Skip navigation

'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Saturday, September 21st, 2013

Read the transcript to the Saturday show

  Most Popular
Most viewed

September 21, 2013
Guest: Michael Denzel Smith, Terrie Williams, James Peterson, Amy Holmes,
Tom Perriello, Valarie Kaur

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: This morning, my question -- are
millennials really rushing in a new liberal era? Plus, the little law that
could has survived 40 votes to kill it. But can it survive this icky

And the pope continues to be freaking awesome.

But first, I don`t care if the new cycle has moved on, Americans are dying
and we must pay attention.

Good morning. I`m Melissa HARRIS-PERRY:. It`s always the numbers we
remember. The 26 in Newtown, Connecticut. Six adults, 20 children. The
70 killed and injured in Aurora, Colorado. The ten at a Sikh temple in Oak
Creek, Wisconsin. The 19, one of them a member of the U.S. Congress,
outside a grocery store in Tucson, Arizona. The 56 at Virginia Tech. And
this week, the 13. The 13 at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. 13 people
including the gunman dead after yet another mass shooting. This week,
their names are still fresh in our memories. Among them, Martin Bodrog, a
54-year-old Navy veteran, husband, and father to three daughters. Frank
Kohler, a 50-year-old engineer and father to two daughters. Kathy Gaarde,
62, who had begun to plan for retirement with her husband of 38 years. All
of them will never be forgotten by those who knew them when they lived and
always remembered by the rest of us as being among the 13 who died.

And even when the faces and names have grown fuzzy around the edges of our
memories, we remember the numbers, because we can so easily imagine
ourselves as one among them and substitute our own names and faces or those
of our loved ones in their place. Each time our empathy and our fear
extends beyond city and state borders to embrace each loss as a collective
American tragedy, one that demands we react and respond, not just to save
those who are immediately vulnerable by proximity to these attacks, but to
save ourselves. Because we recognize those numbers, those steadily growing
numbers as an all-American crisis, one that leaves all Americans with a
sense of vulnerability and unease, that calls for solutions to make all
Americans safer. And when that call goes out, whether the response is
swift and decisive action from law enforcement or the slow and deliberative
work of policy reform from our lawmakers, we know that someone is answering
that call.

Americans, we want to believe, can always rest assured that help is on the
way. Only there is nothing all-American about that assurance, because the
reaction, the calls for answers after the Navy Yard shooting was very
different than the response to another group of 13 -- the victims in our
nation`s most recent mass shooting, not the Navy Yard but the 13 at a
Southside Chicago basketball court on Thursday night. That was where at
least one gunman with a high-powered rifle opened fire, unleashing more
than a dozen bullets into a crowd gathered for a basketball game.
Miraculously, no one has died but among those shot and injured was three-
year-old Deonte Howard, who was standing near the court when a bullet hit
him in the face. His grandmother spoke yesterday about her resolve to do
something, anything, in response to the violence.


stamped out an all our corner every day until the violence stop. Because
it has to stop.


HARRIS-PERRY: When we hear Deonte`s grandmother`s call for help, when we
hear, if we hear about the 13 in Chicago or the 19 at a Mother`s Day Second
Line in New Orleans, the fear, the vulnerability, the empathy we shared
with the 13 in Washington, D.C., the recognition of the all-American
problem suddenly feels less like our problem. More like theirs. We lose
track of the names and lose count of the numbers so their call for help
doesn`t reverberate much farther than the communities that are plagued
daily by the potential and realized threat of violence, not far enough for
a multiagency response to come to the rescue, to catch the notice of wall-
to-wall, coast-to-coast media coverage or the attention of Congress to fix
a collective crisis.

Instead, the response to the violence is increased presence of the very
same institution that is so often implicated in the fear. It`s the
response that met Jonathan Ferrell when he was in need of help and found
himself on the doorstep of a stranger last weekend. Ferrell, a 24-year-old
former football player at Florida A&M University, had moved back home to
North Carolina last year to be with his fiancee. Sometime before 2:30 a.m.
on Saturday he was driving through a rural neighborhood just outside of
Charlotte when he got into a car accident and had to kick out the back
window to free himself from the wreckage. Ferrell managed to walk a
quarter mile to the nearest house, where he knocked on the door asking for
help. The homeowner, a woman who was home alone with her year-old child,
opened the door thinking it was her husband, but when instead she saw a man
she didn`t recognize, she shut the door, hit the panic button on her alarm,
and placed this call to 911.


DISPATCHER: 911. Hello?

HOMEOWNER: I need help.

DISPATCHER: Where are you at? What`s going on there?

HOMEOWNER: There`s a guy breaking in my front door.


HARRIS-PERRY: Three officers from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police
Department arrived on the scene, where they found Ferrell walking toward
the neighborhood pool. He approached them. In response, one of them fired
a taser. Then a second officer fired 12 shots with his gun. Ten of those
bullets found their mark. Jonathan Ferrell was unarmed when he died just a
month shy of his 25th birthday. It`s a story of how Ferrell`s life ended
leaves you with an uneasy sense of deja vu it`s because we have indeed been
here before. We`ve been here with Amadou Diallo, we`ve been here with
Shonn Bell, we`ve been here with Kendrick McDade, we have been here with
Oscar Grant and the list goes on. These are the numbers that are
remembered by communities who like Jonathan Ferrell are banging on the
door, crying out for help. The number one, one unarmed African-American
man shot down by those they are told who are supposed to be there to answer
their call for help.

Joining me now, Victoria Defrancesco Soto, NBC Latino contributor and a
fellow at the LBJ School, the University of Texas. Mychal Denzel Smith,
blogger at, and noble fellow at the Nation Institute. And
Valarie Kaur, director of Ground Swell, political commentator and senior
fellow at Auburn University. Thank you all for being here. Michael, I
want to start with you because you wrote in "the nation" this week about
the death that I ended on. And I want to give you an opportunity to weigh
in on sort of how you read that moment of Ferrell`s death.

frightening as a black man in America to know that you can be looking for
help and still be met with, you know, that type of -- and be charged with
essentially disarming people of fear of yourself, right? Because -- and
it`s understandable that the woman was scared. It`s ten - 2:00 in the


SMITH: It`s a stranger is knocking on your door. But at no point does it
seem that anyone says, well, maybe he does actually need help. No one
tries to help him in this situation, not even the police that are charged
with protecting and serving. They don`t assess the situation when they get
there, try to figure out exactly what`s going on, ask him questions, see
what the situation looks like before trying to taser him. That`s your
first reaction.


SMITH: And then you shoot him 12 - shoot at him 12 times. And ten bullets
hit his body. This - I mean, it`s infuriating to think that, you know, you
can be completely innocent, right, and this is the thing that frustrates me
about respectability politics, right.


SMITH: Jonathan Ferrell did everything right. Jonathan - and in his
death, you know, the narrative has been building about how he was engaged
and he had this great GPA and he was a great friend, but he did everything
right. And he still met the same fate.

HARRIS-PERRY: This point that you made that it`s perfectly reasonable for
a woman at home at 2:30 in the morning alone with her child or even if her
spouse is there, to be afraid of a knock at the door is reasonable. But
then there`s the call to the police. And this is the moment -- and I think
this is what has made me the kind of sadness and anger that I feel from you
at this moment, Mychal, what I`ve been feeling this week, is that sense
that when we call on the institution, when we call on the police, when we
call on our Congress to do something about our need for help -- and, you
know, I always want to be careful because Jonathan Ferrell is a person,
he`s not a metaphor, and yet his death stands in in this way that feels
like when we call for help, instead what we get is more violence.

police officer per se, but the larger police institution. Why didn`t the
911 caller ask the woman the questions necessary to determine whether this
was, in fact, a robber, a break-in, or whether it was somebody truly asking
for help? Why wasn`t that information then convert over to the police
officers? The larger (inaudible) is that of racism. You know, it is
bluntly that. We`ve talked about Oprah and her purse. When she walks in,
what is assumed, the worst. What is assumed with this man? Innocent.
Having experienced an accident. The worst. So, it`s regrettably, it`s not
just in the realm of potential crime, but it`s in the realm of everyday

HARRIS-PERRY: Valarie, one of the reasons I wanted you at the table for
this moment is the work that you have been doing in Oak Creek since the
mass shooting at the Sikh temple there. And in part because it does feel
like another one of these moments, for me almost like the 13 who were shot
in Chicago this week where we don`t tell the story, like on the one hand, I
hate the bloody nature of news and how much we talk about the violence. On
the other hand, I worry that we only talk about some of the victims and not

VALARIE KAUR: Right. Right. We can`t afford to look away. The broader
problem in our nation is that we don`t respond with the same sense of moral
outrage when the victims are black and brown bodies. I know that in the
wake of Oak Creek, I had this hope that perhaps now our nation would
respond to hate violence in America, perhaps now it would be the turning
point. The violence in Oak Creek was the greatest act of violence in the
faith community since the 1963 church bombings .


KAUR: . in the African-American community, which was a turning point in
the civil rights movement. Our hearts broke then, America`s heart broke
then and it mattered and it led to action. Our hears should be breaking
now, and we can`t afford to have the same kind of moral outrage fatigue
when it means that our children continue to die in city streets, whether it
is children in the schoolyard or a playground on the Southside of Chicago
or people worshipping in a Sikh house of worship on a Sunday morning.
These just demand our attention, our action and we have to start listening
to their stories.

