Guests: Flora Jessop, Rebecca St. James, Jennifer Giroux, Shmuley Boteach, Loretta Sanchez, J.D. Hayworth, Jamie Rubin, Ralph Reed
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Tonight in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY: John Kerry‘s campaign‘s in trouble, and he won‘t stop the bleeding by fighting the president on his own turf.
You‘re about to enter SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. No passport required, no P.C. police allowed.
With the recent terror attacks, it‘s more important than ever to have a strong leader in the war on terror. Voters are going to be taking a close look at John Kerry‘s record on foreign policy, and they may not like what they see.
Plus, Iraqis say they‘re better off now than a year ago and democracy is beginning to bloom. But will today‘s attack be a setback? We‘re going to be asking General Barry McCaffrey if we‘re winning the war in Iraq.
And then, the shocking case of a Fresno man accused of murdering nine members of his polygamist clan. We‘re going to find out how women get pulled into this shady world and what they to do if they want to get out.
And what‘s next for “Passion” director Mel Gibson? Would you believe a movie on Hanukkah? Not all of our guests think that‘s such a great idea. Hanukkah.
But, first, John Kerry‘s campaign is bleeding, and the Bush camp is going in for the kill. It‘s time for tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
Now, the presidential election is eight months off. But Massachusetts Senator John Kerry is already in danger of permanently being nailed as an out-of-touch left-wing liberal who‘s flip-flopping on every issue. And if I‘m George Bush, I run a campaign hammering on John Kerry for voting against the money for troops needed to win the peace. I‘d hammer John Kerry for voting against bulletproof vests, even if he claimed to support them last week.
I‘d go after John Kerry as a guy who brags about whispered support from foreign leaders the same week America is stabbed in the back by Spanish socialists who rode to victory last week on the wave of terrorist attacks. A guy who attacks our commander in chief today, the day 27 people were killed in the bombing of an Iraqi hotel, is not a good thing.
You know, John Kerry just doesn‘t get it. Americans expect a united front during a time of war much and our fight against al Qaeda is war, not a police action. Now, if I were John Kerry, I‘d ask one question when developing a winning strategy, WWBCD? What would Bill Clinton do? I will tell you one thing he would not do. He wouldn‘t side with Euro Socialists in Spain or tell parents their sons were dying for no reason, or suggest our war on terror was a failure.
Hello, Senator Kerry, you beat Howard Dean by being a grownup on foreign policy. You‘re blowing it now. Listen to me, I can save you a lot of pain and your wife a lot of money. Yield the Iraq and terror issue to George Bush. He‘s going to beat your brains in on this issue as long as you‘re stupid enough to fight the campaign on his home turf. Bill Clinton wouldn‘t do it, and neither should you.
Instead, thank the president for protecting America. Now, listen to me, because I‘m saving you and your wife a lot of money. Thank the president for protecting America and the troops and the millions—but what you‘ve got to do instead is focus on the millions of jobs lost under his watch, the raped middle American retirement accounts, the health care costs that aren‘t just crushing the working poor, but the middle-class swing voters you have to have to win. Talk about the deficit, the record debt, the foreign deficit.
I mean, come on, there are so many economic issues you can win on. You will lose talking foreign policy. John Kerry, fight this campaign on those issues and you‘re going to keep this campaign close. But run the campaign on the war on terror, and you‘re going to be remembered as a tall man‘s Michael Dukakis. Choose quickly, because once you lose the American people, you never win them back. Just ask Howard Dean.
And that‘s tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
Here now, adviser to President Bush Ralph Reed, and Jamie Rubin, adviser to Senator John Kerry.
Gentlemen, thank you for being with us.
And, Ralph Reed, let me begin with you. Today, Senator Kerry used the bombing over in Iraq as another example of George Bush‘s failed foreign policy. Respond.
RALPH REED, BUSH-CHENEY CAMPAIGN SOUTHEAST CHAIRMAN: Well, I think what Senator Kerry apparently doesn‘t understand is that the terrorists are indiscriminate in their violence.
We saw a pattern of that long before the war against terrorism began under President Bush. We saw it in the first bombing of the World Trade Center. We saw it in the bombing of the Army barracks in Riyadh. We saw it in the bombing of the U.S. embassies in Africa, the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000. We‘ve really seen it all over the world, from the Philippines to Casablanca and now Madrid.
I think to suggest, as Senator Kerry seems to suggest, or as his surrogate Howard Dean did today, that somehow or another this is the United States‘ fault and that we are to blame for this violence I think is really just unacceptable.
SCARBOROUGH: Jamie Rubin, does Senator Kerry separate himself and distance himself from the remarks made by Howard Dean earlier that the United States and George Bush are responsible for the terror attacks in Madrid last week?
