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Listeners Criticize Gov. Walker, Cheer Jarana Beat


And now, it's time for BackTalk, where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the TELL ME MORE blogosphere and get to hear from you, our listeners. Ammad Omar is back here with us. He's an editor here at TELL ME MORE. Welcome back, Ammad. What do you have?

AMMAD OMAR, BYLINE: Well, you spoke with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker on Wednesday. He's facing a recall election if opponents can get a little bit more than half a million signatures by mid-January. A lot of people there, of course, are angry that Governor Walker successfully attempted to end the collective bargaining rights for a lot of public employees.

Here's what the governor had to say on our program Wednesday.

GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER: Most states have recalls and say, misconduct in office, some sort of thing like that that triggers it, not just, I disagree or agree with a piece of legislation. But this is really about power.

OMAR: Well, Michel, we got a ton of emails and comments, many of them critical of Governor Walker. One listener, John G.(ph), wrote, quote: "How dare he say that the expression of the people is a waste of time and resources? It's the people's time, not his. It's the people's resources, not his," unquote.

You know, we also heard from listeners who had quite a different perspective and anyone who wants to check out the debate or join in, go to our website, NPR.org.

MARTIN: And, obviously, we'll return to that story as it develops. Ammad, anything else?

OMAR: This week, we also talked about the new documentary "We Still Live Here." It tells the story of how members of the Wampanoag tribe have revived a language that hadn't been spoken fluently in more than a century. At this point, the tribe's leaders are limiting the language lessons to Wampanoag households. And you asked one of our guests, Troy Currence, who is vice president of the Wampanoag Language Reclamation Project, why that is.

MARTIN: Really, I'm pressing the question because, now, couldn't one argue that that's kind of racist?

TROY CURRENCE: Well, there are a lot of things that were done here on this continent unfairly. We're just trying to reclaim a little piece of the puzzle that is ours.

OMAR: Well, a lot of listeners kind of picked up on that note, Michel. In response to that question, Samut(ph) from New Jersey wrote, quote: "Why do people of color always have to apologize to every other ethnic group for wanting to keep their culture within their culture? Why is that racist? Let the Wampanoag and other people of culture keep their language and cultural distinctiveness."

MARTIN: Well, thanks, Samut. But another listener, Clyde Smith(ph) from Florida, had this to say. He wrote: I was encouraged by the desire to save a language and promote it. I was then discouraged in learning the language classes were closed to the general public and available only to families with Wampanoag lineage. They've done a great disservice to others who might look for outside support to study their own culture and history. I guess it's only fun being in when someone else is out.

Anything else, Ammad?

OMAR: Yeah. On Monday, we listened to the smooth sounds of Jarana Beat.


OMAR: One of our listeners, Barry Kessler(ph), emailed us to say, quote: "I specifically want to thank you for the bit about the Brooklyn Mexican band, Jarana Beat. I've never heard of this genre of music as long as I've been listening to World Beat, but I like it so much, I want to explore further. Carry on."

MARTIN: Well, thank you. So why don't we groove on out to Jarana Beat? Thank you for those updates, Ammad, and thank you for joining us.

OMAR: Thank you, Michel.

MARTIN: And, remember, with TELL ME MORE, the conversation never ends. To tell us more, you can call our comment line at 202-842-3522 or visit us online at NPR.org/TellMeMore. Please remember to leave us your name. You can also find us on Twitter. Just look for TELL ME MORE NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.