April 19, 2014
Guests: Dorian Warren, Alexander Motyl, Nina Khrushcheva, Swin Cash, Jemele
Hill, David Epstein, Amy K. Nelson, Max Hardy, Richard Cohen, Linda
Sarsour, Omar Farah, Shannon Watts, Tanya Greene
MELISSA HARRIS PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning, my question, is a
fragile truce already falling apart in Ukraine? Plus 50 million ways to
challenge the NRA, and a possible game-changer for college sports. But
first, what are we so afraid of?
HARRIS-PERRY: Good morning, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. In just two days,
36,000 people lace up their running shoes and assemble on Main Street in
the royal New England town of Hopkinton to confront the long road ahead at
the start of the 2014 Boston Marathon. For the next 26 miles the runners
will confront head on the challenge of pushing themselves to their personal
limits and beyond. But if you`ve ever participated in a marathon or if
you`re a kind of lapsed runner like me who still is just cautiously
considering one, you know that getting ready to go the distance doesn`t
begin at the starting line. Training begins months in advance, making sure
to eat the right foods, and staying hydrated and putting in weekly miles.
But that physical training is only part of the preparation. The challenge
of running a marathon is being able to summon the will to push past fear.
Fear of one`s own limitations, fear of not finishing or finishing last,
fear of pain, of injury.
Of course, we know that in this year`s Boston marathon, there`s at least
one fear that all of the participants will collectively confront, because
Monday will be the first Boston Marathon since the 2013 race when two
homemade bombs planted at the finish line killed three people and wounded
nearly 300 others. The events of that day last year give this year`s race
special symbolic meaning as an act of mass resistance to fear. The bombing
also created a new fear not only for runners, but for all of us as a
nation. We`ve now added marathons to the list of targets that require our
heightened vigilance because of their vulnerability to violence in the form
of terrorist attack. That explosion at the finish line in 2013 only
exacerbated the terror that was still new when planes became weapons on
September 11th, 2001. And in the 13 years that have since passed, that
threat has become our nation`s most salient collective fear.
But it was only the latest in a long line of events to leave that scar on
our American historical memory. On December 7th, 1941, when Japanese
planes attacked the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor and killed
more than 2400 Americans, our vulnerability to what had been a distant war
abroad suddenly felt much closer to home. During the Cold War, standoff
against the Soviet Union, we lived under constant fear of the threat of
nuclear annihilation. And as much as these moments truly made us the
United States because of our shared anxiety over an actual threat, it is
worth remembering that on the flip side of that fear are those who
consequently become targets because of a perceived threat. Just two months
after the Pearl Harbor attack, President Franklin Roosevelt, giving in to
the will of popular opinion, signed the order that led to the internment of
more than 100,000 Americans whose only crime was having Japanese ancestry.
Cold War hysteria about domestic communist subversion led to the
investigation of millions of federal employees, the black listing of
hundreds of people in the film industry and the loss of jobs for countless
other Americans who fell under suspicion as sympathizers.
But this isn`t just American history, because even today, the American
story continues to remind us that when it comes to confronting the fear of
being a target, we are not all fearing the same enemy. Just ask the record
2 million immigrants deported under President Obama`s administration. Or
the Muslim New Yorkers who up until this week were the targets of an NYPD
surveillance program that monitored and covertly infiltrated the spaces
where they lived and worked and shopped and prayed. And this fear-driven
response leaves lingering questions about who we perceive to be a threat
and why. Should that angst, for instance, include people like Frazier
Glenn Cross. Cross, an active participant for three decades in white
supremacist hate groups was charged this week with first-degree murder in
the killing of three people at a Jewish community center and a retirement
center. Or should we add to that list of existential national fears people
like Cliven Bundy. He is the rancher who last week after refusing to pay
over $1 million in fines for two decades of illegal cattle grazing on
government land inspired a militia to mount an armed resistance and a
standoff against federal agents.
For some Americans men like these are the boogie men in their nightmares,
but pause with me a second to consider a few more questions because if our
fear of an organized effort to challenge the authority of the American
state justifies the government to act in defense of itself, who else should
we be afraid of? What about when the challenge to government hierarchy
comes from a group of students protesting peacefully. How about self-
proclaimed revolutionaries resisting violence police aggression against
their communities. How ultimately do we decide who becomes subject to our
fear and the target of our response. And how do we know the difference
between the fears we should ignore to preserve our freedom and those we
must confront to strengthen our security. Joining me now is Dorian Warren,
assistant professor in the Department of Political Science and the School
of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. Linda Sarsour
who is executive director of the Arab American Association of New York,
Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center and Omar Farah,
who is the staff attorney for the center for Constitutional Rights. Thanks
so much for being here.
So, Dorian, I want to start with you. Because I was meaning to be a bit
purpose - provocative at the end by suggesting Occupy or the Panthers, in
part because I want to ask if you`re the American state, so not me or you,
but if you`re the American state, what does it take to move someone from
just being in a position of exercising their freedom of speech to being
considered a threat to the state itself?
DORIAN WARREN, ASST. PROF. POLITICAL SCIENCE, COLUMBIA: What does it take
to be considered a threat is the othering of the other person and that
usually almost always means people of color? So if we look at the whole
history of our country and think of violent lynchings and other murders by
domestic white supremacists, you add up all those numbers, they far
outweigh any kinds of murders or activity from black people, from Muslims
because those folks are othered. They`re not considered Americans, they
are not given a benefit of the doubt. And so, those people are
automatically considered threats when white supremacists like Bundy, who
has a record of white supremacist activity, who is embedded in white
supremacist networks, they`re given a pass. They`re considered real
Americans while the rest of us are immediately othered and considered a
HARRIS-PERRY: Right - Miller, right.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So, in this case there`s a sense that what would
constitute a threat in part depends on who do we think is the we. Would
you agree with that?
RICHARD COHEN, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: I would. You know, when we
looked at white supremacists like miller, you know, we forget that the
people who are most likely to be objects of suspicion in our country are
black people, people of color. It happens in our schools, it happens in
our communities. And I think that that is a much larger concern for our
country than the millers of the world, quite frankly.
HARRIS-PERRY: And yet this moment of othering might extend on these old
identities like black/white, right, which has a history as long as the
nation. But what we saw on September 11th was in part the ways, in which
an other can emerge immediately as a result of, for example, 9/11, in which
there`s at least narratives, stories that came out of D.C. saying that
there were folks who immediately said, OK, go find me the census and tell
me where the Muslims live and the answer - or tell me where the Arabs live
and the answer was we can`t, they`re white. And so, right there - there`s
sort of - we haven`t thought of this group as other. And then in this
moment then the question becomes who is the other. Well, it must be
Muslims. And then we can go and find where the Muslims are and they can be
the group that is dangerous, which is exactly what we have seen, for
example, with this NYPD question.
LINDA SARSOUR, ARAB AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF NEW YORK: Absolutely. I mean
post-9/11 the Muslim community became the other. And it wasn`t just
looking at the other - it was a target of government policies, including
NYPD surveillance programs, you know, infiltrating people`s houses of
worship, sending informants into Muslim student associations on college
campuses. But it also included programs like NSEERS, which is where the
special registration program post-9/11 in 2003 that specifically said males
over the age of 16 that were from these, you know, 28 countries come and
register with the government. At that moment people thought they were
going to put us in internment camps.
SARSOUR: I mean we don`t know.
HARRIS-PERRY: Because there`s an actual history of that, right, it`s not
SARSOUR: Yeah, absolutely, and it`s a valid fear and it continues. And I
think even with the closing of the zone assessment by the New York Police
Department this week, I mean we are not going just - you know, this
community is not just going to be like, OK, great, they`re not spying on us
anymore. It`s going to take years to roll back the trauma that this
community has been put through, 13 years later post-9/11.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK, so, this language of trauma is an interesting one. And
particularly the idea that if what we`re talking about is maybe less the
federal government, but at this point community policing in relationship to
the federal government in the NYPD case, so talk to me then about how the
surveillance activities, which became public, but which folks knew were
occurring beforehand, how did that rupture the relationship between local
law enforcement and Muslim communities?
OMAR FARAH, ATTORNEY, CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS: Well, I think to a
certain extent the relationship had already suffered tremendously because
the Muslim community was so acutely aware that this kind of practice was
happening even before the revelations. What`s always struck me about the
case that we`re litigating now, (INAUDIBLE) the City of New York for the
demographics minute work in New Jersey is how different our plaintiffs are
in every respect other than the fact that they share a Muslim identity.
That fact alone is enough to bring them within a scope of the units work.
This sort of facially discriminatory policing causes a litany of concrete
harms, the worst of which really is the gross stigma that comes from being
discriminated and treated differently on the basis of crude stereotypes.
You talked about Japanese internment at the top of the show. What`s so
destructive about the decision in regard in our cases that it gives
judicial sanction to exactly that same type of logic that we saw in
(INAUDIBLE) and should be roundly rejected for exactly the same reasons?
