Dec 7, 2001
In a time of war, when we're all feeling a heightened sense of "us" and "them," we wanted to take up the problem of "them." Some people need a good "them." Other people tend to see all "thems" as more like us. And so we bring you three stories of people misperceiving the them-miness of them.
- Several years ago, before most of us paid much attention to the name Osama bin Laden, Reporter Jon Ronson spent a year following around a Muslim activist named Omar Bakri, who called himself bin Laden's "man in London." At first Ronson thought Bakri was on the "them" side of "us and them." But then Ronson got to know him, and changed his mind. After September 11th, he had to change his mind again. Ronson tells his story, which includes excerpts from his book Them: Adventures with Extremists. (20 minutes)
- Reporter Chris Brookes had always thought the story was a joke: During World War II, a black sailor from the U.S. washed up nearly dead onshore in Newfoundland, and the white nurses—never having seen a black man—thought he was covered in oil and tried to scrub him clean. But when Brookes finally tracked the sailor down, decades later, it turned the whole thing was true. And the sailor said that sort of treatment was a lot nicer than what he'd been used to at the hands of whites down south. Brookes tells the incredible story of the sailor, Lanier Phillips, and how his experience in Newfoundland changed his life. (23 minutes)