JAMIE RUBIN, ADVISER TO SENATOR JOHN KERRY: Absolutely.
Look, it‘s real easy to try to turn this thing on its head. What Senator Kerry and a lot of intelligent people are saying right now is that we have a very, very, very difficult problem in Iraq. We have a mess there. We‘re bogged down. It‘s a year later and we don‘t have a lot of friends with us. Stability hasn‘t been established. There‘s chaos. There‘s no end in sight to the kind of instability we‘re seeing. That‘s a very real problem. People can wish it away, but it‘s there, and we need a real program of support from the rest of the world and help from our own troops to get this job done.
Senator Kerry wants to win this war. He wants to succeed in Iraq so it doesn‘t become a failed state. Senator Kerry has plans to bring in the rest of the world to get some help, so we‘re not bearing 85 percent of the burden, 85 percent of the casualties. That‘s what he‘s concerned about.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Jamie, the senator did say today that George Bush‘s so-called dangerous unilateralism was a failure.
And this is what he said. Let‘s play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The answer to failure is not more of the same. Instead, we have to return more effectively to the international community and share authority, share the burdens with other nations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Bill Clinton would have never attacked the first George Bush on foreign policy the way John Kerry‘s attacking this George Bush, would he?
RUBIN: The person who was busy attacking after the bombing happened was the vice president of the United States, who went on attack, on attack, on attack, even as they were pulling the bodies out. So if you have that concern, and you think it was unseemly or inappropriate, those comments should be directed at the vice president, who, in rabid attack dog mode, started dredging up old votes and accusing John Kerry of this, accusing John Kerry of that, even as they were pulling the bodies out of the bombing in Iraq.
KERRY: His speech was before the bombing, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, let‘s actually play that clip that you‘re talking about and have Ralph Reed respond.
Of course, Dick Cheney did rip John Kerry for voting against the first Gulf War, then calling for regime change in 1998, then voting for military action in 2002 and then not voting to fund it. And this is what Cheney said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Had the decision belonged to Senator Kerry, Saddam Hussein would still be in power today in Iraq. In fact, Saddam Hussein would almost certainly still be in control of Kuwait.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Ralph Reed, I will ask you the same question. Is that the type of speech Americans want to hear while they‘re pulling bodies out of this bombed hotel in Iraq?
REED: Well, Joe, what the American people want is an honest appraisal of the records of the two candidates for president.
And I think the issue here is that most of the American people don‘t know what the facts are about John Kerry‘s record. In fact, according to the NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll last week, 58 percent of swing voters said they knew little or nothing about them. We feel we have an obligation to the voters to have a serious discussion about the issues and let them know that John Kerry, after voting to authorize military action in Iraq, voted against giving our troops body armor, voted against providing $191 million in armor plating for Humvees to protect them from roadside bombs, voted against providing them with hazard pay, and voted against giving them increased military pay and health care benefits for themselves and their family members.
We think the American people need to know those facts. And, as the president said, in addition to that, for John Kerry to say, as he has said, that the commitment of our other allies amounts to—quote—“window dressing” and a—quote—“coalition of the coerced and the bribed” is really an insult to the tens of thousands of troops around the world, over 20 countries, including such allies as South Korea, Japan on the way, Great Britain, Poland, and many others whose soldiers have given their lives.
And to call that window dressing and to suggest that those countries had been coerced and bribed is an insult to those who are helping to fight the war against terrorism.
SCARBOROUGH: Jamie Rubin, I will give you the last word. Did John Kerry insult our allies by calling them window dressing?
RUBIN: Absolutely not. John Kerry has great respect for the countries that are involved. He spoke the truth, and I guess Ralph and the Republican Party don‘t want to hear the truth.
The truth is a real coalition is the kind we had in the first Gulf War, the kind we had in Afghanistan.
REED: Which he voted against, by the way, Jamie.
REED: He voted against that action.
And you want to get into the past, Ralph, Dick Cheney gave a very powerful argument in 1992 why it would be dangerous for the United States to overthrow Saddam Hussein. How would we govern there? We would be occupying the country forever. So Vice President Cheney was opposed to overthrowing Saddam Hussein in 1992. So if he wants to play flip-flop, he should look in the mirror.
REED: Well, after 17 resolutions and 10 years of intransigence, Dick Cheney did the right thing and John Kerry did not. And those are the facts.
RUBIN: There is no real coalition, Joe. That‘s the bottom line.
SCARBOROUGH: Guys, that‘s going to have to be the final word. We appreciate both of you being with us, as always. Thank you.
RUBIN: Thank you.
REED: You bet.
SCARBOROUGH: And coming up next on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, is the U.S. winning the war in Iraq? The Iraqi people say yes. We‘ll tell you what they‘ve been saying about their life after Saddam.