HARRIS-PERRY: I also wonder if - if there is what you know, we hear
sometimes international relations theory. We`re always fighting the last
war, right, that we innovate strategies for our war making internationally
based on whatever we`ve just done. And I wonder if similarly the kind of
response to 9/11 or the use of a certain set of demographic characteristics
to presume who is guilty and who is threatening keeps us always fighting
the last threat rather than thinking forward to what might in fact be
COHEN: Or having a balance between those things. You know, after the
Oklahoma City bombing, the anniversary today, the Attorney General set up a
task force to kind of respond to that militia movement and the growth of
white supremacy. And they met monthly. And, of course, the last time it
was scheduled to meet was on 9/11. And then after that, you know, all of
the resources swung the other way towards the Muslim community. And, you
know, of course we see what happened on Sunday. You know, maybe we`re not
paying enough attention to that. So I don`t think anyone would say law
enforcement shouldn`t do its job.
COHEN: But, you know, it just has to have some sort of balance to it.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, I think that that`s part of the question for me, Dorian.
As I`m trying - I don`t want to presume that you are a threat, right, or a
group is a threat because I disagree with them, right? And so if it`s a
right-wing group then they should be monitored by the government whereas if
they`re progressive group like (INAUDIBLE) they shouldn`t be monitored,
right? I`m trying to figure out is there a quality way of determining when
should we be saying this is just happening in the level of freedom and this
WARREN: Well, there is a Department of Homeland Security study on the rise
of white ring - white supremacist militia groups that was shut down and
that report never came out because it was so controversial. And what the
difference is people like Miller in Kansas this last weekend, he was public
for 30 years in terms of his views and his threats to people`s actual
security. So it`s not like it was a secret. It`s not like we have to dig
very deep to understand not only him, but his entire network of white
supremacists who are a threat to all Americans and not only people of
color. So we didn`t have to dig deep. The problem is -- or the line that
you`re asking about is when people make public threats, we can see it, we
can identify it. And when you put all your resources against an other,
that`s not a threat, then you miss the actual obvious threats to our
HARRIS-PERRY: Because the Black Panthers did use the language of
revolution. I mean I just want to be quick .
WARREN: Yes. Yes.
HARRIS-PERRY: They said we are having a revolution. We do not recognize
that the federal government authority is appropriate because of American
racism and therefore we want a revolution. I mean this was the language
they were using. But I think we could suggest that they, in fact, were not
a militarized threat to the U.S., right? And yet we are subjected to some
of the worst infiltration, right? We`re going to talk more about all of
this as soon as we get back. I want to look a little bit at how the Obama
administration is putting extremists on notice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN. U.S. STATE VICE PRESIDENT: Next Monday on Patriot`s Day when
I`m told that the 36,000 people line up to start the marathon, you will
send a resounding message around the world not just to the rest of the
world but to the terrorists that we will never yield.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Every alleged hate crime, no matter who the
intended target, is an affront to who we are and who we always have been,
both as a country and as a people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday, speaking
at the memorial service for the victims of the Sunday shooting at the
Jewish community centers in suburban Kansas City. And I just want to point
out that the alleged shooter, Frazier Glenn Cross, has also been known to
go by the name Frazier Glenn Miller, which is what we`ve been calling him
here just in case folks are confused behind that. All right, so, I want to
ask a little bit about sort of this point that the attorney general is
making there and we`ve been trying to make around sort of who counts as
someone we should be afraid of. And the report -- your own report showing
that the traffic at StormFront.org surged after the election of President
Obama, that there are more than a quarter of a million registered users and
9 million posts there. What should I make of the fact that there was a
surge after President Obama? Because I don`t like the idea that President
Obama is the initiation of this and therefore, if he went away, so too
would this kind of angst go away.
COHEN: I think President Obama is seen in many quarters as the culmination
of it. You know, since the year 2000, we`ve seen about a 50 percent
increase in the number of hate groups in our country and that`s being
driven by the changing demographics of the nation. So, Obama gets elected
and people say, look, there`s visual proof that the nefarious Jew has
stolen the country kind of on behalf of people of color.
COHEN: And, you know, so that`s what Obama symbolizes. When he was
elected Stormfront got five times its normal traffic and it said, you know,
we are the white answer for white people. The day after he was
inaugurated, a white supremacist who was just addicted to the net named
Keith Luke killed people in Brockton, Massachusetts. So, you know, Obama
didn`t drive those numbers, he was the culmination of it.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right, so there is a part of me, right, and this is part
of what I`m struggling with, so there`s a part of me that says, OK, when
you see that, when you see a group where we know that there has been
killings that have emerged from it and you see these conversations
happening online and you know that there`s a bit of a trigger here with the
representation among -- of an African-American president, get in there, get
some surveillance, come on, American state. But then, right, I say but
wait a minute, how do we then not repeat the thing that is what we did to
Muslim communities post-9/11?
FARAH: I think there`s a reflex to feel under these kinds of circumstances
that there`s something additional or new or different that has to be done.
And just to resist the premise a little bit, I haven`t seen a case
effectively made that sound, sophisticated policing and intelligence isn`t
up to the task of the challenges we face. The solution isn`t to prejudge
another group. At a minimum the point of departure should be our
Constitution, which requires some level of criminal suspicion and rejects
the use of race or ethnicity or religion as a proxy for criminality. And
other than that, I think sober-minded assessment of where the threats
actually come from. That`s discussion we are having. But, for sure
throwing police and resources at surveilling a grade school for Muslim
girls as happened in our case, can`t possibly be the answer. It doesn`t
make it any safer and does lasting harm to this community.
HARRIS-PERRY: I really like that phrase the rejection of race as a proxy
for criminality, which I think we could talk about in so many contexts. I
want to play two things for you. I want to play Harry Reid talking about
Mr. Bundy and the language that he uses and then Mr. Bundy`s response to
Harry Reid and then get your response. Let`s listen to both of those.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D) NEVADA: There were hundreds, hundreds of people from
around the country that came there. They had sniper rifles on the freeway,
they had assault weapons, they had automatic weapons. These people who
hold themselves out to be patriots are not. They`re nothing more than
UM: When you hear Senator Harry Reid call you a domestic terrorist, what
do you have to say to the senator?
CLIVEN BUDDY: Well, I guess he`s right. I don`t know what else we`d be.
We`re definitely citizens riled up. I don`t know whether you can call us
terrorists. There`s most loving people I ever see in the life. I just
can`t see how he gets that type of description out of these people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Your responses to hearing Mr. Bundy, say, well, I guess I`ll
be that domestic terrorist for you. These are loving people.
SARSOUR: It`s funny that he would even say that he`d take that because the
way that the media portrays people like Miller and others, like they tab a
double standard about who they call terrorism, what you call domestic
terrorism. We can have many cases, Joe Stack putting his airplane into an
IRS building. I mean when do we call these people -- Aurora shooter, when
you look at, you know, the Sandy Hook. Like it takes a lot for us to call
someone who`s a white man a domestic terrorist, but the minute it`s someone
who has the name Hamid, it`s very simple, it`s very easy to label that.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, I mean so let me just say - so, with Mr. Miller, there
is an act of violence and murder. In the context of Mr. Bundy, there was
not - in part because of the choices the government, I think, to stand
down. There was no acts of violence yet. Right?
HARRIS-PERRY: I mean - that like that has not yet occurred and hopefully
in fact never will. That said, like even the sort of willingness to take
the language, I still wonder if there`s like a - so some groups it ends up
being the descriptive category, that whole group is a problem versus
saying, OK, this may be troubling in this individual, but we don`t presume
this to be true of an entire group of individuals.
SARSOUR: I mean that`s the taste in the Muslim community. You know you
had 19 hijackers and because of 19 people who are part of a 1.7 billion
people faith, now we all are subject to targeting and, you know, being
other - being otherized in our country. I`m a born and raised Brooklynite
SARSOUR: I went to public school.
HARRIS-PERRY: Like where are you from? Brooklyn.
SARSOUR: Exactly. Because it gets more American than that right here.
SARSOUR: And being otherized based on a few people of my community or
maybe not - I don`t consider them even a part of my faith, but for the
purpose of the conversation Muslims that did something really terrible and
we got the brunt of that. And the other, you know, issue that I have and
what my fear is also is that we`re fighting this like existential threat.
Like al Qaeda and like when is that going to be over? It`s not like we are
in a war, World War I, World War II, where that war was going to end one
We don`t even know when this war against, you know, American Muslims is
going to end. We just don`t have that - I`m worried that my kids who grew
up in post-9/11 America, when is this going to be over for them? When are
they going to be proud of who they are? And be able to say I`m a proud
Muslim and not have to feel like their American identity and Muslim
identity don`t actually coincide.
HARRIS-PERRY: Agree. Double consciousness of the voice. Thank you to
Linda Sarsour and Omar Farah. Dorian and Richard are sticking around.
