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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 06/22/15

Guests: Eugene Robinson, Mark Thompson, Janai Nelson, Guy-Uriel Charles,Richard Cohen, Richard Blumenthal

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Is held for the Senator on Friday -- question of when they`re going to do it. And whether that confederate flag will be down in time for Senator Pinckney to lie there in state on Thursday. We should also know that when the actual funeral is held for the Senator on Friday, Vice President Biden and first lady Michelle Obama and President Obama will all be there at the funeral in person. And now we know that the eulogy for Senator Pinckney will be given by President Obama himself. That does it for us tonight, we`ll see you again tomorrow, now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening Lawrence. LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening Rachel, thank you. MADDOW: Thanks. O`DONNELL: A hundred and fifty years after the civil war, and five days after nine people were murdered in the South Carolina church, the governor of South Carolina is now ready to move the confederate flag away from the state capital. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) (SINGING) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can lean on me. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Charleston, this holy city continues to answer hate with love. (BELL TOLLING) NORVEL GOFF, REVEREND MINISTER: Because the doors of Mother Emanuel is open on this Sunday. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes! GOFF: It sends a message to every demon in hell and on earth. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right, yes -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thousands marching across the city`s main bridge for the nine victims of last week`s church shooting. GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: He hoped his actions would start a race war, just the opposite is happening. GOFF: A lot of folks expected us to do something strange and to break out in a riot. Well, they just don`t know us. HALEY: By removing a symbol that divides us, we can move forward as a state in harmony. GOFF: I want you to hug three persons right next to you. Tell them it`s going to be all right. (SINGING) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I won`t let you go if you lean on me. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: On Friday, President Obama will travel to Charleston to deliver the eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney. Today at the South Carolina state house where Reverend Pinckney served as a state senator, his desk was shrouded in black. This afternoon, Republican Governor Nikki Haley announced this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HALEY: Fifteen years ago after much contentious debate, South Carolina came together in a bipartisan way to move the flag from atop the Capitol dome. Today, we are here in a moment of unity in our state, without ill-will, to say it`s time to move the flag from the Capitol grounds. (APPLAUSE) My hope is that by removing a symbol that divides us, we can move forward as a state in harmony, and we can honor the nine blessed souls who are now in heaven. (APPLAUSE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes -- (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: On Sunday, the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston opened its doors again with a service which Governor Haley and her family attended. Norvel Goff opened the service with the reading of the names of the people who were murdered in that church just four days earlier. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOFF: Let us remember those who lost their lives on last Wednesday evening: Reverend Clementa Pinckney, Reverend Dr. Daniel Simmons, the Reverend Sharonda Coleman Singleton, brother Tywanza Sanders, sister DePayne Middleton-Doctor, sister Cynthia Hurd, Myra Thompson, sister Ethel Lance, sister Susie Jackson. We`re reminded this morning about the freshness of death comes like a thief in the night. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes -- GOFF: But I declare that Jesus said it a long time ago, he said I am the resurrection -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes -- GOFF: And the life. Come now, the altar is open. Bring your burdens to the Lord and leave them there. Whether you`re praying for yourself or the nine families, realizing that earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: The service was one of remembrance and mourning and of hope. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOFF: For those of us who are here this morning. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. GOFF: I want you to know because the doors of Mother Emanuel is open on this Sunday. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amen! GOFF: It sends a message to every demon in hell and on earth. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s right, yes! (APPLAUSE) GOFF: That no weapon! somebody say no weapon! No weapon formed against us shall prosper! No weapon formed against us -- some wanted to divide the race, black and white and brown, but no weapon formed against us shall prosper. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: We`re joined by a special panel tonight to consider the events over the last few days in Charleston. Eugene Robinson, columnist for "The Washington Post" and Msnbc contributor Mark Thompson, the host of "Make it Plain" on "Sirius Xm" radio. Janai Nelson, the Associate Director of Council of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and Guy-Uriel Charles, Director of the Duke Law Center on Law, Race and Politics. Eugene Robinson, as our resident South Carolinian here at Msnbc -- EUGENE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes -- O`DONNELL: I just want to get your general reaction to everything that`s occurred in the last few days, and -- ROBINSON: Oh -- O`DONNELL: Including the Sunday service and what we saw the governor do today. ROBINSON: How much time do we have? We never get -- (CROSSTALK) O`DONNELL: We have the hour -- ROBINSON: We have the hour -- O`DONNELL: We have the hour -- ROBINSON: It was -- O`DONNELL: You`re all going to be here for the hour -- ROBINSON: Obviously -- O`DONNELL: I want you to take your time -- ROBINSON: Obviously last Wednesday was stunning and tragic and weeping. I mean it was -- it`s just awful to think of the significance of that church, a very important church. My mother`s side of the family came from Charleston. My great great-grandfather had a black smith shop that was kind of not very far from where Mother Emanuel church is actually. And at the end of Calhoun Street are the old docks where a very significant portion of the African slaves brought to this country were offloaded. And it`s now being turned into a museum area. It`s shocking. Today completely different. Today, I was stunned at the -- that tableau of Governor Nikki Haley flanked by the African-American Republican elected senator from South Carolina, Tim Scott. Lindsey Graham, Jim Clyburn, Haley herself and any American saying that the time had come to take the confederate flag away, and given what I thought was quite a good speech, actually. Obviously, we have a long way to go in this country, and what I write about in my column for tomorrow is racism. Racism, it`s here. It`s still here, that`s what caused this. That`s what birth -- that`s the rouge of what Dylann Roof did. And he didn`t make it up, he absorbed it, he ingested it. It was in the air, it`s still there like a -- like a foul emanation from the sewer. And we have so much work to do to get rid of it. But I got to say that today made me more hopeful certainly than I`ve been since Wednesday. And maybe more hopeful than I`ve been in a long time. That was -- the South Carolina I grew up in, nothing like that would ever happen. Absolutely impossible. I don`t think -- O`DONNELL: You mean what happened today? ROBINSON: What happened today -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- ROBINSON: Right. O`DONNELL: With politicians -- ROBINSON: Yes -- O`DONNELL: Across the aisle joining in that situation? -- ROBINSON: Across the aisle, it`s the sort of multiracial picture of a state that has either -- that`s always been the true picture of the state, right. South Carolina at the time of the civil war was one of the few states where there were actually more black people than white people. So, it`s always -- that`s always been the true nature of South Carolina, but you never saw it at the high councils of power. And you certainly, to get rid of the flag on the capital grounds was a such an issue, a contentious passion filled the issue in South Carolina, to do the right thing in South Carolina -- amazing. O`DONNELL: Mark Thompson, if the confederate flag does not belong at the state capital, why did it belong there at the beginning of last week? MARK THOMPSON, RADIO HOST: Well, it -- O`DONNELL: I mean, look what it took to change minds. THOMPSON: No, it never did. And not only will this not have happened what happened today, when -- Gene lived there, this would not have happened a week ago today. ROBINSON: Yes -- THOMPSON: Because there was no movement on this. And this has been a very disturbing issue for a number of years, for decades. And we know that it has been there. It started on the dome in `62, so it`s mythical that this ever had anything to do with the confederacy. This was in response and retaliation for the burgeoning civil rights movement at the time. Strom Thurmond himself was one of the architects in putting it there. So even now, when you hear people talk about confederate pride and all of that -- ROBINSON: Yes -- THOMPSON: That wasn`t the original motive for that -- for that flag. And there`s still a very long way to go. Today was an important step though, and hopefully the legislature will heed the governor`s call and move it. That remains to be seen. ROBINSON: Yes, it remains to be seen -- THOMPSON: Yes -- (CROSSTALK) There`s still a couple of political obstacles that need to be worked out. But you know, it has been an incredible week. It took this terrible tragedy, the martyrdom of nine people to move that flag. This tragedy that occurred on the day that Denmark Vesey, one of the people who organized that church, would have had a slave insurrection. And I don`t think that Dylann Storm Roof was unaware of that either. It took that terrible and heinous act in order for that flag to be brought down. There`s still a bit more to go. As a matter of fact, money talks, too. The NAACP actually never announced the formal end of economic sanctions as a result of that flag. But also today, when Wal-Mart made a decision that no longer will confederate merchandise be sold in their stores, that was also a very clear