The Ed Show for Friday, May 11, 2012
Read the transcript to the Friday show
Guest Host: Michael Eric Dyson
Guests: Sen. Bernie Sanders, John Nichols, Nicole Ari Parker, Blair Underwood, Harry Jackson, Obery Hendricks, Judy Shepard
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, GUEST HOST: Good evening, Americans. Welcome to
THE ED SHOW. I`m Michael Eric Dyson, in for Ed Schultz.
This Sunday, some African-American pastors plan to criticize
President Obama for his stance on marriage equality. Tonight, I`m going to
help my brothers and sisters of the cloth see the light.
This is THE ED SHOW -- and as Ed would say -- let`s get to work.
ROBIN ROBERTS, ABC NEWS: Especially in the black community, it`s a
very difficult conversation.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Absolutely.
DYSON (voice-over): Equality for gay Americans is the same as
equality for black Americans except in some black churches.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) and done nothing.
DYSON: Maryland Bishop Harry Jackson says same sex marriage is an
assault on society. He is my guest tonight. And Professor Obery Hendricks
and I will try to show him the light.
The mother of slain gay teen Matthew Shepard calls Mitt Romney
bullying an act of torment. Judy Shepard is here tonight.
JPMorgan Chase sends shock waves through the economy with a $2
billion loss. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is not pleased and he`s here
tonight as well.
And it`s the explosive video that could finally ruin Scott Walker.
GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: We`re going to deal with
collective bargaining for all public employees, use divide and conquer.
DYSON: John Nichols on the Wisconsin divide and conquer bomb shell.
DYSON: The national conversation about President Obama`s stance on
same sex marriage isn`t going away. Courage doesn`t come without
controversy and this one is no different.
But, first, further evidence that the American public has, like
President Obama, evolved on this issue. A new Gallup poll finds that 51
percent of the American public approve of President Obama`s decision, 45
percent oppose it. That`s in line with other recent polls showing that
public opinion has tipped towards favoring marriage equality.
But there are voices from the African-American faith community who
are upset with the president over this issue. From Pastor Dwight McKissic
of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, quote, "President Obama has
betrayed the Bible and the black church with his endorsement of same-sex
marriage. The Bible is crystal clear on this subject and the black church
strongly opposes same-sex marriage. His endorsement is an inadvertent
attack on the Christian faith."
Bishop Harry Jackson opposes President Obama`s stance on marriage
equality, just as he opposed marriage equality in Maryland a few months
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BISHOP HARRY JACKSON, HOPE CHRISTIAN CHURCH: We need to pray about
the Maryland decision about same-sex marriage, that issue. It really is an
assault, the enemy wants it to be a legacy or a seed that is planted in
this generation that corrupts, perverts and pollutes generations to come.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: We need to take a good hard look at this.
First of all, President Obama respects religious traditions and those
with different views.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I think it`s important to recognize that folks who feel very
strongly that marriage should be defined narrowly as between a man and a
woman, many of them are not coming at it from a mean-spirited perspective.
A bunch of them are friends of mine, you know, pastors and people who I
ROBERTS: Especially in the black community, it`s a difficult
conversation to have.
But I think it`s important for me to say to them that as much as I
respect them, as much as I understand where they are coming from, when I
meet gay and lesbian couples, for me I think it`s just tipped the scales in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: President Obama`s stance is not a religious one, but he did
consider his own faith in his decision.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We are both practicing Christians. And, obviously, this
position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others.
But, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we
think about is not only Christ sacrifices himself on our behalf, but it`s
also the Golden Rule.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: Third, black leaders of faith should not make the mistake of
using the Bible to suppress the rights of the LGBT community just as the
bible was used to suppress the rights of African-Americans.
Throughout our nation`s history again and again, the Bible was cited
to justify slavery and discrimination in laws against interracial marriage.
There are plenty of examples of this. Do we really want to stand on the
side of a racist, bigoted history to substantiate our argument that
African-American people should be opposed to gay and lesbian and
transgendered and bisexual people?
Some African-American people say, well, look, we are mad at the fact
that gay and lesbians transgendered and bisexual people are taking our
civil rights movement and using it as a paradigm for their movement. First
of all, Martin Luther King, Jr. borrowed heavily from Mohandas K. Gandhi.
It was already global and international. He borrowed the language, the
system, and the structure of resistance systematically to oppression from
what he called a brown saint in India and applied it to the American scene.
Black people do not have a copyright on civil rights insurgents or
Furthermore, we should be proud of the fact that anybody can look at
us and derive from our experience an example and a paradigm of their
parallel resistance to forms of incivility, to civil rights injustices and
to the outright degradation of their personalities.
