Melissa Harris-Perry, Transcript 05/16/15

Guests: Peter Slevin, Brittney Cooper, Nancy Giles, Kai Wright, MichaelKoval, Kevin Baron

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning my question, is America one nation under God? Plus, breaking news on a U.S. military operation and the chilling new documentary, "Southern Rights." But first, first lady Michelle Obama speaking on history that`s not even past. Good morning, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. We`re going to begin with breaking news. The U.S. Defense Department announced this morning, U.S. Special Operation forces entered Syria to capture an ISIS leader. That senior leader known as Abu Sayyaf was killed. No U.S. forces were killed or injured during the operation. Joining me now from Washington, D.C., NBC White House correspondent Kristen Welker. Kristen, what do we know about the operation and about its target? KRISTEN WELKER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Melissa, a lot of fast-moving developments. According to a statement released by the NSC spokesperson Bernadette Meehan, President Obama approved this operation at the recommendation of his national security team. The mission was aimed to capturing that ISIS leader that you mentioned known as Abu Sayyaf and his wife Umm Sayyaf. But during the operation, Abu Sayyaf was killed. Now, here`s some details according to NBC`s Jim Miklaszewski, senior defense and military officials say the raid was carried out by Army Delta force commandos. The Special Operations forces in Black Hawk helicopters and (INAUDIBLE) aircraft raided an ISIS compound in eastern Syria and an intense firefight ensued and that`s is when Abu Sayyaf was killed. He was killed fighting. An official tells me 12 other enemy fighters were also killed. And I want to underscore that point that you mentioned, Melissa, no U.S. personnel were killed in that raid. Umm Sayyaf, the wife, was captured. And is currently in U.S. custody in Iraq. U.S. forces also freed a young Yazidi woman who was apparently being held as a slave by the couple. And I was told by one U.S. official earlier today that Umm Sayyaf may have been involved in a broader human trafficking effort and is also a key player in ISIS. Now, Abu Sayyaf was a senior ISIS leader who was involved in the military, but also had a senior role in overseeing ISIS`s oil and gas operations. This is a really significant point, I`m told, because oil and gas is, of course, a key source of revenue. In its statement, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said "The operation represents another significant blow to ISIS and it is a reminder that the United States will never waver in denying safe haven to terrorists who threaten our citizens and those of our friends and allies." Now, the president is also expressing his gratitude this morning to the U.S. personnel who carried out the mission and also to Iraqi authorities. They supported this mission. Now, the next step, Melissa, U.S. forces are hoping the wife and other intel that they may have collected from the raid will help them lead to other members of ISIS. Melissa, back to you. HARRIS-PERRY: NBC White House correspondent Kristen Welker. Indeed, this is a fast-moving story. I`m sure we`ll be checking in with you again. Thank you. WELKER: Thanks. HARRIS-PERRY: And right now I`d like to bring in Colonel Jack Jacobs, the military analyst for MSNBC. He joins me now by phone. Colonel Jack, I`m interested, what does this mean, the significance of U.S. Special Forces actually doing a ground operation inside Syria? COL. JACK JACOBS: Well, these are special operations forces. You hit the nail on the head. It is rare that we will admit that we`re inside Syria, particularly in ground operations, as you know in the past, we`ve gone after enemy combatants, ISIS operatives using drones from a great distance away, controlled from a great distance away, but this is a completely different operation. We were interested in getting this guy so that we could interrogate him and much more important, all of his computers and wreckage and so on, this is a finance officer. And much of the cash that flows into ISIS in that part of the operational area comes from oil and gas kidnappings and ransoms and human trafficking. And what`s going to result from this, and why it was so important to actually get on the ground, weren`t interested in killing him. They actually wanted to get on the ground is that we would be able to produce an enormous amount of information that would provide us with intelligence for a long, long time to come. HARRIS-PERRY: So, Colonel Jacobs, you made such a good point there. The goal of actually having boots on the ground was to extract this individual, but we know that instead, Sayyaf was killed during the raid. What are the consequences for our intelligence purposes? JACOBS: Well, as it transpires, it`s much better to take him captive because he can be interrogated, but we got Umm Sayyaf, that`s number one, and she`s a wealth of information. So, she can be interrogated and will undoubtedly produce other intelligence, which we can use, but much more important, we got all the records. And when you have the records and computers that generally means that you`ve got information about other operatives, about the chain of command, about future operations, about past operations as well. As we discovered when we went into Abbottabbad and got Bin Laden`s computers and records, that`s a treasure-trove and it`s going to be some time before we actually realize all the benefits of getting that information. But getting that information is the most important thing. HARRIS-PERRY: Colonel Jack Jacobs, thank you so much for your insights this morning. We`re going to continue to follow this breaking news story throughout the program this morning. And we`re going to have much more for you even later in this hour. But for now . JACOBS: Thank you. HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you, Jack. For now, we`re going to make a turn to a very different kind of story. The story of First Lady Michelle Obama`s speech. When the first lady addressed the Tuskegee University graduating class of 2015 last week, it was with a history lesson meant to inspire the graduates with the message about triumph in these days of adversity. She encourages students to look to the story past of Tuskegee, a historically black university with a long list of distinguished alumni. And to the example of the Tuskegee airmen, the country`s first African-American military aviators who were trained at what was then Tuskegee Institute and who went on to become one of the most highly respected fighter groups in World War II. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICHELLE OBAMA: Here they were, trained to operate some of the most complicated high-tech machines of their day. Flying at hundreds of miles an hour with the tips of their wings just six inches apart. Yet, when they hit the ground, folks treated them like they were nobody. As if their very existence meant nothing. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: This is Obama expanded on her narrative of African-American pioneers pushing against the confines of racial inequality, offering the students her own personal experience as one of America`s historic firsts. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICHELLE OBAMA: As potentially the first African-American first lady, I was also the focus of another set of questions and speculations, conversations sometimes rooted in the fears and misperceptions of others. Was I too loud or too angry or too emasculating? (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: The first lady admitted that even her place alongside her husband on the road to the White House made her one of the most recognizable people in the country, she struggled to be seen, actually, seen in the face of those racialized and gendered misperceptions. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICHELLE OBAMA: Then there was the first time I was on a magazine cover. It was a cartoon drawing of me with a huge afro and a machine gun. Now, yeah, it was satire. But if I`m really being honest, it knocked me back a bit. It made me wonder just how are people seeing me? Over the years, folks have used plenty of interesting words to describe me. One said I exhibited a little bit of uppityism. Another noted that I was one of my husband`s cronies of color. Cable news charmingly referred to me as Obama`s baby mama. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: First Lady Obama`s real talk to the graduates pulled no punches in her reminder to them that they too would be facing some of those challenges and struggles for recognition. Because of their race. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICHELLE OBAMA: The road ahead is not going to be easy. It never is, especially for folks like you and me. Because while we`ve come so far, the truth is that those age-old problems are stubborn. And they haven`t fully gone away. So there will be times just like for those airmen when you feel like folks look right past you or they see just a fraction of who you really are. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: It was not the first time that we`ve heard this first lady speak candidly about race and how her experiences with racism have informed her world view and her understanding of the role in the White House and perhaps proving her point. It wasn`t the first time some of the usual suspects among her conservative critics cast Michelle Obama`s candor about race as race baiting. But the context of her speech delivered at Tuskegee University prompted from some of those critics a particular claim, that she misunderstood and misrepresented the legacy of the school`s founder Booker T. Washington. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Booker T. Washington is spinning in his grave like a, if you`ve ever read "Up from Slavery," that is one of the greatest men to ever live in America. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s the opposite of everything he stood for and believed and advocated. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Glenn Beck was joined in his attempt to teach the first lady a lesson in black history by the American thinker`s charge that America`s race-baiting FLOTUS knows nothing about great American Civil Rights leader, accomplished scholar and founder of Tuskegee University, the late Booker T. Washington and the American Enterprise Institute`s headline about Michelle Obama`s disregard for Tuskegee`s university founder, Booker T. Washington. All of them pointing to a personal - this personal account of racial mixed recognition as evidence of her insufficient understanding that as the American thinker claimed this week, "stirring up racial animosity is an approach Washington shunned," And perhaps it was as Obama`s critics should take their own advice and read more deeply into Washington`s ideology. Washington who was born into slavery and rose to such prominence as an educator and thought leader that U.S. presidents sought his advice was an advocate of self-help as the key to advancement for formerly enslaved people. He believed that black people could earn respectability and economic independence gradually by dedicating themselves to vocational education and proving their value and usefulness to their country. In that regard, Michelle Obama, the descendent of enslaved people, the product of a working class household, raised by parents who sacrificed to open the doors of opportunity to their children is the very embodiment of Washington`s vision. But the years of hard fought civil rights battle that paved the way for the Obama family`s occupancy of the White House also stand in defiance of Washington who believed that sacrificing the social struggle, and political empowerment was the cost of African-American advancement. You see, Washington eloquently articulated his acceptance of segregation and voting discrimination in an 1895 speech famously known as his Atlanta compromise saying "In all things that are purely social, we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress." If the first lady`s address is to truly be understood in the context of Booker T. Washington`s legacy, it is in the portion of her speech that her critics overlook because she followed her lived account of racial injustices with a message to the students very much in line with Washington`s beliefs. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICHELLE OBAMA: Graduates, today, I want to be very clear that those feelings are not an excuse to just throw up our hands and give up. Not an excuse, they are not an excuse to lose hope. (APPLAUSE) MICHELLE OBAMA: To succumb to feelings of despair and anger only means that in the end, we lose. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Joining me now, is Brittney Cooper, assistant professor of women`s and gender studies and Africana studies at Rockers University and Peter Slevin who`s author of a biography of the first lady "Michelle Obama: a Life." Brittney, I have so many feelings this will be . BRITTNEY COOPER: All the feelings. HARRIS-PERRY: All of them about everything. So, I just want to kind of open it. What did you hear in that speech and in the critique that followed? COOPER: Sure. So, what I think is so compelling, it reminds me of a couple of arguments that you make in "Sister Citizen." One is, about the significance of the politics of recognition. So saying to them, you will be misrecognized, folks won`t see your cap and gown when they discriminate against you I think is so important. But also you make this wonderful claim that black women`s emotions matter for politics and one of the things, I think here is that we get a sense about the hurt and pain that she felt around that "New Yorker" cover. So, she is having her say and this is the first time we`ve heard her say that hurt, it kept me up nights and I think it`s so important. Because that`s a moment where she took off this cloak of strong black womanhood and validated our right to say the racism hurts, racism is painful, but still we persist, still we get up, still we move on and so we figure out a way to make it. I think that`s a very nice balance of a structural critique or an acknowledgment of structural critique and also an acknowledgment of the spiritual resources we marshal to deal with it. HARRIS-PERRY: So, Brittney, that point, and Peter, I think this is part of why I really wanted you as her biographer at the table here. Was that point about her pain, is the thing that I think caught me like, I`ve heard her say many of these, topics and issues and framework before. But when she said, basically, I worry that I was a liability to my husband`s presidential campaign. That really, I felt her humanity in a way that I have not really since I feel like she put up the shield in order to make it to the White House here. PETER SLEVIN, AUTHOR, "MICHELLE OBAMA: A LIFE": She was mortified during the 2008 campaign. You remember when she started being criticized in the ways that she described so powerfully in Tuskegee and you remember at the Maya Angelou memorial service, that you attended back in Winston, Salem, and she said, you know, Ivy League classrooms, I was lonely. On the campaign trail, my very womanhood was challenged. She is using her story as she does all around the country and now around the world, you`ve seen in her recent speeches to say, the deck is stacked. It is not easy, but you also have to carry on. That`s just the point you`re making too about the Booker T. Washington part of it all. HARRIS-PERRY: think for me, you know, I battle with this because she says - she says it`s hard, but she also says hard doesn`t have anything to do with the fact that you have to go do it anyway, you have to go draw on these historical resources. It also feels a little bit to me, Mrs. Brittney, like maybe the president said he has a bucket list. When he, you know, at the White House correspondents dinner, he says oh, yeah, you know, immigration reform, bucket. And it feels a little bit like FLOTUS may also be bucket. Like, oh you think I`m angry? Bucket (ph), I got through things I need to say. BRITTNEY COOPER, CONTRIBUTOR, SALON.COM: That`s right. She was like, how you like me now I`m in the mix? That`s right. She came and responded to her critics and she`s right. She`s having her say. Here is the thing about her critics. Not only are they misrepresenting and flattening out a series of very complicated conversations in the history of African-American intellectual thought but also, she isn`t just standing in the traditional Booker T. Washington and W. - at the same time. She says in the tradition of his wife, Margaret Murray Washington, who was a famous African-American club woman, leader, who stood in the gap around women, black women`s issues. So she was very important in that regard and those women also took every public opportunity to have their say to defend the virtue of African- American womanhood and that`s what I see her doing when she stands on the podium. HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, there is much more on this coming up. I want to talk a little bit more about another first lady who also went to Tuskegee and the responses around race that happened when that occurred. Plus, we continue to follow this morning`s breaking news. The U.S. raid inside Syria that killed a top ISIS leader. The target, Abu Sayyaf, was the head of ISIS`s oil and gas operations. No U.S. forces were injured in the operation, which the military calls enormously successful. A lot to cover this morning. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICHELLE OBAMA: I had the peace of mind of knowing that all of the chatter, the name-calling, the doubting, all of it was just noise. It did not define me. It didn`t change who I was. And most importantly, it couldn`t hold me back. (APPLAUSE) MICHELLE OBAMA: I have learned that as long as I hold fast to my beliefs and values and follow my own moral compass, then the only expectations I need to leave - live up to are my own. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Again, first lady Michelle Obama at Tuskegee University`s commencement. Nancy Giles is joining my panel now. She`s writer and contributor to CBS News Sunday Morning and also joining the panel Kai Wright, feature`s editor for "The Nation." So, Nancy, I know you want in on this as well. NANCY GILES, EDITOR & CONTRIBUTOR, CBS NEWS SUNDAY MORNING: Well, you know, I never got over that cover of "The New Yorker." I just didn`t. I mean for starters, just from a hair perspective, you know, Michelle chooses to wear her hair straight. She doesn`t wear an afro. I like my afro, but that was like - that was the whole thing was so mean and condescending and even though we know that readers of that magazine supposedly understand satire and maybe a little more intelligent, it just sat there without any kind of response and I remember saying, it might have even been on your show, the editor said, oh, we`re going to do more satirical covers of the other candidates. Nuh-u nuh-uh. Never. HARRIS-PERRY: Well, also for me, satire has to be rooted in a thing that is real. Right? And so, the image of President Obama that appears on that cover, that image is an actual picture. So they are satirizing a picture of then-candidate Obama that actually exists. GILES: Supposedly virted in reality .. HARRIS-PERRY: Right, right. GILES: A framed picture of Osama bin Laden. HARRIS-PERRY: Sure. Sure, sure, sure. But my point only is that image exists. There is no moment of baby Michelle Robinson - Michelle Robinson, a - excuse me, I don`t know, if I can stay (INAUDIBLE) on grown up Michelle Obama in an afro - right, so that isn`t a satire. That is a holy . (CROSSTALK) GILES: Not, with no counter. None, whatsoever. It just laid there. And that always upset me. And apparently, and he was saying, it made me feel bad to hear her say how bad it made her feel. I mean it was a great acknowledgment of that myth of the angry black woman. By the way, I am angry. I think we have justification of being angry. HARRIS-PERRY: One can be angry about . GILES: And be sensitive. KAI WRIGHT, THE NATION: But what`s really striking about this speech, and this is what`s getting lost in a lot of this. Is that actually, her message is a black power message. And it`s really important in understanding, there are two different ways that racial inequity are discussed and have been discussed since Washington America. There is one where it`s about black people`s deficits and they got to be lifted up, whether it`s individually or structurally, we got to fix black people and then there`s one where the problem is y`all. The problem is white people and white supremacy and our responsibility as black people is to not let it trick us into believing we are less than. And that`s what her speech is. HARRIS-PERRY: It`s very interesting. WRIGHT: That`s the speech. And she says, all of that`s noise. It`s noise. That stuff over there. Don`t get caught in it. HARRIS-PERRY: Right. WRIGHT: It`s not about (INAUDIBLE). Because I am powerful. HARRIS-PERRY: So, but there`s also a little bit of sort of the historical rewriting of that moment. Because of course, it isn`t just noise. I`m thinking, in this moment, Peter, of the fact that when you are a candidate, when you are even a candidate for first lady, you appear on the cover, it`s not just noise. It is actually meaningfully impacting the public`s face. So, it is possible that those representations could have meant a no Obama presidency and that would have had repercussions good, bad, or otherwise, but they would have existed. SLEVIN: I think something lost in this discussion, certainly from the critics on the right is that these are real lived experiences that Michelle Obama endured, things that she is sharing, lessons that she is trying to push forward. She is someone who, in this very role, is saying, look at the power of my own trajectory. Look, it may not work for everybody, but right