HARRIS-PERRY: I`m so glad you brought up the `63 church bombings. We, you
know, we spent a great deal of time talking about it last week. And I just
kept thinking the fact that that was part of the turning point in American
public policy and American history feels like the appropriate response to
the murdering of four children, but that somehow now, this notion of
somehow fatigue or that we just can`t go on or we can`t do anything, why do
we have such a sense -- and I want to talk about this when we get back --
why do we have such a sense that there`s nothing we can do, when, in fact,
it does feel like there still are things we can do? So, stay right there.
And we`re going to stay on this topic when we come back.


HARRIS-PERRY: We`re back and trying to work through a little bit the
complicated nature of the connection between race and guns and violence and
death in this country. And also, you know, there are moments when we`re
putting together this show in "Nerdland" and we feel a sense of trepidation
about sort of how the conversation we want to have may get received. And
this was - this is certainly one of those moments because we don`t want to
be in a position where we say that if you`re white and deserve to die. I
mean - or - I mean line - I mean none of those things make sense here. I
just - I do want to show, though, just these two pieces of data here. One
is intra-racial violence. So, a black victim with a black offender is
about 94 percent of crime. And a white victim with a white offender is 86
percent. So, 86 percent of crime committed against white people is
committed by a white person. 94 percent of crime committed against
African-Americans is committed by an African-American. And it`s important
to me, in part, because our great anxiety is about the interracial nature
of crime. That`s the thing that provokes this fear. But, in fact, the
vulnerability is really about the likelihood of victimization within your
own group.

SMITH: Yeah, and that`s about proximity.


SMITH: It is who do you live near. It`s much progress as we`ve made on
the front of, you know, integration, we`re still a very segregated country.
So these are the communities that you live in and that`s the greatest fear
that you have of crime, walking down the street. I`m not going to
necessarily be killed and shot and killed by a white person, you know, but
I can be fearful that, you know, there are going to be black people that
may rob me. But it`s an irrational fear to think that every person that I
come across is, you know, particularly when we`re talking about black
people, that they are violent criminals out to get me. And that`s what -
that`s what the narrative becomes, and that`s why there`s that fear of
interracial, you know, violence because we have an understanding of black
people as preternaturally violent and criminal.

HARRIS-PERRY: And it seems to me, the other piece of it in addition to
this sort of profiling piece is the concern about the police as an active
potential force for good that doesn`t get activated for good because of the
stories like Jonathan Ferrell`s and others where it feels like know, these
police are as dangerous to me as any other person.

KAUR: No, yes. Absolutely. And I spent three years working in East
Haven, Connecticut, with the Latino community. I remember the first night
of our very first meeting in the basement of a church in Connecticut where
families began to pull back their sleeves to show their scars. There were
victims of brutality and assault at the hands of local police officers.
And I turned to them and I said well, why don`t you tell your stories in
public? And they said are you crazy?

HARRIS-PERRY: Because the police.

KAUR: We can`t imagine a more dangerous and risky thing to do. And it
wasn`t until a priest with a group of nuns with a group of Yale law
students, who formed the coalition and waged a three-year campaign to
transform that police department with the help of the Department of
Justice, that change was possible. So I look into their eyes and I think
about there`s a whole segment of the population who is living and working
not only in the shadows, but in ways that make them feel unsafe and
unprotected. I think of looking in the eyes of young black youth in the
streets of New York City who tell me that they`ve been stopped 100 times
before their 18th birthday. I think of looking into the eyes of South
Asian women who can`t call the police on their husbands for fear of them
seeing their husbands as bin Laden in the flesh.


KAUR: You know, what does national security mean?


KAUR: What does it really mean when communities of color cannot live,
work, and worship without fear? And the ones who are designated to protect
them are not always seen as trustworthy enough to show up and do the job.

HARRIS-PERRY: We`re going to dive deep into exactly that as soon as when
we come back because I want to talk about the Danzinger Bridge shooting in
New Orleans and the fact that this week, the convictions were vacated and I
think in many ways brings back up exactly all of the anxieties that you
were just articulating. Up next.


HARRIS-PERRY: This week, in New Orleans justice was undone when a
prosecutorial misconduct led to a retrial or a call for a retrial of five
police officers convicted of shooting unarmed people in the aftermath of
Hurricane Katrina. Four of the officers were convicted in 2011 after
killing two people and wounding four others as they walked across New
Orleans` Danzinger Bridge in search of shelter after Hurricane Katrina.
All the citizens who were shot by the police were unarmed. A fifth officer
was convicted of conspiring to justify the shootings with a cover-up. In a
129-page ruling, a federal judge overturned the convictions citing witness
coercion, inconsistent testimony, and a scandal, in which at least three
government attorneys were revealed to have posted comments about the case

Joining us now is also James Peterson, MSNBC contributor and director of
Africana Studies at Lehigh University. I want to come to you first, Vicky,
because it does feel to me like the Danzinger Bridge undoing here because
of bad behavior on the part of the prosecutors still leaves communities
like the one I live in in New Orleans feeling like our lives mean very
little in the context of police violence against those communities.

SOTO: So, police are supposed to protect us, so, in the case of Ferrell,
we saw a lack of protection, and actually, an assault, but also in looking
to the D.C. Navy Yards, what I found very interesting is that that argument
the NRA makes that the more guns you have, the safer you`re going to be,
the more armed people you have, but that`s not true. Perpetrators are the
ones with guns, such as in the case with police, and why do we need more
funding for teachers and guards with guns if we`re seeing that many times
they`re the ones who perpetrate it?

HARRIS-PERRY: This is - this is the tough one, because what I don`t want
to do is say all police are bad guys and they`re not part of the solution,
but it does feel to me, James, like until we could begin to address the
realities and that sort of institutional violence, then the other kinds of
violence that plague our communities won`t get better because there can be
no partnership with police .


HARRIS-PERRY: If you believe that in the context of the storm, when you
are seeking shelter and you`re walking across the bridge and a 17-year-old
boy and a 40-year-old man who has mental incompetences .


HARRIS-PERRY: Who were shot in the back and killed, and now all these
years later, still no justice.

PETERSON: Right. And the thing to remember is that there is a history of
all this. That the relationship between the police forces and those
institutions and the communities that they`re charged to protect has been
broken for a long time. And so, we can go back in history and have all
these sort of -- this litany of tragedies of so-called justifiable
homicides, of, you know, Oscar Grants and Sean Bell. I mean there`s a
long, long range and a lot of narratives that sort of underwrite this. And
so I think we have to begin there to think about how we repair it. But the
proliferation of guns, really, is what the challenge is here on the other
side of that. So, you have a police force that in many ways is prone to
criminalize black and brown bodies, and again that has a rich and deep
history, but then they do have very real challenges and the proliferation
of guns is one of those challenges. You have the Chicago police chief this
week saying we can`t have AK-47s on the streets of Chicago. And so, when
you take those two sides to that same coin, on the one hand, this sort of
capacity to criminalize black bodies like in this awful shooting at
Danzinger Bridge and then the challenges that police institutions really
face, we don`t want to demonize the police, we know there`s these
challenges, but there`s - there`s a wide gap across those two challenges.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, let me push back a little bit on this notion that is
about the guns, because Chicago has, I think gun laws that many gun control
advocates would say are a model. The Navy Yard actually has gun control
laws, you know, carry laws that I think many gun control advocates were
saying is a model. And yet we still have these horrific acts of violence
this week.

PETERSON: Well, it`s not about Chicago. You`re right, as a municipality,
they have very, very robust gun control. But then when you step outside of
the city, not the same. 40 percent of gun sales are private gun sales,
which means they don`t require universal background checks. Those are the
kinds of guns that are getting into the hands of criminals or would-be
criminals in our inner city. So, you can have a city with robust gun
control, but then when you step outside the confines of that city, there
are gun dealers, private gun dealers who don`t have to sort of succumb to
those rules .

SOTO: It`s the Molotov cocktail, you know. Because we`ve seen a number of
shootings in the past couple of months, but they have different components.
There`s the mental illness. There`s pathologies of poverty. There`s gun
laws. So, you know, and it`s difficult. We want to say what is at the
root cause of this? But it`s much more complicated.

HARRIS-PERRY: And I want to - I want to drill down .


HARRIS-PERRY: Right, but I want to drill down to the history here, though,
because you`ve brought up the history here. And I was thinking, though,
2005, Katrina hit the August - end of August in 2005, but it had actually
been an extraordinary summer. That summer, 2005, the Senate actually
apologized for never having passed anti-lynching legislation. In that same
summer, the state of Illinois exhumed the body of Emmett Till in order to
close that case. And Mississippi had actually reopened the case of the
murder of the three civil rights workers. And it felt like -- I mean, in
August of 2005 I was feeling a little like, all right, we might be on the
citizenship track here, right? And then a matter of two months later
Katrina hits, people are left in their homes to drown. They are labeled by
the mass media as refugees. And then a group of them crossing a bridge is
murdered by police. And I keep feeling like, OK, yes, gun control is part
of it, but there is something else here that is deeply about our
unwillingness to see or grapple with the history and humanity of these
people who are dying, who are just far too often black and brown people.