And then, Mel Gibson‘s made a mint by self-financing his movie about Good Friday. Now he may be pouring some of that cash into a film about another holiday. But can you believe it may be Hanukkah? We‘ll tell you all about it coming up.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, what does today‘s bombing in Baghdad say about our progress in Iraq? We‘re going to be debating that right after this short break.
So stick around.
SCARBOROUGH: The death toll from the Baghdad car bomb stands at 27, but the attackers want the world to think that Iraq‘s in chaos. Is it? Or are we winning the war to build a new democracy in the Middle East?
MSNBC military analyst General Barry McCaffrey joins me now.
General, thank you for being with us tonight.
RET. GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, NBC MILITARY ANALYST: Good to be with you again.
SCARBOROUGH: And a difficult night obviously, some chaos in Baghdad, 27 dead. Do you think that‘s to be expected as we approach the one-year anniversary of the war in Iraq, or do you think it proves that right now the reconstruction efforts are not going well for America?
MCCAFFREY: Well, clearly, we face a difficult year or two ahead of us.
In the broader sense, reconstruction is going quite well. We are about to stand up some form of Iraqi government. We have built a couple hundred thousand Iraqi security services. The economy‘s coming back. A lot of things are going right. But this is a very dangerous place, more than 5,000 U.S. casualties, killed, wounded and injured. Now they are going after the United Nations, the NGOs, civilian agencies in country. This is going to be a very tough environment.
And tonight‘s bombing just underscores. As we do this shift out—the 1st Armored Division is coming out of Baghdad, 1st Cavalry Division going in—bang-o, a huge bomb blast right in the middle of that transfer of authority.
SCARBOROUGH: Spain‘s new Socialist prime minister reiterated his stance with Iraq and he said this: “I will listen to Mr. Bush, but my position is very and very firm. But the occupation is a fiasco.”
General, I must admit, I‘m at a loss when I hear somebody calling this a fiasco when you see polls by the BBC and you ask the Iraqi people how they think it‘s going. And they say they‘re faring much better today than they were a year ago. Why the disconnect, not only in Spain but across Europe and even in parts of America?
MCCAFFREY: Well, I certainly share your dismay at the new Spanish government‘s viewpoint. And that‘s reflective, I might add, of the Spanish electorate that tossed out the previous government and was widely opposed to Spanish participation in the war in Iraq.
We got a problem. There are enormous levels of animosity toward U.S. foreign policy, not just in Europe, but throughout the Middle East, Africa, Latin America. We have got a real challenge. We have to sit down and sort out what do we do about it. The thing we won‘t do, hopefully, is not directly confront terrorism and its threat to America and its allies.
But there is clearly room here for us to ponder, how do we gain more legitimacy with these allies? How do we bring in international institution, the United Nations and NATO, specifically? This is a very tough situation we‘re in. There‘s no question.
SCARBOROUGH: Would you trust the United Nations to go in immediately and take control of Iraq and have Americans step back?
MCCAFFREY: Well, you know, it may not be a good question because they‘re not going to do it. I think we‘re in there with some coalition partners, sort of modest presence. We‘re about to lose, I think, several of them.
And I might add, the spinoff of all of this Spanish political disaster, this al Qaeda victory, is, it‘s quite likely now that we‘re going to see the Italians, the Poles or other people also the object of terrorists attack. But I don‘t think the U.N.‘s going to come in and take charge of this.
I think we‘re going to have to sort it out. We have got a difficult 24 months ahead of us. We should be able to do this. And I might add, this is not the Bush administration‘s war. This is America‘s war, and we have got to set the thing right. And we have got the resources to do it if we have got the political will.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, General Barry McCaffrey, as always, thank you so much for being with us tonight.
MCCAFFREY: Good to be with you.
SCARBOROUGH: So we won the war, but are we losing the peace? Congressman J.D. Hayworth says al Qaeda is getting desperate and lashing out. Also here, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez a longtime critic of the Iraq war.
J.D., you say al Qaeda‘s getting desperate right now. What do you mean by that?
REP. J.D. HAYWORTH ®, ARIZONA: Well, take a look at some intercepted communications, Joe. Recall what we heard from one of the masterminds.
Al Qaeda is deathly afraid of freedom and democracy in the Middle East, especially now opening up in Iraq. We have intercepted the communications. They‘ve been widely reported and disseminated. And what we also saw in those intercepted communications was what? An effort to attack Iraqi citizens and other civilians in country helping Iraq achieve democracy.
Listen, we dare not snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Listen to what General McCaffrey said. If we have the political will, we can prevail. That‘s why I was so dismayed to see Loretta and 89 other Democrats vote against a resolution on the floor of the House tonight supporting our troops and supporting the effort in Iraq one year into this very difficult assignment.
