In This Episode
This week, we commemorate the 20th anniversary of September 11. The securitization at home and the “war on terror” that followed fundamentally reshaped our country and those in which our country made war. War is the antithesis of public health. We speak with Zarlasht Halaimzai, an Afghan woman who founded the Refugee Trauma Initiative, which takes on the human fallout of violence and displacement, about the lasting consequences of America’s war on terror.
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Abdul El-Sayed: The leaders of the FDA and CDC pushed back on the Biden administration’s recommendation for a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, saying that they needed more time and more data. Meanwhile, two FDA officials resigned over the administration’s recommendations. In a five to four decision, the Supreme Court voted not to stay a new Texas law banning abortions at six weeks, posing a serious blow to Roe v. Wade. The Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharmaceuticals, the makers of OxyContin, have reached a settlement allowing them to face no liability and admit no wrongdoing for their role in the opioid epidemic. This is America Dissected. I’m your host, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed. I’ll never forget where I was that day, in chemistry class junior year. Someone had come by our classroom and whispered something into our teacher’s ear. He immediately turned on the television in our class just as the second plane hit the tower. Nearly 3,000 innocent Americans died that day in the worst attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor. It was a devastating moment for our country and we remember and honor them. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was watching men driven by hate attack my country in the name of my faith, claiming an act of violence in the name of a faith they didn’t understand, and by many accounts didn’t even practice. My mom, who just picked up my little brother named Osama from school, called and asked if I wanted to come home too. There was a small community of Muslim students at my high school and the threats and epithets had already begun to circulate. We didn’t use the word back in 2001, but I stayed in solidarity. Why do they hate us, was the question on everyone’s lips. They, of course, was broadly defined as Muslims from somewhere east of Europe. Us, of course, was America. That’s a really hard question to ask, let alone answer when you’re both Muslim and American. That moment fundamentally changed what it meant to be both. There was a before 9/11, and an after 9/11, for all of us, but especially for people like me. Before 9/11, I was an olive complexion guy with an uncommon name. After 9/11, my name, my face, my ethnicity, my faith—all of them became a symbol of that against which we are at war. “Go back to your country” was usually followed by some form of slur I’d come to know well: raghead, sand, Osama—never mind that that was my little brother’s name. And it wasn’t just on the street that I’d hear it, it stung worse among people who dress their bigotry up in suits and ties. When I interviewed for medical school, the dean of admissions at an Ivy League university asked me if I would be willing to take care of non-Muslims, considering people like me had to harbor ill will for people like him. When I prepared to interview for a Rhodes scholarship at my university, a former university vice president accused me of trying to be, quote unquote, “the imam of the medical center” because his administration had failed to provide basic ecumenical services for Muslim patients and hire even a single Muslim chaplain, and I’d offered to help plug the hole. I wasn’t the medical center’s imam, I was a medical student trying my best to support people who were denied a basic service because of the bigotry of people in charge. Last week, the last American soldier left Afghanistan, a war in which our country was mired for 20 years. 6,000 Americans lost their lives in a war that killed tens of thousands of Afghans, displacing millions more. But 6,000 is only the number of Americans we lost on the battlefield. Thousands more died by suicide when they came home to a place that only valorized their service with lip service. We wasted trillions of dollars to wage war that we would ultimately lose, trillions that we could have, should have, spent to fight poverty or houselessness or discrimination at home. And Afghanistan wasn’t the only war. There was the war in Iraq, justified by nonexistent connections to the hijackers who attacked our country. There was the ongoing war on terror that has American drones dropping bombs on Pakistan, Somalia and Libya. And then there was the war of securitization of our lives, and the Patriot Act, which robbed millions of their basic civil liberties. The NSA, which made near real-time surveillance just another facet of American lives. There’s the way war abroad transmogrified onto our streets through the 1033 program, which militarized policing in cities and towns across the country, taking the war from brown people abroad to Black and brown people at home, that helped to contribute to a burgeoning crisis of mass incarceration and police murder. But we have a choice about where we go from here, thousands of refugees from our war in Afghanistan are awaiting resettlement. Already the same voices who pounded the drums for war are fear-mongering the lives they displaced. This was Tucker Carlson on a show on Fox News a few weeks back:
[clip of Tucker Carlson] We will see many refugees from Afghanistan resettle in our country in coming months, probably in your neighborhood. And over the next decade, that number may swell to the millions. So first we invade and then we’re invaded.
