'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Saturday, September 6th, 2014
Read the transcript to the Saturday show
September 6, 2014
Guest: David Opderbeck, Salamishah Tillet, Megan Carpentier, Dan Ackerman,
Emma Sulkowicz, Haroon Moghul, Bobby Ghosh, James Carafano, Phyllis Bennis,
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: This morning my question, do you have a
right to expect your naked selfies will remain private? Plus, campus
protests of a very different sort. And how Putin is pushing NATO.
But first, at what point war?
Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. And the search has resumed this
morning for wreckage of a small private plane that crashed off the coast of
Jamaica yesterday after its pilot became unresponsive. The flight carrying
two people took off from Rochester, New York, Friday morning heading for
Naples, Florida. But the plane veered off course and the pilot stopped
responding to air traffic controllers prompting NORAD, which protects North
American airspace to scramble fighter jets to follow the plane. After
passing over Cuban airspace the plane crashed off the Jamaican coast.
Joining me now from Port Antonio, Jamaica, is NBC News correspondent Mark
Potter. Mark, what`s the latest this morning?
MARK POTTER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, Melissa. The search is
again under way this morning for the wreckage and for the victims of that
plane that went down yesterday. Jamaican authorities are telling us that
they believe that 28 miles off the north coast of Jamaica now --
HARRIS-PERRY: Like, we have lost Mark Potter in Port Antonio, Jamaica.
I`m hopeful - we`ll be able to turn back to that story. But for now, we`re
going to turn now to the story - or actually it looks like we do have Mark
back. Mark, are you there?
POTTER: Yes, I am back. And I`ll continue on. I`m presuming that you
heard that the Jamaicans believe that they found a debris field about 20
miles - 28 miles off the north coast of Jamaica. They say it seems
consistent with pieces that could have come off the Glazer aircraft. They
are - they have released some photos to NBC News showing that debris field.
They will be out there again today with boats and aircraft assisted by the
U.S. Coast Guard trying to confirm that the pieces did come from that
aircraft. It looks like it could have come from a high-impact crash as
they describe it. Now what they also say is that they have not found any
evidence -- anything -- they have not found the victims. They have not
found any personal effects out there. What they believe they have found
are pieces from that aircraft, again, believe, they have not confirmed.
But they are working on it and they are out there right now behind us
trying to put that all together. Melissa?
HARRIS-PERRY: NBC`s Mark Potter in Port Antonio, Jamaica, thank you.
We are going to turn now to the story that consumed the headlines and
attention from much of the week, and that is the brutality displayed by the
militant group ISIS. Yesterday, the United States announced the formation
of a coalition of nations that have come together with one goal in mind,
the destruction of the Sunni militant group known as the Islamic state of
Iraq in Iraq and Syria or ISIS. Now the group has drawn international
attention since it cut a bloody swath across Iraq over the summer killing
thousands of people and seizing control of major cities and border
crossings between Iraq and Syria.
According to "The New York Times" report diplomats and defense officials
from ten nations who were gathered in Wales for a NATO summit decided on a
strategy to combine air attacks on ISIS with support for allies already
fighting on the ground in Iraq and Syria. President Obama spoke yesterday
from Wales about the strategy of the new coalition.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: You initially
pushed them back. You systematically degrade their capabilities. You
narrow their scope of action. You slowly shrink the space, the territory
that they may control. You take out their leadership and over time they
are not able to conduct the same kinds of terrorist attacks as they once
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So that discussion came just a day after three senior
members of ISIS were killed in a U.S. airstrike that was part of an ongoing
campaign of air attacks against ISIS that the U.S. has been expanding since
early August. And it came on the heels of the White House announcing on
Tuesday plans to increase the U.S. military presence in Iraq by 350 troops.
But it followed a horrific message delivered by ISIS earlier that day when
the group released a video showing the killing of Steven Sotloff, the
second of two American journalists to be beheaded on camera by an ISIS
militant. The execution prompted Vice President Joe Biden to respond with
a warning and a promise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN. U.S. VISE PRESIDENT: As a nation we`re united and when people
harm Americans, we don`t retreat. We don`t forget. We take care of those
who are grieving. And when that`s finished, they should know we will
follow them to the gates of hell until they are brought to justice.
BIDEN: Because hell is where they will reside.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: The vice president`s invocation of a nation united in the
face of a foreign threat will, for many Americans, call to mind memories of
9/11, an inevitable comparison between ISIS and al Qaeda. But ISIS, the
once affiliated with al Qaeda, has since emerged as an adversary and a
competitor for influence over extremist groups worldwide. On Wednesday,
Matt Olsen, who as the director of the National Counterterrorism Center
advises President Obama on the severity of terrorist threat to the United
States, spoke at the Brookings Institute about what distinguishes ISIS from
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT OLSEN: ISIL is not al Qaeda pre-9-11.
No indication at this point of a cell, foreign fighters operating in the
United States. Full stop. We`re mindful and, you know, vigilant about the
possibility of individuals, more likely on their own, you know, one, two,
coming back from Syria. Again, we`ve seen that model in Europe, so there`s
every reason to be concerned about that as a potential, not happening now,
not something we`ve seen now, but a potential in the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So Olsen went on to clarify that there is currently no
credible information that ISIS is planning an attack on the United States
and that any attempt against the U.S. would likely be limited in scope,
nothing like the events of 9/11. So what is it exactly about the
intentions of ISIS that has the United States and its global allies coming
together to try and destroy it? To answer that, I`m going to need to take
you back not just in history but truly to ancient history. Because ISIS`s
stated goal is the restoration of the caliphate. A word that may not mean
much to Westerners in today`s world, but whose influence once extended all
across what we today consider the Middle East and some of Central Asia and
Caliphates first came into existence in the seventh century, as an Islamic
nation state presided over by a leader known as a caliph who is both
religious and political as an authority. The first caliphate was
established in 632 A.D. after the death of the Prophet Mohammed and existed
until 1924 when the last one was abolished following the disillusion of the
Ottoman Empire. But it was the four caliphs who succeeded the Prophet
Mohammed who carried on his vision of an Islamic community united under a
single state and used military force to expand the caliphates to one of the
biggest empires in the world. Now, this is the history with which ISIS was
aligning itself this summer when the group made a pubic proclamation
renaming itself as simply the Islamic State and pronouncing its leader al-
Baghdadi as the caliph of all Muslims and the prince of Believers.
To some the notion of ISIS could turn back in time to reclaim the glory
years of an institution whose influence waned more than a thousand years
ago may seem implausible. After all, the original caliphate included a
period recognized by scholars as the golden age of Islam. Renowned for its
embrace of multiculturalism, progressive achievements in science and
philosophy and intellectualism. And there couldn`t be a more stark
contrast to the historical caliphates than the extremism, rigid morality
and strict interpretation of Sharia law espoused at the current ISIS.
Joining me now Bobby Ghosh, managing editor at "Quartz" founded at qz.com.
And Haroon Moghul, who is fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and
Understanding. So what in the world does our current moment have to do
with the Ottoman Empire?
