected transgender students in public schools, allowing them to use the bathroom that corresponded with their gender identity. One of the first things he did after the inauguration was reverse that rule.
Niky: Yeah. I have something funny to talk about that. Because a lot of people that are against that are saying, well, what if a child molester goes into the bathroom and says that they are transgender. And I'm like, "How many people are going to do that?"
Samia: That's not a real thing. They could do that whether or not there were laws protecting transgender people.
Niky: And I'm a big advocate for, if you don't know someone or you haven't experienced a certain situation, then shut up. You know what I mean? If you're not transgender and haven't been through what they've been through. Or if you don't know anyone that's transgender and you didn't witness what they experienced, then don't talk shit. Because you don't know what it's like.
Samia: But yet, this president and his Justice Department are making these moves.
Niky: So I am upset about some of these things that he's doing because he was saying that he was going to be one of the best Republican presidents for the LGB blah, blah, blah. I love scotch.
Samia: LGBTQABCF. There's so many letters now.
Niky: But that community. I'm interested to see how all this is going to turn out. Obviously, we're in about a half of the year now, so we've got three and a half years. So I'm really curious to see. And I hope that you keep doing this.
Samia: I was going to ask you if you'd be willing to talk to me again in six months to a year's time.
Niky: I'll do this all four years so that we can keep progressing on what happens if he doesn't get impeached.
Samia: Great. If he doesn't get impeached, you said. [snaps]
Niky: I had to pull that Maxine Waters in there.
Samia: I think it's certainly not looking good right now.
Samia: I mean the way he's trying to shut down the Russian investigation is weird. Have you been following that?
Samia: The way he fired Jim Comey. The way he said on television that he was thinking about the Russian investigation when he did that, which was such a dumb move on his part. Which like, on one hand makes me think well, maybe he really didn't collude with Russia because why would you say something like that if you did, but on the other hand, he definitely fired James Comey and he's definitely been trying to discredit Robert Mueller.
Samia: And trying to get Jeff Sessions to resign and trying to do everything he could to shut the investigation down. Where the politically smart move is to just let the investigation finish and find that you didn't do anything wrong.
Niky: Yes. Yeah, that's ... I watched a little bit of the Comey thing, but I was also working and I was just so... I'm just so like burned out by some of this stuff that I'm just like... I'm just like, "Give me a plate of chicken nuggets.” Like, I just want to eat chicken nuggets and not watch this. You know? And all my friends who listen to this podcast, they're gonna laugh because they all know that I love chicken nuggets so... They're gonna be like, "There she goes again with her chicken nuggets.”
Samia: Since we're covering the gamut of issues what about—you reminded me with the chicken nuggets, ‘cause that immediately makes me think of factory farms, and then that makes me think of the environment, which makes me think of climate change. So now you know how my brain works.
Niky: [crosstalk] I'm all about taking care of the environment and Leonardo Di Caprio is my life. So his documentary, like his movie, Before the Flood I believe it is? Is that what it is?
Samia: I haven't seen it.
Niky: You would absolutely love it, because Leonardo is a huge advocate on climate change. I just love Leo. He's just absolutely amazing—
Samia: [crosstalk] So then ...
Niky: Look up his movie. He made a film on climate change and—
Samia: I will.
Niky: He's incredible with it. I'm all about taking care of the environment. That's something that I'm very strong about and that was one of the things that I really loved about Obama was how much he talked about climate change.
Samia: So that's interesting, because Trump is on record saying many times that he believes climate change is a hoax and a con job.
Niky: So does Alex Jones.
Samia: Right. So the wealth of evidence that we have, I mean, I don't have to tell you, it sounds like you're the choir that I'm preaching to.
Niky: [crosstalk] It is not a hoax. I'm sorry.
Samia: Of course not. How do you feel about Trump pulling the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement and making us basically a pariah of the developed world?
Niky: That was one thing that I did not like. I think that—like if he were sitting here, right now and asked me that, I would say that that is something that is very hypocritical of him to do because you said that you want to put America first. If you're putting America first, then why are you taking these people away from helping our climate? Because without our climate, you know, without our Earth being healthy, America can't come first, because we're not gonna be here if we don't take care of the climate. You know, the polar ice caps are melting and I know that people say it's a hoax all the time, and it's absolute bull crap that they say that. There’s valid evidence, I mean, animals are going extinct.
Samia: At alarming rates.
Niky: Yeah, and people don't even realize it. I think it was a certain breed of tigers that are going extinct. I mean, elephants, I mean like, there are animals that like me and you grew up like, seeing in zoos and like, just learning about that are going extinct and to me—polar bears—and that's just—that’s so weird to me.
