'Up w/Chris Hayes' for Saturday, May 5, 2012
Read the transcript to the Saturday show
Guests: Melissa Harris-Perry, John McWhorter, Michelle Goldberg, Jonathan Haidt, Chris Mooney,
Esther Armah, P.J. Crowley, Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR: The American public alarge will not be
able to view the proceedings.
And President Barack Obama holds the first official rallies of his re-
election campaign today, kicking off in Ohio and then Virginia.
Right now, I am joined by John McWhorter, columnist for the "New York
Daily News," Columbia University professor of linguistics, and contributing
editor at the New Republic." Michelle Goldberg, author of the book, "The
Means Of Reproduction: Sex, Power, And The Future Of The World," and senior
contributing writer at "Newsweek" and the "Daily Beast."
Playwright and author, Esther Armah, host of "Wake-Up Call" at WBII FM
here in New York, and Chris Mooney, author of the new book, "The Republican
Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science and Reality," and host of the
podcast, "Point of Inquiry." Great to have you here, Chris.
On Wednesday, the Romney campaign`s foreign policy spokesman, Richard
Grenell, resigned after an uproar from social conservatives over his sexual
orientation. Grenell is openly gay, and despite his affiliation with the
GOP, has been a vocal advocate for marriage equality. After Grenell was
hired three weeks ago, far-right radio host, Brian Fischer, wrote this
about Romney on Twitter.
"If personnel is policy, his message to the pro-family community, drop
dead." After that, according to "New York Times," Grenell was asked to,
quote, "lay low" during a foreign policy conference call that he, himself,
had organized that prompted Grenell to quit. Romney adviser, Eric
Fehrnstrom, responded to Grenell`s resignation in an interview with Chuck
Todd (Ph) on Friday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC FEHRNSTROM, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN SR. ADVISER: He did decide for his
own reasons that his effectiveness was going to be compromised.
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Is this having to do with the fact that some
social conservatives appeared to publicly be going after him?
FEHRNSTROM: Well, I don`t want to speak for Rick, but I will say
that, of course, you know, there were voices of intolerance that expressed
themselves during this debate. That was unfortunate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: His job, just because he is gay, would have been the most
extreme thing to happen in the marriage equality to beat this week if it
weren`t for the amendment one in North Carolina. Amendment one about
initiative that goes before voters this Tuesday is may be the most
underreported political story in America right now.
Taken with the Grenell controversy, it showcases a disturbing trend of
increasing radicalization among anti-gay forces. Every state in the south
has a law restricting -- has a constitutional amendment restricting
marriage to heterosexual couples, but amendment one would go further.
It would amend the state constitution to make marriage between one man
and one woman, quote, "the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or
recognized in this state." That would not only ban same sex marriage, but
also civil unions. And the amendment could threaten certain legal
protections such as restraining orders for women who were never married to
their male abusers.
In fact, one poll showed that once people know what the proposal
actually does, that it would ban any domestic union other than marriage
between a man and a woman, support plummet from 55 percent to just 38
So, what I found fascinating about these two cases is, I think there`s
a little bit -- and I think rightfully triumphalism in folks who are
pushing for marriage equality and equality for LGBT folks, because the
polling is really encouraging and sort of remarkable. Nothing else seems
to change in as rapid a fashion.
If you spend your time thinking about politics, in particularly
progressive politics, I don`t think there`s a single other issue where it
feels like the wind is at your back in the same way that the fight for
equality on this score does, and, yet, the Grenell firing seemed to me a
massive step back, I thought.
I thought that we had all agreed that, in public life, you could be
openly gay and not just be fired for it, although, of course, legally you
can still be fired for being gay. And then, amendment one in North
Carolina, which the polling looks like, as it currently stands, is likely
I wonder if it makes us -- if it anyone feels that we`ve gotten out
ahead of where the public is. This is a useful reminder of just how strong
the forces and prejudices are.
JOHN MCWHORTER, MYDAILYNEWS.COM: If a drunken man is about to fall
into the gutter, then we can be assured that before he eventually falls
into the gutter, he`ll do some lurches away from the gutter and the thought
maybe he`s about to get back up. I think that`s what this is. But when
automobiles came in, there were horse and buggy clubs, because there were
some people who didn`t like cars because they brought smoke, et cetera.
That didn`t mean that cars were having a problem and that horse and
buggies were going to stay in. So, I think that naturally because of the
randomness of life and because of the inherent conservatism of some people,
we`re going to see reversals of this kind, because that`s the way life
works, but certainly, the wind is in a certain direction.
In my classes at Columbia, I have students who are casually talking
about the fact that they`re gay, which is great. Never would have happened
-- I would say even six or seven years ago, that`s, of course, just one
part of the society, but I think where we`re going is clear. There will be
these spikes and random backward sorts of things. But I, at least, am not
that worried about them.
HAYES: Michelle -- yes?
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, THEDAILYBEAST.COM: I mean, I feel like this is my
perennial theme with both of my writing and on this show that there`s a
difference between kind of where broad public opinion is and where the
Republican Party is. Then, you know, the Republican Party on all sorts of
issues has moved significantly to the right from where it was even during
the Bush years.
And so, you know, I can`t imagine something like the Grenell thing
happening during the Bush years, for example. But --
HAYES: Do you think that Grenell thing is a step back (ph) in that
GOLDBERG: Well, I think that the party -- Mitt Romney for a whole
bunch of reasons, some having to do with the real alignment (ph) of the
party, some having to do with his distressed by social conservatives is
kind of more, in a lot of ways, he has to be even more responsive to the
most extreme forces in his party because he`s so distrusted.
And then, there was also a whole other co-influence of things. The
Grenell thing might not have happened has he not also -- as we were talking
about before, made all of these kind of really egregious sexist tweets, all
of these tweets going after Callista Gingrich, at a time when Mitt Romney
is kind of, you know, full outrage.
HAYES: And my dear friend and colleague, Rachelle Maddow, who he had
all sorts of totally Neanderthalish, stupid tweets about her appearance, et
GOLDBERG: Right. That would actually seem like actively homophobic.
ESTHER ARMAH, WBAI.ORG: But I think -- what I think is interesting is
one that we`re in the era of political self-assassination by Twitter.
HAYES: Right. Yes.
ARMAH: So that Grenell, you know, literally was hosted by his own --
GOLDBERG: Which is amazing because he`s a communication expert.
ARMAH: But I think this is part of, first of all, the modern media.
I think it`s part of the modern media and the fact that all his
credentials, his references were checked. And they`ll be --
HAYES: Yes. Yes. That`s very good.
ARMAH: And that is -- it`s a moment of particular modern American
politics. I also think never underestimate what can happen in an election
year given what the stakes are, and the reality is both sides recognized is
going to be an incredibly close presidential race. And then, thirdly,
actually, what is kind of the most ironic is that Grenell was hired because
of his credentials, and then, eventually, had to resign because of his
ARMAH: And it`s just a weird -- but it`s also shows that the Romney
camp, given how far right the Republican Party is, did not think about his
sexuality given that --
HAYES: I think they did. I mean, Chris, I wanted to hear you, but I
just want to enter this on the record, which is Brian Fischer who is the
ultraconservative who attack them --
HAYES: Right. He`s the one who said the personnel`s policy --
CHRIS MOONEY, AUTHOR, "THE REPUBLICAN BRAIN": He tweeted that, right?
HAYES: Yes. Well, then, he had actually, I thought, -- I mean,
obviously, I find the guys views pretty odious, but he had, I thought, a
pretty (INAUDIBLE) analysis of all things is let me get this straight.
First of all, he attends to essentially court the LGBT community by putting
this person from the position and throwing off the pro-family community
under the bus.
Then, when he gets backlash, he doesn`t fire him. He just sort of
lets him hang out there to dry, and he has to resign. And then after he
resigned, his spokesperson goes on and talks about us at forces of
intolerance. It`s like he`s pandering in every possible direction in all
sorts of way --
GOLDBERG: And then alienating --
HAYES: And alienating everyone -- Chris.
MOONEY: I wanted to say that this is not just about equality, this is
actually about science. If you look at the people supporting amendment
one, they actually believe that same sex marriages are bad for children.
The evidence doesn`t support this at all, but it`s one of those four-year-
old faucets (ph) about homosexuality, the idea that you can choose to be
gay, which is not the case.
The American Psychological Association refused (ph) all of this. But
you wouldn`t have these strong beliefs without this idea that the science
backs them up, and that turns out to be totally wrong, too.
ARMAH: That`s actually, don`t you all think, I think that we`re in
this moment where there`s an absolute war on the modern American family in
all these different ways. The idea that through legislation, you`re trying
to enshrine one woman-one man as marriage, but divorce to fix their love
(ph) makes that crazy.
ARMAH: And the modern American family just looks very, very
different. So, with the assault on the voting rights, with the war against
women and where we are now with the North Carolina amendment, I feel like
the Republicans, first of all, because it`s not a winning political
strategy, but because of the tantrum to elements of extremism --
HAYES: -- because I think there`s a few things here. One is that,
along all sorts of metrics, things are getting better from the perspective
of people who like traditional family. So, divorce rates have gone down.