This is a fight about what we think is right and wrong to be sure.
We must not use the Bible to create more enemies of the faith but to use
our faith as a basis to identify with those who are the least, lost and the
lonely. My Bible tells me Jesus said you should love the Lord they God
with all they heart, mind and soul, and love thy neighbor as thy self.
There are no asterisks on what Jesus, except gay people, except lesbian
people, except transgender or bisexual people.
Do we want to really use the Bible the same way it was used against
us. Many white Christians believing they were under the spirit of God in
the anointment of their faith believe that black people should be
marginalized, second class citizens, put out of the church, refused entree,
not given communion because they were not human, they were not Christian,
and therefore they were not their brothers and sisters.
They cited biblical texts to justify their bigotry. The great
preacher and mystic Howard Thurmond says, a bigot is a person that makes an
idol of his or her commitment.
Black Christians must be deeply rooted in their faith but not deeply
entrenched in bigotry.
And, furthermore, do we want to become sexual rednecks? Do we want
actually to extend the same trajectory of transgression and tragic
suppression of the belief and faith of gay and lesbian and transgendered
and bisexual people? Do we want to stand on the wrong side of history
because we have a narrow, parochial, prudential conception of faith? So, I
call upon all my clergymen and clergy women, friends of the faith and
thinkers and all prominent African American people to stand against this
Come on, Sophia, and, Roland, and, Jamal, put down your covering and
sanctification of bigotry in the name of faith when all you`re doing is
getting God to co-sign your bigotry. Let`s be bigger than the bigotry.
Let`s stand up above the prudential and the narrow, and let`s call upon the
faith of our fathers and mothers to release and to free those who are
oppressed and not to reinforce their vicious oppression.
Isn`t it ironic that the architect of Martin Luther King, Jr.`s march
on Washington was a gay African-American man?
It is notable that President Obama stance on gay marriage won`t
change public policy a great deal. President Obama was already strongly in
favor of legal protections for LGBT communities. He`s clearly aware that
most states in the country have laws on the books against gay marriage.
But he is willing to cast his voice on the side of equality. I would
also point to pastor Jamal-Harrison Bryant who came to this conclusion:
"While I am uncomfortable with the president on this position, I am more
uncomfortable with the alternative, an agenda that does not include the
poor and platform that does not engage minorities or the black church."
But be braver than that, Jamal. Speak out in your pulpit against the
vicious, criminal insistence that everybody be a narrow version of
heterosexual, and open the doors of the church for all of those people in
your pews who are crying for acceptance, black, gay, lesbian, and other
people who are other sex who are crying out for the acceptance of their
I ain`t never been to a black church that turns that black tithes
from gay people. I`ve never been to a black church that refuses to take
the money of those who are lesbian, gay, transgendered and bisexual. And
we know many of the ushers and the choir directors and God knows, the
ministers in churches preaching against homosexuality are secretly closeted
themselves. And engaging in internal, psychic, socio and spiritual
warfare. Free them. This is what the gospel is all about.
Get your cell phones out. I want to know what you think. Tonight`s
question: Who`s policies are more in line with Christian teachings? Text A
for President Obama, text B for Mitt Romney, to 622639. Or go to our blog
at Ed.MSNBC.com. I`ll bring you the results later in the show.
I`m joined by Bishop Harry Jackson, a senior pastor at Hope Christian
Church, and Obery Hendricks, professor of biblical interpretation at the
New York Theological Seminary, a visiting scholar in religion in African-
American Studies at Columbia University, and author of "The Universe Bends
Bishop Jackson, we showed a bit of your sermon there. So, I`ll let
you go first.
What`s your position on what President Obama did this week?
JACKSON: Well, as you and I talked earlier, I want to know what he`s
going to do next. He didn`t just say what he said because he wanted to
inform people in a moment of clarity. I believe for 20 years he`s known
that he`s been for same-sex marriage, but he didn`t know whether he wanted
to inject that issue into the political arena.
So, it`s happened. I want to know what will it mean, how will it
So, in a couple of weeks, I`m going to be asking for a hundred strong
black men and women to come to Washington, D.C., and prayerfully meet with
the president and/or his surrogates, and we want to hear from them clearly
from his words what he`s going to do. Are we going to have more intrusions
into the culture? The lack of actually following through with DOMA, things
of that nature. What is the president going to do?
DYSON: All right. Professor Hendricks, before we get to your area
of expertise, biblical interpretation, so you can put this stuff in
context. Is this more an issue of justice than it is about religion? You
latest book is "The Universe Bends Toward Justice," quoting Martin Luther
King, Jr., quoting a famous saying.
