Letters: Rahm Emanuel Interview, Africa Series

We received a number of letters about Steve Inskeep's interview with Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), which some considered too aggressive. Others liked its probing tone. Listeners also wrote in with appreciations of Jason Beaubien's Africa series, although some questioned his story about the damage done by the second-hand clothes trade.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It's Thursday, which is when we often read from your e-mail. We got a wave of letters in response to our interview with Congressman Rahm Emanuel, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

(Soundbite of NPR broadcast)

INSKEEP: Even though Democrats have made some proposals, as you point out...

Representative RAHM EMANUEL (Democrat, Illinois): Right.

INSKEEP: ...do you think that...

Rep. EMANUEL: Consistently, Steve.

INSKEEP: ...but do you think that many...

Rep. EMANUEL: Steve. Steve. Steve. Steve.

INSKEEP: ...but proposals about...

Rep. EMANUEL: Steve. Steve.

INSKEEP: ...proposals about tactics. Do you think that there are Democrats who have trimmed the sails a little bit on strategic change, because...

Rep. EMANUEL: No. No. I don't buy it...

INSKEEP: ...of political concerns?

Rep. EMANUEL: Steve. Steve, I don't buy that. Are you suggesting the peace that Senator Biden has offered is a tactical change?

INSKEEP: After hearing that, Mary McCurren(ph) of Burlington, Vermont wrote, quote, "I tuned into this interview and thought I was listening to the O'Reilly Factor." She adds, "I listen to NPR to avoid this type of aggressive interview."

LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

Gary Derrick(ph) of Oklahoma City writes, Some might say Steve Inskeep was too aggressive, but, he continues, I applaud his effort. Too much political speeches spin. Mr. Inskeep's reach weightier stuff aids us all.

INSKEEP: In Elmira, New York, the Mayor, Democrat John Tonello, was also listening, and he was offended by many of Congressman Emanuel's comments. Instead of providing calm and reasoned responses and acknowledgement of the challenges posed by issues of the day, Tonello writes, Emanuel chose to be combative, dismissive and angry. Voters want reasonable answers and truths, he writes, and the vast majority vote on that basis, not party.

WERTHEIMER: And a number of you wrote in after hearing the interview with cartoonist Guy Delisle, whose time living in North Korea is illustrated in his graphic novel, Pyongyang.

Arthur Durham in Lake Charles, Louisiana, writes, I listened and was amused by the last of the interview, discussing how the North Korean government keeps the constant threat of war as a means of instilling fear in the population. Hence they don't cause trouble. An interesting parallel. Our current administration uses the constant threat of terrorism, nuclear war - pick your fear - as a means to keep the population in check. Heck, scare people, they'll do anything you tell them.

INSKEEP: We received this responses to Jason Baubein's series last week on what is holding back Africa.

(Soundbite of NPR broadcast)

JASON BAUBEIN: By the year 2003, Zimbabwe was facing shortages of food, fuel and it's foreign currency.

Disease is part of the poverty trap in Africa. People get sick because they're poor. And they get poor because they're sick. For instance...

The majority of Africans earn a living, sometimes just a subsistence living through agriculture...

INSKEEP: Thank you, writes Gavin Pelham from Las Vegas. He says the series went beyond the misery to identify its roots.

WERTHEIMER: Others took issue with a claim in one of the stories that secondhand clothing from the West is damaging African economies by stifling local textile production. Jerome Walgen(ph) in Gainesville, Virginia writes that used clothes imports reduce poverty. He says used clothes imports create thousands of jobs in marketing and transport, but more importantly, allow consumers - particularly poor consumers - to buy clothes at much lower prices.

INSKEEP: We are happy to import your comments. Just send your verbal exports to npr.org, and click on Contact Us.

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