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Melissa Harris-Perry, Transcript 02/21/15

Guests: Heather Hurlburt, Jamal Simmons, Christina Bellantoni, Jim Arkedis,Ilyasah Shabazz, Janny Scott, Adam Cox, Cesar Vargas, Sayu Bhojwani, BenFerguson, Kimberle Crenshaw, Wade Davis

MELISSA HARRIS PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning my question, what do the president, Rudy Giuliani and I all have in common? Plus the daughter of Malcolm X on the anniversary of his death. And the fight over just who runs this place. But first, once again, the GOP offense is all about framing defense. Good morning, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. Nerdland, we begin with news. But it`s not exactly breaking news. But it is a phenomenon tens of millions of us are experiencing this morning. Teeth-chattering, face-numbing, bone- chilling cold. It is no joke. Yes, it`s winter and yes, it`s supposed to be cold and snow is not uncommon in the northeast this time of year. But this? This relentless stretch of winter storms grouping much of the U.S. is something else. The air mass responsible for much of it arrived from Siberia. Gee, thanks, Putin. Yeah, we`re talking really cold. Now, sure, we can try to embrace it like these red pandas at the Cincinnati Zoo, but let`s face it, we`re not equipped like they are. See those bushy ring tails? They use those as a wraparound blankets. But these are pandas are natives of the Himalayas. I mean I`m just saying. We, humans, are left to deal with the brutally brutal cold in other ways like in Kentucky where the Harland City police department tried to arrest Elsa from "Frozen." And this shady character under fire for being the harbinger (ph) of freezing cold misery. OK, not really. Both of those cases were just attempts to make the situation a little more bearable. It`s our human nature. I mean we`re trying to find the silver lining somehow, because the reality is this series of winter storms has been merciless. Meteorologists say this week ranks among the most intense arctic outbreaks so far in the 21 Century for the eastern U.S. At least 25 people have died in this latest cold snap. 18 of them in Tennessee. At least 500 daily record lows have been broken over the last few days and more record lows are expected today. Below average temperatures will continue in much of the Midwest and northeast and the weather channel forecast shows more than a dozen locations in the northeast and mid-Atlantic that could shatter record lows this morning. Now, we`ll have more on this dangerously cold winter weather later in the show. So stay inside, stay warm, turn on the TV, because you`ve got a lot to get to this morning. This week it was hard to distinguish the real headlines from "The Onion`s" satirical headlines. When Vice President Joe Biden made news for his behavior of the swearing in of the new Defense Secretary Ash Carter. It wasn`t quite diamond Joe, the inappropriate uncle alter ego who makes frequent appearances on "The Onion,", but he was exhibiting some major boundary issues with the secretary`s wife Stephanie resting his hands on her shoulders and leaning in close, I mean really close to whisper something in her ear. Now, among the Internet means and mockery of Biden`s hands on approach, it was his daily collar headline. News sec Def can`t even defend his wife from Joe Biden. OK, it may be a joke, but this notion that by leaving his wife exposed, the secretary has failed in one of his most basic duties of his position. And actually, it gives it the heart of American expectations, for those we hold responsible for safeguarding national security. Americans have long equated a robust national defense with a paternal great protector standing between us and whoever or whatever might cause our nation harm. And we have historically imagined the vulnerability of that threat as distinctly feminine. That narrative that was used during both world wars and U.S. military propaganda that sold recruits on the idea that their service abroad was needed to protect women and children back home. In American leadership it was most fully embodied by President Theodor Roosevelt who projected his beliefs about masculinity and military might on to the national identity and foreign policy under his ideology of speak softly and carry a big stick. In fact, some of Roosevelt favorite manly man pursuits, hunting and horseback riding and war making give him a lot in common with a foreign leader who attracted a devoted following from fans in American government who believe that our current foreign policy approach really needs a shot of testosterone. Russian President Vladimir Putin`s own fondness for slaying wild beasts, bare-chested horse play and invading other nations made him an attractive alternative last year for critics of President Obama`s approach to foreign policy. The same President Obama who in matters of domestic policy has been accused by opponents of an aggressive overreach, that amounts to an imperial presidency, but in all matters foreign is cast as a weak leader who emboldens our enemies with his inability to man up. "New York Times" columnist David Brooks distilled that critique down to a single question last April on "Meet the Press." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DAVID BROOKS, "NEW YORK TIMES": And let`s face it. Obama whether deservedly or not, does have I`ll say it crudely, but a manhood problem in the Middle East. Is he tough enough to stand up to somebody like Assad, somebody like Putin? (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: With the improving economy leaving few easy domestic targets for Republican presidential contenders, foreign policy is likely to become a recurring theme in the 2016 election. And in this moment, where a strong foreign policy is equated to a strong performance of masculinity, we can expect candidates competing to answer that question. Is he tough enough? But what does that mean in an election where one of those he`s is very likely to be a she? Hillary Clinton may be entering the race bringing along all of her secretary of state credentials, but she`ll also be dragging the baggage from her failed attempt at winning a presidency by invoking the image of vulnerable women and children to make the case for herself as great protector. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s 3:00 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep. Who do you want answering the phone? HILLARY CLINTON: I`m Hillary Clinton and I approve this message. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: And to make things even more interesting, she might be facing a Republican opponent who is carrying his own baggage. A presidential legacy that includes a spectacular failure. That was swaggering approach to foreign policy. It`s in association with the former Florida governor Jeb Bush is clearly very well aware of as this week he tried to carve out a masculine identity distinct from his brother`s while also painting the current administration as weak kneed and incapable. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEB BUSH: I have doubts whether this administration believes American power is such a force. Under this administration we are inconsistent and indecisive. We have lost the trust and confidence of our friends. We definitely no longer inspire fear in our enemies. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Joining me now is Heather Hurlburt, director of New Models of Policy Change at the New America Foundation. Jim Arkedis, who is president of Jamal Simmons, consultant for the Raben Group. And Christina Bellantoni, editor-in-chief of "Roll Call." So, Christina, I`m going to start with you. Is this election going to be a tough enough foreign policy election in part? CHRISTINA BELLANTONI, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, ROLL CALL: Yeah, in some ways. I think that it was in 2008 as well. I mean think about the very first distinction between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama when they got on the debate stage in South Carolina in 2007. Who would sit down and directly have conversations with our biggest enemies. And Barack Obama says, yes, I would. And that became the biggest flash point in that campaign and it was Hillary Clinton who was saying Barack Obama wasn`t tough enough. And then, of course, fast forward, she becomes his actual global ambassador to carry out his foreign policy. But the conversation here is just so bizarre because it`s not as if -- as the leader of the United States you`re ever going to have hand to hand combat with somebody. Like are you ever going to physically instill fear in someone? HARRIS-PERRY: Well, but this actually came up. Right? I mean in this sort of discourse about ISIS and whether or not our president was as powerful and manly as the king of Jordan, who basically was like, hey, I want to go, get in the fighter jet, right? I mean there was a way where initially that idea of being a veteran was a standard for running for the U.S. presidency in a post-Vietnam world that, you know, basically after Clinton it hasn`t been true. But I guess I`m wondering whether or not we`re going to return to a moment where we see foreign policy as a kind of masculine swagger as opposed to an Obama philosophy that has been about a willingness to have conversation in. JIM ARKEDIS, CO-AUTHOR, "POLITICAL MERCENARIES": Well, it`s mostly about the mix between the masculine and the feminine, right? Like there are times when we have to be tough and there are times when we have to talk, right? And we have to use some of the soft power elements of our national power. And this is everything from economic aid to ensuring that democratic institutions are built abroad. These are the elements of our national power that don`t get -- kind of get short shrift in our national debate. We have to get to a point where we understand as a country that we have to have the institutional fortitude to endure, building these capacities abroad over the long-term and as Americans we don`t necessarily have that patience all the time. HARRIS-PERRY: OK, so but it`s one thing to talk about what the actual policy is and it`s another thing to talk about what the strategy in the context of a campaign is. And I guess part of what I`m constantly surprised by is this sense that Americans still think Republicans are better at foreign policy. That they are stronger and tougher. JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANT: Well, right. I think you started to get to it a second ago, which is this hangover from the post-Vietnam era. I mean this is particularly an issue for the baby boomers, I think. Right? So, you start -- I`m old enough now to remember when Bill Clinton was running for president, when I worked for him, and he was being called the draft dodger. He got attacked for going to Russia when he was a student. That tried to imply he was a Russian covert spy that was, you know, sleeper agent. I was in his room the morning he found out about it. He was just baffled. And I worked for (INAUDIBLE) who got attacked this way, and I worked for, you know, I saw John Kerry get swiftboated this way. I mean this is particularly a thing that Republican baby boomers go after Democrats on. I`m not sure it has the same resonance in generations after them. HARRIS-PERRY: Right. SIMMONS: But Giuliani really speaks for a very different generation when he goes after the president on this. Of this sort of older, white, middle class guys who are used to seeing a president, you know, kind of swing the flag around and show how big it is. Around every . (LAUGHTER) HARRIS-PERRY: Swing that flag and how big is your flag pin? SIMMONS: Exactly. HARRIS-PERRY: It`s interesting that you said it, because Jeb Bush is in a different category. I want to listen for a moment. Because here`s Jeb Bush, who is going to have to because his last name is Bush, account for the fact that his brother was president during a time that many people think of as a bad foreign policy time. Let`s listen for a moment. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEB BUSH: There were mistakes made in Iraq, for sure. Using the intelligence capability that everybody embraced about weapons of mass destruction was not -- turns out to not to be accurate. My brother`s administration through the surge, which was one of the most heroic acts of courage politically that any president has done because there was no support for this and it was hugely successful. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: So, you know, the language here mistakes were made, intelligence capabilities and everybody embraced at the time. I guess part of what I`m wondering then, when we think about like the actual worker of foreign policy and we think about the politics of it, how we can smoosh away some of the politics so that we are making decisions in our elections based on what is reasonable foreign policy? HEATHER HURLBURT., DIR., NEW MODELS OF POLICY CHANGE: Well, the reason these politics have been so hard to smoosh away is that they really are coming from our sort of rat brains. And it turns out frustratingly it`s even bigger, frankly, than just post-Vietnam, that we do at some very primal level you still have 40 percent of Americans and 32 percent of Democrats saying that men are better leaders on national security. That we are primed in some way about the daddy party and the mommy party. And, you know, the way we can deal with that is for women candidates and progressive candidates to be very aware that that`s an issue and find their own way of saying, hey, I`m the pioneer woman with the gun at the door or whatever it is. But . (CROSSTALK) HARRIS-PERRY: When Hillary did that, when she did, I`m sorry, when now -- did that. What she became the Annie Oakley, it actually didn`t work for her. In fact, what we most needed from her to have won that primary was -- I`m sorry about that Iraq vote. SIMMONS: But see, but here`s the thing about Hillary, which is different. Hillary Clinton tried to run . HARRIS-PERRY: OK, hold. (LAUGHTER) HARRIS-PERRY: We`re going to talk more about . (LAUGHTER) (CROSSTALK) HARRIS-PERRY: News developed overnight with this country`s brand new secretary of defense. I want to bring that story to you - when we come back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Just days into his very first week in office, new Secretary of Defense Ash Carter traveled overnight to Afghanistan where today he`s meeting with U.S. troops and talking with Afghan leaders about how to ensure lasting stability as those troops withdraw from the country. In a joint press conference with Afghan President Ghani, Secretary Carter said one possibility maybe to extend the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ASH CARTER: Our priority now is to make sure this progress sticks. That is why President Obama is considering a number of options to re-enforce our support for President Ghani`s security strategy, including possible changes to the time line for our draw down of U.S. troops. That could mean taking another look at the timing and sequencing of base closures to ensure we have the right array of coalition capabilities to support our Afghan partners. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: So, you know, there`s the secretary of defense, we`re reminded that the Obama administration is still going on, right? SIMMONS: Right. HARRIS-PERRY: But we`re already gearing up for 2016. And so, talk to me about the Hillary Clinton of it all here. SIMMONS: So, I have a little bit of a different take on Hillary, which that I think that Secretary Clinton had a very different problem in 2008 than other people. Her campaign was particularly worried about running her so that she looked strong. She`s going to be the Margaret Thatcher in this race, right. But it`s -- down, Americans already knew Hillary Clinton was tough. They already knew she was strong. What they didn`t know was what drove her, what passions she had. And it wasn`t until she had that moment in New Hampshire where she started to tear up that everybody said, oh, wait a minute, there`s a person inside of there that we might actually connect with. I think that changed the trajectory of her campaign. So, she actually doesn`t have to worry about. Nobody is tougher than Hillary Clinton and nobody is going to be. The question is what does Hillary Clinton want to do for the country and make it a better place? HARRIS-PERRY: So, it`s interesting, you know. I keep suggesting that I think there`s going to be a woman on the Republican ticket, probably not at the top, but likely as a VP candidate. And I`m wondering are there models, particularly if the Republican Party is the daddy party, I wonder if those models of women running in the Republican Party who do this defense think differently? HURLBURT: Well, the first person I would point to is Joni Ernst, who frankly struggled at the beginning of her campaign to attract women. By the end, pulled 50 percent of the female vote. Talks about -- she is -- veteran, talks about her military service. Looks tough, but also looks very feminine. And you remember as Jamal said, she - the Clinton folks have always been worried that somehow looking tough makes you look unfeminine. And the difference, frankly, between being a boomer and an X- er, is you don`t agonize about that anymore. (LAUGHTER) HURLBURT: Ernst is a big one. Kelly Ayotte, who is a military wife. And again, I don`t love her positions on issues. HARRIS-PERRY: No, right, that`s a different question. HURLBURT: She sits on Armed Services. She does a great job. ARKEDIS: She`s from a swing state. HURLBURT: She`s from a swing state. ARKEDIS: Even if it`s a smaller swing state. HURLBURT: Yeah. BELLANTONI: Martha McSally. So, she just won this very contested Arizona House race and she used her experience to really make it a local race about this Air Force jet at the horizon, it`s got like a weird name. And this is exactly what she put down and the Republican leaders all point to her. And to Joni this can be the future. And it`s a generational change more than it is a shift in who the types of people are. HARRIS-PERRY: Now, I want to pop back just a little bit on this idea of how we use the military. Because (INAUDIBLE) for the key insight that our foreign policy has been entirely militarized. Ebola outbreaks, send the military. Earthquake in Haiti, send the military, tsunami in South East Asia, send the military. I guess I`m wondering, so, you know, if I`m sitting here trying to say, let`s have a more complicated way of thinking about what our foreign policy is, or even what our notion of defense is, but now the military is the one thing that can globetrot for the U.S.? ARKEDIS: Yeah, of course. I mean think about how we got here, right? The Cold War ended and, of course, it was all military all the time after the Cold War as it should have been. The Clinton administration came in and there was a peace dividend. They had the opportunity to draw down the military budgets. And then 911 happens, and then all of a sudden, the military basically gets a blank check to do whatever we want. Now, any time that there`s a crisis around the world, military or otherwise, just as you said, it`s sort of the globetrotting logistical expertise. It`s almost like it`s the UPS of the United States foreign policy where you have a problem. The military has somehow, somewhere, everything that you would need to try and solve that problem. So, it`s easy to call on. SIMMONS: This is exactly what -- this is right. And as a politician what you want to go after is you are looking for somebody with credibility. So in all the other pieces of government, the American public feels like they can`t do anything. The military functions. So, you can -- and you know why people believe that? Because the military advertises. They spend millions of dollars advertising every day. HARRIS-PERRY: I have to say, I have all the feelings about the "American Sniper" movie, I try to be very calm, when we had talked about on the show, but I do keep wondering in part like "The American Sniper" film and, you know, sort of what it`s doing -- right now is in part contributing to where we`re going to in 2016 around this idea of like the sole man who will protect us all. More to come, I promise, just on this topic and also about the most monumental thing that happened all week. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: When people spew hatred towards others because of their faith or because they are immigrants it feeds into terrorist narratives. If entire communities feel they can never become a full part of the society, in which they reside it feeds a cycle of fear and resentment and a sense of injustice upon which extremists pray. We need to build and bolster bridges of communication and trust. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: That was President Obama speaking Thursday at a White House conference on violent extremism in a speech that advanced his foreign policy doctrine of approaching radicalism as the question of diplomacy and human rights. How womanly of him, right? (LAUGHTER) HARRIS-PERRY: I mean it did - it felt like that`s precisely the thing that comes into critique. But when I hear it, I`m like, well, yeah, I mean if you keep engaging only in this military way, then you will keep sort of creating the underpinnings of the violence. HURLBURT: And if you talk to four star generals, you know, Petraeus will tell you day and night, you can`t kill radicalism. You have to do this -- we, the military, is the smallest piece and this stuff Obama is talking about is the bigger piece. And yet our politics has gotten so detached from military reality that we have had - you have had generals out there saying this stuff. You have had generals out there saying close Guantanamo, saying don`t torture. And it has no dent, because we have created this bizarre political culture of machismo that reality doesn`t touch. BELLANTONI: And at the same time like expert after expert will tell you that if you go to some rural community in a country that might hate America and you educate the women and you get the women to get out there and contribute to the economy or make sure the girls stay in school, that tamps down violent extremism 25 years from now. ARKEDIS: Here`s the crucial link between America`s domestic policy and our foreign policy and our values and our interests, right? We`re talking about equality of opportunity and freedom of expression. Those are the core values that basically this country holds near and dear. And so, those values should form key parts of our