Give us a sense of your understanding of the issue.
OBERY HENDRICKS, NY THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY: I think it is about
justice. It`s a question of human personality. And I must say that I
don`t think that all the churches that reject marriage equality are doing
it viciously. Many of them deeply believe it.
What they overlook is that all people are equal under the law.
Constitutionally, everyone should have the right to secularize, to marry,
to have all the rights of the one they love, whether it`s the same sex or
So, it`s about justice also because Jesus gave us one major way to
judge one another. That`s in Matthew 25. He said that if you have -- as
you have not to the least of these, you have not done it. As you have not
fed the hungry and clothed the naked and sheltered the homeless, you have
not done it to me.
He said those who don`t look out for one another, he said they are
the ones that are going to go to hell. So, in other words, he said the way
he judge one another is how we treat one another. Whether somebody is
trying to help somebody, whether somebody is trying to love their neighbor
as themselves. And if they`re not doing that, it doesn`t matter what their
sexual orientation is --
HENDRICKS: -- they`re on the wrong side.
DYSON: Bishop Jackson, given what Dr. Hendricks has just said, the
bible was often used a bludgeon against African-American people, should we
be mindful of not using it in a parallel way against gay men and lesbian
JACKSON: I do believe we`re not supposed to hurt people. But let me
say this about justice. If you really want justice, why not make room for
the Muslims, why not go all the way and ask for polygamy? Why not broaden
this discussion so it looks like a minority is getting its way maybe at the
expense of other people their way?: I don`t want to change marriage at
But if you are really arguing for justice, why not have bigamy and
other things, polygamy be part of this equation?
DYSON: Professor Hendricks, you know, that`s an outright obviously
misapplication of the analogy here. The fact that we`re talking about
bigamy on the one hand and gay and lesbian people is to predetermine that
this somehow is pathological in its outside of the scope of morality.
So, let me let Professor Hendricks respond -- to draw the analogy
itself is to participate in the prejudice. How do we get free of this
saying, well, if we can do with being gay, let`s talk about predatory
behavior of those who raped children?
Give us --
JACKSON: I didn`t say predatory behavior.
DYSON: Let me let professor Hendricks, respond.
JACKSON: OK. Yes, sir.
HENDRICKS: Well, you know, if you`re going to talk biblically, I
think the bishop is speaking biblically. If you`re going to speak
biblically, you know, it does say in Leviticus that if a man lie with a
man, he should be killed. It also says if a child is disobedient to a
parent, he should be killed. It also said that someone who spills a seed
on the ground or masturbates should be killed.
So, you know, if we`re going to talk about a biblical basis, in
justice basis, let`s get it right. What I`m saying is there`s not really a
strong biblical basis for saying that people who love one another, if you
want to sacrilege their relationship in the sight of God, there`s no
biblical basis for keeping them apart. And if the bishop wants to talk
about specific, we can do that.
DYSON: We`re going to have to shelf that conversation. We have to
go right now, hard-handed as it is.
Thank you, Bishop Harry Jackson, and Dr. Obery Hendricks, thank you
HENDRICKS: Thank you.
DYSON: Remember to answer tonight`s question there at the bottom of
the screen and share your thoughts on Twitter @EdShow. I want to know what
Next, Mitt Romney calls his high school bullying a prank. But one
woman is calling it an act of torment. Her name, Judy Shepard, the mother
of Matthew Shepard. She`ll join us next.
And new evidence of Governor Scott Walker`s determination to destroy
unions in his state of Wisconsin. We`ll play the blockbuster video and
John Nichols tells us what it means for the recall.
Stay with us.
DYSON: Coming up on THE ED SHOW: Mitt Romney calls the high school
bullying incident a prank. But not everyone is taking it as lightly. The
mother of Matthew Shepard is speaking out. And she joins me next.
Stunning news from a banking giant, JPMorgan Chase says it lost $2
billion because of risky trading practices. Senator Bernie Sanders joins
And a new Broadway production of Tennessee Williams classic, "A
Streetcar Named Desire" has some critics raising questions about casting.
The stars of the play Blair Underwood and Nicole Ari Parker join me later
in the show.
Share your thoughts with us on Twitter using #EdShow. We`ll be right
DYSON: The fallout continues over a "Washington Post" report
detailing Mitt Romney`s bullying behavior as a teenager. Former classmates
of Romney at the Cranbrook school in Michigan told the paper how Romney
abused fellow students who were believed to be gay. In one incident,
Romney reportedly tackled and pinned down a student, repeatedly clipped his
hair as the student cried out in protest.