SMITH: That`s the dance of freedom. Right? We keep going - we want to go
two steps forward, but then we get five steps back. And I think we have to
look at all of that, because it is about the guns in some - in most of
these instances, because these communities have guns, they are protecting
themselves, right, they`re trying to protect themselves from their
neighbors, and they`re trying to protect themselves from the police. And
then what the police sees them as a problem and they ratchet up their
force. And so then, you know, the citizens go and they get AK-47s. The
police get tanks. So at what point does this escalation of this .


SMITH: You know, where -- it starts with the guns and it starts with our
devotion to the idea of guns as a sense of freedom.

KAUR: But it`s also this question about who counts as American, right? We
have these stereotypes floating in the air where we have the stereotype of
the African-American as potentially criminal, of the Sikh or Muslim-
American as potentially terrorist, of the Latino-American as potentially


KAUR: I mean it`s not until we undo the stereotypes that have been wired
into us by our media, by our politics, by our history, that we can start to
find the real root causes (inaudible). But to start, absolutely, we need
to start with getting guns off the street because the evidence shows that
countries with higher rates of gun ownership have the highest rates of gun


KAUR: In the U.S., we know that states with stricter gun safety
legislation have the least violence. Let`s at least start there.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah - And Claude Steele calls this the problem of having to
whistle Vivaldi, right .


HARRIS-PERRY: Right, where he says that if you were black, and you`re
walking up, you have to whistle Vivaldi in order to demonstrate
respectability, you know, because a black men whistling Vivaldi isn`t the
one who is going to harm you.

Up next, how the Navy Yard shooting complicates our understanding of race,
guns and mental health.


HARRIS-PERRY: Perhaps, most obvious of the similarities between the two
mass shootings that book end of this week. Other than the number of people
shot, was the race of the shooter. In both cases, the single gunman at the
Washington Navy Yard and the two at the Chicago basketball court, the
shooters were African-American men, raising complicated questions about
race around issues of guns and mental health. Joining me now is Terrie
Williams, who is a mental health advocate and author of "Black Pain: It
Just Looks Like We`re Hurting." Welcome.

TERRIE WILLIAMS, AUTHOR: We are not hurting."


WILLIAMS: Oh, no, it`s just .

HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, "It Looks Like We`re Not Hurting." Right. When, in
fact - when in fact, clearly - right, when, in fact, clearly, we are. And,
you know, I feel like, you know, on the case of the Navy Yard we went
immediately to a conversation about mental health, in part because that
shooter had an evidentiary, you know, history of mental health concerns.
But my bet is that there are also other ways of measuring mental health and
mental illness that the young men who committed this act of violence in
Chicago likely also are suffering from.

WILLIAMS: Well, yes. I mean the fact of the reality is all of us, I
think, on the planet are walking that fine line. All of us are born with
unresolved pain, wounds and trauma, and scars that have been passed onto us
by our parents and no one is getting any help. Nobody seem - nobody
understands what the signs of depression are, what it looks like, feels
like, sounds like, because we see it as a weakness, a character flaw, to
say that you have mental illness. I mean I sit here and - before everyone
today, having acknowledged taking my antidepressant pill this morning. Do
you know what I`m saying?


WILLIAMS: So you just never know. And the reality is as men and
especially as young black men, you are born, raised, and suck it up, taught
to suck it up, to be a man, to not show emotion, to not go tell your mommy
anything, because if you do .


WILLIAMS: . then you will eventually be heard as a mama`s boy.

HARRIS-PERRY: And, you know, and the challenge here is nobody - nobody
wants to make an apology or an excuse for any of these shooters. Right?
And I want to be very clear. Not that. But I do want to say, so how do I
make my communities safe? And in one way, you could say, all right, one
way to make your communities safe is to - you know, to take the arms, take
the guns from anyone who has this kind of long history.


HARRIS-PERRY: But that`s clearly insufficient. So the question of how
else can I make a healthier community so that we are a safer community --

PETERSON: I want to even back up a little bit because we want to be clear
that most folk who have mental illnesses or mental challenges .


PETERSON: They are also - are not violent.

HARRIS-PERRY: Are not violent.

PETERSON: And so, how do we have .

HARRIS-PERRY: Just like most of African-Americans are not violent.

PETERSON: Are not violent. How do we have the conversation without
stigmatizing the dreadlocked black male who`s going through pain? How do
we - and I think that is a really, really important question. And the
juxtaposition of these two shootings, I think, allows us to have a moment
where we can do that. How can we have this conversation about the role
that young black men in particular play here in terms of mental health as
well as in terms of gun violence without stigmatizing either?

HARRIS-PERRY: Wait - I was - we`re just looking at the numbers of the race
of U.S. mass shooters .


HARRIS-PERRY: And, of course, we know that the majority of them are white
shooters, 44 cases .

PETERSON: Overwhelmingly.

HARRIS-PERRY: Overwhelmingly. 11 cases of African-Americans, six of
Asian, four of Latino, one Native American, and one case where we don`t
know the race. But that said like, this isn`t - the notion that the stigma
would then be primarily on white men is clearly not evidence.

PETERSON: It doesn`t work out this way.


WILLIAMS: The reality is, I think to get to the core of the issue we have
to learn to be more human toward one another. Smartphones, the texting,
the this, that, and the - there`s a comedian Louis C.K. who said recently
that he`s not trying to teach his child to be a child, but to raise them to
be the adult that they need to be. But we move through our lives. We
don`t look at each other, we don`t smile at each other, we act as if we
don`t matter. And if you remember just recently, Antoinette Tuff, the
African-American woman in Atlanta who -- it was the spirit of god and
humanity in her that talked to that young man that was getting ready to
shoot up the campus.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, yeah, yeah.


HARRIS-PERRY: And yet, and yet, I want to be careful that in the context
of all the policies that we can pass, the new iPhone this week, I don`t
think that that`s going to generate, right, more mass murders but what I do
think could potentially create more violence is the SNAP vote .


HARRIS-PERRY: . that takes food off the table, right?


HARRIS-PERRY: That both ends violence and also makes people who`re already
in poverty hungry, right.

PETERSON: That`s exactly right.

HARRIS-PERRY: So I`d like - so, on the one hand, I hear you and, you know,
there`s a way in which I`m constantly looking at your iPhone means you`re
not connecting with humans.


HARRIS-PERRY: But on the other hand, I`m also more worried in the certain
way about taking food off the table or keeping opportunity from being

PETERSON: Or access to health care off the table. I mean it`s really -
those are two really sinister votes. And the thing is, people need to
understand this. When we`re talking about SNAP. And we`re talking about
access to health care, we`re talking about violence in our communities .


PETERSON: . because violence in our communities comes from that structural
inequality, the economic inequality. You`re taking about $4 billion a
year, you`re literally saying some of our elderly, some children are going
to become not just impoverished, but they`re going to have food insecurity
as a part of their everyday livelihood. And I don`t think the politicians
in Washington, D.C., think about that. $40 billion over ten years is a
tremendous amount to take out of the SNAP program.

SMITH: Because health and poverty are contributing factors that exacerbate
mental health issues, as someone with anxiety disorder and, you know, a
history of depression. We have to broaden our understanding, particularly
when we`re talking about black community, what mental illness looks like.
So when we`re talking about Chicago, we`re talking about Detroit, we`re
talking about these young black men in the streets killing one another, why
are we not talking about that as suicidal?



SMITH: Why are we not talking about them as suffering .

WILLIAMS: And at every turn you know that you do not matter on this


WILLIAMS: You don`t matter.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And when your Congress votes in ways that make you
feel as though you don`t matter, that`s not - it`s not just paranoia, it`s
policy. Mychal Denzel Smith and Terrie Williams, thanks to you both for
being here. There is more still to come because I`ve got an interview with
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and his daughter, Katherine. It was
just so much fun for me.

But first, the man who was leading the fight to leave millions of Americans
hungry. I got a letter. Have a seat.


HARRIS-PERRY: When we come back.


HARRIS-PERRY: Listen, for weeks my "Nerdland" team has been begging me to
write a letter to one specific politician. And personally, I thought this
person wasn`t even worth it. I mean we only have so much TV time and we
try not to feed the trolls who are just screaming for attention. But after
Thursday`s vote to slash the critically important SNAP, or supplemental
nutrition and assistance program, I thought it was time to reach out,
because clearly this person is now fully deserving of a letter, and that is
why this week`s letter goes to Republican Congressman and House Majority
Leader Eric Cantor.

Dear Mr. Cantor, it`s me, Melissa. Now, I`m not going to quibble with you
over your philosophical approach. That would take days, and again, we`re
dealing in TV time. But let`s deal in the facts. The beginning of your
speech on the House floor over - for Thursday`s vote was kind of right?


REP. ERIC CANTOR, (R ) HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: This bill is designed to
give people a hand when they need it most, and most people don`t choose to
be on food stamps.


HARRIS-PERRY: Now, if you`re talking about the intent of the original
bill, then, Mr. Cantor, I can agree, because that bill was meant to give
people a hand when they need it most. But if you mean the new bill, the
one that you spirited? Sir, Mr. Cantor, have a seat. Because according to
the Congressional Budget Office, your bill cuts $39 billion over the next
decade, and as a result of those cuts, 3.8 million people will lose their
SNAP benefits in 2014. So sticking with the facts, in your speech you
talked about what certain participants in the SNAP program will have to do
to get benefits.