now, it`s all we got. The cavalry is not coming because we can`t get the cavalry rally quite fast enough. So, take my example, as far as you can take it and also, recognize what, in fact, is true to an awful lot of people. This is basic. HARRIS-PERRY: I just also, as a matter of history, kept wondering. She didn`t invoke Eleanor Roosevelt, but I kept wondering if she was thinking about Eleanor Roosevelt, who as first lady, goes to Tuskegee, doesn`t just go, but stands there in 1941, gets into an airplane with an African- American pilot, flies for more than an hour, a white woman alone in the air with an African-American pilot. The entire public sphere goes nuts as a result. (LAUGHTER) HARRIS-PERRY: Right, she stands there with these images of Booker T. Washington. She even writes about it in her extraordinary "My Day" columns, but that idea of the first lady in Tuskegee speaking on race and provoking response, I was like, oh, Eleanor Roosevelt. (LAUGHTER) GILES: Can you imagine if there was Twitter back then? Hashtag what is the honor . (CROSSTALK) GILES: Get out of the plane! HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, man! Twitter would have lost its entire mind. More, I promise more. Because what the first lady said about what we can do about all this is when we come back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICHELLE OBAMA: You don`t have to be president of the United States to start addressing things like poverty and education and lack of opportunity. Graduates, today, today, today, you can mentor a young person and make sure he or she takes the right path. Today, you can volunteer at an after- school program or food pantry. Today, you can help your cousin fill out her college financial aid forms so that she can be sitting in those chairs one day. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: That was first lady Michelle Obama speaking last weekend at the Tuskegee University commencement. And last weekend, we were talking on this show about then-senator Obama`s race speech in Philadelphia and we were kind of saying, you know, is it time to do that again? And I`m wondering if first lady Obama was giving the speech that we wanted while we were talking about it. Because, man, she does something different with the cousin than -- that ain`t cause of Pookie. That is cousin - Tuskegee graduate helping to fill out the application. It`s a different story. COOPER: I think we got to talk about the way that she uses the kind of black women`s political resources here. So she really steps into what she can uniquely do as the first African-American first lady. When I listened to this speech, I was like, this is like the conversation I had with my mama when I was dealing with racist classmates. Right? So, this is the way that you say the folks. I know that there`s real structural racism. It`s legitimate. It intimately affects you. It might even hurt you. But there what you can address these challenges. You have to get up and try again. Right, you have to, so help your cousin. I thought, I have a cousin I helped get into college. Those are very real kinds of experiences. So, what she hones in on is what it actually looks like on the ground when young people are in families trying to become, not be family`s exception but to mark that exceptionalism as a pathway for everybody. (CROSSTALK) HARRIS-PERRY: And that does feel different than the critique, for example, that - has the codes levels at President Obama about his discourse around black families. Not that I want to set the two of them in opposition to each other, but it is a different way of thinking about kind of the Booker T. Washington of it all. Uplift looks very different in the hands of first lady Obama. WRIGHT: You have to actually consider them next to each other. Their messages are just so starkly different. Again, I have to return to the fact that matters about where you locate the problem. And the president consistently went talking to black audiences located the problem with black people. What are our deficits that we must fix? Where how does cousin Pookie need to do around himself to go vote - whereas the first lady locates the problem with white supremacy, and says here are the ways that you can use your strengths. You must remember that you are strong. You make your choices. I made my choices. You make your choices and let`s live with them. And they can`t get in your way. That`s her message. It`s a very different .. HARRIS-PERRY: And it`s God, and it`s history and it`s family. Right? What I heard, and institutions, right? So it`s like, it`s how God helps us, it`s how knowing this history bears us up, it`s how these institutions like Tuskegee are meaningful and it`s about what we do in our families. And that feels to me, also, Peter, like the Michelle Obama that I meet in your text who is those four pieces. SLEVIN: She is all those four pieces, Melissa, and she - when you get remember just how pragmatic she is, she is not someone who wants to argue about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin . (LAUGHTER) SLEVIN: and the history. She`s saying, this is concrete. This is real. Here is what you can do in your life to make a difference in your life and, by the way, once you get there, reach back. Do the whole reaching back. COOPER: In fact, the whole thing of lifting us, we climb, right? Even though that has problematic craft implication, on the ground what that looks like is you actually have to go help somebody do a college application and a (INAUDIBLE) GILES: I just love the message that she keeps driving home, of just recognition, not only recognition of who you are and being comfortable in your own skin, but the recognition of our history, each individual`s history which is something that I could just rattle this country`s head about. Because we`re big with like, don`t go there. Don`t talk about it. Da da da. Da dada, and just really recognizing where we come from, what the real situations are. HARRIS-PERRY: And when you say recognition, I just want to point out that the other valuable thing that`s kind of happening underneath it, although she is - quite make explicit is, no matter how good you are, the Obamas are better than all the rest. They are just (INAUDIBLE). They`ve done it, right? They went to the best schools, they achieved the best, they are better. GILES: President and first lady. HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And yet, still receiving it. So, you actually can`t respect your way out of it, you actually can`t perform better. You actually - all you can do is exist in your own authenticity. You can`t fix. (CROSSTALK) GILES: Better than that. COOPER: I also love that she shouted out name discrimination too. Right? Because we have so much respectability around names. Even I have a little bit around it, and so I love that she shouts it out and that`s also to black mothers, right, who are largely doing the same thing to say, don`t shame. Your name is not your destiny. HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. There was a lot happening in that speech. We could all day, but there are other things in the world. GILES: I know. HARRIS-PERRY: When we come back, we will have more on the breaking news story that we are following this morning. The U.S. military operation inside the border of Syria that took out a key ISIS leader. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: New information continues to emerge on breaking news that we`re following. A senior ISIS leader has been killed in a U.S. raid within the borders of Syria. The Defense Department announced this morning U.S. Special Operation forces entered Syria with the intention to capture an ISIS leader and his wife. That senior leader, known as Abu Sayyaf, was killed when he engaged U.S. forces. His wife was captured and is now in detention in Iraq. No U.S. forces were killed or injured during the operation. Joining me now from Washington, D.C. is Kevin Baron, who is executive editor of Defense One. Kevin, what are some of the details we know about the raid itself and who else was involved? KEVIN BARON, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, DEFENSE ONE: We know that this was U.S. Army Special Operations forces and they flew in from Iraq on Ospreys, which are the tilt rotor half helicopter, half airplane and black (INAUDIBLE). And they went into a compound, a multi - describe this as multilevel building with the intention of capturing this man. Instead, he engaged them with a firefight. That turned into really a hand to hand combat I was told and in the process, about 12 or about a dozen enemy were killed. I was told that they were using women and children as human shields. The report is that no innocents were harmed. No U.S. operators were harmed or killed. But Abu Sayyaf was killed. There was a lot of intelligence recovered. Laptops and information and the wife and a, the women you described who was a slave, the Yazidi, were brought back to Iraq where they are now. HARRIS-PERRY: So, we now have the U.S. admitting that the U.S. entered Syria and I`m wondering, when was the last time that this happened and do you think that we`re likely to see more U.S. operations actually over the border in Syria in the future? BARON: Absolutely. You know, I was - we were trying to think of defense one going back maybe to the James Foley raid when it was announced that there was a previous attempt to rescue him. But that was rescue operation. This is different. This is straight for an offensive target. Even though it was the same kind of snatch attempt to get somebody. What it means, I think is that the Pentagon and the administration has made a calculation that it was worth the risk to go in to get this man and they were going to make it public because it simply appears to be militarily a big success and I think it shows the administration is doing more for this fight which is something that I think people have been clamoring for, that the administration and opponents have been criticizing them for and I think this is the kind of thing we`re going to be hearing about the way - this is how the war against ISIS is prosecuting. With special operations, Intel, other means. It is not a massive boots on the ground. So, whether it`s, you know, a few dozen operators flying in the helicopters for these kind of raids, this is the way that these wars are being fought against terrorism now and they will be for the future. HARRIS-PERRY: So, when you say this is how these wars are being fought, you use the language of war, undoubtedly they are the thing that will come up in the coming days, is whether or not this was happening just at the level of the administration or whether or not congressional approval at any form or even just congressional information was offered. I just know that`s going to be part of this discussion and conversation. So I`m wondering if you know what the protocols typically would have been in this kind of decision-making. BARON: Well, this is not, you know, a kind of a bin Laden raid level incursion. There