Stay right there. We`re going to dig into an alarming new report from the
Southern Poverty Law Center on the link between a racist Website and deadly
hate crimes when we come back
HARRIS-PERRY: A new report released from the Southern Poverty Law Center
made the chilling finding that there is more to fear than just hateful
comments on the Internet`s largest white supremacist forum. The report
titled "The White Homicide Worldwide" found that users of Stormfront.org,
which I was talking about in the last block, which advocates a white power
ideology have been responsible for nearly 100 murders in the last five
years. The report`s findings also connected Stormfront users to a
disproportionate amount of some of the most deadly hate crimes and mass
killings since the site`s finding in 1995. Once of my guests today, Richard
Cohen is the head of that organization who compiled the report. Also
joining us now is the cable`s Dafna Linzer, who is the managing editor of
Msnbc.com. So I want to ask you, Richard, because we`ve been talking maybe
in a way that`s a little bit messy here about both the sort of white
supremacist aspect of violence and what we saw with Mr. Bundy, just kind of
anti-government and then that we saw the arms, but not violence. Are these
two very separate things, are they connected? How should we think about
COHEN: I think they`re different, but they coincide in a certain way. The
hate groups that we identity are groups that vilify entire groups based on
their race, the religion, sexual orientation or the like. The kind of
anti-government, the radical anti-government groups that we watch are ones
who believe in a variety of wild conspiracy theories. New world order,
that kind of stuff. Here is some overlap because many of those ideas, the
new world order ideas came out of a racist background, the Posse Comitatus,
the notion that, you know, the federal government is illegitimate. A lot
of anti-Semitism coursed through that, particularly in the farm crisis in
the late `70s and early `80s. Some of the current people who are involved,
you know, in some ways are far from that, but that too, it had kind of a
racist origin. So there`s overlap but it doesn`t coincide.
HARRIS-PERRY: And so, so help me here, because, you know, in African-
American communities, there is often a sense of the illegitimacy of various
government institutions, whether it is the local police force because of
their acts of violence and profiling, whether it is at sometimes an entire
state government because of Jim Crow or sometimes the entire federal
government. How -- how should I hear it differently when I hear Mr. Bundy
on a ranch. Like is that -- am I just race profiling him as an armed
person who is white on a ranch in a way that I wouldn`t if it was my uncle
who was like I don`t even believe in the government, they don`t even
deserve to be the government because they`re so racist?
COHEN: I don`t know. I mean I think that we -- I think that people of
color or most Americans see the federal government as the guarantor of
their civil rights. And we take the government to task when it fails in
that responsibility. People like Mr. Bundy don`t recognize the United
States. He says I don`t even recognize that the United States has the
legitimate right to exist, and that`s a common idea with people who adhere
to common law ideology, sovereign citizen ideology so I wouldn`t think of
them as the same.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s actually really helpful, that the idea that the
federal government has a responsibility to do it, and is failing in it
versus thinking that they have no right to it in the first place.
DAFNA LINZER. MSNBC MANAGING EDITOR: Right. And I think that the central
point that I take away from that and the difference is, you know, is the
idea that they don`t accept the sense of the government as the guarantor of
civil rights, that there are civil rights. That there are laws on the
books to protect minority rights in this country. And I think that is the
central most important thing that people should hear and take away in the
HARRIS-PERRY: We know from political science research and social science
research that the increase in demographic change, the idea that we are in a
country that will become majority or minority in the next decade and a half
can create a kind of authoritarian - or can trigger the kind of
authoritarian responses that we sometimes see among folks who also have an
ideology of small government. So not that they are the same thing, but
they get triggered in that moment.
We are moving to a majority/minority government. How do we figure out a
way to live -- this is too big a question, but like how do we figure out a
way to allow people to have their anxieties without living in fear?
WARREN: Well, there`s so many challenges to that, Melissa. Especially one
that comes to mind is segregation. We live so apart and so segregated that
it`s actually hard to create conditions where people get to know each
other, whether at the workplace, whether at the store in their communities,
so when we`re so segregated not only by race, but also by class, then it
creates bubbles where we`re insulated from other people and getting to know
other people so it actually heightens your own ideology. It strengthens
your own ideology.
HARRIS-PERRY: And we presume those people over there who watch that
network or think those things must be necessarily my enemies and my
opponents rather than my fellow citizen.
Stay with us. Before we go to break, I do want to give you an update on
the South Korean ferry that capsized on Wednesday and has since submerged.
Search efforts are still under way for the passengers unaccounted for. The
death toll now stands at 32 after South Korean divers reported seeing three
bodies inside the ferry. More than 270 passengers are still missing.
Officials reported there are 174 known survivors. More than 300 of the
ship`s passengers were high school students heading on a field trip. The
boat captain has been arrested and charged with five violations, including
negligence of duty and violation of maritime law. The U.S. Navy ship is
assisting in rescue efforts. We`re going to be right back.
HARRIS-PERRY: If Congress`s inability to pass gun reform legislation in
the wake of the Newtown shooting is any indication, gun rights groups like
the National Rifle Association have little to fear from the political power
of Washington. But former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is betting he
can strike some fear into their hearts with the power of his wallet. This
week he announced he is putting some of his billions behind the formation
of Every Town for Gun Safety, a new gun control group whose goal is to sign
up 1 million new supporters by Election Day. During the Tuesday
announcement, Bloomberg said of his plans that, quote, "We`ve got to make
them afraid of us." By "them" he meant politicians in the 15 state houses
that the organization is targeting. By "us" he meant a coalition that will
enlist the help of women and mothers in a door-to-door grassroots outreach
effort. That effort includes a guest who is joining me now from Austin,
Texas, Shannon Watts, who is founder of Moms Demand Action for gun sense in
America. Nice to have you.
SHANNON WATTS, FOUNDER, MOMS DEMAND ACTION: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, you know, routine deadly gun violence is really
classified quite differently in our national and collective fear scale than
the kind of terrorist activities that we`ve talked about. Should we be
changing what it is we`re afraid of?
WATTS: Well, the reality in America is that 86 people are shot and killed
every day, whether that`s a murder or a suicide. And so this is a very
deadly and real epidemic in our country. And we have to do something about
it. You know, just about every American agrees that we have to do
something about it, but they aren`t voting on it. And that`s why as part
of the investment that Mayor Bloomberg is making, we are going to get at
least 1 million voters mobilized to vote on this issue in the midterms.
And that`s just between now and November. So this is about building a
foundation and moving forward to address this epidemic that we have
HARRIS-PERRY: So your organization is very much sort of on the model here
of Mothers against Drunk Driving. And I`m wondering, you know, you talk
about voting as one part of it, but is it also trying to shift sort of our
understanding about guns, about gun ownership, sort of how are you thinking
WATTS: Absolutely. You know, there are three ways to go after this.
First at the federal level. And unfortunately this Congress has chosen to
do nothing in the wake of Sandy Hook, which is shameful. But the other way
is to go to state legislatures, and we`ve had huge successes in state
legislatures pushing back on bad legislation and passing good legislation.
And then there`s also American businesses. Moms make 80 percent of the
spending decisions for their families in this country, and when we wield
our economic power, we will make huge change. And we`ve already done that
with Starbucks, Facebook and Instagram. And so, that is very much like
Mothers against Driving. They work to change the culture in this country
as well as the laws.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. Hold for me a second, because Dafna, I want to ask
about this notion of mothers - and the power of mothers to shift this
discourse. Because, you know, this whole week there`s been a lot of
discourse about Hillary Clinton and whether or not now that she`s a
grandmother will she run, madness.
HARRIS-PERRY: But I was reminded that this woman, who is a mother,
absolutely performed a pro-gun language at one point when it became
politically palatable in 2008. So I want to listen to that for one second
and have you respond.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON: You know, my dad took me up behind the cottage that my
grandfather built on a little lake called Lake Winola outside of Scranton
and taught me how to shoot when I was a little girl. You know, some people
have continued to teach their children and their grandchildren. It`s part
of a culture. It`s part of a way of life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: No, I mean I think it matters to me that in the moment that
the man who is currently our president said cling to guns and gods that the
response of the Democratic opponent in that moment was to say, oh, yeah,
I`m with the guns because it does feel to me like that is the big thing,
even beyond the NRA that this group is having to fight. Is that - when the
chips were down, this Democrat was like oh, yeah, me and the guns, yeah.
LINZER: All right, OK, so Bloomberg when he was mayor of New York had
enormous success using his personal wealth. And wealth for him, he sees
that he can implement change. You know, when it comes to guns, it`s not
about money, it`s about ruthlessness and how ruthless are they going to be
in saying this is going to be a one issue thing for us. We are going to go
after somebody who is not going to vote with us on this issue. And that is
the test. That will determine how successful they will be in these races,
because the other side is that ruthless.
LINZER: And that is where the success comes. It`s not just money.