CANTOR: The truth is, anyone subjected to the work requirements under this
bill who are able-bodied, who are able-bodied under 50, will not be denied
benefits if only they are willing to sign up for the opportunity for work.

HARRIS-PERRY: Mr. Cantor, you also noted the demagoguery and
misinformation around the work requirement of this bill and can I just say,
have a seat, because Mr. Pot, you are worse than the kettle who complained
about the pot. You make it sound like sure, poor people, we`ll give you
food but only if you`re willing to work for it. What gave you the
impression that poor people didn`t want to work, sir? They want to eat.
And at a time when most of your fellow Republicans are worried about their
districts, you seem distracted and have forgotten about yours. So let me
remind you, take a look at this interactive map on the website of Feeding
America, the nationwide network of food banks. If you scroll your mouse
across the map, you find out what the food insecurity levels are in all
parts of the country. Nationwide the figure is 50 million. 50 million
Americans living at risk of not knowing where their next meal will come
from or if it will come at all. Does this look familiar, Mr. Cantor? This
is the 7th district of Virginia, your district, where 11 percent of your
constituents, Mr. Cantor, approximately 85,000 people are at risk of
hunger. 15 percent of or nearly 27,000 children who you represent are
worrying about where their next meal will come from, and yet you`ve waged a
war to slash the very funds that feed the hungry, that include your
constituents. So this isn`t about curbing government waste or preventing
fraud, and it`s not about your effort to bully the poor and dictate how
they should live and how they should qualify for food. It`s about feeding
the 47 million people who benefitted from the program last year and
continue to need it support. And if you don`t understand that fact,
seriously, man, have a seat. Sincerely, Melissa.


HARRIS-PERRY: October, 1st, will be the first day Americans can start
shopping for health insurance in the market places, offered by the
president`s signature Health Care Law. The Affordable Care Act was signed
three and a half years ago and what a hearty little law it is! It has
survived more before its first month of full implementation than most laws
face in a lifetime, including a Supreme Court challenge and more than 40
congressional votes to repeal it. Just yesterday the House struck again,
passing a spending bill with no funding for Obamacare. Attacked on all
sides, this imperfect, but plucky law is finally ready to strut its stuff
on the national stage. And then this week, we learned that only 31 percent
of Americans in a new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll think that
Obamacare is a good idea. Yes, it looks like a well-targeted, well-funded
and relentless campaign of misinformation may do what all the House votes
and Supreme Court challenges couldn`t accomplish. Seriously weakened,
maybe even defeat, the first real shot at comprehensive health care reform
that Americans have needed for more than 50 years. This is Evan Feinberg,
the president of the Virginia-based conservative coalition calling itself
Generation Opportunity and it`s the group behind a new ad out this week
depicting a creepy horror movie version of Uncle Sam in a doctor`s office
examining the private regions of 20-somethings who secured health coverage
thanks to Obamacare. The ads are notable because of who they target --
young adults who are critical to the success of Obamacare.

So will this misinformation campaign finally succeed where all the other
Republican efforts to destroy health care have failed? Joining me now are
Amy Holmes, anchor of "The Hot List" at, also former Virginia
Congressman Tom Perriello, now president and CEO of the American Progress
Action Fund, and still with me our MSNBC contributor James Peterson and
Victoria Defrancesco Soto of the University of Texas. So, Tom, I want to
start with you because these ads out of Virginia are pretty intense and
creepy and rapy as one might call them because of this, sort of, you know,
Uncle Sam popping up between their legs. Is this part of this longer
campaign that`s been going on for three and a half years now to kill

with that, and I think it`ll backfire with millennials as does most of the
messaging from the far right. But I think what you have here is a real
importance at this moment of getting people to enroll and understand the
benefits of that. You already see young people obviously being able to
stay on their family health insurance until 26. So we know this is one of
the groups that benefits the most from this program being out there. And I
think it is a moment where young people are just a lot smarter than the far
right thinks and they`re going to take the time to get real information
about the things that matter to their life.

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, it feels to me like some young people are, right? So,
you know, just like older folks, right, there is a diversity of political
and policy knowledge among millennials and that some will absolutely kind
of capture that -- that is wrong and will go and find out but that a whole
group might be, like, whoa, that`s creepy and, in fact, not go and find out
and that is enough to potentially kill the bill. Is this a fair and a
reasonable way to address policy implementation, Amy?

AMY HOLMES, "THE HOT LIST" AT THEBLAZE.COM: I think certainly entertaining
people while you`re informing people about a law is perfectly fair. The
other side does it all the time. I mean we remember Paul Ryan being pushed
off a cliff - or rather pushing granny off the cliff during the election.
But I have to disagree with your contention that if you oppose Obamacare
it`s because somehow you`re misinformed or malinformed. But I think that
the opposition that you - that you .


HOLMES: That you in the poll showed from your own network, I think
Obamacare now only has 44 percent approval, and that`s according to NBC, is
because of this drip, drip, drip of news about how Obamacare is affecting
people`s health care premiums and ..

HARRIS-PERRY: OK, so, no, no, but wait.


HARRIS-PERRY: I want to pause --

HOLMES: . even has come out and said that Obamacare is destroying the 40-
hour workweek. And the White House has not been responsive.


HOLMES: I`ve read the letter myself.

HARRIS-PERRY: OK, so, Amy, I absolutely agree that a person, a legislator,
an individual, a voter can be against Obamacare without being misinformed.
That is certainly true. But I do think that these opt-out ads from
Virginia that seem to suggest that what getting and procuring health
insurance, health insurance which we know under Obamacare will mean that
the 30 percent higher that women pay in premiums will now no longer be
allowed, you cannot no longer to have discriminatory gender pricing, that
you will not have access to birth-control, that you will not - that is not
rapy government stuff.

HOLMES: Young people have access to birth control.


HARRIS-PERRY: What is - maybe - they, in fact, they, in fact .


HARRIS-PERRY: They in fact - we know, in fact.

HOLMES: You can go to Rite Aid and get condoms. The point is to that .

HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, wow, Amy.

HOLMES: Yes, I`m willing to say it. What .


HARRIS-PERRY: Well, so condoms are lovely, but condoms actually .

HOLMES: Now you can get .

HARRIS-PERRY: But condoms actually do not address what many women take
birth control for, which includes health .

HOLMES: You can get birth control pills also subsidized apart from

HARRIS-PERRY: Amy, so, this .


HARRIS-PERRY: I think this is to the point about ..

HOLMES: What about (inaudible) privacy?

HARRIS-PERRY: But - but .

HOLMES: The government .

HARRIS-PERRY: The people of Virginia cared if Republicans in Virginia
cared about privacy, then trans-vaginal McDonald would not have been doing,
in fact, what that commercial suggests, which was trying to insert the
government of Virginia into --

HOLMES: When it comes to worth, but not .

HARRIS-PERRY: I care about privacy when it comes to women`s reproductive
rights for .


HARRIS-PERRY: Which include the choices that women may make to have
children or to not have children without interference --

HOLMES: As do I, and that`s what the young people in that ad were saying.
Is that Uncle Sam .

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, young people were not ..


HOLMES: . involved in your health care.

HARRIS-PERRY: Uncle Sam isn`t involved in your health care.


HARRIS-PERRY: That is simply untrue.

PETERSON: ... what the ad is misleading, right? Studying of these
exchanges does not necessarily mean that the government is going to be
making intervening decisions in young people or anyone`s health care.
Also, let`s (ph) be very, very clear even about the NBC News Obamacare
poll. We know about these polls and how they operate. When you break up
what the benefits are of affordable health care or access to health care,
people are very much in favor of certain components of it. And when you
put it - and frame it as Obamacare, then it becomes a much more political
discussion because of ads like this and because of the kind of two-step
that we do in Washington, D.C., around policies. So, at the end of the
day, when you look at the exchanges that have been set up, the one in
Oregon, the one in New York .

HOLMES: Extremely popular.

PETERSON: The competition is good and prices are coming down. Also, even
though Medicare costs are not coming down, they`re not growing as quickly
as they have been, which is also part of this whole process. Any policy
like this, this size, that requires this amount of people to enter into it,
yes, we do need young people to enter into it .


PETERSON: In order for the system to be flush. Right? Anything that`s
this size requires a lot of work and requires input. When you have
sabotage coming at it, and it`s going to have challenges.

HARRIS-PERRY: But we talk about that, when you say that young people have
to get into the system to be flush, the reality is .


HARRIS-PERRY: Young people are cross-subsidizing older people meaning .

HOLMES: Yes. Of course.

HARRIS-PERRY: To be paying more .


HARRIS-PERRY: . than what they`re getting.

HOLMES: No, no, no.


HOLMES: It`s simply about spreading .

UM: That is the structure of Obamacare.

HARRIS-PERRY: No, of course it is, because it`s about --

HOLMES: People will pay more than what they`re getting.

HARRIS-PERRY: No, no, it`s about spreading risk, and so everyone at this
table clearly understands the way insurance companies work is that if we
are going to create a situation where if you have a pre-existing condition
you can nonetheless get insurance, which is one of the primary .