Samia: Has Trump done anything since he was inaugurated that you've been happy about or liked?
Niky: Nothing has really... He hasn't, I feel like it hasn't been long enough that he's been in office right now that the things that I wanted him to do haven't been done yet.
Samia: What are the things that you want him to do?
Niky: I really would like to see him change something with the healthcare plan.
Samia: His plan as of now is to let Obamacare implode and he's been taking steps to help that process along. Okay, so like all these insurers are pulling out of the Obamacare exchanges now because there's been so much uncertainty in government about what the future of the program and the legislation is and Trump is actively encouraging that and he's saying "Well fine, we'll just let Obamacare fail and then we'll figure it out from there.” Instead of saying, "Well, I don't"—
Niky: Which is not a good way to go about that at all.
Samia: Which is a rude way to go about that to all the people who depend on Obamacare for their healthcare.
Niky: Yeah, I mean, if my mom was still here, she'd be depending on that right now.
Samia: I'm really sorry that you lost your mom.
Niky: It's okay.
Samia: I didn't say it before.
Niky: No it’s...it's something that I deal with. I guess that she was also one of the reasons that I voted for him, because he was talking so highly about changing healthcare and taking care of America first and the people in America that needed help because for me, you know, my mom needed help. So, obviously I would rather have my mom taken care of before we bring in some illegal immigrant or refugee to take care of you know, so—
Samia: But his policies—
Niky: And that's just how I viewed it because that was my mother.
Samia: Yeah, yeah and then—
Niky: Were his policies the best? No.
Samia: Well, his policies, his policies, I mean…that’s what's so heartbreaking for me, because I really, really like you. I think you're great. I watched from afar on social media when you were going through all that with your mom, and felt deeply for you. You know, I have some emotional investment in you. What breaks my heart is that Trump's policies, if your mom was still with us, he's doing things that would have undermined her ability to have health coverage.
Niky: Yeah, and it’s—now that it's actually happening, obviously, you know, when I voted for him, you know, I thought it was going to be different. So now I'm like, well, what's going on here? You know, I thought that this was going to be a little bit different. And why are you tweeting about banning transgenders when, and it's not even official, you just tweeted it, and I'm a little bit confused as to what's going on. I just—because a president’s never acted like this before.
Niky: Another thing, I think, that's a big deal is I think for eight years we have been so used to listening to an absolutely phenomenal public speaker, and we went from that to this. I think we're all like—you know, like that meme with that girl's face and she's like—
Samia: Listeners, I wish you could see Niky's face right now, because it's like the best shade.
Niky: It's that meme—it’s that little blonde girl meme and she's got that weird face, the girl with the pigtail, she's like—
Samia: You've got such good shade face.
Niky: I mean, that’s literally—everybody tells me that—but that’s literally like—you know, and I will say it for the rest of my life, Obama, to me, is the greatest public speaker I've ever heard. The way that he speaks is ridiculous. He could be talking about taking a shit and he would make it sound professional and be like, "Wow, that is so insightful."
Samia: When Obama spoke, he had true meaning, intelligence, facts, compassion.
Samia: Everything that he said had a purpose.
Niky: Yeah. He wasn't talking in circles. He wasn't just talking crap about people. He was being professional.
Samia: And we don't have that anymore.
Niky: No, we do not.
Samia: It hurts my feelings because I often catch myself fantasizing about what things would be like if we had Hillary Clinton as president right now. And like, it used to bring me to tears on a daily basis just after the election, thinking about that, because I know that she would have been a fantastic president. Perfect? No. No president’s perfect.
Niky: Nobody's ever going to be perfect.
Samia: Better than Trump? Worlds better than Trump. Hillary Clinton wouldn't have this constant in-fighting amongst her top aides. Hilary Clinton wouldn't have outbursts on Twitter that say nonsensical things. There would be no covfefe meme if Hillary Clinton was president.
Niky: I said that on my Instagram. I posted the covfefe... Have you seen the picture of Trump in the dress and they name her Covfefe La Flame?
Niky: When I did my burlesque show, that was my ad. I posted a picture of Trump dressed up as Covfefe and I said, "Come see me at Kiss/Kiss doing my burlesque show featuring POTUS Covfefe La Flame." Look it's right here.
Samia: Oh my God. That's so good. I'm putting that in the show notes. That's amazing. Wow.
Niky: It was like, "Don't miss me at Kiss My Burlesque at Kiss/Kiss nightclub on Thursday starting June 29th. Guest starring POTUS Covfefe La Flame."
Samia: If Covfefe La Flame was a true drag alter ego of Donald Trump—
Niky: I would die.