HARRIS-PERRY: Because that language of ruthlessness, Shannon, has also
maybe have been talked about as a kind of enthusiasm gap between those who
are strong supporters of the Second Amendment versus those who are trying
to get common sense gun control laws. How do you close that enthusiasm
WATTS: Well, if you were on the ground here with our moms, you would see
there`s absolutely no gap whatsoever. The slaughter of 26 Americans in the
sanctity of an elementary school completely changed the landscape. And,
you know, the gun lobby has done a good job for 30 years of making people
terrified that they are going to have their guns taken away. We are
terrified our children are going to be taken away and we will no longer
tolerate Congress or other elected officials letting the gun lobby make the
rules. We are not anti-gun, we are not against the Second Amendment, we
are about the responsibility that comes along with rights. And we will
fight for that until our dying breath.
HARRIS-PERRY: Shannon, the clarity of that sentence - some people are
afraid of their guns being taken away, we`re afraid of our children being
taken away. Thank you so much - just if for nothing else, for that
clarity, but also for your work.
WATTS: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Shannon Watts in Austin, Texas, thank you. And also thank
you to Richard Cohen. Dorian and Dafna are going to be back in our next
hour, but up next, my letter of the week.
HARRIS-PERRY: This Tuesday, the Houston Independent School District
unveiled new team names for four of its schools. The Lamar High Texans,
the Westbury High and Hamilton Middle School Huskies and the Welch Middle
School Wolfpack. And it`s going to cost the district about $88,000 to
replace fall uniforms and update school buildings with the new mascots`
names and it could cost up to $250,000 in the long term, but the district
decided it was well worth it to make the change from what the mascots were,
the Westbury Rebels, the Welch Warriors, the Hamilton Indians and the Lamar
Redskins. And that`s why my letter of the week is to the owner of the
Washington pro football team that also needs a name change, Dan Snyder.
Dear Dan, it`s me, Melissa. Look at what the wonderful people of Houston
did. They decided it was better to catch up with the rest of history
rather than to keep grasping onto offensive stereotypes. The elected
school board voted to approve the new policy that bars the use of any race
or ethnic group as a mascot or nickname. And they had the kids weigh in on
what the new team names would be. They did it! Now, true, the Houston
Independent School District is not a for-profit professional football team
that pulls in something like $381 million in revenue a year, so it might
cost you more than just $250,000 to rebrand your team. I actually get
that. But eventually, it really will make financial sense in order to make
that change. Emery University`s sports marketing analytics team has found
that having a Native American mascot in pro football is losing the team
$1.6 million a year in revenue, while mascots who are animals or at least
non-Native American people are actually gaining in value every year.
Here`s what Houston superintendent Terry Grier said about why he pushed for
the change in his district, with more than 200,000 students. Quote, "The
time has come for the Houston Independent School District, the most
vibrantly diverse school district in the nation, to acknowledge that some
decisions made generations ago need to be reconsidered. "Traditions are
important. But respect for cultural difference and sensitivities matters
more." And, Dan, here is what you once said about keeping your offensive
team name. "We`ll never change the name," you said. "It`s that simple.
Never. You can use caps." Now, I know you started your Washington
Redskins Original Americans foundation, but putting an ethnic slur on a
foundation that`s supposed to benefit the people you are slurring is just
wrong. And your involvement is now driving actual Native American groups
away from supporting events that would benefit actual Native Americans like
the recent Arizona charity golf tournament to raise money for scholarships
that the National Indian Gaming Association and others have now pulled out
of because of your involvement. So your foundation is actually undermining
efforts to help.
Seriously, you need to change the name. Look, it doesn`t have to be a bad
change. You can find something even more tough and intimidating and bad
ass. I mean look at New Orleans, we lost the Jazz to Utah and ended up
with the New Orleans Hornets NBA team and New Orleans isn`t exactly overrun
with Hornets, thank goodness. So we changed to the Pelicans. Now, you
might poo-poo the pelican as just some lame sea bird, but you`d be wrong
about that because the brown pelican of Louisiana is a vicious carnivore
that flies up to 65 feet above the ocean and dive bombs its prey, stunning
it with the impact and devouring it before it even knows what happened. I
mean ha-ha, pelicans.
Now, Dan, I know there`s been some support from fans, not from you, for
changing your team name to the Washington Warriors and that`s great. Love
that. But if that`s not working for you, let me suggest something else.
How about the Washington Wonks, that sounds pretty tough. At least to
those of us in Nerdland. Sincerely, Melissa.
On April 20th, 2012, Marcus Robinson became the first death row inmate in
North Carolina to have his sentence reduced to life in prison under the
state`s Racial Justice Act. And this week two years after being taken off
death row, he is facing the possibility of returning. The Racial Justice
Act was passed in North Carolina in 2009 to prevent racial bias in death
penalty sentencing, permitting defendants and inmates to challenge death
sentences by presenting statistical evidence of racial bias. After the act
was passed, researchers at Michigan State University conducted a study on
racial bias in jury selection finding that over a 20-year period in North
Carolina, prosecutors struck qualified black jurors at 2.5 times the rate
of nonblack jurors and that defendants were significantly more likely to be
charged if the victim was white.
Those findings were used to reduce the sentences of four death row inmates
in North Carolina, including Marcus Robinson. That was 2012. The same
year Republicans in the General Assembly overrode a veto by then Governor
Perdue to pass a bill weakening the Racial Justice Act. And that November
voters elected a Republican governor Pat McCrory who five months after
being sworn in repealed the Racial Justice Act calling it a loophole to
avoid the death penalty.
Now the state supreme court is deciding whether or not to reverse or reduce
the sentences decided under the act. The arguments so far are focused on
whether or not disproportionate striking of black jurors creates or
constitutes racial bias. Joining me now is Tanya Greene of the Advocacy
and Policy Council at the ACLU. Tanya, OK, help folks to understand what
precisely is happening in this case?
TANYA GREENE, ADVOCACY AND POLICY COUNCIL, ACLU: The four former death row
prisoners who received relief under the Racial Justice Act, the judge found
that in their cases and in their counties, in their communities and
statewide there`s rampant racial discrimination in jury selection by
prosecutors, including race-based note taking and details about different
jurors that was not information that was used against black jurors to
strike black jurors that was not used against similarly situated white
jurors as well as things like trainings that the prosecutors had undertaken
and provided to each other, curriculum about bypassing and avoiding
application of the constitutional law that forbids discrimination on the
basis of race.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, I think, you know, when we talk about the death penalty
and we talk about racial bias, sometimes folks don`t quite get it because
there are as a matter of numbers there are more whites on death row and
there are more white people who have been executed, but when we look at
executions by the victim`s race, it is clear that if the victim of the
crime is white, and this is NAACP legal defense fund, the far more
executions of those who had victims who were white and then when we look at
death penalty support, far more support among white Americans of the death
penalty in general, something like 63 percent, as compared with Hispanic or
African-Americans who have much lower support of the death penalty. How
much is race influencing how we even understand what something like the
Racial Justice Act is?
GREENE: You know, the death penalty is a race oriented policy in this
country. It`s rooted in lynching, it comes out of slavery, it was in a way
moving lynching into the courtroom, and so it`s not surprising that to this
day we have all white and mostly white jurors across the country, not just
in former slave states, but across the country that are judging mostly
black defendants and mostly defendants for -- accused of murder of white
victims. It is -- we need Racial Justice Act legislation to root out
racial bias in jury selection, we need racial justice legislation to root
out prosecutorial decision making that focuses on white victim cases rather
than all victim cases. Prosecutors have no -- there`s no real limit on
their discretion in determining whether or not to seek the death penalty in
cases and over time they have consistently elected to seek death in cases
where there are white victims more than anyone else.
HARRIS-PERRY: So was North Carolina or -- it was my impression that North
Carolina was really at the forefront of making sort of fairer policies
around this very long history with the Racial Justice Act. Were there any
other states that were following suit? And has North Carolina with this
repeal and how the repeal and attempt to resentence, are they moving
GREENE: Yes, North Carolina was at the forefront and is moving backwards.
About 30 years ago there was a Supreme Court case where the court found
that despite evidence that blacks were four times more likely to receive
the death penalty, a certain amount, the court said, a certain amount of
racial bias is to be expected in the criminal justice system given the
history of this country. But that if states wanted to address it, they
should. And the federal government, Congress had about ten pieces of
legislation along the same lines of Racial Justice Act proposed after the
McCleskey decision in 1987, none of which passed. Kentucky proposed
similar legislation and it did pass, it`s a pretrial remedy, but North
Carolina was a ground-breaker in the type of legislation that passed and
the comprehensiveness of it.
HARRIS-PERRY: And now?
GREENE: And now, you know, just as Justice Brennan said in the McCleskey
decision where Justice Brennan dissented in the McCleskey decision saying
there`s a fear of too much justice and that`s why the Supreme Court was
unwilling to proceed. I feel that the same thing is happening in North
HARRIS-PERRY: A reminder that elections in fact do have consequences.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you, Tanya Greene. And coming up next is a potential
breakthrough already breaking down in Ukraine. And the vote that could
shake up college sports, basketball star Swin Cash joins us live to talk
about it. There`s more Nerdland at the top of the hour.