HARRIS-PERRY: The only way to do that .

HOLMES: . paying more than they`re getting.

HARRIS-PERRY: No, no, but not in the long term. And the notion that we
would in fact engage as young people to generate a system that brings down
health care costs for all is a perfectly reasonable ask for us. Still to
come, the reason Republicans are willing to risk a government shutdown.
Governor Deval Patrick and his daughter talk with me about her coming out.
And a very special birthday. There is more "Nerdland" at the top of the


HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa HARRIS-PERRY.

Well, they did it. Every House Republican but one on Friday voted to fund
the government and avert a shutdown on October 1st, just as long as we, you
know, defund that Obamacare law. No biggie.

The GOP House members took a victory lap complete with hoots and hollers
right after the 230-189 vote.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Listen, this is hurting
our constituents. It`s hurting the American people. At a time when the
economy is barely eking along, wages aren`t increasing, new jobs aren`t
available, and what are we doing? We`re putting more cost and more
inconvenience on the American people.

And so, our message to the United States Senate is real simple, the
American people don`t want the government shutdown and they don`t want



HARRIS-PERRY: Speaker John Boehner sounded pretty confident there. Worth
noting, though that this is quite a departure from what he said in March.


BOEHNER: If we were to put Obamacare into the C.R. and send it over to the
Senate, we were risking shutting down the government. That is not our
goal. Do you want to risk the full faith and credit of the United States
government over Obamacare? That`s a very tough argument to make.


HARRIS-PERRY: But, hey, it looks as though Speaker Boehner and his fellow
House Republicans are now trying to make that argument against Obamacare,
but the president isn`t having it. He called the speaker Friday night and
made it clear he would not be negotiating over the next fiscal challenge --
raising the debt limit. And there`s no chance President Obama is going to
sign a congressional spending resolution defunding his signature health
care law.

The president reacted to Friday`s House vote while speaking at a Ford plant
outside Kansas City.


debate that`s going on in Congress is not meeting the test of helping
middle-class families. It`s just -- they`re not focused on you. They`re
focused on politics. They`re focused on trying to mess with me. They`re
not focused on you. They`re not focused on you.


HARRIS-PERRY: And I`d argue that Republicans aren`t just out to mess with
the president. They`re also tweaking a few of their own in the Senate.
That #senatemustact on their podium Friday was not so much a message for
Democrats like Harry Reid but for Senator Ted Cruz, who earlier this week
aired his doubts that the Democratically-controlled Senate could pass a
resolution defunding Obamacare, after he pushed the House to do just that.

The anger exploded on Twitter with Congressman Tim Griffin of Arkansas
writing on Wednesday, "So far, Senate Rs, Republicans, are good at getting
Facebook likes and town halls, not much else. Do something."

Sean Duffy of Wisconsin wrote, "House agrees to send C.R., congressional
resolution, to Senate that defunds Obamacare. Senator Ted Cruz and Senator
Mike Lee refuse to fight, wave white flag and surrender."

Now, I am choosing not to delve into the utter ridiculousness of the
world`s great democracy conducting its celebration on key policy issues 140
character for the time on a social media site, but it`s worth listening to
how real this got when we heard this shortly before Friday`s vote from
Congressman Peter King of New York.


REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: That`s something we have to do, a step in
the right direction, and hopefully it will be a major step in letting
people know that Ted Cruz is a fraud and he`ll no longer have any influence
in the Republican Party.

REPORTER: You said after this vote you could start ignoring him. Do you
think it`s really true?

KING: I hope so. I hope people get the message this guy is bad for the


HARRIS-PERRY: With me, Amy Holmes, anchor of the "Hot List" at,
former Virginia Congressman Tom Perriello, now, president and CEO of the
American Progress Action Fund, MSNBC contributor James Peterson, and
Victoria DeFrancesco Soto of the University of Texas.

And I want to start with you, Vicky, because Twitter is great for lots of
things, Twitter is emoting because we were playing the rapey song to go
with the rapey commercial, right, all fine, feels like a fine way to use
social media.

But what doesn`t is like the idea that we are having a massive party
infighting going on, like I just feel like what has happened to our
Congress at this point? Am I meant to take it seriously?

Democracy is about coalition-building. It`s about legislating, but we`ve
come to a screeching halt. And we`ve seen a lot of the emphasis being on
put on Ted Cruz.

I can`t get enough of Ted Cruz. He`s fascinating politically to watch
because what`s happened is he`s become a pace car and the Republican Party.
So I don`t think he can really take him seriously. I don`t think, you
know, in terms of his presidential run or in terms of what he does in
Congress, but what he`s doing is he keeps pulling the party further and
further to the right, hence more and more stalemate.

So I think this is the key of why Ted Cruz is such the linchpin of
understanding the Republican intraparty politics.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, Tom, you were in the Congress relatively briefly, but
you were there long enough to sort of watch this sort of thing happen. Is
this the new normal we ought to be expecting from our Congress?

level of dysfunctionality. You know, they used to joke that the opponents
of the Democrats were not Republican but the Senate when you were in
caucus. We`re getting back to that a little but you`re talking about real

The other thing is there will be this show about the Obamacare defunding
which pretty much everyone agrees is an act. But the question is, does
that distract us from the underlying budget issue, which is then we end up
with a continuing resolution at the sequester levels that are cutting off
the economic recovery and hurting working middle-class families. So, at
the same time we can joke about or not joke about this fight, but
underneath are real budget numbers with real implications for jobs and
things like food stamps that you were talking about earlier.

And so, we`re talking now, even if we put in the pre-sequester numbers, the
budget control act numbers, those are already below the original Paul Ryan
budget in terms of the discretionary numbers we`re talking about. So, I
think it`s important to follow these politics because they matter but also
their real economic impacts.

HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, this is important to me. Sequester is bad
economically. Sequester has created circumstances that are taking dollars
out of the economy. We know that it`s bad for national defense. We know
it`s bad for research and development.

I mean, sequester is just these cross-the-board cuts, particularly at a
time when it`s ticking down, but unemployment is not. How is it that
Republicans at this point can continue to justify this sort of deficit
hawkishness as the deficit is declining when with what we need to be doing
here is stimulating an economy that is sort of stuck like it`s moving but
only very slowly?

AMY HOLMES, BLAZE.COM: Well, I would imagine Republicans would say part of
the reason why the deficit is going down is because of these cults. I
don`t agree with across-the-board cuts. They should be smart and targeted.
Republicans did argue for that, but the president insisted they must be
across the board because he wanted to make a political point.

But I want to get back to the infighting.

HARRIS-PERRY: That`s just not what happened.


HARRIS-PERRY: That`s just not what happened. There was a sequester
decision that was made.

HOLMES: It was the president`s idea, there`s a huge fight, he said it
across the board, John Boehner said we can do this in a targeted way, the
president said no.

But getting --

HARRIS-PERRY: Amy, that is simply not true.

HOLMES: I do want to talk about the infighting.

HARRIS-PERRY: That said, that is simply not true. We know both sides
purposely bound themselves to sequester because it was supposed to be so
awful, that no one would throw themselves off the cliff.

So --

HOLMES: Two is Republicans saying let`s do this in a targeted way. Moving
on to the infighting, what I would say about this is Republicans are
forgetting Ronald Reagan`s maxim -- no enemies to the right. I think it`s
bad for the party to be having these Twitter explosions and all of this
being played out in public. I think there is a way for both sides, the
House and the Senate side, to work together with common goals.

So I am critical of Republicans and how they`re conducting themselves with
this entire Obamacare defunding fight.

JAMES PETERSON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I wouldn`t underestimate Ted Cruz,
though, because I think what we`re seeing him do is he`s used the House
Republicans to essentially establish his right-wing bona fides. He`s going
to need those at the presidential level for electoral politics when it
comes time for him to sort of galvanize his campaign. It seems really
sinister and calculative, but at the end of the day, they`re saying this
crazy stuff about him now, he still be a formidable force for the
presidential run.

HARRIS-PERRY: Look, I am still enough of a political scientist to believe
David Mayhew (ph) when he says that Congress members are single-minded
seekers of re-election. And so, as easy at it, they`re just stop and crazy
and crazy or stupid. No, they`re not.

I mean, congressmen are no crazy and/or stupid, right? We may or may not
agree with their policies.

So, the question is what is it that they believe is the re-election
calculus here, Tom? Why is this behavior that makes them think this is
what my constituents want to need?

PERREILLO: Well, this is part of what`s weird to me is they`re not even
really talking about deficit reduction or reducing the size of government.

HARRIS-PERRY: It`s coming down.

PERREILLO: They know that (a), the deficit is going down, (b), the jobs
crisis is the real crisis and they don`t have a plan for that. And because
when they try to put their own budget together and put details on it they
couldn`t even get the Republicans to agree on what that would mean because
they know there`s real economic pain in their districts.

So, they had to back off the substance of the fight and go back to the
symbolic fight of Obamacare and trying to lock in a budget that is already
15 percent below, with sequester 19 percent below 2010 levels. They could
take a victory lap about that and go home to their constituents and say we
cut discretionary spending by 20 percent.

HARRIS-PERRY: I want to hold because we`re going to listen to Boehner and
then I want you to respond to Boehner on some of these issues.


