Melissa Harris-Perry, Transcript 09/13/15
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: This morning my question: what is
fueling the surge of the burn?
Plus, the not so secret lives of teens who sexed.
And the cameras are gone in South Carolina. The struggle to heal
But first, election 2016 and the return of fear to voting on the campaign
Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
Friday was the 14th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks. The
fear this country felt was real and sustained, lasting not just weeks or
months, but for years after the attacks. And there are signs that the fear
is finally dissipating.
The “New York Times” reported that Friday`s memorials were smaller, quieter
than in years past. It only shows that American voters, while still
concerned about terrorism, rank it as less important to their vote as the
economy and health care policy. And for me the fear was always around the
issue of flying, so this Friday I flew to New York, like I do almost every
week in order to host this show. But what was remarkable was I flew on
September 11th, something I had gone out of my way to avoid for years after
the attacks out of fear.
The fears that we all felt had very real policy consequences, the
continuing war on terror, the creation of the department of homeland
security, the patriot act. Good or bad, these policies and practices were
a direct consequence of a very real sense of fear. That is why it`s so
important to see the 2016 presidential candidates believe we`re afraid of.
For the past two weeks or so, several Republican candidates have focused on
the fear of crime fueled by two fatal attacks on police officers in Houston
and outside of Chicago. In particular, they have blamed the black lives
matter movement, and sometimes even President Obama for making police
officers gun-shy, emboldening criminals and causing a spike in violent
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s the liberal policies
in this city that has led to the lawlessness that`s been encouraged by the
president of the United States.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think they`re trouble. I
think they`re looking for trouble. I looked at a couple of the people that
were interviewed from the group. I saw them with hate coming down the
street, last week talking about cops and police and what should be done to
them, and that was not good. And I think it`s a disgrace that they`re
getting away with it.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do think we`re seeing the
manifestation of the rhetoric and vilification of police that`s coming from
the top, that`s coming from the president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, the only Republican to be
asked a question about black lives matter at the first GOP debate last
month wrote a escaping op-ed in which he seemed to blame President Obama
for the recent deaths of police officers.
Quote, “in the last six years under President Obama, we`ve seen a rise in
anti-police rhetoric. Instead of hope and change, we`ve seen racial
tensions worsen and the tendency to use law enforcement as a scapegoat.”
(INAUDIBLE) writes this week for “Slates,” by blaming Obama and black lives
matter for an increase in crime or new attacks on police officers, they`re
working to conjure the fear and uncertainty of the `80s and `90s, when
violent crime was at an all-time high and capitalize on them.
June 1993 and 2011, gun homicide rates dropped by half. In 1993, we were
four times more likely to be a victim of violent crimes than you were in
the 2014. And the 90s, the fear was rea that led to policies throughout
the state and at the federal level that had led over-incarceration of
African-Americans and the militarization of police, the very thing Black
Lives Matter are fighting against.
Republicans may be hoping they can link the movement and its support from
Democrats like Hillary Clinton to the fear people felt at the peak of the
crime wave and turn that fear into electoral victory. (INAUDIBLE) writes
quote “it`s worth noting the extent to which those appeals come at the same
time that Republicans need to increase their share of the white vote to win
a national majority.”
Now, I argue something just slightly different that its strategy appear
rather than hope going negative rather than positive is a winning electoral
strategy for Republicans, but not so much because they want to attract more
white voters, but because it would keep more people from coming out to the
polls at all.
When turnout is low, Republicans tend to win because the people who are
durable all these voters tend to be older, whiter, more likely Republican
voters. When turnout is high, Democrats have a more chance of winning
because young, black and brown voters go to the polls, too. The effect of
negative campaigning is it can often lead to lower turnout. It`s called
shrinking and polarizing, a term coined in 1995 by the political scientist
Steven Ancazare (INAUDIBLE) in their book, “Going Negative.”
You see they found that the more negative the campaign, the lower the
turnout. And they wrote quote “negative politics generates disillusionment
and distrust among the public. Attack ads resonate with the popular
beliefs that government fails; that elected officials are out of touch and
quite corrupt and that voting is a hollow acts. The end results, lower
turnout and lower trust in government.” And that is the worst case
scenario for Democrats in 2016.
Joining me now is Amee Meredith Cox, assistant professor of American
studies at Florida University and author of “shape shifters, black girls
and the choreography of citizenship.” Dean Obeidallah who is host of
Sirius XM`s “The Dean Obeidallah show” and he is a columnist of “the Daily
Beast,” and Reverend Serene Jones, president of the Illinois Theological
Seminary. And joining from Washington D.C. NBC News senior political
reporter Perry Bacon Jr. Thank you, all of you, for joining us.
Perry, let me talk to you first. Do you think this campaign – you`ve been
following a lot of campaigns, but do you think this Republican primary is
more negative in general, or are we still just very much in the land of
normal politics at this point?
PERRY BACON JR., NBC NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I still think we`re
in the land of normal politics, but I think what you see is this – because
Donald Trump, who I would argue is a more negative candidate or the
cultural views from the past, he was the leading birther in 2011, I think
the fact he`s done so well on these cultural appeals, in the beginning of
his campaign, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio as well, talked a lot about how they
wanted to expand the electorate, speak more in Spanish, Bush speaks Spanish
all the time. And the candidates have all now watch this Bush`s message
hasn`t really worked so far. Trump`s message talking about Mexican the way
he does, talking about African-Americans the way he does has worked. So
I`m not surprised Walker and Ted Cruz have now eaten the message and
(INAUDIBLE) black lives matter, because Trump has taken their voters, they
need to figure out a way how to give back to the right and you know,
conservative right, therefore uphill to that base that voters Trump is
HARRIS-PERRY: Perry, stay with us. Don`t go away.
Because Amee, I want to come to you on. Part of what I hear from Perry
there is if the issue of primary versus general election, right? So this
idea of shrinking and polarizing is really troubling in a general election.
But in a primary, actually, you do have, you know, already small and
already highly partisan voters. And so, I`m wondering if it kind of
generates a space where fear-based politicking is rewarded.
AMEE MEREDITH COX, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF AMERICAN STUDIES, FLORIDA
UNIVERSITY: Right, I mean, I think part of what is really important to
understand is that when we have a disproportionate, ridiculously small
segment of the population that has accumulated vast wealth and power and
the politicians who support this segment of the population, the biggest
threat to that power is a populous that is educated, well-informed, and
most importantly united.
And so, the biggest threat to power in effect is solidarity. The best way
to squash solidarity is create this fear of difference which we see now
through the negative campaigning we`re seeing happening right now, is the
creation of this dangerous other who is defined as un-American, who is
defined as a non-citizen, usually non-white, right, and sort of attached to
systems of poverty that are used to blame the victim in many cases.
And so what happens, even though this is a primary, the representation of
this idea that somehow what we think of as this idealized, mythical
American nation, this national identity that never really existed is under
attack by these threatening others.
HARRIS-PERRY: Which to me feels, Dean, like it connects so culturally with
September 11th. I mean, part of the reason that I wanted to come in with
talking about that was - I mean, I genuinely – and I think most of us did
– felt afraid after September 11th, right? I mean, there was a sense of
vulnerability, national vulnerability that in the 20th and 21st century had
not been something that Americans had previously had to cope with.
But the shift from that sense of genuine vulnerability based on a real
threat to the kind of anti-Muslim discourse and the kind of willingness to
give up civil liberty, it felt like that`s where that fear goes from useful
to deeply damaging.
DEAN OBEIDALLAH, HOST, DEAN OBEIDALLAH SHOW: I think that fear, in a
rational fear ginned up by politicians will animate people to support
policies they shouldn`t be supporting, sacrifice from a civil liberties.
As you know, I am Muslim. I have lived through this post-9/11 world where
pre-9/11 I really was a white guy. Friday was my 14th anniversary of no
longer being white in this country because before that I looked white, even
though, I`m (INAUDIBLE), I`m a Muslim, by my world changed, you know. I`m
defined as a minority. I view the world as a minority.
So I`m very, very sensitive to issues like Black Lives Matter and
dehumanization by the right. I really expected, frankly, that the
politicians would pivot from gays to demonizing Muslims in this race. I
never thought they would demonize Latinos. It makes no sense politically.
Attacking us is easy. We`re a small group. You can ginned up the fear and
instead they turn to Latinos and now Black Lives Matter.
So politically, it makes no sense to me, other than internally in the small
intermural sport of the GOP primary on a national scale. It makes no
sense. I still think that sadly they`re going to come back to us, you
know. I like attention, but I don`t need this kind of attention.
All of you have set out here this idea of kind of – even whether or not it
makes sense politically, for me there`s also kind of a big moral sort of
arc question that you just about the power of democracy itself. And if
this kind of discourse, the Black Lives Matter is responsible for rather
than the victims of violence, then we actually invert where power ought to
rest with the democracy, it ought to rest with the people.