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-
The back and forth between Ukraine and Russia continues in spite of
an interim agreement reached by diplomatic representatives on Thursday.
Tensions ran high before the agreement was announced as pro-Russian
protesters tried to storm a Ukrainian base in the eastern part of the
country on Tuesday. According to Ukraine`s foreign minister, that resulted
in a firefight that left three activists dead, 13 wounded and 63 captured.
And there are reports that Jewish-Ukrainians were confronted with
masked men handing out leaflets demanding that Jews register and pay a fine
or leave the area.
This move has been denounced and denied by pro-Russian groups who
have been implicated and also by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who
emerged after nearly seven hours of negotiations with the E.U.`s foreign
policy chief and foreign ministers of both Russia and Ukraine and had this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: The parties agreed today that all
sides must refrain from the use of violence, intimidation or provocative
actions. And we strongly condemned and rejected all expressions of
extremism, racism and religious intolerance, including anti-Semitism. Just
in the last couple of days, notices were sent to Jews in one city
indicating that they had to identify themselves.
This is not just intolerable, it`s grotesque. It is beyond
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: With regards to the actual agreement that the foreign
diplomatic representatives came to, Kerry had this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: We agreed today that all illegal armed groups must be
disarmed, that all illegally seized buildings must be returned to their
legitimate owners. And all illegally occupied streets, squares and other
public places in Ukrainian cities and towns must be vacated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Secretary Kerry went on to say while Thursday was a
good day`s work, right now, they are only principles and words on paper and
will be reinforced only by actions that would be taken.
A sentiment President Obama echoed a short time later.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`re not going to
know whether in fact there`s follow-through on these statements for several
days. My hope is that we actually do see follow-through over the next
several days, but I don`t think given past performance that we can count on
that and we have to be prepared to potentially respond to what continue to
be efforts of interference by the Russians in eastern and southern Ukraine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: While the allies were hammering away at a deal,
Russian president Vladimir Putin took to national television in a four-hour
Q&A show where he took a prerecorded question from Edward Snowden and
reportedly referred to southeast Ukraine as "New Russia" and admitted that
Russian troops were active in Crimea before the referendum.
Now, the situation is complicated because not every ethnic Russian in
Ukraine wants to become part of the Russian Federation. On Thursday night,
thousands of people in Donetsk said with no desire to join Russia took to
the streets and held protests. On Friday, Denis Pushilin, the leader of
the pro-Russian separatist group, called the Donetsk Peoples Republic bowed
to ignore the international agreement reached on Thursday until the
government in Kiev resigned. Pro-Russian separatists continue to occupy
administrative buildings in the city of Mariupol, and show no signs of
relenting in spite of being offered amnesty by the Ukrainian government.
Separatists aren`t the only ones continuing the defiance. U.S.
defense officials have told NBC News despite the international agreement
reached, there is no change in the status of some 40,000 Russian troops
encamped along the border with Ukraine.
Joining me now is NBC News correspondent Jim Maceda in Ukraine.
Jim, what`s the latest right now?
JIM MACEDA, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Melissa.
Well, there`s kind of a lull here in eastern Ukraine. Part of it is
due to the Easter weekend, both the Catholic and orthodox Christian
services fall this year on the same day, tomorrow, and the Kiev government
even announced that today that it was suspending for several days that
military offensive to recaptured some of those occupied centers of state
power like police stations and city halls in about 12 different towns
during these holidays.
Though in reality, Melissa, that offensive has been such a major PR
disaster for the Ukrainian military that few really believe that -- few
think that the cease-fire will stop. Part of the lull also, Melissa, is
that the pro-Russian militants are just waiting to see what the other side
is going to do next. Separatist leaders have said that they`re not pulling
out of their positions, for instance, until the members of the Kiev
government resign. But it`s also the case that these very same militants
haven`t expanded those checkpoints or seizures of buildings now for several
Meanwhile, the first OSCE official that arrived here in Donetsk this
evening, to begin monitoring the Geneva deal you mentioned signed Thursday.
But even the OSCE is saying that it sees no indication at all that pro-
Russian militants have the will to deescalate the situation unless, of
course, Russia pushes them to do that, but we`re not seeing that happen --
HARRIS-PERRY: Jim, obviously one of the things that`s been most
alarming in terms of international reports is about these Jewish
registration leaflets. What have you had a chance to find out about that?
MACEDA: That`s right. Well, we know now that the Jewish community
is breathing a little easier. There are 15,000 of them, it`s a small
minority in a city of one million-plus, but it`s come to the conclusion
that the leaflets themselves were a hoax, a provocation.
But that still doesn`t make the chief rabbi of Donetsk any less
angry. He told me yesterday that the very fact that something like this
could happen after so much dark history of anti-Semitism, atrocities
against Jews during World War II, the fascist Nazi occupation, et cetera,
in a country like that over decades it was to him, he said, like a bad
dream come true.
Meanwhile, the alleged perpetrators are still at large. The pro-
Russian separatist leadership as you mentioned in your lead deny any
involvement as all. So, it`s still very unclear who`s behind it, but it
remains a very explosive issue for obvious reasons.
Back to you.
HARRIS-PERRY: NBC`s Jim Maceda in Ukraine -- thank you for joining
Now at the table, Dorian Warren, associate professor of political
science international and public affairs at Columbia University, Nina
Khrushcheva, who`s associate professor of international affairs at the New
School, Dafna Linzer, who`s managing editor at MSNBC.com, and Alexander
Motyl, who`s professor of political science at Rutgers University.
So nice to have you all here.
I want to start with you, Alexander, because I`m interested in --
it`s hard for us to tell from here. But help us understand what are the
relative sizes of the groups within Ukraine that may have differing
positions about this reunification, as some folks would call it, or
takeover of aspects of Ukraine, parts of it with Russia?
ALEXANDER MOTYL, PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, RUTGERS: A number
of public opinion surveys in the last few weeks and then just recently in
the last few days show fairly conclusively that at most, people in the
southeast provinces of Ukraine, those who favor reunification, annexation
or something along those lines with Russia number no more than about 20
percent of the total population of these regions. So, it`s roughly four to
Now, if you go into the two most contested provinces, Luhansk and
Donetsk, there the numbers rise to about 30 percent. There was another
poll just taken yesterday asking people in the southeast, do you consider
Yanukovych to be a legitimate president? Same exact result, 75 percent to
80 percent said he`s illegitimate, 20 percent roughly, 20, 25, said he
might be legitimate.
HARRIS-PERRY: And what`s the fault lines? I mean, is it ethnicity?
Is it an age gap? Is it geography? What`s the primary fault lines?
MOTYL: Well, it`s partly ethnicity. Most of these data aren`t
subdivided along Ukrainian -- ethnic Ukrainian versus ethnic Russian, so
it`s a little hard to say. There`s a presumption that probably more
Russians would be in the camp for annexation than were ethnic Ukrainians
but it might not be the case.
Remember in a province such as Donetsk where the sentiment for
annexation is roughly 28 -- well, actually, it`s exactly 28 percent,
Russians number about 40 percent. So, even if all the Russians -- and so
in other words all of the Russians could not be for it.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, yes, right, right.
MOTYL: So, we don`t know. So there`s that. Then, of course, the
age issue is obviously a very important factor.
So, there was -- just two days ago, there was a significant
demonstration in the city of Luhansk, 2,000 to 3,000 students from the
university. They were there arguing for the retention of Ukrainian unity.
HARRIS-PERRY: Of course.
MOTYL: You go to the other demonstrations where the pro-Russians
are, you find at least in terms of the impressions one gets from the video
footage, lots of old people.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, right, because you end up with that
generational divide in terms of what people think of as legitimate.
So, on the one hand, we have this very complicated internal narrative
about Ukraine and what Ukrainians want. On the other hand, there is the
always obvious and simultaneously inscrutable Putin and what it is that he
is hoping to do with this president. I mean, we were all, as you were
listening to Secretary Kerry saying, oh, we`re not going to put up with any
shows of intimidation and all of us at the table were like, did you see all
the troops over there? What is Putin up to at this point in this process?
NINA KHRUSHCHEVA, THE NEW SCHOOL: Intimidation, that`s exactly what
he`s doing. He has been doing it all along since February. And so, he
unfortunately has been very successful in that, because he doesn`t even
need to attack. He doesn`t even need to use those troops to attack all
those parts of Ukraine, of eastern Ukraine.
The only thing he needs is just to stay there and make sure that any
interested party who wants to go against him or against those who are for
Russia to be with Russia is there to make sure that he can show force, just
in case, so that`s -- when you pointed out the troops are still there, they
will be there. I think they will certainly be there until the elections
that are now scheduled for the end of May. And that`s what his goal is, is
he`s going to keep Ukraine either whole Ukraine or parts of Ukraine as a
buffer between the west and himself because his idea that Russia is being
abused, insulted, lied to by the West, and he`s going to be his own power
HARRIS-PERRY: And there`s nothing in the interim agreement itself
that asks for these troops to be moved.
