'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Sunday, July 20th, 2014
Read the transcript to the Sunday show
July 20, 2014
Guest: Hillary Mann Leverett, Amaney Jamal, Lara Aburamadan, Adrian
Karatnycky, Clarissa Martinez de Castro, Cristina Beltran, Jane Junn, Dana
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning, my question, why does it
take nearly two years to get an immigration court ruling?
Plus, what it means to live in a war zone?
And how the browning of America could reshape the electoral map?
But, first, today`s headlines, 100 years in the making.
Good morning, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
It`s the middle of summer, a time when many of us hope to enjoy little warm
weather and maybe while away lazy hours with friends and family or a good
book and a cold drink. We might even choose not to tune in to the news for
a few days.
But this week was one when the news demanded our attention because suddenly
the consequences of long simmering global tensions became very real. With
Israel`s ground invasion of Gaza, with the death toll there reaching more
than 300 and the shocking downing of Malaysian airlines flight 17, with
that, the world called us out of our summer in attention with grim and
And hundreds are dying when many of them are children, we cannot simply
pretend that we don`t notice. These events require us to pay attention.
You might say we were dragged out of a self-imposed isolation and back into
the middle of world events.
It is not entirely unlike what happened the same month 100 years ago. In
July, 1914, Austria, Hungary declared war on Serbia, beginning the First
World War. The United States had resolved our own wrenching civil war just
barely 50 years prior. We were still an infant on the world stage and had
shown little taste for international engagement.
Then 100 years ago this month the start of World War I initiated global
changes that radically altered the world and America`s place in it, 16
million people lost their lives. Four empires collapsed and the victorious
allied powers divided the territories and colonies of the vanquish as war
Despite its enormous toll, this proved not to be the war to end all wars.
In fact, World War I and the redrawing of national boundaries in its wake
touched off a century of global conflict. America roared into the 1920s,
even as European devastation sewed seeds that were harvested within a
decade as the great depression and ultimately as World War II.
In dividing the Ottoman Empire, the British made promises to both
Palestinians and to Jewish settlers promises that even a century later
continue to stir unrest in the Middle East. And while our country toyed
with receding from global engagement, the World War I reality ended the
practical possibility of American isolationism.
As President Woodrow Wilson said in 1918, on his way to Europe for peace
talks, it is not too much to say. We saved the world and I do not intend
to let the Europeans forget it. World War I laid a foundation on which the
international military and economic power of the United States is now
built. World War I also caused a seismic shift for another nation.
In Russia, the First World War gave way to the (INAUDIBLE) revolution, then
the Russian civil war and ultimately, to the Soviet Union and to its status
as the imperial super power counterpoint to the United States.
The United States and Soviet Union managed strategic alliance throughout
the Second World War, but the ideological tensions and stir of influence
goals meant that the frost of the cold war hardened the ground between us
and them before the income World War II treaties was even dry.
The decades of cold war shaped America`s understanding of ourself, led us
into war in both Korea and Vietnam. It defined and divided the world and
even brought the world to the very edge of global nation (ph).
As durable and un-resolvable as cold war seeing, it just as suddenly seemed
to be over. American President Ronald Reagan demanded that Mr. Gorbachev
tear down this wall and by 1990 the Berlin wall was down. People and goods
began to cross borders and seemed impossible only a few years earlier. And
by the end of 1991, the Soviet Union itself was over. In American eyes we
were the victors. We were the only super power left in the world. In less
than 100 short years, we`d won.
But the limitations of our standing in the world, the constraints on our
super power became painfully clear this week. A civilian aircraft with 298
people onboard was shot out of the sky on Thursday, 298 lives lost. Our
government clearly believes it was the work of Ukrainian separatists,
separatists who, for months, had the support and the weapons the Russian
government who have recently been taking credit for shooting military
aircraft out of the sky.
We sent our ambassador to the United Nations to make the case that Russia
is ultimately to blame for the deaths of those 298 people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAMANTHA POWER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: This appalling attack
occurred in the context of a crisis that has been fueled by Russian support
for separatists for arms, weapons and training and by the Russian failure
to follow through on its commitments. This war can be ended. Russia can
end this war. Russia must end this war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: And much of European history, the violent deaths of 298
civilians, most of them Europeans, caused by a foreign nation in such a
public way might well been the spark that sent fire to the tender buck of
tension, lead to war.
But now, almost exactly 100 years since we began our ascendants to the
world`s only super power, the landscape is dramatically different. The
United States is laying the blame for 298 civilian deaths at the feet of
Russia. We are doing so in front of the entire world. We are doing so
after warning President Putin, again and again not to take another step as
he sees Crimea from a sovereign nation and supported separatists in that
nation and thumb his nose the world. And yet, we, the final super power in
the world, are left making an impassioned, but toothless plea for action.
Without the ability to credibly threaten military action, without the
assurance that we can rally allies even when they have sustained such
staggering losses with the foe we thought we vanquished essentially
unaccountable even for shocking civilian deaths, the hard earned century of
power doesn`t feel particularly super.
Joining me now Hillary Mann Leverett, professor that school of
international service at American University and author of the book "Going
to Terrain," Colonel Jack Jacobs. Medal of Honor recipient and MSNBC
military analysts, Adrian Karatnycky who is a senior fellow at the Atlantic
council`s program on TransAtlantic relations, and Amaney Jamal, associate
professor of politics at Princeton University and author of "Empires and
It is so nice to have you all here. What did I get wrong?
ADRIAN KARATNYCKY, SENIOR FELLOW, ATLANTIC COUNCIL. Well, the one thing
you got wrong was that, which is part of the problem, is that in the
consequence of the First World War, one empire did not collapse. The
Russian empire, in a sense, was reconstituted as a multinational state now
found by an ideology of, you know, Marxism as opposed to orthodox
Christianity and monarchic values. And I think --
HARRIS-PERRY: So that becomes the imperial power in the world?
KARATNYCKY: So it becomes a kind of it persists and it has a series of
multi-ethnic problems and one of the biggest problems that Russia that the
Soviet Union confronts is the non-Russian nationalities which eventually in
1991 through after a period of ferment because of (INAUDIBLE)
liberalization began to kind of unravel.
All this is relatively peacefully handled. Few hundred lives are lost and
struggles. There is a pretty violent struggle in the caucuses between
Armenia and (INAUDIBLE). But -- and then some killings in the Baltic`s.
But pretty much for the collapse of a multi-national state, it`s pretty
And you have general acceptance for the Russian lead for about a decade of
this state of affairs. Then you have other separatist movements occurring
in Russia which bring forward much more, I would say nationalistic
relations, meaning the Chechnya crisis. At that point, you have the return
of the security forces back into the elite, back into the leadership of the
country. The (INAUDIBLE) had been the KGB leader who had led the end years
of the Soviet Union. But Mr. Putin comes in is implanted after a political
leader Boris Yeltsin, a fairly effect was president. He begins to move
gradually to consolidate power and he has a different vision. He has a
vision that that ten years is an anomaly and he wants some way of bringing
gathering first economically and maybe through military packs, but maybe
through the re-creation of a unitary state. And I think we`re dealing with
Mr. Gorbachev -- Mr. Putin, currently not knowing which of those various
options he wants. He`s testing. He`s probing what he can get away with.
HARRIS-PERRY: So even as is -- so what you`ve done there is to flush out
that complexity on the other side, that other super power, that I just sort
of said the wall came down and then it was over, right?
But I guess I`m also wondering. Have I overstated the case that we`re
toothless in our plea here to the U.N.? Do we, in fact, have more power
than I`m feeling like we have on this day?
HILLARY MANN LEVERETT, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: Well, we do continue to have
an incredible amount of power. We are still the world`s, at this point,
world`s most important and most consequential power. But what I would also
say is missing from the narrative between World War I and World War II and
the current day, is that for all great powers and I think this is going to
happen and is happening to the United States, the pursuit of absolute
dominance and the defeat of other powers that are natural powers in the
world, regardless of who, whether it`s Putin or somebody else, that pursuit
by a power of absolute dominance to defeat that other power has been
disastrous, whether it`s Nazi, Germany, or any other case that you want to
And so, today, regardless of the demonization that I think is going on
about Putin, and that`s not to say that I think he`s a great guy, but this
propensity to demonize him in a defeatist attitude that they have been
defeated and the United States is and will remain the absolute power is
something that is so dangerous for ourselves. It has led to the erosion of
American power which then equates to weakness because people then see.