Samia: —she would be the most offensive drag show in the universe. And I love me an offensive drag show, so...
Niky: Me too.
Samia: Okay, you know what? Donald Trump, if you ever hear this, your fans and detractors alike, would like to see you have a second career as a drag queen after your presidency.
Niky: Yes. I want to see you laying in a bed of Cheetos.
Samia: Like the rose pedals in American Beauty, but Cheetos.
Niky: Or like, he could be laying in a bed and having an illegal immigrant fanning him and like, another one feeding him Cheetos instead of grapes.
Samia: Oh my God. God, it would be so good.
Niky: Oh my God. I'd pay money to see that.
Samia: I absolutely... I'm going to spread that idea around.
Niky: So I pretty much covered everything, except I went off on the tangent with the Hitler thing.
Samia: I think we actually did cover it.
Niky: I think we did cover it pretty well.
Samia: That's why I redirected the conversation, because we did cover it.
Niky: Because I'm very passionate about that. I'm still going to go back to school for it.
Samia: What do you want to do with that degree?
Niky: I would love to, as like a side job, work in museums or travel to different museums, and be a tour guide for people, to teach people about different things that happened in history, because I love that. I mean, I’ve been to the Battle of Gettysburg. It’s absolutely breathtaking to see it. When you're standing on the battlefield, you're standing where people died to free the African American slaves of the south. It is really a touching place to be. There was one other thing that I had wanted to cover. It kind of ties into this. I’ve been seeing a lot of things recently, I'm sure you've been seeing it, I've been seeing a lot of people—African American people protesting, not everybody, but certain African Americans. I've seen some videos of them saying that all white people are bad. All white people need to die. There was a woman protesting, saying that white people need to give the lower class black people all their money, their homes, and I’m kind of like, just because I'm white, like, I still worked for what I have. You know, I’m not going to give that away.
Samia: I think it's counterproductive to just point the finger at all white people, but I think, in this social context, in this country, it's important to be sensitive to the fact that there are still ripple effects.
Niky: Oh, yeah.
Samia: As recently as 50 years ago, we still had terrible systemic racism
Niky: Interracial couples were not allowed.
Samia: Right. Even now—
Niky: But not all white people are bad though.
Samia: No. And I understand—you know, I've heard a lot of people talk about how like now being white is like the new worst thing. And to be honest with you, Niky, I'm half Jordanian, which technically makes me 100% Caucasian. Because Arabs are technically considered Caucasian, as my mother has told me my entire life. She was always really...
Niky: Really? I never knew that—
Niky: Because I don't consider Arabs... I've like always wanted to be Arab because I love Princess Jasmine, so I’m always like, oh my God, you know?
Samia: Princess Jasmine is the best Disney princess.
Niky: Did you see my Instagram of my video when I wore that purple, like, genie costume?
Samia: No, but I will go and find it. But my whole life, my mother was running away from her Arabic family, because they wanted her to be a certain kind of woman. They were very conservative, and all of her sisters, none of them went to college. They all stayed at home until they got married. That was how her family did things. And she defied them and went to school, put herself through school. Got a Master’s degree, was working on a Ph.D when she met my dad.
Niky: Good for her.
Samia: Yeah. She killed it. But she didn't want my sister and I to identify as Arabic, because in her experience, that was stifling. And so she didn't teach us Arabic and she was always telling us, when we growing up, that we were white. I, I think in a subconscious response to the ideas in society, never wanted to be seen as white. I've always wanted to be seen as something else, so I always play up that I'm half Arabic. And I'm like, well, no, I'm something. I'm different.
Niky: Well, yeah, when people ask me what am I, I'm like, I'm Italian.
Niky: Like I don't want to be like, I'm Caucasian or I'm white. It doesn't even sound fun.
Samia: Right, and I never wanted to be identified as a white person, because I don't like the connotations that that has in our culture today.
Niky: Me either.
Samia: So I understand when people are like, "Wow, so now I'm a bad guy just because I'm white. Okay, so racism has reversed." I can kind of get where they're coming from. But at the same time, if you look at the facts, they have no legs to stand on. You can't act like white people are the persecuted group in this country. We are not. We have everything. It's easier for us to be, to live, in this country. Which is why I think it's important to be sensitive to racial tensions, and if you are a white person, try not to be an asshole about it. And try not to go around saying that you're the persecuted one, when you're not.
Niky: No, you’re not.
Samia: You’re fucking not. Especially when white men say it, I'm like, woooow. Literally, life has been handed to you on a silver platter and you want to act like your life is so fucking hard. And I've known white men in my personal life who've felt that way. Like, "This is bullshit. My life hasn't been easy." And the particular person that I'm thinking about right now, his life hasn't been easy. He's absolutely fucking right. But at the same time, he doesn't get watched when he walks into a store. Like he doesn't ...