KHRUSHCHEVA: That`s true.
DAFNA LINZER, MSNBC.COM: That`s right. And you know what, Ukraine
was in a position to resist. They had everything they needed to do that.
They don`t need the United States to resist, they have everything.
But they were divided and, frankly, incompetent. Putin is neither.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, right. That`s right.
LINZER: He doesn`t have any of those problems. So I think the test
language that the president and John Kerry when they used "trust but
verify" but don`t really trust but also have to verify I think is
important. But, you know, again as Nina says, this has been going on for a
long time. If Putin wants a demonstration effect, like the neocons used to
talk about, you know, sort of in the run-up to the Iraq invasion, it`s very
easy for him to do that.
Stay with us, because I want to ask also about sort of why U.S.
public opinion should care and why this matters to us when, you know, in
fact some of the late-night comedians have been showing how few Americans
can kind Ukraine and/or Russia on the map when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: On Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden will meet with
government leaders in Kiev, Ukraine, to underscore the continues U.S.
support for united and Democratic Ukraine. This is Biden`s second visit to
the region in a little more than a month. In March, he visited with Baltic
leaders to reassure them of continued support, in light of Russia`s
annexation of Crimea.
Another U.S. politician visited the Baltic region this week and he
had an interesting idea on how to handle Vladimir Putin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The only thing that Vladimir Putin
understands is strength. There has been the weakest response imaginable,
sanction a few people and one bank. The fact that the United States will
not give defensive weapons to Ukraine, including body armor, night goggles,
jet fuel, spare parts, the fact we will not even give that in fear of
provoking Vladimir Putin only encourages Vladimir Putin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Is the U.S. making things better or worse, Dorian, our
involvement at this point?
DORIAN WARREN, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: You know, I think we just saw a
contrast between old hawkish 20th century notions and understandings of the
problem versus a 21st century diplomatic approach. I think that`s
important for the American public to understand. We do have at least two
approaches to this problem.
It`s very complex. People wanting to make it into a black and white
issue. What is discredited I would hope and John McCain shows this, is
neocon ideology about strength and what --
HARRIS-PERRY: Let`s armed everybody, right.
WARREN: Let`s armed everybody. And we`ve seen that. We walked down
that road many times and seen the outcomes from that. I think what we`re
seeing from the president and the secretary of state and vice president is
a diplomatic -- not that I fully agree with it and I think there`s a lot of
shortcomings but it`s a diplomatic approach and we need more diplomacy, not
less in this moment.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, in the context of diplomacy, Nina, I guess one of
the question, is the U.S. the best player to do that diplomacy? What about
Cameron, what about countries we don`t normally think of as playing this
role? Is there someone else where the Putin situation might be a little
softer than it is between the U.S. and Mr. Putin?
KHRUSHCHEVA: Well, I think we talked about maybe even on this show
that Europe should have been or is, should be the greatest player not only
because Russia is, as Barack Obama, is a regional power but also they
really have infinite investment in Russia. They really have connections.
Angela Merkel, as we all know, speaks Russian. Vladimir Putin speaks
perfect German or very good German. So, the conversation should have been
probably led by Europe. But Europe also has its own shortcomings, as very
close relationship, economic relationship with Russia.
HARRIS-PERRY: The pipelines.
KHRUSHCHEVA: Exactly, those pipelines. So, there`s a lot of it. I
think as Dorian just mentioned, there`s more diplomacy, not less. And on
many different levels, not just saying, oh, we`re going to scare Putin with
our own cannon because he would roll out his cannon and say, my cannon is
bigger than yours.
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, yes, I so believe that he would do that. Probably
shirtless he would.
KHRUSHCHEVA: Absolutely. He`s going to show his man boobs and all
sorts of other things.
So I think that the multi-layer diplomacy, I know sounds very wishy-
washy, but yet I think it`s the solution that probably would work better
than anything else.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, one of the things I want to ask about as we think
about diplomacy but also this impending -- you know, the military presence
that is still there on the border, is there any possibility of the thing
that often happens in other kinds of international crises, which is
humanitarian crisis beginning to emerge, or is this really just kind of a
standoff? Is there any reason to think that the people of Ukraine
themselves could end up in circumstances that are deeply problematic as a
MOTYL: That would require something in the nature of a civil war
essentially. I don`t see that happening. I mean, those 80 percent that I
mentioned before, none of them wants a war, none of them wants a civil war.
Ukraine doesn`t want a war and Ukraine doesn`t want a civil war. So if
something like that were to happen, it would be the initiative either of
Putin`s agents within Ukraine or of these extremists who seized the
So, the ball is in his court. Let me just emphasize one thing, by
the way -- the notion that diplomacy precludes strength or vice versa is
fundamentally incorrect. I would think that the appropriate approach for
the United States and the West in general would be a combination of soft
and hard power.
Something has to be done to assuage Ukrainian nerves. They are
absolutely terrified of some kind of attack, and you can understand them.
And they`re asking for minimal defensive weapons. We`re not talking about
enormous armaments being shipped to Ukraine, but even those sorts of
gestures would assuage their nerves, settle things down a bit, give them
the confidence to proceed.
HARRIS-PERRY: And you don`t think that it would just sort of ramp up
Putin? To see even minor --
MOTYL: If the United States were to supply cannon and things of that
sort, sure. But that`s not the issue.
HARRIS-PERRY: Not body armor and goggles.
MOTYL: We`re talking about defensive weapons of some kind of other.
HARRIS-PERRY: Nina Khrushcheva, Dafna Linzer, and Alexander Motyl,
Dorian is going to stick around -- but thank you to all of you for being
Before we go to break, another update on the South Korean ferry that
sank earlier this week. Officials reported this morning that the death
toll has risen to 32. More than 270 passengers are still missing and
search efforts are continuing, despite rough weather conditions. The
captain of the ship apologized to the family members of passengers aboard
the ship. He was arrested yesterday and is facing five charges, including
Stay with MSNBC throughout the day for the latest developments.
We`ll be right back.
HARRIS-PERRY: The men`s and women`s Final Four, the conclusion to
the national obsession that is the NCAA basketball tournament led to two
winners from one school. Both the men`s and women`s teams from the
University of Connecticut are champions in the same year. Again.
They did this in 2004 and now again in 2014. The only school to have
ever pulled off such a feat, and they have done it twice. But that wasn`t
the main headline coming out of March Madness as far as I was concerned.
The bigger story was what UConn point guard Shabazz Napier said in
the locker room days earlier when asked about the efforts of Northwestern
football players to form a union.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHABAZZ NAPIER, UCONN POINT GUARD: We`re definitely blessed to get a
scholarship to our universities beat the end of the day that doesn`t cover
everything. We do have hungry nights we don`t have enough money to get
food and sometimes money is needed. There are hungry nights that I go to
bed and I`m starving. So, you know, something can change, something should
change but if it doesn`t, at the end of the day, we`ve been doing this for
so long. So --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Eight days after Napier scored his second championship
win and the Final Four MVP, the NCAA indicated that they`re at least
willing to change on one particular issue, snacks.
The NCAA`s legislative council approved a proposal Tuesday to expand
the meal allowance for all athletes. It would allow Division I schools to
provide unlimited meals and snacks to all athletes, including walk-on
players who aren`t on scholarship.
On Friday, NCAA President Mark Emmert said on ESPN Radio that he was
happy the rule is going away and that, quote, "If UConn wants to feed
Shabazz breakfast in bed every day, they can."
Now, again, it`s just an indication that they`re going to be willing
to change. The measure still has to be approved by the NCAA board of
directors this Thursday, April 24th. One day after that, another vote is
going to take place among Northwestern University`s football players. One
that could reshape the landscape of college sports beyond some extra change
for groceries and an occasional pizza.
UConn basketball legend Swin Cash and my panel are going to discuss
HARRIS-PERRY: A potentially historic labor vote will take place this
coming Friday, not in an auto plant or a teachers lounge, but among a group
of college football players who will decide by secret ballot whether or not
they will form a union. They can take this vote because in March, the
Chicago district of the National Labor Relations Board ruled that the
players on the Northwestern University football team were employees of the
school and, therefore, legally entitled to union representation.
It isn`t just the media or players themselves who are curious to know
what will happen next. Many college presidents who could now be considered
employers want to know how this will shake out. According to "The Wall
Street Journal", Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro has been
fielding questions from colleagues around the country in recent weeks and
they want to know more about the NLRB`s decision.
Among the things he had to say, the decision applies only to
Northwestern for now, but not forever. Northwestern University will,
quote, fully exercise its right to campaign against the unionization and
they will fight the decision to the Supreme Court if necessary.
Joining me now to discuss the vote and its implications are Dorian
Warren, associate professor of political science at international and
public affairs at Columbia University, Amy K. Nelson who is correspondent
with "Vocativ", Jemele Hill, who is ESPN columnist and co-host of ESPN 2`s
"Numbers Never Lie", and "ProPublica" reporter, David Epstein, who is
author of the "Sports Gene".