Abdul El-Sayed: Now that we’ve lost the war against brown Muslim folks over there, they’re telling us that we can’t take in brown Muslim folks over here. After all, it doesn’t matter if they helped our forces or started nonprofits to promote openness and democracy, or believe in the dream of America— they’re still brown and still Muslim. They’re them, not us. But we owe them so much more. Our war destroyed their lives and livelihoods. Perhaps this is the opportunity to, in some small way, turn the page on an era of death, destruction and destitution. Because even if the war is over, the stain of the war lives on, and that we lost the war, perhaps we can yet win a peace. Zarlasht Halaimzai is a refugee from Afghanistan’s last war. She escaped the country in 1992 when she was 11 years old. Since, she’s dedicated her life to supporting and protecting refugees through the Refugee Trauma Initiative she founded in 2016. Her work focuses on the mental health consequences of forced migration. She joins us to reflect on the living legacy of America’s war in Afghanistan, and her work to protect and empower refugee mental health, after the break.
Abdul El-Sayed: Ready to roll when you are.
Zarlasht Halaimzai: Yeah, I think I’m ready too.
Abdul El-Sayed: All right, let’s get started. Can you please introduce yourself with the tape?
Zarlasht Halaimzai: My name is Zarlasht Halaimzai and I am the founder and CEO of Refugee Trauma Initiative.
Abdul El-Sayed, narrating: 9/11 scarred our country in profound ways, but what we did after 9/11 scarred millions of other people. When we talk about 9/11, we often fail to center them. Today, I wanted to reach out to someone who has an intimate understanding of the consequences of war in Afghanistan. So I reached out to Zarlasht Halaimzai, founder of the Refugee Trauma Initiative. An Afghan refugee herself from a US-backed conflict in the 1990s, Zarlasht has since spent her time advocating for the physical and mental well-being of refugees from conflicts across the world.
Abdul El-Sayed: And Zarlasht, we’re really excited to have you on the show today because I think you have a lot of perspective to offer. Oftentimes when we talk about the last 20 years in the history of our world, frankly, and the post-9/11 era, the conversation in the United States tends to be centered in the United States. And I think the more appropriate way to center this conversation is in telling the broader global story about the conduct of the United States and what followed. I want to ask, just stepping back, if you could share just your story as a refugee from Afghanistan and what context that gives you in sort of thinking about these past 20 years.
Zarlasht Halaimzai: My story begins in Afghanistan during the time when the US and the Soviet Union were clashing on Afghan soil. And, you know, I remember from very early on what, that was the biggest thing in my life and the life of my family. You know, it kind of determined everything. The violence that was committed by the Soviet Union and then the opposition that was supported by the US was incredibly brutal. And so we, you know, I grew up in very insecure circumstances, not knowing what would happen to us and what the future held. And, you know, in 1992, when the Soviet Union collapsed and the US withdrew from Afghanistan almost completely, the militias that had been empowered and trained and given weapons, you know, started fighting amongst themselves. And you know where we lived in Kabul, it became completely unlivable. There were snipers and militias fighting street from street. And my parents made a decision to leave out of fear that one of us or all of us would be killed. And so, you know, in a way, my life is very much determined by what happened in the 80s in that war.
Abdul El-Sayed: And your family left Afghanistan. What was that like?
Zarlasht Halaimzai: It was an incredibly traumatizing experience in lots of ways. The decision that my parents made was made in such haste under circumstances where we really feared that something would happen to my family. And, you know, we really didn’t have a plan of where to go, what to do. It was, you know, what they wanted to do was just to get away from a place where there was a lot of violence and, you know, and we left the whole life behind. You know, we left our community, our family, my parents’ livelihoods—my mom was a teacher and she was incredibly passionate about what she did, and in a way that was never really replaced by anything else for them. And, you know, we spent years kind of trying to come to terms to both our own experiences of what had happened, but also kind of following our family in Afghanistan and seeing what was happening to them and what continues to happen to them. It’s you know, it’s been a very sad and difficult and in a way, especially now, it feels like a very hopeless story, because no matter how much, you know, the ordinary Afghans have tried to overcome their circumstances and to build a new life for themselves, there are forces that are so much greater, that disrupt that continuously. And that doesn’t seem to be any end in sight.