REV. DR. SERENE JONES, PRESIDENT, ILLINOIS THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY: Yes. And
what we see happening, I mean, sadly, we can trace it back to 9/11, but
it`s been from the beginning of the United States a core, natural part of
our identity is to drive politics by finding a group of people to
marginalize, to oppress and to turn into the demonization of the group.
And slavery, I mean, that`s the beginning of the story, and it is still
structures everything we do and think politically, even that in unconscious
level. And now, in the swirl of that story of slavery, you find gay people
pulled in, you find Iranians pulled in, Muslims pulled in, Latinos are
pulled in. It just sucks the whole world into it and drives the political
imagination that requires it.
HARRIS-PERRY: Stick with us, everybody including Perry down there in D.C.
What does America think of Black Lives Matter? We have some exclusive
brand new polling data to bring you next. Stick with us.
HARRIS-PERRY: In a new poll from MSNBC, Telemundo and Marist, 37 percent
say they have somewhat positive view of Black Lives Matter movement.
Twenty five percent have a negative view. And I don`t know where this
other 35 percent are, but they`re either neutral or just haven`t heard of
black lives matter movement. Come on. Tune to MHP, people.
And according to a recent Pew poll, a majority of people, black, white and
Latino, believe the country needs to do more to give African-Americans
equal rights to white Americans. The same is true of Democrats at 78
percent, believing more needs to be done as to 55 percent of independents,
but only 42 percent of Republicans think that more needs to be done to
achieve racial equality. A slim majority, 51 percent, say enough has been
Now, let`s say that`s things are changing even within the Republican Party.
A year ago only 27 percent of Republicans said there is more to be done
with equal rights. So we`ve actually seen it increases 15 percentage
points in just 12 months. Maybe evidence that the black lives matter
movement is working in some important ways.
So Perry, I wanted to come to you, because this – on September 2nd, Nicki
Haley was speaking before the national press club and she did really
fascinating thing around Black Lives Matter. And I wanted to play it and a
kind of get your reaction to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Most people live in terror because
local police are too intimidated to do their jobs are black. Black lives
do matter, and they have been disgrace fully jeopardized by the movement
that has laid waste to Ferguson and Baltimore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BACON: I guess wow would be the first comment about what she said. But
I`m not surprised by it. And I tell you this. After – Haley was very
involved in getting the confederate flag, (INAUDIBLE), and I applaud her
That said, there`s talk about is she going to be a new leader, is she going
to change the Republican Party? And I assumes the answer to that was no.
I thought the confederate flag will be a one-move action. And this is a
sign that it is.
My understanding is Haley very much wants to become and be considered for
vice president for the Republican nominee. And one way do, and you well
going too far, you know, lot of conservatives do not like black lives
matter. And Nikki Haley was aligning herself with those people by those
very visceral comments condemned in a movement. And it has not surprised
me, thought, because in some ways she needs to be, you know, be in the
mainstream of the party, and most of the party wanted the flag to come
down, but they also aren`t very happy with the black lives matter movement.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. I mean, there was a little piece of rhetorical
political brilliance there by the assertion black lives do matter, and then
shifting it say and black lives matter is a movement is a laying waste to
Ferguson involvement like, man, it certainly looks like someone who is
running for national office from the Republican Party on that side.
And so, Serene, I guess part of what`s interesting to me is trying to
figure out, then, what are the (INAUDIBLE) rhetorical strategies to push
back against that? Because, I mean, that really is brilliant. I`m going
to bring the flag down. You can`t make a claim that, you know, I am
aligned with this symbol of racial intolerance and slavery, but also I`m
going to level this critique against the movement.
JONES: I mean, the rhetorical strategy in response to it is just to speak
truth. And the truth is black lives matter is not trying to destroy the
country. They`re trying to make the country the country they claim to be.
So it`s just the key pointing back to our basic fundamental values.
I mean, to call us social movement for justice, the kind of evil entity
it`s being made into? I accept to say this is to the theologian, I mean,
what is the New Testament if not a story of Jesus leading a social movement
for justice that upset everybody around them, but it was true, and it was
the work of God and the world, so.
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, if there is something both about what you`ve done
there in terms of a reclamation of a space that I think often gets to sort
of hand it over to the right. So, you know, religion (INAUDIBLE), that
exists on the right, that`s theirs, so we have to talk about something
else, sort of a reclamation of that. And I think a similar kind of, you
know, use and misuse of the Black Lives Matter by Haley. The title of your
book is a part of the choreography of citizenship. And this feels like a
choreography of politics very clearly about stoking a certain kind of fear,
but also at the same time kind of keeping your hand on it and saying, you
know, I`m with Martin Luther King. I`m just not with those bad activists.
COX: Exactly. And this is not surprising at all, right? So any time you
have a segment of the society that`s the most vulnerable to state violence
and to the extreme inequities in this culture, when they stand up, when
they speak up, when they fight back, they are immediately categorized as
not just as defiant but disruptive to the democracy, right, disruptive to
the social fabric in some real ways. So, that this is –
HARRIS-PERRY: Which they are.
HARRIS-PERRY: But it actually is disruptive, but on purpose.
COX: Right. And so part of what I think is really important to understand
about Black Lives Matter and how this is sort of being concealed through
this rhetoric is that Black Lives Matter, the fight against state violence
is not just about these very visible, spectacular deaths of black youth
industry, right, by police officers. But is about the slow death that
black folks, primarily poor black folks, right, and poor people in this
country experience on a daily basis that is brought to light time and time
again. We see it happening in the civil rights movement. This is not new
what Black Lives Matter is doing to use these events to talk about deaths
that are not spectacular, deaths due to poverty, deaths that happen through
of the lack of resources and public education.
HARRIS-PERRY: So I got to because listen to you talk about this, and so
I`m head I`m thinking of exactly the equality issues that you are
addressing here. But I want to listen to Ben Carson for a moment who also
does an aversion flip on Black Lives Matter just to get a response. Let`s
take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m very happy to meet with Black
Lives Matter. You know, my beef with Black Lives Matter movement has been
I think they need to add a word, and that word is “all,” all black lives
matter. Including the ones that are eradicated by abortions, including the
ones that are eradicated on the streets every day by bombs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OBEIDALLAH: And yesterday he said that they were bullies. He said the
Black Lives Matter movement is bullies. That`s what he said. The idea
that the audacity for people to stand up and speak out against police
brutality and finally, we are seeing it through videos. This has been
going on for generations. We finally see it through videos. This has been
going to for generations. We finally see through videos. And they say,
well, the police are being gunned down.
Well, statistics say that`s not true. In fact, 20 percent less police
officers were killed by gunfire so far this year than last year. That
marked police officer were killed during many of the years President Bush
was president. There was no Black Lives Matters at that point.
HARRIS-PERRY: And let me just also point out. It`s not as though black
people have not also been actively fighting against street violence, the
accessibility of guns that are the kind of routine parts, like the idea
that somehow black communities aren`t and haven`t been deeply motivated and
activated around that, and even around the way - so, even if we`re kind of
a pro-life, anti-abortion stance, even Black Lives have said, hey, there
are economic justice issues associated with that as well.
Perry, let me come back to you one last time before we go. How much do you
think black Lives Matter is going to be a central feature determining in
the context of the Republican primary, sort of where people are positioned
on it on how folks vote?
BACON: I don`t think it will be very important, because you have seen even
the quote-unquote “moderate candidates” like Jeb Bush have also criticized
the movement. Jeb Bush, a few months ago said the all lives matter, right,
well the phrase that.
The one place I think is important is the rise of Ben Carson is not an
accident in terms of Black Lives Matter. Conservatives like to hear this
kind of person who is black saying this movement is invalid and not great.
I think the fact that Ben Carson is doing so well is a symbol of
conservatives having someone who is saying that they believe criticizing
President Obama the way he does. And I think he`s back and in fact, he is
second place now that you will hear about that on the debate on Wednesday
in terms of candidates criticizing Black Lives Matter. But it will be hard
to win on that because they all have the same position.
HARRIS-PERRY: Perry Bacon Jr. brought bad analysis. Don`t miss that.
Perry Bacon Jr. in Washington, D.C., thank you so much for joining us.
Up next, fear, voting and Kim Davis. Some Republicans running for
president wants to believe you are about to lose your religion.
HARRIS-PERRY: Race is not the only sorts of electoral fear-mongering going
on these days.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will stand with Kim, we will
stand with the constitution, and we will stand with our faith and will not
be bullied no matter if they incarcerate us!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was Republican presidential candidate and former
Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee with Kim Davis, the county clerk in
Kentucky who was briefly jailed after refusing to follow a court order to
begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples.
So Serene, I battled with this a little bit, not because I have any
question about where I stand vis-…-vis Miss Davis, but because the notion
of conscientious objection fueled by moral critique of law is central to
many of the movement that I care a great deal about. So help me understand
why, what`s going on with Miss Davis is not the same thing.
JONES: Well, it is so different. And I agree. The history of the United
States is having matters of conscience based in religion that allow you to
not participating in practice you find morally offensive is very important.