BOEHNER: The president said, you know, if we pass this law, health care
costs will go down. Well, now we find out that health care costs are going
up for most Americans. The president said if you like the health insurance
policy that you have, you can keep it. Now, we found out that`s not quite
accurate either. And in the coming months, millions of Americans are going
to find out it`s not quite true.


HARRIS-PERRY: So, this is the strategy, right? Three and a half years
later, Boehner is still, right, single-minded speaker of re-election,
believes that the strategy is to say we have to do this because Obamacare
is so bad. Why does he believe that?

HOLMES: Well, as an electoral matter, we saw that those moderate Democrats
who voted for Obamacare, a lot of them lost their jobs in 2010, and
Republicans are looking at that as an electoral strategy. We also have
four Democrat senators who are very vulnerable up for re-election in 2014.
We`re talking about Mark Pryor, Mark Begich, Kay Hagan.

HARRIS-PERRY: Mary Landrieu.

HOLMES: Mary Landrieu. And Republicans I think in a very savvy way are
saying, look, we are funding the government but we`re going to make the
Senate Democrats take a vote that we have already seen play out as very --

HARRIS-PERRY: Vicky, are we getting out-strategized?

SOTO: I absolutely agree with you on that, because what`s going to happen
when a Mary Landrieu`s feet is held to the fire, I think there`s a longer-
term strategy here. I think the Republican have their eye on the Senate.

HARRIS-PERRY: Absolutely.

SOTO: They have their eye on the Senate and they know that even though
Obamacare will not be defunded by this PR strategy, they are going to get -

HARRIS-PERRY: No, but, right, this is -- this is key because I think that
the -- you know, the default is to just say, oh, they`re just out of their
minds. They`re destroying their party. But anytime you think they`re
destroying their party -- no, they`re not. This is their strategy.

PERREILLO: John Boehner did not want to do this, right?


PERREILLO: His calculation I think goes back to 2010, the biggest driver
in that election was a weak economy. And incumbents do not like to run in
a weak economy. They know if they shut the government down that makes the
recovery more fragile.


HARRIS-PERRY: So everybody, keep your eyes on this because this will
undoubtedly continue to be an issue.

When we come back, I had this incredible conversation this week with
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and his daughter on the issue of
coming out.

I want to say thank you to Amy Holmes for joining us today.

When we come back, a little more with the Patricks.


HARRIS-PERRY: A congressional candidate ad for Massachusetts` fifth
congressional district has turned the concept of coming out into political
comedy. The candidate Carl Sciortino is openly gay, but that`s not what he
had to confess to his own Tea Party dad.


I`ll never forget that conversation with my dad.


CARL SCIORTINO, JR.: Where I had to come out and tell him --

CARL SCIORTINO, SR.: Wait for this.

CARL SCIORTINO, JR.: -- that I was a Massachusetts liberal.

CARL SCIORTINO, SR.: And he`s proud of it.

CARL SCIORTINO, JR.: I won`t give up on an assault weapons ban.

CARL SCIORTINO, SR.: Or universal background checks, or banning high-
capacity magazines.

CARL SCIORTINO, JR.: There are some things you don`t stop fighting for.

Also, the right to choose, equal pay for women, and equal rights, for --
well, everybody.

CARL SCIORTINO, SR.: He`s been like this for 35 years.

CARL SCIORTINO, JR.: It`s why I approve this message.

And I still love you, dad.

CARL SCIORTINO, SR.: Me too, son.


HARRIS-PERRY: I love that ad. It is getting all the headlines this week.
But there`s another Massachusetts political family that`s been dealing with
issues of politics, sexuality, generational difference and public versus
private life and that family is Massachusetts` first family, Governor Deval
Patrick was already fighting for LBGT rights when he became the Bay State`s
first African-American governor.

And then his youngest daughter, Katherine, came out.

Yesterday, I had the chance to sit with the two of them at a forum.


knew I was gay before I knew. I mean, it was not a surprise to anybody.
It was almost they told me.

I mean, my favorite word was the "L" word and my favorite (INAUDIBLE). I
told my mom and dad to come into the kitchen. I was so nervous. I told
them, you know, I love you but I have to tell you something. I`m a

And my dad`s iconic sentence after that was -- I`m sorry. I didn`t preface
it with we were making lunch at the time. His next sentence was, so do you
want ham or tuna on your sandwich? I was, like, wait, what?



GOV. DEVAL PATRICK (D), MASSACHUSSETTS: Did I tell you that one time --

K. PATRICK: No. You -- you watched the first episode of "Queers Folk."

D. PATRICK: That`s right. That`s right.

K. PATRICK: I told him I wouldn`t watch it with him but he could borrow
it. I came downstairs and he was like -- he was, like, I appreciate it but
I`m not sure this is for me.


HARRIS-PERRY: I also had the chance to ask Katherine Patrick and her
father about the political priorities of her generation and the public
response to the current political climate.


K. PATRICK: We`re a changing generation, and we are, you know -- people my
age are really looking for someone who`s authentic and you can kind of
smell that authenticity. You know when someone is selling us a list of,
you know, stuff. I can`t swear on TV. We are definitely more drawn to the
politicians who will come and say, I`m not negotiating -- I mean, I`m
negotiating on the things that matter but I`m not negotiating on what`s
right and what`s wrong.

D. PATRICK: I think that we are as a society checked out, not the people
in this room but an awful lot of people have checked out of politics
because we see -- we see a fraud.


D. PATRICK: Everybody recognizes a fraud. And we`re so accustomed to it,
we`re just dead.


Should we embrace the word "liberal"? Do you think liberal is a word that
-- I mean, it`s a word we`ve largely moved away from, but would we be able
to say the other "L" word?

D. PATRICK: Yes. I mean, I don`t have any problem being called a liberal.
You know, the problem with many of these terms like much of political
discourse is it`s stale. It`s not descriptive anymore. I mean, seriously,
the GOP calling themselves conservative?


D. PATRICK: That`s a radical agenda. There`s nothing conservative about
that. My problem with the terms is not that I`m uncomfortable with them.
It`s just that they`re not complete. And I don`t want to be put in a box.
I think most people don`t.


HARRIS-PERRY: May not want to be put in a box. The question is does he
want anyone else to ever get a chance to check a box next to his name? So,
what does the political future hold for Governor Patrick?





HARRIS-PERRY: There is a whole generation who is hungry for exactly the
thing that you told me you represent. And I hear your youngest daughter
saying, yeah, it was tough, but we made it through, we`re OK. You going to
run for president?

D. PATRICK: No. But I -- I wanted to --


D. PATRICK: No what?

K. PATRICK: No running for president.

D. PATRICK: OK. I`m going to finish my second term. We don`t have term
limits but I`m not going to run again. My wife, Diane, I put it really
nicely in an interview when she said that our friends and family have been
patient with us.


D. PATRICK: And we need to get back into private life before they lost
patience with us. And I promised, and so I`m going to find a job in a year
and a half, and go back into private life and maybe one day come back into
public life. We`ll see.

HARRIS-PERRY: You said no, no, no. What`s that response?

K. PATRICK: Not right now. Because he did promise us after we`d give him
two terms, and then go back to private life. But I`m not really -- I mean,
I think it would be really, really hard to have a father who`s the
president, but my governor`s kind of awesome.


K. PATRICK: And I really love him.


K. PATRICK: From a policy stand point.

HARRIS-PERRY: As a citizen.

K. PATRICK: Right, as a citizen. As the daughter --


K. PATRICK: Not sure.


HARRIS-PERRY: The rest of my conversation with Governor Deval Patrick of
Massachusetts and his brilliant daughter, Katherine, is on

We`ll look at how deep the embrace of the liberal label goes not just in
Massachusetts but throughout political life in the U.S. Little
generational conversation when we come back.


HARRIS-PERRY: Gay, mixed race, liberal, not too long ago, these words are
career killers for politicians. Now, we`re seeing some candidates, like
Bill de Blasio in New York, or Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts, embracing
the L-word, or at least unabashedly liberal policies like taxing the rich
and regulating Wall Street and they`re even winning.

Could it be the beginning of a massive left-ward trend spurred by the
progressiveness of the millennial generation?

Well, that was the claim made in a recent piece in "The Daily Beast" by
political writer Peter Beinart. Beinart argues that millennials herald an
entirely new, much more liberal political generation. He points to the
economic circumstances under which they are building their lives, high
unemployment, low wages, disappearing benefit, as the factors that will
most impact their political leanings throughout their lives.

Now, I agree that those are the factors impacting their lives. But here`s
my question -- how will millennials in future generations react to coming
of age in this cruddy economy?

They may push for more government services, more regulation, or taking on
Wall Street. Or they might do something different. They might ultimately,
as have generations before them, as they come of age, become more
conservative, just like the boomer generation did.

Back with us at the table now is Valarie Kaur, who gets to represent
millennials at the table today.

And I want to ask you, when I read Beinart`s piece, it`s a very thoughtful,
empirical piece, reminded me so much of the things I`ve heard you say about
what you call the shadow generation.

VALARIE KAUR, AUBURN SEMINARY: Yes. I love this piece because I think it
presents an accurate portrait of what I see when I`m on the road, that
millennials are shaping a new future of politics in America, that our
openness, our diversity, our modes of self-expression, we are the new "we,"
and so, there`s going to be a new way. It remains to be determined,
however, what that new way is.