Abdul El-Sayed: And you ultimately resettled in the United Kingdom. You know, I have some experience being a child of immigrants, but I didn’t immigrate myself. I was born in the U.S. My parents immigrated in far more common circumstances without being forced to migrate. Can you talk about what it was like to be a refugee, to grow up in a country that’s not the same as the one in which you were born, watching your family contend with the changes in their life, and trying to grow up and figure out who you’re going to become?
Zarlasht Halaimzai: You know, I’m sure that your parents found the experience of immigration difficult as well, right? So every kind of experience of leaving something behind and going somewhere new can be, you know, in lots of ways very distressing. But when you’re forced to do that, when there’s no choice but to leave, you know, it leaves a different type of scar, an impression on your psyche, on your body, on your life. And, you know, when we left, there was, there was no social media and what was happening in Kabul wasn’t being streamed into, you know, into our TV screens and computer screens. But what’s happening in Afghanistan right now, that is being screened. So you can see, you know, the extreme trauma that people experiencing, the circumstances in which people are living. And I think it would be really hard not to see how that, something like that could impact you as a person if you’ve been through that. And, you know, and for us, it was learning a new language, quite literally. We had to learn English, but also learning everything about a different country a new culture and kind of leaving parts of your identity and history behind. And if that’s something that’s forced upon you, it’s incredibly painful and it’s incredibly dislocating. And what you get in the new countries, often refugees, you know, face so much discrimination, experienced so much prejudice—so there’s so little understanding of the circumstances, or people think like, oh, you know, this is what you’ve always wanted, you know, to come to the UK and to be, to get a British passport. And, you know, the U.K. is my home now and this is where my life is, but when you first arrive, it’s really, it’s really disorientating to have that thrown at you when actually what’s happened to you is you’ve been forced to leave something that maybe you, you’ve worked your entire life to build something, to have a family, to have connections. And that’s ruptured in a very, very traumatic way.
Abdul El-Sayed: I appreciate that and that context, because I think sometimes when we tell the story of refugees, of war in particular, there is a deliberate forgetting of context and history, that people had been struggling to build a life before in a war-torn setting, and that struggle has consequence. It’s got its own scars. It’s got its own challenges. And when you arrive, there is there is a necessary mourning of what you have lost and the work that you put in, and then a redoubling of the effort. And it’s not all sunshine and lollipops, right? You don’t just get there and everything’s sort of there for you. We also forget the fact that living in the West, whether it’s the UK or the United States, is not the easiest thing when you don’t necessarily speak the language and/or you’re dealing with societies that are profoundly unequal by race, socioeconomic position, residency status. And for the most part, refugees are trying to contend with all of this at the same time and then being told to, you know, buck up, you’re the lucky ones. And, you know, I appreciate that, you sharing that. You’ve out of your experience, built an organization called the Refugee Trauma Initiative, and you built it back in 2016. I have some sense from our previous conversation about why, but can you talk to me about how you’ve translated your own experience into this work, what the nature of the work is, and at best, how it takes on some of the challenges that refugees face?
Zarlasht Halaimzai: Like I said, you know, the experience that we had both living through war and then leaving and then integrating into a completely new country was really, really tough. And there was so little around me that supported me as a teenage girl when I arrived in the UK. That helped me kind of, first of all, understand my own feelings, understand my own trauma, and all the kind of emotions that I had about loss and grief and dispossession in many ways. And, you know, as a family, we found it really difficult to deal with all of this. You know, my parents were both dealing with kind of losing everything that they had worked for and dealing with the stress of, you know, raising children in a completely new context. They didn’t understand a lot of the kind of nuances of being in this new place and so it was incredibly stressful and difficult. When I was—and then I you know, I spent quite a lot of time working in different contexts. I spent 18 months on the Turkish-Syrian border and I saw the kind of, the impact of that war on the Syrian population and it became very clear to me that one of the things that was really important was to address the trauma that people were experiencing because of the wars and because of displacement. And it also became very clear to me that there were very few interventions that specifically addressed that, and there were even fewer interventions that address this in a way that was identity-informed and understood the histories in the context of the people that, you know, they were trying to help. So Refugee Trauma Initiative came out of those experiences. And what we do is try to support people with this, with the fallout of those experiences. So we run therapeutic groups for men, women, children. And it’s, you know, the premise of the groups is to help people reconnect with themselves and their body, to reconnect with their families. We use mindfulness, art, movement therapy, to help process some of the experiences that they have. But most of all, it’s about creating a new community for people when they arrive. Because, you know, if you go to a refugee camp, you kind of think, oh, my God, you know, there’s so many people and they’re all sort of crammed together or, you know, you go to some, you know, some urban settings where they kind of house refugees in specific blocks, and you think, you know, people have other people that they can rely on. And often that’s not the case. People feel very very isolated. And so a lot of our work is about building community and rebuilding connection, restoring connection with people and it’s done in a way that understands, recognizes and honors their context and history. One thing that I wanted to add, you know, on what we said about context is that a really painful part of coming to the West from, from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, is the fact that the very circumstances of displacement is very much borne out of policies that come from here. And so if you’re an Afghan interpreter, for example, and you’ve worked with the US Army for the last 20 years and suddenly you’re displaced, so, you know, on the one hand, the US has evacuated you but on the other hand, the very reason you find yourself in that situation is because of policies and, you know, that caused that to happen in the first place. And I think that’s also like really hard to contend with. And so a lot of our work creates space for that to be understood and recognized.