In this case Kim Davis doesn`t even want to not just herself do it, she
wants to stop her clerks from doing it. She wants to say nobody can do it.
And that is so fundamentally different than our traditional understanding
of conscientious objection. It`s just become a religious spectacle and
it`s embarrassing to claim that this is Christianity asserting itself in
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. This idea of shutting people out and not allowing
them to –
HARRIS-PERRY: I wonder, do you think the Pope`s visit is likely to
complicate this narrative that this constitutes what public Christianity
looks like? So this Pope is still very traditionally catholic in a variety
of ways but also is pushing some of the boundaries about action fight.
JONES: Yes. I think some of the fear-mongering that is happening right
now is swirling around because of the anxiety created in conservative
America, conservative religious America, about this man who is the most
powerful religious speaker in the world coming to the United States and
preaching the gospel of love, of acceptance, of tolerance, of inclusion. I
mean, it is a terrifying moment for people for whom that narrative signals
the end of what they value.
Dean, you wrote a piece in terms of thinking about this question of
religious liberty writing. “Does religious liberty apply to Muslims?” And
about a flight attendant who asked for this accommodation not to serve
alcohol because of her religious beliefs which the airline granted and then
revoked. And this is this idea that religious liberty is only for a
particular version of religious belief.
OBEIDALLAH: I support religious liberty for all Americans. There is a
difference, though, between an accommodation, I used to be a lawyer under
the civil rights act, under title seven, where in your religious beliefs
and you work responsibilities collide, you go to your employer and try to
work out religious accommodation. And they have to give to you under law.
It is not special privilege as you get that as long as that undue burden on
But in the case of the clerk, she`s saying, no, my law applies to all five
clerks who said I will issue license you can`t do. And they say most one
who opposed is law Sharia law. That`s Christian Sharia Law what she was
trying to do. That`s what it is.
To me, Sharia law is shorthand for saying, I`m going to take my religious
text and turn it to law. I`m not saying Christianity is law – we are not
going to begin that discussion. That shorthand to me, Sharia law, a
shorthand in using religious beliefs turning it to law. That`s what she
was doing, Christian sharia law.
In the case of the flight attendant, this is a typical religious
accommodation. She is saying – she`s not saying no on the flight, so
don`t drink alcohol. I`m Muslim. None of you. I`m taking over the plane
you can`t do. She`s saying I`ll do other work. The other flight
attendants will serve drinks. I`ll do more work on the other hand. And
it`s up to the employer if it`s undue hardship or not. At first they
agreed. They may have revoked it and now it`s going to the courts to
decide it. And that`s what it really comes down to we need religion
OBEIDALLAH: But you had Ted Cruz, you had Huckabee. Ted Cruz has said the
gay community is waging a jihad against religious liberty. Huckabee is
actually a call to honor in some of the stuff almost the doorstep of
violence. I really think now he`s bringing people to that doorstep and
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. We have Ted Cruz saying today`s judicial lawlessness
crossed into judicial tyranny. Today for the first time ever, the
government arrested a Christian woman for living according to her faith.
This is wrong. This is not America.
And man, that – I mean, you heard about fear-mongering. And I hear the
government is coming for the (INAUDIBLE).
COX: Right. But I also think it is interesting to know when the law is
used as this talk about as this neutral infallible doctrine that we all
have to pay attention to and obey. And when it is sort of trotted out by
Huckabee, for example, as this thing to be transgressed, you know, and
using religion as the way to talk about that transgression. And then we
have to think about how is allowed to transgress the law and under what
conditions, and who was always –
HARRIS-PERRY: You can`t even be impolite to a police officer which is not
against the law.
COX: Right. And so, I think in terms of what is happening with Kim Davis,
this is not about - I mean, as I will go there and say this is not about
her religious freedom. This is about her homophobia, right? So this is
also about also the anxieties and the fears around this idea that this
normative heteronomous family is disappearing, and directly related to the
idea of sort this Christian family in what this new Pope in many ways
symbolizes in his refusal to exclude folks, right, his refusal to create
these boundaries around who can be seen as a human, who has rights, you
know, who do we call products part of this larger Christian-loving family.
And so, when we talk about religious freedom and we talk about the law,
it`s just interesting to note who has the ability to transgress or to talk
HARRIS-PERRY: And of course, the fascinating part about the Pope is
because he`s global. It`s not just civil rights, it`s not just as an
American or citizen, it is the human rights story.
When it comes to fear of voting, the ultimate bogeyman is still the bomb.
And Republicans are playing that card, too.
HARRIS-PERRY: In northern California, two fast-moving wildfires are
forcing thousands of residents to flee their homes this morning. The
newest fire northwest of Sacramento grew from 50 acres to 40,000 acres in
less than 24 hours. Four firefighters are hospitalized after getting
second-degree burns while battling the flames.
NBC`s Gadi Schwartz is in Milton, California with the latest.
GADI SCHWARTZ, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Melissa, it was a night of
infernos, a night of explosions. Strike teams are here right now. But
just over here, this used to be a neighborhood. There was a duplex just
down the way that was completely incinerated.
We got in town about 12:00 midnight, and here is what we saw.
SCHWARTZ: This is main street Middletown. You can see there is all kinds
of torching going on. There`s house after house, building after building
that`s going up in flames.
All through town we`re hearing explosions. Those are propane tanks going
up. We`ve heard a dozen of those explosions so far. Right now they`re
calling a few firefighters back over the fire radio. We`ve heard them
calling firefighters back after structures like this are just so fully
engulfed in flames, there is no saving them.
Four firefighters who were burned earlier after being caught by a flare-up
were rushed to the hospital where they`re now recovering from second-degree
burns. While an army of their fellow firefighters are on the lines across
the state at the over 60,000-acre valley view fire.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are so many homes leveled, burned to the
SCHWARTZ: And thousands of evacuees now praying fire troops can save them
from the type of catastrophic damage seen in Middletown, California.
And it`s really sad to see the selectivity of this fire. You`ll see five
houses completely down, one standing, and then more houses completely
SCHWARTZ: Yes. And a little bit more bad news out here. We`re told that
overnight in the middle of the fire fight, the fire hydrants here in
Middletown completely ran out of water. They`re dry. So it`s really up to
a lot of these trucks to conserve their water and make sure every drop is
being used where it needs to be.
But that`s the latest here in Middletown - Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thanks to Gadi Schwartz.
This has been a particularly difficult fire season in California. At least
13 fires are burning across the state. Officials are hoping cooler
temperatures in the coming days will help firefighters gain the upper hand.
This is something to be afraid of.
Stay with MSNBC for more on this developing situation.
Up next, fear of voting, why Ted Cruz says you should be afraid for your
HARRIS-PERRY: This week President Obama secured a major victory when on
Thursday Senate Democrats blocked a recovery effort to hold the sixth
nation nuclear accord with Iran. The next day, the anniversary of the 9/11
attacks, the house rebuked the agreement with Iran in a somewhat symbolic
vote with some Republican directly referencing 9/11. Not a single
Republican voted in favor of the Iran deal and 25 Democrats vote with
President Obama to join them.
The vote cannot stop the Obama administration from adopting the agreement
next month. And earlier this week, GOP presidential candidates Ted Cruz
and Donald Trump drew hundreds to Capitol Hill to protest the bargain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If this deal goes through, we
know with absolute certainty, people will die. Americans will die,
Israelis will die, Europeans will die. We`re now talking about giving the
Ayatollah (INAUDIBLE), a theocratic homicidal maniac who hates America
every bit as much as bin Laden did, giving him $100 billion to carry out
his murderous plan.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Never, ever, ever in my life
have I seen any transaction so incompetently negotiated as our deal with
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Serene, you were in Iran recently. Can you reflect on this
deal in ways that might sound a little different than Mr. Cruz or Mr.
JONES: Oh, my goodness. So contrast what they`re saying with my
experience in the streets of Iran where I`m running into young Iranians,
millennials – they`re two-thirds of the population there. When they find
out that we were Americans, they run up and they hug us. And they say, we
love you. They want to talk about music. They want to talk about
television. They want to talk about global politics. They are
progressive. They are open-mind and they love the fact I was a Christian.
They wanted to hear about my Christian background. They were eager to
share their Muslim identity.
It was a very open experience of love and excitement about what this means
for that generation in Iran and the future of the world. And there is no
better antidote to ISIS than Iranian millennials. They are the force that
can contain exactly the thing they should be talking about, which is ISIS,
which is, you know, a real threat, not a make-believe threat.
HARRIS-PERRY: So part of what I hear you saying is a sense of curiosity,
openness and connection with the rest of the world, and that these Iranian
youth, millennials, a standard portion of their population, actually
reflects that you had that personal experience. And part of what I`m
wondering, Dean, is if part of our challenge with Americans is if we don`t
know why Iran has nothing to do with 9/11, why you know, where like how
Iranians related to where it might even be on the map. That like we
actually are, in so many ways, globally illiterate or insufficiently
illiterate, so it is very easy to hear the hype of rhetoric and because we
don`t have anything to push back against it, it`s all in a vacuum.