Niky: Like, you know, we've had it hard, but we haven't had it as hard.
Samia: Exactly. And so those are important things for people to realize. Niky, any final thoughts or words? Well, you know what, I did want to ask you one thing before we get to that. If you could go back and vote again, would you still vote for Donald Trump knowing what you know now of how things have been going so far?
Niky: That's a tough question. I may—I almost thought about voting independent.
Samia: For Gary Johnson or Jill Stein?
Samia: Which one?
Niky: Definitely not Jill Stein.
Samia: Mister Gary “What is Aleppo?” Johnson?
Niky: Yeah. So I almost contemplated not voting. So I honestly don't know if I could answer that at this point.
Niky: I think maybe later on, like as time goes by a little bit more, and I see what happens more—
Samia: I'll ask you again.
Niky: —I’ll decide. As of right now, I still think that I would have voted for him.
Samia: Knowing what you know now?
Niky: See, that's why it's so hard, because there's like so many ...
Samia: Okay, you're in the voting place, you've got the ballot in front of you, and there's four options for President. And they say Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Gary Johnson, Jill Stein. Which circle do you fill? Gut instinct, go.
Niky: It's just the conservative in me. I would just go Republican. I do that when I don't know what to do.
Samia: Interesting. I wanna pose a—
Niky: But I think a lot of people do that.
Samia: I think so too. I want to pose a sort of theory to you that has been developing in my head since we started this conversation. You lost your mother recently. Last year?
Niky: It'll be two years in October.
Samia: Alright, so the year before last year. So right before this election season really started picking up. And you found out that she had been secretly voting Republican for years. I think part of you might have voted Republican in this election to connect with your mom.
Niky: Oh, yeah. I definitely did. I feel like, and even my grandmother told me. She was like, “You know, your mother would be so proud of you that you are not falling into everyone else's narrative and what everyone in your family and your friends are telling you what to do. You're making your own decisions. You're speaking your mind." And that was one of the main reasons why I ended up voting for Trump. Because he did speak his mind. Even if he was an asshole about it, he was speaking his mind.
Samia: And your mother would have voted for him.
Niky: Probably, yeah. Because she didn't like Hillary either, very much.
Samia: I have a theory that a lot of people, when they address politics, they're coming at it from a place of emotion. I think people make decisions based on emotion more often than not. And what I've been finding over and over again, so many of the people I've talked to for this podcast have more in common with my views on politics than what Trump talks about. Or what the GOP talks about. You and I certainly align on almost everything. If we had a conversation and you never said how you affiliated politically, I ...
Niky: You probably wouldn't have even known, yeah.
Samia: I would have just assumed you were a liberal. Because of the things that you believe in.
Niky: And a lot of newer conservatives are like that. We still agree with all of those things, but a lot of the times, those real extreme liberals don't give us the chance to say that. You know what I mean?
Samia: Right. But I don't see your political ideology aligning with that of either Donald Trump, the things he's said. Climate change, LGBTQ issues, women's issues, abortion. You don't agree with him on any of that stuff. Those are big things. And you kind of agree with him on immigration, but...
Niky: I agree with him on immigration. I was really positive about the healthcare.
Samia: Which fell apart.
Niky: Yeah. I am pro-choice, but I did like the fact that he did want to do some regulation with abortion, because even though there is, like—you know, there are people that need it for health reasons. There are still people that get them, in my opinion, way too often.
Niky: From working in casinos, I know girls that, you know…have a certain job that I won't name, that I would talk to. And you know, Obama made birth control free and they weren't taking it and they would just go get abortions all the time.
Samia: They should be on birth control.
Niky: Yeah. And I'm like, birth control is free. So I don't agree with the fact that you are just going and getting abortions. You know, I don't agree with that. So there were some things on abortion that I did agree with him with.
Samia: But he is pro-life now. So overall, you don't agree with him. You said it.
Niky: Yeah. Overall, I'm not pro-life. You know, if somebody needs to do something... I'm pro-life for myself, but somebody else's body, I'm pro their choice. Whatever they want to do with their body, that's them.
Samia: One thing I've been learning to do over the course of this year and making this podcast is trying to see where people are coming from. Trying to empathize with people I disagree with. And the lesson I've been learning over and over and over again is that people are making their decisions about politics based on their personal experiences and things that have affected them the most emotionally.