Teen pregnancy has gone down tremendously, I mean, shockingly, right?
Well, I mean, it`s a huge difference over the last 10 years.
So, if you actually look at the data, it`s not like -- and if you look
at the data and you combine it with a fairly standard, normative sense of
what the family should be, which is, you know, women shouldn`t get -- girl
shouldn`t get pregnant when they`re 15. Divorce is bad for kids and family
should stay together, things are looking up. The trends are in the right
GOLDBERG: I mean, but, you know, I think that when you said -- I
don`t think it`s a contradiction that there`s this idea that there`s a war
on the family, at the same time, that there are these high divorce rates.
And divorce rates are still pretty high, particularly, in the states that
tend to be --
GOLDBERG: And I think people have an intuition that families,
traditional family like traditional family stability really is under
attack. You know, it`s certainly not under attack for gay marriage, but it
is under attack for maybe the forces of modern capitalism or all sorts of
things, but nobody -- but if someone is coming along and say I`m going to
explain to you why your own life feels so insecure and kind of why these
primary relationships that you`ve kind of come to depend on have now become
some tenuous, that`s really powerful, because those are the things that are
destroying people`s lives.
MCWHORTER: Well, I have the sense of indignation, though, about the
fact that these people are battling against the world changing around them.
It`s what I would expect. It`s not that there`s just been a fallback and
say, oh yes, change. That`s not the way human beings work.
If things are really changing and there`s a certain wind at our backs,
then naturally, certain people are going to start crying louder. We would
wait for that. We can look at our watches and know that was going to
happen, and then, we can also know. I wouldn`t call it a war, because
those people are losing, and we just happen to be in the intermediate
We have to listen to their noise and it won`t be pretty, but it
doesn`t mean that the clock is going to turn back. I don`t think that it
MOONEY: This is the nature of left and right when you think about it
is that, you know, the next generation of conservatives are going to be
fine with the same sex marriage.
HAYES: And we`re already seeing that in the poll when you poll
conservatives under 30. Yes.
MOONEY: You know, conservatism is best defined as resistance of
change. Once there`s a new status quo, then you defend that one. And so,
you see that with civil rights, you see it with women`s rights. You saw it
with -- in a racial marriage. You know, it`s always -- you always got to
drag some people a little bit. But, I think with this one, the win is
ARMAH: But I was thinking the difference between the liberality of
what people are going through in their actual lives versus, once again, the
fact of being in an election year and what is becoming political strategy
in order to ascertain how can we navigate winning the presidential
And between those two spaces, what Mitt Romney`s camp is willing to do
becomes more and more extreme because it`s not rooted in anything that has
integrity -- how much further towards winning?
HAYES: Those decisions are -- those decisions -- the irony, I think,
is actually from a purely strategic prospective and dispositional
prospective. You have two people now running against each other, the
president and Mitt Romney, who are fairly risk averse in certain ways. And
when you`re looking at -- if someone comes before you and says, should we
cut this guy loose?
Yes. Cut him loose. You have much bigger battles to wage, right?
I`m not talking from a moral perspective. I`m talking under a purely
strategic perspective, and it`s true that under the conditions of an
election campaign, you start making these very, very crass calculations of
interests and benefits and losses.
I want to turn to someone who is in North Carolina and who`s doing
amazing work organizing against amendment one and for equality throughout
the entire south. We`re going to talk to her right after this break.
HAYES: Shout out to the recently the passed (ph) Adam Yauch a.k.a MCA
of the Beastie Boys. Super sad to hear of his passing yesterday. We`ll be
giving you some MCA verses as we go throughout the day here.
I want to bring in Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of
the campaign for Southern Equality. They`ve been doing incredible work
through what they call "we do campaign" throughout the entire south
fighting for marriage equality, and now, fighting against North Carolina`s
very extreme amendment one, which will be a state constitutional amendment
that will ban not just same sex marriage but civil unions.
Reverend, it`s so good to have you on the program. Thank you so much.
REV. JASMINE BEACH-FERRARA, EXEC. DIR. CAMPAIGN FOR SOUTHERN EQUALITY:
Good morning, Chris. It`s great to be with you.
HAYES: First, I was talking to a few people from North Carolina
yesterday and trying to get a sense of why now. It`s interesting that
North Carolina is a hold out in that most of the states around it have
state constitutional amendments banning guy runners (ph), and it already
has a law, a statutory provision banning it. Why is this being pushed now?
BEACH-FERRARA: Well, the answer to that really is about state
politics. This amendment has actually been introduced every year since
2004 and ended up being killed in committee.
And then, the Republicans gained control the state legislature in the
2010 midterm elections for the first time in over a century in North
Carolina, and this was part of the agenda that they brought with them and
had the votes to get it out of committee, and obviously, to pass it, so
it`s going to a popular vote.
HAYES: Will you tell me a little bit about what it looks like on the
ground there? The polling on this issue is a little difficult and a little
unreliable. And, it does seem that there`s a huge gap between what people
support for it in the abstract and then their support for it once they find
out just how extreme the provision is.
In fact, it has even drawn condemnation from folks who work for
quote/unquote "traditional marriage," who work against marriage inequality
in other places, and this was an op-ed that run in the news and observer.
And it says -- the amendment means that North Carolina could not now
or ever take any step or devise any policy to extend local recognition and
protection of the same sex couples, no domestic partnership laws, no civil
unions, nothing. That`s mighty cold. If you just dame (ph) gay and
lesbian persons and don`t care whether they and their families were named
permanently outside the protection of our laws, such policy might be your
cup of tea, but it`s not our view.
And we doubt it`s the view of most North Carolinian. What do you make
of this -- this condemnation from the folks working against marriage
equality and other circumstances that this law is so extreme, and do North
Carolina voters have a sense of just how extreme it is?
BEACH-FERRARA: Well, you`re exactly right. The landscape here is
very, very dynamic and also charged right now. In some ways, the debate is
playing out in the way it has in the 30 other states that have looked at
amendments like this, and then, in other ways, you know, this is 2012, and
it`s a volatile, political moment.
And as you say, a lot of leading conservative figures and leaders in
the Republican Party have come out against amendment one which has been
unexpected, but I think speaks precisely to the polling you`re alluding to.
Right now, polls show that we`re 14 points down. The polls have been
tightening in recent weeks.
And the polls also show, as you said, that as folks understand that
this would also ban civil unions and domestic partnerships. That just
feels like a step too far, and there`s a clear majority of folk who when
they understand the full extend of this proposed amendment actually oppose
it. So, obviously, we want folks to understand everything that`s at stake.
And I`m going to put in a plug for early voting. Today is the last
day of early voting in North Carolina. So, after you watch the show this
morning, if you`re in North Carolina, please go out and vote against
amendment one. But I think what we also see in that polling data is that
the tide is turning in North Carolina.
And, whatever happens on May 8th, obviously, we want to defeat
amendment one, but whatever happens on May 8th, to live reality for LGBT
folks in our state is that we will still be second class citizens on May
9th. And that we still have work to do to achieve full equality.
And we believe that that equality will ultimately come in the federal
level, and that`s precisely why we`re launching the next stage of the "we
do campaign" on the morning of May 9th to send a very clear message that
North Carolina is our home, that LGBT families live literally in every town
and county across our state.
And we want, especially for LGBT youth, who really just been hearing
horribly homophobic messages for months and months now because of this
debate, we want them to know that there are folks all across the state and
all across the country who know that they`re fully equal and who are ready
to stand up for their equality.
HAYES: I`ve been really struck by a video that you put together from
"we do campaign" that looks at the work you do, and I want to show that to
all the folks at home right after we take this quick break.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want to request a marriage license.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We filled out the application online.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Are you getting married in North Carolina?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, ma`am.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. We`re here to get our marriage license.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- application?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So we`ve come today to put on record that we are
married in Massachusetts?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you a teacher?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. I want you to know that this office
respects equality. However, I am not able to issue a marriage license to
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When carol going to North Carolina law, I`m not
allowed to issue you a marriage license.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- North Carolina states got few changes on
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. All right. Well, we know that you`re doing
your job. And we just hope that one day you will be able to grant this
kind of license to us and my family.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hope so.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`ve been together for 25 years. We`re in our
mid 60s. Can you tell us what steps we might take to become full and equal
citizens under the law before we die? Can you help us with that?
HAYES: A really powerful video from the campaign for southern
equality. We have Reverend Jasmine Beach-Ferrara on the line who heads up
the campaign, who "we do campaign." Tell me about the "we do campaign,"
the footage we`ve just seen which you have been running or helping to run
in both North Carolina and other southern states.
BEACH-FERRARA: Well, the "we do campaign," as you can see, involves
LGBT couples requesting marriage licenses. Obviously, we know that those
requests will be turned down, but the reason we do this is to put a human
face on an issue that is all too often debated in highly divisive political
And, as you can see from the video, you know, these are the stories of
real people. People who are our neighbors, our friends, folks who are our
public school teachers, who are public servants, and this is what it looks
like when a discriminatory law that`s on the books is enforced. And the
premise of the "we do campaign" is obviously building on a very rich
tradition of civil rights organizing in the south.