HAROON MOGHUL, INSTITUTE FOR SOCIAL POLICY AND UNDERSTANDING: I think what
we`re seeing is the disillusion of a post-World War I order across the
Middle East. So in some sense the Arab Spring, ISIS, all of these
phenomenon are about the death of colonialism and the attempt by the region
to basically figure out a new kind of politics. A social contract that
works. And in the process of that we`re seeing a lot of different
movements. Not just ISIS. Reaching back to history, to find symbols and
motifs that resonate with people. It doesn`t mean they don`t believe in
it, but it also means that strategically these are symbols and ideas that
have weight, that have power. It`s actually not that dissimilar from how
in the 18th and 19th century in Europe and in the United States people
reached back to Rome and Ancient Greece, right? It was a touchstone. It
was a way of basically finding and establishing legitimacy.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, but even if it does that, right, of course, whenever you
take a touch stone it will, therefore, have lots of meaning and often evoke
a set of emotional responses from those closest to it. And so part of what
I`m wondering as I look at the supreme leader in Iran saying that there
will now be an alliance strategically here with the U.S. with Iraq, with
the Kurds, is whether or not in superimposing the language of caliphate
over this they`ve actually created other enemies within an Islamic world.
BOBBY GHOSH, MANAGING EDITOR, QZ.COM: They`ve overreached - they`ve
overreached beyond their wildest imagination. This is - just because
somebody calls themselves a caliph doesn`t mean anybody outside of his tiny
group of insane followers is going to believe that. This is something like
- if the leader of the Lord`s Resistance Army in Africa suddenly declares
themselves the successor of the Holy Roman Empire, nobody is going to
believe that. Similarly, there`s virtually no acknowledgment, acceptance
of this idea in the vast majority of Muslim world. I mean religious
scholars up and down the Muslim world, the Arab world have come out and
condemned this. The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia has come out and said that
the Islamic State represents a greatest - the number one enemy to Islam.
So this is propaganda, this is braggadocio, this is, you know, people
puffing up themselves and trying to be more than they are. What they are
is a gang of sort of psycho killers who are running rampage, taking
advantage of the absence of law and order in two countries.
HARRIS-PERRY: And so I wonder as you point us towards that, I wonder if
that`s part of also what happens with ISIS. Is that they lure us into a
conversation about religious identity, instead of one about geopolitical
strategy. And so, on the one hand we go back and talk about an Ottoman
Empire as though it is about Islam instead of talking about what happened
to the post-World War One world where peoples are divided by European
nations in a way that then makes them difficult to govern. And so,
authoritarianism emerges and then we go in in the context of Iraq and make
MOGHUL: Well, it`s important to know the history, because it`s important
to understand where this is all coming from, right? So, ISIS is exactly as
you said, is a radical extremist group. And they`ve basically decided to
attack everyone. And it`s pretty obvious how that`s going to end. But
unless the core conditions on the ground are changed, you are going to see
the emergence of more phenomena, the same types of phenomenon, the same
ISIS again, right? If you a young Arab across the Middle East, what are
your options? Right? You`re stuck between Bashar al-Assad and ISIS.
Right? That`s Syria today. That`s what happened to the revolution in
Syria. If you`re in Egypt, what happened, right? If you`re an activist,
if you believe in democracy, right, you had the openings of a democratic
movement. There are a lot of missteps, agreed, but there was a coup.
MOGHUL: So, you are back to autocracy, and who are we partnering with?
Right? In this coalition, right? Who are the key players on the ground?
Countries like Iran which supports Assad, the moderate Arab states which
really is just a polite word for dictatorships and monarchies, right? So,
you are not really doing anything to change the core conditions.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Bob, that`s actually exactly - as you were describing,
so where do you go if you are stuck between ISIS and Assad, and that is not
only descriptive of peoples living in this place. It`s also descriptive of
U.S. and European foreign policy which seems to find itself caught between
GHOSH: There are two conversations to be had and, unfortunately, we`re
going to have to have them simultaneously. Haroon is exactly right. There
are - there are - there you have to address at some point, starting pretty
soon, the underlying factors. And that is a conversation we`ve been trying
to have or we`ve been trying to start for a very long time not very
successfully. We have got to get smarter about that. But right now, right
now ISIS represents a clear and present danger. Two Muslims more than to
anybody else, and, of course, in the sort of short and medium term to the
rest of the world. Right now you have got to deal with that and, yes, open
up channels of communication, show a readiness to communicate, which the
previous administration showed no interest in at all and perhaps that`s the
way Obama distinguishes himself. Yes, he`s going back to the same ground
with sort of military force, but perhaps a way to distinguish himself is to
have a wider conversation.
HARRIS-PERRY: And that`s precisely what I want to talk about as we come
back, is that the challenge of what feels like those limited options. All
of that up next. But also, breaking news on immigration policy this
HARRIS-PERRY: We will get to more of our discussion about ISIS and the
Obama doctrine in a moment. But first, we want to turn to some breaking
domestic news. The White House announcing just this morning that President
Obama has decided to delay taking any action on immigration reform until
after the midterm elections in November. NBC`s Luke Russert joins us now
from the White House with details. Luke, what`s your reasoning behind this
LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it`s interesting, Melissa.
Usually when decisions are made for political reasons the White House will
shy away from that. Most any politician does. Oh, no, this is just all
part of the process. But in this case the White House is pretty straight
forward and open about it. I got a statement from a senior White House
official that said, quote, "The reality the president has had to weigh is
that we`re in the midst of the political season and because of the
Republicans` extreme politicalization of this issue, the president believes
it will be harmful for the policy itself and to long-term prospect of
comprehensive immigration reform to announce administrative action before
So that`s the official statement from a senior White House official. When
I spoke to the White House official I used a specific term, Melissa, which
is Red State Democrat and they sort of acknowledged, yeah. So you can see
what this is being done in states like Arkansas, North Carolina, Alaska,
Louisiana where Democrats are in red states and they`re up for election
come for these Senate midterms. A widespread executive action that would
pertain to immigration could be very dangerous for those senators
politically hence rather the White House is backing off going into this
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, I mean this is the challenge for Kay Hagan, for Mary
Landrieu and others that if the president were to take action in this
moment, to distance themselves from the president`s action might actually
make it difficult to turn out the very base that they will need, but to
align themselves with it can potentially, I guess, presumably actually
motivate the other base.
HARRIS-PERRY: But does not taking action ultimately still leave these blue
dog Democrats or Democrats in red state or at least purple ones with the
same problem about whether or not they`re going to stand next to the
president or not?
RUSSERT: Melissa, it`s a fascinating debate that`s going on within
Democratic circle. I`ve been privy to it to some degree talking to aides
and operatives. Because someone say exactly what you said. Why don`t we
have this immigration reform, executive action? It will spur the Latino
vote. The conventional wisdom is perhaps in a presidential year we begin
official, but in the midterm year it would not because the electorate is
older and whiter, specifically in these states. That dimension just could
get people to the polls who might not be there opposing immigration reforms
such a contentious issue. Where this could help if they were to move on
it, but they are not, is in gubernatorial races. I would say specifically
like Pennsylvania, places like Florida, even to some degree Wisconsin where
you have those large urban centers we could turn out the Latino vote. But
in this case because of those red state Senate Democrats in Arkansas,
Louisiana, North Carolina, Alaska, they`re going to err on the side of
caution it seems, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: NBC`s Luke Russert at the White House. I`m pretty sure that
with breaking news on a Saturday morning the president just disrupted my
whole plan for tomorrow`s show.
RUSSERT: He did. But it came before the interview with Chuck Todd.
RUSSERT: The interview with Chuck Todd hasn`t happened yet so chuck can
ask him about it, thank goodness.
HARRIS-PERRY: There you go. There you go. Thank you.
RUSSERT: Take care.
HARRIS-PERRY: And up next, the brutal terror group ISIS and how it`s
impacting the Obama doctrine.