Niky: That's one of the reasons why a lot of Trump's policies that were supposed to happen stuck out. Because of my mom. With the healthcare, and with my family and the military. When he was talking about all the things he was going to do for the military, I was like, oh my god. Finally, somebody is really going to pay attention to the military instead of immigrants, for once. He has said, you know, and I've seen him say it, that if they come in legally, that's fine.
Samia: He's trying to make it harder for them to come in legally.
Niky: Yeah, I just saw that recently.
Samia: 50% less legal immigration. Under the policy that he's introduced, which analysts are saying has no chance of being passed through Congress.
Niky: And I guess the other thing, you know, I keep bringing up the America first thing. With me, again, this goes back emotionally. I learned this lesson, where I was taking care of my mom and I wasn't taking care of myself. So when he kept saying we need to take care of America before we help other people, that was really getting into my head, because I was like, that's what I needed to do. I needed to take care of myself first, you know, and maybe, if I did that, I would have been able to help my mom. And obviously, you know, like, it was inevitable. There wasn't anything they could do, but for me, I still go through those things where I'm like, if I would have done this differently, would she still be here? So when he would say stuff like America first. We need to take care of ourselves first, that was kind of really striking me as something that I find very important.
Samia: That makes sense. You were grieving your mother and everything was being filtered through that lens.
Niky: Yeah. So if I look back on it and I were to vote again, knowing what I know now, I probably either would've not voted at all or voted Independent.
Samia: You don't think that you would have voted for Trump if you could go back and do it again?
Niky: After recently seeing what's been happening? No. With the way he speaks. The health care. That was one of the things that I was really, really all about. And that obviously, we're still doing the same thing. So, you know, my answer may change if maybe later down the road, if he—
Samia: Your answer can change however much you want.
Niky: Maybe health care will improve. I don't know. But as of right now, as of what's going on, to be completely honest, like, I probably wouldn't have voted.
Samia: All right.
Niky: Because I was too afraid to vote for Hillary because of what I had said with the way that people were... You know, the extremists were really coming out. And I had never seen people from that side, be like that, before.
Samia: On the left.
NIky: Yeah. On the left. Because—and now, like, after he won and they got even more crazy, that freaked me out even more. So even knowing that...
Samia: Where do you get your news?
Niky: I try to usually look at Breitbart. I go on Breitbart a lot.
Samia: That explains it.
Niky: I know that it's probably a conservative site.
Samia: It's one of the most conservative, and that would be the only site that would be emphasizing left-wing extremism.
Niky: I do look at the New York Post.
Samia: Also really conservative leaning. That makes a lot of sense, that that—
Niky: No wait, no, no. You said that you were—
Samia: New York Times.
Niky: New York Times.
Niky: I look at both. I look at the New York Times and the New York Post.
Samia: But, the only reason I say that makes sense is because...
Niky: But I don't watch CNN. I don't watch TV. I don't watch MSNBC. I don't watch Fox.
Samia: The Antifa people have gotten coverage in what's considered the mainstream media, but not nearly as much as outlets like Breitbart. Breitbart, you should take with a grain of salt.
Niky: I usually take most media with a grain of salt, honestly.
Samia: That's fair. That's very fair.
Niky: If I see it live on TV, I see it live on TV.
Samia: Like, Breitbart had a story that I posted in my show notes for one episode, because we were talking about the transgender bathroom bill. Breitbart had a story where they were trying to say—they were attacking Target, because Target came out and said—
Niky: I saw that.
Samia: Yeah. Target came out and said, "In our stores nationwide, trans people are welcome to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.” And so Breitbart published this story that was like, "Target said this, how awful. Here are all the times that women have been sexually assaulted in Target stores." And then listed a bunch of incidents of sexual assault. None of them had to do with trans people, or even people, men dressing as women to infiltrate women's dressing—like, none of them had anything to do with this issue, but yet they put it in this same story as this attack on Target for their announcement welcoming trans people to use whatever bathroom they fucking want. And that right there demonstrates that Breitbart is not a news outlet that you can trust. There was no connection between Target's announcement and everything else that they said in the story, none. And I'll send it to you if you'd like.
Niky: Yeah, send it to me. I'll look at it.
Samia: It's like the perfect example.
Niky: I really don't go online all that much.
Samia: It's extreme media bias. And certainly, there are left-leaning media outlets that are biased, but we should take those with a grain of salt, too. Breitbart is one of the worst offenders for spreading misleading information that has a partisan bias in favor of the Republican agenda and the conservative agenda, so be careful with them. But where else—
Niky: I really don't look at it a lot. I really, I do not look at... Any information I get is what I watch live on TV, and I make sure it's live.
Samia: And what are the news channels that you watch? Like local news or do you watch any of the big networks?