interests in foreign policy because when we spread those values, we should do it subtly and slowly and work for change over time as opposed to at the barrel of working under a howitzer, as we did in Iraq. Like the idea is, that basically, stability spreads and stability ultimately creates a safer world. SIMMONS: So, it`s also a political reality here, too, though, which is that Americans want a strong protector sitting in the Oval Office who will do what it takes, slay any dragon, to keep the country safe. HARRIS-PERRY: I mean literally, President Obama ran on, it`s like the second time, I killed Osama bin Laden. Like, you know, yes, I`m going to talk to my enemies, but then I killed Osama bin Laden and he just kept reminding of it. SIMMONS: So, he has to . HARRIS-PERRY: I killed Osama bin Laden. SIMMONS: He has to keep doing that. And sometimes he can lean a little more on the intellectualism side and I think that starts to make people feel like oh, wait a minute, is he really tough enough? Because you put on remember what you did four years ago -- what you did, you know, four days ago. HARRIS-PERRY: But the intellectualism - I guess this is part of my point about my worry about the kind of renewal of masculinity discourse. Is it - to be intellectually tough is to be tough. To do this kind of work, to plant the seeds with women, that is potentially even harder work than doing the work -- I mean, certainly. The work of the military is extremely hard work. But like that this is a kind of foreign policy that I think we have to start to respect as tough. HURLBURT: Well, look, we`re going through a cultural moment in the U.S. about what toughness is, what masculinity is, how, you know, as we`re a more diverse society, a more open society, how do people who have defined themselves in a certain place by what it means to be male, how does that fit with us? And those folks are really uncomfortable. HARRIS-PERRY: When you say, we are in a cultural moment, I just want to underline that this is a true fact that you have said. Why do I know this? Because Shonda Rhimes is doing this right now on "Scandal." If you have been watching "Scandal" I know -- you want "Scandal," you know that Olivia Pope has been like kidnapped by these people, so in this week it all came to ahead. And the big question was, should President Fitz have sent people to war? To save Olivia, and here`s what she had to say about it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UF: When the true test came along, when I was taken because of you, you go to war? You sent thousands of innocent soldiers into harm`s way, some of them to their death, for one person. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had to save you. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You didn`t save me! I`m on my own! (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: There`s just no question the woman is more powerful. (LAUGHTER) HARRIS-PERRY: And she was like don`t go to war for one person. This is like -- I mean on the one hand you have to say, you know, in evening TV show, but this does seem to be like a cultural moment we`re grappling with here. SIMMONS: And we may be grappling with it a little bit more in the costs, right? (LAUGHTER) HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, I see. SIMMONS: When I go home to Michigan, I mean some of the . HARRIS-PERRY: I live in North Carolina, I feel you. SIMMONS: They are a little more kind of -- the lines are a little more starkly driven. And I think, you know, somebody is banging on it. This is where Hillary Clinton is right. If someone is banging on your door, trying to get in your house, somebody has to get up and figure out what`s going on while, you know, the police . HARRIS-PERRY: But if somebody is banging on the door . SIMMONS: That might be your mom. (CROSSTALK) HARRIS-PERRY: If somebody is banging on the door . (CROSSTALK) HARRIS-PERRY: Banging on your door, you just run out - and don`t talk first. And particularly in Michigan they should be clear about this. You might shoot the wrong damn person, you might shoot the innocent young woman standing on your front porch. Quite lively. Thank you to Heather Hurlburt and the rest of the panel is all sticking around. We have so much to say today. If you`re watching us, and the Nerdland, hashtag on Twitter right now, you know that Obama loves America is trending all thanks to New York City mayor, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani. That`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: On Wednesday night Republican Governor Scott Walker was supposed to be the headliner at a Manhattan dinner. But a former New York City mayor and 2008 GOP alpha ran Rudy Giuliani stole the headlines when he said "I do not believe and I know this is a horrible thing to say, by I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn`t love you and he doesn`t love me. He wasn`t brought up the way you were brought up, and I was brought up through love of this country." Giuliani was right. That was a horrible thing to say. And he got called on it. But rather than apologize or moderate his tone or just back up off my president a little, Giuliani decided not only to double down, but to go in on the president`s mama. To "The New York Times" Mr. Giuliani explained, "Some people thought it was racist. I thought that was a joke since he was brought up by a white mother, a white grandfather, went to white schools and most of this he learned from white people." And then to CNN, "There`s a real attempt to make it a racial criticism. It has nothing to do with race. He was brought up by the -- by a white mother and white grandparents." Again, Mr. Giuliani is right. President Obama`s mother and grandparents were white. But it might be worth noting that in this country, a person born to an African parent and a white parent could be legally enslaved until 1865. Then in 1896, the Supreme Court established that doctrine, that separate but equal in the case of Homer Plessy, a New Orleans creole of color, whose ancestry was only a small fraction African. And from 1877 until 1965, a person with those two parents would have been subject to segregation and public accommodation, schools, housing and employment. In other words, having a white mother is not an automatic shield from the effects of racial injustice, but Mr. Giuliani`s school yard taunt of your mama don`t love America gives us an excuse to learn more about the woman who bore and raised our president and the lessons she taught him about this nation. The president`s mother was in the words of her biographer, a singular woman. Joining me now is author of "A Singular Woman: the Untold Story of Barack Obama`s Mother", Janny Scott. So nice to have you back in Nerdland to talk about Ann Dunham. JANNY SCOTT, AUTHOR "A SINGULAR WOMAN": Nice to be here. HARRIS-PERRY: You write about Ann Dunham as an anthropologist and a global citizen. Someone who did community organizing on behalf of the poor around the world. Is it possible that she contributed to a kind of jaundice eye for her son looking back on America? SCOTT: I would not say that. I mean it`s very hard to know how any parent influences their child. You can talk about the parent, you can talk about the child, but to make the link is difficult. But Ann Dunham never -- she lived half of her adult life abroad, mostly in Indonesia, but she never renounced her citizenship. She`s never been on the record in any way as being critical of the United States. And I think in many ways her experience abroad led her to an appreciation of what was in the United States. So, what she grown up with. She had a very American childhood in many ways. Her parents were from Kansas, she moved around the country and lived in different places, ended up in Hawaii. And from there became an anthropologist and ended up in Indonesia through -- a series of life events, not a conscious decision to depart from the United States and leave it behind. So, I would be very surprised if that experience that he had with his mother in any way jaundiced him towards this country. HARRIS-PERRY: As we were talking about, your experience as a child leaving abroad, now in a far less communist country . (LAUGHTER) HARRIS-PERRY: You were in London, after all. But I just thought it would be useful to reflect on that. ARKEDIS: No, it`s absolutely true. And obviously, I will thank my parents until the day I die. I lived in London for four years as a 10 to 14-year- old, very formative years, and that gave me the perspective and my interest in the international relations and politics. I was saying earlier, I remember my very first political moment was when Ronald Reagan came to the United Kingdom and had a state visit with Margaret Thatcher. And they gave a press conference in front of Number 10 Downing Street, and I was captivated by the issue. And then also through those four years, my parents took me around Europe and I got to see new countries and experience new cultures and experience new languages. And that was wonderful. And that`s helped make me who I am today. HARRIS-PERRY: And I thought it might be worth listing. President Obama talks about his parents a lot, actually. So, I want us to listen to President Obama talking about his mother in 2008 before he was president and then I want to pop and listen to him talking about his father and the ways that they thought about the country. Let`s listen for a moment. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: I think about my mom, who raised my sister and me on her own while she worked and earned her degree. Who once turned to food stamps, but was still able to send us to the best schools in the country with the help of student loans and scholarships. Through hard work and perseverance, my father got a scholarship to study in a magical place, America that shone as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had come before. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: So, in 2004 he`s talking about his dad coming as a student from Africa to a magical place, America, and his mom who endures a lot of difficulties, but seems to come out on the other side of it as saying therefore this is a place where hard work pays off. BELLANTONI: In addition to that, all the things we talked about in the last segment about laying diplomacy and understanding other cultures that comes from understanding other places and exactly what you were getting at. But think about how many Americans brag they have never been anywhere and don`t even have passports, right? You know, I`m married to someone who was born in Singapore, raised in Australia, lived in London when we met. And he understands the world in a different way. He`s seen many, many different things and places and cultures. And that`s the same thing about Barack Obama. He`s able to have understanding of the places where he lived in Indonesia, of some of his family in Africa. This is a very different kind of understanding of the world that helps you relate to other cultures and maybe expand your diplomatic interests. And that`s the key to how we`re supposed to run a strong foreign policy. HARRIS-PERRY: So on the one hand, I love this notion of kind of an experimental nature, but there`s also it seems to me, a kind of cosmopolitanism beyond experience that`s simply about saying having a critique of one`s nation does not mean not loving it. SIMMONS: Right. And when you`re listening to Rudy Giuliani, not to talk about him too much, but he is really a voice for a very particular segment of the United States that`s really wrestling with what`s happening in this country. HARRIS-PERRY: How right. This is not the America . SIMMONS: This is not the America we were promised, right? This is not the America they were raised in. And I think when they see Barack Obama he is a living, breathing example of what`s happening to the country that they thought was going to exist. And he`s reacting to that. HARRIS-PERRY: But now, I want to dig in on that a little bit more. Because still to come, President Obama on how his parents helped provide him the path for the Oval Office. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: These are my heroes. Theirs are the stories that shaped my life, and it is on behalf of them that I intend to win this election and keep our promise alive as president of the United States. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: My parents shared not only an improbable love. They shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. They would give me an African name Barack, or blessing, believing that in a tolerant America your name is no barrier to success. (APPLAUSE) OBAMA: They imagined me going to the best schools in the land, even though they weren`t rich because in a generous America you don`t have to be rich to achieve your potential. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: That was Senator Barack Obama, so young, back in 2004 delivering the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. And, you know, I wanted to go back to `04 because it`s the first time that most of the nation meets the man who is going to become President Obama. And he puts his parents right at the center of that narrative and he says, in giving me this name they are suggesting that America is a good place. And in, you know, dreaming big dreams for me, they nonetheless see America as a good place. And I wonder about how he deploys them politically. Because we`re all there irritated with Mr. Giuliani for having the words about people`s mama. But on the other hand, President Obama has always asked us to think about his parents when we think about him. SCOTT: Yes, it`s true. In the campaigns they have always been carefully packaged to serve a certain purpose. The notion of a new kind of America, an America that combined the old America of Ann Dunham`s family with the new America of immigration and, you know, Africans and whatever, of his father`s family. But it`s - there are far more complicated story than that. You know, she`s always been a bit of a problem for him. You know, she`s this anthropologist who lives half of her life in Indonesia and even now in the end of his second term Giuliani is bringing her up as a kind of weapon against him. So, they are a very sort of volatile situation for him. HARRIS-PERRY: I also feel like -- and maybe this is just -- maybe this is me reading too much of my own self into it, but I have a mother who is a white woman who grew up in out west in Washington, in Spokane, Washington, went to Burgham (ph) University, grew up as a Mormon girl. And you`re not a white woman who raises an African-American child who has a strong racial identity without confronting American inequality. Like there are a few people who could tell you more about race and inequality and what`s wrong and good about America but my mom, because to be a white mother of a black child is to confront that. So I feel like when you bring up Ann Dunham, those are fighting words because we know what those women had to confront. BELLANTONI: And from his own telling in "Dreams from My Father," it`s more his grandparents in that influence. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. BELLANTONI: But the conversations come from them and he went right at this also during the campaign of how his grandmother said things that would make him uncomfortable and that his grandfather would sort of guide him along and confront this very different place. And in Hawaii where he spent a good amount of his life as well, you`re confronting like a different sort of, you know, the tribes, the native population there and then how that feels so distanced from the mainland. I mean it`s all distanced. HARRIS-PERRY: Let`s listen to him talk about his grandmother here for a moment. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: I think about my grandmother who worked her way up from the secretarial pool to middle management despite years of being passed over for promotions because she was a woman. She`s the one who taught me about hard work. She`s the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life. She poured everything she had into me. (END VIDEO CLIP) SIMMONS: You know, what`s really interesting, I always -- I have a suspicion. I haven`t seen data on this, but I have a suspicion, that a part of the reason Barack Obama was able to get elected president was because there was so many families like yours, where all of a sudden there are these brown children sitting at the table that these parents and grandparents who never had to face these issues in a very personal way, but when a fight for the loved one at their table. And now they saw Barack Obama as sort of the kind of growing up of these people and their families. And so, this level of integration that`s happening at a very familial level in a country, causes people to ask questions about who we are and what we are dealing with that they never really had to ask. HARRIS-PERRY: Not unlike marriage equality and the ways, in which as in communities where people come out and they realize that their cousin and their brother and their sister are in a community that is in a circumstance of inequality. And they are like, well, for my people, here we go. Thank you to Janny Scott and to Jim Arkedis. Also, thank you to Christina Bellantoni. Jamal is going to be back in our next hour. 50 years ago on this day, we lost Malcolm X. And in today`s "New York Times," his daughter says of today`s movement he would bemoan the lack of sustained targeted activism. She joins me next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: 50 years ago today, the man Davis called our living black manhood was assassinated. El-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, or Malcolm X was just 39 years old. In those brief years, he had actively and purposely transformed himself from a young hustler to a charismatic spokesman for the nation of Islam to a serious man of faith and an independent global revolutionary. Malcolm spoke at universities around the world. He debated foundational for the rights activists - He addressed worshippers in mosques and crowds on street corners in Harlem. But history may best remember him for these words. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MALCOLM X: We want freedom by any means necessary. (APPLAUSE) MALCOLM X: We want justice by in means necessary. We want equality by any means necessary. We don`t feel that in 1964 living in a country that is supposedly based upon freedom and supposedly the leader of the free world we don`t think that we should have to sit around and wait for some segregationist congressman and senators and a president from Texas in Washington, D.C. to make up their mind that our people are due now some degree of civil rights. No, we want it now, or we don`t think anybody should have it. (APPLAUSE) HARRIS-PERRY: Less than a year after that speech on this day in 1965, three gunmen rushed the stage at the Audubon ballroom in Harlem where Malcolm X was speaking and shot him 15 times. Legendary actor Ozzie Davis eulogized Malcolm as our own black shining prince. Malcolm`s legacy is the subject of a new book, "X: A Novel" by his daughter who was only three years old at the time of his death. Ilyasah Shabazz joins me now. ILYASAH SHABAZZ, AUTHOR, "X: A NOVEL": It must be a hard day. You were three years old in there. SHABAZZ: Actually I was 2 1/2. HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, and your father was killed. That`s very young. Do you have memories, even just visceral ones of him? SHABAZZ: I talk about it in one of my books. I think in "Growing Up X", I just have flickering images. You know, I remember this big, tall man. You know, obviously, and these big beautiful pearly white teeth that would pierce through an enormously beautiful smile. HARRIS-PERRY: I wonder in this moment, you pend these pretty intense op-ed for "The New York Times," in which you suggest that your father would have both support and also critique for the current black lives matter. You right, in part, "He`d agree that black lives matter, indeed, but also note that the uniform police officers who disagree are not likely to be persuaded by a hash tag." What are the things that he would offer as critique of the black lives matter movement? SHABAZZ: Well, I think that, you know, my father was a result oriented person, clearly. And I think, you know, this is what we get to recognize and appreciate in Malcolm today. So I think that he would want to see what is our end goal and how have we resolved institutionalized racism? You know, this - the injustice that continues even 50 years later. HARRIS-PERRY: This idea you wrote about, that hands up on the one hand, is indicative of that very strategy of making a black body unprotected. SHABAZZ: Right. Right. That`s right. We just have to have solutions. I think that we all need to come to a roundtable, have a discussion, a plan, organize, strategize, have some resolution. HARRIS-PERRY: You know, I thought a little bit about the legacy of your father in these past weeks as we have been, of course, talking about the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. in the context of the "Selma" film. Even the legacy of LBJ, because of the context of "The Selma" film. And so, you know, here you have, it`s a young adult novel. It`s written in your father`s voice as young person. And I think, OK, autobiography of Malcolm X is one of those must reads and then we have Manning`s text, on which, you know, offers a different kind of academic historical. What does this novel, "X-Novel" do for your father`s legacy? SHABAZZ: First, I want to say that the young lady that I wrote the book with, Kekla Magoon, is just amazing. She`s just amazing. But what this book does it allows -- because it`s historical . HARRIS-PERRY: Historical fiction. SHABAZZ: Historical fiction. Because it`s historical fiction, it allows the reader, the young reader to go on the journey with Malcolm`s, you know, Malcolm`s trepidations, Malcolm`s - just his conscience, his thoughts, and ultimately Malcolm coming into grips with his own self and understanding that we all have a purpose in life. And so, you know, if anything, we want young people to understand that they have a purpose in life. That life isn`t just about, you know, existing and accumulating a lot of wealth or material possessions. It`s about giving something back. And so we find that Malcolm, you know, goes on to become this amazing dynamic dynamic human rights activist. HARRIS-PERRY: He would have had this critique that you suggest that black lives matter, I wonder what would he say about how America right now is talking about world Islam. SHABAZZ: Oh, my gosh, I couldn`t tell you. I couldn`t tell you right now, but, you know, I`m actually happy that President Obama, you know, he said that this isn`t about Islam when we have all these terrorists killings. It`s about individuals who happen to be Muslims. HARRIS-PERRY: I so appreciate the book. I appreciate your presence here on what must be a tough anniversary. And I do have to tell you I met Ms. Betty Shabazz, Dr. Betty Shabazz, on the day I graduated from college, and it has such an impact on me for exactly the words you just said. Life is about some sort of purpose. You`re supposed to be doing something. SHABAZZ: That`s right. HARRIS-PERRY: So, I appreciate hearing that from you on this day. SHABAZZ: It`s an honor, I have to tell you. I love you, I admire you and I`m so happy that I could be here today on my father`s memorial day. HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you. Thank you, too, Ilyasah Shabazz, and coming up next, the new power struggle between the White House and the courts and the millions of people caught in the middle. And a former NFL player, Ray Davis is here to talk about his new campaign. This is Love. There`s more at MHP show at the top of the hour. Thank you. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. Here`s a head line for you. It`s cold. Tens of millions of you are waking up staring at your phone`s weather app in disbelief. Minus 5 in Johnstown, New York. Minus 16 in Massachusetts. This recent slew of winter storms has delivered a double-edged sword. First, the good, sledding like my little girl AJ here. Many of us have grabbed our snow gear and headed outside for some fun. She`s like what in the world? Now, North Carolina rarely sees much snow, especially the kind that really sticks. So, my older daughter, Parker and I, made the most of it. NBC News wanted in on the fun too pushing #itssocold. The news network asked folks to finish that system with their own personal deep freeze story. And the results were cooler than cool, ice cold. Check out this hitchhiking snowman. Can we catch a ride too? This woman found her iced coffee had been frozen solid. Or how about this snow-dusted playing a game of where`s Waldo? So, that`s the good. What about the bad and the ugly? Well, the winter storms have pummeled some areas, one right after the other. Places like Boston are still struggled to dig out. The dangerous conditions are being blamed for the deaths of at least 25 people, 18 of them died in Tennessee. Officials say more than half of those deaths were due to hypothermia. The others were car accidents on icy roads. Parts of the south are bracing for more ice and freezing rain. Areas that are unaccustomed to such unusual conditions. And it is not over yet. Another winter storm is incoming and it`s expected to be widespread, impacting parts of the south, northeast and even Midwest. You stay with us. We`ll have more on this record-shattering weather later in the hour. But right now, we turn to the latest challenge to President Obama`s action on immigration. The ongoing battle over immigration reform has raised an important question that has little to do with actual immigration policy. Just who runs this country? I mean, is it Congress? The president? Some judge at the border city of Brownsville, Texas? What happens when all of those folks disagree? In this case, immigration -- one Chamber of Commerce passed an immigration reform bill that would create a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants. That was in June of 2013. The other chamber, not so much. So, the president acted on his own after warning Congress repeatedly that he would do so. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you don`t do it, I`ve got legal authority to make improvements on the system, I`d prefer and still prefer to see it done through Congress. In the absence of congressional action, I intend to take action because it`s the right thing to do for the country. If House Republicans are really concerned about me, taking too many executive actions, the best solution to that is passing bills. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Last November the president announced executive actions that would allow up to more than 4 million undocumented immigrants to stay in this country without the fear of deportation. The new rules would apply mostly to the parents of U.S. citizens, as well as more immigrants who came to this country as children known as dreamers. It`s an important and big change, one that would affect a third or more of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants who live in the U.S., the one that the president performed this act unilaterally. And that left many in Congress in an uproar, claiming that the president was far overstepping his executive power, and trampling on the separation of powers. Now, the president`s opponents in Congress are trying to exert their constitutional power. Republican lawmakers are attempting to dismantle the president`s executive orders with amendments to a $40 billion piece of legislation that would fund the Department of Homeland Security. Senate Democrats are filibustering the bill until Republicans take out those riders, and Republicans are blaming Democrats for the delay. A bill for funding the Department of Homeland Security is going to expire in a week. But according to Republicans, this fight over immigration reform isn`t really about immigration reform. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is not about actually the issue of immigration. What it is, is it`s about the president acting lawlessly. REP. STEVE SCALISE (R), LOUISIANA: We`re going to bring legislation to reestablish the rule of law, make it clear that it`s the Congress, not the White House, who writes immigration laws. GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: This issue in this lawsuit is not about immigration. The issue in this lawsuit is about abuse of executive power. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: If you`re with us in the first hour, you remember the Republicans say the president is too weak and now he`s too strong. But anyway, this week, Republicans scored a victory when the third branch of government weighed in. On Monday, a federal judge in Texas blocked the president`s executive actions, putting the program on hold just before immigration officials were going to start accepting applications. The judge said that the president and Department of Homeland Security had stepped far out of bounds. He wrote, quote, "The DHS secretary is not just rewriting the laws, he`s creating them from scratch." The White House is wasting no time trying to undo this, and on Monday, they`ll ask the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to block the district judge`s ruling. Joining me now: Adam Cox, professor of law at NYU, Cesar Vargas, who is co- director of the Dream Action Coalition and a contributor for the Hill. Jamal Simmons is back, Democratic consultant for the Raben Group, and Sayu Bhojwani, who is founding director of the New American Leaders Project. Thank you all for being here. Adam, walk me through the judge`s decision just a little bit. What`s he claiming that the president did wrong as a legal matter? ADAM COX, PROFESSOR OF LAW, NYU: Well, so, the most important thing to recognize about the decision is the difference between what the court did and what he said. So what the court did is legally small and technical. He didn`t say that the president`s program oversteps his executive authority, or tramples on the powers of Congress. All he actually said was that the administration is supposed to go out and get public comments before they actually initiate this program. That`s the holding. But what he said was much broader because the opinion is laced with rhetoric suggesting that he does, in fact, think that the president you usurped his authority. HARRIS-PERRY: OK, I just walk me through before we move on because the other thing I found fascinating is apparently they kind of shopped around for this particular judge. I guess I -- being not a lawyer, I didn`t know this was a thing one could do. COX: Yes. So, in a case like this, you know, when off large number of states suing the federal government, they have their pick of fora. And that means they can go out and pick a judge who they think is going to be sympathetic to their case. That`s precisely what happened here and it`s no different in what happened in the lower court litigation about the Affordable Care Act. So, there are striking parallels between both contexts where, you know, partisan politics gets converted into a crisis in the lower courts can generate an opinion that then drives the political debate and changes the narrative. HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So, on the one hand, we had the Republicans saying this is not about immigration. This is about this imperial president who is so weak -- but whatever. This is about this imperial president, this is about an overstepping, this is about a constitutional crisis. But the effect is, in fact, on immigrant families. CESAR VARGAS, CO-DIR., DREAM ACTION COALITION: Yes, absolutely. For me, last time when I was here, it was -- I told about how excited my mom was that she was going to be able to qualify. And, you know, it was very sad actually telling them the day of the decision that she had to wait. My sister had to wait. So many other immigrants had had to wait because, you know, to be with their families. So, for us it was about making sure they knew this is all about immigration. Republicans are using the courts to fight this political battle on immigration reform. The fact is, 11 presidents have taken similar action, Republicans and Democrats. And all of a sudden, it`s about the constitutional crisis. So for us, we`re going to make sure that our communities are protected and reality is that for us, it`s great to see my mother, my sister and so many immigrants out there that they are resilient, that they`re ready. They`re going to say, this is something temporary and we`re going to continue to fight and we`re going to continue to apply. HARRIS-PERRY: So, this really does leave me with a bit of a question. I want to think of myself as a political scientist who cares about a set of principles, about how things get done in the context of politics, in addition to the outcomes. So, but I do find myself in a reality where, for example, progressives will cheer the court when it basically upholds ACA, but then hate the court when it got the voting rights amendment, who will say we really want to make sure that these lower court judges don`t do something unless it`s marriage equality in Alabama and then we`re thrilled. Is there a way to separate out our politics and whether or not we think it`s a good decision base on what we want for a policy, from sort of what`s good practice for a constitutional democracy? SAYU BHOJWANI, FOUNDING DIR., NEW AMERICAN LEADERS PROJECT: Well, I mean, I`m so glad you brought up the ACA because that is one element of this practice that has been in place. There`s an overlap of 21 states between the 27 that sued around ACA and the 26 that sued around the executive action. HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, really? I wonder