Up With Steve Kornacki, 7/28/13, 9:00 AM ET

Why what we're choosing to criminalize is a huge part of society's race question

Melissa Harris-Perry breaks down the idea that the discussion on race in society should include conversation on what that society chooses to criminalize with...

How the GOP keeps stoking racial fears

Updated

The United States has a long history when it comes to politicians exploiting economic and racial anxiety for electoral gain. Iowa Rep. Steve King’s recent racist comments about immigrants drew criticism, even from his own party, but inflammatory rhetoric on race and immigration is hardly a new facet of the Republican party. On Sunday’s Up with Steve Kornacki, the panel discussed how nativism threatens any attempts to broaden the GOP base and, more broadly, how attitudes of party and media figures ignore modern realities.

“You can scare people at the bottom and make them afraid of other people at the bottom,” said Jane Hall of American University, referring to President Obama’s Saturday interview with the New York Times. Hall joined msnbc host Melissa Harris-Perry, The Daily Beast’s Jamelle Bouie, Josh Barro and Up host Steve Kornacki Sunday to discuss how the Right deals with race.

“We only ever talk about the pathologies of the privileged,” Harris-Perry said. It’s easy to know what Bill O’Reilly is thinking of when he talks about black-on-black crime, but, as Harris-Perry pointed out, no one thinks twice about treating the underage drinking habits of Ivy League students like a youthful indiscretion rather than a crime.

Watch the whole discussion about politics, race, identity, and privilege and watch Up with Steve Kornacki ever Saturday and Sunday at 8 AM ET.

How the GOP keeps stoking racial fears

Updated