SCARBOROUGH: Congresswoman, according to a recent BBC poll, 70 percent of Iraqis are reporting that their lives are going well or quite well; 50 percent say life is better now than before the war. And a whopping 79 percent say they‘re looking forward to a unified central government centered in Baghdad.
And the BBC‘s poll also said they believe the security situation‘s better, jobs, electricity, clean water, medical care, local schools, local government, availability of household basics, availability of products and services, and your family‘s protection from crime. The numbers aren‘t even close. Iraqis believe that this war of liberation has made them better today than they were under Saddam Hussein. Isn‘t that something that you and everybody else should support?
REP. LORETTA SANCHEZ (D), CALIFORNIA: You know, one of the reasons that the Iraqis might be so optimistic is that our men and women who are over there in Iraq are just an incredible set of people.
SANCHEZ: They really are the greatest P.R. that we have as we deal with the Iraqis, as we put back together their schools, etcetera.
The problem is not there. It‘s not our troops. The problem is a bigger problem for us as a nation. It‘s that we really don‘t have a plan that seems to be working in Iraq from the sense of, for example, this transition plan. One of the problems with the transition plan is, we should have set conditions, not just dates of when we were going to turn this over.
Now we‘ve got this June 30 date, where we‘ve got to turn it over. That‘s what President Bush has said. And yet, you know, when you look at Sistani and some of these others, we haven‘t secured what type of force the United States is going to have there. They signed a constitution a week ago. They‘re already backing away from that. Now we see that they‘re coming in for the kill, not only with the U.N. and with the NGOs, but now they‘re going after Iraqis.
They‘re scaring the very small coalition that we do have.
SANCHEZ: So the terrorists are doing a very good job of pushing back at us.
And the problem is that our troops are tired. It‘s going to take a long time to do that. I agree. We cannot get out of this. We have got to win in Iraq. But, you know, this is not a 24-month problem for us. This is probably a 10-, 20-, a 50-year problem in having our troops and much of our resources over there.
SCARBOROUGH: J.D. Hayworth, I want you to respond to that. I also want you to respond to these remarkable numbers in the BBC poll. Again, it‘s almost 2-1 on education, on security, even as we see these bombs. We see more of these bombs in America than Iraqis see over there. Why is it that there‘s such a huge disconnect between what the Iraqi people are telling the BBC and other pollsters and what our media‘s telling us about what‘s going on in Iraq?
HAYWORTH: Well, it‘s amazing to see. And I think you see some of that in the response that Loretta just offered us, because, quite the contrary, Joe, as you point out, the polls indicate that the Iraqi people are happy to have been liberated. They understand that not every problem is solved.
They understand the challenges they confront. Yet Baghdad is a bustling city. Hospitals have reopened. Schools have reopened. We‘re seeing things come online. We‘re seeing now a flat tax introduced, 15 percent for individuals and businesses. We are seeing Iraq come back. And even those who are dissatisfied have the freedom of speech to express what they‘ve gone through.
Loretta lamented the June 30 deadline, but stop and think. A provisional constitution has been signed. And far from backing away from it right now, what we are seeing is general acceptance throughout Iraq of this very important stage, with the interim constitution and moving forward.
And I would just add, take a look at our own experience. It took us 10 years following our war of independence to convene a constitutional convention in Philadelphia. This is not done easily, but it is made more difficult by those who sit on the sidelines and who complain and fail to vote for a simple resolution on the floor of the United States House this evening to support the effort and to congratulate the troops and to congratulate those working to free Iraq one year into this very challenging assignment.
SCARBOROUGH: Congresswoman, you know, Howard Dean earlier today blamed President Bush for the deaths in Madrid, the horrible bombings last week. John Kerry, of course, is attacking the president while troops are on the ground over in Iraq. Do you think that‘s the right way to run a presidential campaign, and do you separate yourself from Howard Dean‘s remarks from earlier today?
SANCHEZ: Well, Joe, first, what I would say is, of course, all of us grieve for what happened in Madrid.
But I‘m a little taken aback that, in fact, the people of Madrid would go out in millions and protest what these terrorists had done and then turn around and really do a political message that I think al Qaeda and others were looking for.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, you‘re exactly right.
SANCHEZ: So that‘s kind of a little disconcerting for me.
But I want to go back to something that J.D. said about this resolution.
J.D., first of all, this resolution that was put before Congress
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on, Loretta. Hold on a second.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘ll let you talk about that. I just want you to answer my question.
Do you distance yourself from Howard Dean‘s comments earlier today blaming Bush for the deaths in Madrid?
SANCHEZ: No, Madrid had really nothing to do with even 9/11. The al Qaeda were after the Western way of life way before we saw 9/11 and before Bush started into Iraq.