About ordinary real people stepping up to directly resist
discriminatory laws in their local communities and doing that because they
feel like, as citizens, they deserve equal protection under the law that`s
being denied to them. And they feel moved and compelled to act. For some
folks, they`re acting because of their faith (ph) traditions. Other folks,
you`re just saying, you know, the time has come. I don`t want to silently
submit to these laws any longer.
And we`ll be beginning the third stage of the "we do campaign" on the
morning of May 9th. We`ll be doing these actions in eight communities
across North Carolina. Some will be towns with fewer than 500 residents.
Some will be larger cities in North Carolina, and in select communities
will be using civil disobedience, which takes the form of a sit in when
someone has refused a marriage license.
GOLDBERG: This is Michelle Goldberg. I`m really curious about the
strategy behind this, because on one hand, these videos are obviously
incredibly moving. But it also does -- I mean, you are, I think, kind of
conceding that the debate is about the justice of gay marriage when
potentially, the more winnable argument would be about the fact that this
is going to ban civil unions on a state where you already have a ban on gay
You know, I mean, I guess I`m curious why this has been portrayed from
the beginning as this is a law to ban civil unions. I mean, that`s the
point of it. That`s the change from the status quo.
BEACH-FERRARA: That`s a great question. And there`s really two
separate issues here. Obviously, there`s the debate about amendment one,
which is critically important in North Carolina right now. The "we do
campaign" is a growing campaign. And what we`re calling for is full
federal equality. Our analysis of the strategic landscape is that federal
equality is the most efficient mechanism for LGBT folks and all 50 states,
and particularly, in southern states achieving equality in the areas of
employment, healthcare, family rights and protection, and relationship
Now, obviously, when something like amendment one surfaces, we have to
play defense. We have to do our best to hold the line and, you know, our
partners and folks are working literally around the clock across North
Carolina in efforts to beat amendment one.
And at the same time, we can`t be -- at the same time, it`s critical
for us to be looking beyond what happens on May 8th and saying, this is an
issue that our whole country is wrestling with. And we think, ultimately,
will be resolved on the federal level and the south has, we think, a
critical role to play in how our country gets the federal equality, and
that`s the premise of the "we do campaign."
HAYES: Reverend, if you wouldn`t mind sticking around, John McWhorter
has a question, I`ve got a few more questions, and because I think this is
really important issue, we`re going to keep going right after this break.
HAYES: All right. We`re back with Jason Beach from North Carolina.
John McWhorter, you had a question for her?
MCWHORTER: Reverend, I just wanted to know as a point of
clarification, is this law being publicized or discussed in a way that
seems deliberately crafted to distract from the fact that this is about
things domestic civil unions, and really going whole hog. Is the idea that
this people feel that they have to disguise that or is it just a matter of
people needing to read wording that they might not get around to?
BEACH-FERRARA: I think that there`s a lot of confusion about the
actual meaning of the amendment. And part of that is actually because it
uses very vague language that hasn`t been tested in the courts. So, that`s
one issue. Another issue, of course, is that both sides in this are
framing the debate differently. So, those who support amendment one are
making this seem like a very innocuous guard and variety effort to define
marriages between one man and one woman.
The reality of how it`s written and what it means, and of course, what
we`re saying in efforts to defeat it are that there`s potentially very far-
reaching implications not just for LGBT families in terms of civil unions
and domestic partnerships being banned, but also potentially for unmarried
And as Chris mentioned earlier in the show, potential ramifications in
the area of domestic violence laws. And I think, you know, as we see in
the polling, there`s just a lot of confusion about what this actually
means. And as people get more educated as to its actual implications and
potential implications, opposition to amendment one is well over 50
HAYES: Esther Armah.
ARMAH: Rev. Jasmine, this is Esther Armah. I wanted to ask you about
how faith and race is playing into the way this has been argued and framed
on the ground, especially with the NOM, the National Organization for
Marriage, playing into the black clergy and homophobic rhetoric? And can
you just talk a bit about that?
BEACH-FERRARA: That`s a great question. And we`re seeing some very
interesting and exciting things happen, I think, in a positive response to
that, which is to say that, you know, NOM, clearly uses a strategy that
tries to divide the African-American community and the LGBT community, and
they have published strategic papers that document what that strategy is.
In North Carolina, though, it`s not working. And one of the things
we`re seeing that`s really extraordinary is that Reverend Barber who`s the
head of the statewide, NAACP in North Carolina, has been incredibly vocal
in his opposition to amendment one has been touring the state to get that
message out there.
And he`s joined by African-American clergy from across faith`s
traditions. And I think we`re seeing the discourse start to change. Now,
at the same time, I think efforts are being made for this to be a racially
divisive issue, unfortunately. But I think there are some promising things
happen that I think point to what`s actually the human reality of this
that, of course, there are African-American folks who are LGBT people.
And the human realities of these issue transcend the divisive
political climate around that, and that`s really what we`re trying to shift
the conversation to be about -- this is a human issue about real people.
It`s a moral issue. And, for me, of course, as a person of faith, it`s a
faith issue. You know, I feel called by my faith to do work around this
And also, I feel called by my faith to try to engage with folks on the
other side of this issue in a different way than the sort of divisive,
partisan and pretty vitriolic terms we often see in the political sphere.
HAYES: Yes. That`s something we`re talking about a lot today is
talking across the partisan divide, talking across the ideological divide,
the possibility of persuasion. Just quickly, how do you -- what is the
approach that you find most effective in a part of the country that is very
socially conservative in which -- and is both very social conservative and
BEACH-FERRARA: Well, I can talk personally. You know, I grew up as a
gay kid in North Carolina in the 1980s and 1990s. Obviously, I live here
as an out gay person. I love North Carolina, and I love the south. This
is my home. And, I think what folks who live in the south experience and
know and it`s kind of in the DNA of our state and our region is an
understanding that people do change and transform in all directions.
And in my own personal live, I`ve seen family members and friends who
were raised with religious convictions and teachings that homosexuality was
a sin. I`ve seen them change in their beliefs as they have been in
relationship with LGBT folks and have come to understand that you can
reconcile, you know, oftentimes in the south, we`re talking about the
Christian tradition, you can reconcile Christian teachings with an
affirmation of the rights of LGBT folks.
There`s no inherent contradiction there. And what I find and what we
see time and again and again is that when people change their hearts and
minds on this issue, it happens in their personal lives. And it happens
through a long process, and it happens because they`re in relationship with
trusted people who love them and don`t judge them during that process.
Unfortunately, of course, that process doesn`t necessarily coincide
with the timeframe of a political campaign. So, when we`re operating in
the political sphere with something like amendment 1, we face some real
challenges. We do see that as folks get more informed about how extreme
amendment one is, their opposition to it grows up -- increases, rather.
And I think again, what that speaks to is that the tide is really
turning on people`s sentiment, and that if you were to characterize the
majority position in North Carolina, it would be that folks are conflicted.
You know, their faith teaches them one thing, and yet, they know LGBT
person who they work with or who`s a family member, and they`re trying to
figure out how to reconcile those things.
In our work with the "we do campaign," the position we take is to
always extend empathy towards those who were conflicted about our rights
and to try to start the conversation from a place of empathy rather than
from a place of mutual condemnation. And we`re finding that folks are
very, very responsive to that a approach because it helps to humanize both
sides of the issue.
HAYES: I want to thank Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director
of the Campaign for Southern Equality, for joining us this morning. And,
we`ll have you back. Thanks so much.
BEACH-FERRARA: Thank you. Appreciate it.
HAYES: The reverend just talked about empathy and talking across the
ideological divide. Are our political foes crazy or are we all crazy?
Right after this.
HAYES: If our political institutions seem more dysfunctional than
ever before, that`s probably because they`re more polarized than ever
before, and we`re not just talking about our perpetually deadlocked
Congress. Even among voters at large, the broad center seems to be rapidly
One of the most insidious features of the kind of polarization we`re
seeing in America now is that it makes it difficult, if not impossible, to
relate to people at the other end of the spectrum. They seem irrational to
attach from reality, outright crazy. There are two books out now that try
to parse this phenomenon.
They asked the question, if through evolution we`ve all inherited the
same more intuitions, then how do we end up, so far, apart on so many basic
political issues? We have the authors of both of those books here with us
today. Chris Mooney, who as I mentioned before, is the author of "The
Republican Brain." And joining us now at the table is Jonathan Haidt,
professor of psychology at the University of Virginia and author of "The
Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided?" Thanks for joining us this
So, this -- I think this is, in some ways, the most important single
issue to figure out and discuss, because I have personally involved in my
thinking about polarization and that I used to be very pro-polarization. I
used to think that people`s concerns about polarization were this bourgeois
establishment, elite concern, and us, the vanguard of righteousness --
squash our foes (ph).
And I`ve now realized that to get change on the scale, we need, and
particularly my sort of pre-occupations (ph) on climate change just can`t
get it under the current conditionings of polarization. You just cannot
get it. So, the question is, you have to solve that problem first before
you solve the bigger problem. Let me start with you, Chris.