HARRIS-PERRY: In the first season of NBC`s "The West Wing" fictional
President Bartlet was faced with responding to the death of an American
killed overseas. His fictional advisers presented him with "proportional
response options" to which the mythical leader of the free world responded,
why not a disproportional response?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let the world ring forth from this time and this place,
gentlemen, you kill an American, any American, we don`t come back with a
proportional response, we come back with total disaster.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s TV. I mean it`s dramatic. But after the release of
video documentation of the brutal and gruesome beheadings of two American
journalists, I have found myself pounding the table with similar
frustration over what appeared to be limited U.S. options when it comes to
dealing with ISIS. Joining the panel now is James Carafano, who is a
national security expert at the Heritage Foundation and Phyllis Bennis who
is director of the New Internationalism project at the Institute for Policy
Studies. So, is there a reason? I mean part of terrorism is to be
provocative. Clearly these two horrifying videos are provocative, but do
they provoke us to do something that we really ought not be doing?
JAMES CARAFANO, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: I don`t think there`s any analogy
between the fictional scenario and what happened here. Because these
deaths are symbolic, representatives of war crimes, which are unspeakable
in vast proportion. So, it`s not just responding to the death of an
American. It`s responding to really a horrible situation in the region.
I also think - I mean it`s --
HARRIS-PERRY: But it is - It was the American deaths that wake up the U.S.
public to it, right? Because - because ISIS has been engaged in these
kinds of actions for months.
CARAFANO: Yeah, but that may be, but people in Washington who are focusing
on national security, recognize that an ISIS state in the middle of the
Middle East isn`t tolerable. For two reasons, one is, it could lead to a
wider sectarian conflict, which could lead to a large regional war, which
is incredibly destructive and damaging. And the other is, it wouldn`t be a
base. When you have thousands of fighters flooding in, thousands of
fighters potentially from a strong base with training and education and
motivation can flood out and organize the next wave of transnational
terrorism. So, the U.S. has plenty of vital interests to be there beyond
this. I also heard from sources that those men were actually killed at the
same time and the videos were spaced out because they are part of the ISIS
HARRIS-PERRY: Sure. And we - I mean obviously that propaganda is meant to
do precisely what it`s doing, to terrify. And yet one of the most chilling
aspects of it is, in fact, the British accent of the executioner who we see
visually in that image. In part because it suggests we have the passports
that you all in that part of the world where you think you are free and
safe allowed to move around in free spaces, but actually we are holding
those passports. So you end up with this sort of chilling multiplying
effect that feels like the enemy within, which is precisely the thing that
then becomes terrifying and sometimes we didn`t make very bad foreign
policy in those contexts.
PHYLLIS BENNIS, DIR., NEW INTERNATIONALISM PROJECT, IPS: Absolutely right,
Melissa. I think that what we`re looking at here is a U.S. response that
is exactly what was planned by the terrorists who committed these gruesome
acts. You know, the issue of beheading is a horrific thing. To see that
kind of killing up close and personal. But there have been 190,000 people
killed in the war in Syria, there have been beheadings by the FSA, the Free
Syrian Army that was reported just a few days ago in "The New York Times,"
but not picked up on any other U.S. media that is not getting this kind of
attention. This kind of attention for exactly the reason it was designed
in these very sophisticated videos to frighten people, to say this could
happen to you. We`re coming to you. So all of the regional stuff about
what the impact might be on the region as a whole, this is not what is
motivating these kinds of urgent discussions that we`re having right now.
GHOSH: But the videos are a response to the American intervention.
BENNIS: That`s absolutely right. The videos are responding and some of
the actions are indeed responding to American actions starting with the
invasion and occupation of Iraq.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. But so, but when you say that -- so I guess here is my
only like danger - that I experienced when I hear you say that. So, on the
one hand, that is precisely what he here in the videos - this is about that
dangerous - this is about the U.S. intervention. But then it sounds to me
like that provokes that sort of sit back response from Americans where we
go, oh, well, we`ll all be safe as long as we do nothing here.
BENNIS: It`s not about doing nothing, it`s about doing something that`s
going to do some good. You know, this notion of don`t do stupid stuff that
people have been sort of making fun of has a real sense to it. We start in
foreign policy with the idea first do no harm. Don`t make it worse.
That`s rule number one. Everything we`re doing right now is making it
worse. When you bomb ISIS in Iraq, for instance, the way it`s put forward
in the press here is we`re going after the bad guys. We`re getting the bad
guys. The way it`s seen in Iraq among -- not everybody, but among a huge
number of people, particularly Sunni Iraqis, is to say what you`re doing,
the U.S. is now a player in our civil war. The U.S. is now acting as the
Air Force for the Kurds and the Shia against the Sunni. So saying that
we`re going to bomb them first and then we`ll be able to persuade the Sunni
leaders to break with ISIS, is exactly the wrong approach.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK, so.
BENNIS: They`re not going to break as long as we`re bombing.
HARRIS-PERRY: When we come back, I want to open this up a little bit more,
because President Obama did famously say no dumb wars. And so the question
is, is this an engagement that is not a dumb one, but a smart one and are
we engaging smartly? That`s when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: After President Obama drew criticism last week with his
comments about not having a strategy to deal with ISIS and Syria, we heard
yesterday a very different and decisive message from the president when he
spoke about ISIS at the NATO summit in Wales.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: There`s great conviction that we have to act as part of the
international community to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL. We are
going to achieve our goal. We are going to degrade and ultimately defeat
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Is that what will happen next? We will degrade and defeat?
GHOSH: They will begin the process and he has one and others have that
this is not something that at this table have suggested this is not
something that happens overnight and the military can only be one piece of
a larger problem. The trouble is that right now there is a problem and it
has to be addressed. In an ideal world, you stand back and let the Arab
countries deal with this. You can say and many people in this country do
say, it`s their problem, let them fix it. The analogy I make is that it`s
like you`re in a -- you live on a nice block, a nice street, and somebody
who lives at the end of the street is throwing their garbage out in the
open and pretty soon that`s attracting wild animals and your kids going out
in the street are in danger. If you don`t do anything about it pretty
soon, those wild animals come to your backyard. What are you going to do?
Call your neighbor and say you have got to fix it or do you gather the rest
of the street together and go and clean up or get rid of the wild animals
anyway? This is the nature of the problem we deal right now there is a
problem that needs to be dealt with immediately and that is a military
threat. It is a terrorist threat.
HARRIS-PERRY: But I do think then part of the question about -- so if we
know that the problem is that the garbage is out, well then we know how to
go fix it. I guess what I am less clear about is whether or not we know
what the fix it is here, that there may be ways that we have a general kind
of military response, but that may actually not be how we would fix such a
problem in this case.
CARAFANO: That`s a really good point. I don`t think the president
described the mission correctly, because degrade and defeat are really
uber-nebulous terms, as the military guy in 25 years, if the guy came to me
and said that`s the mission, I would look at him and say, OK, so what do
you actually want me to do? If the mission is - and here is where I do
disagree about the bombing. Because I think it is essential. Because the
Iraqis can`t take back their country without support. If the mission is
drive ISIS out of Iraq as an organized entity, that`s achievable. That`s
achievable in the relative short term.
HARRIS-PERRY: So do we care if they go into Syria and remain in Syria?
CARAFANO: We can have a separate conversation on that.
CARAFANO: Because I think that`s a - I think it`s a lesser and manageable
problem if they`ve been disorganized and driven back in Syria. I`ll
explain why. But your point is exactly right, which is how do you keep it
from just happening again, right? And there is two issues, one is the
sectarian conflict. How do you keep the country confident enough to move
past the sectarian divide until they learn how to -- not learn how, but so
they agree to live together and how do you just keep another ISIS from
flooding back in after? That`s the challenge that Washington, the
international community hasn`t really thought about yet.