The family of that student is now disputing the report. Romney was
never disciplined by the school for his behavior.
I`m not surprised. I attended Cranbrook in the mid-70s for about a
year and a half. I witnessed all kinds of behavior from the simply
inappropriate to the outright intolerant. For instance, there was a
recording that were released cassette that said we`re going cigar fishing
today. No, we`re not. We`re going nigar fishing. What`s the bait?
So, I`m acquainted with the fact that elite at the top level have
bigotry percolating inside.
Now, Mitt Romney calls the incident he was involved in a prank.
Romney also rationalized the behavior by saying he didn`t know the victim`s
sexual orientation. But today, one woman is taking issue with Romney`s
characterization of that event. Her name is Judy Shepard and she`s the
mother of Matthew Shepard.
In 1998, you`ll recall, Matthew Shepard was just 21 years old when he
was abducted by two men. The men targeted Matthew because he was gay,
drove him to a remote area, tied him to a fence, beat him and tortured him
and left him to die. He was found 18 hours later by a cyclist who first
mistook him for a scare crow. Days later, Matthew Shepard died in a
Judy Shepard knows the consequences of intolerance. She now says of
Mitt Romney`s high school bullying, "While this may seem like an innocent
prank to some, it was an act of torment against a child for being
different. We expect the people we elect to be leaders in the charge
against bullying so that all students are afforded the right to learn and
grow in an environment free of fear. This incident calls into question
whether Mitt Romney can be an advocate for the nation`s most vulnerable
I`m joined by Judy Shepard, president of the Matthew Shepard
Foundation governing board.
Thank you, Ms. Shepard, for taking that time to join us tonight.
JUDY SHEPARD, MATTHEW SHEPARD FOUNDATION: It`s my pleasure. Thank
you for the invitation.
DYSON: Absolutely. That was a powerful statement you made.
Give us a sense of what you think Mitt Romney`s mistake is in
brushing this incident off as merely a prank.
SHEPARD: Well, I`m a little concerned that he says he doesn`t even
remember it. I would think something bordering on assault would stay with
someone in their member. It did with the other boys that participated.
I`m concerned that he doesn`t seem to exhibit empathy even though it
was those years ago. You know, it`s character building years. Yes, things
change, but I`m concerned that this is a character trait that remains.
There was a feeling of elitism and that they would not get into
trouble for everything that they did like this. The whole incident -- it`s
a concern as a parent of a child who was vulnerable that he may not feel
empathy for those who are different for whatever reason.
DYSON: Sure. In terms of character building years in the way in
which the decisions we make and the choices we elect certainly reflect our
moral interpretation, it does say something about him as a leader. Do you
think this kind of thing should be brought to bear to determine whether or
not Romney is a leader worthy of being elected?
SHEPARD: Well, I`m glad we`re talking about it. I think it`s an
incident that once come into light, we can`t just brush it under the carpet
because as we investigate his life further, which we apparently don`t know
much about it. We don`t know much about how he spent the rest of his years
and if this is character trait that follows a lack of empathy and some sort
of bullying. Bullying doesn`t happen just in the schoolyards. It`s in
corporations and exists in every aspect of our lives.
SHEPARD: I`m hoping that we try to find that out.
DYSON: Sure. When you talk about empathy, what did you think when
you heard of President Obama come out and support marriage equality this
week? What was going through your mind when you heard him make the
SHEPARD: Oh, at long last. We feel free to be who we are. To have
our families be intact and recognized and respected by the leader of the
free world. It`s an amazing statement. While I realize it doesn`t change
anything legally or in the legislative world, just knowing his opinion is
if favor of equality marriage is a huge step towards getting there.
DYSON: Well, not only the president, but the rest of the country has
to be taken measure of. Do you think the country is making progress when
it comes to LGBT youth, and are you encouraged what you`ve seen since your
son`s tragic death?
SHEPARD: I`m very encouraged. We still have pockets of intolerance
and even hate in this country. I`m not sure we`ll ever get rid of all of
it. But certainly, now that it`s on the public stage and we talk about it
all the time, that it`s a matter of public forum, in schools and in
corporations, and our churches on the street corners.
Education is really all we need. Ignorance is our enemy. We really
need to tell your stories and educate the public about this. Now that we
have the opinions of the vice president, president, secretary of education,
so many of our leaders coming out in favor of equality marriage sends the
message of respect and actually gives permission to those who believe in it
to come forward and say I agree.
DYSON: Well, Judy Shepard, we`re thankful for your advocacy for
these issues over the years and thank you for coming on.
SHEPARD: Thank you very much.