Well, you invaded Iraq and you couldn`t do anything. You destroyed
Afghanistan and couldn`t do anything and same thing with Syria. And now,
what are you going to do with Ukraine? You are putting forward to check
you can`t (INAUDIBLE).
OK. And so, I want to play on that notion of the check that you can`t cash
in part, Colonel. Because, you know, even as I was writing and thinking
and even as I was reading in those moments, I know it can sound like what
I`m doing there is beating the drum beat of war and saying that unless we
go to war against Mr. Putin, unless we bring military action. But it does
feel like there is something about the fact that that is entirely off the
table. But maybe I`m overstating that, as well. It just feels like there
is both no tastes for it in a way that then allows a power like Mr. Putin
in this case to behave in ways that 100 years ago may not have accepted.
COL. JACK JACOBS, MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST: I don`t think you`re going too
far. As a matter of fact, I would take it a step further. Not only don`t
have the -- we don`t have the political will to use the military instrument
of power. I don`t think we have the political will to use any instrument
of power either.
Take a look at the use of our economic instrument. President of the United
States says, we`re really going to go after these guys, we`re going to go
after Russia and we`re really going to squeeze them economically. It`s
another round of sanctions.
But if you take a look at what the sanctions are, who they`re affecting and
how much of the Russian economy it is actually affecting, you realize a lot
of it is just rhetoric. And you mention the whole idea of getting the
Europeans who actually suffered as a result of that, if you take a look at
the exchanges and Dutch social media about what`s going on. How the Dutch
ought to respond with people beating the drums. So we need to do something
You get quite a few people responding by saying, you know, we get most of
our natural gas from Russia and winter`s coming. You`re not going to get a
response from us. You`re not going to get a response from people who are
directly affected by this. No, I don`t think you`re going overboard.
HARRIS-PERRY: Everybody stick with me. We have so much more on this.
But when we come back, the latest from Ukraine and the scene of the downed
Malaysian airline flight 17, it`s up next.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to bring you the latest on the downing of Malaysia
airlines flight 17 that killed 298 people onboard on Thursday.
The plane was shot over the sky as it traveled over the part of Ukraine,
controlled by Russian-backed separatists. Investigators have been hindered
by armed separatists at the crash site who have reportedly been moving
evidence away from the area, including one of the plane`s black box
European leaders have demanded that Russia push the rebels to step aside
and allow the investigators to work. And this morning U.S. secretary of
state John Kerry spoke with NBC`s David Gregory on "Meet the Press" to all
but put the blame at Russia`s feet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: There is a stacking up of evidence here
which Russia needs to help account for. We are not drawing the final
conclusion here, but there is a lot that points at the need for Russia to
be responsible. We must have un-feathered access. And the lack of access,
the lack of access, David, makes its own statement about culpability and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: NBC News correspondent Keir Simmons has been covering the
story from the ground in Ukraine and this morning filed this report.
KEIR SIMMONS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: This is a section of the plane`s
tail behind me. There are pieces all across the countryside here. What is
stunning is that we are able to stand here and I certainly never
experienced anything like this. We were able today to walk through the
wreckage effectively with bits of the plane on either side of us admittedly
those areas were cordoned off because further down is the heart of the
crash. A whole field of scorched earth and pieces of the engine, what look
like the fuselage and work is still there looking for the victims of all
We are told now that the bodies that they been found have been removed from
here. But they are in still in the hands of the Russian supporting
separatists militia who control this region.
Now, we`re told that they have taken them to a refrigerated train car
nearby. The question is, when will they be moved on and where will they go
to, claiming relatives around the world waiting to get their loved ones
Another question. How will investigators be able to get here to begin
looking for clues and establish exactly what happened. Remember, Melissa,
this is a war zone. Times in the last few days, we have been able to hear
the sound of artillery. It is always possible that the ever-moving front
in this battle will move across this site making it much more dangerous
than it is now and that is what investigators will be having to consider
while they try to plan to come and carry out this air accident
investigation -- Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: That was Keir Simmons reporting from Ukraine.
We have much more still to come this morning. Up next, the case for
keeping your weapons at home.
HARRIS-PERRY: A focal point of the investigation and of the rhetoric
around the downing Malaysian airlines flight 17 is that the weapon that was
used to shoot it down, the Ukrainian government and its allies including
the United States has been making the case that the plane was likely shot
down by Ukrainian separatists with a weapon supplied by agents of the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We know that they are
heavily armed and that they are trained and we know that that`s not an
accident. That is happening because of Russian support. A group of
separatists can`t shoot down military transport planes or they claim shoot
down fighter jets without sophisticated equipment and sophisticated
training. And that is coming from Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Amaney, for me, listening to our President, our
secretary of state, our ambassador to the U.N. make this claim, I get why,
but it also, my first thought was, do you know how many people we have
armed, we, being the United States. Many of whom are now opponents, but
who at the time we understand as allies, how far back does culpability
reach if, in fact, it`s just about having armed someone?
AMANEY JAMAL, POLITICS PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Well, it can drag
on. The effect of that can drag on and the U.S. now finds itself in a
situation where if it basically allows itself very closely to Ukraine as it
wishes to, you know, what extent is it going to tip the balance over where
it`s going to full fledge confrontation on the ground with Russia.
Obviously, the U.S. is trying to avoid that.
LEVERETT: But we are in the so-called freedom fighters in Afghanistan
against the soviets and they, surprise, surprise came back here on 9/11 and
took it to risk here. This basis of moral superiority that we stand on is
dangerous for the United States. It`s not about protecting Putin.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right --
LEVERETT: We have taken down a civilian airliner before. We have covered
up -- we have blocked international investigation and covered up, lied
about and decorated the commanding officers in charge. The problem here is
not what Putin or Russia may or may not have done. We need to get out of
this international business of being police, finder of fact, trier and
HARRIS-PERRY: That doesn`t work and it diminishes and hurts.
KARATNYCKY: Hold on. The argument that you`ve just made is the same, is
an argument for Mr. Putin. Why what Mr. Putin doing is extremely dangerous
for him. That is to say he is arming irregular forces. He is raising
expectations. And he is something --
LEVERETT: Let Russian powers suffer because of this. As an American I do
want to see the divide of American power.
KARATNYCKY: I`m arguing that if you look, if you read what the debate that
has been going on in Russia, there has been a comeback by what we would
call the pragmatic and the business elite which is very concerned about
already the dangers about foreign direct investment, about the collapse of
the decline of the Russian stock market several years of stagnation, the
potential of alternative energy.
HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, Colonel Jack, part of, I mean, this is a reality
even for the men and women who serve on the ground. So, you know, we were
going back and looking at images of Donald Rumsfeld with Saddam Hussein at
one point because at one point we understand Saddam Hussein as an ally to
the American interests and then later it becomes the central concern to
remove him from power.
Many of the producers who work on my show are quite young and we have a
whole learning session of Iran contra and sort of what all those aspects
were. And yet because they are farther back in time we don`t think of our
nation as culpable and responsible for the horrors that emerge despite the
fact that weaponry training and sort of cover, political cover were given
to these things.
JACOBS: Well, everybody makes political decisions in the moment and they
don`t think -- they don`t roll the tape forward. You know, when you`re on
Wall Street and you make a decision to make an investment, for example, in
theory before you sign the check, you`re supposed to ask the question, what
can go wrong? And we would expect people on the west wing of the White
House to do exactly the same thing. But nobody does that to any greater or
You mention Saddam Hussein, the most surprise person in the universe when
we went into Iraq was Saddam Hussein to say, wait a minute, I`m your guy.
I`m trying to keep the Iranians at bay and you`re invading me.
Every decision that we make we do in the moment and the consequences, the
unintended consequences we never really think of.
HARRIS-PERRY: But I wonder then, does that change that sort of like
American world -- so, if we are saying that as a super power, the nature of
power is different in this new world, if it`s not going to be military,
should it also not be a sort of framed morality that is, in fact, not quite
JAMAL: We should use the international institutions that we wrote, that we
created. We should use them. We should push for an impartial
investigation and then stand back.
HARRIS-PERRY: Stick with us, you may have heard today was supposed to be
very, very big day on the calendar. Major international news, not about
Ukraine, not about Russia, not about Israelis or Palestinians, but another
major international news story that was supposed to happen today, it
didn`t. That`s next.