SCARBOROUGH: So do you separate yourself from Howard Dean‘s comment?
Was Howard Dean wrong for saying that?
SANCHEZ: It has nothing to do—Bush has nothing to do really with that.
SCARBOROUGH: So you agree that Howard Dean was wrong to say that?
SANCHEZ: I disagree. I disagree with him.
SANCHEZ: I think it‘s a separate situation.
But I want to go back to this resolution, because this resolution was drafted with no Democratic input. And I think—it didn‘t say some things it needed to say. It‘s just a political tool that the Republicans are using. I have been one that—look, I did not vote to go into Iraq, but now that we‘re there, we need to support our troops. We need to get this done.
SANCHEZ: My generals tell me that it‘s going to take a lot longer and a lot more money.
And while the Iraqi people, I hope, are happy at what we‘re trying to
get done for them, the problem is not that, J.D. The problem is that we
are sending resources from the United States at a time that it is critical
to invest in our own people, to find jobs for our people, to get the
education system going, to retrain our people in the United States. It‘s
SANCHEZ: ... that is lost.
SCARBOROUGH: Unfortunately, we‘re going to have to leave it there.
All right, thank you so much. Sorry to cut you off, but we‘re coming up on a hard break. Thanks a lot for being with us.
Also, Congressman J.D. Hayworth, thank you for being with us tonight in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
Now, you know, Friday is the one-year anniversary of the start of the war. And to mark that occasion, we‘re going to have a special one-hour SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY Friday night. And you‘re not going to want to miss that.
But straight ahead, tonight, Mel Gibson‘s been talking about making films out of more Bible stories. But you could be surprised on which ones he‘s considering.
And most people think polygamy only exists in Utah, but it‘s rampant in 33 states. We‘re going to talk to a woman who‘s on a crusade to fix that problem.
But, first, let‘s get the latest headlines from the MSNBC News Desk.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, Mel Gibson‘s talking about make more biblical stories, but this time it‘s the story behind the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. Yesterday, Gibson said—quote—“That story has always fired up my imagination. It‘s the Book of Maccabees. The Maccabees family stood up and they made war. They stuck by their guns and they came out winning. It‘s like a Western.”
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, you‘ve been an outspoken critic of “The Passion.” I can‘t even ask you this question. Seriously, you have got to be excited about Mel Gibson making a movie about Hanukkah, aren‘t you?
RABBI SHMULEY BOTEACH, SPIRITUAL ADVISER: Well, I‘ll tell you, with friends like Mel, who needs enemies, huh?
No, come on, Joe, I‘m not excited him making a movie about Hanukkah. What is it about Mel that he‘s attracted to blood, gore and violence? Yes, Hanukkah was a great military victory for the Jews. But you know how we celebrate it today? By lighting candles. We‘re not interested in swords, chopping off people‘s heads. We don‘t count how many drops of blood are left on the floor.
We‘re not interested in the triumph of the spirit. And he would vulgarize the story of Hanukkah. This man seems to be obsessed with violence. He said before he made “The Passion” that he was about to kill himself. Now, we don‘t want to see religion becoming a sensational spectacle of a carnal religion.
Even in the New Testament, Saint Paul warns in the Book of Timothy, Chapter 3, that beware of a carnal Christianity that just relies on sensationalist violence. Now, this is—thank you for—I would like to see more biblical stories come to the big screen, but I don‘t want to see Hollywood influencing religion. I want to see religion influencing Hollywood.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, but a lot of people would say that‘s exactly what‘s happening right here, where you have Mel Gibson putting out a movie about obviously Good Friday and millions of people flocking to it. You don‘t think that‘s religion influencing Hollywood?
BOTEACH: Well, this is Jesus Christ meeting “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”
Jesus was dead for two days and two nights, but he lived for Christians for all eternity. Whatever happened to the great campaign of, what would Jesus do? If I‘m about to divorce, what would Jesus tell me? I‘m raising my children. Would Jesus let my 14-year-old daughter date an 18-year-old boyfriend? That campaign is dead, because Mel Gibson killed if off completely.
All we care about now is, how did he die? Imagine for a moment that we ignored completely the Abraham Lincoln saved the Union, freed the slaves and gave soaring oratory with things like the Gettysburg Address and focused entirely on a bullet going through his head and we sat there measuring the hole in his cranium, looking at the drops of blood in the Peterson house across from Ford‘s Theater? That would be a vulgarization of Abraham Lincoln.
Mel Gibson has taken a great prince of peace, Jesus Christ, and he has made him into the prince of pummeling, a man famous for being beaten up and murdered. That‘s not religion. That‘s sensationalism.
SCARBOROUGH: Jennifer Giroux, is Mel Gibson guilty of sensationalism?