Beinart says that this is going to change politics in America in terms of
the political system. We`re seeing new candidates come up who represent
the progressivism of the millennial generation. But I`m seeing a lot of
millennial who are choosing to opt out of the system.

I think we`ve come of age in a time of political and economic instability,
and Barack Obama embodied our diversity and, Barack Obama, embodied our
diversity and is being embraced. So we flooded behind him in mass numbers.
But we`ve seen those numbers of engaged political millennials decline since
2008 by 6 percent, the number of independents has grown.

And so, will millennials opt out of the political system? Will we choose
to pursue solutions outside of government? Or will we reject it, will we
reform it, will we replace it?

That question is still an open question.

HARRIS-PERRY: Valarie, I`m happy to hear you say that. You know, you are
one of my favorite military militaries. Some of my best friends are
millennials. Nearly all of my producers are millennials.

And so I read the piece and I thought, well, maybe, but then the skepticism
of my political science background jumps in.

I just wanted to read this quote from Rick Pearlstein who wrote I think
thoughtfully in response in "The Nation." And Pearlstein writes that
"another scenario," as you were just pointing out, looks like this. Young
citizens motivated by left-leaning passions run into a brick wall again and
again and again, trying to turn their convictions into power." And then
write, you end up potentially with the opt-out.

PETERSON: That`s right. This is the thing. And this -- one of the brick
walls are some of the policies of the Obama administration or the
perception on the part of millennials that the Obama administration is not
really a liberal administration. It`s more centrist or it`s moderate.
That`s one of those brick walls. And then, it`s going to take politicians
like Elizabeth Warren, like people fighting the battles they see center
around equality and fairness.

Remember, this is a generation that`s very much deeply invested in the
principles of America, like equal access, equality, no matter what your
background, no matter what your sexuality, all those things. So, there`s a
test here. I`m very excited about them.

I love this piece because I`m very --

HARRIS-PERRY: Because we want to believe it.

PETERSON: Also, we have students --


PETERSON: We -- I understand the skepticism, but there`s so much
excitement because I feel like this generation does have an opportunity.

SOTO: But I think it`s also coming from the top down. I think the
millennials are your grassroots passion, but I do think the Democrats,
progressives, liberals have gotten smarter about messaging. They have
started to embrace terms. They said, OK, Obamacare was pejorative. We`re
going to embrace it and we`re going to own it.

The DREAMers, the war on women, Republicans have had a leg up on Democrats
for a long time in terms of framing and rhetoric. And that has shifted
public opinion. So I think that the Ds up top are reframing the debate and
the millennials, if they choose to, because they may not choose to, they
may be apathetic, can follow in that footsteps.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, I want to -- just real quick, just to underline that
point, I want to look at historically what we`ve seen because this
generation question, this is -- like the question is, is it about
generation or is it about life cycle, right?

And so, when we look at the life cycle question, we look at partisan
identification, right, of the generations, millennials in terms of
Democrats right now are 41 percent. The Gen-Xers in 1994 were at 30
percent, the boomers in `74 were at 47 percent. The silent generation of
1956 were at a 45 percent.

So, actually the boomers and that silent generation were actually more
likely to be Democrats when they were this age. This is the story, when
you`re young, you`re liberal, as you age, and pay more taxes, you become
more conservative.

PETERSON: The millennials don`t think Democratic Party is liberal anymore.
That`s why they`re in the green party. They`re in other progressive

The Democratic Party has not positioned themselves as a liberal party for
young voters.

PERREILLO: This is why I think this article is real. The opt-out option
is why this is going to be more than messaging. I think in the `90s, the
idea was the whole job was to appeal to the independent voters and take
your base for granted.

Because of the nature of our base today, which is partly because of
technology and other things that are driving it, you can`t win without your
base and the base turnout. And if millennials threaten not to show up and
we see this in off-year elections, we see -- we`re going to see this down
the road, those Democrats are not going to win those races.

So, I actually think the millennial power includes that opt-out option,
making these folks say, OK, it`s not going to be enough to just do the
rhetoric though messaging is very important. We want to see you actually
come out with something that`s got some meat behind it.

SOTO: You need grassroots. You need the millennials to populate the
infrastructure. You can`t have one without the other.

KAUR: But will they, right? So, here we have a huge gap between the
failing institutions that we have inherited, the criminal justice system,
the economy, the political system.

PETERSON: That`s right.

KAUR: Is the two-tier political system even one that we can populate with
our ideals, our energy? So far, the ways we`ve seen millennials change the
social landscape has been in the grassroots arena through online, new
innovative entrepreneurial technologies.

So, look how we`ve dominated social media and look at how our voices in
social media have changed the way media works in the country, music.


HARRIS-PERRY: Is it true that I did just report on a Twitter battle going
on in Congress. I want to talk about exactly this, about Occupy, right?
Because the other moment where we saw this potential opt in, and I want to
think about where are we now on that question of Occupy.

So, stay with us just a bit because there was a big birthday this week.
Most folks completely missed it. But it was two-year-old on Occupy, when
we come back.



HARRIS-PERRY: As we talk about young voter who is identify with the other
"L" word, liberal, this week marked the two-year anniversary of the
beginning of Occupy Wall Street when mostly young activists camped out in
Zuccotti Park in Manhattan`s financial district to protest growing income
inequality, high unemployment, and the lack of prosecution against big
banks whose practices led to the financial crisis.

Similar encampments spurred up in cities across the country, often leading
to clashes with local police. So, you know, as we were thinking about this
two-year anniversary of Occupy, I had some real critiques of Occupy when it
was occurring. One was about its durability.

I wonder, Tom, at this point two years later do we feel like there was a
success in rebranding? Was there a success in engaging the discourse, or
do we see it as there`s no more encampment so it`s a failure?

PERREILLO: I actually there are huge implications of Occupy. I think it
moved the can conversation from deficit reduction to jobs. I think you saw
the president ran on a more populist message for re-election and lean into
some of the criticism of Bain and other things with Mitt Romney. And I
think you see a Democratic Party, particularly the young generation coming
up through ranks, who identifies more with real economic insecurity that so
many Americans and the urgency of that.

Now, that runs smack into the reality of a Congress that won`t support even
the tiniest of revenue.


PERREILLO: But I also think you see other things. The groups that have
really remained powerful over the years like a Planned Parenthood provides
a service as well as understanding the importance of politics.

I think you`re seeing lots of offshoots from Occupy. Some are saying how
can we stop foreclosures in this neighborhood or help this family that`s
struggling with profiling in criminal justice? So, you`re seeing that
spirit go into some of these direct service areas, and I think where a
candidate meets that, steps up and actually does seem real to people, folks
will come in behind them.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, this strikes me as so important, part of what you were
talking about earlier, Valarie, and that`s the spirit of protest often has
to also be engaged with a belief of some sort of institution. It may not
be the government-sanctioned institutions, but it has to be a belief that
there is something that we can organize that can be trusted.

And I do worry that, like, the spirit of protests on the one happened, but
also a sense of, like, I don`t trust anybody or anything being attendant
with it.

KAUR: I think what we need to remember about Occupy, wasn`t just that it
nurtured public discourse in this new direction but that it modeled a new
way of being, that those protesters sitting in the park were finding a way
to take care of one another, provide health care, provide food, provide
child care for one another, in a way that we don`t see our country doing
writ large.

So, it served as a source of inspiration. This is what we see when we talk
about movements over the long term. They`ll show up in one place and then
in another form a different way another time just months later, and the
same month that Occupy launched we launched groundswell, a nonprofit
initiative that has 100,000 people engaged in multi-faith actions using
online tools.

Just last month the most meaningful and sacred moment of my career was the
Oak Creek anniversary vigil. We were talking about gun violence earlier, p
the vigil marking the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting at the
(INAUDIBLE). It was millennials. It was Sikh youth who organized the

What do they do? They invited thousands of people to attend. They brought
(INAUDIBLE) online at a time when national news didn`t cover it. And it
was multi-faith, Christian choir, Native American dance, and Sikh singing
and it was political. But this is a modeling of a new way.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. There you go.

SOTO: How do you get from -- to the polls for the midterms?

PETERSON: Give them someone to vote for.

HARRIS-PERRY: Let me underline exactly that. This is part of Beinart`s
point. He says, all right, you`ve go this racial makeup, right, right,
where he says the right-wing populism generally requires rousing white
Christian straight native born Americans against Americans who are not all
of those things. But among millennials, there are fewer who are white
Christian non-immigrants to rouse, 40 percent of millenials are racial or
ethnic minorities.

So, on the one hand, I like that. But then we also, like our destiny,
people, the fact that you have different groups of people doesn`t
necessarily mean that they engage differently.

SOTO: How do you get that power to vote in the next midterm election?
What is the plan?

HARRIS-PERRY: Right, because --

KAUR: You are representing.


PETERSON: Again, there has to be leaders I place that are actually
progressive leaders that don`t just talk that talk but are committed to the
actual policy change.

HARRIS-PERRY: But why is it the millennials responsibility also become


HARRIS-PERRY: We talked about the Tea Party before. This is part of how
the Tea Party post-election of President Obama, we`re going to occupy here,
they show up. They do what Americans have the right to do when they`ve
lost, put their voices out there.