HARRIS-PERRY: After a decade long standoff between Iran and the
international community over the country`s nuclear aspirations, today was
supposed to be the day that an agreement between Iran and six of the
world`s most powerful nation put that question to rest.
The talks between Iraq and the six nations, including the United States,
were to have culminated with an agreement for Iran to put long-term
restrictions on its weapons capability in exchange for the lifting of
sanctions against Iran.
But yesterday, all seven countries released a joint statement announcing
that the one agreement they had reached at the end of the talks was on the
need for more talking. Citing significant gaps on some core issues,
diplomats decided on a four-month extension and a new deadline of November
The stalemate in Iran and nuclear negotiations which would have been the
biggest headline out of the Middle East today has taken a back seat to the
continuing escalation of violence in Gaza. A heavy blasts (ph) of tank
shells from the Israeli army that began last night and continue in to the
morning sent thousands in eastern Gaza fleeing from their homes and killed
at least 60 Palestinian people.
Today, both sides consented to a two-hour humanitarian cease-fire requested
by the Red Cross to allow medics to treat injured Palestinians. But
fighting began again less than an hour after an agreement on the temporary
truce when the Israeli army said it had resume combat operations after
being shot at by Hamas.
The latest reports we have indicate both sides may be trying again with a
two-hour extension of the original cease-fire agreement. We`ll have the
latest on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in just a moment.
But first I want to go to NBC News White House correspondent Kristen
Kristen, let me ask you about that nuclear arms deal with Iran. The
administration agreed to the extension, but how much hope is there now that
any deal could be reached even with four more months to work it out?
KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you recall
President Obama said when these talks first started. He thought there was
about a 50/50 percent chance that they would actually get a broader deal
done. And I think that consistent with the thinking inside the
administration today, the administration says, look, it was worth extending
these talks because they have seen progress. They argue that Iran has
capped part of its nuclear stockpile. They say that it has not installed
new centrifuge and perhaps most importantly had allowed some international
inspectors in to view its nuclear program but senior administration
officials say there`s still large gaps. And so, that is why it was worth
it to give this four-month extension.
But to give you a sense of those gaps, Melissa, you recall that just last
week that David Gregory spoke with Iran`s foreign minister who said that
Iran sees no advantage to developing a nuclear weapon. Those comments met
with fierce criticism here on both sides of the aisle. Lawmakers who said
that was just a ridiculous notion.
So that gives you a sense of just how far apart all of these sides are.
Not surprisingly, the President did get some criticism, particularly, from
conservatives who say that this deal shouldn`t have been extended.
Chairman Ed Royce of the House foreign affairs committee said this. He
said, quote, "it looks like the Iranians want extra time with a good
cop/bad cop routine." Royce is among those who is calling for stiffer
And Melissa, just looking forward a little bit, there is going to be a lot
of pressure on the administration to either get a deal done by that
November deadline or to enact different sanctions if that doesn`t happen --
HARRIS-PERRY: Kristen Welker at the White House, thank you so much for
joining us this morning.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to bring us back into this conversation and actually
go to precisely what Kristen was talking about there, Amaney. Let`s play a
little bit of that "Meet the Press" moment where there was an attempt by
the Iranian foreign minister to shift the paradigm on what Iran might want
relative to nuclear weapons. Let`s take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: I do not believe that you
need inculcate this mentality that you feel it doesn`t make anybody safe.
Have they made Pakistan safe? Have they made Israel safe? Have they made
the United States safe? Have they made Russia safe? All these countries
are susceptible. 9/11 proved that no amount of military power makes you
safe. So, we need to live in a different paradigm and that`s what we are
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So here is calling for a different conception of what power
even is and constitutes. And we just heard from Kristen Welker that was
met with fierce criticism.
JAMAL: Well, it is very alarming. I mean, the idea is there is that if
Iran has a nuclear weapon, it`s not going to shift and not a game changer
in the region and, of course, a nuclear Iran would very much be a game
changer in the region, not only for U.S. strategic interest, but also for
the gulf countries and then also Israel.
So, this is a big concern. These talks I think have produced some results,
not the results that we want. Otherwise, I don`t think they would have
been extended for another four months. The fact that the extension has
also been accompanied by de-freezing some of the assets that the U.S. has
frozen is also a promising sign, perhaps a positive sign. And the U.S.
administration is really hoping that by the November deadline we will
(INAUDIBLE) agreement, at least the party should be closer together on
JACOBS: Let me give you one brief statistic that will tell you how far we
are apart. We want Iran to have no more than 5,000 high-speed gas
centrifuges. They want to have 200,000. That alone will tell we are so
far apart that I think it is --
LEVERETT: That doesn`t quite right. I mean, the point is completely
right. We are fundamentally completely far apart. But they have actually,
because of the changing nature and because the United States I think so
desperately wants to accept Iran as a power because we can`t overthrow it,
they have changed the whole vocabulary.
So it`s not actually 200,000 centrifuges. What they`re talking about is
190,000 separative (ph) work units because this is what they`re going to
roll out over the next four months. And we`re actually not really to
talking about centrifuges because centrifuges have different generations.
So the Iranians will face their old ones, they will get new ones. At the
end of the day, this will be a PR package. If we can swallow it that will
allow you on to have indigenous enrichment on its own soil, independent
HARRIS-PERRY: So look, you know, I have to say. As I was listening to
that "Meet the Press" interview, you know, and this is probably, I haven`t
seen why I should not be sentenced to be a diplomat. But I was buying what
he was selling. Like I appreciated the notion of a new paradigm of what
LEVERETT: You know, I was in the Bush administration. I served both
administrations, Clinton and Bush in the White House. I had had to resign
from Bush administration over disagreement on Middle East policy. And one
of the issues was over Iran.
The Bush administration was getting ready, had plans to bomb Iran. In
2007, the CIA was so disturbed by that that for the first time ever they
made public their consensus view that Iran was not building nuclear
weapons. That stopped the Bush administration dead in its tracks.
And from 2007 until today, there has never been any real accusation from
the U.S. government itself that they`re building nuclear weapons. This
idea that they want nuclear weapons is something that we have created to
use to try to undermine them.
HARRIS-PERRY: We are going to shift our focus. When we come back we are
going to talk about quite specifically about the different way of thinking
about conflict. We are going to lived (ph) experience in Gaza when we
HARRIS-PERRY: Each day as we take the measure of the Israeli/Palestinian
war we tell the story by the numbers, the daily tally of how many
airstrikes conducted, how many rockets fired, and how many soldiers on the
ground. But those numbers don`t come close to adding up the human cost of
what it means to live life under siege.
Earlier this week, we watched the reality of that lived experience unfold
live in a report from NBC News correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin who has been
in Gaza covering the fighting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AYMAN MOHYELDIN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: We started seeing a chaotic scene
of children running down there and pulling bodies out of the scene of
explosion. What we learned immediately afterwards it was kids that were
playing there. And in fact, just minutes before we entered the hotel
returning back to our hotel, I had actually stopped and started playing
with these little boys in front of our hotel kicking the soccer ball
around. We went our separate ways and minutes later we heard these
explosions. It turned out that the boys that we were speaking to right
before we went inside were those very same kids that were killed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: The grief of the Palestinian mother reacting to the news
that her son was one of the boys who was killed lays bare the toll of the
war, not only on the lives of those lost, but also those who are left to
live through it.
Joining me now from Gaza NBC News correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin.
Ayman, it is very nice to see you. Tell me the latest on what you`ve been
seeing in terms of this question of the lived experience.
AYMAN MOHYELDIN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Melissa, right now the situation
has been focused on the eastern part of the Gaza Strip. It is this scene
of some of the most intense fighting since the Israeli ground invasion
And, obviously, as there always is, there are two sides of the developments
that happened today. According to Israeli sources, part of the ground
invasion that was unfolding as it has over the past several days involved
some heavy fighting. And we understand from Israeli sources that there was
an attack on an entry point by some of the Israeli forces that entered in
the eastern part of the Gaza Strip known as (INAUDIBLE). And it was there
that the Israeli military suffered casualties and catastrophic attack on
one of their vehicles right there.
And right now, as the result of that, the Israelis sent in more
reinforcements that led to heavy bombardment of the eastern part of the
As a result of that shelling, there was a spike in the casualties today.