Abdul El-Sayed: I want to pick up that point, because I think it’s a really important one. You know, both you and I watched the evolution of this particular war that just ended. I watched it from, you know, suburban Michigan and I presume you watched it from the U.K.. I think, you know, as someone who comes from a Middle Eastern background, a lot of the conversations that led up to the war were about a polarization of identity: us versus them—and I always found it ironic because I knew that us was “we Americans” and them was some vague understanding of the Muslim world. And, you know, I could see myself on both sides of us and them, which made that dichotomy patently, obviously false. And yet when wars are fought across that dichotomy, it takes on the truth in the world, even if conceptually you know it to be untrue. As we’re thinking about these next several months and frankly, years, after the fallout of the US’s pulling out of Afghanistan, there are going to be a lot of people who are coming to the UK, the US, other countries in the global north, usually in the West, and they’re going to be coming into a space that has been polarized already. It is already, the frame is already set. As we think about this moment and the usual political talkers keep talking and try to divide people, what do you feel like this conversation is missing? And how do we inform it in a way that both empowers refugees, but also takes on the logic that created the force, that forced migration in the first place?
Zarlasht Halaimzai: That’s a really good question, a very important one. I’ve been watching some of the rhetoric that’s happening in the US at the moment about Afghan refugees and quite frankly, it’s you know, some of it is so toxic and difficult to hear and, you know, recognizing the fact that a lot of the people who were evacuated would be coming to places like the UK and the US didn’t want to leave in the first place. These are people that were committed to their own country. They wanted to build it. They wanted to, you know, they cooperated in many different ways with the US government, with us NGOs, you know, so there is a lot of context there that I think needs to be recognized as part of the conversation. You know, I think this polarizing that you’re talking about happened in the withdrawal where people, you had these two camps of people who were saying we need to end forever wars without proposing anything concrete and practical about how you would pull out of a country where your footprint is so large and has dominated the whole power dynamics in the country, what’s happened, the media—all these different things—you know, how do you do that? And then the other kind of side of it, we need to be there for as long as we can, right? And the Afghans were in neither camp. You know, what we wanted was the kind of a deliberate, thoughtful, conscious policy that didn’t collapse the state as it did and didn’t collapse the army, didn’t kind of put people in a position that they are now. And that just, you know, that conversation, first of all, didn’t happen, partly because the Afghan voices were totally drowned out, and the people that were really pleading in most cases with the U.S. and the international community from Afghanistan to try and kind of help them understand what was happening, they just didn’t get any, you know, people didn’t listen to them. And so I think it’s really important now to, first of all, recognize that the war on terror as a enterprise has caused a lot of damage in the world. And it continues, it will continue to do so. A Brown University report put the number of displaced people as a result of war on terror at 37 million people. That’s a staggering number. And again, these people did not want to leave and go to Western countries—it’s mostly in the neighboring countries—but they didn’t want to do that. It happened because they were, you know, because of the violence, drone attacks, kind of and completely unaccountable attacks from NATO, the Afghan army, US. You know, it’s just, it’s all these different dynamics that forced people to leave in Iraq and Afghanistan and other places. So I think kind of paying attention to history and paying attention to the, you know, to the context will help. And I think that means that the media has to take a, I mean—as I’m saying this, I kind of think this is not going to happen and maybe even in my lifetime—but we just need to take a step back and actually look at things the way that they are, rather than kind of creating these simplistic slogans of, you know, “end forever wars” or “continue war forever.” Neither of those things are true or real. And what’s been really disappointing for a lot of Afghans is some of the people in the US that we would see as natural allies because they stand for social justice and they talk about anti-racism and they talk about, you know, confronting power dynamics in a meaningful way—people like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Bernie Sanders, Ilhan Omar—they kind of stopped, they took up the slogan of ending forever wars, and didn’t at all pay attention to what the Afghan people were saying and what they were asking for. And even in the last few weeks in the midst of this kind of horrific evacuation that will traumatize and scar people for a very long time, there’s very little that came out of that camp to recognize the suffering of the people of Afghanistan. And that’s been really disappointing for a lot of people that kind of celebrated when they were elected in the US.