HAYES: The book is called "The Republican Brain," and it`s a really
good read. What is the nature of the "The Republican Brain" that makes it
distinct or the conservative brain that makes it distinct from the liberal
MOONEY: Well, I think it`s rooted (ph) in personality. Personality
is politics, and there`s a ton of research showing that the average liberal
is much more open new experiences and new information trying out new things
and has someone with a different cognitive style than the average
And that means tolerating ambiguity, uncertainty change more, and it
makes them psychologically aligned with the scientific community, sort of a
natural relationship. And so, then, when you see a divide over reality and
what`s true and you see the liberals aligned with the scientists, you
should think that`s normal. That`s not --
HAYES: And that`s because there`s a kind of personality disposition
that is an out chemical mix of nature and nurture, right? That produces in
people a way of approaching the world that is prior to their politics, but
then ends up essentially forming their politics?
MOONEY: Yes, and their politics probably feeds back into who they
are, as well, right? So, it`s sort of it`s always in both directions. But
partly, personality is genetic, we know that. Yes.
HAYES: Jonathan, the one place the two of you -- I think there are
some points took attention between your two accounts, but the one place you
share which, I think, is a profound inside and is drawn from the social
psychological research at this point is that reason is essentially
constructed expose (ph) to come up with reasons to justify things that we
already arrive at viscerally and to our intuition.
And I want to play this clip of Glenn Beck. He`s talking about these
lifty e-mails that right turned climate gate which they said completely
disproved the consensus of (INAUDIBLE), which of course, he did not. And
he`s explaining why this evidence is so important, and he basically makes
the argument this kind of expose reasoning explicitly. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, RADIO HOST: If your gut said wait a minute, this global
warming thing, it sounds like a scam. Well, I think you`re seeing it now.
We told you this was going on without proof because we listen to our gut.
You`d never believe me. But once again, here we are, with yet another
brand new reality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Now, this is highly ridiculable (ph), but, what you both are
saying is that, actually, the research in science says, we listen to our
gut, and then, we go with reasons, right, John?
JONATHAN HAIDT, AUTHOR, "THE RIGHTEOUS MIND": That`s right. So, what
we see for long time now is that the Republicans are better in moral
psychology than the Democrats. You know, George Leykauf (ph) was saying,
Mr. Weston saying this, the left tends to cling to this idea that if you
just, you know, if you construct the message vehicle in the right way and
put the ideas and the evidence out there, it will go into people`s brains
and change their minds.
And that`s just not the way it works. So, you know, Beck and Colbert,
and many Republican strategists understand, you got to speak to the gut
first. But, one of the points I want to make is that while I fully agree
with Chris. Chris has done a great job surveying the literature. I want
to give him stand from approval --
HAIDT: -- he is representing the current state of thinking about
politic and personality.
But the one point that I really want to make is that morality binds
and blinds -- it binds people into teams. And then on those teams, they
look for evidence to support what they want, both sides do it. And the key
thing that I want to introduce here is we all do it around our sacred
So, if we go back 20 years, I would have an easier time finding denial
of science on the left than on the right. But you can`t see it if you`re
on the left. But in my own field, in psychology, because the left really
sacralizes all these issues about race differences, gender differences are
so scary that on the left, there`s 30 or 40 years of more than ambivalence,
denial of inheritability, IQ, in excess (ph) differences --
MCWHORTER: So, what Larry Summers (ph) run up against --
MCWHORTER: -- about women and science.
HAIDT: That`s right. I would really urge people. You just Google
Larry Summer`s women and science. If people would read the transcript, it
is as (INAUDIBLE) and careful as the person can be, especially when talking
about the field that`s not their own. And it`s bizarre that the left
reacted so strongly to it.
HAYES: It`s not bizarre. It`s not bizarre, actually. I want to
explain why it`s not bizaare right after we take a very quick break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: Do you know you have more nerve endings in
your gut than you have in your head? You can look it up. Now, I know some
of you are going to say I did look it up, and that`s not true.
COLBERT: That`s because you looked it up in a book.
COLBERT: Next time, look it up in your gut.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Stephen Colbert giving us a brief gloss of essential thesis
here. Let`s talk about this point of contention, because Jonathan, you`re
saying, look, we all have moral -- we all sort of morally reason in the
same way or we all end up in teams, and then, we reverse engineer reasons
to believe in what our team predisposes us to believe, what they believe,
and that cuts across left and right.
And you`re saying no, actually, there`s something distinct right now
in the nature of the both personality and institutional make-up of the
American right that makes it distinctly an extremely hostile at science.
So, defend that.
HAIDT: I grew with him that everybody reasons based on emotion. And
I agree that you can -- there`s experiments when you can get the left to be
more biased than the right if you put certain emotional buttons. So, I
agree with that.
Nevertheless, I think there`s something about the liberal psychology
in its affiliation with the scientific community and its willingness to
change its views over time such that you might have some liberal biases,
but overtime, they`re going to more find the truth. And I think evolution
is the great example. So, for instance, I`m a liberal. I think you can
understand human beings outside of evolution.
All right. So, clearly, maybe three decades ago, I wouldn`t have been
comfortable feeling that way. But I missed all of that, you know? And I`m
all for it. And the left, I think, is largely change on that where you
have the right, denial evolutions over hundred years old. And it`s not
just denial of little things, all right? These people think of the Earth
as less than 10,000 years old. And they deny everything.
HAYES: But there`s also a change over time, right? So, that`s the
difficult causal story that you have to tell, right, which is that we see
certain beliefs get worse over time or certain anti-science postures get
worse over time, certain kinds of ideological extremism grow more intense.
What is the source of that, because things don`t remain static, right?
HAIDT: Right. So, I want to fully agree with Chris that the
psychology does predispose liberals more to be receptive to science that`s
because my own research has found that conservatives are better at group
binding, at loyalty. And so, if you put them in a group versus group
conflict, yes, the right is more prone psychologically to bound around and
be, you know, sort of circle the wagons.
But I just want to read one quote, because I think both of us are on
the same page here that the psychology doesn`t tell you exactly what`s
going to happen. The psychology is just a starting point, and you need to
look at history. So, there`s recently a study by Gordon Gauchat (ph),
sociologist, finding that -- basically testing Chris` claim.
And it found that yes, Chris was right that the change over the last
40, 50 years is that the right has gone less and less trusting of
scientists. So, that looks really good for Chris`-- and that`s true, but
here`s one little new answer on that. An interview with Gauchat, he said,
public opinion on science in Europe and Japan cues (ph) differently than in
There, skepticism about the scientific community usually comes from
the left. The reason may be that the issues on the scientific proof in
Europe such as genetically modified food and nuclear power tend to push
HAYES: That`s instereting -- Michelle
GOLDBERG: Well, I think -- but again, I think that you can kind of
easily wade into a kind of cultural relativism where everybody`s equally
irrational (ph). And the fact is, I mean, although, obviously, you`re
right. And that was true, I think, in the U.S. in the 1970s where you had
a big kind of back to nature anti-empirical strain on the left and feminist
community and all kinds of communities.
However, I think there`s a big difference between being skeptical of
nuclear power or skeptical of genetically modified foods, although, maybe
that is slightly less rational than skepticism about nuclear power. That`s
really different than denying an empirical fact like evolution or like the
Earth being longer than 10,000. I think that there is, but you don`t think
that there`s a difference between -- you don`t think that there are
rational and kind of empirical reasons to be skeptical or worried about
To me, that`s just very different than denying a clear reality. The
kind of other safety of nuclear power is not a reality in the way that the
age of the earth is --
MOONEY: -- you know? It doesn`t travel all the way across the
Pacific from Fukushima and killed babies on the west coast like that`s
really a safe statement, but a lot of people on the left might actually be
GOLDBERG: -- nuclear reactors lead to Fukushima is --
MOONEY: That`s a different issue.
HAYES: But there`s also a huge -- let me just say this. There`s also
a huge institutional component to this, right? And that to me is key,
right? You do not have huge democratic politicians running around. In
fact, there -- they`re all pro-nuclear power, you know, all of the above.
We just --
MOONEY: Those are changes, right?
HAYES: We just had a new permanent for the first nuclear power plant
to be build, I think, in 15 years, if I`m not mistaken. So, there`s a kind
of malleability there.
And I want to talk about how we -- if you guys are right, how do we
avoid a bleak landscape of will to perennialism (ph) in which no one can
persuade anyone and anything and I come to work every day hoping to, like,
you know, bring some information in the public and I`m completely banging
my head against the wall and my life is meaningless. They will rescue me
from that right after this break.
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: Good morning from New York.
I`m Chris Hayes, here with Columbia linguistics professor John
McWhorter, also of "The New York Daily News"; Michelle Goldberg from
"Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast"; Jonathan Haidt, professor for psychology
at the University of Virginia and author of "The Righteous Mind: Why Good
People Are Divided"; and Chris Mooney, author of "The Republican Brain: The
Science of Why They Deny Science and Reality".