are AUMFs. And the authorization for the use of military force, and the administration says that the same one that allowed them to fight al Qaeda is the one that allows them to fight ISIS. Congress has kind of, you know, hemmed and hawed about some members are - they are not sure about that. But Congress is taking a sideline. And nobody thinks that Congress is actually going to put this to a vote because no member of Congress wants to go on on record voting for a war that maybe they later need to say they`re against. So, this kind of isolated, you know, action is completely within the realm of the administration to make happen. And I say wars, because this is - and really it`s one war. This is one war of terrorism that`s going on across the entire Middle East and North Africa against several different groups that are linked in ideology, if not any way else. But it is a war, and make no mistake about it. HARRIS-PERRY: Kevin Baron, thank you so much for joining us this morning. More on this morning`s breaking news, the U.S. military raid in Syria and what it means in the campaign against ISIS is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: We continue to follow breaking news out of Syria where an overnight raid by Army Delta Force commanders killed a man U.S. military officials say was a key player in ISIS. I`d like to bring in retired British senior officer and former advisor to the U.K. Ministry of Defense, Michael Kay. Mike, what can you tell us about this particular area in Syria where the raid took place? MICHAEL KAY: Well, Melissa, let`s just start more broadly. Over there there`s been a lot of domestic news going on this week in America, but what`s been happening in the Middle East over the last week has been quite intensive. ISIS have basically been on the rampage across Syria and Iraq over the last week. In Ramadi, particularly, which is in Anbar province to the southwest of Baghdad, the forces have been - the Iraqi security forces have been fighting ISIS specifically in Ramadi. Now, ISIS have actually put a flag up over the government headquarters within Ramadi and then now declared control over Anbar province, which is a significant area of Iraq. Meanwhile, coming back over here into Syria, in Central Syria, in Palmyra, where there are ancient artifacts and ruins, and we know that ISIS has been on the rampage in terms of trying to destroy anything that isn`t associated with what their version of Islam is. In Palmyra, that is where the forces are gathering at the moment, but Diarazo (ph) is particularly interesting. There`s been a battle going on here for over a year. Now, the components are very interesting, but this is where Abu Sayyaf, very near to Diarazo is believed to have been struck by U.S. Special Forces. Now, my sources back home in the U.K. have been telling me for the last 12 months that U.K. and U.S. S.F. Forces have been operating in Syria striking operations and training operations for over a year. So, this is an interesting development in terms of striking the leadership. HARRIS-PERRY: How important is that development of ISIS` extension in Iraq to what you suspect is probably the likely decision-making about our Syria operation? KAY: Well, Abu Sayyaf was effectively the COO, if you like, of ISIS. He was the person that controlled the revenue streams. Whether it`d be oil, whether it`d be through Internet and - or Raqqa, Raqqa here is a self- proclaimed capital of the Islamic state in Syria. So, he was an incredibly prominent figure when it comes to the revenue streams and we know that the revenue streams are vital when it comes to bankrolling an organization like ISIS. This is just but a small component. The dynamics in Syria and Iraq are incredibly complex because what we aren`t talking about is the regime, the Syrian regime on where Assad is in all of this. The components basically are you`ve got ISIS on the one hand. You`ve got Syrian regime with Hezbollah, which have come in from south Lebanon and then you`ve got the Nusra Front, which are al Qaeda-linked organization. And they`re sort of competing for control in Syria and Iraq. If you like. Now, there are reports that Assad is kind of collaborating with ISIS, if you like, in order to sort of give them - give them a counterbalance of importance within Syria. So Assad basically is - Assad basically is saying the reason you need me in Syria is because you have ISIS and in doing that sort of collaboration, it gives him a raise on that. Just the components are very complex, Melissa. HARRIS-PERRY: Michael Kay, thank you so much for your insight this morning. KAY: Thank you. HARRIS-PERRY: We`re going to continue to follow this breaking news throughout the show, but up next, newly released video of a controversial police shooting in Madison, Wisconsin. The police chief is going to join us live. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: On Tuesday in Madison, Wisconsin, prosecutors cleared police officer Matt Kenny in the shooting death of unarmed 19-year old Tony Robinson. Police say on March 6 they were responding to multiple calls about a disturbance involving Robinson who according to toxicology tests had taken hallucinogenic mushrooms and other drugs. Officer Kenny says he entered an apartment building where Robinson was located after hearing sounds of struggle. He says he opened fire after an altercation with Robinson. After the announcement that Kenny would not face criminal charges the Wisconsin Department of Justice released a dash cam video of the marching counter. I just want to warn you that some viewers may find the following video to be disturbing. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop right there. Don`t move. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: Dane County D.A. Ismael Ozanne called the close-range shooting a lawful use of deadly police force, but according to the "Wisconsin State Journal," Robinson`s family members have criticized Kenny`s final shot saying he was not in danger once he was outside the home. Robinson`s mother Andrea Irwin says she plans to file a civil suit against the police department. The decision reignited protests in Madison where hundreds took to the streets calling for justice. Madison Police Chief Michael Cobalt acknowledged the tensions surrounding Robinson`s death and added that Madison`s issues go well beyond policing to include poverty and joblessness. He issued a statement saying in part, "I`m not going to absolve law enforcement for whatever role we have played in being complicit in the calculus of racial disparities. Given the sobering backdrop, one can understand why there`s a sense of hopelessness and desperation, with those who have not enjoyed or even had the same access to all of the opportunities that many of us take for granted. Chief Cobalt joins me now from Madison. Chief, I appreciate you joining me - and also very much appreciate your kind of structural, historical statement, but when we look at the video and see an officer backing up as he shoots someone who we now know was unarmed, it`s difficult to see that as - like a broad structural moment. It feels like an injustice happening between two people. CHIEF MICHAEL KOVAL, CHIEF OF POLICE, MADISON, WI: Yeah. Those are going to be difficult dynamics because of the dimensions of that camera footage you have. And of course, the physiology of what an officer can respond to, what a subject is providing will always be a sort of a gap in real time. And so, we don`t know to what extent that threat was still advancing. Sufficed to say that based on the totality of the work, the D.A. must have concluded that there was no criminal culpability. HARRIS-PERRY: Will Officer Kenny return to regular duty on the force? KOVAL: Well, we have to conclude an internal investigation to make sure all of our training procedures and protocols have been fulfilled. But at some point, yes, there will be an opportunity for him to return to full duty. In what capacity on what assignment, that has yet to be determined, but he has that due process right and he has been exonerated. HARRIS-PERRY: So, I know you`ve worked hard to try to develop good relationships with community. So, again, we don`t know yet the circumstances under which Officer Kenny may return, but is there some kind of protocol that you`re beginning to think about - about how to manage that kind of moment relative to your community. KOVAL: Well, I do think that we have to be mindful that the lessons learned here already has been shown that we didn`t have the same illustration that we saw in Baltimore and I believe that`s owing to the fact that we have been in constant dialogue with our community constituents in looking at and dialoguing about what are our issues short term and long- term. And I think that gives us an edge. HARRIS-PERRY: So, I want to pull up to my table for just a second, chief. Brittney Cooper is still at the table and she was actually in Madison involved in some of the early protests after Mr. Robinson`s death. Do you want to come and jump in here a bit? COOPER: Sure. The thing to say, I think, is that while I`m glad that we see some level of due process and that we definitely see the officer here, the chief having a structural analysis, the real goal is to stop these killings of unarmed black citizens every time they have these encounters with law enforcement. So yes, we want trials, we want convictions, we want due process. But we want there to be a disruption of the thing that makes black folks feel like a threat and makes it so that these encounters are more dangerous than they have to be and are frequently deadly. That`s not acceptable. HARRIS-PERRY: So, chief, can you respond to that? Because I think that`s an important part of an entire movement here that says, yes, we want justice on the back end, but at the front end, we want to be safe in interactions with police officers. KOVAL: Well, I agree. I think we have some fences to mend and bridges as well. Because the trust gap is unmistakable, it`s undeniable here. I`m going to have to have our officers redouble our efforts to regain that momentum that we had lost in terms of looking at where we could find collaboration and trust. I don`t want to have to meet with African- American moms and say why their teenage sons have to worry about driving around in the city of Madison. We have to create a different paradigm so that isn`t the norm or the expectation. HARRIS-PERRY: Have you had an opportunity to meet with Mr. Robinson`s family? KOVAL: Yes, I have met with Andrea as a post-script to the actual killing of Tony, but not as a post-script to this verdict, no, ma`am. HARRIS-PERRY: Let me just ask a final question here. You acknowledge Baltimore and obviously, the long-term questions and issues that have been raised by it. How has your department there in Madison been responding - discussing - having conversations about what`s happening in Baltimore? KOVAL: Well, I think that we looked at it from a logistics standpoint, as any incident command should, but moreover, I think we looked at where we could look to our community leaders, whether they are titled or de facto as such and say, how could we help our whole community as one and having them project themselves into the field? We had over 150 parade marshals or mentors who are preaching a sense of restraint and moderation, which helped infinitely in our particular situation. HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Madison, Wisconsin police chief Michael Koval. You joined us earlier, you joined us again. I always appreciate you making yourself available for us here at MHP Show. KOVAL: Thank you, Melissa. HARRIS-PERRY: And here in New York, I want to say thank you to Brittney Cooper and to Peter Slevin, also to Nancy Giles and to Kai Wright. Coming up next, the latest on this morning`s breaking news - the U.S. raid inside Syria that killed a top ISIS leader. We have much more at the top of the house. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. The latest now on breaking news that we`ve been following for you this morning. U.S. Military officials say a senior ISIS leader who led its oil and gas operations was killed during a U.S. Special operations raid inside Syria. The U.S. Defense Department announced this morning the mission was to capture Abu Sayyaf but he was killed when he engaged U.S. forces. His wife was captured and now in detention in Iraq. A U.S. official said 12 enemy fighters were also killed in the raid. No U.S. Forces were killed or injured during the operation. Joining me from Washington, D.C., NBC White House Correspondent Kristen Welker. Kristen, what do we know now in this hour about the operation and its target? KRISTEN WELER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Melissa, well, here`s the very latest. According to a statement released by NBC spokesperson Bernadette Mien, President Obama approved this operation, it was at the recommendation by the national security team. The mission was aimed initially at capturing ISIS leader who`s known as Um Sayaaf his wife. But during that operation, Abu Sayyaf was killed. Now, here`s some of those details according to NBC`s Jim Lifsashefski. Who says that. senior defense and military official say, the raid was carried out by Army delta forces commandos, the special operation forces and Black Hawk Helicopters and Osprey Tilt Wing Aircraft raided an ISIS compound in eastern Syria and then an intense fire fight started to break out and that`s when Abu Sayyaf was killed. Now, an official tells me, as you say, Melissa, there are 12 other enemy fighters who were also killed. No U.S. personnel were killed but Um Sayyaf, the wife was captured, she was taken into custody, currently in U.S. custody in Iraq. Now, U.S. Forces also freed a young woman who held was apparently being held as a slave by the couple and I`m told by one U.S. official that Um Sayyaf may have been involved in a broader human trafficking effort and is also a key player in ISIS. Abu Sayyaf was a senior ISIS leader who was involved in the military but also had a senior role in overseeing ISIS` oil and gas operations. U.S. officials tell me at this hour, they are trying to get information from Um Sayyaf, the wife, in the hopes that she will lead them to other ISIS operatives. Melissa, back to you. HARRIS-PERRY: NBC White House Correspondent, Kristen Welker, thank you. And now, I`d like to bring in Richard Engel, NBC`s Chief Foreign Correspondent live from Istanbul. Richard, U.S. officials were praised in these operations for its success. But what are the accomplishments of this particular mission? RICHARD ENGEL, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the number one accomplishment is that it was in Syria in the middle of an ISIS stronghold. This took place evening time, local time yesterday with the Ospreys and Black Hawks going into an area of Deir ez-Zor Province which is practically the heart of the ISIS state in Syria. Very hostile territory, no friendly operative on the ground. With the Delta force commandos going in initially on a snatch and grab operation and then after a fire fight broke out, the primary target, Abu Sayyaf was killed along with 12 to perhaps 20 other gunmen who were in the area and then the wife who`s known by a known name Um Sayyaf was taken into U.S. custody. So mostly, it is a psychological blow. It shows ISIS that U.S. commandos will come with their helicopters and land in the heart of unfriendly territory and conduct operations. We`ve seen the U.S. operating openly, extensively in Iraq but we have not seen this kind of mission in Syria. Incredibly risky. If it had gone wrong, then you would have had a situation where you could have had American troops killed or even captured in the heart of ISIS territory. HARRIS-PERRY: So we heard from Mike Kay in the last hour that ISIS has been gaining ground in Iraq. Consolidating its control. And I`m sort of wondering about how this strike in Syria might impact those, that ground control in Iraq. ENGEL: ISIS is still able to operate offensive operations, if you look at what`s happening in Ramadi right now, an Iraqi city west of Baghdad. There were a series of car bombs and ISIS finished to take over a government compound in the center of Ramadi. ISIS`s troop are right in the outskirts of the historic city of Palmyra, in Syria threatening to bulldoze yet another archaeological site. So the global picture is still quite grim but the fact that the U.S. launched this incredibly risky operation authorized by the president to go into the heart of ISIS territory and ultimately kill, but the initial intention was to capture a top figure shows a kind of aggressiveness in Syria which we haven`t seen this far. HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to NBC`s Richard Engel for joining us this morning. We will have coverage of this breaking news throughout the day here on MSNBC including much later in this hour. But for now, we`re going to turn to news back home. In a surprising study released earlier this week, you see, it`s a common theme among presidents that the United States is at its heart, a religious nation. JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED OF STATES OF AMERICA: The guiding principle and prayer of this nation has been is now, and ever shall be "In God We Trust". GERALRD FORD, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED OF STATES OF AMERICA: In God We Trust. Let us engrave it now in each of our hearts as we begin our bicentennial. RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED OF STATES OF AMERICA: America was founded by people who believed that God was their rock of safety. He is ours. America has always been a religious nation. Perhaps never more than that. BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED OF STATES OF AMERICA: God bless you and God Bless the United States of America. GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED OF STATES OF AMERICA: May God grant us wisdom and may He we watch over the United States of America. HARRIS-PERRY: Now you might think it`s been this way from the beginning. But our current understanding of the United States as a Christian nation began just 60 or so years ago. In the space of a few years in the 1950s when Dwight Eisenhower was the president and the U.S. was fighting quote, "The Godless Communism" we added under God to the pledge of allegiance for the first time. Made the official national motto "In God We Trust" and created the national prayer breakfast at which the president still speaks. This year, President Obama spoke about one of his favorite lines of prayer. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Keep us at tasks too hard for us that we may be driven to Thee for strength. I`ve wondered at times if maybe God was answering that prayer a little too literally. But no matter the challenge, He has been there for all of us. He`s certainly strengthened me "with the power through his Spirit," as I`ve sought His guidance not just in my own life but in the life of our nation. HARRIS-PERRY: But despite this centrality of faith, there are number of American adults who say that they are not affiliated with any religion is big and growing. According to a new Pew Research Center report, nearly a quarter of us are now unaffiliated. That`s an increase of almost 7 percentage points in just seven years. The last time PEW did the religious landscape study. The survey asked more than 35,000 Americans about the religious beliefs, making it the most comprehensive picture of faith in America that we have. And the sense is does not tally religious identity. The growing number of unaffiliated folks, now 56 million includes atheists and agnostics but most people who say their religion is just nothing in particular. Unaffiliated now make up a bigger share than Catholics, mainline protestants and every non-Christian faith. Arising number of unaffiliated folks seems due largely to two factors. Younger people, the Millennials are less likely to be affiliated with a particular religion and of adults between the ages of 18 and 33, about a third are unaffiliated but it`s also due to people of every age dropping out of religions that they were initially raised in. For example, a whopping 19 percent of American adults are now former Christians. Joining he me now, Christopher Hale, Executive Director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and a co-founder of Millennial Journal for Young Catholics in the U.S. Kelly Brown Douglas, Professor at Goucher College Professor of Religion, an author of "Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God." Chris Stedman, Executive Director of the Yale humanist community, an author of Faitheist: How an Atheist found Common Ground With the Religious" and Reverend Samuel Cruz, a Lutheran Minister and professor of church society at the Union and Theological Seminary. Thank you all for being here. What do you think is going on with this decline? Particularly among the young in religious affiliation? CHRIS STEDMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF YALE HUMANIST COMMUNITY: Sure. Well, there`s a lot going on here. And you know, I myself am a millennial and also a none. So you may not be surprised to hear me say this but I actually think this is really good thing. I think it`s encouraging and I think people of faith should agree. And here`s why. What I think that this signifies one thing is signifies is a growing openness and tolerance in this country for religious differences. We are now living in a country where people are much more free and open to be able to change their religious affiliation without losing their friends, their loved ones without facing these grave social consequences and that`s great and that`s something we should all celebrate. My sister is a Christian. I`m an atheist. My sister is also a mother, she has three young children and she asked me to be a godfather to her youngest child recently. And I asked her, is this an issue because, you know, in case you forgot? I`m an atheist. And what she told me I think is a really