Niky: Yeah, local news. I really don't watch the news a lot. I do watch Fox, but the only time that I watch, like, if Trump's talking. Sometimes I don't even know what channel I'm watching, but I look, and as long as it says "live" and I know that nothing is getting like, cut, I don't... As long as it's live and I'm seeing what he's saying for myself, I'll watch it.
Samia: The only reason I made that point is because you got so much information on left-wing extremism, which to be honest, there have been instances, these Antifa people finally came to my awareness in the last month when I've been fact-checking things for this podcast.
Niky: Oh yeah, I've been seeing them since the campaign, so that was why I'm like...
Samia: Yeah, in most of the mainstream media, they haven't gotten that much attention because truthfully, the worst thing that they were involved in was that UC Berkeley protest.
Niky: Yeah, it's definitely a small percentage.
Samia: And there were no arrests made at that protest. Like, nobody even got arrested.
Niky: Yeah, I saw there was no arrest there.
Samia: So it wasn't actually as violent and terrible, it wasn't a big enough thing to attract mainstream media attention, but the conservative outlets took stuff like that and were just like, "Oh, look how bad left-wingers are.”
Niky: Mmm. Yeah.
Samia: And if you're getting your news from conservative-leaning outfits, it would make sense that that would be what you were seeing, Totally get it.
Niky: That's why I have a big problem with the media. Because they’re, you know, you go on a right-wing site or you go on a left-wing site, and they're both kind of going at each other.
Niky: And that’s why I steer clear from the media.
Samia: Well, that’s why I stick to... I really, really like "The Washington Post." They tend to be just so strict about their sourcing, their facts. They make corrections when they've made mistakes. The New York Times, too. Both of those newspapers are—
Niky: I just like when they're straight to the point, they give you the facts, they're not sitting there talking about nonsense.
Samia: Right. And I guess what my advice to everybody is, like, avoid opinion articles and try to just look at the straight reporting. And if you want people's opinions to see what they're saying, then at least look at a diverse…like, I read National Review articles, which I find to be very smart, even though I don't always agree with their conclusions, and they're a conservative-leaning media outlet. But they make fucking great points, and it makes me a better person to get those perspectives. And I do check out Fox News, just to see how they're reporting on things. And lately, it's been interesting watching them become more and more in line with all of the so-called liberal media, because it's just like there's no other way to report on this, and they're starting to realize it.
Niky: Yeah, I haven't, I really, I can't even really answer on that because I haven't watched the news in such a long time, so I—
Samia: But you said Breitbart, the New York Post. Do you get a lot of your news by just talking to people, or social media?
Niky: Yeah, I look at social media. I go on some YouTube channels that post videos of Trump's speeches that were recorded live, so that I know that they're not cut. So I just try to make sure that I find a video that was live, was not cut, and that's usually how I get my information. I just really try to steer clear of the Internet because it can be very misleading. It can be very opinionated, and that's just, I think that's causing a lot of the issues. I know we have to wrap up.
Samia: I never got to ask you about the way Trump talks about women, and the rape allegations against him, the sexual assault allegations against him.
Niky: Oh god.
Samia: And I so wanted to ask you about that.
Niky: Obviously, I didn't agree with it and I didn't like it. As far as the rape accusations, I never found anything.
Samia: There have been two. His ex-wife Ivana accused him of raping her in their divorce deposition, which was under oath. And then afterwards, she took it back essentially, but she got $14 million in their divorce settlement, and was put under a legal gag order that said she wasn't legally allowed to publicly discuss their marriage, so even if it had happened, if she was telling the truth in the deposition, she would have legally been obligated to not discuss it in public. The other one was from a Jane Doe, who said that Trump raped her when she was 13 years old at a party thrown by known convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
Niky: Oh, I heard, yep, yep.
Samia: Another really detailed story, talking about meeting him several times before the rape happened, and then when it actually happened, she said he tied her to a bed, raped her, slapped her across the face when she screamed at him to stop, and threatened that he would destroy her and her family if she ever spoke out about it. She tried the suit in California, it got dropped. She tried again in New York, and then right after the election, dropped the charges suddenly.
Niky: You see, I never heard about that one. Yeah, I—I mean, I don't like that he speaks derogatory about women. I don't know if maybe it's just me, but in the industry that I work in, guys are guys, and they just—they talk about girls like that, and I'm just—I mean, I've heard it. I just personally ignore it.
Samia: You wrote it off and didn't pay attention to it?
Niky: Yeah. And the whole like, "Grab 'em by the pussy" thing. For me, I thought that was stupid. It was 11 years ago and for me, I was like, there's been so many times when I've sat in a room with my girls and I've talked derogatory about men, we've all talked derogatory about men. He was having a private conversation with somebody—
Samia: With a microphone on his body.
