Former U.S. President and University Distinguished Professor Jimmy Carter, whose administration normalized relations with China, called for peaceful talks with the North Korean regime in contrast to President Donald J. Trump’s more aggressive approach.
“Obviously, we should be talking to them and trying to find some common ground rather than threaten[ing] a nuclear war,” Carter said.
Carter’s remarks were part of an event that focused on the topics of “Love thy neighbor” and the media. Hosted by an Emory Filmmaking Practicum course, the event drew about 30 students to the Theater Lab in Schwarz Center.
Trump has repeatedly threatened the regime with military action and insulted North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Trump tweeted Oct. 7: “Presidents and their administrations have been talking to North Korea for 25 years, agreements made and massive amounts of money paid … hasn’t worked, agreements violated before the ink was dry, makings fools of U.S. negotiators. Sorry, but only one thing will work!”
Carter recalled forgiving a member of the press who had acquired one of his debate-briefing notebooks used to prepare for the Oct. 28, 1980 presidential debate and given it to his opponent, Ronald Reagan. Reagan went on to win the presidency that year.
“One of the famous newspaper columnists … participated [in] stealing a notebook that I was going to use in my debate against Reagan, with whom I contested for the presidency,” Carter said. “And he took my notebook, all my notes [on] what I was going to use against Reagan, and he taught Reagan how to use it to my disadvantage.”
Carter acknowledged the press has been largely supportive of his goals to improve peace and human rights around the world.
“When I wanted to concentrate as president on peace and human rights, those two things caused many to look upon [these two objectives] as weaknesses,” Carter said. “But the media has [since] supported my commitment to peace. [That] would have been impossible unless the overwhelming influx of media was on my side.”
In the era of “fake news,” Carter called for media organizations to engage in criticism if other outlets are publishing false information.
“I think many people just accept the fact that some political leaders are going to depart deliberately from the truth and that, maybe the media that supports it, whether Democrat or Republican, might orient the facts or distort the facts to [covet] the candidacy or encompass it and I think that’s a fairly recent development of news,” Carter said.
Carter discussed his thoughts on the media the same day Trump threatened to revoke NBC News’ broadcast license after they published a report he deemed “fake news,” according to the The New York Times.
Although Trump has been criticized for his candid Twitter posts, when prompted whether he would have used the platform during his presidency, Carter said, “Certainly, I would have.”
Carter’s interview will be used in a video in which a Muslim mother, a Baptist minister, several Emory professors and Carter answer questions from the Filmmaking Practicum students.
“[The video] will have its own website and it’ll have its own media presence, hopefully by the beginning of December,” Film and Media Studies Professor Rob Schmidt Barracano told the Wheel.
Carter’s talk was part of the Love Your Neighbor Project, a filmmaking project by students in the Filmmaking Practicum course.
“The Love Your Neighbor Project is a collection of ruminations on the Biblical concept of ‘love thy neighbor,’ ” Barracano said. “We decided to work on [this] project since the presidential election because we were seeing real conflict in the country.”
Filmmaking Practicum student Dalia Caudle (18C) expressed surprise at how in-depth Carter went in his answers.
“We knew he had knowledge on the Biblical concept of Love Thy Neighbor from teaching Sunday School, so to hear his perspective and how in tune it was with our goal for our past film was inspiring,” Caudle said.
The class allowed some audience members to ask Carter preselected questions.
“I looked forward to it the whole night,” audience member Giovanni Mella (21C) said. “[Carter] lightened up the entire room with his big smile.”