signal to this governor, to Lindsey Graham who`s been hesitant to try to say it`s about race, to say it`s about Christian persecution. It was important even seeing him there, because that means he even had to walk back from his original position. So today is a historic day. But we still as Gene said, we still have a lot more to do to end racism -- ROBINSON: Yes -- (CROSSTALK) And I know we`ll have a chance to talk about this, but we -- yes, but there`s more than the flag, too -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- ROBINSON: Flag -- (CROSSTALK) THOMPSON: There`s more than the flag -- ROBINSON: Simple, there`s a whole lot more than the flag. O`DONNELL: Janai -- ROBINSON: Right -- O`DONNELL: Charles, you`re with the NAACP legal defense fund which Thurgood Marshall was running back in 1954 when he won the Brown case and the Supreme Court and we can trace, as Mark pointed out, the resurgence of the confederate flag to 1954. JANAI NELSON, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATIONAL FUND: Exactly right -- O`DONNELL: The south had -- was basically ignoring it, and then they started raising it to say this. This was taken as an expression against the Supreme Court ruling. NELSON: That`s absolutely right. You cannot divorce the desegregation efforts of the Legal Defense Fund and other civil rights organizations and this resurgence of white supremacy that occurred in the late `50s and into the 1960s. And the flag was no longer this sign of confederate pride. This became a white supremacist symbol. This was a banner of hate, a banner of oppression and a banner that really has no place in this society. What this really underscores for me is how difficult easy questions are for us. How difficult it is for us to confront our history. How difficult it is for us to simply say once and for all that, that confederate flag has no place. And if you think about what just happened last week, the United States Supreme Court, just one day, the morning after this massacre decided in a very narrow decision, a 5-4 ruling that the state of Texas is permitted to deny -- ROBINSON: All right -- NELSON: Individuals the right to use the confederate flag on license plates. That was a 5-4 decision, it was narrow. That means we have four justices on our Supreme Court who believe that it is OK, that that`s still a valid expression of individualism that a state can sponsor. That is absolutely absurd in 2015 to think that we`re still debating these issues. So to me -- GUY-URIEL CHARLES, DIRECTOR, DUKE LAW CENTER ON LAW, RACE AND POLITICS: And Lawrence -- NELSON: Today`s decision shows us that what should really be an absolute obvious answer is something that we`re still grappling with as a nation, because we are finding it so difficult to confront not only our history but the current effects of racism in America. O`DONNELL: Mr. Charles, go ahead. CHARLES: Lawrence, if I may, and I agree with Janai there, one of the things that`s also remarkable is that it still takes tragedy, the loss of African-American lives in order to move this country forward. And I think that is a sad commentary. As wonderful as this day is, as a moment of progress, but one of the things that we learn from the civil rights movement is the shedding of blood of African-American blood moves things forward. And I hope that that is not a legacy of what happened in South Carolina. That is not a legacy of how we get progress forward, that getting racial equality should not take the shedding of blood, especially the continual shedding of African-American blood. O`DONNELL: All right, we`re going to take a break here, when we come back, we will discuss that point of where did Dylann Roof learn to hate this way? That`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Last night, thousands gathered on the Arthur Ravenel Bridge in Charleston, South Carolina, one of the marchers there was Stephen Colbert, South Carolinian who walked with his sister. Stephen Colbert tweeted this video along with the message, "peace and love and unity in the holy city." Up next, what drove Dylann Roof to become a racist mass murderer. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOFF: At this time, we need to be in solidarity -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes -- GOFF: And praying for families -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes -- GOFF: And our communities -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes -- GOFF: Around this state and particularly in Charleston. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: The FBI and local authorities are investigating and analyzing a racist website with a 2,444-word manifesto that appears to belong to the Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof, Dylann Storm Roof. In that manifesto, he writes, "I was not raised in a racist home or environment, the event that truly awakened me was the Trayvon Martin case. I was unable to understand what the big deal was. It was obvious that Zimmerman was in the right, but more importantly this prompted me to type in the words black on white crime into Google and I have never been the same since that day. The first website I came to was the Council of Conservative Citizens. There were pages upon pages of these brutal black on white murders. I was in disbelief. At this moment, I realized that something was very wrong. How could the news be blowing up the Trayvon Martin case while hundreds of these blacks on white