Niky: Obviously, you know… Yeah, well he was probably, he was a celebrity before.
Samia: But you'd never heard these rape allegations stories before.
Niky: I heard of the other one, just not that last one.
Samia: His wife?
Samia: That one didn't get that much coverage, even in the so-called liberal media, because it didn't go anywhere.
Niky: So I mean, do I like it? No. Whether or not he had a microphone on or wherever he was, I mean, it was 11 years ago and I just... Do I think it's appropriate? No.
Samia: It sounds like you're kind of resigned though to that aspect of male behavior in our culture.
Niky: Yeah, I mean, I don’t think it’s—I think it's unacceptable, and I don't think that men should talk like that, but the thing that pisses me off the most is people got so wound up about him saying that, and then still listen to music where rap artists are talking about fucking bitches, and this and that. And I'm like—
Samia: I can't listen to any music that's misogynistic.
Niky: Yes, so that's when I'm like, you can't sit there and complain about Trump being misogynistic, and then go dance to Jay-Z in the club. You can't do that.
Samia: I will sit here and complain about Trump being misogynistic, because I literally can—
Niky: Because you don't, yes—
Samia: I'm allergic to misogynistic lyrics in music.
Niky: Yeah, but that's—
Samia: It's not just in rap and hip hop. It's in other genres of music as well.
Niky: Yeah, and everything, yeah. So I was like, you can't sit here and say that you're mad at him for saying that when you go and listen to music about guys fucking girls, and doing all this stuff. Like, that’s hypocritical, so that's kind of my view on that. I don't like misogynistic music, I don't really listen to it.
Samia: But you're willing to ignore our president making—
Niky: No, I don't support it, I don't condone it.
Samia: But you ignore, you decided that it wasn't a deal-breaker.
Niky: If he had said it like during a campaign speech.
Samia: He did. He did say misogynistic things during his campaign.
Niky: No, I was talking about the "grab 'em by the pussy" thing.
Samia: Oh, well that particular comment, no of course he didn't, but he said plenty of masochistic things during the campaign. He said that Megyn Kelly was overly harsh to him during one of the debates because she was on her period.
Niky: Oh my god, I heard that.
Samia: Yeah. I mean—and that’s just one example of many. He's famous for making masochistic comments.
Niky: Yeah, he's always been like that. I mean, I guess maybe that's why I just... I don't know, this whole election was just such a blur, and it got to the point where I didn't even know what to believe anymore. Even when I would hear the debates, and if he would say anything somewhat misogynistic like that, at that point, I just kind of was like, you know, as bad as it sounds, I was like, he’s a dude. I mean, he shouldn't be talking like that right now, you know, but if he's saying that he's going to be doing this policies about healthcare and this and that, I'm just going to have to maybe ignore the fact that he's talking like a total douchebag right now, because you're either going to pick a giant douche or a turd sandwich.
Niky: You know what I mean? I don't condone it, I don't like it. And if there was anybody else that would have been running, that would have been ideal, but—
Samia: If Obama could have run for a third term—god, it's like the liberal wet dream.
Niky: I know. I've heard some people say that.
Samia: All right, all right, we really do have to wrap up.
Niky: All righty.
Samia: Any final thoughts, Niky?
Niky: No. I'm really glad that we had this talk. I'm glad that I got to get my opinions out because I haven't really been able to do that. And I'm hoping that people find it interesting. Hopefully people won't call me a Nazi and a crazy bigot and fascist for my opinions.
Samia: I don't think so. I want to say that I want to take a moment to acknowledge you for your bravery in coming on this podcast and sharing your opinions.
Niky: Thank you.
Samia: For being totally honest and willing to reexamine your own positions. I've asked you some really challenging questions, and you haven't gotten mad at me. I really appreciate that.
Niky: I don't get mad at anything. I just go with the flow.
Samia: It's amazing though. I've really asked you some hard questions, and you've sat, and you've thought about them. And you've done your best to articulate your response, and when you weren't sure, you said so. I'm really happy that we got to have this conversation.
Niky: Good, me too. I'm glad you're happy. I was like, really nervous.
Samia: No, you did great. And thank you so much, and I can't wait to talk to you again.
Niky: I know, I'm so excited to keep doing this with you.
Samia: Yeah, another 6 to 12 months, we'll do an update.
Niky: And I'll set up a cute little thing like this.
Samia: This is beautiful. All right, thank you so much Niky.
Niky: All right, thanks. You too.
[SONG: CHANGE THE WORLD]
SAMIA VO: I do wanna change the world, and if you’ve been listening to this podcast, chances are you do, too.