BENNIS: You know, I think we have a serious problem. One is, I think even
in the language, and I have got to say having the language be that of
garbage and wild animals I think is not helpful. We`ve seen for years
levels of demonization of individuals and organizations saying this is the
most evil thing that`s ever existed and the only thing we can do is bomb
them. So, we said it about Khomeini when Khomeini`s Revolution happened in
Iran. Then it turned to Saddam Hussein. Then it was the Taliban. Then it
was Gadhafi. You know, you can go on and on. Then it was Bashar al Assad.
HARRIS-PERRY: Although I can`t --
HARRIS-PERRY: I`ve no idea - I only want to suggest in this case that they
actually -- that ISIS has a strategy of, in fact, encouraging us to think
that way, though, right?
Um: And they do it themselves.
BENNIS: If they are trying to get us to do this, we should not fall into
that trap. That`s not what helps us figure out what the strategy should be
to eliminate. I think most people want to get rid of ISIS. I want to get
rid of ISIS. That isn`t the point. The point is, how do we do it, how do
we figure out, to my way of thinking, every short-term bomb that we drop,
maybe you get a bad vibe. Maybe you get a bunch of other people.
GHOSH: That is not all we do it.
GHOSH: That is not all we do it.
GHOSH: No, it`s not true.
BENNIS: It`s not --
GHOSH: We and the rest of the international community put a lot of
pressure to get Nouri al Maliki out. That was very important. That was
part of the political solution.
GHOSH: And we were involved. If we weren`t, that would not have happened.
BENNIS: Yes --
GHOSH: Oh, I`m sorry, the Iranians were very happy with Nouri al-Maliki
for a very long time.
BENNIS: No, I think they were not.
CARAFANO: That`s all Iraq`s problem.
GHOSH: Yeah, that`s right.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right, so pause for me a second.
BENNIS: If you don`t look beyond military to say what`s really going to
change the situation that makes people support ISIS. Wait a minute. The
problem is when you engage in the military stuff, all the other things --
GHOSH: So, we stand up --
HARRIS-PERRY: Pause for me one second because the hearings in part, my
question, though, because this is something you suggested in the notion of
us engaging either politically or in terms of the military. Has the U.S.
through the set of actions that we have taken really post-9/11. So
certainly things before but since 9/11 and particularly with the invasion
of Iraq, has the U.S. become a player who can no longer play on the field
of politics and, in fact, can only be engaged in terms of the military
because there is such a lack of --
CARAFANO: He said it. They arranged a deal where Maliki left. That held
the promise of a united government in Baghdad and a marginalization of
Iranian influence, and that was a political achievement.
CARAFANO: They keep the two candidates in Afghanistan for going after each
other`s throat and having the government fall apart. Those are actually
political achievements where I think we actually have to give the
administration credit. Can I get to the Syrian piece real quick? Because
I think what`s going to - and ISIS that`s driven back in Syria is greatly
weakened and disorganized. They are going to spend as much time fighting
with the other groups in that region and Assad. I don`t think Syria is a
HARRIS-PERRY: But isn`t that a human cost to it? I mean --
CARAFANO: Yeah, there are a lot of --
MOGHUL: What`s the moral difference between ISIS and Assad?
CARAFANO: There`s not one.
GHOSH: There`s not.
CARAFANO: There`s not one.
CARAFANO: No, we are not. No, we can --
MOGHUL: We`re arming one side.
MOGHUL: Right? This is - this is how Sunni --
HARRIS-PERRY: But this was part of why the president did not want to
defend that red line, that kind of push in the summer to address the issue
of the red line. Part of his hesitation around it was a recognition that
there was not a good guy here that you could go on back.
MOGHUL: Maliki`s death squads are wiping out Sunni communities in Iraq.
Wiping them out. Assad`s ethnic cleansing of Sunni population in Syria.
Without a doubt, right? Nobody does anything.
MOGHUL: ISIS - then we are - so how are Sunnis going to read this? We are
basically arming and creating a coalition of people who are at each other`s
GHOSH: Which is why the Free Syrian Army has to be a big part of that --
BENNIS: But the Free Syrian Army, number one, has no military capacity to
go after these guys. They will be slaughtered.
GHOSH: They have fought for four years. They have gained territory, they
have lost territory, but they have fought for four years. We are still
saying that they have no --
BENNIS: But militarily --
BENNIS: I don`t think they do.
GHOSH: They have fought against overwhelming odds.
CARAFANO: We can drive ISIS, we can drive ISIS out of Iraq without
impairing Assad. You are never going to get rid of Assad as long as Russia
and Iran are propping him up.
BENNIS: And that`s --
HARRIS-PERRY: And so now you have brought us to the next phase. Now
diplomacy on a regional level that involves Iran. Right now the U.S. has
engaged with Iran for the first time and --
BENNIS: And you have also brought us --
HARRIS-PERRY: Part of what you have done is also to bring us to a reality
that there are interconnections even beyond where we might think there are
geopolitically. The next place we are going to go is, in fact, to the
question of Russia and Ukraine. Thank you, Mr. Moghul, for being here and
for particularly for helping us to think about this in the long run.
Up next, progress at least for now on the international crisis associated
with Vladimir Putin, but will it really stick?
HARRIS-PERRY: The other international crisis that consumed much of the
NATO summit seems to be even for now. The fighting in Ukraine appears to
be subsiding after a ceasefire agreement reached Friday between Ukraine
forces, Ukrainian forces and Russian backed separatists. The agreement
called for, among other things, amnesty for all those who disarm, a
prisoner exchange and a six-mile buffer zone along the Russian-Ukrainian
border. At the NATO summit in Wales President Obama attributed the
ceasefire to pressure on Russia from sanctions imposed by the U.S. and its
allies. He said the alliance planned to impose even more sanctions, but
that they could be rolled back if the ceasefire holds. But President Obama
was skeptical about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We are hopeful, but based on past experience also skeptical that,
in fact, the separatists will follow through and the Russians will stop
violating Ukraine`s sovereignty and territorial integrity. So it has to be
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Ukraine is not a member of NATO, but in an effort to protect
it from Russian aggression NATO has approved plans for a rapid reaction
force in Eastern Europe that could mobilize quickly if an ally in the
region came under attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERS, FOGH RASMUSSEN, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: NATO protects all allies
at all times and it sends a clear message to any potential aggressor.
Should you even think of attacking one ally, you will be facing the whole
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Tough talk, but it remains to be seen if Russian President
Vladimir Putin is getting the message. Joining the table now, Nina
Khrushcheva, associate professor of International Affairs at the New
School. So President Obama thinks that this ceasefire is largely due to
sanctions? Do you agree?
NINA KHRUSHCHEVA: To a degree. I think it is due to sanctions, but
Vladimir Putin is known to roll back on freedoms and explaining to the
Russians that they need less freedoms in order to stand up to the West.
So, it is partially true, but actually I attribute it to MH-17 flight
disaster. Because I think that`s when Vladimir Putin began thinking that
that war has to de-escalate. But, of course, as he does everything, he
does it on his own terms and his own schedule. But I do think that that
was the beginning when he began to think how to undue this and those white
convoy that we were talking about, the aid convoys, I think was a really
clear indication that he`s going to now act as a peacemaker rather than a
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s so interesting, you bring up that Malaysian Airlines
flight. Because we were hearing very tough talk, though, from NATO and
we`ve been talking about whether or not the U.S. should respond in certain
ways to these horrifying beheadings. But I mean all summer I keep thinking
a commercial jet was downed and as far as I can tell no one held either
politically or in any kind of military fashion responsible for that.