According to Palestinian medical sources, at least 60 people, including
women and children killed alone today making it one of the deadliest days
so far for Palestinians in Gaza.
Now, we had a chance to go to the morgue a few hours ago in this
humanitarian cease-fire that the Israelis allowed Palestinian paramedics
and residents of the area to go into that neighborhood, recover some of the
bodies that were killed in the fighting to recover some of the injured,
some of those that have been trapped, not able to get to medical
facilities. A lot of them were evacuated during this humanitarian cease-
And at the scene of that morgue, it was a very chaotic scene, very
emotional and a lot of tensions, if you will, as families were identifying
bodies. Some of them collapsing in grief after realizing they were the
relatives that had had been killed in the fighting. And you can probably
hear off in the distance some of that soft shelling. That is the sound of
Israeli artillery and air strikes continuing to bombard the Gaza Strip,
HARRIS-PERRY: Ayman, thank you so much for your reporting. Stay safe.
Joining me now from Gaza is someone who lives with the reality of war every
day. Lara Aburamadan is a Palestinian journalist, translator and a
freelance photographer who lives in the center of Gaza city and she joins
me this morning via Skype.
Lara, very nice to see you this morning.
LARA ABURAMADAN, PALESTINIAN JOURNALIST: I can`t hear you. Can you
HARRIS-PERRY: Lara, are you able to hear me?
ABURAMADAN: Yes, I can hear you now.
HARRIS-PERRY: Tell me, what is it we need to know that the world needs to
know about the daily experience you`re living with in Gaza?
ABURAMADAN: We are experiencing that every day and every night, we cannot
sleep well at night. We are stuck in our homes for a lot of days. I can`t
count them to now because they are a lot.
We don`t have electricity on the most of the buildings now. And I can hear
some shelling now in the eastern Gaza Strip. We are doing live stream now
from our apartment. We are living at the 11th floor now and we can see the
north and the south of Gaza Strip.
We cannot just get out from our home. There`s no people in the streets and
there`s no work, no schools and not even markets and some of the buildings
have no water until now.
HARRIS-PERRY: For so many of us, the death of children has been part of
the hardest reality to cope with. For children who are living through the
circumstances you just discussed, how are parent talking to them about it?
How are they managing it?
ABURAMADAN: During the bombing, I just hear the screaming of the children
are screaming and crying around the area. And a lot of the children now
are afraid and they have some psychological impacts now. They just cannot
sleep like any normal child at night. They cannot just go and play like
any normal child also.
Also, I think that it`s hard for them to see or to know that some other
children and civilian children were killed like them. So, I think they are
afraid and they just didn`t know what they are going to do.
I think that their parents are very afraid about them. They just cannot
tell them to --. They hold them in their arms and just try to get the fear
out from them. But they cannot because the bombing is still going and
HARRIS-PERRY: Lara Aburamadan, thank you so much for joining us. And
thank you for the live stream that allows all of us to see what you are
seeing. Thank you.
ABURAMADAN: You are welcome. Thanks.
HARRIS-PERRY: When we come back, I`m going to bring my panel back in. I
want to talk to my friend and colleague Amaney Jamal about this question of
the lived experience and whether or not anything justifies this kind of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Imagine what Israel is going
through. Imagine that 75 percent of the U.S. population is under rocket
fire and they have to be in bomb shelters within 60 to 90 seconds.
So, I`m not just talking about New York, New York, Washington, Chicago,
Detroit, San Francisco, Miami, you name it. That`s impossible. You can`t
live like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu speaking earlier
this morning with CNN`s Wolf Blitzer.
So Amaney, there we have the prime minister of Israel talking about the
lived experience of the people of Israel. We talked to some folks with
lived experience in Gaza. It seems like such madness this is causing so
much fear and loss for so many.
JAMAL: It is absolutely senseless and it is really shameful what`s
happening here. I mean, this indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas in
Gaza as a deterrent to Hamas is not going to yield any results. We know
this. We have been there. We have seen this. This is just the killing of
innocent children on the ground. It just really has to stop. And the fact
that there is no outcry from the world community, the U.S., Europe, United
Nations has been really set on this is really, really shocking.
It`s sending the message that Palestinian life does not matter. That
Palestinians have no, in it, have no other alternative to resort except to
exercise violence against Israel because the world community does not take
We know, Melissa, we know that Hamas is engaged in durable cease-fires with
Israel. That this is not the status quo, that there have been moments of
peace and calm between Israel and Hamas. The question, the real issue, the
core issue the most that nobody is talking about is that Gaza has been
under siege, especially since Morsi`s departure.
There was a tunnel industry that had brought in some revenue to Gaza, but
since Morsi`s departure, the tunnels have all been but destroyed and there
is no revenue. There is no economic growth. People are devastated, very -
HARRIS-PERRY: So what should we make then of the response that I have been
hearing over the course of the past week, week and a half from Israel
saying we bombed civilian targets because Hamas uses civilians to hide
their weaponry and the resistance.
JAMAL: So then we just go in and we kill children because of that. I
mean, we either, you either think of a strategic way of removing Hamas that
is not about dropping bombs on children. I mean, this is in complete
violation of every international law, on human rights conventions and so
forth. You just don`t drop bombs on civilian populations.
Now yes, Hamas is striking bombs at Israel. But we know that a military
resolution is not going to come about this. There needs to be a political
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So on exactly -- let`s listen to secretary of
state John Kerry talking about this latter part that you just said which
is, what else is Israel meant to do but this? Then I`ll come to you
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: Israel has been under attack by rockets. I don`t think any nation
in the world would sit there while rockets are bombarding it and you know
that there are tunnels from which terrorists have come, you know, jumping
up in the dead of night, some with handcuffs and with tranquillizer drugs
on them in an obvious effort to try to kidnap people and then hold them for
The fact is, that is, that is unacceptable by any standard anywhere in the
world. And Israel has every right in the world to defend itself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Colonel Jacobs?
JACOBS: I don`t disagree. I do agree that a military solution, there
isn`t going to be military. Trying to solve political problems by military
means whether you`re Israel or you`re Hamas is not going to work, will
LEVERETT: But there is a legal solution that we have repeatedly blocked
the United Nations and that is to allow a state of Palestine to sign up to
adhere to the international criminal court. Which we, Samantha Power, our
ambassador there has made it her number one priority every month to meet
with institutional institutions and block the entry to the state of
Palestinian to get legal protection.
Legal protection would constrain Israeli power and that`s why we oppose it.
But it would also constrain Hamas. That`s why it`s an equitable, legal,
durable solution. But we have continued to block it. That, the one state
with only one-state solution.
HARRIS-PERRY: That notion that the U.S. is the primary actor here. And
clearly, we are an important actor. But I`m wondering if there is a way
U.S. involvement, in part of mind, because what part about of you were
saying is that you feel there hasn`t been sufficient outcry. And so, part
of what we hear is that for Hamas, there is a strategic interest in
generating more human suffering in order to create the international -- I`m
suggesting that this is, this is what we hear. That strategic interest is
and that -- and so, what we hear often from those on the sort of official
side of Israel is, yes, this seems like this horror, but we are not alone
in generating this horror.
JAMAL: Right. So, let`s just look back. You have the Gaza Strip. It`s
home to 1.8 million Palestinians. It so happens that Hamas rules the Gaza
Strip. Gaza is not going to go away. It was elected and whether or not it
still enjoys the same levels of popularity, but it is there.
Gaza has been completely shut off from the rest of the world. Nothing goes
really into Gaza. People can`t leave Gaza. People are just basically
imprisoned on that strip of land. You have to give the people of Gaza the
right to life. That`s for where the premise starts from. We are going to
have a cease-fire. There should be an immediate cease-fire. But after the
cease-fire, the people of Gaza need to be able to have a dignified life.
They need to be protected. They can`t be basically held hostage by Israel,
day in and day out and now Egypt. And the United States needs to play a
more honest role in securing an outcome that is going to give the
Palestinians the right to live.
HARRIS-PERRY: Is that possible?
JACOBS: No. It`s not possible. I do like the idea of multi-national
involvement. That`s the only way that people with any capability.
JAMAL: But any time they go to the United Nations, the U.S. blocks it. It
has been multi-national efforts to resolve this. The world opinion is far
more favorable. The U.S. exercises its veto day in and day out at the U.N.
to block Palestinians from having a decent standard of living.
