SHARMINI PERIES, TRNN JOURNALIST: I’m Sharmini Peries for The Real News at Take Back America Conference 2008. We have the unique pleasure of speaking with Norman Lear this afternoon, where he will be receiving a lifetime achievement award. Norman, you left a very successful television career in order to establish People for the American Way. Are there people that are not for the American way?
NORMAN LEAR, PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY: There are people who may think they are for the American way. I mean, that’s what America’s all about, that, you know, the right to say what you please and interpret the Constitution the way you interpret the Constitution. There we have had a president who believes in torture. The Constitution, we believe, does not think well of torture. He believes in secrecy. There are all kinds of reasons why interpreting the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, we don’t think the president should enjoy the kind of secrecy he has; the Congress should be a party to an awful lot they are not a party of. So it’s a question of interpretation.
PERIES: What are some of the real concerns for you at this moment in our history? What’s concerning you? What’s giving you *[crosstalk]
LEAR: *My biggest concern, I think about the future and I think how the greatest topics for conversation that influence everything we think of policy-wise, politically are the subjects of patriotism. You were implying that when asked about, you know, what is the American way. And God. You know, progressive people have been afraid—for what reason I can’t imagine—to venture into the conversation and consequently allow the right and in a lot of cases the very far, extreme, fundamentalist right, to own the subject of God and morality and patriotism and all of the good things that flow from that. I like the conversation that I want in, and I represent, I think, progressives who ought to be in that conversation. And as I watched Mr. Obama speak today in his speech that I think will be recognized as historic, it was the common humanity that he embraced in everything he was talking about, and it was addressed to race, to answer this particular moment. But the common humanity of it addressed and embraced all of us. And I think we all ought to be in that conversation.
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