GHOSH: When one side has nukes, and all this amount of force, and the
willingness or you worry that they have a willingness to use a lot of that
force. It`s harder to make those kinds of calls.
HARRIS-PERRY: But those are - those were for the most part European
nations whose citizens were impacted by that. Is this just about kind of
the connection then of the economic interest because when you hear NATO
talking tough, I guess, in other words, what is Putin hearing? Is Putin
hearing, oh, yes, this is, in fact, a threat, or is he hearing, oh, come
on, I`m the one in the driver`s seat.
BENNIS: NATO is - is a military alliance. It`s not a political alliance
although they tried acting that way when they`re looking for new
definitions and new justifications to survive after the cold war. It`s a
NATO - NATO is a military alliance and that means it looks for military
solutions. So if you ask NATO, is it OK to go after Kosovo, for instance,
which is what the U.S. did when they knew that they couldn`t get support in
the U.N. Security Council, of course NATO said yes. When you`re a hammer,
everything looks like a nail. So, I think that`s what the limitation that
we`re looking at. The notion that somehow it`s NATO as the venue that
should be debating what this should mean on the global level is completely
wrong. This belongs in the United Nations not in NATO.
CARAFANO: I think for Putin, the NATO summit is a pretty good response.
It`s mostly rhetorical. The 4,000 rapid reaction force is awesome. Custer
was in favor of faster, rapid reaction forces with the seventh cavalry,
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, come on.
CARAFANO: No, no. But no, no. It`s perfect.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s not --
CARAFANO: No, no, it is actually quite that bad. Because from a military
perspective, Putin realized that there is no requirement for the rationale
for this. It`s all theatrics. So, it`s no threat whatsoever. But on the
other hand if you`re looking for Russian internal domestic politics, this
is another example of NATO being a threat to us. Look, they`re forming a
4,000-man force. What is that force for? Because it`s aimed at us. So,
propaganda-wise, it actually helps --
HARRIS-PERRY: So, this strikes me as being such an important part of this
entire story that we are - or maybe not as well equipped to understand.
And, you know, we`ve talked before about Putin`s sort of muscular way of
self-presenting in the world, but we also saw that initially from the
Ukrainian president who now seems far more sort of retiring on the
international stage as he faces the force that is Putin.
KHRUSHCHEVA: Well, and I think he`s actually -- I think his actions are
very clever. We can say that while he gave up certain rights and
responsibilities for Ukraine that he promised originally, but as Jimmy
Carter said long, long time ago about Egypt and Israel, is that Cold War -
I mean, sorry, cold peace is better than the hot war. And I think that`s
what Poroshenko, Petro Poroshenko, the president is calculating. Because
Putin told him you`re not going to win that militarily and Putin stands by
his words. We can debate how true it is and how real it is, but he stands
by his words. That`s why all those little incursions were. I can tell
you, if I want to invade, I will. I`m just not going to. So, you have to
come up with a political solution. Winter is coming, energy and all these
other things, I think, is really what is driving Poroshenko to make a
HARRIS-PERRY: Stay with us, because I want to - I want to go back and tie
all of this conflict into the broader conflict that we were discussing
earlier. As soon as we get back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every
problem is a nail. Because the costs associated with military action are
so high, you should expect every civilian leader and especially your
commander in chief to be clear about how that awesome power should be used.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was President Obama back on May 28th in an address at
West Point where he was really laying out a kind of Obama doctrine and I
guess part of what I want to do at this moment then is to pause and think
about that hammer/nail question that you brought up for us in the context
of NATO, but specifically for President Obama who is now facing a Ukrainian
and Russian situation on one hand and then the threat of ISIS on the other.
How does he determine what in his toolbox he ought to be using?
BENNIS: I think that we have to start with demilitarization as the goal.
Now that`s not an easy thing. But I think starting with talk about the
need for an arms embargo, for example, in Syria and Iraq needs to start.
That`s not going to happen right away. But that`s where we need to start
to say how can we convince Iran and Russia to stop arming the Syrian
regime? Well, let`s start by getting our allies, the Saudis, the Turks,
the Jordanians to stop allowing ISIS to cross their borders and stop paying
ISIS, stop allowing our weapons to be flooding the region, which is what
we`re seeing now particularly in Libya. If we look at the effect of the
NATO attacks in Libya, we`re left with a wholly over-militarized scenario
that has destroyed the country.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, you know, I find myself all in this kind of quirky
position. Because I`m more of a hawk, I think, than my general progressive
domestic politics would suggest and I wonder why, right? In other words, I
wonder if it`s because I have, in part, bought into the belief that dark
blue passport which gives me such privilege - more privilege
internationally even than I have here, is in part because it is backed up
by a sense of U.S. military might. And if, in fact, that`s actually far
less tangible than I think it is.
CARAFANO: This is why war and foreign policy make bad politics. Because
the answer in politics is you do what you believe in. The answer in war
and foreign policy is you do the right thing because the enemy gets a vote
and it`s a competition.
HARRIS-PERRY: What do you mean by right thing?
CARAFANO: The right thing, the thing that`s going to protect your vital
interests and do good as you see fit whether you`re doing good - whether
you`re President Obama or President Putin, but there`s no playbook for
BENNIS: But that`s when you do stupid things, you go to war for oil, you
go to war for military bases, you go to war for power. You`re not going to
war for democracy.
CARAFANO: Let`s design --
BENNIS: That`s not --
CARAFANO: Let`s design foreign policy so stupidity is not an option.
CARAFANO: Well, that`s stupid because it doesn`t- because it doesn`t
happen because we`re humans and we make mistakes and we are competing with
HARRIS-PERRY: So, so let me pull you back in on this important because it
does feel to me then like part of what determines that is the question of
what one thinks of as one`s interests and so when I look at Putin`s
decision vis-a-vis Ukraine, it`s not like a protection of the Russian
people. But it does have something to do with a Russian pride, with
expansionists and certainly with Putin`s own power.
KHRUSHCHEVA: Absolutely. It`s in rhetoric of the protection of the
Russian people and Russians are very good. They`re not really great at
politics, but they have been always very, very good at propaganda.
Politics requires competition, but propaganda actually portrays the
message. And Russians have been fantastic. I think those white trucks
really did the number. Because suddenly we saw Putin who says, well, it`s
not just the West who does humanitarianism. We do the same thing. And in
some ways as sad as it may be that Poroshenko finally agreed to this kind
KHRUSHCHEVA: That really gives Putin a lot of leverage in East Ukraine, in
some ways real politic, as much as we may hate this word especially on the
KHRUSHCHEVA: Is - has to be at play here because the choices are it`s bad
and it`s even worse. And you kind of have to deal with this reality and I
think Poroshenko did very smartly to deal with it. Because there is a lot
of comparison to World War II, because of Nazi rhetoric has been used on --
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, on both sides.
KHRUSHCHEVA: On all sides. And we should probably compare it more to
World War I, which, by the way, we`re celebrating the 100th anniversary,
that peace - peace treaty.
KHRUSHCHEVA: We are marking.
HARRIS-PERRY: We are commemorating.
KHRUSHCHEVA: But I mean the whole world has been marking, and they have
this treaty of peace and that was a horrible thing, but in some ways it
gave opportunities for the world to undo the damage.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to thank Bobby Ghosh and Nina Khrushcheva, also, to
James Carafano and to Phyllis Bennis. Thanks you all for being here.