JENNIFER GIROUX, SEETHEPASSION.COM: First of all, happy St. Patty‘s Day there, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, happy St. Patty‘s Day to you, too.
GIROUX: You know, the rabbi just sounds so full of hate towards Mel Gibson.
You know, when I think of him describing “The Passion” and now a potential movie about Hanukkah from Mel Gibson, I just have to wonder, Rabbi, where are your eyes when you watch “The Passion”? Where is your heart and where is your love? Mel Gibson, this story of Maccabees just cries out for Mel Gibson‘s imagination and artistic vision. It would be another great blockbuster that would cut across faith lines.
And I think there‘s a lot of pressure on Mel to come through again, because this one was so incredible, so truthful, so true to the Gospels that, you know, he has got a tough act to follow. I understand—I try to put myself in the rabbi‘s shoe there, and I understand his fear. There are many people coming out. And he fears that Jews are going to come out of “The Passion” and think, oh my word, Jesus is the son of God. What does that mean? That means I have to look into this.
And, you know, that‘s a scary thought for him. But I just really wish you would remain open to the love of these movies. Let the love of these movies get their arms around you, Rabbi. You can really get a lot of message of love and forgiveness out of it.
SCARBOROUGH: Rabbi, I feel the love. Is that what you‘re really afraid of, that maybe Jews may go into this movie and be converted?
BOTEACH: Well, you know what? You may feel the love, Joe, but from Jennifer, sadly, all I feel is the bigotry. What you‘re really saying is that Judaism is not an authentic religion, that it nothing to sell for itself, that a Jew would go into a movie and walk away and discard a faith for which his ancestors have died for thousands of years.
GIROUX: Not at all, Rabbi. That‘s not what I said.
BOTEACH: It‘s a movie, Jennifer. It‘s not the church. It‘s not prayer.
Instead of running your Web site about SeeThePassion.com, why don‘t you do something like GoToChurch.com or LoveJesusAndDoAsHeLived.com?
BOTEACH: It‘s just a movie, Jennifer. Jennifer, you are calling for donations on your Web site.
BOTEACH: Wait one second.
You are calling for donations on your Web site to promote this movie. Now, are you trying to make Mel Gibson rich? Why don‘t you use charitable money to get people to go to church, to pray, to read the New Testament? The book of Matthew is 28 chapters. “The Passion” is only two of those chapters.
GIROUX: Take a breath, Rabbi. Let me in here.
BOTEACH: But Judaism is also a fine world religion, Jennifer.
GIROUX: We are trying to promote the future of clean entertainment. “The Passion” battle is won. The clean entertainment battle is now just beginning.
Mel Gibson has now paved the way for clean entertainment in Hollywood, which we, as parents, are craving to be able to send our kids, our children, our adolescents to a movie that they can be proud of.
BOTEACH: You call the blood in “The Passion” a clean movie? You call more blood than in “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” a clean movie?
GIROUX: Rabbi, you insult and you offend.
BOTEACH: Jennifer, would you take an 8-year-old child to see “The Passion”?
GIROUX: No, I would not.
BOTEACH: Oh, so you call it clean entertainment, but you wouldn‘t take a child? If it‘s clean entertainment, then why won‘t you take children?
GIROUX: Rabbi, you invoke John Paul II as being someone you admire.
GIROUX: Just this week, his spokesman came out and said anyone that finds “The Passion of Christ” anti-Semitic finds the Gospels anti-Semitic. Now, will you please go on record and let us know, do you find the four Gospels anti-Semitic?
BOTEACH: That all depends on how people interpret it.
GIROUX: It all depends. That sounds like a yes, Rabbi. That sounds like a yes. I think we‘re getting to the heart of the matter here.
BOTEACH: I did not say yes.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second. One at a time.
BOTEACH: OK, Jennifer, the fact is that “The Passion” does not follow the Gospels, because without getting too theological, Luke Chapter 3 says that the rabbi saved Jesus‘ life. That‘s 3:31. It says that Pontius Pilate, 3:1, was a brutal monster and murderer.
GIROUX: Are you calling our pope a liar?
BOTEACH: Jennifer, you‘re talking about the Gospels.
BOTEACH: The pope never said that.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘ll tell you what.
Let me bring in Rebecca St. James into this.
Rebecca, of course, you‘re a Christian music singer. We‘ve had you on the show before talking about how to reach out to young people. Forgetting the debate that you just heard for one moment, tell me, again, as somebody that appeals to young people, why do you think the largest demographic that‘s going to see this movie are 18-to-30-year-olds?
REBECCA ST. JAMES, CHRISTIAN RECORDING ARTIST: Well, I think they‘re getting something out of it, something that‘s positive. And I‘m seeing that day in, day out, because I‘m road speaking every night to 4,000, 8,000 people.