OBEIDALLAH: It does. And just to make it even more personal, only about
25 percent of Americans have a Muslim friend. So they don`t have a human
narrative. And that is why on my radio show, I open it by saying, Hi. I`m
Dean Obeidallah. I want to be your Muslim friend. And I mean it sincerely
for people to ask me question.
People don`t know much about Muslims. They don`t know a lot about other
parts of the world. Sometimes they`re busy. Sometimes they`re lazy. It`s
HARRIS-PERRY: Sometime we don`t teach about public schools because it`s
not going to be on the test.
OBEIDALLAH: And when you can teach Islam in the public schools, we seen
protests right now in Florida, Tennessee and other parts of the country,
people are like, how dare you indoctrinate my children? In Islam, we use
teaching about war of religion and Islam is part - one part of the faith.
I think you`ll find people who are great around the world and like America,
you`ll have certainly leaders in Iran saying horrible things about America
at the same time. We can`t pretend that that doesn`t exist. I`m hopeful
the Iran deal is helpful to us. I hated the rhetoric of Ted Cruz and
Donald Trump. I hated the fact they were at an event co-sponsored by
(INAUDIBLE), one of the biggest Islamic folks in the country. I wrote
about it in “the Daily Beast.” I couldn`t get people and media to cover
it. So that`s just upset me as well.
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, if we go all the way back to 1964, we see a
similar kind of fear-mongering used on this side by one of my favorite
presidents, LBJ. But let`s look at this, the thing as act in 1964.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE CHILD: One, two, three, four, five, seven, six, six,
eight, nine, nine –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eight, nine, six, five, four, three, two, one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are the stakes to make a world in which all of
God`s children can live.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So this idea of the kind of existential threat to the nation
being – and the idea that any president, democrat or Republican, wouldn`t
do absolutely everything they can to protect the nation like I just –.
COX: Yes. So rhetoric and ignorance, that`s the most dangerous
combination. And so part of what`s happening here with the rhetoric,
particularly with Trump. So there is this language of, we`re losers now.
We can`t beat anybody.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. And we are going to get tired of winning.
COX: Yes. We`re going to win, win, win with no real plan, right? And so,
what that does is also feed into this fear of this mysterious other, right?
Who is not - so that we have these mysterious others who are actually live
in the borders of the United States. And then we have these mysterious
others that we don`t know where they live, we just know they`re browner and
maybe even more dangerous and have bombs.
But part of that language of we can`t beat anybody and we`re losers also
feed into this very American ideology of competition, and there`s no way
that we can resolve conflicts with folks that – overseas, that we can`t
have this global way of understanding each other`s cross-difference, that
we can`t come to resolution. That we always have to have an enemy.
HARRIS-PERRY: So this idea of the global world in our position, I think
that`s one of the other fears currently being stoked. The fear of others,
one of the most controversial questions here, is about the response to the
Syrian refugee crisis, and in general how we think about refugees and
immigrants. And that`s up next.
HARRIS-PERRY: This weekend response to the ongoing refugee crisis in its
overwhelmed Europe, President Obama directed his administration to allow
10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States in the next fiscal year
beginning October 1st.
One of the Republican reaction for that action came from Representative
Peter King in New York. He said quote “our enemy now is Islamic terrorism,
and those people with coming from a country filled with Islamic
terrorists.” He said “we don`t want another Boston marathon bombing
Dean, the completion of all the things that are not the same thing all in
OBEIDALLAH: Peter King is remarkable. He really should get a reward. He
is a special person. He has demonize Muslims for year. I even pend this
years and years ago when he said radicalization, only Muslim, even though
the threat from America is far greater from the right than it is from by
You know, Donald Trump also said we`re letting in more Muslims than
Christians. It is easier to get in this country if you are Muslim than you
are a Christian. Statistically it`s not true. Over 60 percent of the
immigrants allowed in legally are Christian, about 10 percent are Muslim.
You vet them. There is an 18 to 24 month period of vetting these Syrian
And just to people understand. There were four million Syrians who have
left the country who fled. That`s like the entire population of Louisiana
or state like Oregon that has fled their state in hopes of making a better
lives to raise their children. Are there might be scary person, not yet.
But that is what we have told vetting. And you have vet them. We`ve only
taken 1500 of the Syrian refugees, others countries have taken a thousand.
Now we`re talking about 10,000. That`s the least we can do as a country.
We`re a Christian nation, we hear it all the time. Let`s act like
HARRIS-PERRY: And it does feels to me like it is giving - I mean, in
addition to complaining Boston, Syria, all those things together, there is
also the way which is somehow gets connected to this broad anti-immigration
discourse. So I wanted to show – Donald Trump released on Instagram what
feels very much like a contemporary bully Horton scare video, but this time
about immigration. So let`s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, they broke the law, but it`s not a felony. It`s
an act of love.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So obviously it`s taking what Bush was saying out of
context. Bush at that point was talking about people who cross borders in
order to connect with and be with their families, to do better for their
families, but their interspersing that with these images, again, of scary
others who have committed crimes.
COX: Right. I mean, so the power of language and the power of
representation in this political campaign is we can`t overstate. And so,
and what I`m most fascinated by is how these candidates are reaching back,
right, reaching back to language from the 1980s, reaching back to images
from the 1990s, and they still have traction. And we have to ask why do
these still have so much traction? Why do these representations and images
and fears of the others still continue to play out whether we are talking
about Willy Horton (ph) or this fear of, you know, the border between the
Mexico and the U.S.? Why can we still use the same language in so many
HARRIS-PERRY: In part I keep wondering – because if we`re talking about
the European refugee crisis, I`m just reminded of our southern border
refugee crisis last year. And again, this like we can`t even think of
people - like the language of refugee meant people seeking refuge and so
many of the images that we saw from last summer across the southern border,
many of them were children who were unaccompanied. And yet our response
isn`t to provide refuge, it`s to push back, to build the wall.
JONES: And to make just a not so subtle point, except for Native Americans
and African-Americans who have brought here as slaves, every single person
in this country came as an immigrant, and the vast majority of them
refugees. And that`s us.
HARRIS-PERRY: And yet that doesn`t necessarily get to empathy. In fact,
let`s witness Marco Rubio here, someone who has a much more proximate story
of coming under those circumstances.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would be open, America has
always been open to allowing a certain number of refugees from around the
world and coming to the United States. I don`t know what the right number
is, but we want to be careful about that terrorists don`t take advantage
infiltrate themselves among the very innocent people who would also be
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Again, his personal story, his personal familial story is
connected to seeking refuge to immigrating. And yet, you know,
infiltration and terrorism.
OBEIDALLAH: We have to be honest, fear-mongering was worked for
politicians. It worked for people on the right. It has work even some on
the left in years passed Southern Democrats in the 1960s and 1970s. So for
them to say that, hey look, there is a fear and I`m going to save you from
it is a staple of politicians. And until we don`t – it doesn`t get
traction with us. Until we change the people, collective lingo, that`s
wrong. They`re going to keep doing it. Why change? They are not genius.
They`re not inventing a new wheel. They`re putting their voice and scary
figure in that reel and sending it out to us. And as long as we buy it,
they`re going to keep selling it.
HARRIS-PERRY: It is such a good point. We keep getting the democracy we
deserve because we keep making those choice.
All my guests here are going to be back in the next hour.
But coming up next, feeling the burn. What the election of 1988 who
seriously, the election 1988, can tell us about Bernie Sanders today.
Plus, teen sexting and prosecution politics.
There`s more Nerdland at the top of the hour.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
We could spend a whole hour talking about the 2016 presidential primaries,
but let`s push pause on 2016 and hit rewind and go back to the presidential
election of 1988. In that year, I think the primaries called the ranks of
the democratic candidates vying for the party`s nomination, there were two
contenders left standing. Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis who has
the primaries were coming to an end had secure enough delegates to emerge
as the clear frontrunner and civil rights leader Reverend Jesse Jackson,
who had the second highest delegate count. And was the first African-
American to be a serious contender for the presidency. Just days before
the July 18th start at the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta, the
(INAUDIBLE) of the party remained in question, a stalemate between the two
Dukakis want Jackson to fall in line behind him as the clear winner of the
primaries and party`s eventual nominee. But Jackson had endured a hard
fought primary campaign, the one who nearly seven million vote from a
diversity coalition primarily of African-Americans, along with gay student
and white liberal voters. Jackson believed that as the presumptive
nominee, Dukakis was the one responsible for bringing the party together by
reaching out to Jackson and his constituency. In the end, after a series
of 11th hour negotiations between the two campaigns, Dukakis and Jackson
appeared at the convention side by side in a show of unity.