JACOBS: Well, it`s going to require. If you want a multi-national
solution to this problem, it`s going to require people not just the United
States, but other nations involved and they do not --
JAMAL: Most of the world comes down on the side of this humanitarian
crisis cannot persist.
LEVERETT: A body of international that came out of World War II and came
out of the persecution of the Jewish people. There is a body of
international law that was institute and that was created with the U.S.
hand, with Europeans. So this would never happen to another people again.
They are a protected civilian population under occupation. That`s the law.
The United States should get out of the way.
HARRIS-PERRY: Hillary Mann Leverett, Colonel Jack Jacobs, Amaney Jamal,
thank you. Adrian is actually going to stick around a bit longer.
Coming up next, we will have the latest on the downing of Malaysian
airlines flight 17, plus the ongoing humanitarian crisis at the border and
the story of our changing nation.
More MHP show at the top of the hour.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
We begin this hour with the very latest on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
The plane allegedly shot down by the surface-to-air missile on Thursday.
That missile reportedly fired from an area of Ukraine controlled by pro-
Russian separatists, according to the U.S. government. The attack took the
lives of the 298 passengers and staff onboard.
Global forces have spent the past three days working to determine who is at
fault, the Russian and Ukrainian governments have denied involvement in the
downing of the plane, as have separatists in Ukraine. This morning, the
leader of the separatists said that they have control of the plane`s black
box and plan to turn it over to international civilian aviation officials.
Earlier this morning, the Ukrainian national security and defense council
spokesman had accused the separatists of hiding evidence of a Russian
missile. He also said that Russia had placed troops and heavy weaponry
along Ukraine`s border.
The Malaysian minister of transport has also expressed concern of the
integrity of the crash site being compromised.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIOW TIONG LAI, MALAYSIAN TRANSPORT MINISTER: Interfering with the scene
of the crash risked undermining the investigation itself. Any action that
prevents us from learning the truth about what happened to MH17 cannot be
tolerated. Failure to stop such interference would be a betrayal of the
lives that we lost.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: This morning, the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry
appeared on NBC`s "Meet the Press" and continued to build the pressure on
Russian President Vladimir Putin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: It is clear that Russia supports the separatists, supplies the
separatists, encourages the separatists, trains the separatists, and Russia
needs to step up and make a difference here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Let`s go live now to Moscow and NBC News correspondent Jim
Jim, what is the response in Moscow to the statements coming from the
United States and else where around the world, clearly assigning this
culpability to Putin and his government?
JIM MACEDA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that`s right.
Well, Putin has publicly blamed Ukraine already. He did that on Friday for
the tragedy because, basically, the Ukrainian army he said broke the cease-
fire and then there wouldn`t be -- there wouldn`t have been this tragedy if
there had been a cease-fire.
Now, he wouldn`t comment, he said he would not comment on that, again, on
the investigation until there were some results. And he stuck pretty much
The Kremlin has gone silent since Friday on the Malaysia Air crash. It did
say yesterday, however, that it was adding 12 Americans to its own travel
ban list in retaliation, the Kremlin said, for the latest round of U.S.
sanctions imposed on Russia last week.
But other government officials, Melissa, have stepped up. There has been a
lot of social media expression of a generalized anger here felt by Russians
against what one official calls the West geopolitical frenzy, what they see
as an indictment of Putin and Russia before any investigation of the facts
has even begun.
One of Putin`s closest advisors, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov,
tweeted yesterday that the U.S. was, quote, "acting like a bad surgeon who
cuts deeper and then sews things up sloppily so that it hurts even longer."
And that pretty much reflects what Russians have been telling us today. We
spoke to a whole array of Russians in the streets. They feel the same, the
same thing that they simply wouldn`t trust anything that the Ukrainian
military or the Ukrainian government says just as the Ukrainians shouldn`t
or wouldn`t expect to believe anything they see on Russian state TV. And
that`s because there is a deep seed propaganda war being fought out here
parallel to the real war in Ukraine.
Now, all of the Russians we spoke with today said they support Putin, but
that they would reconsider that if he was found even partially guilty by an
independent inquiry. They all said Western headlines like Putin`s victims
or Putin`s missile are just wrong. They said they thought that was
extremely over the top, emotional and very unhelpful.
Melissa, back to you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Jim Maceda in Moscow, thank you so much for your continued
Joining me at the table, Adrian Karatnycky, who is a senior fellow at the
at Atlantic Council`s program on transatlantic relations.
I want to play for you something that happened on this show yesterday. The
U.S. ambassador -- the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, I asked him about
how this might inflame or reduce tensions within Ukraine itself and this
was the response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN HERBST, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: There is no internal
conflict in Ukraine. What you have right now is not a civil war as your
correspondent in Moscow said. What you have is an irregular war led by
Russia against Ukraine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So, there is no Ukraine civil war is what he said. Give me
your assessment of that.
KARATNYCKY: That is absolutely true. If you look at the composition of
the really confident fighting forces, if you look at the leadership, the
top people at the apex of this self-proclaimed Donetsk People`s Republic,
one guy was living in Russia until a couple months ago. He then moved in
to Crimea to help Putin with the takeover of Crimea and then was redeployed
in Ukraine. That`s the prime minister that we saw on an earlier segment.
The guy who is taking -- blamed for the shooting down of the plane, Mr.
Strelkov, resigned his commission in the Russian security service on March
31st. Three days later, he appears with a large military force of special
forces, commandos, and moves in to take over a key small city in the
They just brought in a guy to head their security structures. He was
working for 20 years in the Russian enclave. The enclave that Russia has
created in Moldova, where he ran an institution called the KGB. They
didn`t even change the name.
So, there is a lot of evidence that the real sort of strategy, the tactics
and the operational work is being led by Russian operatives.
Sure, there is a lot of people in eastern Ukraine who were disgruntled with
the government in Kiev. But none of them, most of them were not inclined
to go to war. They were organizing protests, takeovers of government
buildings. They were doing civic resistance.
HARRIS-PERRY: Sure. But one can have a critique of one`s government
without wanting to secede.
KARATNYCKY: It was a pretty active critique.
KARATNYCKY: The point is, Putin saw this as a signal that eastern Ukraine
is right for also breaking away. He miscalculated and I think some of
these Russian operatives have given interviews where they sort of, they
have been very open in saying, we`re having a hard time recruiting people.
They`re paying people fairly large amounts of money to join these irregular
forces and the total amount of people who are fighting are about 12,000 to
14,000 in the insurgency of eastern Ukraine. About a third of them have
come across the border from Russia.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So, now, we are in a circumstance where the loss of
responsibility of nearly 300 civilian lives, and this sort of murkiness
about the question of whether it is the responsibility of these Russian-led
Ukrainian separatists, the Ukrainian government since it happens over their
land space or of Putin`s government.
What are the destabilizing possibilities given that we are talking now
about civilians who were innocent, who were killed, who were talking about
their remains potentially being moved by these rebels? How fast could they
-- I mean, when I`m watching someone from Malaysia having to respond,
something happen in Ukraine, it feels global in its capacity to
KARATNYCKY: Look, I think in some sense it could be a stabilizing factor.
One of the reasons I think that is because, you know, Mr. Putin was running
a clandestine operation -- moving a material and men across the borders,
supplying weapons. He has said to have removed some of those weapons.
Those weapons that took down the plane and similar anti-aircraft weapons
have been moved back to the Russian side of the border.
So, the scrutiny, international scrutiny, international pressure and the
change in the balance of whether you`re going to use sanctions. Nobody in
the West is going be ready to militarily intervene. The one issue is, will
Ukraine be given lethal weapons to beef up its military forces. But the --
HARRIS-PERRY: Over and against Putin.
KARATNYCKY: Over and against the insurgents.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, right.
KARATNYCKY: The Ukrainians are very aware of the military power of Russia.
Russia has very substantial military power. The only issue is, can they
create a sort of a deterrent and I think that Mr. Putin had a different end
game. He thought it was going to be easy. He thought it was going to be
HARRIS-PERRY: I was going to say, what`s pretty easy initially.