We`re talking about the ways in which people do their political and
ideological reasoning I think is the common topic here. The degree to
which their systematic personality and psychology differences between they
way liberals and conservatives think about the world, which there from the
research and the letter appears to be in certain personality traits are
highly correlative with certain ideological --
HAYES: Moderately correlated with certain ideological dispositions -
- and then how those agglomerate into groups and institutions that pursue a
political agenda. And the key locus or the key insight from which both of
your works, both books spring is the fact that we don`t reason in the
enlightenment mode of -- I throw out a reason, you throw out a reason. We
wrestle with them. I`m persuaded, you`re persuaded, then we come to an
agreement. No. We got these intuitions are formed by all sorts of things,
personality, relationships, our cultural indebtedness.
And then once we use those intuitions to arrive at things that we --
our values, right? And say, this is sacred or this is important, or I like
equality, then we use our reasons to come up with reasons to believe the
things that our intuition tells us.
If that is the landscape, what does that do? And I`m going to ask a
big question that we`re probably not going to resolve on cable news, what
does that do to the entire enlightenment project? Because if the fact of
the matter is we`re all fooling ourselves about this whole thing -- well,
I`m fooling myself when I come on television and try to persuade people
about certain things, then, what are we doing? I mean, why does it even
matter? Why am I giving reasons for anything?
JONATHAN HAIDT, AUTHOR, "THE RIGHTEOUS: The enlightenment project
was that we could use our minds, we could use the new institution of
science from 17th century. We could use to answer difficult questions and
to do social policy better.
In that sense, I`m in the enlightenment. I`m a big fan of the
enlightenment and I think this new work is part of the enlightenment
project. What it says, paradoxically, is that if you think reason,
individual reason, is the way forward, well, then you`re wrong. So, for
300 years, the project has been barking up the wrong tree.
Because we are all also crippled by the confirmation bias, because we
all as individuals --
HAYES: Explain what confirmation bias is.
HAIDT: Basically, we use our reason just to confirm what we already
believe. If that`s true of all, then I think we all have to get a little
more humble as individuals, recognize that as individuals, we`re not very
good at finding the truth, that we only can find the truth into
relationships, in which other people can question our confirmation bias,
and this is what has changed.
Science works because each of us individually taught scientists
challenge each other. And so, as Chris said, all the time, the scientific
community does update where the religious right may not.
JOHN MCWHORTER, NYDAILYNEWS.COM: Chris, this one is aimed probably
mostly at you. But I`d like to know the take of both of you on this. It`s
not that there being a conservative personality.
A few years ago --
HAYES: Yes. You --
MCWHORTER: I proposed, it was on Bloggingheads. I`m very interested
in evolution. I love biology. And I`ve always wondered whether natural
selection explained everything.
I do not believe in God. I`m not interested in intelligent design.
But I read a book by Michael Behe that was saying that when it gets to how
evolution creates large jumps and steps, as opposed to small things, it
seems like there must be some other mechanism, we don`t know what it is,
Michael Behe thought that it was about God.
I was thinking, I wonder what this other thing might be. I found it
fascinating. I contacted him. We did a Bloggingheads debate.
I had a new one, new ones torn out of me by the Bloggingheads
community. The liberal scientists thought that I was the worst thing,
people writing, I`ve never seen so high fall so low so quickly.
And all of this was the kind of behavior that is associated with
conservatives. There`s a circling of the wagons, not reason, because I was
trying to make sense. I was making the godly argument. That happened.
But it leads me think that this is perhaps human behavior. How do we
fit in that even with evolution, the facts are not as always clear
completely as we`re told. And then if you dare to question this --
CHRIS MOONEY, AUTHOR, "THE REPUBLICAN BRAIN": Really, that`s
intelligent design. I mean, the community is extraordinarily strong and
rejected that. And if they get a little upset when you bring it up, it`s
because it`s a direct assault to their scientific expertise.
MOONEY: I`m not sure that that`s the same.
MCWHORTER: I mean, even if you say, I don`t believe that it`s
intelligence design. It`s not about God.
MICHAEL GOLDBERG, NEWSWEEK: But I don`t think scientists will agree
with him that there are big gaps in the theory of Evolution, right?
MOONEY: He essentially is putting God in the process or implying God
in the process.
MCWHORTER: He is.
MOONEY: So we bring Michael Behe on and the evolutionary scientists
are going to be extremely upset.
HAIDT: The mistake he made was to talk to the devil. A principle in
my book is follow the sacredness and around it, you`ll find a ring of
motivated ignorance. And evolution is really contested issue, it plays
front and center in Chris` book and there are some quacks out there who
claimed to be scientists. You know, Behe is not a respected scientist.
HAIDT: So you basically committed treason by even just talking to
him. You have to know where the fault lines are. Where are the third
rails are and you touch a line --
HAYES: I want to ask you a question. Let`s play this out in real
I have a rule on my show. We don`t have climate denialists on my
show. We just don`t do it. I`m interested in a lot of exchange on a lot
of issues, as I think the show makes clear. We`ve had all people of sorts
of perspectives. I even had Maggie Gallagher, who is a strong opponent of
marriage equality and there are some people who didn`t like that.
But I draw the line, for whatever I reason I draw that climate
denialists. And I was forced to articulate why I draw the line there. I
would say because (a), it`s extremely dangerous, right, because it`s
undermining this scientific contentious that I think is absolutely
necessary to us avoiding massive, widespread global commiseration, and I
don`t want to have any role in implementing that.
Now, there`s a certain degree to which that is antithetical to the
spirit of the free inquiry, right? If you caricaturize it as talking to
But the thing I want to ask, Jonathan, which I asked during the
break, is like in order for you to have this whole conversation, right,
you`re putting yourself at this kind of remove, right? You said, well, you
people, they have their sacredness: But the whole point is that everybody
in the same framework, right?
HAIDT: To varying degrees. So, my whole life, I was a partisan
liberal. And I got -- I switched over from studying cultural variation and
morality to political variation in order to help the Democrats, because
they keep screwing. Gore and Kerry had no idea how to connect.
So, I switched over, I was still a part of the team. And in doing
research for the book, I realized, oh, my God, conservatives, sort of
Burkean conservatives are not that authoritarian. The -- they`re right
about a lot of things, about how to make a good society.
So once I stepped up to the team and I`m no longer liberal, I`m now a
centrist, sure, I`m part of something.
HAYES: Sure you are.
HAIDT: I can think a lot more clearly.
HAYES: No, this is what I think is crazy. No, this is what I think
is crazy. It`s the claim to special enlightenment that centrists have that
drive me crazy because -- no, I`m serious. I`m being totally honest with
you, because the point is we`re all embedded. So, when you -- you will see
"The Washington Post" editorial page or Thomas Friedman, where all sorts of
beyond (INAUDIBLE), thinkers of centrism, the fact of the matter is that is
ideologically binding and sort of team oriented as --
HAIDT: No, it`s matter of degree. You`re right that nobody is fully
objective, but it`s a matter of degree.
And if you are -- if you are a congressman, I mean, you are -- you`re
fighting every day. You cannot be --
HAIDT: If you`re an academic who is less liberal than before, sure,
not objective. But I`m more objective than I was five years ago.
MOONEY: There`s an impulse among centrists, a lot of them are
psychologically liberal. They want to be different. They want to get
noticed. There`s -- hey, over here, and so then I`ll attack my own.
So, there`s actually a lot of that going on. These people are
actually probably the kind of people who would naturally be liberal but
they also want a distinction.
I`m not saying that about you. But I`m saying that there`s a lot of
HAIDT: That may be the best you can find.
MOONEY: Well, they`re valuable up to a point, but at some point, it
HAYES: Here`s my question for you and for John as people, because
then the question is, the big question, and the huge question that pertains
to both the work that we do here, and whether we`re going to solve global
climate change and the possibility of moral transformation and moral
revolution, which is something that (INAUDIBLE) has written very well, is
how can people change, right? I mean, what is the process?
And, John, I think you`re someone who I think has had real changes,
real evolution in your thought, particularly I think even just
institutionally in the teams you were associated with. You were identified
as a conservative. You were out of a conservative think tank. And now, I
don`t think identifying anymore or not, institutionally with that team.
And my question is, what hope is there for the process of that kind
of change if the kind of psychological mechanisms you`re writing about are
HAIDT: You have to approach it indirectly. You`re not going to
reason into agreement or even to discussion.
MCWHORTER: Do the part about Dale Carnegie, because I think it`s a
very important argument.
HAYES: Very quickly.
HAIDT: But what you can do, what you have to do is you have to try
to foster relationships. So, as was said, you know, relationships open our
minds and open our hearts.
HAYES: The reverend we just talked, Jasmine B. Ferrara is making
HAIDT: So, for example, there`s a group called
LivingRoomConversations.org. They try -- you get a liberal and conservative
who are friends, who know each other. There are still some out there. You
get to know the dinner party and you bring people together. It`s important
to share food.
So, if you do indirect methods, if you take advantage of the social
judgments first, then the reasoning comes after, if we want to reach
agreement, it`s going to be by bringing people together in good
circumstances where they can actually open their minds.