Also joining us from Chicago is Swin Cash, most recently of the
WNBA`s Chicago Sky. She`s a three-time WNBA champion and two-time Olympic
gold medalist and two-time NCAA champion during her days of playing at the
University of Connecticut.
Nice to have you, Swin.
SWIN CASH, EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE, WNBA PLAYERS UNION: Thanks for
HARRIS-PERRY: And let me just start by saying congratulations that
your school did this amazing thing again this year.
HARRIS-PERRY: That was pretty extraordinary to watch.
CASH: Yes, a lot of pride. We`re really happy. I was happy to be
there for the semifinal game for the men and saw the women win it as well,
so it`s exciting.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. So talk to me a little bit, were you at all
surprised to hear Shabazz talk about hungry nights? Is that something that
was stunning, I think, for a lot of people listening?
CASH: Well, I wasn`t surprised because athletes have talked about
this for a very long time. I think more people were surprised that he said
it to the media instead. But athletes have talked about this. It`s been a
conversation that`s been going on for many years.
I have to give credit to Shabazz for just stepping up to the plate
knowing that he could do a great service for other athletes coming behind
HARRIS-PERRY: It does feel like this is a moment where we`re
increasingly seeing athletes even in circumstances where they`re, you know,
possibly vulnerable using their voice to talk about their circumstances,
whether it`s at the pro-level or in this case at the college level.
CASH: You know, a group, whenever you -- I guess I can use the word
suppress a group so long in a number of ways, at some point, someone stands
up and you have to give credit to Northwestern what they`re doing over
there because it only takes one group to actually stand up, have a voice
and stand on principle and up for their rights for other groups and other
organizations or other student athletes in this case that will follow.
So I think everyone across the country is looking at Northwestern
because they understand that this is something that needs to be in the
conversation. It needs to be out there in the forefront and if we`re not
talking about it in the media, then, you know, how can players be able to
stand up for themselves.
HARRIS-PERRY: The other thing, Jamel, that it feels like it does, it
often will reveal the other side in surprising ways. In fact, NCAA
President Mark Emmert said on your air the thing about breakfast in bed.
And that really felt revealing. This kid just won the MVP and he`s
saying I went to bed hungry and your response is, well, good luck with
that. Let them eat cake.
JEMELE HILL, ESPN: Well, it was funny because we actually had
Shabazz Napier and Stefanie Dolson from the women`s team on our show
Friday. And just to make light of how absurd what Mark Emmert said, we
served Shabazz breakfast on air.
HARRIS-PERRY: What did you serve?
HILL: Pancakes, sausage, eggs.
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, the whole deal.
HILL: We know from that night, he didn`t go to bed hungry.
But he admitted in some ways he was using a bit of hyperbole because
he wanted them to understand what this situation is.
Look, the NCAA is not motivated to change. They`re not motivated,
because why would you be when you`ve been able to, as Swin said, suppress
the actual workforce for so long and reap all of the profits. I mean, I
made this sort of analogy before and it`s been made many times in some
I saw a documentary on HBO about pimps and prostitutes. One of the
things the pimp said and I think it was Bishop Don Juan, I`m not mistaken,
trust me, this is not going to a dangerous area, she`s like what is she
about to say -- the five-second delay button ready.
But one of the things he said is that if you`re funding everything,
the person in the workplace, I`m motivated to give them nothing. He`s like
And I think the NCAA, the fact that it used to be a conversation
about whether a bagel was a snack or a meal, they really were having those
conversations, just illuminates just how suppressive they have allowed
themselves to be when it comes to college athletes.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, this is an interesting point. Why not, I`m going
to keep going with the pimp-ho analogy here only because there`s something
here about the fact that now these young men are going to take the vote at
One of the things that we know about abusive relationship, which I`m
going to say a sex worker/pimp relationship is, right, that an abusive or
problematic relationship is sometimes people at the lower part of that
relationship will, even when they have an opportunity supposedly to get out
or to stand up for themselves, sometimes won`t because of the nature of
just presuming that relationship is almost natural. I say all of that to
ask -- do you think there`s any possibility that these young people will in
fact vote not to unionize?
DAVID EPSTEIN, REPORTER, PROPUBLICA: I think there`s a chance. I
think the vote is totally up in the air. We`ve already seen some people
expressing they will vote not to unionize. Their coach, who`s a father
figure for a lot of them, is telling them not to unionize, right? Their
alumni player come back and told them not to unionize.
You know, you think of it in terms of being a certain kind of
brotherhood that they feel some allegiance to, absolutely that`s going to
color their opinion. And then, there are going to be people who might be
worried about how it might affect them on the field or their future there.
So, absolutely, I think it`s totally up in the air. And Northwestern has
expressed its right to fight this unionization and there`s no question
that`s going to change some votes.
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m interested in part in what we were talking about
earlier with college presidents, because if I`m a college president, I can
see why I wouldn`t want the union, right, so why I`d be calling up
Northwestern. I also could see why I would want, because I would want the
NCAA not making the decisions about what happens on my campus. And if I`m
a college president, if I`m college faculty, I want to make the decisions
on my campus.
Do you think there`s any that there are entrepreneurial universities
out there that will say, you know what, you can unionize on our campus
because we see that as presenting an alternative?
AMY K. NELSON, CORRESPONDENT, VOCATIV: Right. The entrepreneurial
universities are the art schools, and our college especially, the ones that
don`t have football and basketball programs. I mean, this is a unified
message that the NCAA sent out in a memo with certain talking points that
not only everyone on team NCAA should be sort of expressing to the media
but it was a clear message of power.
Here we are, we are the governing body and you are members of it and
you need to listen to us and stay on point, on message. Now, are private
conversations happening all the time off the record? Of course. But
you`re not going to see at all -- I`d be very shocked, I don`t know if
anyone here would be, you`re not going to see some renegade college
president stand up and say, you know what, I`m here with you students and
let`s unionize and I`m for it.
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, so much for the great lefty academy.
Hold on for one second. Stay with us because I actually want to ask
you again about this language about the coach telling them not to unionize
when we come back and what we call that in the land of unions when we come
HARRIS-PERRY: The Northwestern football team takes a secret ballot
vote this upcoming Friday on whether to you know you unionize, when the guy
with the biggest athletic budget of all of college sports, about $170
million a year thinks they`re making a mistake. University of Texas
athletic director Steve Patterson told ESPN.com Thursday that he`s listened
to the case being made for unionization and he thinks all of their
grievances are already being addressed and, quote, "the whole thing smells
of guys in the legal profession looking for a fee."
One of the player`s most vocal opponents has been their own head
coach, Pat Fitzgerald, who himself is the university`s highest paid
employee. One more time, he is the university`s highest paid employee,
getting $2.2 million in compensation in 2011.
Shortly after the National Labor Relations Board ruling that made the
players employees, Fitzgerald now their employer, said a spring practice on
April 5th, quote, "I believe it`s in their best interests to vote no. With
the research that I`ve done, I`m going to stick to the facts and I`m going
to do everything in my power to educate our guys. Our university is going
to do that. We`ll give them all the resources they need to get the facts."
As you might imagine, our good friend, Dave Zirin, sports editor at
"The Nation", had some thoughts about that. Quote, "Fitzgerald should
stick to coaching", wrote Zirin, "and get out of the union-busting
Is it union busting, Dorian?
WARREN: Absolutely. And let`s remember in this case, Northwestern
is not a university, it`s an employer and a multibillion dollar industry.
And this is classic. This happens all the time in National Labor Relations
Board election campaigns.
When workers courageously stand up and say, we want to change the
conditions here, what`s the immediate thing any employer does, any boss
does? Intimidation, threats. One out of four workers is fired illegally
by their employer.
Now, Northwestern probably won`t fire their athletes, but you better
believe they are being threatened, they are being intimidated.
Northwestern is using fear right now, and it`s already working because we
already know that some of the players have changed their minds. So, this
happens to workers all the time. It`s the classic anti-union playbook that
Northwestern is using as an employer, not a university.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Swin, let me ask you a question. Given that most
of the union members of professional sports, NFL, NBA, WNBA, were NCAA
players at one time, is there any -- could you imagine a ground swell of
support of adult alum coming back to support these young people in needing
to make these decisions given that they`re dealing with the union-busting
activity of their employers?
CASH: Absolutely. But before I address, let me address Pat
(INAUDIBLE). He needs to take several seats.
First of all, because -- seriously, Pat, you come into these kids`
home, you come to mothers and fathers and talk about how I`m going to take
care of your kid and look out for their best interest. No, you`re looking
out for your own best interest. How can you sit there with a fat check
like that and talk about you care about these players` rights and you have
players that are saying they`re hungry.
Players that are traveling, coming back late night, restaurants and
places aren`t open to get food, like he can go take several seats. I can`t
believe he`s commenting. Coaches, stay out of it.