KARATNYCKY: It was pretty easy. Nobody -- you know, one or two people
were killed in Crimea and he took over a population of 2.5 million. He
thought it might be a bit more messy. But now is not only messy, it`s
messy all across the border. It`s messy involving Europe. It`s messy
And I think it`s an opportunity for him to kind of -- I`m glad in a sense
that Jim Maceda reported that in Russia Putin has been silent for the last
couple days. It means that he`s not putting himself into a box and I
actually do think that this is a make or break moment. It allows Putin to
walk this back to say that there is a distance between some of these guys
to sort of blame them for this, if it is proven that they`ve done it. Or
he ups the ante and he`s all in with them. If he`s all in with them, then
I think the world becomes more dangerous. But I think it also just all
this scrutiny creates a much better opportunity to look for maybe for a
HARRIS-PERRY: And a quiet Putin might mean one that is considered taking a
different path. That would be interesting to see.
Adrian Karatnycky, thank you so much for being here this morning.
And when we come back, we`re going to talk about the messiness of big
stories here at home.
HARRIS-PERRY: A change is coming to America -- a change that may
reconfigure who we are and how we see ourselves. America is browning.
In 2008, the Pew Research Center projected that by 2050, America will no
longer have any single racial group that constitutes a majority. In other
words, Pew projected in a few short decades, white people will be a
minority within the United States. That means that by 2050, the Latino
share of the U.S. population could reach as high as 29 percent, African-
Americans at 13 percent and Asian-Americans up to 9 percent. That would
equal a grand total of 51 percent, no longer a minority.
Pew`s numbers and their timeline are not hard fact certainties. Their
projections based on immigration patterns, birth rates and current global
and national trends. But they do point to a likely outcome -- an America
that is increasingly characterized by citizens who are not white. These
data released in the conversation about them became robust just as the
presidential campaign of a young senator from Chicago was hitting its
As a result, the election of America`s first black president became tied
with a conversation about the browning of America and that means this story
is not just about demographics. This story is about politics.
And the politics of the browning America have become both more complicated
and more urgent in the years since Pew first told us that our country is
More on that when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: A record 11.2 million Latino voters turned out in 2012, but
that is just a hint of a nascent political power of Latino voters.
According to the Pew Research Center, by the middle of the century, Latinos
in the U.S. would make up 29 percent of the population.
Just look at the power of Latino vote in key political states right now.
Fourteen percent of active registered voters in Florida are Latino, 26
percent of eligible voters in Texas are Latino. The same holds for
California where 26 percent of eligible voters are Latino.
The political calculus is clear, to be a viable, national candidate for
office and increasingly to be a viable candidate even at the local level,
you must be able to appeal to Latino voters.
But by no means are Latino voters a singular political bloc nor are those
voters focused on any single political issue. Immigration, in other words,
is not the whole story.
Right now in Los Angeles, the annual conference of the National Council of
La Raza is taking place and La Raza is the largest Hispanic civil rights
and advocacy organization in the country. And, yes, immigration is a
topic, but, so, too, are a vast array of other issues -- issues ranging
from fair housing, health and wellness and, of course, electrical politics.
Want to know what America is going to care about today and tomorrow and
what political leaders are going to need to address? La Raza is a good
place to start.
Joining me at the table: Raul Reyes, attorney and NBC News contributor.
Christina Beltran, associate professor of social and cultural analysis at
NYU and author of "The Trouble with Unity: Latino Politics and the Creation
of Identity". And Jane Junn, political science professor at the University
of Southern California, and author of "Politics of Belonging: Race,
Immigration and Public Opinion."
Also joining us from the National Council of La Raza Annual Conference in
Los Angeles is Clarissa Martinez de Castro, who is deputy vice president of
immigration and civic engagement for the National Council of La Raza.
So nice to have you this morning.
CLARISSA MARTINEZ DE CASTRO, NATIONAL COUNCIL OF LA RAZA: Good morning.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, what is on the agenda of La Raza heading into the mid-
term election cycle?
DE CASTRO: Well, I think like any other Americans, Latinos are very
concerned about the economy, particularly about good jobs that allow them
to support their family. Education is a big issue, as well. The other
issues, bread and butter issues that concern any other red blooded
I think a lot of confusion sometimes comes from the discussion on
immigration. The reality is that immigration is a defining issue, it`s a
proxy that allows our economy to see how politicians are talking about our
community because they`ve melded in that way in the political arena.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, I think that`s a useful idea there. This notion of a
proxy issue which may not be the central or key or even most important
issue and yet somehow gives insight into whether or not a politician is
sort of on our side or not.
Talk to me about how that works and sort of what counts as those proxies or
those key words, or those sort of behaviors and policies that you`re
DE CASTRO: Well, there`s a couple of things. Immigration as a policy
issue is very important and, particularly, when the debate around
immigration started getting very toxic, because whenever it does that, our
community feels the backlash regardless of immigration status. Seventy-
five percent of Latinos in this country are United States citizens, but
whenever there is a toxic debate on immigration, we all feel the treatment,
because many of us are made to feel suspect in our communities. So, that`s
how we look at the debate.
In addition, over 60 percent of Latinos know somebody who is undocumented.
And therefore, the ebb and flow and the debate on how we -- what we are
doing to make sure that we have effective immigration policies is also felt
HARRIS-PERRY: Hold for just one second, I want to come to my panel.
And, Raul, I want to ask you, in part, as we`re looking towards a political
reality, which Latino voters are increasingly critical, how do you manage
to not simply have elected officials and politicians who perform a certain
kind of, sort of practices towards, in order to attract Latino voters but
more actually substantively engage with Latino communities?
RAUL REYES, NBC NEWS: I think it`s difficult right now because as Clarissa
mentioned, the immigration issue does tend to in a sense cloud out so many
To jump back for a while, before the immigration debate really heated up in
2006, 2007, the Latino community was really quite divided on that issue,
much like the rest of the country. That all changed with all the
Republican rhetoric, the conservative rhetoric, and I think we`re seeing
some of that right now with this crisis on the border because people might
be surprised to know that the Pew polling shows that, again, the Latino
community, they don`t all think these child migrants should stay. Half
think they should go back.
But watch what happens from now as the conservatives ramp up the anti-
immigrant talk, it could well change that calculus again.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Cristina, this is such an important point. When we
look at the internal politics, for example, within African-American
communities, we see a lot of both rhetoric and anxiety and concern, for
example, about welfare or about food stamps and all. But as soon as it
turns into a toxic political debate in which welfare and blackness get
connected, boy, then attitudes shift in part because there is that
Is that the same kind of thing we`re talking about here?
CRISTINA BELTRAN, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: Definitely. I think when you have
that kind of coded language, you know, it picks salience, and all of a
sudden, you have a sense of collective assault. I think that has happened.
I think it happened around the issue of gender and reproductive rights, you
know? Women have lots -- there`s a huge amount of diversity among women
and when you start attacking them in that way.
But I think one of the really interesting issues and I always feel I wish
we would say more often, Latino communities.
BELTRAN: Communities, it`s plural. I think pluralizing it doesn`t take
away from the fact that there is this massive assault.
But the other thing that is interesting here, we talked about Latinos
versus Latino voters. One of the issues on immigration that`s so
interesting is that Latino voters have citizenship. All Latino voters are
So, the salience of this issue, you know, is incredibly powerful for some
folks. It`s incredibly meaningful. Their lovers, you know, their co-
workers, family members are undocumented and for other people, it`s an
issue somewhat far away and watching on television and sort of have a
variety of political opinions about it, and I think we forget about that
when we talk about Latinos, as if we`re not talking about voters. We have
to sort of think about that difference between those with citizenship and
HARRIS-PERRY: Clarissa, what I let me ask you about this point that
Cristina just made on the kind of pluralizing of the language of not on
community, but communities and how particularly for a civil rights
organization like La Raza, you do the work of both acknowledging the
distinction within Latino identities, at the same time that you`re doing
obviously, attempting to doing some unifying political work.
DE CASTRO: Yes, this is one of those interesting things. I think often,
there is a tendency to try to fit people in a box, right?
And with Latinos, that gets a lot complicated because we are a mixture of
all the people of the Americas. We can be black, we can be white, we can
be Native Americans. So, it gets a little complicated.
The reality is that for us as a national Pan-Hispanic organization, we work
on issues on which there is a lot of consensus in our community that they
need to be addressed. And, so, there is either empathy or direct or direct
identification with those issues.
Again, we know that the economy is a big issue, good jobs. Good education.
And it makes sense, right? People want to make sure they have a job to
provide for their family and a good education system that will allow their
kids to do better what they did.