beautiful thing. She said, I think you being an atheist is actually a really good thing for this because I want my children to grow up knowing that they will be loved and they will be a part of this family even if their beliefs change or they don`t share my beliefs as a Christian. And I think that`s something that we should hope to see more and more of in this country. HARRIS-PERRY: It`s interesting story this idea of being a godfather while not having a faith in God. My daughter, my youngest daughter is Catholic, my husband is Catholic. And when we made the decision to find our Godparents, the Catholic church, not so much on this. There are real rules about who can stand as the official Godparent of a Catholic child in the process of baptism and to Catholicism and it was fascinating to navigate those questions about whether or not my Episcopal cousin could stand in this role and her priest needing to write a letter. And I`m wondering is it about sort of opting out of God or is it an opting out of religious rules? CHRISTOPHER HALE, CATHOLICS ALLIANCE FOR THE COMMON GOOD: Well, I think we really see, this might not be a Christian nation anymore but there still a high belief in God. There`s still a high level of spirituality in the United States. So some people argue that young people are searching. Some people argue that they`re not searching at all, actually. They`ve actually, they`ve found themselves. But I think we should caution the decline in religion as a good thing. Number one, I think a lot of times, religion blames the Isms, secularism, consumerism, atheism but what Pope Francis really taught about the Catholic Church that really need to look inside itself. The Christian faith in the United States have really lost the radical message of Jesus. Jesus is the most compelling thing about Christianity, not the rules. And we lost the radical politics of Jesus. It sanitized over years, and lost the compelling message and become a board wash with really no attraction. HARRIS-PERRY: So that language of radical message of Jesus, Kelly, this is why I wanted you at the table. Your book just come across my desk. You have various points. Present reengaged in radical motion of Christ and particularly, this context, around the idea of a Black lives matter movement this kind of pressing social question. Does recognized religion in the U.S. have anything meaningful to add or like Millennials opting out in part because it doesn`t have anything left to add. KELLY BROWN DOUGLAS, PROFESSOR OF RELIGION, GOUCHER COLLGE: You know, I think that is perhaps precisely the point. What we`re saying in the millennial generation. First of all, is that they are the most diverse population, ethnically, culturally, and in terms of gender identity and sexual orientation, we`re also seeing that they`re the most educated generation and we`re also seeing that this is the first generation that has been completely raised on the Internet. And so they`re the cyber generation. And what this means in many respects is that, one, they are looking for more complex answers to complicated questions that they raise. They are living in a diverse world and diverse community even as they themselves are diverse and in as much as religious institutions do not respond to the very questions that they have and those religious institutions aren`t even able to meet them where they are as ethnically, culturally, sexually, genderly diverse peoples, then they are opting out of those institutions. HARRIS-PERRY: And yet, part of what I found fascinating on the Pew city, is that one group of people who remained church are Black folks in the Protestant church and people of color in the world Catholic communities. So it is mostly White American Protestants and former European Catholics who are now opting out. Whereas the Blacks and Browns, we are still with the God. SAMUEL CRUZ, PROFESSOR, UNION THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY: I think the study is misleading main terms of the decline because for so long now, sociologists religion have equated the decline in mainline Christianity with religion in general. As if Christianity hat is not White, it`s not important. So White Christianity dies, religion dies. But the reality is that in terms of the future, studies have shown that immigrants to the United States become more religious here than in their homeland. Meaning that we`re going to have more religious people in this country perhaps in the future rather than the decline that the study suggests. HARRIS-PERRY: Stick with me. I promise we come back on all of this. But I did send some of my producers out to the field to ask the Millennial about their faith and well find out about that when we come back. Plus, we want continue this morning`s breaking news. The U.S. raid inside Syria that killed a top ISIS leader. The target, Abu Sayyaf, was the head of ISIS` oil and gas operations. Military officials say 12 enemy fighters killed in the raid but no U.S. forces were hurt in the operation. Much more to come at the top of the hour. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: this morning, we are talking about a new study that shows the percentage of Americans who identify as Christian is declining. The number of adults in this country who do not identify with any religion is growing. But I was interested in hearing particularly from young adults. And I sent a couple producers out with one specific question. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What role does organized religion play in your life? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What role was organized religion play in your life? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What role does organized religion play a role in your life? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every role. Who I am, what I say, how I dress. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not much at all. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Organized religion actually helps me with moral support. It shows me right from wrong. When I`m tempted to do wrong, it helps me do right. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn`t play a role at all. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m pretty open with it. I wouldn`t say I`m super religious but I definitely believe. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Organized religion doesn`t play that much of a role in my life anymore. But it has set the basis for the who I am. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not religious, I`m not an Atheist, but whatever. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I went to church one time. And it was the date the girl wanted to meet me out in the Church. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I consider myself Atheist. I think just try to be a nice person and to be other people. Should be enough and certainly enough for me. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the problem isn`t so much the role it plays in our life but the role it`s not filling. I think a lot of people feel as if organized religion doesn`t take the time to address what`s concerning people now. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that a lot of the pillars that religions are built on, our generation doesn`t agree with. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: for me personally, I feel like the more I stepped away from organized religion, the more I was at peace with myself. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Organized religion, institutionalized religion represents division, divisiveness. HARRIS-PERRY: Well, I think you know that. DOUGLAS: I think, of course, what we see from the survey of the Millennials on the street is precisely the point that those trying to address that it`s Organized religion, Institutionalized religion, as Much as they don`t see these religious institutions responding to the questions and concerns that they have in the way they live their lives. They tend to live in more pluralistic settings. And so they talk about organized religion being as being divisive et cetera. And so I think that there`s a difference between organized religion and some of the Millennials describe themselves as spiritual but not religious. And so they reject institutionalized religion but I like to piggy back on something that Reverend Cruz said in terms of the Black Church and populations of color and relationship to the church and organized religion. Do you see the church playing a different role in the lives of people who find themselves socially, politically, culturally marginalized? It has to be that institution which picks up, where other social institutions do not? So whether or not, for instance, a Black person may say I`m not churched, yet in times of crisis, it is the church that they turn to. Give the church the steps in as we see is the case in Baltimore. HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, look, I will say that, you know, I love that package of my producers right here in New York. Christians are doing it right here in New York. I live in North Carolina. And if you go out and ask the same question in North Carolina, you get a very, very different set of answers even from young people and especially young people of color. Some on their dates because it`s part of where you go to find and make a family, right? But it`s also because it`s playing these multiple additional roles. CRUZ: What do people mean by young affiliated also because you have the question, if you ask people in my congregation, do they believe in institutional religion? They say, no. 90 percent of them but they are at church. Because they are looking at the church not an institution but a family. Union Theological Seminary has a lot of unaffiliated non-believing people in a seminary. So what does that mean? It`s a way of people distancing themselves from the corrupt aspects or the aspects of religion that don`t work for them. HARRIS-PERRY: And I think you know, as I wonder the ways, when it is an actual institution, how an institutional change can shift. I was saying, my husband is Catholic. My daughter is Catholic. And this particular Pope, this particular Papacy makes me think, I wonder if I would have a willingness towards that tradition. Because in an institution, any part of institutional change can feel so compelling. HALE: One thing about Pope Francis, he talks about his image of church. Listen to this. He once said the church is dirty, bruised and broken because it`s been out in the streets ministry and closed its on small-minded rules. That`s not the church young people see quite honestly. Even as a young catholic, close eyes, they imagine the priest, the bishop. They don`t imagine themselves. Young people don`t imagine themselves within the church. That should be the reality of the catholic church. HARRIS-PERRY: And yet, all is still different, I don`t want to miss the claim though that, so for all various roles that the church is playing, it`s also based fundamentally in