Jackson had fought for a number of changes in the party`s platform, some of
which he won and others which were voted down by delegates in the
convention. Dukakis also agreed to give Jackson and members of his staff a
prominent public role in the fall campaign. But regardless of the extent
which Jackson`s influence on the party in 1988 was substantively symbolic,
the perception by one group of voters was clear. Opinion polls found that
many white voters believed that Dukakis had been too accommodating of
Jackson. And as the Baltimore Sun reported in the 1992 article, looking
back at Dukakis` loss in 1988, the perception made it quote, “more
difficult than it might otherwise have been to appeal to relatively
conservative Democrats, particularly, but not exclusively in the south, who
react angrily at what they see as special treatment for Jesse Jackson.”
All right. So, that`s the `88 story. Pause there, fast-forward to `92.
Because this was a lesson that Bill Clinton took the heart when he sought
to quest correct and blaze the trail for victory for the Democratic Party.
As MSNBC`s Joy Reid write in her new book, “Fracture,” about the 1992
election, party leaders had every incentive to view Jackson as a fulcrum
against whom the democratic candidate could pivot towards working white
class voters. And that is exactly what Clinton did in a moment they
changed the trajectory of the Democratic Party. During an appearance, a
Jackson rainbow coalition meeting in Washington, Clinton took the
opportunity while Jackson was sitting right next to him to level an attack
against rapper Sister Souljah who had appeared to the conference on the day
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She told the Washington Post
about a month ago and I quote, “I mean, if black people kill black people
every day, why not have a week and kill white people? Last year she said,
you can`t call me or any black person anywhere in the world a racist. We
don`t have the power to do to white people what white people had done to
us. And even if we did we don`t have that low down dirty nature.” If
there are any good white people, I haven`t met them. Where are they?
Right here in this room. That`s where they are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: It was a rebuke not only directly to Sister Souljah, but
indirectly to Jackson who had put her on the program at the meeting. And
the message the white working class was clear. I am not a tool of Jesses
Jackson or his constituency of primarily African-American followers, and
Clinton`s strategy helped him win the presidency. By winning back many of
the white Democrats who would previously vote a republican.
All right. Pause again. Fast-forward to presidential election 2016 and
another democratic frontrunner who, in the latest poll, is facing real
competition from another unlikely candidate who is trying to build a
diverse coalition from the left. And a poll released this work from
Quinnipiac University, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has slightly edged
out Hillary Clinton 41 to 40 percent among likely participants in the all-
important Iowa caucuses. And last week, an NBC News Meredith poll put him
at a nine-point lead over Clinton in first in the nation`s primary state of
There is much to be fascinated about in the polls and Sanders` emergence as
a real contender against Clinton. It is evidence that the progressive wing
of the big Democratic Party is still alive and well, and the little D
democracy can still prevail over the pre-destined narrative of the
political inheritance that surrounded the early days of the Clinton
campaign. But well, yes, there is no doubt that a Sanders-Clinton match-up
bodes well for a robot`s competition over the election to the nominee.
What did the lessons of 1988, the 1992 tell us about what that means for
Democrats when it comes time to elect a president in the general election?
Joining me to help answer that question, Patrick Murray, director of
Monmouth University`s Polling Institute. So nice to see you again.
PATRICK MURRAY, DIRECTOR, MONMOUTH UNIVERSITY POLLING INSTITUTE: Yes.
Same here, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, I`m using this in part because I wonder if the
enthusiasm on the Left about a Bernie Sanders push of Hillary Clinton
actually ends up pulling her to the left in a way that actually could
potentially make it more difficult for her to win come generals.
MURRAY: Yes. It`s a good question. I mean, the other examples that you
brought up in past elections, you know, the issue of race was built into
it. And right now that doesn`t seem to be it, because Bernie Sanders is
not doing well among black voters in the Democratic Party. He`s getting
less than five percent in most polls. But, you know, Hillary Clinton has
made some statements recently that suggest that she understands that she`s
getting attacked from the Left, so she`s talking about campaign finance
reform, which is a big issue of Bernie Sanders. And there are a number of
other issues, and certainly what`s going on now with Black Lives Matter, as
you`ve been discussing this morning, is certainly playing a role into this.
So, they could be tied together. But when I`m looking at the polling on
the democratic side, I`m seeing a democratic base that`s actually happy
with the idea of having a challenger to Hillary Clinton –
MURRAY: To keep her honest, as it were. And I`m not talking about the
honest and trustworthiness of e-mails, I just mean ideologically –
MURRAY: Yes. And even when she was leading in the polls by 60 percent
back earlier this year, our polling was saying the Democrats said, she
could still face a challenger. She should still have competition, this is
not a coronation. She needs to prove her bona fide with the party. And
so, you know, I`m looking at the polling that says, we`d be happy, Hillary
Clinton voters would be happy with Bernie Sanders as a nominee but Bernie
Sanders voters would be happy with a Hillary Clinton as a nominee as well.
HARRIS-PERRY: So it`s not quite the, it`s not a bloodletting at this
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s more about this kind of competition. Bernie was
actually on “Meet the Press” this morning and was talking a little bit
about this kind of need for a robust turnout. Let`s take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are generating a
lot of excitement not just with Iowa and New Hampshire but all across this
country. And that means larger voter turnouts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So he`s making a similar point. This isn`t about, that
means I can win. What he said, this is means larger voter turnouts, does
Bernie Sanders – when you look at the polling, do you see what appears to
be staying power? Because part of that larger voter Trump, isn`t really
about these early states, it`s about what Obama and Clinton were able to do
in `08 when they went the kind of the whole 50 states.
MURRAY: I think the rest is staying power there. Because I think people
want to see this debate play out. Democrats want to see this debate play
out. It`s not an anti-Hillary vote, as I said. It`s really the idea of
this is generating some ideas and this is making us excited as Democrats
about this whole campaign. And in the end, while there`s some danger here
for Hillary Clinton because, as you showed, he`s ahead in both Iowa and New
Hampshire, and if she loses those two states, she could still build up her
delegate majority, but it would seem to be a damaged candidate. But the
good part about this is it`s making Democrats excited about it –
MURRAY: And turnout is going to be very important. The question is, does
it move him too far to the left? So, there is the plus and minus of this.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, let me ask a little bit about the language that you`re
using here, that it`s not necessarily an anti-Hillary vote. Because at the
same time that the polls may be showing that among actual ordinary voters,
we`re starting to hear the rumblings of Democratic Party leaders talking
about plan B. So, this has become the new language of maybe there is this
defection somewhere, and I`m wondering whether or not sort of even that
language, even reporting on the idea that party leaders maybe talking about
a plan B, then impact voters to say, oh, wait a minute, maybe they`re not
as strong a candidate as we thought she was.
MURRAY: Yes. I mean, you`re not hearing that among the democratic base,
and you`re really hearing it from the leaders. And it`s interesting, we
hear these rumblings all the time, and it happens in both parties when it
looks like their frontrunner and it starts to get a little weak, may not do
as well in the general election. I think those leaders need to put pause
on it. She still is a strong candidate. What they`re worried about is
something that hasn`t dropped yet, particularly around the e-mails. And
that could hurt her, and that`s what they`re more worried about. They`re
less worried about the ideological moves because they feel that she`s
confident enough that she can shift back and get that same groove that her
husband got. And it`s certainly not the same type of turmoil that we`re
seeing on the republican side when they don`t know who the frontrunner is.
HARRIS-PERRY: In fact, can we talk about the Republicans? Because the
first time you and I had the chance to speak together, I was filling in for
Rachel, it was during a big Trump week, and part of what you said to me
was, hey, this happens. Especially in a crowded field, you get four weeks,
maybe six weeks. Talk to me in a couple of few weeks and we`ll see whether
or not Trump is still trumping. And so, sir, it has been a few weeks and
Trump is still trumping. So, what do we say now about what`s happening?
MURRAY: This is amazing on the republican side. And this is, it really is
a tale. When we look at the Democrats and Republicans side, it is a tale
of two different electorates. Democrats are actually happy with their
choices, they`re happy with their leaders, they`re happy with their leaders
in Congress. Republicans tell us that they are incredibly dissatisfied
with a national Republican Party, it doesn`t represent them. They are
leaders in Congress who control Congress have not served them well. Have
not served their own party well, their own voters well, and that`s why
they`re staying they`re sticking with Donald Trump. This is where he`s
getting his staying power from in an incredibly angry electorate.
HARRIS-PERRY: That is fascinating to me this idea, that part of what has
happened here is actual disaffection on the republican side. But part of
what I`m wondering, and we`re getting this in the – voices in, is whether
or not sort of that, oh, I kind of like our candidates around our
democratic side actually leads to this complacency or whether or not we
ought to be a little more riled up.