MCWHORTER: And also realizing that people are not convinced when
they feel attacked. And Dale Carnegie`s "How to Win Friends and Influence
People" sounds a little corny now, but actually, it`s very useful today if
you get passed the slightly archaic language, and that you talk to people,
you try to figure out what`s going on in their minds, imagine what it would
be like to think as them. And then try to change what they might think by
pointing out certain discrepancies and realizing that people don`t change
in front of you.
MCWHORTER: That it`s a gradual process and that it`s never complete.
But I think often, we don`t change each other`s mind because we
supposed that being colorful and rhetorical is effective when they`re
almost never is.
MOONEY: I have a different proposal. It may not work, but it would
be nice, is if actually, if liberals and conservatives alike would admit
the truth of the research we`re talking about.
MOONEY: Because essentially, we`re getting, right now, a lot of
conservative denial of the science of ideology. If it was broadly
admitted, then we could agree that we all have strengths and weaknesses,
and then we would just say, you know, some people good at this, some people
good at that. You`re not inherently better. You`re not inherently worse.
And then, actually, you may have a ground for cooperation. But the
problem is, is now this science, is the new field of denial.
HAYES: All right, I want to thank our guest, Jonathan Haidt, for
coming on today. It`s a really fascinating book, author of "The Righteous
And this was a really good conversation. I want to keep this going
in future shows.
Is it wrong for the president to campaign on killing Osama bin Laden?
HAYES: Now that I think of it, "what you want" is a pretty good
motto for the Romney campaign. What you want and I`ll give it to you.
This week, the Obama administration released a new campaign ad that
plays up the president`s decision to kill Osama bin Laden, while not so
subtly questioning whether Mitt Romney would have done the same thing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Suppose the Navy SEALs had gone
in there and it hadn`t been bin Laden? Suppose they`d been captured or
killed. The downside would have been horrible. He took the harder and the
more honorable path -- and the one that produced, in my opinion, the best
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The ad coincided, of course, with the one-year anniversary of
bin Laden`s death. Republicans quickly and predictably cried foul.
Senator John McCain called it a cheap political attack ad. Mitt Romney
called the ad a politically decisive event, then walked out back a bit and
said it was inappropriate for the president to politicize the killing of
Osama bin Laden.
Mind you, Romney made the inappropriate remark at a photo op
alongside former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, outside of a firehouse that
lost 11 men on 9/11.
Democrats point out the outrageous double standard of Republicans
crying foul, considering George W. Bush went through great lengths to
portray himself as protector in chief and point to the fine line President
Obama has walked when discussing Osama bin Laden`s death.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it`s wrong to
say that I did a high five because we have a picture of a dead body. But
understanding the satisfaction for the American people, what it would mean
for 9/11 families, what it would mean for the children of folks who died in
the Twin Towers who never got to know their parents -- I think there was a
deep-seated satisfaction for the country at that moment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Meanwhile, Democrats and liberals who recoiled at Bush`s
swagger and tough guy talk seemed to be enjoying watching their own guy
drop rhetorical bombs like this moment in December when Obama was asked to
respond to Republican charges that he was engaged in a foreign policy of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Ask Osama bin Laden and 22 out of 30 top al Qaeda leaders
show have been taken off the field whether I engage in appeasement. Or
whoever is left out there, ask them about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: All right. I`m finding the discussion and debate over the
politics of the politicization of Osama bin Laden`s death maddening. It`s
like a parfait of frustration. There`s a whole bunch of different levels.
The first level I guess I want to say is let`s just dispose of the
most obvious thing, which is that whatever politicians, professional
politicians just spend their life in politics talk about someone to
politicize something, it`s de facto preposterous. I mean, that`s what
politics is. You politicize things.
And that quite -- and specifically, it is -- there`s a kind of hubris
and gall it takes for Republicans. I mean, we were all around for the last
GOLDBERG: Right, if you were at the 2004 Republican convention, you
would have actually thought that George W. Bush had not only had Osama bin
Laden killed, but killed him with his bare hands.
HAYES: Right. Here`s a tweet from Jesse Taylor who wrote four years
at Pentagon, he said, really funny. He had this amazing tweet. He said,
"If Bush had killed bin Laden, he would have gotten the tear drop tattoo
the next day."
HAYES: This is our work up for the graphic shop. You can see what
that would have been like.
But it`s completely true, right? I mean, it would have been --
obviously, it would have been all -- it would have been the entirety of the
entire reelection. So, there`s this double standard that`s maddening.
And then, beneath that, there`s this unease I have and maybe because
I`m a swishy liberal and quasi-pacifist with sort of parading around in --
how do I do articulate this? In which the violence that is executed
becomes an argument in one ease favor, and a sign of virility and
masculinity and toughness and all -- Chris, you`re reacting to that.
MOONEY: Well, it`s just a brilliant move if we go back to the
psychology of audiology, all right? Because conservatives think that
they`re the tough ones, they`re all about being decisive. I mean, if you
put them in experiments and put them where their eyes go, they`re looking
at threatening images first and staying on longer than liberals.
So they have this sense that they are the defenders. They are the
And a lot of the electorate wants that kind of leader,
psychologically. So for Obama to steal that from them and to steal from
them in such a decisive way with all the evidence to back him up because he
did it, he walked the walk is incredibly powerful politically.
I mean, you might object to it, but it`s --
GOLDBERG: The other thing is that Obama has never pretend today be
the kind of -- to be a pacifist the way you are. And most --
HAYES: I`m not a pacifist.
GOLDBERG: I know.
GOLDBERG: You even have signs of quasi-pacifist inclinations.
HAYES: No, of course not.
GOLDBERG: So basically, this is what he always said he was going to
do it it`s kind of where he said his focus was going to be throughout his
primary campaign throughout the presidential campaign. I mean, it would
border on political malpractice for him then to not make clear to the
people that I did. I followed through on my promises.
MCWHORTER: Chris, I actually share that sense of queasiness that you
have, and when a year ago, there were people who are doing kind of
MCWHORTER: I was rather disgusted in the same ways I was disgusted
by the people who celebrated 9/11 dancing around in the streets. I thought
that was a low point for humanity in general. It had nothing with
But on the other hand, there`s fine line between celebrating in that
eerie way and Obama acknowledging that this is something he`s done, which I
think is rhetorically necessary, given the idea -- whether it`s correct or
not -- that Democrats are wimps. Sometimes you have to play hardball in
this political climate that we`re talking about.
And, indeed, from the beginning, he`s the person who said I`m not
against warism, just stupidism.
HAYES: Absolutely. But I guess here`s my question is, what do is
the way that we begin to create -- I mean, there`s this great quote that
President Obama have when he was a candidate about I don`t want to just end
the war in Iraq. I want to end the mindset that brought us into war.
And that has always stuck with me as a very succinct articulation of
a critique of a whole, broader conceptual landscape and historical
landscape upon which the battle of American politics takes place, which is
one in which there`s an assumption of American supremacy, there`s an
assumption of the use of force and violence in the way of maintaining that
supremacy or prosecuting that supremacy or defending our interest. And it
seemed there is -- and again, the fact that I can`t articulate it as
clearly as I would like to maybe -- says that I don`t have very good
reasons to feel the unease.
But I have an intuition that there is a connection between all of the
things that I find objectionable about American projection of force abroad
and the political gains to be made from essentially the stealth (ph) that
one has gotten. There`s a rhetorical -- you`re shaking your head -- but I
mean, to me, connection between those two things.
How do we go about changing our political culture such that victories
like the START Treaty, for instance, right, which was a huge victory and a
very difficult one, and everyone should tip their cap to the president who
worked very hard to do it.
But that won`t appear in an ad ever, right? No one cares that we
actually signed this very important disarmament treaty with the Russians to
continue removing nuclear and lowering our stockpiles to the degree that we
have a political culture that incentivizes this and then we follow the
incentives to push -- for our leaders to push themselves as strong and as
agents of violence, don`t we just keep continuing that trajectory?
We`ll get to your answers after my long monologue.
We`ll also talk with P.J. Crowley, former U.S. assistant secretary of
state for public affairs, right after this break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I said before,
thanks to President Obama, bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.
You have to ask yourself, had Governor Romney been president, could you
have used the same slogan in reverse?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Tough stuff from the vice president.
Chris, you were just making a point -- in my I think poorly
articulated case for my emotional visceral, unease with some of the
rhetoric surrounding the one year anniversary of bin Laden`s death. You
made a point about fear in the role that it plays in political psychology?
MOONEY: Sure. It`s the most powerful emotion. If it`s present, it
throws out all the others. And, you know, we all activate this. We
activate amygdala threat center, OK? And then we just want to shut down
the borders until we`re safe again. And then we might think about other
And even liberals after 9/11, there was a conservative shift among
liberals. You know, when there was a homeland security threat, the public
support of the president more, because people want decisive leader who
don`t mess around during that time period.