what that overlap is. Could it be Republican governors? BHOJWANI: But this 26-state lawsuit also includes five states that have the whitest population in our country, including Maine. What does Maine really even care about what`s happening around immigration since such a small portion of their population is immigrant? And to some extent, I think there is a general concern that we do need to have as liberals about where immigration and issues of people of color fit into our broader agenda, right? Like what -- how can we create better bridges around the immigrants rights movement, the gay rights movement and other social justice issues. Where do we create greater consensus around what we need to do about black lives matter and all lives matter and discrimination matters. HARRIS-PERRY: I`m surprised at how much support there is. I mean, Jamal, I see when I look at this, I see that when we do this immigration poll, December of 2014 from Pew Research, 70 percent allowing undocumented immigrants to stay in this nation. But only 46 percent support executive action. So, if I`m a Republican, no wonder I say this isn`t about immigration. Of course, you`d say that because there`s 70 percent support for it. This is about the bad president because only 46 percent support for him. SIMMONS: Right. And this is what gets them in trouble and why they can`t win the White House, because they don`t -- HARRIS-PERRY: To the end, I love it. SIMMONS: They don`t listen to the 24 percent of people, the delta between that 46 percent and 70 percent of people who support immigration. So, in fact, what you have is a country that`s already ready to make this decision. It`s ready to move. And here`s the thing. What we`re talking about is we`re talking about Latin American immigration, because I grew up in Michigan. The place is overrun with Canadians. Nobody is worried about those Canadians, right? Nobody is worried about waitresses and East European waitresses in New York City nightclubs who are overstaying. Those aren`t the issues. People are talking about the fact they are concerned about having so many other Hispanics in the country. And that is what we have to sort of grapple with. There`s a racial element to this that Republicans don`t want to have to deal with but until they do, they won`t be able to win. HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, fascinating. I love you win the nerd award for calling the difference between the 70 percent and 46 percent, the delta. Up next, President Obama is not standing alone. The attorneys general do have his back. We`ll talk to one of them when we come back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Twenty-six states led by Texas sued the Obama administration to stop it from enacting the president`s executive orders on immigration. They claim the executive orders will hurt the states financially. For one, by flooding their DMVs with new applicants for driver`s licenses. But not all states agree. The attorneys general of another 12 states and the District of Columbia shot back with their own brief in the case, arguing that the executive actions will benefit their states plenty. Thank you very much. The leader of that effort is Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who joins us live from Seattle. Attorney General, tell me how, how does your state benefit from president`s executive action? BOB FERGUSON, WASHINGTON STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL: First, thanks so much for having me on your show. I really appreciate it. And there`s multiple ways in which Washington state and then other states benefit. First and really foremost, in my state alone, there`s 100,000 individual who stand to benefit from the president`s actions. I`m their lawyer, and it`s important they have a chance to come out of the shadows and earn those wages that they are entitled to. The types of jobs they can work for, not under the table as well. So, it`s important on a human level as well to get them out of the shadows and back in our democracy in the full way. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, we were looking at the data post-DACA, which was the initial deferred action, that 79 percent of the DREAMers are actually earning more in better jobs, which likely means paying more taxes to their states and also that 41 percent of them returned to college after dropping out. So, yes, there`s a human side there, but it also feels like that`s a substantive social and economic piece. FERGUSON: Absolutely. We laid that out in the brief that we put before the court was that economic benefit that you`re referring to. In Texas, for example, in the next five years, if the president`s actions are allowed to go forward the state of Texas will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in additional tax revenues in the same way that my state will as well. We thought it was important for the judge to hear those benefits all around the country from that standpoint as well. HARRIS-PERRY: It`s interesting when you invoke Texas because former Texas A.G., now Texas Governor Greg Abbott, had something different to say back in December on "Meet the Press." Let`s take a moment and take a listen to him. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ABBOTT: If this abuse is not stopped, it will erode the Constitution that has attracted so many people to this country for generations. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Mr. A.G., do you believe that this will erode the Constitution? FERGUSON: No, quite the opposite. I think the action taken by the president is fully consistent with our Constitution and fully consistent with having folks who have come to our country get them the legal status that will bring them in to get the jobs, the wages they can participate in and fully contribute back to our society. I think that`s what`s critical here. I do think General Abbott, now Governor Abbott has it wrong. I think when he was attorney general, he was once asked to describe his job, he said, I get up in the morning, I go to work, I sue the Obama administration, I go home. This was the most recent of those actions. And I`ll leave it to your viewers to decide what the motivations were behind that. HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So, hold one minute, Mr. Ferguson. FERGUSON: Sure. HARRIS-PERRY: I want to come out to you because that idea, we heard Ferguson say early on I`m their lawyer. And then we compare that to Mr. Abbott saying, oh, I get up and go sue the Obama administration. Is there a way to make this about immigration, about people, but also about the law in this sense? This is the job of folks. VARGAS: For us, it`s really bringing it back to the story. And I think the attorney general really said it precisely. This is about the families, about the people working, about the people who are paying taxes. I don`t know about you, for me, since I get excited, on April 15th I have to pay taxes. I get excited to pay taxes because it`s me contributing to the country. This is my country, I`m an American, I`m undocumented now. But for me, I came here when I was 5 years old. This is my home. I want to make sure this Constitution continues to provide freedom and liberty to generations to come. So, Texas definitely got it wrong. But at the same time, we know that the nation is way ahead of what Texas is, is way ahead of how we`re going to proceed this nation for generations. HARRIS-PERRY: So, Adam, you know, algebra and the law are different. Help us to understand how 26 attorneys general could be on one side. Another group could be on -- is there not just a legal answer here? COX: Well, unfortunately, I mean, as we have been discussing, like the legal arguments have been used so much in the service of politics that that explains the divide among the attorneys general. It is really Republican states, it`s red states versus blue states. But the law is actually pretty clear here, right? The law makes clear that because the government is as immigrants know not actually providing legal status, right? It`s huge practical benefits for immigrants who can come out of the shadows, but, fundamentally -- and this is what some folks are afraid of, these actions could be reversed by future administration. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. COX: And given that fact, it was just wrong of the district court to say what the president did was legal benefit on 4 million immigrants. HARRIS-PERRY: A.G. Ferguson, just to come back to you before we have to take our break here. Is there one -- is there one piece of this ruling that makes you more optimistic or more pessimistic about what`s likely to happen next? FERGUSON: I think at the same level, there`s nothing about the ruling that surprised me. I think your guests talked about this judge being selected by the plaintiffs. I agree with that. And to be perfectly honest, I`m not surprised by the ruling at all. This will ultimately be decided by the Fifth Circuit. Or even ultimately by the United States Supreme Court before we`re done. So, it was not a surprise from my standpoint at all. HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson in Seattle, Washington, this morning. FERGUSON: Thanks. HARRIS-PERRY: Up next, just who is welcome and who is not? I`m bringing the rest of the table back in. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: The United States immigration policy has long made judgments about what kind of people we allow in and which we turn away. And it`s not all your tired and poor and wretched, teeming on the shore, President Obama frequently points out that he only wants to help those that are worthy immigrants. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: We`re going to keep focusing enforcement resources on actual threats to our security -- felons, not families, criminals, not children, gang members, not a mom who is working hard to provide for her kids. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: So, I get the politics of it, I really do. For those of us that have criminals in our family, I don`t know that distinction between families and felons, just initially struck me as, whoa, so now you have to be better as an immigrant than an American has to be simply by being born here. BHOJWANI: Well, and knowing obscure facts that you have to know to pass the citizenship test. I mean, I think that -- HARRIS-PERRY: Not that I wouldn`t be happy for American citizens to also know those things. I mean, I think that -- BHOJWANI: Right, exactly. I mean, look, I think that you`re right on target, right. The president needs to use some certain type of rhetoric, but then that rhetoric does perpetuates certain images that he`s walked a really fine line for a very long time. I think it`s important also for us to remember who is welcome changes over time, like once we really welcome low wage labor and all of a sudden, it was like shut it down and we needed high skilled labor and 1965 opened up the doors to many people. Now, we`re upset about who is here for low wage labor. So, there`s a moving target about who is welcome and who is not. And so, it`s really dangerous to play that rhetorical line to perpetuate the imagery that we`re already problematizing, you know? HARRIS-PERRY: And in part because it`s not the Canadian nurses, right, overrunning the Detroit hospitals because there is a racialized aspect to this. SIMMONS: There`s absolutely is. It`s helpful to pull back and get historical perspective. I was struck by a column in "The New York Times" about George Washington`s slave catcher and an African-American woman who had gone up north to New Hampshire to get away from him. The similarities of the struggle of these escapes Africans brought here to work and left and they started families and had communities, but they were always living in the shadow of being shut down by these folks who want to return them to another place -- HARRIS-PERRY: Did I tell you how much I love that you quoted that? I just met her on Thursday night at the University of Delaware and was asking her about the fact that this woman married, right, she married a free man of color, but it did not protect her as a matter of status and it was very much like being an undocumented who could at any point just kind of be captured and set back. SIMMONS: So, here`s a Founding Father who we all look at as this great American, but he`s shrouded by this dark legacy. The question is in our era, are we going to be shrouded by the legacy of how we treated undocumented citizens or undocumented people in our country and not welcoming them in and giving them a chance to live their lives. HARRIS-PERRY: I`m so happy you brought that up. OK, that said, I want to look at the new DACA requirements, because you talked a little about it. So, how does it feel to pay taxes, a very idea of exciting thing, of thinking of yourself as an American. So, DACA requires that you`d be in school, that you graduated from high school, obtain the general GED, or honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or Armed Forces, have not been convicted of a felony or a significant misdemeanor. I get it, right? I do. But I also feel like -- but given that we know how likely those kinds of policings are in precisely these vulnerable communities, it continues to feel to me like we`re setting up a kind of multitier system of who gets to be here. VARGAS: It`s such simplistic rhetoric, right, when you say felonies, not felonies. The reality that some states like Arizona, Sheriff Arpaio, one of the most anti-immigrant sheriffs who pretty uses the law to target felons. He charges them with felonies for just working with a fake paper or fake identification. So, now, this person who -- this woman who was working to pay for school, to pay for her family is now charged as a felon and convicted as a felon -- HARRIS-PERRY: Even though it`s a status offense. It`s not some kind of a crime that is likely to harm another person. VARGAS: And really, that`s why it`s so important the rhetoric, the politics and when we go back to the stories. We`re talking about a mother who was recently deported for that. So, I think the president has a tough job, but at the same time, it`s about making sure we`re not simplistic to say families or felons, because our immigration is so messy, that we need to clarify, we need to clean it. The president took this action to elevate as many people out of the shadows, but making sure that we implement and give opportunity not just for the dreamers, but for the law students, for all workers, the parents who couldn`t go to school. HARRIS-PERRY: I guess part of what I`m wondering here is part of what happens is because immigration is under the Department of Homeland Security, this is that kind of post-9/11 moment where we begin to see every foreigner as a threat on our shores. SIMMONS: No, absolutely true. And I think what the president is doing, as you alluded already is he`s dealing with the politics of this. And the politics of this is, if we try to save everybody, we could lose the opportunity to save a lot of bodies. So, he`s going for what he can do at this particular moment and it is -- it`s politics. HARRIS-PERRY: So, I wonder if there`s a state by state strategy given there is so much pushback against this president. I mean, one of the things progressives had to do is take it out of the president`s hands, not because they don`t think it`s good at it, but just because it causes such pushback. Is there a state by state strategy? BHOJWANI: Yes. Since 2006, there`s been an increase in the number of bills in order to address integration, right? States can`t technically do anything, but they can do a wide range of things. They can when allowed undocumented immigrants to get driver`s license. They can provide in-state tuition to undocumented students. And we are very concerned about seeing -- we want to see more voices like ours in-state legislatures to push for that agenda because this was a very conservative action on the part of the president, and even when we have immigration for all, and we fix the system, there`s a huge range of activities that is needed for integration to happen so that everyone can feel like they can access what is available to them in America. HARRIS-PERRY: To be part of the big American story. Thank you to Adam Cox and to Cesar Vargas. Also, thank you to Jamal Simmons and also to Sayu Bhojwani. A quick programming note: something you absolutely will not want to miss. This Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m., MSNBC and Telemundo will present an exclusive town hall with President Obama on the issue of immigration hosted by MSNBC`s own Jose Diaz-Balart. Now, something monumental happened this week. I`m so excited. That story is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: On Thursday, President Obama made a monumental announcement when he launched an initiative called Every Kid in a Park. The program will allow all fourth graders and their families to visit national parks free of charge for a full year. Additionally, three new national monuments will be created including the Pullman National Monument which the president dedicated Thursday afternoon while visiting Chicago`s Pullman Historic District. President Obama spoke about the town`s origins, industrialist George Pullman and the men who worked on his trains. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: This site is at the heart of what would become America`s labor movement. And as a consequence, at the heart of what would become America`s middle class. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, at the heart of the labor movement and the country`s middle class were the Pullman porters, the men who left the Jim Crow South to work on Pullman Company trains, serving passengers in first class sleeping cars between the 1860s and 1960s. The porters work became a movement. They joined together as the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters in 1925, and it became the first African-American labor union. The porters were also an integral part of the civil rights movement. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: It was those Pullman porters who gave the base by which A. Philip Randolph could convince President Truman to desegregate the armed forces. It was those porters who helped lead the Montgomery bus boycott, who were the central organizers of the march on Washington. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: And now, those porters deservedly so, will be honored in Chicago`s first national park, a testament to their legacy, their leadership and their labor. Up next, pushed out, overpoliced and underprotected. A new report on the lives of black girls. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Consider these recent head lines. A 6-year-old girl handcuffed for throwing a temper tantrum inside a classroom in Milledgeville, Georgia. In Dearborn Heights, Michigan, a high school honor student suspended for carrying a pocket knife. And in Henry County, Georgia, a 12-year-old nearly expelled for writing on a locker room wall. These are the harsh punishments delivered to students who are black girls and their stories are not uncommon. Twelve percent of black girls are suspended from school versus just 2 percent of white girl girls. And although black boys are more likely to be punished in school, black girls are more likely to be suspended. A new study highlights these discrepancies and implications, "Black Girls Matter: Pushed out, Overpoliced and Underprotected", was co-authored by Kimberle Crenshaw, who joins me now. Crenshaw is a professor of law at Columbia Law School and founder of the African-American Policy Forum. Kim, it`s so nice to have you here. We were just talking about how the report on the one hand is beautiful but also very troubling. And I`m wondering -- are there any particular findings that were surprising for you? KIMBERLE CRENSHAW, FOUNDER, AFRICAN-AMERICAN POLICY FORUM: Well, Melissa, we knew that there were dis-proportionality in terms of suspension and expulsion that African-American students suffered from overall. What we weren`t prepared to see was how great the disparity between girls. So, we looked in New York City and we saw that black girls were ten times more likely to be suspended or subject to discipline than white girls, and in Boston, it was 11 times. Now, that`s consistent overall, but let`s recognize that the disproportionality between girls is actually greater than the disproportionality between boys. So, to the extent this is a racial problem or a problem of racial discrimination, girls should be front and center in this conversation because they are experiencing high rates of racial disproportionality. HARRIS-PERRY: So, what do you say to someone who says, well, maybe the girls are just badder, and they just deserve to be punished? CRENSHAW: Well, that was one of the things, of course, we had to consider. It was why we decided, in addition to looking at data to actually sit down and talk to some young women who had been pushed out of school to get some of their stories. They told us precisely these kinds of stereotypes. That we are perceived to be loud, to be aggressive, to be unladylike. Teachers aren`t invested in us. Their basic role is to discipline us. And that`s consistent with some of the research that suggests that black girls tend to be viewed as unladylike, and so, some teachers, black as well as nonblack, see their role as trying to shape their behavior into more appropriate behaviors for women and girls. So, in that way, they are facing both gender kind of norming, which comes from a gender project and racial stereotypes because blackness is associated with aggressiveness. So, it`s an intersectional problem that they are facing. HARRIS-PERRY: I want to take a listen to the attorney general of the United States talking about this issue, not specifically around girls, but around the racial disparity and the effects that it has on longer term. Let`s take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: We will continue to work with allies, like the Department of Education and others throughout the federal government and beyond to confront the school to prison pipeline and those zero tolerance school discipline policies that really do not promote public safety and that transform too many education institutions from doorways of opportunity into gateways to the criminal justice system. A minor school disciplinary offense should put a student in the principal`s office and not a police precinct. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: So, is that what`s happening? They are being put in a principal`s office, but instead in a police precinct? (LAUGHTER) CRENSHAW: Well, actually, sometimes, the police precinct is in the school. I think people don`t realize that police are now in the school. When you have police in the school, it`s like if you`re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If you`re police officer, you saw indiscretion, the kinds of things that happen between students look like a criminal justice problem. So, we have seen some of the consequences of that. I think one of the things we don`t realize is how girls are particularly positioned. We talked to one girl who had had gotten arrested for a fight, then she was put on probation, so every time she came to school late, she got a ticket. When the ticket accrued, she ended up being arrested and eventually wound up in solitary confinement. So, these are the kinds of -- we`re talking literally -- HARRIS-PERRY: For being late at school? CRENSHAW: Yes. We`re talking literally about the school to prison pipeline. It`s not, you know, a metaphor. It`s real. HARRIS-PERRY: There`s so much more in this report that at the core, it is this idea that black girls matter, too. We can`t just assume there are girls programs and race programs. But we have to look specifically at that intersection. Kim Crenshaw, thank you so much for this report and for helping to get this information out there. Before we take a break, I do want to get an update on the record-shattering cold that`s creating dangerous conditions for millions of people across the country this weekend. At least 25 deaths are blamed on this latest arctic blast and another widespread round of ice, snow and freezing rain is on the way. Joining me from Perrysburg, Ohio, NBC`s Kerry Sanders. Kerry, we`ve got a condition on your scene. I mean, it`s snowing like on you right now. My goodness! KERRY SANDERS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it`s been coming down since early this morning. It`s certainly picked up. We have about an inch on the ground and it`s possible we could see according to forecasters, up to six, maybe nine inches all the way over from this area near Toledo over towards Cincinnati. The good news is that temperatures are up, 23 degrees, still cold, but the temperatures are up. It was negative 12 yesterday before you factored in the wind-chill, that took it down to negative 21. There are some folks who are finding a little bit of upside to all of this and those are the ice sculpture folks that have gathered here for the international competition. This is Neptune or, I guess you would say, frozen Neptune from the frozen right now. But, Melissa, you know, there are some people who are actually saying, this is great because the temperatures are up. I`m thinking -- 23 degrees, not so great and really kind of put a punctuation on the end of that, it`s not going to get above freezing until next month. They are in for a little chill here for the coming days and beyond. HARRIS-PERRY: Oh. SANDERS: So, they`re in for a little bit of a chill here for the coming days and beyond. HARRIS-PERRY: Man, am I ready for spring. Kerry Sanders in Perrysburg, Ohio, doing the hard work today while the rest of us are warm and toasty right here in 30 Rock. But enjoy the ice sculptures. SANDERS: I will, and you know what? There`s a sand sculpture contest in Mexico. I think I`ll go there, next. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, you can go there, next. Still to come this morning, the hit show "Empire" is playing to a particular stereotype about the African-American community. But a friend of this show former NFL player Wade Davis is working to change all that and that`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: "Empire", the hit new show on FOX, keeps getting bigger, drawing in 12.5 million viewers Wednesday, coming in a close second to the highest rated drama on TV, AMC`s "The Walking Dead." Now, devoted fans know it`s a primetime soap opera filled with glamour, music and cash, but the heart of the story is Terrence Howard`s character, Lucious Lyon, the hip hop mogul pitting his sons against each other, one of whom he rejects because he`s gay. Now, the story line and the reaction is generated head lines focusing on how show creator Lee Daniels wants to expose homophobia in the black community. But a new campaign is challenging the notion that African-Americans are more resistant to same-sex relationships than other groups. "This is Luv" is a multimedia campaign accepting LGTBQ acceptance in the black community and it is culminating in a town hall discussion tomorrow at the Human Rights Campaign of Washington, D.C. The events will feature retired NBA star Jason Collins, son of Magic Johnson, E.J. Johnson, and Nerdland favorite Michael Denzel Smith, Aisha Moodie-Mills and many more. Joining me now, one of the people behind the campaign, "This is Luv," former NFL player, Wade Davis. You know you are in intersectional space when like the whole Nerdland crew is there, you know, who is down for this. But talk to me a little bit about this campaign as a way to push back against this powerful stereotype that black folks are more homophobic than others. WADE DAVIS, FORMER NFL PLAYER: You know, one of the big issues for us is that there`s such a pervasive narrative that we don`t love each other. And it was really shocking to me that people only focused on Terrence`s relationship with Jamal -- HARRIS-PERRY: And not Cookie. Or baby boy? DAVIS: Exactly. Or his brothers, right? So, 75 percent of his family structure loves and embraces him. And we said, you know what? We have to control the actual narrative. There`s an African proverb that says, until the lion has a historian, the hunter will always be the hero. We don`t have a historian. So, our goal with myself and Darnell Moore (ph) and (INAUDIBLE) is to say, how can we change the narrative, add to it. And "This is Luv" campaign has just been blessed by so many different people. HARRIS-PERRY: So, when you talk about narratives, this is literally people telling their stories. And instead of these being the stories of "I came out and was rejected and abused," these are stories of "My family has embraced and loves me." DAVIS: Oh, yes. HARRIS-PERRY: Tell me a favorite story or a surprising one. DAVIS: So, there was a young girl that I used to work with at the Hetrick- Martin Institute, and she was a young lesbian. And based on her gender expression performance, I`m pretty sure that her mother that she was a lesbian. But she said, I`m going to run away from home because my Caribbean mother who`s black will never accept me. So, I see her six months later and I said, how`s everything going? She says, oh, ciao, my mother knew I was a lesbian the whole time and she loves me. That speaks to the fact that our young kids are growing up never believing that they will be loved. So, we have to change this narrative. We have to add to the narrative, because what lead to this is showing is true, but what everyone is writing about is also true as well. HARRIS-PERRY: So, this is so interesting, this idea that that is in part is what is at stake for LGBTQ youth of color in particular, that if we keep perpetuating that you will certainly be rejected, then in fact, you may be more likely to closet or shield yourself than if we say, well, you are more likely to find some space, some made family or some actual family, kind of bio family that, in fact, does love and support and find a pathway with you. DAVIS: Yes, and also the LGBT community in general is rather racist, if I`m being honest, right? So, if you have black kids who are leaving their black family and can`t find family in the LGBT community, where do they actually go, right? So, our goal is to say that hey, there is someone in our community that will love you and embrace you. And even in the "Empire" show, you can even see Lucious Lyons is growing and evolving around his love for his son, just like our president did, just like my mother did. So, there is love there, and it just may not happen overnight, but it`s a process. HARRIS-PERRY: I wonder, in fact, you know, we were just talking to Kimberle Crenshaw about the ways in which black girls are overpoliced, how they`re pushed out. And I also wonder if there are sort of notions about masculinity, notions about femininity and particularly high stakes for black folks about being a real man or being a real woman. How is it -- and it sounds kind of silly -- but how is it that love helps you to navigate those rigid notions about what is the right way to be? DAVIS: I always say that love erases that space between you and me, right? So, if we can show each other love, if we can show off vulnerability, right, and know that vulnerability is a strength, right, that showing someone in your intercommunity is actually a space of love and kinship, then we can move past these sexist notions of femininity and masculinity. HARRIS-PERRY: Tell me more about what`s happening to tomorrow`s event. DAVIS: Yes. So, we have Darnell Moore, Aisha Moodie-Mills is going to moderate the panel. We have a town hall of young people there who are not just going to be talked to by our special guests but can talk with. We want it to be a conversation, an actual sharing, where people can say, my family, my community, people who look like me actually really do love me. HARRIS-PERRY: It`s nice. You know, February is that intersection between the month where we celebrate love, right? DAVIS: Right. HARRIS-PERRY: On Valentine`s Day. It`s also Black History Month. But sometimes as we`re doing our black history thing, we`ll fail to talk about the heroes and sheroes in our community who are also part of the LGBT community. Any names we want to call as remembering in Black History Month, of queer folks who have made such a difference? You know, Bayard Rustin comes to mind. DAVIS: James Baldwin, there are just so many. But I want to celebrate our current ones -- HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. DAVIS: -- like you. It is such a pleasure to have you be such an ally to me and to everyone else who is doing this work and to celebrate us in such a public way. So, thank you so much. HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you. And I will give that love right back to the members of my family, who loved at every point. And to my -- particularly too my niece, Chris, who I know is a young lesbian African-American living in Chicago right now, is navigating her space. And I see her doing it. She should know -- we all love you deeply, Chris. Thank you to Wade Davis. And don`t forget to check out his campaign at Now, that`s our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching. I`m going to see you at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. And OMG! Tomorrow`s show will be on Fleak. We`ve got a table of millennials. Now, these young people are undergrad and they`ve agreed to look up from their devices just long enough to join us on set. And let us know whether or not they plan to change everything or not. So, grab your bae and tune in Sunday morning. After all, YOLO. Now, it`s time for a preview with "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT." LOL, Alex, do you have any idea what I just said? THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END