Coming up next, the temptation to look when you know you shouldn`t. The
hacking of nude photos of Kate Upton and Jennifer Lawrence among others has
everyone asking is there any such thing as privacy in the digital age? I
can`t believe they made me talk about nude photos with my foreign policy
table sitting here. More of the Nerdland at the top of the hour.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. When my daughter
was born, we started off family photo stream. It just seemed like the
easiest way for us as sleepy and busy parents of a newborn to make sure
that all the aunts and uncles and grandparents and friends could share in
our joy without having to have dozens of individual conversations. Now
more than six months later the photo stream is gargantuan. There are more
than 5,000 pictures on it. Most of them are still of the baby, like when
she started holding her own bottle. I had to post that. Now it has
become, however, a kind of family Instagram. I mean there are photos of
big sister Parker running cross-country and there are shots of family and
travel and school events and the dog, the house, everything. And
everybody, all the aunts and uncles are just posted and liking and
commenting and feeling pretty darned good about our little family bubble in
Until this week when it became far too real that our private photo sharing
may not be very private at all. Now you`ve likely been hearing all week
about and maybe even seen the private photos of the celebrities like
Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton that have been stolen from private
accounts and published online. Many of the photos of the women were nude
or otherwise revealing. And that alchemy of notoriety and nakedness has
meant that much of the initial public outcry revolved around issues of
gender, consent, and exploitation of women`s bodies. In "The Guardian,"
the author Roxane Gay wrote what these people are doing is reminding women
that no matter who they are, they are still women. They are forever
vulnerable. Indeed, the fact that these women are literally laid bare
publicly without their consent does give this entire story a salacious
But my first thought was not the relief that there were no cameras when I
was in my 20s to lure me into the naughty selfies I undoubtedly would have
taken, instead, I felt worry, worry for that six-month-long very silly
family photo stream. Now there is nothing sexy or salacious in the
pictures, nothing that could obviously do harm to my loved ones or to me if
they were publicized. Heck, I`m even willing to show all the viewers the
ones where I have on no makeup. But that`s the point, I shared it. I
showed it. I chose. I consented. Even if the exact same pictures became
public without my consent, the violation would approach what it`s like to
come home and find that someone has broken in, stolen nothing of value but
nonetheless, you know, rifled through your private things, leaving you
vulnerable and wondering what other greater violations might be possible if
you don`t rapidly improve your home security system.
So, yeah, I know that famous women were naked, but this is not a story
about nakedness. This is a story about privacy in a world where so much of
your information exists on servers that are far out of your control. It is
about how we define public and private spaces and public and private
figures. It is about the security of all of our data points. Not just
Joining me now are Salamishah Tillet, associate professor of English
Africana studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Dan Ackerman, senior
editor at cnet.com, Megan Carpentier who is deputy U.S. opinion editor for
"The Guardian" and David Opderbeck, who is professor of law at Seton Hall
University and director of the Gibbons Institute in Law, Science and
Technology. So nice to have you all here.
So, and Salamishah, I want to start with you. Is this a women`s story? Is
this a story about feminism and women`s unique vulnerability?
SALAMISHAH TILLET, ASSOC. PROF., UNIV. OF PENNSYLVANIA: Yes and no. I
mean I think it`s a misogynistic expression of the debates that we are
having about surveillance and privacy and publicity that have been going on
over the last decade. So, I think this is potential moment for those of us
who like you, share photos freely or we think, you know, we`re sharing them
within an intimate setting and yet we actually don`t know what is happening
with the data and we`re not necessarily as concerned with the repercussions
of it because we aren`t celebrities whose nude photos are being exploited
and exploded in the mass public. So, I think it`s a really interesting
moment, because Facebook is about to release a new privacy checkup for all
of its users. And there`s an illusion right, on one hand we are able - the
check of this essay, you know, how are our photos being used? Who has
access to them? And yet, the real problem I think is that Facebook is
selling our information to major corporations and we`re not necessarily
concerned with that. So, the illusion is it`s been disseminated amongst a
small community and we have control over that. But the way, in which our
photos or information is really being used we have no control over and
we`re not necessarily even concerned about.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, and it`s interesting because you point out, the part
of the reason we`re not concerned is because we`re not famous, right?
We`re thinking nobody wants a naked picture of me, right? Only of Jennifer
Lawrence. But I`m thinking a lot about the accidental fame that occurs,
right? So in the case of let`s say, Justine Sacco, right? She was the PR
exec who tweeted something kind of horrifying and ended up by the time
she`d landed in South Africa fired from her job, right? She became famous
in that moment. My bet is where there naked pictures floating around -
they would have been - you know, people can become accidentally famous
because your son is killed by a police officer and then all of the sudden
whatever you posted on Facebook becomes relevant. And so, should we be
concerned as though - because we could be Jennifer Lawrence anymore?
DAN ACKERMAN, SENIOR EDTIOR, CNET.COM: Yeah, - error, anyone can be an
accidental instant celebrity. Even it`s just for a few days, and once
you`re on that kind of radar, you become a target. And someone could do
the same thing to you that they did to these celebrities and not do some
sort of super high-tech shady hack, but do very low tech things, like
target you and try to figure out what your, you know, your password
reminder questions are, what street did you grow up on, what`s your
birthday, that`s easy stuff to find. So you may think you have -
protection of just being, you know, a regular citizen and not a celebrity.
But if something happens to you and you`re on the radar, you could be
targeted like anybody else.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, I think there`s an actual pool in Nerdland right now
about whether or not it will take until 12:00 noon for that personal photo
stream that I just talked about to be hacked, right? Like not because
anyone actually is particularly interested in what is going on there, but
just as a demonstration of what`s possible. And yet I guess part that of
what -- the question for me then, is then what is the legal tradeoff?
Because, in fact, that 5,000 photo stream is useful to me as a piece of
technology. It has kept me from having 5,000 separate conversations with
my in-laws and my parents, but I am trading off the possibility of a
DAVID OPDERBECK, PROF., SETON HALL UNIV. LAW SCHOOL: I think that question
of tradeoff is a good word. I mean the law of privacy as we know it today
started to develop in the 19th and early 20th century and we didn`t have
these technologies. We had newspapers. We had hard copy. And we didn`t
have the average person being able to have that much information out there.
Now we have these technologies that are useful to us because we can keep
our information in the cloud, because it can be always accessible, but that
utility sort of runs up against some old law that hasn`t really kept pace.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, of course, undoubtedly we first began having this
conversation not so much around celebrities and photographs, but around an
instantaneous celebrity in the person of Edward Snowden who brought up the
question of our government having control of information that we did not
expect them to have control over. And yet part of what I kept pushing back
against was exactly this, and saying yeah, but Google has it, Apple has it.
The NSA is at least theoretically on some long chain democratically
accountable in the way that these institutions are not.
MEGAN CARPENTIER, DEPUTY U.S. OPINION EDITOR, THE GUARDIAN: Well, and
Google has it and Apple has it so the government can get it from them and
CARPENTIER: I mean they released these privacy reports every year that
document thousands and thousands of requests from government for this
information. But beyond Google and Apple there are data brokers who are
collecting from Google, from Apple, from Facebook every time you fill out a
warranty card, every time you type your name in and then they aggregate
this data, so there`s huge dossiers of information that are making
inferences about you, your income, your life based on the things that
you`ve done online or off line. Clusting them together and then selling
them to marketers. And there`s zero disclosure. The Federal Trade
Commission issued a report in June that said Congress needs to pass
legislation because there`s no way to get off these lists, there`s no way
to correct data on these lists, there is no way to know who has your
information or what it says about you or who they`re selling it to. And
there`s one Senate bill which given how Senate and the House works is
probably not going to pass.
OPDERBECK: Oh don`t work.