But then they did the next step. They ran for -- so much so they`re
collapsing a whole edge on the Republican Party. Why aren`t the
millennials running?


PERRIELLO: -- ran for first.


PERRIELLO: You keep coming back to the midterm elections. We`re talking
about city council races --

HARRIS-PERRY: Dogcatcher.

PERRIELLO: Those things matter.


PERRIELLO: We have seen in the last year North Carolina most dramatically
how important state legislatures are nor the actual impacts on people`s
lives. I think instead of this idea of people first coming in with Obama
and thinking it`s all going to come down like rain from the top --

HARRIS-PERRY: Local elections.

The point about it is so important. Art Pope doesn`t take over the
legislature first. He takes over the Wake County school board first.

PETERSON: That`s right.

HARRIS-PERRY: But I have to believe that the school board -- this is my
point about the sense of a crumbling institution. If I think school boards
are just whacked then I don`t -- it does take a certain amount of belief, a
certain amount of American optimism about our elected system to show up for
the polls and run for office.

And we`re going to stay right there because we`re going to handicap the
2016 just a little bit on this question of millennials as soon as we come


HARRIS-PERRY: It`s getting a little heated in the commercial break here
between those of us who represent the `70s and this millennial at the
table. I want to sort of play with this a little bit in part because the
current language about who the front-runner for the Democratic Party
nomination, for 2016, is, is of course from the discourse is about Hillary

My feeling -- you know, I like plenty of things about Hillary Clinton, but
I keep thinking, whoa, she`s from the `90s and she`s from this other point.
Could millennials, would they be excited about Hillary Clinton, basically a
moderate, a centrist like President Obama? Or would they want an Elizabeth
Warren, right? In other words, is there room on the left to challenge a
relatively centrist Clinton because the millennials would be looking for
something new?


SOTO: But what happened with Hillary in 2008, remember, that Hillary
fought for women`s rights. She got outflanked absolutely.

And women, young women, who were born in the `80s and the `90s, they didn`t
connect with her on that issue. So that gives me doubt about how they
would connect with an Elizabeth Warren.

PETERSON: When you think about millennials in terms of leadership at the
presidential level, Elizabeth Warren strikes me as much more of a
millennial leader.


PETERSON: I mean, her campaigns are like viral and use social media.
She`s fighting the fight on economic inequality, right? Hillary has
learned but Elizabeth Warren came a little bit national.

Again, I think ultimately for millennials it`s about authenticity. There`s
so much cynicism for them right now and disbelief and institutions, that
they need authentic candidates. And again, Warren seems to me to be more

KAUR: That`s right. I`m sensing huge excitement around Elizabeth Warren
because she`s willing to take on Wall Street and corporate interests and
talk about inequality the way the Clintons and the Reagans have not.

SOTO: I hate to be Debbie Downer. But will the millennials come out and
vote for her?

HARRIS-PERRY: OK. We`re looking at the voting bloc, this feels about the
Latino vote, we can show it growing, but when you look at the generation of
the millennials it is growing as a percentage of actual voters from 20
percent. By the time we get to 2020, they should be over a third.

And they are more active overall than we were at this age in terms of
actually turning out to vote, right, because you guys showed up for
President Obama one and two. But it does -- and I think this is my point,
though, about Warren and Clinton, it`s not that one is younger than the
other, but one reads as more -- what Katherine Patrick was saying, we want
somebody who we feel like is telling us the truth, not who is feeding us a


KAUR: Sorry. It`s about the content of the vision as well. Elizabeth
Warren represents a vision that strikes a deeper chord among millennials.
That said, that said -- millennials still may want someone who fights in a
way that President Obama has not fought and so there may be new interest
behind Hillary Clinton for that reason.

So I see either Elizabeth Warren or Hillary Clinton or opting out as the
three possibilities. I hope it`s the first two.

SOTO: That is the other thing.


PETERSON: She`s built that, though, over the decades, she really has.

SOTO: She has so much Latino support.

PETERSON: That`s right.

SOTO: In terms of millennials and Latinos --

PERRIELLO: These are two rock stars in the party and I think they`ve got a
role to play and I think people are figuring out Elizabeth Warren`s
message, unabashedly progressive, resonates on Main Street as well. But I
do think millennials and other see Hillary Clinton as a unique figure just
in the gravitas, the seriousness, the experience she brings, and I think
millennials want someone who`s going to be able to do the job and do the
job well. And I think there`s a lot of confidence in her.

I think while it`s a useful meeting to set up, I think Hillary Clinton
clearly has a tremendous amount of support across the board, but I think
Warren is setting a tone and a direction and may well do so from the Senate
and be able to be more of a Russ Feingold kind of figure there.

HARRIS-PERRY: I always worry that we overall analyze election results.
So, in the Beinart piece, he talks a lot about de Blasio, this win here in
New York. And he says the deeper you look, the stronger the evidence of de
Blasio`s victory is an omen of what may become the defining story of
America`s next political era, the challenge to both parties from the left.

On the one hand, I think that`s a lovely story, but it`s also true this is
a Democratic primary in New York City, and that as we say --

SOTO: I`m from Texas.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right, and, of course, in political science you always want
to go with the easiest model. So this in case, the tall white guy beats
the black guy, the lesbian woman and the Jewish candidate. So, I don`t
know. I`m like maybe it`s a great liberal thing or maybe it`s like old-
fashioned identity politics.

Hard to say in this moment.

PETERSON: I think his family did play a role in it despite how we want to
think about that. That`s politics. Your family plays a role in who your
identity is. It worked very, very well for de Blasio.

I do think progressive politics won out here because that trumped race,
sexual identity, in this particular primary.

HARRIS-PERRY: You think this is about progressivism over identity.

PETERSON: At least the perception of it.

SOTO: Stop and frisk was a central component of this election, and I
really think that Bloomberg overreached with stop and frisk and this was a
reaction to stop and frisk regardless of who the person looked like.

PERRIELLO: They`ll look to see whether de Blasio delivers on that, too,
and was this just a good rhetoric play in the primary or will we see
results particularly on the economy as well as stop and frisk. I think
this is going to go tout the local and midterm elections. This crisis of
jobs, the disappearance of the middle class, the disappearance of
meaningful work particularly for millennials, is not going away. So I
think that a party that puts that agenda out there.

And I think Beinart`s right, the greatest hits from the right distracting
from that --


HARRIS-PERRY: So in the progressive millennial future, de Blasio is the
mayor of New York City and Elizabeth Warren and Deval Patrick run for
president and vice president. It would be big fun.

Thank you to Valarie Kaur, to Tom Perriello, to James Peterson, and to
Victoria DeFrancesco Soto.

Up next, three jaw-dropping words that could change the lives of millions.
Who uttered them and why. Our very unusual foot soldier is next.


HARRIS-PERRY: So this is when we bring you our weekly foot soldier, the
little people who make big changes to their communities. Usually, our foot
soldiers are not well-known, but through determination and ingenuity, they
have a real impact on people`s lives. This week, we could not resist
highlighting a different kind you of foot soldier, someone who is a
household name.

Our soldier this week is Pope Francis.

Now, Nerdland has had our eye on the bishop of Rome since the day the
Conclave of Cardinals elevated him to the papacy. It is not just because I
live in a Catholic town and have a Catholic husband and briefly attended a
Catholic seminary that I find Pope Francis fascinating.

It`s because the Catholic Church remains an institution of enormous policy
influence and political importance throughout the world. Like it or not,
the pope matters even for the vast majority of us who are not Catholic.

Which why is matters that Pope Francis eschews ornate papal garments for
simple dress and rides around in a 1984 Renault and lives in modest
accommodations. Oh, and then there is the way that he shows up unannounced
in crowds. And he cold calls people, including a call to a man who was
struggling with his faith after his brother`s murder.

I mean, can you imagine the pope calling you to talk with you about your
crisis of faith? As we told you last week, Pope Francis is also down for
posing for a selfie and he has in all this made clear he is the pope of the

But now, we know he is also the pope for the people, because Pope Francis
says the Catholic Church should be a, quote, "home for all."

With those three simple words spoken in an interview, the leader of the
Catholic Church affirmed that the church should welcome -- well, everyone.
And by emphasizing this universal love of the church for humankind, Pope
Francis articulated the radicalism of ancient Christianity in a way that
hasn`t happened in centuries.

Anyone with even a passing understanding of church history knows that it is
implicated in war and conflict and oppression, but this pope says it`s time
to recalibrate. In this interview, Pope Francis says we cannot insist only
on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and use of contraceptive
methods. When we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in
context and we have to find a new balance. Otherwise, even the moral
edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the
freshness and fragrance of the gospel.

The pope`s comments do not immediately change church doctrine. But the
message of Francis is clear: less dogma, more love. That is a foot soldier
idea which is why we just had to give a tip of the pontifical hat to Pope
Francis as our foot soldier of the week.

And that is our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching.

Now, this one may sound like a joke but we`re going to have a real answer
to the question: why did the chicken cross the ocean? The answer is
information that you need to have. So come back tomorrow morning, 10:00
a.m. Eastern and we`ll answer it for you.

Right now, it`s time for a preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT."



<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2013 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2013 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>


Sponsored links

Resource guide