Abdul El-Sayed: I want to, I want to step back. And I think, you know, oftentimes the voices we hear tend to be voices in power and the everyday ordinary American oftentimes will hear these conversations between powerful people. And in a lot of ways, it has been a failure of our, you know, capital D, democratic process to allow ourselves to get mired into wars we should not have been fighting in the first place. And then, right, to ignore a lot of the context and the considerations about how to extricate ourselves, as you really elegantly put it. I want to ask you if you had an opportunity to just talk to folks living their lives in the US, oftentimes either not paying attention because things are too busy, or deliberately not paying attention because it’s too noisy, what would you want them to know a) about refugees and their experience and how best to welcome them and then b) what we need to do to make sure that the United States does not continue to perpetuate this logic of war and a global war on terror that has displaced 37 million people—what would you want them to do, what would you ask of them?
Zarlasht Halaimzai: So the first thing in relation to refugees that are arriving in America, everyone in that, everyone, all of those people would have had horrible, horrible experiences coming to America. So a level of empathy, real empathy, where people try and kind of put themselves in their shoes and kind of try and understand how you would have been affected if you had to leave your home in the space of 48 hours and leave everything that you know behind. So I think that exercise of real empathy, where you’re really try to understand why people, you know, how people might be feeling, what kind of support they might need in order to settle, and then you home and how you might check on them. You know, I, one of the things, like all these little things that when we arrived in the UK were so difficult, like filling a form, going to parents evening, or knowing what where things were, they just very practical things that when you first arrive in a new community that you find really tough and really difficult, and they sort of add up and create quite a lot of stress on people. So at a community-individual level, is kind of having that in mind, having empathy and trying to support people in that way is really, really helpful. And I was, one of the things that I hear a lot from people that really want to help refugees is they want them to be really grateful about being in their new circumstances and they want them to kind of display that. And I think, you know, it’s really hard for people to be grateful when your, when you feel that your life has been snatched away from you in lots of ways and you have to remake it. So it’s kind of understanding some of those things would be really, it’s really, really helpful for people on an individual level. I think, as, you know, I hope that, and to your point about the larger picture of foreign policy and how we kind of dismantle the architecture of war on terror, I think recognizing that this is something that’s been put into place for the last 20 years, involved a lot of very powerful forces in the world, you know, all the kind of corporate interests, the people, the geopolitical players, all these different things—it’s going to take a really long time, even if there is a will and a way, to dismantle it. And so I think the biggest lesson from Afghanistan is that you can’t just kind of pull out as if by doing that, you can remake the world as it was before. That’s not going to happen. I’m very concerned about all the kind of stuff that’s coming out right now about over the horizon operations where we’re going to be sending drones to all these different people, the investment that’s happening in the automation of war, which essentially removes accountability from people. So everyone who is an American has power over other people, who they vote in, and will make a difference not just in the lives of Americans, but in the lives of millions of people around the world. So if we, if there is, if there are people in power that don’t recognize those things, that are OK with, for example, putting billions of dollars in drones program, they’re OK with private contractors and mercenaries in other people’s homes, they’re OK with, you know, kind of not recognizing the deaths of other people with the degree of, a similar degree of value to American lives—that has a real impact on the world. And so kind of considering how the kind of the American footprint in the world when you vote, when you kind of make these kind of decisions, would really go a long way in kind of addressing some of the ills that has happened as a result of the war on terror. I think that is always my—and when Americans ask me, what can we do, I’m like, don’t vote and psychopaths who will, you know, wreak havoc around the world, you know? Like just don’t do that, because it doesn’t just affect Americans, it affects millions of people. And they can snap their fingers and go to war, and they can snap their fingers and come out, and then leave just a mess behind.