murders got ignored. I have no choice. I am not in the position to alone go into the ghetto and fight. I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state and at one time had the highest racial of blacks to whites in the country. We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet. Well, someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me." The website of the Council of Conservative Citizens, the group that Dylann Roof mentioned in his manifesto as having changed his life carries this statement today. "We utterly condemn Roof`s despicable killings, but they do not detract in the slightest from the legitimacy of some of the positions he has expressed." We`re joined now by Richard Cohen, the president of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Richard, you write today about how this kind of venom is spread both on the internet and worldwide. Was it at all surprising to you to read that chronology in that manifesto about this is how his views and as he puts it, his life were changed by coming upon that website? RICHARD COHEN, PRESIDENT, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: Not at all. It`s classic white supremacist dogma. You know, the website talks about, you know, white genocide, the shooters, young men -- O`DONNELL: I knew -- (CROSSTALK) COHEN: Unable to form normal relationships. He looks for answers for -- outside of himself for his failures. The Council of Conservative Citizens website tells him it`s not his fault, it`s the fault of black people. It`s the fault of others. He buys it, hook, line and sinker. Today lines, we actually saw -- found another part of his digital trail where he was posting at another website and engaging in conversations with white racists. And, you know, this is how it goes so often with people like this. One thing I could add if it`d be OK about the Council of Conservative Citizens, you know, it`s a deeply racist organization. They`ve described black people as a retrograde species of being. Yet at the same time, you know, Republican politicians in the `90s and up until about 2005 routinely showed up at their fundraisers, routinely showed up at their rallies. And really, today, the web master of the Council of Conservative Citizens, up until recently was a member of the Republican Executive Committee of his county in South Carolina. So, I mean, you know, it`s an organization with deep racism, yet, with a foothold in mainstream politics. O`DONNELL: And Gene Robinson, long list of contributions to politicians, Republican -- all Republican politicians from Earl Holt, who is the President of the Council -- ROBINSON: Yes -- O`DONNELL: Of Conservative Citizens, his favorite, Ted Cruz, $8,500 donated to Ted Cruz. Scott Walker, $3,500, Republican Governor Greg Abbott of Texas, $3,000, Representative Steve King of Iowa, $2,500, Rand Paul, $1,750, former Senator Rick Santorum $1,500 and so it goes. Many of them have announced today that they are either returning the money or better, I think, a choice, Ted Cruz has announced that he is donating that $8,500 to the Charleston church fund. ROBINSON: Yes, that`s a -- that`s a better response I -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- ROBINSON: Think to, you know, where David began as -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- ROBINSON: Maybe you know, if you look at the list of donors, you know, obviously, you know, on the one hand it`s true you don`t control everybody who -- you know, who gives, you know, necessarily know everybody who gives. However, it is also true that the Republican Party has pursued what was dubbed in 1968 the southern strategy. Since then -- THOMPSON: Right -- ROBINSON: Which was to, you know, to essentially survive and thrive by capturing the lion`s share of votes in the south by appealing to and providing a haven for those who feel white victimization and white grievance in the face of demographic change, in the face of desegregation. In the face of the first black president -- whatever. And to -- and with a nod and a wink almost, you know, because at this point, because it`s not that anybody has to -- anything, we don`t mind, we wouldn`t agree with that. We wouldn`t, you know, openly appeal for those folks. Yet, we would provide a home for them, a political home for people who believe that, and that`s the sort of passive understanding. O`DONNELL: And Richard Cohen, now, they`re saying today that actually the only thing they disagree with is going into a black church and gunning everyone back. Everything else in the manifesto is OK with them. COHEN: Yes, I mean, they are unrepentant racists, you know, and it`s really quite incredible. You know, Gene mentioned the southern strategy. One of the leading players in that was, of course, the South Carolinian Lee Atwater. And so, you know, this kind of -- this thing has a long tradition unfortunately in South Carolina, in the deep south. And, you know, we see the danger, you know, in the Charleston shooter`s actions of that kind of rhetoric. O`DONNELL: And Mark Thompson, the manifesto is filled with the classic stuff that these kinds of people have been saying for years, don`t like Jews, Hispanics are in here, everybody you can think of who isn`t white, and as they put it, European. THOMPSON: Yes, this rhetoric is far too commonplace. Even with the violence that he perpetrated, isn`t it? That rhetoric is very common and shameless plug -- people who want to hear that rhetoric just need