Where immigration comes in is that it starts affecting everybody,
regardless of immigration status. We saw that with SB-1070 in Arizona
where Latinos started saying, if people get an equal treatment, I`m going
to get that treatment because people just immediately assume that I`m
undocumented by being Latino.
HARRIS-PERRY: Clarissa Martinez de Castro in Los Angeles -- have a great
rest of your conference and thank you for joining us.
DE CASTRO: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Up next, we`re going to talk about the long history of fear-
mongering and immigration and bring in some more voices.
HARRIS-PERRY: The immigration debate has become so heated that the current
refugee crisis at the border has become ensnared in the rhetoric and taking
two separate issues and conflating into one of much of the public`s mind.
Two weeks ago in Murrieta, California, Mayor Alan Long spurred hundreds of
residents to protest and even block the federal government`s effort to drop
off refugee kids at the city`s border patrol station for processing. The
images may look similar to protests over immigration reform like the one in
Lansing, Michigan, and other cities on Friday. But, in fact, the refugee
crisis at the border is more about what we owe to those fleeing persecution
in our home countries rather than what it is about undocumented
As situations intertwine to stoke a singular fear, the misinformation
around the people involved continues to grow, sparking panic and anxiety
about everything from public safety to public health. But that`s not
anything new. The Irish, they were falsely charged with bringing cholera
with them when they came in the 1960. San Francisco`s Chinese community in
1900 was put into quarantine for fear of bubonic plague. Polio and
tuberculosis were ascribed to other immigrant groups.
This week in "Slate", Jamelle Bouie, reminded us of America`s long history
of scaremongering, citing one of the most recent examples. A July 7 letter
from Republican Congressman Phil Gingrey, a retired doctor to the CDC,
alleging, quote, "reports of illegal migrants carrying deadly diseases such
as the swine flu," which isn`t in season, "and the Ebola virus" of which
there are currently zero reported cases in the Americas stemming from the
West Africa outbreak.
Jane, OK. So you suggest in your text that the issue of immigration isn`t
so much about immigration as it is about these notions of belonging and
race and identity and difference. Is that what is going on here when
you`re making a claim that people without documentation are carrying Ebola?
I mean, this is --
JANE JUNN, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROF., USC: Well, a lot of reasons why people
would want it, rational reasons they would want to give for why people
would want to be excluded, that they don`t belong here. But there have to
be rational reasons that politicians and elites and for that matter just
the ordinary guy gets for why we ought to exclude people.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, there are reasons. But that`s not what`s happening in
this particular debate.
JUNN: Maybe to some degree, but maybe not as well. I mean, when you think
about Americans, when you close your eyes and think, who is an American?
Who pops into your head?
JUNN: And others, who are -- because the concept of American and the
development of citizenship has always resolved around the racial category
of whiteness. So, all exclusions to citizenship in the United States and
belonging for that matter have been based firmly in a racial prerequisite
which, earlier on in the history of the United States was explicit, it is
not as explicit today.
So, you can`t say after the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act which
creates a much different set of preference categories, you wouldn`t say the
same thing you did in 1924, which is, we don`t want Irish. We don`t want
Jews. We don`t want Italians, and forget about the Asians because they`ve
been excluded for a long time before that. So, the point is now that we
try to create sets and ways and arguments for why people want to be
excluded we can`t say race based anymore, so we find other reasons.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, it`s interesting that you say that. That ought to
generate a set of, and I hate to use the language of natural, but certainly
strategic allies, for example, we treat African-Americans and Latinos on
questions of immigration and yet what we often see is actually tensions at
exactly those places where coalition politics might otherwise happen.
I want to play some sound that came out of, again, this question of the
refugee children crossing the border. There was a city in Texas, Sheila
Jackson Lee, the congressman who was there. They were going to open a
school to house the refugee children. This is an African-American mom in
the district and her anger about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These immigrants don`t have no where to go so you`re
going to come over here to our neighborhood and open the school up for
them, really? Is that right? Does anybody think that`s right?
What is going to keep them from escaping here and moving around? Houston
and around Trinity Garden and what is going to keep them behind this gate?
Security, really? They can`t even control the border.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: I just -- that moment of wanting to keep people back and
literally say, we need to build a gate and a border, but also what I do
have some empathy for, which is you closed our school, right? You closed
our school. You`ve taken our public resources and now -- is there a hope
for coalition politics in the context of all of this angst about belonging?
BELTRAN: I think there definitely is. I also think when you`ve been
under-serving and exploiting certain communities and then they see another
community also experiencing resource allocations, of course, you`re going
to get bitterness and frustration and it`s going it be aimed at the people
below rather than the power above. So, I think that is one of the things
that good coalition politics has to wrestle with.
But I think the other thing that is interesting we talk about whiteness
like it`s white people, as opposed to whiteness as a discourse, right?
Whiteness of the discourse that different populations can attach to. So, I
think what`s really scary right now is the way the right is both exploiting
anti-immigrant sentiment among African-Americans, at the same time they`re
exploiting anti-black racism among Latinos.
So, these are just course of the whiteness that both populations can pick
up on, can deploy, can leverage, and that`s when it gets really troubling,
right? That`s when you have to find a way to escape that.
HARRIS-PERRY: One of the key moments of me of sort of watching that play
out and the discourse of whiteness that could be appropriated by black and
brown bodies, was after 9/11 when suddenly shifted to go to folks who are
Muslims, who were racially white and suddenly, black folks were white,
because of their Christian/American identity in this way that was sometimes
REYES: Right. But what we`re seeing right now in the broader picture is
the reemergence of immigration as a wedge issue. You know, the definition
of us and them, as you mentioned, it can shift and right now, there are the
anti-immigration reform politicians who are very, very -- I would say
successfully capitalizing on this border crisis to bring forth, again, a
lot of those arguments that we really haven`t seen since 2006, 2007, and
we`re hearing terms like, again, invasion, we`re hearing talks about
diseases, illegal aliens.
That type of language really hasn`t been in the discussion for a while and
it is taking a toll because we`re starting, majority of the country still
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to play a little bit of sound. We`re getting close.
I do want to play just so that it`s not just like you saying that we`re
hearing this kind of thing. I will play a little bit of sound and then
we`ll go out. This is a U.S. congressman basically making a claim about
public safety relative to undocumented immigrants.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: They`ve committed at least 7,695 sexual
assaults. You want to talk about a war on women? This administration will
not defend the women of America from criminal aliens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: I just wanted you to know that that happened.
When we come back, did you know there is a national association of
immigration judges? Well, there is and they have a president. She joins
us, next. Yes?
HARRIS-PERRY: Fifty-seven thousand children, that is the number of
unaccompanied minors who tried to enter the United States since last
October with an estimated 90,000 expected by September.
These children are put into custody and are afforded full court
proceedings. So while the humanitarian crisis at the border has had its
impact on federal agents, local communities and volunteer relief agencies,
also bearing an added stress is the legal system. New data show
immigration courts are extremely backlogged. More than 375,000 immigration
cases are already pending in U.S. immigration courts and 42,000 of those
cases involve juveniles.
That`s why $62 million of President Obama`s $3.7 billion congressional
request is for the Department of Justice. For additional immigration
judges and legal representation for the children crossing the border.
That brings us to the Republicans blocking that money. As "Mother Jones"
reported last week, the courts were overwhelmed even before the children
began showing up, in large part, because the Republicans` unwillingness to
fund and staff them like other federal courts.
Joining us now from San Francisco is Judge Dana Leigh Marks who is
president of the National Association of Immigration Judges.
So nice to have you, Dana.
HON. DANA LEIGH MARKS, PRES., NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF IMMIGRATION JUDGES:
Thank you so much for the invitation.
HARRIS-PERRY: The immigration court is described as a kind of legal
Cinderella. Why is that?
MARKS: We call ourselves the legal Cinderellas because we`re often the
forgotten piece of the equation when it comes to immigration law
enforcement. We got about 2 percent of the budget allocations that have
gone towards the overall enforcement system and, yet, we are charged with
providing due process to the individuals who come before us.
So, it`s a very difficult situation.
HARRIS-PERRY: Judge, I was reading some of the documents that you sent and
at one point read that the number, the average number of days that a case
is pending is 578 before a decision is reached. Is that a human rights
MARKS: It`s very interesting because a lot of people are cynical and think
that someone who is here undocumented is going to want to delay in their
But in actuality, the majority of the cases that are prejudice by the long
delays in the immigration court system are the cases of individuals who are
ultimately going to be granted some form of benefit or relief under our
So, it has the opposite effect to what you would have hoped. The good
cases suffer and it`s the weak cases that benefit.