So, up next, Bernie Sanders joins forces with Professor Cornel West. Yep,
that happened, and we`re going to talk about that when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CORNEL WEST, PROFESSOR, PHILOSOPHY AND CHRISTIAN PRACTICE AT UNION
THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY: He`s going to win because he represents so much of
the best of the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua
Heschel endorsed the day and Mary McCloud and soon and so many others. In
the name of John Coltrane`s love supreme, you got to get in on the love
train. That`s what Bernie Sanders` campaign is. It`s a love train!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will now present to you, brothers and sisters of all
colors, my dear brother, the next president of the United States, Bernie
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was Professor Cornell West giving a rousing
introduction to dear brother Senator Bernie Sanders yesterday during a
campaign stop in South Carolina, where seen as a drastic crowd of about
1,000, Benedict College, a historically black college.
Back with me are Aimee Meredith Cox, assistant professor of African-
American Studies at Fordham University. Dean Obeidallah who is host of
Sirius XM, “The Dean Obeidallah Show” and a columnist at Daily Beast.
So, let`s just, I want to start first with numbers and then we can go to
kind of the cultural politics here. Part of these matters. But as we see
in South Carolina, South Carolina will be the first test where there is a
substantial portion of African-American primary voters who is 55 percent in
`08. What do you see as a pathway for Sanders comes South Carolina, let`s
say he does, he performs very well in Iowa and New Hampshire. Does he have
a chance for South Carolina?
MURRAY: Not right now, but there is the possibility, and it`s the opinion
leaders, the thought leaders in communities throughout South Carolina. And
we see that everywhere. I mean, it doesn`t matter race, creed, color has
no idea, your community leaders in a primary will really guide you towards
who you should vote for. So, there is a real question whether Bernie
Sanders can start making inroads with the church leaders and community
leaders in South Carolina, because it`s really important for him because
he`s just not polling as well as Hillary Clinton with African-American
voters, because she and her husband have a track record with them.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Right, and name recognition and all. But I mean, is
it also true that the name was now President Barack Obama was quite far
behind Hillary Clinton in South Carolina at this point in their campaign
process in 2008. I`m wondering about the visual difference that occurs
when we saw Bernie Sanders directly addressed by the Black Lives Matter
protesters who stepped up, who disrupt on the stage, and then Cornel West,
who is a longtime leader in the community, who, in fact, has been doing
work with Black Lives Matter around the country, and he is representing
Bernie Sanders as kind of the inheritor of the Martin Luther King legacy,
and whether or not you see that as a disconnect or actually a sort of Dr.
West being a sharpener to Bernie Sanders.
AIMEE MEREDITH COX, AFRICAN-AMERICAN STUDIES, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: So, I
don`t see it as a disconnect, but I see it as a revealing of the policy
that there is this monolithic black community that I think the same and
supports the same people, and even within the Black Lives Matter movement,
we see the different textures and relationships to folks in power. So,
yes, Cornel West was very much and still very much active in the Black
Lives Matter movement in terms of being on the streets and being very
visible and being supportive while within the Black Lives Matter movement,
we have seen disruption of Bernie Sanders` political campaign and sort of a
And these two things don`t necessarily have to be in opposition, right, to
think about the history of folks in the black community that we were just
talking about, holding our leaders accountable, all of our leaders,
regardless of what they look like, whether they look like us or not, but
really the challenge to understand in the black community what has been I
think concealed, especially in the ways that politicians tend to pander to
black folks, right? Like by doing the nay-nay, for example, where this
HARRIS-PERRY: That happens, yes.
COX: – to address an entire complex, diverse group of folks is really what
we`re seeing in terms of how within the Black Lives Matter movement,
specifically, people are responding to public figures in different and
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, part of what I wondered and watching – again,
Cornel, there are still has very, very powerful, symbolic capabilities
within black communities. Right. His writings, his folks, for whatever
the critics have been around his responses to President Obama. And so,
part of what I was wondering is, I wonder if either Hillary Clinton or
potentially Vice President Biden have a similar Sherpa, a similar sort of
introductory like someone, so obviously there is a ton of African-American
leaders on the side of Hillary Clinton, but somebody who can come in and
say for us, for this reason, this person now.
DEAN OBEIDALLAH, COLUMNIST, “THE DAILY BEAST”: I will tell you that Cornel
West was great, what we just saw. I want to vote for Bernie Sanders after
that. I mean, it was funny, it was moving, get on the love train. There
was so much passion there. And then you follow like Bernie Sanders who is
lower energy. And the optics of this 74-year-old man coming on the state
is striking. But and poll show that, you know, 80 percent of the African-
American community view Hillary positively, only about 23, 24 percent view
Bernie Sanders positively, some is not knowing him. And just anecdotally,
my radio show and other ones I field in, I had callers call who were
African-American, and I said, if you`re supporting Bernie, call me. And
many called me and they said, I like him, I just don`t know enough about
him. But if he`s a nominee, I`m definitely going to support him.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, again, he`s going to be the president. I just want to
play one more loop, it`s a sound from Bernie Sanders where he is talking
specifically about young people, I`m going to ask you a quick question
about that before we go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: Let me tell you this. In my strong view, the Republicans did not
win last November. The Democrats lost because a lot of their supporters
are demoralized, not coming out to vote. Working people, young people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So, we`ve been talking about race, we`re just super-fast,
working people, young people. Does he have the ability, Bernie Sanders to
gin up that crowd?
MURRAY: Certainly the democratic primary, I`m not sure whether he does in
the general election, it`s just too hard to get young voters out.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Up next, Hillary Clinton goes to church.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Whose lives she touched.
Like my husband and my daughter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Right now presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and
daughter Chelsea Clinton along with former President Bill Clinton, they are
all at Washington, D.C.`s Foundry United Methodist Church to join and
celebrate the church`s bicentennial. She`s a former member of Foundry`s
congregation during her husband`s time in office, Hillary Clinton was
invited to share her reflections of the church and its importance to the
community. So, we`re going to listen in for just a moment.
CLINTON: There are so much in this community and our country and our world
who have so much to offer but never get the chance to live up to their God-
given potential. Talent is universal, but opportunity is not yet. Too
many people are held back by economic pressures and social barriers. It`s
still too hard for too many to find a good job that pays enough to support
a middle class life. Too many children don`t get the education they need
to succeed, and too many families find that no matter how hard they work,
they just can`t get ahead. And as we`ve been reminded again and again
recently, there are still hard truths to face about race, gender and sexual
orientation in America.
Not too many people want to let their light shine, but they can`t quite get
out from under that bushel basket. It is way too heavy to lift alone. And
that`s where the village comes in. Together as a church, a community, and
yes, a country, we can open doors that are still closed. We can lift each
other up and leave no one behind. We can unlock the potential of every
American, and when we do that, we will unlock the potential of America
itself. Boundary has helped people for the past 200 years discover their
gifts every day through worship, hospitality, community outreach,
interfaith dialogues –
HARRIS-PERRY: Again, you`re listening there to Hillary Clinton. She`s
speaking at the bicentennial of the church where she and her family
members. Chelsea was also active in the church youth ministry when her
father was in office, Chelsea spoke earlier. The former Secretary of State
is expected to spend the rest of the day in Washington, D.C. fundraising
for her campaign.
Joining us back at the table now is Reverend Dr. Serene Jones, president of
Union Theological Seminary. So, we heard just a little bit of what the
former Secretary of State had to say there, but this idea of, she used very
clearly gender, race and sexual orientation, talent is universal,
opportunity is not and the village needs to come in to provide those
opportunities. That`s pretty darn clear.
REV. DR. SERENE JONES, PRESIDENT, UNION THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY: You know,
what`s not like, there is not to like about that message. And the fact
that she`s doing it, we shouldn`t miss it in the pulpit of a church. In a
republican context where right wing Christianity is being used as a weapon,
she is using progressive Christianity as a space we`re talking about open
doors. And a call out to Ginger Gaines, the first woman pastor of that
church was just installed last year, so to have these two first women there
together leading in a religious context is so powerful.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, let me ask you a little bit. Since you know a little
bit about this church. There are churches where, if you`re standing in the
pulpit, and you say race, gender and sexual orientation, even just
acknowledging that those identities exist, you have blown up what that
church normally is. Is this a church that is used to hearing that kind of
analysis from the pulpit, or did she just do something that is kind of on
JONES: This is a church that has a long history speaking out on
progressive politics and those words are common in that pulpit.
JONES: Those words are common in so many pulpits. Now, this is what it
gets me. So, she has this message, clearly a message, open doors, love.
Then we see Donald Trump`s message, forget love. And yet Donald Trump is
attracting millions of evangelical Christians. Who are these Christians?
Like, what Bible are they reading? It`s astonishing to see the contrast of
the two of them with respect to not only just the political face they have
but the way they`re orienting themselves religiously.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. You know, I wonder also, this is interesting, often
when we see presidential candidates in pulpits, they are in somebody else`s
pulpits, right, so they`re standing, not in their kind of home
congregation. This is interesting because it`s not quite interesting
looking for, she likes, clearly she knows she`s on television and she`s
running for president, but it`s a different kind of thing to be standing in
your home church.
JONES: Right. And she grew up Methodist. I mean, this really is deeply
and authentically who she is with respect to her liberal Christianity.