DYSON: Four years after the worst financial crisis since the Great
Depression, one of America`s biggest banks is back to the reckless behavior
that almost crashed the global economy. Senator Bernie Sanders tells us
what we can do about it.
And profiting from the Trayvon Martin tragedy. The online sale of
Trayvon gun targets is the latest shameful act. We`ll show you how
Trayvon`s mother is using the situation to make a difference.
DYSON: As the Republican presidential nominee continues to call for
Wall Street deregulation, JPMorgan Chase proves how important Wall Street
regulation is. The banking giant lost $2 billion dollars engaging in the
same type of derivate investing that made the 2008 economic crisis as bad
as it was.
The Obama administration tried to stem this reckless trading with the
Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law, specifically with the Volcker Rule. The
Volcker Rule puts restriction on proprietary speculation to prevent big
institutions from taking on huge losses.
Wouldn`t you know it? One of the people who opposes the
implementation of Volcker Rule is -- you got it -- JPMorgan CEO, Jamie
Dimon. Ironically, JP Morgan`s latest loss makes a persuasive case for
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM CRAMER, CNBC ANCHOR: I got to tell you, Jamie Dimon has become
the Manchurian candidate, Joe. He`s the Manchurian candidate for
regulation. He literally -- if you wanted to have the hardest regulation
possible, other than electing Elizabeth Warren to the board of JP Morgan,
he`s now succeeding in being the Manchurian candidate for regulation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: Dimon spoke with NBC`s David Gregory today. The full
interview will air on "Meet the Press" this Sunday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID GREGORY, "MEET THE PRESS" MODERATOR: The immediate question --
the SEC is looking into this. Did the bank break any laws? Did it violate
any accounting rules or SEC rules?
JAMIE DIMON, JP MORGAN CHASE CEO: So we`ve had audit, legal, risk
compliance, some of our best people looking over that. We know we were
sloppy. We know we were stupid. We know there was bad judgement. We
don`t know if any of that`s true yet.
Of course, regulators should look at something like this. That`s
their job. So we are totally open to regulators. They will come to their
own conclusions. We intend to fix it, learn from it and be a better
company when it`s done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: "Sloppy, stupid and bad judgment." Here is a guy that knows
all about that and to skewer it, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. We`ll
turn to him now for more reaction to this story.
Senator, will this incident put an end to high-stakes bets by our
financial institutions, which have the possible to wreck the system for so
many other normal regular people?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: No, sadly, it won`t. I think,
Michael, the lesson to be learned here is that these guys have learned
nothing since their greed and recklessness and illegal behavior drove this
country into the worst recession since the 1930s, causing so many people to
lose their jobs and their homes and their savings.
These guys have learned nothing. We need to regulate. We need to
bring back Glass-Stegall. And I`ll tell you something else, in my view.
And that is when you have the six largest financial institutions in this
country, including JP Morgan Chase -- when you have these institutions
owning assets equivalent to two-thirds of the GDP of the United States of
America, over nine trillion dollars, when they issue half of the mortgages
in this country and two-thirds of the credit cards in this country, you
know what you`ve got to do? You got to break these companies up.
You got to make sure -- pardon me.
DYSON: Go ahead.
SANDERS: You got to break them up. They have too much influence.
They have too much power. It leads to two things. This kind of
concentration of ownership is bad for the economy. And it leads us down
the path, once again, of having to bail them out.
Michael, in my view, what we need to do as a country is have our
financial institutions not engage in gambling, which JP Morgan Chase did.
They lost money because they were gambling. They made a bad bet.
SANDERS: We don`t need our large financial institutions betting. We
need them investing in the real economy and creating jobs.
DYSON: Look, Bernie, you and Jesse Jackson have been on the forefront
and the cutting edge of asking for the return of the Glass-Steagall Act.
Tell us about what that means, and how it could help in a situation like
this, when these derivative investments for months have been known about,
and yet the potential wreckage that`s going to be caused to the economy
Tell us about Glass-Steagall and why that is important.
SANDERS: Glass-Steagall was legislation enacted in the 1930s. And
what it said is that when the federal government is going to provide
insurance, FDIC insurance to banks, what you cannot have is a situation
where commercial banks are merging with investment banks, are merging with
insurance companies, because the risk to the taxpayer becomes much too
great if one of those entities fail and the whole thing goes down.
That was Glass-Steagall, establish walls. Now what need to do -- what
we have seen in recent years is that these large financial institutions are
-- have moved far, far away from what traditional banking was about. And
what traditional conservative banking was about is a company needs some
money, you invest in that company, you them money. They go out and create
jobs. The economy prospers.