HAYES: And part of the reason that I think -- one of our senior
producers, Kate Albright-Hanna, made this case that I thought was really
insightful and profound, which is that she said, you know, there`s a way
that you can message the bin Laden`s death as into the period of fear. As
essentially as a continuation with hope and change, that like we have
brought that to a close now, and the sun is rising again, and we can sort
of let the amygdala stop doing all of its work for us.
And, no, really, now we can begin to have a conversation that`s more
GOLDBERG: I think that they`re doing that in a subtle way by trying
to, you know, that coincided with new negotiations with drawing from
Afghanistan and winding down the war with Iraq. And then there`s also just
the implicit way. You`ve seen a number of -- you know, you`ve seen, I
think, what is it, 22 major al Qaeda leaders killed. Each time that
happens, you don`t see this explosion of triumphalism and demagoguery that
we saw a couple of years ago.
And we`ve also seen terrorist threats that there will be a memo or
there`ll be an announcement about it. But there`s not a kind of constant
of deployment of threat to rally the country behind the president. So,
he`s maybe not saying it`s a new day, but it is, in fact, a new day as far
as our politics.
ESTHER ARMAH, WBAI.ORG: I think, also, in your argument, I think you
underestimate the absolute supreme seduction of swagger.
ARMAH: And the fact that we, in a culture that loves to be able to
say we won, period, which is different in a presidential year than arguing
the record, which is the economy is getting better, so that when it comes
to the reality of politics that we`re in, that`s just different.
ARMAH: Did you see the program? I mean, it was like a movie.
ARMAH: And it appealed to so many elements around the basic American
identity of supremacy and the idea that --
HAYES: And also I would say competence. That`s also one of the
things I think that`s so powerful about the bin Laden raid.
ARMAH: So, competence doesn`t have as much swagger as the victory.
HAYES: No, it doesn`t, but I think they`re combined.
Joining us now is P.J. Crowley, a former U.S. assistant secretary of
state for public affairs.
Good morning, P.J. How are you?
P.J. CROWLEY, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: Hello, Chris.
HAYES: What`s your sense of the one-year anniversary of bin Laden
and the kind of discussion that`s happened about it in the last week?
CROWLEY: Well, let`s start politically. In this morning`s
"Washington Post," there`s a great cartoon of Obama wearing a triumphant t-
shirt, and elephants pointing at him saying, he stole my shirt.
CROWLEY: So at the political level, you know, what Republicans have
always received as a political strength is not something that`s going to be
a significant part of their playbook for 2012.
But on the substantive level, let me push back a little bit on your
CROWLEY: I mean, on one hand, it`s a big deal, you know, to take bin
Laden off the stage. We tend to personify our adversaries, and bin Laden
was the face and the voice of al Qaeda. But the documents released this
week by West Point also tend to reemphasize that this is a much different
threat than we face 10 years ago. Bin Laden was struggling with his
affiliates. He was a CEO and trying to, you know, give them strategic
But nonetheless, there are still groups in the Arabian Peninsula, in
the Maghreb, potentially in Nigeria that pose significant threat to U.S.
interest and potentially U.S. lives. We`re not done yet.
HAYES: The e-mails are a fascinating that were published. I guess
there weren`t emails, there are messages that were written and brought by
courier. There are letters.
One of the things I found really interesting about those letters was
him during the high water mark of Zarqawi`s mayhem and massacres in the al
Qaeda in Iraq. And this is a period in which mosques were being bombed,
and it was just pure evil. It seems senseless bloodletting.
And there`s these letters from Bin Laden to Zarqawi saying don`t --
stop doing this. You`re basically destroying the al Qaeda brand.
And I thought that was such an interesting idea, such a bizarre way
to think about bin Laden. I want you to react to that right after we take
a quick break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
OBAMA: We don`t need to spike the football. And I think that given
the graphic nature of these photos, it would create some national security
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just the overall feeling that the president is
spiking the ball. He said he wouldn`t spike the ball, and he`s doing that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obama said he`s not going to spike the ball, but
it seems like he`s spiking the ball. But Clinton and Gibbs are in the end
zone doing the end zone dance.
JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: It seems unseemly for the president to spike
the football. Bush landed on a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) aircraft carrier with a
football stuffed cock-piece. He spiked the football before the game had
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
HAYES: Jon Stewart doing a pretty good job on the spike the football
P.J. Crowley, we left off and talking about the sort of substance
here which has been largely overlooked or ignored in the political debate,
which is: what has this meant to the demise of al Qaeda, the fact that
there is no longer bin Laden coordinating things? How much had he been
marginalized and isolated during his period of exile in Abbottabad? And
what does it mean about what al Qaeda is today?
CROWLEY: Well, he was still very much in the center of the network,
although he was not necessarily had his hands on day-to-day operations. He
was giving, you know, strategic level advice. And then it`s referred to
the affiliates, including al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. And another
guy that`s taken off the playing field besides, you know, bin Laden, is
Anwar al-Awlaki, who had provided a lot of the inspiration, particularly
for those here in the United States that picked up the cause.
I was intrigued in these documents and it goes back to your earlier
discussion about, you know, who`s inside the circle, who`s outside the
circle. Bin Laden was playing a little bit of control here. He was in
fact saying to Zarqawi and al Qaeda in Iraq, you know, you`ve perpetrated
such violence. You`ve damaged the brand.
He also said in the context of Somalia, because a group called al
Shabaab had pledged fealty to bin Laden. Bin Laden said that conflict is
much too messy. I don`t know that I want al Qaeda in the middle of this.
So, there`s -- we see this as a kind of the operation of a terrorism
brain, to go along with your earlier discussion.
HAYES: Let me make a clarification. I don`t want to use euphemisms.
Taken off the playing field to Anwar al-Awlaki is a reference to him being
killed. He was a United States citizen who was killed. The U.S.
government has not claimed responsibility, even the Obama campaign in one
reelection video has essentially touted the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki.
Not only is Anwar al-Awlaki dead, but his 16-year-old son was also
killed, also by American drone.
CROWLEY: And another American citizen Samir Khan. I think that`s a
key pond that we can acknowledge the fact that bin Laden being taken out is
positive from a security standpoint. There are a lot of issues.
You know, for example, in the bin Laden, did we in fact intend to
take him alive?
CROWLEY: Or, you know, did the SEAL team go in there with the
intention of taking him out?
With Awlaki, I think he was a valid target. There are still some
very unsettled issues. And I think the administration should be more
forthcoming than it is and explain to the American people what was the
legal rationale that made this permissible.
HAYES: There has been no -- just to be clear, here has been no
explanation of particularly the death of Awlaki`s son who is, again, a 16-
year-old American citizen.
John McWhorter --
CROWLEY: The beginning of the conversation, but much more needs to
MCWHORTER: Mr. Crowley, John McWhorter, a question. Why is it --
how is it that in 11 years, we have not had even some small chance attack
from al Qaeda on these shores? There are people who say that threat is
exaggerated, that we need to stop running around and trying to hurt these
people, because it`s an exaggerated threat, we`re kind of doing Gore Vidal
here. All oaf this is just to keep America cowering and distract us from
Is it that -- how much of a threat really is there at this point from
al Qaeda and other places.
HAYES: P.J., I`m sorry, I have you answer that, we have to take one
more quick break and then I`ll let you answer that.
CROWLEY: OK. Very good.
HAYES: I`m playing "Regulate," because I was reading up about
regulation this week. And I`m like, oh, man, I haven`t heard regulate for
P.J. Crowley, the question about the persistence of the threat of al
Qaeda and the reason that they have not been able to carry off any attacks
here in the U.S. in the last 11 years. What`s your thought on that?
CROWLEY: I think, first of all, we`re better. Our security is
better than it was. We`ve been lucky.
You know, remember, Faisal Shahzad from Connecticut got to Times
Square, got his bomb lit up, it just didn`t work.
MCWHORTER: Najibullah Zazi, that`s right.
But I think it`s also -- we`ve been lucky because bin Laden, still,
as these documents this week revealed, was still thinking about the
spectacular. He wanted to take out President Obama. He wanted to take out
The danger for the United States is that if terrorists go from the
spectacular to the retail and just try to pull off any kind of event, you
know, that can have a very, you know, significant effect on the American
people, because as we`re talking about earlier, you know, we put our
counterterrorism effort under a stronger legal foundation. But if and when
we`re attacked again, that`s going to -- that line is going to change
But it comes back to something that my friend Richard Ben-Veniste
keeps reiterating, which, you know, the best way to combat terrorism is to
refuse to be terrorized.
CROWLEY: We have to recognize that at some point in time,
notwithstanding our better effort, something is going to happen and we`ve
got to keep that in context and perspective.
HAYES: I think that brings us -- that to me is a profound question
about -- to bring it back around to where the politics of this all end up,
is that it`s clear, I think, in the rear view mirror. I guess it was clear
at that time, just how much of our politics were disordered post 9/11 by
fear, and fear that wasn`t irrational.
I mean, people were afraid because they saw something horrible
happen. And fear was manipulated and marshaled in all kinds of ways.
And, Chris, you`re saying when people are under attack, they move to
the right. I think the question is: how do we -- I guess I want there to
be some moment in which we can say. Let`s stop being afraid. And I wonder
if that`s just a gradual process. I`m looking for some definitive break is
just actually not going to happen.