And every night, I‘m talking about this movie because it‘s changing people‘s lives. It‘s making them think, what do I believe? It‘s helping them to ask questions. It‘s getting them to talk about spiritual things. And so I think it‘s promoting a whole lot of good. To me, it‘s promoting love.
It‘s talking about God sending his son to Earth to die to take the sins of the world upon his shoulders to give them freedom and hope and life. What could be more great and love-showing than that? And so I think it‘s promoting a lot of good.
SCARBOROUGH: Rebecca, what do you say to the rabbi, who says it‘s bloody, it‘s gory? He says no love in it. In fact, why don‘t you talk about the life of Jesus? Why don‘t you do a movie on the Sermon on the Mount instead of doing this bloody movie about just showing people how he died?
ST. JAMES: The crucifixion is the epitome of what the Christian believes. It‘s the center of our faith. If Jesus didn‘t die, then we wouldn‘t have anything to base our faith on, because he died to free us from our sin and to give us hope and reason to live.
So to me, to focus on that is to focus on the center of our faith.
It‘s what gives us hope.
SCARBOROUGH: Rabbi, I want to read you what Abe Foxman from the Anti-Defamation League said. He didn‘t really like the idea of Mel Gibson doing a movie on the Hanukkah.
He said this: “My answer would be thanks, but no thanks. In his hands, we may wind up losing,” a very pithy quote there.
But it troubles me a bit that somebody like you that has been an ally with evangelical Christians on many, many fights would feel so insulted by this movie and so shocked and really so separated from the millions of Christians that are going out there seeing this movie and being genuinely moved. Do you ever sit back for a second and say, gee, I can understand why this movie moves them?
BOTEACH: Of course I understand why it moves them. I think that people today are overwhelmed with a sense of guilt. They feel very bad for sexual sin, materialism. We are becoming an increasingly vulgar culture. And suddenly, a movie comes along and says, well, you don‘t have to work on improving any of those facets of your life. Jesus died for your sins. It‘s incredibly relieving.
GIROUX: That‘s not the message, Rabbi.
BOTEACH: Wait, Jennifer, Jennifer.
And you walk away feeling utterly relieved. And I think that the message of Jesus, even as a Jew, was much more challenging and actually much more subtle. And that‘s why it didn‘t depend on cheap and shallow sensationalism. The message was that we are all children of God and can lead godly lives. And it‘s not easy.
But you pick yourself up and continue on that path. Even if you don‘t walk out of a movie theater with tears streaming down your cheeks, you could lead a life that confers upon other people dignity and you can be attached to God. And that‘s a lot more challenging than people seeing some grave—some image that makes them feel so shocked.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Jennifer Giroux, is it cheap sensationalism?
GIROUX: Absolutely not.
And what the rabbi fails to understand here, at least doesn‘t want us to come for and tells us he understands, is redemptive suffering. It doesn‘t say go ahead and continue with your sin because you‘re watching this movie and Christ suffered for us. What it says is, he took on the gravity of our sin, which is why the scourging is so difficult, why he stands up and he looks at his mother and everyone is saying, stay down from your seat, but he understands he hadn‘t taken enough to take on our sins.
What it does is inspire people to look inward and see their own sins and their own failings and try to do better. And that is why 14-year-olds are coming out of that film and teenagers and 30-year-old men and they‘re saying, you know what? I want to live a better life. I want to be a better person and I want to do good.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, thank you so much, Jennifer Giroux.
And Happy St. Patrick‘s Day to you, too. Giroux, I think that‘s an Irish name, isn‘t it? Thank you for being with us. Also, Rabbi, as always, thank you for being here. And, Rebecca St. James, we appreciate it. Thanks a lot for being with us.
And coming up, a Fresno man is arraigned for killing nine of his family members, all children of his polygamist and incestuous relationships. We‘re going to talk about polygamy in America with a woman who‘s dedicated her life to fighting it.
And later, people in Utah celebrated St. Patrick‘s Day in a rather unconventional way. We‘ll tell you about it all in SCARBOROUGH‘s—the “Flyover” of SCARBOROUGH‘s—SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
I‘m sorry. I‘m so distracted looking at these pictures. What are they doing?
ANNOUNCER: Now here‘s some Hotwire travel trivia. The biggest American St. Patrick‘s Day Parade is in New York City. Where‘s the second biggest?
Stay tuned for the answer.
ANNOUNCER: You‘re watching SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
And in today‘s Hotwire travel trivia, we asked you, the biggest American St. Patrick‘s Day Parade is in New York City. Where‘s the second biggest? Give up? The answer is Savannah, Georgia; 200,000 who live in Savannah and 300,00 visitors were expected for St. Patrick‘s Day today.