HARRIS-PERRY: One of the things that we`ve talked about a couple of times
on the show now is I think folks don`t understand that Gideon doesn`t
extent to civil cases. So, that means that some young people who are
showing up before the courts, in fact, do not have attorneys.
As a judge, how do you adjudicate a case when there is no attorney and
there is a child, a juvenile who, for example, may not even speak English?
MARKS: It is very, very difficult. It`s true that the immigration
proceedings are considered civil in nature. That means someone is not
entitled to an attorney at government expense. They can pay for their own
attorney. They can seek volunteer attorneys to represent them.
But nationwide 40 percent of the proceedings that come before an
immigration judge are without any attorney to represent them. Cases come
before us in 260 different languages. We use foreign language
interpreters. Only 17 percent of the cases which are before the court are
Now, that sounds complicated enough, but add to that complexity the issue
of a minor child, perhaps unaccompanied. Then it`s extremely difficult
because the judge has the responsibility of explaining to someone what
their rights are, what their potential remedies are and to make sure that
that person understands sufficiently to be able to provide the information
needed to the judge in order to make a fair decision. Those are the kinds
of proceedings that need to go slowly and deliberately, not faster.
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, what you`ve described is already a pretty daunting
reality. But then add to that, I just don`t want my viewers to not know
this that you`re dealing with massive hardware failures on your computer
systems that took the courts offline for five weeks back in April. That as
judges, you fail to have something that almost every other judge has, which
includes the capacity to hold people in contempt of your court, meaning you
have less control and authority over your own courtroom.
What kinds of resources both financial and apparently new laptops and, you
know, in terms of sort of your authority do you need in order to make this
a fairer and more reasonable immigration process?
MARKS: There is a long list that the National Association of Immigration
Judges has put together and advocated before Congress. The first thing we
need are judicial law clerks. Those are trained attorneys who help judges.
The district courts, for example, usually have three to four attorney
employees that help every judge. The immigration courts have one judicial
law clerk shared between three or four different judges.
So, I joke that I have one quarter of a law clerk`s time. We need to have
modernized equipment. We need to have more security. We need to have
real-time transcripts of our proceedings.
I mean, there is a host of technological things we need. But, most of all,
in this crisis situation, in order to give due process, we need more judges
as well as more judicial law clerks to help us do our job right.
HARRIS-PERRY: Judge, stay with us. We`re going to take a break.
When we come back I want to bring my panel back in and talk about how this
is all a larger political question around immigration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. DEVAL PATRICK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I believe that we will one day have
to answer for our actions and our inactions. My faith teaches that if a
stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. But
rather love him as yourself for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: The governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick talking about
his decision to welcome some of the undocumented refugee children to his
Well, as I was listening to kind of the emotion of the governor in that
context, you were telling a kind of, you painted a chilling picture during
the commercial break of 10 year olds in immigration court.
REYES: Right. Not unusual. In fact, I believe it was last year, "The New
York Times" had a big story about someone testifying in immigration court
and telling a story to a judge to an interpreter, he was 6, and he was
alone. And you know what? That is not uncommon.
And as the judge pointed out, part of the problem is that, we just don`t
have enough immigration judges because many of the Republicans in Congress
see them as somehow being potential advocates for immigrants.
But the other part of the problem, even with this supplemental money that
the president has asked for the immigration system, most of that money is
going for judge, leaving about $15 million, I believe for legal
representation for these children at the border, and we really need both in
order to be effective and effective system. We need more judges but we
also need more access to legal representation for many of these young
people, these kids.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Jane, maybe I`m being overly optimistic and a little
naive here. But for me, if we could reframe the immigration story, so
instead of it being what the Texas representative was saying about these
scary illegals coming to attack your women, instead we have 6-year-olds
sitting on phone books trying to talk to a judge in a language that`s not
their native tongue, that maybe we could begin to shift this into empathy?
Is that too optimistic? Are we able to see the humanity of the children of
people who are racially, ethnically, nationally different from us?
REYES: I think we can. I mean, we have for many other ways, in many
places. And the United States does have a refugee policy, a long-standing
one, also one that has some ignominious characteristics as well. I mean,
for example, between -- before World War II, we systematically denied
admission and refugees who were fleeing the Holocaust and German occupation
at that time. So, there`s plenty of ways, examples, for which we have
done, that we can do this.
What does not help in the process is -- of doing so, of trying to
understand who we are as a nation because who we are as a nation is very
much defined just as Governor Patrick noted. Who is it that should belong?
Who is it -- who are we as a nation to say, you can come in and you can`t.
Why do we justify this?
And much of it has to come from not just ordinary people, who have the
ability to be impacted, to understand, to recognize their own immigrant
history and how this creates a nation of immigrants that we are, but also
the political leadership on both sides of the aisle to recognize what it is
about us as a country that welcomes outsiders to become insiders.
HARRIS-PERRY: Judge, I want to come to you on this because it feels to me
like part of what I`m hearing on the table is about the value of
deliberation and that is something that I heard you say before the break,
that actually taking more time rather than less time may be the value.
Is there a way that we can communicate that effectively to our political
leaders, that everyone wants to work on and solve this crisis but to do so
shouldn`t be about moving up the timeline as quickly as possible, but in
fact creating more resources for deliberation?
MARKS: The immigration judges have long felt that immigration court reform
should be the bipartisan sweet spot of the whole immigration debate. The
reason being, if you add more resources to the immigration court system,
then we are going to go more quickly, more efficiently -- which is going to
be favorable to those who believe in enforcement first. But at the same
time, we`re going to be affording more due process and that, of course, is
important to those advocating on behalf of the immigrants who are appearing
So, the immigration judges believe that structural reform is necessary and
we need resources. But in the long run, we believe that immigration courts
should be taken out of the Department of Justice, which is a law
enforcement agency, and to assure our neutrality and to assure transparency
so the public feels confident that due process is being afforded the people
who come before us. We should be reconstituted as an Article 1 court,
which would make us like the tax court or the bankruptcy court, and being
that we have more independence and judicial neutrality.
Hopefully, it also means that we would have the tools like contempt
authority and sufficient resources to get the job that we are being
assigned done in a way that allows America to show its best face of justice
to the noncitizens who come before us, because it`s often the only face of
the American government that they see, and that`s important, too.
HARRIS-PERRY: We only have 30 seconds, Cristina, but that bipartisan
immigration sweet spot seems to be a shrinking, teeny, tiny dot at this
BELTRAN: Very teeny tiny.
HARRIS-PERRY: Is there anyplace that you think still exists for optimism
for getting immigration reform done?
BELTRAN: With the Republican Party the way they are right now and the
Democratic Party struggling with its own internal contradictions, I`m not
sure. And I think what you need is leadership and arguments. We do too
much too fast and we do the wrong things fast and the wrong things slow.
Like, I think we really need to think more about -- also, we should talk
more about the limits of compassion, like that language of compassion is
critical. We need to know stories and faces. But we need to be talking
migration flows and global capitalism, and really serious these things
about how this whole process began and America`s role in creating it and we
don`t tend to have that conversation.
HARRIS-PERRY: You know who was having that conversation this week? My new
colleague here on MSNBC. You should tune in to Jose`s show.
Judge Dana Leigh Marks in San Francisco, thank you so much for the clarity
of your voice on these issues.
I`d also like to thank my guests for being here this morning, Raul Reyes,
Cristina Beltran and Jane Junn.
I also want to encourage everyone to visit MSNBC.com to take a look at the
digital program called Nerding Out. On the most recent edition, you`re
going to see my guest today, Raul Reyes hosting an in-depth discussion of
the legal history that has impacted the very discussion that we are, in
fact, having today about the unaccompanied minors coming across the border.
And if you can`t get enough Nerdland, just go online and nerd it out.
Also, one note of nerd news, summer nerd, that is our intern, D.J., who you
may have once seen on the show operating this really fancy stroller, he is
leaving us today.
Bye, summer nerd D.J. Just want to wish him well.
That`s our show for today. And thanks to you at home for watching. I`m
going to see you Saturday at 10:00 a.m. Eastern.
And right now, it`s time for a preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT."
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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