Abdul El-Sayed: No, I really appreciate that. I mean, I think the point, I really appreciate the point that you made about asking the empathic question of what would we feel like if someone did this to us, and how would we want someone to engage with the lives of others when we understand and recognize that they have the same value as ours do? And on the not electing psychopaths point, we’re working on it but I have to tell you that it’s, this moment has made it harder and harder yet still. But we’re grateful to folks like you who remind us of our humanity and remind us what the stakes of our global engagement or non-engagement really are, and are doing the work to ease a path for people who’ve unfortunately suffered at the hands of an unjust and inequitable foreign policy. That was Zarlasht Halaimzai, who joined us from the U.K. to talk a little bit about her work with the Refugee Trauma Initiative and the broader context of the global war on terror and that has been fought over the past 20 years. Zarlasht, thank you so much for taking the time. We really appreciate you.
Zarlasht Halaimzai: Thank you for having me.
Abdul El-Sayed: As usual, here’s what I’m watching right now. Two weeks ago, the Biden administration announced that all Americans would soon be eligible for a third dose of their COVID-19 vaccine, a booster. But the decision hasn’t been met with universal applause in the public health community. And this week, the fallout of the Biden administration’s recommendations continued. The director of the CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, and the Acting Commissioner of the FDA, Dr. Janet Woodcock, told the White House’s COVID-19 response league that they needed more time and data to review before approving and recommending third shots. Meanwhile, the Director and Deputy Director of the FDA’s Office of Vaccine Research and Review, have announced their resignations, believing that the administration’s recommendations of boosters prior to FDA authorization implicitly and preemptively pressured the agency for approval.
The right to an abortion in America took a huge hit last week when the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, voted against blocking a draconian Texas law banning abortions after the sixth week, even in cases of rape or incest. The case is a direct opposition to legal precedent established by Roe v. Wade. Additionally, the Texas law is near immune to legal challenges. That’s because it creates a bounty for individuals to sue abortion providers rather than leaving enforcement to the state, meaning that the standing to challenge the law in court will be difficult, if not impossible, to establish. That said, abortion bans don’t end abortions, they just make abortions more dangerous. Those with the means will go elsewhere, but those without them are forced into dangerous circumstances. Those people are far more likely to be low income, Black or brown. The irony here is that the same conservative pundits and politicians telling us that we were abandoning the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan, are now cheering on the violation of the rights of women and girls in Texas. Can’t make this shit up.
In other news, the Sacklers, the family behind Perdue Pharmaceuticals, who made and peddled the opioid OxyContin across the country, they’ve settled a class action lawsuit brought by victims of the opioid epidemic for $4.5 billion and the loss of their company. Get this: part of the deal is that they didn’t have to admit any wrongdoing. They’re now immune from future litigation and they remain one of the richest families in the world. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of mainly young Black men languish in prison for selling a substance that is neither deadly nor chemically addictive and is now legal in many states. Again, you can’t make this shit up.
But let’s end on some good news. Did you even know that was possible anymore? On the one hand, 2021 is almost over. And a new Axios Ipsos poll found that those saying that they are not likely to get the coronavirus vaccine dropped to 20%, an all-time low. Among parents, those who say they’ll likely get their kids vaccinated is up to 68%. Also an all-time high. Though this is, of course, great news, it reflects the surging levels of COVID-19 right now. 80% of people polled worried about those levels, which probably explains why nearly 60% of Americans support vaccine requirements by their employers, even though only 19% of people report their employers requiring vaccines.
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Abdul El-Sayed: America Dissected is a product of Crooked Media. Our producer is Austin Fisher. Our associate producer is Olivia Martinez. Veronica Simonetti mixes and masters the show. Production support from Tara Terpstra, Lyra Smith, and Ari Schwartz. The theme song is by Taka Yasuzawa and Alex Sugiura. Our executive producers are Sarah Geismer, Sandy Girard and me: Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, your host. Thanks for listening.