Now back to Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: I got it right. I‘ll tell you what, I am wired into these Hotwire trivia questions. I think I‘ve gotten every one of them right, except, of course, the one time they gave the wrong answer, when they said the oldest city in America was St. Augustine. No, it‘s Pensacola, Florida, founded in 1559. Check it out. They‘re telling me to stop talking. OK.
The man arrested in the Fresno, California, mass murders was in court today. Marcus Wesson is charged with killing nine family members and allegedly practicing polygamy and having an incestuous relationship with at least two of his daughters. While you may think that polygamy is rare, I just spoke with a woman who says it‘s prevalent in 33 states.
Flora Jessop is involved in a highly controversial crusade, rescuing teenage moms from polygamist family. I asked her to take us into the mind-set of what goes on in those families.
FLORA JESSOP, ANTI-POLYGAMY ACTIVIST: Polygamy is a rationalization for incest.
Most of every group that I know of practices incest. They intermarry, and the birth defects, as a matter of fact, are becoming so widespread in these communities that there is hardly any births—any children being born without some sort of defect.
SCARBOROUGH: The question is, if it‘s that widespread, if it‘s that easy to spot, and if in this case you had neighbors who were saying they suspected polygamy, why don‘t more people step in to try to rescue these young women who are being so abused by middle-aged men?
JESSOP: Good question. Actually, probably the reason why most people don‘t step in is because they face what I‘m facing now. I just rescued two girls from the border of Utah and Arizona, 16 years old. And I am now faced with—the state of Arizona is now threatening me with jail.
SCARBOROUGH: The state of Arizona is actually penalizing you for going in and rescuing two young girls that were in an incestuous relationship, in a polygamist relationship?
JESSOP: They were not actually married off yet, but one of the things you have to understand, these kids have maybe 15 minutes to two hours notice before they are forced into these marriages.
As a matter of fact, one of the girls that I rescued, her younger sister has since been married.
SCARBOROUGH: How old was she?
SCARBOROUGH: The one that you rescued or the younger daughter?
JESSOP: The younger sister.
SCARBOROUGH: The younger sister.
JESSOP: The girls that I rescued were both 16.
SCARBOROUGH: So you rescued two 16-year-old girls that were about to be forced into polygamy, and the state of Arizona is actually threatening to throw you in jail?
JESSOP: Yes, because these kids ran from state custody when the state was getting ready to send them back home to their parents.
SCARBOROUGH: So why doesn‘t the state of Arizona work aggressively to save these young women from being abused in these relationships with these middle-aged men, who are very clearly predators?
JESSOP: Yes, they are.
It‘s a question we have been asking for many years. I‘ve been fighting for these kids for the last four, since my 14-year-old sister was forced to marry her stepbrother. She is still locked in the community and now has two children. She‘s 17 now. And the authorities in neither Utah nor Arizona will go and get her and give her any protection.
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s remarkable.
Let‘s talk about for a minute again the mind-set of these young women that get trapped in these type of relationships. And, again, some people are saying it‘s like cults. Is there a possibility that some of these women, after they get into these relationships, get brainwashed? Like, for instance, in this instance, authorities actually believe that one of the victims this past weekend may have helped the murderer shoot other victims, because there‘s no way that that one man could have shot all nine without cooperation from somebody else in there.
Is that possible to be in such a cult-like situation that you actually don‘t know what you‘re doing, that you actually help the polygamist kill others?
JESSOP: Yes. Yes.
SCARBOROUGH: How? How? Explain that to those of us that just have no idea how something like this could happen.
JESSOP: One of the things that they start by doing is foregoing any type of education to these children. And the control is often started at birth.
For instance, I was born into the community. They actually start controlling the babies at birth by teaching the babies not to cry. They do this one of two ways, by repeatedly slapping the faces of the babies or holding their faces under running water when they cry. This teaches absolute control. And they can force you to do whatever they want you to do by threats on your family, threats on your salvation.
These people believe they go to hell, directly to hell if they don‘t live the way these men tell them they have to live.
SCARBOROUGH: So, in these cults, you have, let‘s say, 55-year-old men telling 14-, 15-year-old girls, you marry me, you have sex with me, even though we‘re related, even though you‘re my daughter or my cous—or my niece or whatever, or my cousin, you marry me, and if you don‘t, we may abuse you, abuse your family, and even, if we don‘t do that, you‘re going straight to hell?
JESSOP: That‘s right.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Well, thank you so much.
We appreciate you being with us, Flora Jessop. And, most importantly, we thank you for sharing your story with our viewers. It‘s very, very important information that has just got to get out there. Thanks a lot.
JESSOP: Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, have a happy St. Patrick‘s Day, like these Irishmen in Utah.
See you tomorrow.
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