HARRIS-PERRY: And that`s interesting because the authenticity question
keeps coming up in polling.
MURRAY: I was thinking that when I was watching her, is that she comes
across as somebody who knows where she is, knows where she belongs too.
And that authenticity is extremely important. Extremely important to
voters in the democratic primary, it`s going to be extremely important
across the board, and I think what`s interesting about this and
particularly taking to the pulpit like this, and we have visit to the pope
coming up in a week, and he`s going to give an address to Congress where
he`s probably going to make a lot of Republicans uncomfortable with the
things that he says, and we are kind of seeing this movement where there is
a movement on the Left to try to retake religion for themselves. And it`s
not just about being anti-abortion or a number of these other things, that
there is another side to religion. And I think she`s trying to hook into
that mentality that might be going on right now.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yep. In fact, look at all those women in the pulpit.
JONES: Right. Yes.
HARRIS-PERRY: Good job making that call. That`s pretty amazing. Thank
you to Amy Meredith Cox, and to Reverend Dr. Serena Jones and to Patrick
Up next, we`re going to go to a different church. We`re going to go back
to Charleston. Three months after the church massacre. Plus, we have an
exclusive interview with the survivors.
HARRIS-PERRY: The nine church members gunned down inside their Charleston
Church Bible study in June have been called the Emanuel 9. But the
survivors want us to remember there were 12 people inside that church
basement that fateful night. And the survivors, they are grappling with
the racial horror they witnessed.
NBC`s Lester Holt travel to Charleston to sit down with exclusive interview
with two of the survivors of that shooting and here`s some of what they had
LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Felicia Sanders holds
her blood-stained Bible as a symbol of her faith and as a memory of the
horrifying June evening that took so much from her.
FELICIA SANDERS, CHURCH SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Any kind of connection that I
have to my aunt and my son, I`m going to keep.
HOLT: The clothes worn that day?
SANDERS: I`m going to keep it.
HOLT: The Bible?
SANDERS: I`m going to keep it.
HOLT: It was after all Sanders` faith that brought her and Polly Sheppard
to the Mother Emanuel AME Bible Study session that night, and now it is
their faith that sustains them.
SANDERS: He caught us with our eyes closed, I`d never told them – our
eyes closed when the shots rang out.
HOLT: Among the 12 in the room, Sanders` aunt, her 11-year-old
granddaughter and 26-year-old son Tywanza.
SANDERS: I remember my son saying, Mama, he shot me in the head. And my
granddaughter was hollering, saying she was so afraid. I said, pray Dave,
pray Dave, and I has hold her against me so tight and I had my other hand
on Tywanza and I said, be quiet, just be quiet. I tried to talk to Dylan.
I can`t say anything more because (INAUDIBLE). I had my hand on him the
whole time, and then he shot Tywanza more. I think back to those last
moments. My hero. My hero. And I watched him until his last breath.
HOLT: Before leaving the room, the shooter stood above Polly Sheppard who
was hiding under a table, praying there would be some survivors.
SANDERS: And he said, “Shut up, did I shoot you yet?” And I said, “No,
I`m going to leave you here to tell a story.”
HARRIS-PERRY: This week the Charleston City Council voted unanimously to
create a memorial district in honor of Mother Emanuel. Symbolic gesture
for a city that is still grieving and coping with the last thing
substantial consequences of the massacre.
Joining me now from Charleston is David Mack III, a state representative
whose district includes Charleston County, his also host of the “David Mack
Radio Show.” Thank you for being here.
STATE REP. DAVID MACK, III (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: Thank you, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: How is the community doing in general? It`s so easy for
news media to move on. You all are still working through this, clearly.
MACK III: Yes. Day by day. Day by day. We`re working to get back to a
normal way of life, but at the same time still remembering, and that
interview that you just played is so very, very important, I think, for us
to individually and collectively understand that we owe it to the memory of
these people to work to operate with more understanding, more togetherness,
more love and to try to put a halt to some of the hate that has been
involved in politics in our world right now.
HARRIS-PERRY: I wanted to ask you a little bit about the confederate flag.
So, obviously, you know, the huge national outcome that emerges as a result
of this massacre is that flag coming down in South Carolina. But I`m
wondering if once it came down we thought, okay, great. We`ve had a win?
And like, whether or not there is some other way we ought to be doing
justice to these victims and to these survivors.
MACK III: Well, that`s a very good question. I think the key point is,
and it was great that the flag – the confederate flag came down. But
aside from that, there is a flag agenda. And I think there are so many
folks that are in love right now with Senator Clemente Pinckney and the
people that gotten, that were murdered and the survivors. But there was an
agenda that with Senator Clemente Pinckney, that was not only anti-flag but
with pro-healthcare, pro-education for public education for everyone, pro-
labor, pro-jobs for everyone. And I want people to embrace that and gender
that political philosophy that he had. I think we would all be better for
HARRIS-PERRY: Just a very brief final question here. Obviously the
forgiveness of so many of the family members was just distinct in those
early days. I`m wondering how the family and community is feeling right
now about the decision to seek the death penalty for Mr. Roof.
MACK III: It`s a mixed bag. Folks have different philosophies, different
beliefs as it relates to the death penalty. But at the same time we want
justice to be done. We want to be able to move on in a better way, because
– and have a commitment to do that. I love the definition of commitment.
Commitment is what you do after the feeling is gone. So I think the big
question is how, again, individually and collectively, we move on from here
to make ourselves better, not only in our community of South Carolina but
in this country.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to State Representative David Mack III in
Charleston South Carolina for reminding us that justice is going to require
us to not look just to the flag but that the flag agenda. I really
appreciate that insight.
And up next, we`re going to be right back and we`re going to shift a little
HARRIS-PERRY: Okay, a big part of making our TV show is having the best
visual images to help tell a story. But for this next segment we are going
to be what we like to call picture poor, because this is one where we will
intentionally view very few images because this segment is about teenagers
sending each other naked pictures. You know, sexting. In North Carolina
right now, a 17-year-old boy, he`s a high school kid, and he plays
quarterback for the school`s football team, well, he`s facing felony
charges because he and his girlfriend exchanged nude photos of themselves.
They were both 16 at the time, and as far as we currently know, there is
nothing to suggest that the photos were sent or received without consent.
But this case has highlighted the bizarre way that laws meant to protect
our children sometimes lead to getting them into trouble. Under North
Carolina law, 16-year-olds are considered adults when charged with a crime,
but in North Carolina you are still considered a child until you turn 18
when it comes to sending and receiving sexually explicit messages.
So legally too young to be allowed to send me a naked picture of yourself,
but old enough to be charged as an adult for doing so. After the student`s
school found out about the charges, the boy was suspended from his high
school football team and he`s charged with two counts of second-degree
sexual exploitation of a minor and three counts of third-degree sexual
exploitation of a minor, and he could face up to 10 years in jail. And the
possibility of having to register as a sex offender for the rest of his
life. His girlfriend faced similar charges but took a plea deal to avoid
felony charges and received probation.
Joining me now are Seema Iyer, host of “THE DOCKET” on Shift by MSNBC.
Seema is a former prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney, here in New
York City. Next to her, Dean Obeidallah, columnist for “The Daily Beast,”
as well as host of Sirius XM “The Dean Obeidallah Show” and in his past
life, Dean is also a practicing attorney. And also with us Manoush
Zomorodi who is host of WNYC`s “Note to Self,” a show about the impact of
technology on our lives. So nice to have you all here.
SEEMA IYER, HOST OF “THE DOCKET” ON SHIFT MSNBC: Let`s talk about the law.
HARRIS-PERRY: We don`t need the law, just straight up about – here.
IYER: The basically reproducing any picture of a minor is against the law.
HARRIS-PERRY: Even the minor is you.
IYER: That is correct. And Melissa, let me just tell you this because
Manoush you found me so surprising –
MANOUSH ZOMORODI, HOST, WNYC`S “NOTE TO SELF” PODCAST: Yes.
IYER: That as a defense attorney, usually I get a pocket of information,
police reports, discovery, right?
IYER: The prosecution can`t give me as it is –
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, the pictures.
IYER: The pictures. Instead I am subjected to sitting in a room with a
police officer looking at child porn on a laptop.
IYER: That`s the law.
HARRIS-PERRY: Okay. I got to say, look, I get why we want to be
aggressive legally on the question of the exploitation, the sexual
exploitation of minors. I mean, no one thinks that`s a bad idea. Except
that this is clearly not protecting children, this is criminal, I mean,
consent matters, right?
OBEIDALLAH: This is crazy. In the state of North Carolina, a 16-year-old,
they can have sex with each other legally, but if they take a picture of
their body afterwards and send it to each other, it`s a felony. This is
ludicrous. The idea you`re supposed to, and I understand protecting
against the –
HARRIS-PERRY: Absolutely true.
OBEIDALLAH: But now, you`re having a child, a 16-year-old with a felony,
and he might get a felony conviction at 17-years-old.