These guys are now an island unto themselves, engaging in highly
complicated trades and bets and derivatives which have put the entire
world`s economy at risk. I think it`s time basically to say you`ve had
your day. You failed. We need a new type of financial system.
DYSON: Right. Well, the Glass-Steagall Act, of course, was the
separation of church and state for the protection of the American populous.
Mitt Romney wants to repeal Dodd-Frank and deregulate the financial
industry. My God, does this incident hurt his case?
SANDERS: Of course it does, Michael. It`s totally insane. Can you
imagine after all of the damage done because of deregulation allowing Wall
Street to do whatever they wanted to do, which was essentially engage in
highly risky, if not fraudulent activity -- can you believe somebody
saying, well, what we want to do is deregulate, let these guys do anything
they want in any way that they want?
It is beyond my comprehension that anyone can be talking about
deregulating Wall Street when I think most sensible people know we need to
DYSON: Nobody does it better than him, Senator Bernie Sanders. Thank
you so much.
There`s a lot more coming up in the next half on THE ED SHOW. Stay
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: We`re going to deal with collective
bargaining for all public employees. Use divide and conquer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: Scott Walker is caught on tape. John Nichols of "The Nation"
magazine on today`s bombshell revelation.
Trayvon Martin inspired gun range targets are selling out in Florida,
as the lain teen`s mom speaks out about Stand Your Ground. That report
And the multiracial cast of the new Broadway production of "Streetcar
Named Desire" is coming under fire from critics. I say why can`t Stanley
and Blanche be black? The stars of the production, Blair Underwood and
Nicole Ari Parker, are here to respond.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLAIR UNDERWOOD, ACTOR: The last thing you would think of when you
leave this play is race. What you see upon that stage is humanity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: We`re 25 days away from the history recall elections in
Wisconsin and the problems keep piling up for Governor Scott Walker. He
already has the worst jobs record in the country. And now there`s new
evidence Walker lied to the people of Wisconsin during the battle over his
In February 2011, after the 14 Democratic state senators left
Wisconsin to try and prevent the bill from passing, Scott Walker said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALKER: I have great respect for those who have chosen a career in
government. I really do. Despite a lot of the rhetoric we have heard over
the past 11 days, the bill I put forward isn`t aimed at state workers. It
certainly isn`t a battle with unions.
The legislation I put forward is about one thing. It`s about
balancing our budget now and in the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: Oh, come, come now. Of course the bill was not just about
balancing the budget. Now we have proof that Scott Walker was determined
to destroy unions from the minute he took office. Newly released footage
from a documentary shot in January 2011 shows Walker talking to one of his
billionaire donors about his agenda.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIONE HENDRICKS, WALKER DONOR: Any chance we`ll get to be a
completely red state and work on these unions and become a right to work?
What can we do to help you?
WALKER: We`re going to start in a couple of weeks with our budget
adjustment bill. The first step is we`re going to deal with collective
bargaining for all public employees.
WALKER: Use divide and conquer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: Those pesky cameras and that even peskier truth. Walker
didn`t say we need to do this to balance the budget. He said divide and
conquer. By the way, after Walker delivered on his promise to destroy
collective bargaining, the billionaire he was speaking ended up donating
510,000 dollars to Scott Walker`s campaign.
Walker responded to the video today at a campaign event. He said,
quote, "it was a year and a half ago, so I don`t remember the particulars
of that discussion." Oh, my God, selective and convenient amnesia.
Fortunately, there`s the video to jog Walker`s his memory. Joining me
now is John Nichols, Washington correspondent for "The Nation" magazine and
author of the book "Uprising."
John Nichols, does this tape that we saw just confirm that Democrats
were right all along in what they suspected, that this man was out to break
JOHN NICHOLS, "THE NATION": I think it actually goes beyond
confirming what some people expected. I think there were a lot of folks
who thought that Scott Walker had animus toward unions, that he was
determined to undermine them.
But what you see from this video and also from an associated
transcript of raw footage, is that he had very detailed plans for how to do
it. First, taking on the public sector unions. Weakening them to such an
extent that they could not stand up for when he then came for private
That term divide and conquer was very carefully chosen. Frankly, if
you listen even longer into the videotape that became available, he
specifically refers to taking down the public sector unions as something
that would open the door for other initiatives as regards to union.
So this is really a revelation as regards to governor who had a very
specific plan to attack the trade union movement.
DYSON: Well, specific and diabolical. What`s the reaction to this
tape within Wisconsin itself? Because there`s a pitch battle going on.
And the contestation over reelection.
NICHOLS: It`s an interesting thing. Governor walker`s opponent in
this recall election, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, has said for several
weeks that we shouldn`t just focus on what Governor Walker has done in the
past but also on what he might do in the future.