ARMAH: I think it speaks, frankly, to America`s national identity
around hypocrisy. Because this idea that we refuse to be terrorized would
also imply that we would have to then stop terrorizing other people all
over the world who`s out actually towards them to create a reaction, refuse
to acknowledge the initial action that caused their reaction and then
demonize them in a ways that we used to kind of fundamentally continue this
foundation of supremacy that is a complete lie.
And I think in the end , when fear has become this political tool
that helps to make the swagger so seductive, the idea of victory so
seductive and a political winning strategy, how do you -- you`re talking
about fundamentally changing your --
GOLDBERG: But not just politics, but your entire kind of human
nature and structure of our society of every culture that we know of.
HAYES: That`s the thing. And that is the thing that I think I`ve
taken away from the bin Laden era and in American politics was the fact
that what seemed to me specific to us at the time now seems the social
psychological research backs this up, is that the basic principle of people
under fear, people under fear will -- suddenly, their liberalism collapses.
And our ability to be emphatic, to be tolerant, to be confident and
optimistic to the future, which is the key, I think, to kind of emphatic
spirit that what we want to engender, all of that falls in on itself under
P.J. Crowley, former U.S. assistant secretary of state for public
affair -- thanks so much for joining us. I really appreciate it.
CROWLEY: My pleasure, Chris.
HAYES: So, what did we know now that we didn`t know last week? My
answers is after this.
HAYES: So what do we know now that we didn`t know last week?
We now know that Scott Brown, a man whose election to the
Massachusetts Senate seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy very nearly killed
off the Affordable Care Act, is one of the laws direct beneficiaries. We
know that Brown`s daughter, Ayla, is 23 years old and a professional singer
which as you might imagine, doesn`t generally come with health care.
And so, Ayla is on her father`s health insurance. We know the only
reason she could be on her father`s health insurance is because of a
provision in the Affordable Care Act that allows children to stay on their
parents` insurance until 2026. One of the few provisions of the law that
more or less kick in immediately.
We now know that what Daniel Bell called the cultural contradictions
of capitalism are making themselves known in North Carolina. As the state
prepares to vote for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, civil
unions and any official recognition of same sex unions, we know that at
least one executive at the North Carolina-based Bank of America is worried
that passage of the amendment will hurt B of A`s competiveness.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CATHERINE BESSANT, BANK OF AMERICA: Amendment one has the potential
for disastrous effect on our ability to attract talent and keep talent in
the state of North Carolina. We`ve got to attract that generation. We`ve
got to vote no on Amendment One.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: We know that capital has increasingly allied itself with the
movement for LGBT equality and we know that in American politics, that
support tends to be decisive in the long run.
Thanks to a new Gallup survey, we know that retirement is slipping
away from Americans. We know that the expected retirement has risen over
the past decade and a half from 60 to 67.
We also know that "New York Times" columnist Joe Nocera who wrote an
entire book in the late 1990s about how wonderful and democratic it was
that so many Americans were now invested in stock market through their
401(k)s has pushed his own retirement because of the 50 percent hit his
401(k) took during the financial crisis, and now concedes 401(k)s are
We now know that Drug Enforcement Agency is sorry for accidently
leaving Daniel Chong in a windowless holding cell for nearly five days
without food or water. Chong, who is an engineering student, said he was
staying at a friend`s apartment after a party there when DEA raided it and
detained him and six friends.
We know the DEA says they found 18,00 hits of ecstasy in the
apartment and question Chong for a few hours before telling him he was
going to be released that same day, because he wasn`t charged with any
crime. Then they forgot about him.
We know Chong, trapped in a five foot by 10 foot cell, drank his own
urine in an attempt to hydrate, and then he attempted suicide by breaking
his own glasses and attempting to slit his wrist, but not before attempting
to carved "sorry, mom" into his arm.
We know Chong is suing the government for $20 million and we know he
wouldn`t want to be the unlucky lawyer for the government who has to defend
against this suit.
And finally, we now know that we have lost Newt Gingrich from the
campaign trail. After Gingrich dropped out, the Romney campaign issued a
statement that read in part, "Ann and I are proud to call Newt and Callista
friends, we look forward to working with them again in the months and the
years ahead," which prompted FOX News Shepard Smith to say this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHEPARD SMITH, FOX NEWS: Politics is weird and creepy and now I know
lacks the loosest attachment to anything like reality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: We know that Shepard Smith does have his moments.
We want to find out that our guests know that they didn`t go when the
We will begin with you, Professor McWhorter.
MCWHORTER: Well, I want to say briefly that despite our discussion,
I want to dispel that I am in favor of intelligent --
HAYES: You are getting ahead of the e-mails.
MCWHORTER: Yes, it`s the progress of science and the book I`m in the
middle of right now unfortunately does not happen to be Chris, although I
will get to it, or Jonathan Haidt, but the a book called "Incomplete
Nature" by Terrence Deacon, which is about how mind came from matter, and
I`m interested in those particular questions of how we got here from there.
HAYES: And "Incomplete Nature." And the author is?
MCWHORTER: Terrence Deacon.
HAYES: I love book recommendations at the end of the show.
MCWHORTER: I can`t take it down.
HAYES: I will take a look.
Michelle Goldberg, what do we know now?
GOLDBERG: Well, now, I know what spiking the football means. And --
HAYES: Did you not know the source of the analogy before this
GOLDBERG: I mean, I knew it had something to do with sports.
GOLDBERG: No, I asked on Twitter yesterday and all was explained,
but I think that one of the kind of most disturbing things that I now know
comes via a column that Nick Kristof wrote this week about a new study
about all of the kind of terrible chemicals that we are absorbing through
plastics and the like. And one of the things that`s most harrowing about
is, you know, the kind of presence of BPA, a chemical that`s banned in much
of Europe, but that is present, that`s kind of omnipresent in American life
and it seems to be especially toxic for in fetal exposure.
And so now one of the things that we now know is that a woman who is
trying to protect her wanted fetus gets remarkably little help from our
HAYES: That`s a really good point.
Esther Armah, what do we know?
ARMAH: You should know the name Howard Morgan. Howard Morgan is a
former Chicago police officer who was shot 28 times off-duty by four other
white police officers. Howard Morgan is African-American. He survived.
He survived to find himself charged with attempted first degree
murder. He was charged with aggravated discharge of a weapon, went to
trial. He was acquitted of first charge, aggravated discharge of the
weapon, and the jury deadlocked on the attempted murder charge.
There was a second trial, and now he is convicted. Howard Morgan is
now serving 40 years in prison for attempted murder of four white police
officers who shot him 28 times.
There`s the attention at Change.org. Check it out, the details
almost seem to defy belief.
You should also know this -- you should also know the term emotional
justice, which is about the legacy of untreated trauma around America`s and
global black histories and the way that we emotionalize our identity and
institutionalize that emotionality in our legislation and our politics.
HAYES: Chris Mooney?
MOONEY: Well, the science of ideology that we have been talking
about today precedes a pace and the scientific literature is just showing
more and more research. There is a new study this week actually done by
the researchers in Australia looking at the liberal and the conservative
politicians, the portrait pictures, the photographs taken of them.
It turns out if you show the left side of the face, the left side of
your face shows more emotion. The right side doesn`t. There`s a lot of
research on that.
So it turns out that conservative politicians in Canada, the U.K.,
the United States and Australia all showed the left side of their face more
in the portraits than the liberal politicians did. Conservative
politicians sort of instinctively, emotionally connecting with their
HAYES: I`m going to use. I`ll set up my shot like this.
HAYES: All right. My thanks to John McWhorter of Columbia
University and "The New Daily News"; Michelle Goldberg, author of the
"Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power and the Future of the World"; Esther
Armah, host of "Wake Up Call" on WBAI FM here in New York; and Chris
Mooney, author of "The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny
Science and Reality" -- thanks for getting up.
Thank you for joining us today for UP, and join us tomorrow, Sunday
morning at 8:00 p.m. Blockbuster show, we`ll have James Fallows of "The
Atlantic" magazine, former George W. Bush`s speechwriter David Frum. You
can get more info about tomorrow`s program at Up.MSNBC.com.
And coming up next is "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY". Melissa, what have you
got for us today?
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: OK. First, Chris, that picture
with the teardrop, that was epic. Could you make it into a poster? That
And also, you know, this week, there`s a lot of conversation about
President Obama and sort of his angst about the lessons, and I was so happy
to learn that he had a copy of the "Invisible Man" that is apparently as
dog eared as mine. So, we`re going to talk a bit about that. We`ll also
go down to North Carolina. Have that conservation about the anti-marriage
Amendment One that is up for vote on Tuesday, and really try to talk about
the Democratic Party`s core constituents.
And finally, we`re going to talk about waltzing before a blind
But you got to tune in to learn what that means.
HAYES: Fascinating, blind audience and "Invisible Man" on one show.
"MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY" coming up next. We`ll see you right here
tomorrow at 8:00. Thanks for getting UP.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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