So how do we do it? How do we change the world for the better? Well first, we have to change people’s minds. And no one ever changed their mind because someone yelled at them or called them names or cut them off. All of us have done some version of that at some point. I definitely have, more times than I care to recall.
But no one hears an angry argument. And no one changes their mind about huge issues over the course of one conversation. It’s not like people are robots who can take in new information, analyze it for veracity, and then automatically spit out a brand new set of opinions. We usually form our opinions and make decisions based on emotion, not information. That’s why facts aren’t effective in changing people’s minds. Look at my conversation with Niky—so much of her decision to vote for Trump was influenced by the loss of her mother a year before the election. Watching her mom struggle to pay for medications using her inadequate Obamacare insurance plan, learning that her mom was a secret Republican, desperately missing her and wanting to feel a connection with this dear person she’d just lost. On the surface, most of Niky’s opinions seem pretty liberal—she liked John Kerry and voted for Obama—but her personal experiences and emotions swayed her in the other direction this time. I can’t be mad at her for that. I get it. All of my guests have shown some version of this. Our political opinions and decisions are deeply affected by our own experiences and emotions.
If we want to change people’s minds, we have to realize that human beings need time to process information, and they need to feel like the decision to change their outlook was theirs and theirs alone. The process of changing one’s mind about anything important is very slow. If we want to be part of that process, all we can hope to do is plant seeds within people that will one day, hopefully, take root, blossom and grow. It’s slow. It doesn’t happen in one conversation. But it can happen over the course of a friendship.
In making this podcast, I’ve realized that we have no chance of planting those seeds if we’re unwilling to engage because someone’s ideas are too difficult or painful for us to swallow. We must cultivate within ourselves the strength to listen, to be accepting of others just as they are, to be honest when we disagree but respectful and compassionate in the way we communicate, to be willing to love another person just because they are a person, even though they might have ideas that we feel are dangerous and wrong. And to have the humility to realize that we don’t always get it right, either, that there are plenty of areas where our own opinions can be improved by listening to others.
So let’s get this started. Schedule that uncomfortable conversation today, and tell me how it went on Facebook—just search Make America Relate Again to find the show page—or via email at email@example.com.
If you liked the song you just heard, Change The World, it’s now available on iTunes, Spotify, and everywhere else as the newest Samia XI single. There are also links to stream and download it, along with all the other music you’ve heard on the show, on the Music page at makeamericarelatepodcast.com.
The show notes and a transcript of this episode are available on the Episode 10 page at makeamericarelatepodcast.com, and if you find I’ve missed something, feel free to let me know using the website Contact form.
Lastly, I wouldn’t have been able to make this podcast without the help of many of my amazing friends and colleagues. Many thanks to Marisa Kennedy, Dylan Riley, Jordan Yanco, and David Sokol, who all helped with transcribing the interviews. David Sokol also picked up the slack in writing the show notes during a month when I had way too many other commitments to do it all myself—I’m forever indebted to you, David. Andrew Guastella worked on the interview audio for most of the episodes and made my unpolished recordings sound so much better. Myles Rodenhouse, the owner of Douglass Recording in Brooklyn, allowed me to use his gorgeous, full-service recording studio to record my intros, outros, and phone call updates. Myles, there’s a bottle of whisky coming your way soon. Also, a shout-out to the beautiful and epically talented Dani Valdizan, who produced Change The World and made it sound so incredibly cool. And all my love and thanks to my favorite audio engineer in the universe, Christopher Gilroy, who gave me a fantastic deal on his recording, editing, and mixing services and got me through this insane summer of 80-hour work weeks with his amazing attitude and killer studio skills.
And lastly, thank you to you, listeners, for supporting the show, for sharing it with your friends, for sending me your thoughts, and for making me feel like all this work was more than worth it. I promise I’ll be back as soon as possible with a new season, and in the meantime, I’ll be dropping a few mini-episodes here and there to make sure you keep getting great content during the season break. Reach out to me any time with suggestions for what you’d like to hear next season. You can find me on Twitter @relatepodcast, the show Facebook page, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or through the Contact form on the website, makeamericarelatepodcast.com.
If you haven’t already, go leave the show a five-star review on iTunes or Apple Podcasts. Not only do the reviews help new listeners find the show, they’re going to be instrumental in helping me get funding for the second season. Funding means better quality recordings, more interviews with people all over the country, and more time for me to spend on making this show as amazing as possible for you. Thank you to the 60+ people who have left five-star reviews already, and thank you in advance to those of you who plan to leave reviews soon.
I’m Samia Mounts, and this has been Make America Relate Again.