I think as a player for me that`s on the executive committee with the
WNBA, of course, we would, because players need to have rights. This isn`t
just about players getting money. What I like and what I`m seeing right
now and as Adam Silver, who is the commissioner of NBA, he`s taken the
initiative to try to start conversations with the NCAA to try to talk about
how they can do something on the basketball side to help some of these
players stay in school.
I`m glad that he`s an advocate for change, but we need more people
out there in on this conversation and starting this dialogue in a way that
the players are having more security and being able to stand up for
themselves and get the rights and everything they financially deserve.
Like don`t have a jersey with my number on it but not my name on it,
selling and getting money. Come on.
HARRIS-PERRY: Swin, we know the headline now, Swin Cash tells coach
to have several seats. But part of it is when we look just at the map
across the country, David, of basketball and football coaches, right, in
all of these states, the highest paid public employee is either an athletic
director or a coach. And the idea that states are paying the coaches that
but now we`re saying, oh, no, we couldn`t possibly pay the kids, who in
fact generate the revenue.
EPSTEIN: Yes, I mean, highest paid by a lot in many states ever in
many cases. And what you`re seeing, Pat Fitzgerald is acting like an
employer. I think it`s no secret. He`s protecting sort of his space.
There`s a business model that`s set that limits costs for the employer and
they want to protect that.
And so, I think it`s why it seems like a reasonable ruling that the
regional National Labor Relations Board made.
WARREN: And it`s about power too. It`s the power being threatened
by these universities.
HARRIS-PERRY: Will the NCAA collapse under this?
NELSON: Well, I think there`s actually a huge potential -- collapse,
I think that`s a little --
HARRIS-PERRY: Smush. Will it have a seat?
NELSON: That would be nice. I think a lot of people would love to
see it have a seat.
I think one thing that I really want to highlight here is that these
players this week are under extraordinary pressure to make a very difficult
decision. Make no mistake, Pat Fitzgerald is their boss. You are talking
about how the school essentially is their employer. They have to make a
moral and ethical decision, short term -- potentially damage their short-
term athletic prospects because they`re going against what the coach stated
he`s not in favor are of or look out long-term for the player that say come
HARRIS-PERRY: And they`re 20.
HARRIS-PERRY: And, Swin, I think your point was so important because
he is their employer and I`ve seen it over and over again with recruited
athletes but they act like they`re your parent. And so there`s --
HARRIS-PERRY: My employer doesn`t come sit in my living room and say
nice, friendly things about how they`re going to take care of me, so it
helps you to see, oh, that person is my employer. In this case, the
relationship is modeled.
CASH: Yes. And the other thing, Melissa, I think that people are
also missing, it hasn`t been in the conversation is when I went to UConn,
my scholarship was paid by one of our donors. There`s a lot of
universities now that get -- that donors are paying for scholarships while
people are saying that the money is coming from the universities.
I mean, look at the University of Connecticut. The University of
Connecticut -- I mean when I went there, there were cows on campus. And
now, it`s an unbelievable campus. People talk about UConn because the
basketball program has been a marketing tool that has lured more students
there to pay.
Like there are other layers to this that people aren`t discussing,
but I mean, the coaches coming in and having conversations with parents and
saying you`re going to take care of the kid and now pretty much suppressing
them is outrageous.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you so much, Swin Cash in Chicago. I think
you`re right, there`s a lot more to continue to talk about. With the vote
on Friday, maybe we`ll get a chance to in fact keep talking about it.
Dorian Warren, Amy K. Nelson, Jemele Hill, who I did more words, and
Up next is a different kind of sports star. Our foot soldier is
HARRIS-PERRY: Many kids grow up dreaming of becoming a professional
athlete and our foot soldier of the week, Chef Max Hardy, was one of those
kids. But he made a commitment back in high school that if he didn`t make
it to the NBA, he would still provide a valuable assist in another way, by
cooking for basketball stars, like Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson.
His determination actually got him pretty close to the goal, landing
him in the kitchen of another NBA player and superstar of the New York
Knicks, Amare Stoudemire.
Chef Max used his influence to create One Chef Can 86 Hunger,
foundation to help fight hunger crisis in America. One of the goals of the
program is to educate inner city students on maintaining healthy and cost
effective eating habits.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAX HARDY, CHEF: Let`s collect all the chicken. Let`s get it washed
up so we can get it seasoned.
We have a high crime rate. We have some health issues in Harlem that
we needed to address. As far as obesity, hunger. Our foundation One Chef
Can 86 Hunger. And so, we wanted to come in Harlem and stop and help the
epidemic of hunger and raise awareness at the same time.
UNIDENTIFEID MALE: He`s been awesome. We actually have an actual
chef, star chef. He`s teaching us how to cook and everything. It`s a
great experience. I want to go into culinary arts too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I learned from Chef Max is you have to -- if
you want something, you have to go get it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I get excited for telling people about what I do
and what he`s teaching me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Joining me now is our foot soldier, chef Max Hardy.
So nice to have you here.
HARDY: Thank you for having me.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, tell me -- what is the problem or problems you`re
trying to address with this foundation?
HARDY: Well, you know, One Chef Can 86 Hunger, we`re trying to raise
awareness of hunger in our inner cities and then, you know, 86 hunger which
86 means to end in culinary terms. So, I want to raise awareness and then
end it as well, but at the same type, teaching healthy living and cost
effective ways of doing that.
You think kids have 5 bucks and they go to the bodega and they have
lunch, but actually you can feed your whole family with 5 bucks if you
really try. So, we try to show kids how to make it happen.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. OK, when you say that, like I`m going to pause
on that, because you call that strategic food shopping. What is that?
HARDY: Well, you know, it`s three P`s -- planning, purchasing and
then preparing. You plan it out for the week and then you make that
happen. But I can buy a pound of chicken. I can buy two pounds of
chicken. I can buy my brown rice, bought my broccoli. So, it`s strategic
HARRIS-PERRY: What happened when you`re with the young people and
they encounter food in a way that`s different than going and picking up
packaged food from the bodega?
HARDY: Well, you know, at first they`re stand offish to it because
they`re not used to it. And then when I bring and introduce new things to
them, they say, well, chef, we don`t like that, but let`s try it, let`s
make it a way that she might enjoy, versus doing regular French fries,
let`s do zucchini fries and kind of introduce it in a fun way. And they`re
accepting to it.
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m part of an organization in New Orleans that is
trying to increase the number of minority chefs who are leading in the
countries. We often in the city see different group of the kind of service
staff versus the chefs themselves. Why do you think there is that
HARDY: I think it was never, you know, anything that was, like,
popular. It wasn`t cool to be a chef. It was cool to be a bartender. And
you never get to see chef.
Now that chefs are on TV, on Food Network, and all these shows, now
it`s kind of cool to be a chef. And so, now, we try to raise awareness and
teach kids, you know, that it is good to be a chef.
HARRIS-PERRY: How did you come to love food?
HARDY: You know, my family, there`s always something we had every
Sunday. We sat around the dinner table and talked and loved food. And my
grandmother`s an amazing cook. So, I had to really enjoy cooking because I
wanted to be in the kitchen with her and hang out. So, my mom, she`s an
amazing cook. That`s how it started.
Then, my interest spiked when I realized I wasn`t going to the NBA, I
figure something out to make some money, so I had to really get going.
HARRIS-PERRY: Often our foot soldiers will tell us they start out to
solve a problem but then they end up learning as much from the people
they`re working with. What are the big lessons you`ve learned from the
young people you`ve worked with?
HARDY: Well, it`s simple because, you know, we look at it, we
teaching kids, but at the same time, they`re giving back to me because it`s
fulfilling to see them smile and they make a dish and at the end of it,
wow, it tastes good and it`s healthy for me. So, it`s self-rewarding for
me as well. And the foundation really prides in that. Our whole staff get
to see kids kind of change their lines firsthand, and so --
HARRIS-PERRY: If I`m watching and I`m at home right now in a
completely different town and I`m a great cook and I want to do something,
what would your advice be?
HARDY: It varies. You know, I love healthy eating. That`s kind of
my lifestyle, a change lately, eating healthier. So, I`m already -- like
Spring is here so now it`s time for the spring recipes. So, some
nice avocado salads and zucchini salad and so forth. Spring is my thing
HARRIS-PERRY: I love that.
Thank you. Thank you so much for the work with the young people in
HARDY: Thank you so much for having me.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Max Hardy.
And speaking of spring, in addition to zucchini salad, we want to
bright be up your spring a little. So, we`re asking for you to send to us
pictures of your little ones in all three spring fashions. We`re calling
it Babes in Nerdland. You can tweet us pictures @MHPShow, or #nerdland, or
you can send us the pictures via our Facebook page.
We`re going to pick out our favorites and air them together, that`s I
my little baby bunny right there, A.J., hey.
That`s our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching. I`ll
see you tomorrow morning 10:00 a.m. Eastern.
And now, it`s time for a preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT".
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