to tune into my show every night. I hear that all the time. Conservatives -- (CROSSTALK) THOMPSON: Every night, Richard -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- THOMPSON: They call me every night and they say these things especially during the Trayvon Martin case. Everything he said verbatim. O`DONNELL: Yes -- THOMPSON: And I accuse them all of that being scripted. You know, they -- that there`s some place, and maybe it`s the council and other places, the Council of Conservative Citizens, but there`s some place that scripts it because all the language, all the rhetoric is verbatim. Why are you upset about Trayvon Martin when it`s black and -- blacks murdering whites or black-on-black crime -- ROBINSON: Leading -- (CROSSTALK) THOMPSON: First on responsibility -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- THOMPSON: I mean, all that stuff comes up, and that`s just further example of -- O`DONNELL: And -- THOMPSON: Racism. O`DONNELL: Janai, there`s a passage -- NELSON: Yes -- O`DONNELL: In here, actually we don`t think enough attention has been paid to this document which is why I`ve been reading it, but there`s a passage in here about intermarriage where he says "a horse and a donkey can breed and make a mule but they are still two completely different animals. Just because we can breed with the other races doesn`t make us the same." There`s more and more and more -- and as I read this today, the more normal he sounded, by which I mean, the more normal he sounded in that location in 1960. This was not outrageous, unacceptable thinking in -- THOMPSON: All right -- O`DONNELL: Nineteen-sixty -- THOMPSON: Right -- O`DONNELL: In his community. THOMPSON: Right. NELSON: You know, it`s amazing. We are right now going back to the Supreme Court where awaiting a marriage equality decision. It was only 48 years ago, in Loving versus Virginia that it took the Supreme Court to say that interracial marriage was in fact permissible, that there was no stain on the nation by permitting it and to allow couples and to freely love one other and recognize the humanity in everyone. And the fact that we`re still fighting these same battles today, and that some want to hold on to that old racist dogma shouldn`t entirely surprise us. We see this sort of rhetoric in so many spaces. We see it in irresponsible media, we see it in classrooms and other areas where we`re fomenting the myth of minority rise of power. When if we really look at the statistics of mass incarceration, of the wealth disparity in this country of housing segregation, we would know that quite the opposite is the case. That Dylann Roof had no fear of losing his privilege. In fact, he owned more of it than he cared to recognize. O`DONNELL: All right, we`re going to take another break here, Richard Cohen, thank you very much for joining us for this segment. Thank you. COHEN: Thank you, Lawrence. O`DONNELL: Coming up, Charleston and the discussion about guns. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: For years, Marc Maron`s WTF podcast has been the best form for the most fascinating one-on-one interviews. Marc Maron`s interviews done in his garage are known for being long, intimate and funny. President Obama stopped by -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- Marc Maron`s garage on Friday for what turned out to be the longest interview of his presidency. But there was no room for funny the day after the President had to, once again, address the nation about a mass murder. (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) MARC MARON, PODCAST HOST: Don`t you get furious. I mean, I saw you on TV the other day and I could see the anger. And you`re not a boil-over kind of guy. But I could feel it. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes. There are times -- I will tell you, right after Sandy Hook, Newtown, -- MARON: Yes. OBAMA: -- when 26-year-olds were gunned down and Congress literally does nothing, yes, that -- that -- that`s the closest I came feeling disgusted. (END AUDIO CLIP) O`DONNELL: The President told Marc Maron he does not expect the murders in Charleston to change politicians` attitudes about gun control. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) OBAMA: Unfortunately, the grip of the NRA on Congress is extremely strong. I don`t foresee any legislative action being taken in this Congress. And I don`t foresee any real action being taken until the American public feels a sufficient sense of urgency, and they say to themselves, "This is not normal. This is something that we can change and we`re going to change it." And if you don`t have that kind of public and voter pressure, then it`s not going to change from the inside. (END AUDIO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. Senator, do you agree with the President that nothing that happened in Charleston is going to move this Congress. SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: In Connecticut, Lawrence, we understand that anger expressed by the President, the grief and shock and horror that we felt in the wake of Newtown, and the frustration with a congress that failed to enact common sense, sense of measures like background checks and a ban on illegal trafficking and straw purchases and mental health initiatives and school safety. But we can break that grip of the NRA. And we cannot surrender. We can`t walk away from this fight. And I will never -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- forget