a spiritual belief and a faith claim and one simply is not making the faith claim, even if it`s institutionally valuable, one would not necessarily need that institution. STEDMAN: Well, I don`t know about that really. So I think that the question of why so many Millennials are leaving institutional religion is a really important question. I am glad we`re wrestling with it today and it`s very clear that the nuns are a complex group. They`re really a bunch of unaffiliated believers, atheists, agnostic, they are lot of different people and it`s hard to talk about them in a general way but the why question is important but I think the where question is much more important. Where are these people going? Where are they going in times of crisis, where are they going in times of need, where are they going to organize? I mean, I worked in a church on the south side of Chicago and I saw just how important religious institutions are in a lot of communities. Christ Missionary Baptist Church. And when I was a young person, I turned to churches even though some might associate as well, Christian churches with harm to people actually turned to Christian churches for my safe space in high school. I know firsthand how important these communities are and my concern about the none is where to go. HARRIS-PERRY: Just so what people know what you mean, just explain in 15 seconds. STEDMAN: The religiously unaffiliated is where are they turning to? Religious institutions are a powerful hub of social capital and it`s how people organize. HARRIS-PERRY: OK. Pause right there. We`re going to take a break but I want to come back on exactly that. Because social catholic, yes, but political capital as well and one of the question I have about what`s happening with the none, the N-O-N-E-S is whether or they are going to show up in the polls later so. Up next the role of religion in politics and why presidential candidates may walking a fine line. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Republican presidential candidates have a tight rope to walk. They have to appeal to early state primary voters to get the nomination all without alienating the other folks who they`re going to need to convince if they do get the nomination. Here is one big difference between GOP primary voters and the General electorate religious identity. Evangelical Christians make up 23 percent of the general election voters, at least in 2012, they did. But that same year they accounted for 57 percent of Republican and 65 percent of the GOP primary voters in South Carolina. One of the things we`re finding in general is that the nones, those who are unaffiliated, are also less likely to show off to vote at all. And so I`m wondering yes part of it is belief but the other part of it is church is a place where you go and get your social capital and your you know, you get reminded to register and sometimes you get a rise to the polls. STEDMAN: That`s exactly right. I mean, before the break we are talking about some of the value of institutions and I think one of the valuable roles that religious institutions are accountable to their beliefs. They remind them to be their best selves and the create opportunities for them to act on their values. American Grace, talked about religious are more civically engaged than the non-religious. They call them better neighbors but they also found non-believing spouse of a religious person who participated in their partner`s community just civically engaged and they suggest the correlation between being politically active, volunteering in the community and being religious has more to do with belonging than has to do with belief and they suggest that moral communities for non-religious people like humanist communities or other communities like that can provide opportunities, inspiration and outlets for non-religious people like myself to act on our values and get organized. HARRIS-PERRY: So here`s my one concern about acting on values, reverend. Is that there are times I think of acting on values as being the sort of radical level that I see coming out of Christianity but also has met often and this is part of the kind of republican primary piece, often a narrowing, less radical, sometimes a conservative effect in our politics at least from some other perspective can be problematic or troubling. SAMUEL CRUZ, PROFESSOR, UNION THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY: Well, the church has always had the history has either been an agent of oppression or liberation. So it depends what kind of message you`re getting. That`s why I think the, there`s a changing face in Christianity in the United States and a result of Black and Latino religiously. In which it`s much more contextualized. And has to - and deals more with real issues. Progressive Christianity, White progressive Christianity in the United States, no denominations has over 2 percent people of color and you wonder why there is a decline. They`re not relevant at this point. HARRIS-PERRY: Do you think that, for example, if a Supreme Court decision, that affirms 50 states of marriage for marriage equality, we could see a reinvigoration of conservative religious kind of backlash in the 2016 election that might result of in fact of social change that`s moved in another direction? KELLY BROWN DOUGLAS, PROFESSOR OF RELIGION, GOUCHER COLLGE: Oh, for sure. And I think, first of all, we`ve already seen that tilt, right? Because the Evangelical Protestant group makes a larger percentage of the electorate. As you just pointed out even though they don`t make the largest percentage of the population. And so for them, much at stake because there seems to be a changing of the guard, changing values. And so, typically, they know what they stand for. Right? That they`re for or against marriage equality. For or against abortions. Those Millennials and those that are less conservative typically aren`t that rigid in what they`re for or against. They`re more for open society. They`re more for choice and these kind of things. So they don`t see, on the one hand to have much at stake and doesn`t drive them to the polls. HARRIS-PERRY: Polls, right, right. DOUGLAS: In the way that which when we see rapid change of values for instance, it drives the more religiously fundamentalist or conservatives to the polls because they have something to protect. HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Right. This is always my on the one hand, I want to see if these is relevant because they don`t build the social capital and that creates the political capital that gets people to the polls. On the other hand, we don`t want to ever presume from whatever ideological situation we stand for right. The people coming to the polls isn`t always precisely what we were into. OK. Thank you to Chris Hale, to Kelly Brown, to Chris Stedman and to Reverend Samuel Cruz, I appreciate all of you thinking this through with me this morning. And up next, we have more on the breaking news on the U.S. military mission from inside the borders of Syria (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: The senior ISIS leader is dead this morning after U.S. Army Delta force commandos conducted an overnight raid inside Syria. U.S. Military officials say the intent of the operation was to capture Abu Sayyaf, but he was killed when he engaged U.S. forces. His wife was captured and now is now in detention in Iraq. No U.S. forces were killed or injured during the operation. Joining me now is Aki Peritz, a former CIA counterterrorism analyst. And author of Find, Fix and Finish: Inside the Counterterrorism Campaign that Killed Bin Laden and Devastated Al Qaeda." Aki, Bernadette Miemba, of the National Security Council has released a statement and says Sayyaf`s wife is being questioned. What kind of information are they likely trying to obtain? AKI PERITZ, FORMER CIA COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Well, one of the things they`re trying to get is information about his whereabouts, or sorry, where the senior leaders, Abu Bakr Baghdadi the head of ISIS and his other senior folks. Chances are that Mr. Abu Sayyaf, was since as a senior leader, had a relationship with other senior leaders and so, they are looking to build targeting information to capture or kill these other people. Another thing that they`re trying to get information from is his actual economic and financial knowledge. Supposedly, this individual was part of the whole oil and gas infrastructure that ISIS had built up. If she had information about who was funneling what money to whom, she would be extremely, extremely valuable. And finally, there was this idea that they might have some relationship with other hostages being held by ISIS. If she has any information on that issue, obviously, the United States would want to know that. HARRIS-PERRY: So a law has been made around the relationship around oil and gas. With that said, I presume in a complicated organization as large as ISIS that one individual is not the only lynchpin here. I wonder if we can understand just how impactful this particular kill and then the capture of his spouse is. PERITZ: Right. Remember that the American forces were actually trying to capture, not kill him. So if they wanted to just kill him, they would have sent an F-16 to the compound he was and put a bomb on him but they were willing to send multiple American special operations forces to capture him. It didn`t work out that way, unfortunately, but the fact this individual would have information intelligence that we could actually use to break, let`s say the financial backbone of this organization would be important. So, for example, killing one fighter or one spiritual mirror in the organization would put the organization back a little bit. But capturing their head accountant. Now, that person would have a lot of information that United States would really want to know. So it looks like this person, unfortunately, he`s dead now. HARRIS-PERRY: I wonder if there`s other things we learned in the context of the U.S. official announcement of this raid, about how the United States is, in fact, operating in Iraq and Syria. PERITZ: Well, one of the issues that was actually quite interesting when you read the relatively terse statement was that the United States was working with the full consent and that`s an exact quote of the Iraqi leadership. So the Iraqis actually knew this was going to happen. Obviously, when they mounted this capture mission, they had to bring these people to somewhere. And so the United States are operating a detention facility of some size in Iraq itself. The information did not actually say they turned it over to Iraqi authorities. So that means, that the United States has special operations troops in Iraq right now probably in a military base near the Syrian border and is willing to sort of capture people in Syria and bring them back for detention and interrogation. This is an interesting phenomenon that we haven`t really seen since the time that we pulled out of that country. HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you so much to Aki Peritz for joining us this morning and bringing us your insight. We`re going to continue to follow this breaking news and new development right here on MSNBC. Up next, I`m going to play for you a tape of a phone call and I`m going to warn you now, it`s disturbing. But the story behind it and what came next is worth sticking around for. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: This is a warning that some of what you are about to hear is disturbing but I do want to play a 911 call that took place in a small Georgia town in January of 2011. The caller`s name is Norman Neesmith. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 911. NORMAN NEESMITH: I need a deputy to come to the house, please. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s wrong? NORMAN NEESMITH: I had a little trouble out here a while ago. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With who? Is this Mr. Neesmith? NORMAN NEESMITH: Yes. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You and your daughter? NORMAN NEESMITH: Uh-uh, no no. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No? NORMAN NEESMITH: A friend of hers that was over here. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. NORMAN NEESMITH: No, Daniel`s OK. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. Well, that`s good to hear. NORMAN NEESMITH: Yes. But I need a deputy to come out of here because I think I hurt one of them. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you do, Mr. Norman? NORMAN NEESMITH: I hate to say it, but I shot him. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You think you shot him? NORMAN NEESMITH: Yes. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don`t know who it was Mr. Norman? NORMAN NEESMITH: It was just a Black boy. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a Black boy? NORMAN NEESMITH: Yes. HARRIS-PERRY: Just a Black boy. Those were the words used to identify 22-year-old Justin Patterson, who lay dying just feet away from Mr. Neesmith`s porch. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just talk to me Mr. Norman, OK? NORMAN NEESMITH: Oh, yes. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you shoot him in the residence or outside the residence? NORMAN NEESMITH: In the house. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the house? NORMAN NEESMITH: When he slammed me into that wall, busted the side of my head, my elbow and my knees. I wasn`t going to let him hurt me. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you need an ambulance Mr. Norman? NORMAN NEESMITH: No, no, it`s just I`m all scraped up. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. What kind of gun did you shoot him with in? NORMAN NEESMITH: A 22. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 22 pistol, right? NORMAN NEESMITH: Yes. HARRIS-PERRY: A little later in the call comes this. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you have put the gun up, right? NORMAN NEESMITH: Yes. I got it laying here on the floor beside me. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. I`m going to let you know, yes, Black male. Do you know what he had on, Mr. Norman? NORMAN NEESMITH: Some kind of dark jacket is what he finally put on. I got his hat. He left his hat in the yard when he went out the door. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A dark jacket? NORMAN NEESMITH: Yes and those baggy bricks. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And baggy bricks. HARRIS-PERRY: There`s more to the story and how it connects to the small town that segregated its promise. More on that story, join me next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS-PERRY: Drive 160 miles south of Atlanta and you`ll find the rural city of Mt. Vernon, Georgia. The small town has only four square miles and home to slightly more than 500 residents. 52 percent of whom are White and 42 percent of them were Black. Almost half and half there. Traditions run deep in this community situated in the deep South. Just in 2009, a photo journalist Julien Lowe, went to two of this town to photograph Montgomery County High School integrated proms. Again in 2009, just six short years ago an American high school have separate proms of Black and White students. What Lowe found a much bigger story. JULIEN LOWE, PHOTOJURNALIST: In 2009, I was commissioned to go down to Georgia and photograph the integrated proms. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was told that my date is going to be Black. He would let me let in. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was so mystified how it could still be happening in the 21st century. And little did I know, as film would unravel there would be so much more than just a story about integrated proms but real story about race in general. LOWE: I always knew that I wanted to return to this town so I thought that I was making a story about a town coming together to have their first integrated prom. And then a tragedy happened. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 911. NORMAN NEESMITH: I need a deputy to come out Here. Because I think I heard one... HARRIS-PERRY: That voice that you heard, the one saying I think I hurt one of them is Norman Neesmith, the White man who shot and killed 22- year-old Black man, Justin Patterson. And Norman at the center of the documentary film Southern Rites premiering on HBO this Monday at 9:00 P.M. I`m joined now by the film`s director Julien Lowe. I just - so people won`t be confused, we should explain that John Legend is not in the film but he was a part of helping to produce to bring the story to light. LOWE: Yes. He was executive producer. And we wrote and sang a song for the film. HARRIS-PERRY: I watched the film last night and I had an opportunity to see it early and it is I think very complicated. Talk to me first about the prom story that initiated I think much of the country`s attention on this space. LOWE: Right. Well, I learned about the town in 2002 because a really brave student at Montgomery County High School wrote a letter to a magazine that she subscribed to, Spin Magazine, and it was a really a cry for help, a plea, "Please come to my town. Show the world what`s happening." I - we have segregate a promise here and I can`t take my boyfriend to the prom because he`s Black and I`m White. So prom season had passed and the next segregated event was Homecoming. So we went down to Montgomery County in 2002 and I photographed the segregated Homecomings. And I was so shocked about what I saw. You know, this was something that I read about in history books. I didn`t know it was still happening in our country. So I knew I wanted to return. And then in 2008, I thought there is no way that they`re still segregated proms. Obama is President, this can`t be happening. So I called the school. And I said just on a whim, I was just wondering when your prom is. And they said which one? The White folk`s prom is this weekend and the Black folk`s prom is in a couple weeks. HARRIS-PERRY: I want to pause and listen for a moment to this moment about the integrated prom which you initially were returning to photograph when you found this other story. Let`s take a listen for a moment. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I went to the prom and it was Whites only, but it wasn`t really as fun as when it was together. Not to me. Everybody should be together. We all go to the school together we - I mean, we grew up together. Go to prom together. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two years ago, it was segregated. You had the White prom and you had Black prom and that was that. After prom, we probably got together, but you could not have went to a White prom if you are a Black and vice versa. So it was great to finally come together. HARRIS-PERRY: So this should have been the arc of the story. There`s a segregated prom, it changes. Because of natural pressure, you have in integrated prom and you go at that time photos. But instead it becomes a much more complicated story because of it shooting that we talked about in the last block. Norman Neesmith whose daughter is Black, an adopted daughter from his niece, who shoots two young men - who shoots at two young men who he finds in his home late at night. LOWE: Yes. HARRIS-PERRY: One of whom dies when he shoots him. LOWE: Yes. So I was trying to tell the story of change in this town. And the proms were coming together. One of the students that I met that I fell in love with, her father was running to be the first African- American sheriff. And years before there was no way he could run. He got death threats when he even threatened to run. And so now he was running with like a lot of support from the town and the community. So this was the story that I wanted to tell. And then in early 2011, he let me know that her high school love, her prom date of 2007, was shot and killed. HARRIS-PERRY: And you know, I just want people to see it I want people to stop and to watch it, but it`s also not just like, oh, this is such a clear obvious act of malicious terrible - it is so much harder Than that. LOWE: So complicated. HARRIS-PERRY: I come away feeling a bit like there is no clear villain. But it is also terribly tragedy. I want to play one more piece, this is the mother of the young man who was shot by Norman Neesmith. At the trial to Mr. Neesmith to put the humanity in it. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This man will never know what he has done to my family. No one will ever get me to understand why it was necessary to kill my son. This was a senseless death to me and it just didn`t have to happen. HARRIS-PERRY: It was senseless. LOWE: It was. It`s tragic. Really, really tragic what happened. And I think everyone has suffered all around. HARRIS-PERRY: Tragic and deeply interwoven with race, but not in a completely clear way. So a film worth watching. Thank you to Julien Lowe for making it and also coming to talk to us about it today. The HBO documentary film southern rites debuts on HBO Monday, May 18. And that is our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching. I`m going to see you tomorrow morning. 10 A.M. for eastern and Ephraim Supreme will be here and we`ll be talking things rock and hip hop. But right now, it`s time to preview ok weekend. MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes (inaudible). Thank you so much. HARRIS-PERRY: Here` we`re going to tell you about the new development in the deadly train derailment in Philadelphia. Find out why the FBI has been brought into look at the train`s windshield and also hear from a veteran engineer about what he thinks went wrong. Thunder, lightning and hail hitting parts of this country right now and more on the way. Look at that wow. Plus off the grid, a couple with 10 kids living with no running water in a tiny home and today they`re fighting to regain custody after authorities took their children from them. I`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END