HARRIS-PERRY: So on the one hand we`ve managed to then say, oh, this is a
big problem. It`s about all these things. But I don`t want to lose the
idea that whenever there is this sort of privacy issue or data issue that
women often do find themselves, in fact, even more vulnerable in part,
Salamishah, in part because of the kinds of things that are potentially
destructive to the character, reputation, professional capacity of women is
broader. Is that the right way for me to be thinking about that?
TILLET: Yeah, I mean I guess I`m thinking about it within the specific
context of the moment, right, so that we have this really deeply sexist
expression or invasion of privacy and at the same time it`s part of like we
were saying, it`s part of the larger conversation about privacy and consent
that we`re not even aware how these corporations or how these companies are
using our data, really, right? So we think you`re putting a picture of
your daughter online and yet who knows, you know, then, you know, when
you`re on Facebook Serena and Leila, or (INAUDIBLE) kids, like all these
things that are popping up because literally you put this information on
and it`s being used to sell you all these other items.
So, the relationship between capital surveillance and privacy, I think is
really important and I think it does relate to the fact that we have these
women`s bodies being put on display without their permission and being sold
for undisclosed amounts. Because we don`t even know who the person is
doing it. But on the flip side, I think, you know, we don`t critique this
as much. When anonymous goes in and makes an important intervention in
Steubenville, and that`s how most of us get the information about a rape
case there and how that image of that young girl was being disseminated
over and over again. There`s less of a critique or push back from us, the
feminist or the political activists, so there`s a slippery slope and
there`s also a double-edged sword. On one hand it`s being used as evidence
in these important cases, at the same time, it`s really vilifying and
violating these women`s privacy.
HARRIS-PERRY: When we come back, I want to stay a little bit more on this
topic, but also delve into the target marketing. Literally, the target
marketing that can occur. Are you pregnant? Target might already know.
HARRIS-PERRY: The amount of information the corporations have about you,
about the way you use social media, the websites you visit and how and
where you shop and what you buy can be staggering. Staggering for the
corporations extremely profitable. All that information can be sold to
advertisers, are used in house to better market to individual customers.
Take, for example, Target which reportedly compiles massive amounts of data
about what all their tens of millions of customers are buying. As "The New
York Times" reported in 2012 Target uses that data to do remarkable things
like determine a pregnant woman`s due date within a very small window
without her ever telling Target that she was expecting. They can then
market their extensive range of baby supplies and later toddler supplies
and tween supplies to the women who are in the market for just that.
It`s a lucrative strategy and Target is very good at it. In fact,
according to "Times" report, Target once sent a teenage girl a stack of
coupons, all for baby clothes and cribs and the like. Her father came into
his local Target enraged because there was no way, he said, that she could
be pregnant. She was pregnant. And Target knew it before her own family.
That story made me feel like, oh, yeah, I mean that`s more than just you
change your Facebook status to engaged and you get all of the, you know,
jewelry stores. It feels more inside of your personal business in a way
that is troubling to me.
ACKERMAN: And that`s the machine that kind of drives the economy behind
these big projects like Gmail and anything Google does and Facebook. And I
have said to people who feel they`re being taken advantage of, but only
limited amount because you do enter into a commercial relationship with
your services when you sign up and you do get a lot of value. Gmail is
very useful for people, but it`s not free to run, Facebook super. You said
you can get a ton of social utility that you - from that. It`s also not
free to run. And that`s how these guys make their money.
HARRIS-PERRY: Granted, but there`s not -- what is the option, right? So,
at this point you cannot be a person who refuses to text message, to e-mail
-- you are engaging in a world, in which those are requirements of basic
commerce and so the notion that you can be off the grid that you can just
choose out of it I think feels like less of a choice.
CARPENTIER: Well, I think there are choices you can start to make. You
know, do you need to save 20 cents at CVS? Because every time you do that,
you swipe the little card, they have there your name, they have your
address, they have your e-mail and they have everything that you bought and
a history of everything you bought. I mean my CVS card and I will say that
I`m not in a glass house here, probably documents every purchase I`ve made
since like 1997.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah. Yeah.
CARPENTIER: So, you know, I probably saved a couple of hundred dollars but
what - they probably sold my information, used that information to market
me - to me far more than I`ve earned out of that. I mean those are little
ways that you can start to opt out of the system.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, so - It seems to me, though, the other main way,
particularly for the political class to opt out of the problem of
potentially being hacked is to tell their own business kind of upfront. We
saw just this week Wendy Davis, who`s running for governor in Texas made a
decision to reveal a very personal part of her history. She talks about a
pregnancy termination in the second term. She uses very clear language
about the sadness that she had as a result of it. And on the one hand you
see that`s in part because she`s running as a - a kind of woman`s rights
advocate, but it also feels a little bit like she is pushed to disclose,
because there is always the possibility that her private information will
be leaked. I mean do we have a right to privacy?
OPDERBECK: It`s an interesting dynamic with a public figure and with this
question of volunteering this, and that is a line that the law tends to
draw. If you voluntarily disclose something, then it`s not private
anymore. You`ve disclosed it and the law has always seen public figures in
sort of a different light in the law of privacy. They`re running for
office. The public has some sort of right to know things about them. It`s
the private person who`s now interfacing with these information
intermediaries when you may not exactly know all of what`s being disclosed
and it`s not entirely clear when you`re giving consent and what is
voluntary. That`s really I think where the legal issue arises.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK, but how much public? So, for example, I was distressed
that Rihanna, who is known for, you know, racy selfies on her own
Instagram, that somehow there`s a notion that a stolen picture of her naked
is not as damaging because, well, she has shown us other half naked or full
naked pictures of herself. And I keep thinking. No. Every single naked
picture you should have a right to be like - no, not that one. Right?
Like that somehow being public and having even disclosed some parts of it
presumes consent to always allowing the availability of one`s body in
TILLET: Yeah. And I didn`t actually hear that critique about Kate Upton
who is a "Sports Illustrated" supermodel. And so the arguing could be made
that in a way- you know, I`m not going to make that argument, but there`s a
way, in which, I think certain women`s bodies, and race and celebrity
status make this a little bit murkier, who has the right to be protected
and who doesn`t? But I also think and this is part of the larger
conversation about the choices. So, I think on one hand, you know, we do
have choices like not to use the CVS card. But when it comes to like
Gmail, for example, websites or Internet providers that have been more
secure, being, you know, continuously under pressure from the federal
government to release data and if they don`t release data they`re basically
closing shop because they want to protect the rights of citizens. So, it`s
a really - you know, on the one hand we have the choice to use Google, we
have the choice to use Gmail, but there are fewer and fewer options for us.
Since I think that`s the tricky thing. You know, we don`t have to use
Facebook. We don`t have to put information when it comes to Gmail, it
comes to Verizon, we have very few options. And so, it`s a tricky moment.
ACKERMAN: All right, that`s entirely true and you can choose to opt out of
some services, there`s like a search engine provider that won`t like use
any cookies to track your searches but then the results you get are not
going to be as good. And it`s the tradeoff anyone has between sort of
convenience and privacy. If you want to go through Facebook every single
setting and set things to super private, you`ll do a little bit better than
somebody who doesn`t, but someone who you do trust to see you screen can
still take a screen shot, a copy photo and share it later. You can never
be sure it`s gone, gone, gone.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, I mean I`m happy that Netflix watches what my kid
watches so that I can go back and watch she watched and that even if she
comes over and watches it on my account that I can see it because all of a
sudden it will change. So, there`s ways in which I love it -- yes, Parker
that is what happens if you rent things on my account. So, right - so,
there is a way, in which I love that, but I also recognize like the icky
part of it, if it`s not me watching but someone else watching what we`re
watching when we`re watching stuff in my house. Up next corporation versus
the government. I want to come back to that again and ask this question
about should we be more afraid of the NFL or of your iPhone?