one of the conversations I had with some of those Newtown families, when they said to me, "We know that there are measures -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- that can be taken." They may not save our children. They may not have prevented this tragedy in Newtown, but we can save lives. We can`t stop all the violence, all the deaths, 11,000 every year, but we can save lives. And I think we can break that grip because 90 percent of the American people want us to break that grip. O`DONNELL: You know, Guy Charles, in a country with the kind of virulent racism that we know still exists and this completely free access to guns, this is a recipe for a horrible event like this to occur. CHARLES: It is definitely a recipe for this type of an event. When you combine easy access to guns with vile white supremacist ideas that are available and invite this type of action, it is not a surprise that an individual can walk into a sanctuary, such as a church, and commit the types of horrific murders that he did. And the President is right. Something needs to be done about that, something that`s sensible such as background checks that are sensible -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- measures in order to assure that we can limit these types of actions in the future. So, something has to be done. Combining racism, easy access to guns, that is not a good recipe. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Hillary Clinton said about this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON, CANDIDATE FOR DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION IN 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: It makes no sense that bipartisan legislation, to require universal background checks would fail in Congress despite overwhelming public. It makes no sense that we couldn`t come together to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers or people suffering from mental illnesses, even people on the terrorist watch list. That doesn`t make sense. And it is a rebuke to this nation -- (APPLAUSE) -- we love and care about. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Senator Blumenthal, what have we learned from the repeated efforts in the Congress to make progress here. BLUMENTHAL: That we have to keep fighting. Not every country has the kind of mass massacres that we have here. Other countries have racists. But no other country has this kind of repeated, relentless deaths to gun violence, not only in the mass murders but also, day by day, in our cities all around the country. What we`ve learned is that perseverance is necessary, organizing from the grassroots as is now being done more and more, as the NRA has done using those same tactics, those lessons from our defeats. And I think there`s the real prospect of progress here. Who would have thought a week ago that the governor of South Carolina would advocate removing the state Confederacy flag from state grounds. Who would have thought that would have been done in the company of all of the politicians that joined her on this occasion. You know, it took 10 years, after Ronald Reagan was almost assassinated and Jim Brady was paralyzed, for the Brady Bill to be passed. Perseverance counts. And on domestic violence, I`ve introduced a bill that would close a loophole that permits estranged husbands or spouses or partners from retaining their guns. Even when they`re judged to be dangerous and a protective order is issued, that loophole must be closed. Domestic violence is a scourge that results five times more likely in debt when combined with guns. So, there are common sense, sensible measures here. And the lesson of our experience is to organize from the grassroots and make sure that the 90 percent of the American people, the vast majority, have their views heard and expressed. And their voices will be heard. O`DONNELL: Senator Richard Blumenthal, thank you very much for joining us for this segment. Thank you very much. BLUMENTHAL: Thank you. O`DONNELL: Coming up, more about Governor Nikki Haley`s announcement -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- about the Confederate flag. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) Walmart has announced that it will no longer be selling products that feature the Confederate flag. The company released a statement saying, -- TEXT: "We never want to offend anyone with the products that we offer. We have taken steps to remove all items promoting the Confederate flag from our assortment, whether in our stores or on our Web site." "We have a process in place to help lead us to the right decisions. When it comes to the merchandise we sell, still, at times, items make their way into our assortment improperly. This is one of those instances." Also, this weekend, Jerry Richardson, the owner of the Carolina Panthers NFL Football Team gave $100,000 to pay for the funerals of all nine victims of the Charleston shooting. Up next, the impact of Governor Haley`s statement today. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REV. NORVEL GOFF, EMANUEL AME CHURCH: It`s been rough. CHURCHGOERS: Amen. GOFF: Some of us have been downright angry. But through it all, God has sustained us. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: In her statement today, urging the South Carolina State Legislature to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds, Republican Governor Nikki Haley said this -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: For many people in our state, the flag stand for traditions that are noble, traditions of history, of heritage and of ancestry. The hate-filled murderer who massacred our brothers and sisters in Charleston has a sick and twisted view of the flag. In no way does he reflect the people in our state who respect and, in many ways, revere it. Those South Carolinians view the flag as a symbol of respect, integrity and duty. They also see it as a memorial, a way to honor ancestors who came to the service of their state during time of conflict. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: We`re rejoined by the panel. Guy Charles, as a professor in North Carolina, you must hear that a lot, that the Confederate flag is a symbol of respect, integrity and duty -- that`s from people who respect the Confederate flag that, as Nikki Haley said, it`s to honor ancestors who came to the service of their state during a time of conflict. That is the most polite language I can imagine applying to ancestors who fought, fought to the death for the preservation of slavery. CHARLES: Of course, Lawrence, you are absolutely right. Now, think of this -- the flag is not just a symbol. It is a flag. It represents allegiance to something other than this republic. And not only does it represent allegiance to something else, it also represents some specific things such as racial inequality. It seeks to undo the -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- Civil War, the 13th Amendment, the 14th Amendment, the 15th Amendment. Those are the things that it represents. So, it`s not just about an anodyne heritage, it is also about specific historical moments. And so, to anybody -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- who thinks that it simply represents duty, one has to think about duty for what? Why is it called a rebel flag. It was in rebellion against the Union. And that is an undeniable fact that, I think, the supporters of the flag have to come to terms with. And that`s one of the reasons why. At least, for me, it is even more deeply problematic. It is not just about racism but, specifically, against the very ideals that this country stands for. ROBINSON: And, indeed, when it went up first at the State Capital, first in 1961, the hundredth anniversary of the Civil War, and then a law was passed to keep it there in 1962. It represented, again, rebellion. This time, rebellion against the federal government efforts to end Jim Crow segregation, a whole system of discrimination and oppression that had obtained, really, since the end of reconstruction. O`DONNELL: And, Janai, this is just two paragraphs. And what I agree with Jim was an, otherwise, very good speech that she gave today. But those two paragraphs had to be there. There had to be that nod, -- ROBINSON: Yes. O`DONNELL: -- especially to the white southerner who has that license plate frame, the Confederate flag and so forth. And this idea that it`s something that -- (LAUGHTER) -- as Walmart very clearly said, without any parenthetical about some noble history with Confederate flag, it`s something that doesn`t belong here in the state grounds but it`s, somehow, a symbol of respect, integrity and duty. NELSON: Yes. I`m not sure I`d agree that that had to be there. I think - - O`DONNELL: I mean for a politician. NELSON: For a politician -- O`DONNELL: There was no way that politician was going to get through that speech without the speechwriter sticking that in there. NELSON: And particularly this politician, right. O`DONNELL: Yes. NELSON: She did not initially think that the flag should come down. This is a new position that is certainly in response to -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- the massacre and the right decision that she made, but this, we should not -- not acknowledge the fact that this was really spurned on by civil rights groups. The state branch of the NAACP had led a boycott for years, had sued to get this flag to come down. Representative Clyburn was also a staunch advocate for -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- getting the flag down. And it`s unfortunate that these events, these series of deaths and killings and murders, too, compelled the governor to take this stance. We`re certainly extraordinarily pleased that she did but, again, there should be an unequivocal denouncement of this flag and the symbolism that it represents. And it`s no surprise that, given the history of this flag, that it`s used as a cloak for terror. I mean, in fact, what it is. It`s terror against the nation that the state of South Carolina did not originally want to be a part of. And it`s used in South Carolina, it`s used in Mississippi, it`s part of its flag, it`s used in Georgia. I hope that this will open up a discussion about the use of this sort of imagery, of this sort of rhetoric, this dogma symbolized in this imagery, and that we can start to crack that open, and not just South Carolina but in other places across the south, and have a much more robust discussion about racism. O`DONNELL: OK, quick break and we will be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) Mitt Romney got one right, a big one. On Saturday, Mitt Romney tweeted this -- TEXT: "Take down the Confederate flag at the South Carolina capital. To many, it is a symbol of racial hatred. Remove it now to honor Charleston victims. O`DONNELL: We`ll be back after another quick break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOFF: Because the doors of Mother Emanuel is open on this Sunday. CHURCHGOERS: Yes. GOFF: It sends a message to every demon in hell and on earth. CHURCHGOERS: Yes. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: I want to listen to something that President Obama said to Mark Maron in that podcast about racism in America and how we are not cured of it. Let`s listen to this. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) OBAMA: Racism, we are not cure of it. Clearly. And it`s not just a matter of not being polite to say (bleep) in public. That`s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It`s not just a matter of overt discrimination. We have -- because societies don`t, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 2 to 300 years prior. (END AUDIO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Eugene, your reaction. I apologize that our network believes that the President used bad judgment. Because that`s what the bleep is, right. The bleep is you used bad judgment in using that word, not recognizing that it is a historical word, it is an English language word in this country. Anyway, I don`t care about the word, make a big deal about the word, but the President`s sentiment that he was expressing. ROBINSON: I think the sentiment is right. You know, what I`m really waiting -- I`m waiting to hear what the President says on Friday, to tell you the truth. I mean, I thought -- O`DONNELL: Yet another moment where the President will take to a pulpit -- ROBINSON: Yes. O`DONNELL: -- to address this deep American curse. ROBINSON: Right, right. And, in a moment when any -- everyone is sort of keyed in and wants to hear, because it`s a moment when the nation needs to hear. And I think it`s an opportunity to move the conversation forward and to move us forward perhaps. For example, why don`t we treat white supremacist terrorism the way we treat Islamic terrorism. Why aren`t we tracking those racist Web sites the way we track jihadist Web sites. And why don`t we think of the Confederate flag the way we think of the black flag of ISIS. I mean, you know, those kinds of questions. And I think we could -- we can move the dialogue ahead, so I kind of hope he does that. MARK THOMPSON, SIRIX XM RADIO HOST: And I think it`s very important for this President to say it and to speak on Friday. Because I think we`re seeing history repeat itself, the same atmosphere that existed after reconstruction, when the period of reclamation started, the first Congressional black caucus, which was as significant as the first black president at the time. These are former slaves in Congress, were met with voter disenfranchisement and violence, lynchings of innocent people. The first black president and what we might consider the second reconstruction after Selma. His administration has been met with voter suppression, again, we`re reliving that, and a more sophisticated form of lynching. Many of us see no disparity between Emanuel and Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis and Renisha McBride and Michael Brown and Eric Garner. All of that is part of the same thing. So, this is history repeating itself. And it`s appropriate for the President to speak. I want to remind everybody though, in the College of Charleston, the President was the leader of the Confederate States of America. That was his Web site. So, they`re going to be on that very campus with someone who, probably, was most outspoken in this regard when it comes to the Confederacy. And, lastly, you mentioned guns law in that last segment. I hope this is not a trade-off -- we`ll let you have the flag but we`re not going to compromise on guns. It`s not an either, or. It`s a both, and. NELSON: That`s right, that`s right. Absolutely. CHARLES: One of the things the President can do -- O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Professor Charles, go ahead. CHARLES: Really, one of the things that the President can do is to return America back to thinking about the fundamental of who counts as a first class citizen in this country. That has always been the question from the founding, especially as it relates to African-Americans who did not officially count. And even when they did post-1865, it only counted in name only. And part of what this dispute shows us that it`s important for everyone to count as a first class citizen. And the disparities that we`re seeing in housing, in criminal justice, et cetera, have to go away. And we need the President to speak and to take leadership on those issues and help move us forward. O`DONNELL: Janai Nelson. NELSON: That`s right. I mean, Lawrence, it`s very easy to condemn a massacre, right. That`s the easiest statement to make. It`s much harder to have a conversation about race and racism. It`s much harder to say that it doesn`t involve overt acts of racism but structural discrimination. And that we are all culpable, our institutions are culpable, our policies are culpable and that this is really an opportunity to have a meaningful dialogue about the structures of racism. That`s the more difficult conversation to have. O`DONNELL: And that will be the last word of this discussion tonight but not the last word on this discussion. Eugene Robinson, Mark Thompson, Janai Nelson and Guy Charles, thank you all very much for joining me tonight. NELSON: Thank you. ROBINSON: Thank you, Lawrence. THOMPSON: Thank you. O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next. END