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Daisy, Do you think America's attitude to Muslims has evolved at all since 9/11?
Khan: I think immediately after 9/11, America was by and large united behind a common cause and people knew that the Muslim Americans were not the same as the people that had just attacked us. But last year when we tried to open that Islamic cultural center and people got so upset, I realized that no national healing had taken place. People just swept their emotions up under a rug. Long term, I don't despair. Americans are by nature a fair-minded people. But this is a really bad time for us.
Do you ever think, "If only people didn't have X, life would be better?" What is that X?
Bell: Fear. Fear of new ideas, fear of failure. Fear that the other side might have some truth to its argument.
Rhee: He stole my answer! When I was chancellor of D.C.'s public schools, I had the opportunity to meet Warren Buffett. We were at a dinner together and he turned to me and said, "It's very easy to fix the problems in public education today." I said, "Super. If you have an answer, tell me what it is." He said, "Make private school illegal and assign every kid to a random public school." Just think about that. If you took every politician's kid, every Senator's child, Obama's two daughters, and put them in a random public school chosen by a lottery, you'd have a faster movement of resources from one side of the city to the other than you can even imagine.
But that idea is terrifying. Do you want that to happen to your kid? Even the much smaller fights, you get called names like antiteacher or antiunion because those terms are polarizing, and polarizing arguments play to people's fears.
White: My answer would not be fear, it would be lack of awareness. We're not looking for a magic bullet to solve the water crisis. We've had the technology to deliver clean water for over 100 years. We need to realize that this is a problem.
Khan: What if we had no competition among religions? What if we agreed that there was a supreme being and left it at that. Instead we are focused on Jesus Inc., Moses Inc., Muhammad Inc. We're all worshipping the regional managers. What if there was just God?
Bell: I think the measure of a great religion is how well you love your neighbor the one who is most unlike you.
How has social media changed what you do?
Khan: In a traditional Muslim society, women are not allowed to go out and protest. But when they use social media, they can connect to each other. They are empowered. I think we're very close to a modern-day women's suffrage movement in the Muslim world.
Bell: Religion often has paradoxes that don't always fit so easily into 140 characters.
The Ten Commandments were short.
Bell: Yes, and we've been assessing those for a while now.