Tom Barrett has specifically said that he believes if Governor Walker
survives this recall election, he would seek to make Wisconsin a right to
work state, where unions in the private sector would not have really the
ability to function in any meaningful way.
So Barrett was dismissed. He was ridiculed. Newspapers said he might
be going too far in saying that. Governor Walker said he was wrong. But
now suddenly we have video that specifically goes to the issue. It`s very
strengthening for Tom Barrett. It also I think reinforces a sense in
Wisconsin, a dawning sense going back for some people to when Governor
Walker took that call he thought was from a Koch Brother, that Governor
Walker may not tell the truth to the people of Wisconsin, but he does speak
the truth when he is talking to someone who is a billionaire or who he
thinks is a billionaire.
DYSON: Right. John, what`s the impact of all of this on the recall
election because it`s obviously approaching. There`s an enormous battle
going on in Wisconsin. What`s the likely consequence there?
NICHOLS: This story has gone wall to wall today. Even right wing
talk radio stations have been playing the tape or playing some of this on
their news shows. Everybody in the state is going to be aware of this.
That term divide and conquer I think is going to become a big part of the
Tom Barrett has said throughout this campaign he wants to heal
Wisconsin. Here you have tape of the governor talking about dividing and
conquering the state. I think this is a turning point. It`s not the end
of the campaign. It`s going to be a pitched battle right up to June 5th.
But I do believe that this video is going to become a big part of Tom
Barrett and the Democrats` effort to reveal I think a deeper sense of who
Scott Walker is.
DYSON: All right, my friend. Thank you, John Nichols.
Trayvon Martin`s mother, Sybrina Fulton, has a Mother`s Day message
for the country, specifically the 20 states with Stand Your Ground Laws.
Stay with us.
DYSON: An anonymous online vendor is profiting from the Trayvon
Martin tragedy with a shockingly violent and hateful product. Paper
targets featuring a hooded individual with Skittles and ice tea were being
sold online. The targets are no longer available. But the unidentified
seller told an Orlando television station that they sold out in two days.
Even the attorney for Martin`s accused killer called it an act of hate
mongering. The Martin family and their representative offered no comments
about the targets.
Instead, Martin`s mother is bringing the focus back to repealing Stand
Your Ground laws.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SYBRINA FULTON, MOTHER OF TRAYVON MARTIN: I`m Sybrina Fulton. This
will be my first Mother`s Day without my son Trayvon. I know it will be
hard, but my faith, family and friends will pull me through.
On Sunday, I`m going to say a prayer for other mothers across America
who share this unbearable pain. Just like me, 30,000 mothers lost their
children this year to senseless gun violence.
Nobody can bring our children back, but it would bring us comfort if
we can help spare other mothers the pain that we will feel on Mother`s Day
and every day for the rest of our lives.
I`m asking you to join Florida by calling upon the governor of your
state to re-examine similar Stand Your Ground laws throughout the nation to
keep our families safe. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Happy Mother`s Day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: Wow. There are currently 19 other states with Stand Your
Ground laws similar to the one on the books in Florida. It`s disgusting
for people to exploit the tragedy of Trayvon Martin for things like
shooting targets, but it`s dangerous not to scrutinize Stand Your Ground
laws in the wake of the tragedy.
In the Big Finish tonight, a new production of an American classic.
Blair Underwood and Nicole Ari Parker join me no set. Stay tuned.
DYSON: Tonight in survey, I asked you who`s policies are more in line
with Christian teachings? Ninety three percent say President Obama; seven
percent say Mitt Romney.
Coming up, Blair Underwood and Nicole Ari Parker join me to discuss
their roles in the new Broadway production of the classic play "A Streetcar
Named Desire." Stay tuned..
DYSON: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Last night, I saw a revival of
an American classic on Broadway which was frankly astonishing. And it`s
choice of a multi-racial cast was inspired. Tennessee Williams "A
Streetcar Named Desire" debuted on Broadway 65 years ago. And in 948, it
won the Pulitzer Prize for drama.
It has now been reborn to powerful effect.
DYSON: I`m joined by Blair Underwood and Nicole Ari Parker, both
starring in the new Broadway production of Tennessee Williams` "A Streetcar
To both of you, welcome.
NICOLE ARI PARKER, ACTRESS: Thanks for having us on.
DYSON: Thanks for coming on. Look, I went to see this play. It`s
stunning. It`s magnificent. It`s incredible. So tell us what it feels
like to step into these two iconic roles and to play them with such
delicious reverence on the one hand, but such powerful beautiful
You draw from your own history, on the other hand. Tell us about what
that feels like.