OBEIDALLAH: This would ruin his life.
IYER: But he also have that picture lingering in the cloud available for
other people to see.
HARRIS-PERRY: Okay. Okay. Granted. Granted. I hear you. But I guess
there is – there`s got to come a moment when our law meets with our
technology in some kind of way that makes sense, right?
HARRIS-PERRY: And so in a new world where people are selfing – like it
just means something different to say, this is how I want to present myself
to the world. Maybe I`m even using bad judgment to do so, but bad judgment
in kids –
IYER: That comes with the territory.
ZOMORODI: Bad judgment is not illegal.
ZOMORODI: I mean, and if you look at what`s happening with kids, 90
percent of them text each other all day long. The average teenager, 118
texts a day.
IYER: Is anyone studying? Is anyone going to class?
ZOMORODI: One out of five of them have sent or received sexts. So, what
we`re talking about is 20 percent of teenagers, this is going on and
throwing the war at it? How about some sex-ed?
HARRIS-PERRY: And I was going to say, you know, in certain way, let me
just suggest, we might, I mean, you want to talk about safe sex. I mean,
safe sex from a viewpoint of STIs and pregnancy. If you`re sending a
picture, it`s pretty unlikely that you`ll become pregnant from that or that
you will get a sexually transmitted infection from it, but it might not be
safe in the reputational concern, please, right?
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, I mean, the idea, if you`re in a relationship with
someone and they share this picture and you`re 16 and you break up and then
there`s a revenge type of thing where you post it –
OBEIDALLAH: That`s the big problem. And that`s to me the only – but that
happens to people of all age. To make that a crime, like this, a felony,
is pretty extreme.
IYER: But you could say that sexting is the gateway drug.
ZOMORODI: Oh, come on!
OBEIDALLAH: Gateway, to what?
IYER: You`re having sex under –
HARRIS-PERRY: But let me also back up, though, okay –
ZOMORODI: Because you brought up the sexually transmitted diseases.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Right. Right. Right. Right. So, I mean, you know,
I think that like being an adolescent is probably the gateway. I mean,
like our human hormones are the gateway drug to sex. Like that sort of
happens over time, but the idea of criminalizing these sense of acts – I
guess part of what I`m wondering since is where the prosecutorial decision
making and judgment comes in here versus like, oh, it`s against the law,
therefore I have to put a kid in jail for a decade.
IYER: Right. Which is why the girl got what is called a rip letter (ph)
and that is going through a probation and then having the ability for the
felony to be expunged, and what am I imagining just from reading it is
that, that she would have no record after that. I don`t think this boy
should be a registered sex offender. I don`t think half my clients should
be registered sex offenders, so certainly that`s going beyond the scope.
OBEIDALLAH: With prosecutorial discretion, I think what most is getting
at, I mean, what would the prosecutor won`t pick this case against them?
IYER: Yes. That`s what I don`t understand. They`re trying to use her as
OBEIDALLAH: Right. The policy of the law –
IYER: But it`s not the policy, it`s the statute. They have to follow the
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. Stick with us. Because up next, we`re going to
talk about keeping the sexting secret and how technology can help.
HARRIS-PERRY: Not that any of us in Nerdland have ever sent a certain kind
of selfie that`s kept private. But let`s just say hypothetically we had.
We would be comforted to know that Apple actually keeps our messages
encrypted. What that means is that messages sent using the I-message
system cannot be read without the phone being unlocked either by using a
security code or fingerprint. Not even Apple can see those messages. Now,
Government agencies and law enforcement have to pressure on technology
companies to scale back encryption and turn over user messages, but Apple
and others has pushed back giving users increasingly secure encryption
software. So, what have been said, making sexting illegal, we just made it
safer. Because I mean, I think there is one concern here again, around
the, like, cracking down on child pornography. The other one is like, if
our concern is reputational, shouldn`t we just make the technology better?
ZOMORODI: Yes. But here`s the thing with Apple, right? So, let`s say
hypothetically you get this picture from your husband. You save it,
chances are if you`ve set up your IPhone to save it into the Cloud, then
the authorities can ask for it.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So, go to settings and turn that off.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Right. Because you can with Apple. Right? You can
tell it, don`t send all my stuff to the Cloud. Thank you very much.
ZOMORODI: That`s where Jennifer Lawrence I think ran into problems if I
HARRIS-PERRY: If it`s in the Cloud, can you go up there and delete it? Or
up there forever.
ZOMORODI: No, no –
ZOMORODI: You can go in there and delete it. But who remembers? You said
something up in the night, I mean, nobody remembers what they`ve actually
done to their devices and then they go about their business. And who knows
HARRIS-PERRY: So, part of the reason that I wanted to push on the
reputational and the technology piece a little bit, is I`ve actually sort
of watching this play out a little bit in pop culture. So, Juan, Vanessa
Williams coming back, I mean, not that she was gone, but coming back to
Miss America, right? In what had been like the revelation of this naked
photographs. She`s gone and had 20 years of an extraordinary career
thereafter. And I guess, I wonder, are we having a little bit of a moral
panic around, like, our concern that one naked picture is going to be the
end of your career and your life and your capacity to be a lawyer?
IYER: I think we`ve always had that panic, that it`s going to come up, and
it`s going to haunt you and you`re going to be confronted with it. But now
I think the law has caught up in that sense in terms of privacy. Because
so, in June of 2014, the law said, okay, now FBI, prosecutors, if you want
to get into the phone, you`re going to need a search warrant unless it`s an
emergency. And so, now we`re more protective. And then Apple changes
IYER: So, everything is in the Cloud unless you adjust your settings.
OBEIDALLAH: – selfie of my naked self to anybody. I`ve never think –
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. But if someone requested, it`s not necessarily egoism.
OBEIDALLAH: Like a booking thing.
HARRIS-PERRY: Like a booking thing. Yes. That`s what happened to
OBEIDALLAH: So, I`ve never sent one. But I understand people – it`s a
real fear. And not just for celebrities, for the average person that`s –
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, it showed up in politics, right? I mean, we`ve seen
Donald Trump attacking Hillary Clinton because her adviser`s husband,
Weiner, Anthony sent these unsolicited sexts. Right? And so, the idea
that that is Hillary Clinton`s problem, is a fascinating like trail of
IYER: And it`s great what you said before about bad judgment. Bad
judgment is not criminal. And what I`ve been saying about Hillary Clinton
all along. Perhaps she exercised bad judgment in dispensing of certain e-
mails, but it`s not criminal. And it shouldn`t be.
HARRIS-PERRY: But you`re not suggesting that the server had sexts on it.
IYER: Oh, I hope they do.
OBEIDALLAH: That would be a whole different –
IYER: That would be a whole different story.
ZOMORODI: So, let`s hold presidential nominee more accountable than we do
a 16-year-old boy –
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right.
ZOMORODI: I mean, we`re saying, like at a certain point, it`s your
responsibility to know where your technology is going. It`s your
responsibility to exercise judgment. And in terms of Apple, I mean, I
think this is an interesting war that`s going on basically between the
federal government, the FBI saying, you`ve got to give us a back door.
This is not cool. And Apple saying, no, we`ve decided to brand ourselves
as the tech company that cares about your privacy.
HARRIS-PERRY: I have a 13-year-old daughter. And so, do I want – do I
want that the thing that we`re most worried about is protecting her from
traffickers, or some kind, which will follow more access to FBI and other
government, or is the main thing that I want that you protect her from her
own bad judgment. That she may use something right. Because I feel like I
want both of those things to be true. Because again, along with teenagers
comes the reality that sometimes they make bad choices.
IYER: But what is scary now is that you Melissa as a parent could make her
give the pass code so you could get those pictures off the phone. Whereas
Apple can`t. They can`t. The government can`t get that pass code. They
cannot get into the phone. And Apple cannot comply with the search warrant
if that information is in the –
HARRIS-PERRY: And we should maybe be honest. A lot of the mommies are
maybe more likely to have it on their phones even on their kids. We keep
putting this off on their kids and it may not be just the kids. Anthony
Weiner was nobody`s teenager when he was –
IYER: That is true.
ZOMORODI: And I have to say, I spoke to a social worker giving a sex-ed
class, and all the girls said, you know, we all have these on our phones,
and they all look so different. Why do they look so different?
HARRIS-PERRY: And maybe actually we should have that conversation.
ZOMORODI: A teachable moment.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you, Seema Iyer, Dean Obeidallah and Manoush Zomorodi.
That is our show for today. And thanks to you at home for watching. And
from all of us here in Nerd Land to everyone celebrating the Jewish New
Year tonight, a very happy holiday to you.
I`ll see you next Saturday at 10 a.m. Eastern. Up next, “WEEKENDS WITH
ALEX WITT.” And Alex is going to talk to environmental activist Erin
Brockovich about the toxic wastewater spilled from a Colorado mine this
summer. Hear why Brockovich feels the EPA is not telling the truth about
what happened. It is very important. Stay with us, next.
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