UNDERWOOD: Yeah. Ladies first.
PARKER: Well, you know, I always -- people have been asking me about
this. This is my Broadway debut. I`ve waited 20 years for this phone
call, really. And I don`t think I would have been able to play Blanche
until -- until now. I just approached it from a very deeply respectful
way. You Vivian Leigh (ph) has laid it down for us.
I haven`t seen it, but Kate Blanchett`s performance came before this
one at "Bam." And I just wanted to respect the material and dive in and
give it everything that I have. I`m glad that it touched you so deeply.
That`s all I can really ask for.
DYSON: Very powerfully so. Brother Blair?
UNDERWOOD: She has been. It`s amazing. You know, these two roles,
Blanche Debois and Stanley Kowalski, are two of the most amazing roles for
an actor and actress to play I think in American theater. So to have an
opportunity -- just an opportunity to do it has been phenomenal.
So I kind of -- we live in that space that every night we get chance
to take the stage and speak these words written by the incredible Tennessee
Williams. It`s a phenomenal opportunity.
DYSON: Well, he was one of the great poets of the American theater
scene. And -- but what`s interesting is that you guys do it with such
verve, such dignity, but also such powerful respect for your craft. Some
people have been -- in the streets, the parlance would be tripping on the
fact that an African-American cast, not -- primarily, but it`s multiracial.
You have white brothers and sisters. You have Latino brother there.
And it`s incredibly diverse cast. But some people said, well, spare
us the infernal folly of having another all black casting of a Tennessee
Williams play unless we can do an all white casting on August Wilson play.
I won`t put that on you all to respond to that. But how ridiculous is
Marlon Brando was not, last time I checked, Polish, but he played it.
We talk about a fellow and the number of people who through the years have
played that. How do you respond to that kind of narrowness? This is not a
black play, but it`s black cast, primarily, and others interpreting one of
the great classics of American theater.
UNDERWOOD: I`m glad you brought that up. Because at the end of the
die, the last thing you would think of when you leave this place is race.
What you see upon that stage is humanity. You know, I don`t read reviews.
I just don`t. Good or bad, I just don`t like it seeping into my
But you know, of course, people bring it up. Hey man, did you hear so
and so said this. So what I know is about 90 percent of the reviews have
been very positive, which has been great.
But there are been those who, as you said so brilliantly and
eloquently, tripping. But what that is -- I`ll be very frank and honest,
since we don`t have a lot of time. I`m just going to come right at you.
To me it`s really --
PARKER: Very Stanley of you.
UNDERWOOD: Very Stanley of me.
PARKER: Straight forward, honest.
UNDERWOOD: Right on, right on. The dark side of white liberalism,
the dark side. I`m going to say this. That was John Leher (ph) that said
that from "The New Yorker," what you`re talking about. This was his
Christmas list five months ago, that he did not want Santa to bring him
anymore infernal all black casts of Tennessee Williams, unless they are
going to have the equal folly which would be an all white production of
That`s John Leher and that`s -- for none of his constituents to say
anything about that, to speak to that tells me he`s speaking to a choir.
So we knew coming into this we were stepping into a certain not only
resistance of acts of color doing Tennessee Williams, but a resentment that
we would have the audacity to do that.
So we know that. We love it. We put it in its place and we have fun
doing the role.
PARKER: I think let me say this. I have a couple of thoughts on
that. I kind of respect his courage in a way, you know, to come out in
2011 and 2012 and say such dismissive, kind of uninformed, racial comment.
He`s putting it on the table. The only way we can really affect any kind
of change is if this white critic really tells how he feels, and he did.
Lucky for us it affected nothing, because we`re on stage every night,
eight shows a week, and we just got an extension.
DYSON: And it just got an extension, yes.
UNDERWOOD: It`s just important to know that this is not folly. It`s
not gimmickry. It`s not hyperbole. To put this -- people of color in New
Orleans Louisiana is more authentic --
PARKER: Also, "Streetcar" is not a play about race. It`s about
DYSON: It`s about class. It`s about desire. It`s about struggle.
It`s about mental health. And it`s about --
PARKER: All racial groups understand that.
DYSON: Absolutely. Well, I tell America go see this play. Two of
the most beautiful people in the world, two of the greatest actors and
actresses we have. The only thing I`m going to say, Blair, people stop
using my body every night on stage.
Nicole Ari Parker, Blair Underwood, thanks for coming.
UNDERWOOD: Thank you, Michael. Appreciate it.
DYSON: That`s THE ED SHOW. I`m Michael Dyson, in for Ed Schultz.
"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts now. Good evening, Rachel.
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