HARRIS-PERRY: I asked before the break if we should be afraid of the NCF.
Which is, of course, the National Science Foundation, and unless you are a
political scientists who`s writing a grant, you probably should not be.
But there is a question about whether or not we should be concerned about
the NSA, the National Security Agency, which has collected massive amounts
of data about Americans, our call records, our cell phone locations, even
the images of our faces. So, of whom should we be more afraid? I know
that Apple has my biomarker because when I got the new iPhone I put my
thumbprint on it in order to be able to -- didn`t even think about it.
Just, of course, gave them my thumbprint. Again, they are multinational
corporation, they are not democratically managed. Should I be more afraid
of Apple or of Susan Rice and the NSA?
ACKERMAN: To be fair, I`m pretty sure that Apple when you scan your thumb,
it keeps that file on the phone. And they claim they don`t upload it to
Apple`s central service. Starting later this coming week, they may be
storing your credit card information, also, to turn your phone into a
payment system, and that`s where they really do get every single thing on
one device, and that`s where it becomes sort of the thing you can`t escape-
HARRIS-PERRY: And look, I just - I want to read an Apple statement real
quick because we have been talking a bit about them. And they did say,
"After more than 40 hours of investigation, this is after the celebrity
photos were hacked, we have discovered that certain celebrity accounts were
compromised by very targeted attack on users` names, passwords and security
questions or practices become all too common on the Internet. None of the
cases we`ve investigated has resulted from any breach of any Apple systems
including iCloud, so they`re making a claim towards relative security
CARPENTIER: They`re making a claim towards limited liability. Because
what they`re saying is it`s not our system. They didn`t get in through our
end. They got in through your end so, sorry, that your naked pictures --
HARRIS-PERRY: So, can we password protect ourselves out of the realities
of corporations and our government having this information?
OPDERBECK: I think one of the interesting things here from the legal
perspective is that in the 19th or 20th century, the analogy for the Apples
or Googles of today might have been, say, the railroads. And we had
antitrust law to deal with it. And when it came to be the case that most
people needed to use the railroads, we had to step in and kind of regulate
the fees railroads could charge and the way they integrate. And so, we
still kind of think in the law of Googles and other information
intermediaries, there`s something like a newspaper. Not everyone needs to
be in the newspaper. But the fact is, they`re more like the railroads we
are back in. We really all need to have access so we need to think in
terms of regulatory structure more along those lines, perhaps.
HARRIS-PERRY: It makes them more of a public infrastructure than a private
sort of purchase.
OPDERBECK: In the law we would call it an essential facility. That`s kind
of a - the term of arc that we would use.
HARRIS-PERRY: I wonder then, if we have a lot of anxiety about the way, in
which technology opens us to surveillance. If this is not a class-based
anxiety, in part because poor communities have experience street level,
police and government surveillance for a very long time, everything from
literal police surveillance to having to disclose personal information in
order to get government benefits and if part of what`s happening now is
suddenly the middle class has to have the same worries that poor people
have had for a very long time.
TILLET: Yes, I think it is maybe a democratization of the surveillance
that class people - working class people have been under throughout
American history, but obviously, very recently, but I also think, you know,
with Trayvon Martin, and I want to bring this case up in particular,
because the way, in which images of Trayvon that he posted on Facebook,
that he is sharing with other people are used then to discredit his
character. So, it`s still a working class - I mean it`s doubling down,
right? So, that - the surveillance in the communities out there
experiencing, and one-on-one interactions with individuals and with police
officers and then hyper surveillance from the state or from corporations
itself. And so, working class --
HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, but we`re seeing this with Michael Brown now where
there is discourse about whether or not his Instagram account demonstrates
violent tendencies or, you know, has these kinds of images. And again, if
anyone looks at our own cloud of pictures, and there was this kind of
Twitter campaign, what picture would they use, you know, if I were killed?
Because there are kind of friendly, happy pictures and then there are, you
know, are other pictures that are quite different.
CARPENTIER: Well, and I think you see this, too when you are - talking
about women who`ve been sexually assaulted.
CARPENTIER: You see people go through and say well, here is a picture of
her drinking, or here is a picture of her low cut top. I mean it`s just
another way to impose these same standards; that kind of infiltrate our
consciousness about who makes a good victim. And very few of us do unless
you are a certain income, a certain race, a certain gender in a certain
place at a certain time. It`s just - the law has become very difficult.
HARRIS-PERRY: We are just all the way back to a notion of - a kind of
digital vulnerability that is heightened for - for those who are most
marginalized, for people of color, for poor people, for women. Thanks to
Dan Ackerman and to David Opderbeck, also Salamishah and Megan. But they
are going to stick around a little bit. But up next, it is back to school
time and my letter of the week focuses on some educators teaching all the
HARRIS-PERRY: This week the school year began in earnest throughout the
country. From pre-k to college campuses young people returned to
classrooms with sharpened pencils, fresh notebooks and, of course, the
determination to express themselves through style and attire. Now, it
seems many school officials have decided to meet that individual expression
with some good old fashion repression. Take the story of this five-year-
old boy in Seminole, Texas who was sent home on his first day of
kindergarten over his long hair, which was pulled back into a ponytail.
Well, Malachi is a member of the Navajo nation which believes hair is
sacred. It should not be cut. But district would not let him return to
class until he provided documentation that he was truly Native American.
Or this story of a Rastafarian teenager in Louisiana who was repeatedly
sent home for wearing his hair in locks. The student even took the advice
of a school board member and pinned up his hair so it didn`t fall beyond
his shoulders. But after ten days of being sent home the ACLU reports they
have finally reached an agreement with the school system to let the student
rejoin his classmates.
But nothing jolted me as much as the story of one teenaged girl in Clay
County, Florida, which is why my letter this week goes to the
superintendent of that county`s school district.
"Dear superintendent Charlie van Zant, Junior. It`s me, Melissa. On
Miranda Larkin`s third day of school she wore this outfit, a black skirt
about three to four inches above her knees which is a violation of the
dress code, and for that your policy resulted in the 15-year-old having to
wear this outfit. Her punishment was a neon t-shirt and red sweatpants
with the words dress code violation written across both. Your district
school Oakleaf High maintains that it gives students three options in the
event of a dress code violation including in school suspension or a parent
or guardian bringing the student new clothes. But this, this so-called
shame suit, was the only option Miranda says was made available to her.
Miranda`s mother says when her daughter saw herself in the shame suit,
Miranda burst into tears and broke out in hives requiring medication. You
see, superintendent, Miranda just moved to your Florida school district
from Seattle. This was her first week in a brand-new school.
Now your district spokesman said the purpose of the punishment is for
students to miss as little class as possible and to create a distraction
free learning environment. I`m sorry, what? As if the neon yellow shirt
isn`t distracting, as if public shaming, especially among teenagers isn`t
distracting, especially for Miranda. Let me help you understand what
happens when you shame students. You see, there are physiological effects.
Social scientists have found that shame is an intrinsic instrument of
isolation and withdrawal and biochemically it can damage cognitive
function. Shame also damages feelings of belonging and the formation of
school community, which we know is essential to students` motivation and
engagement. In other words, by turning this young woman into a neon
billboard of dress code violation, you may have made it physically more
difficult for her to concentrate and complete her work, to succeed at
school. Students must have a sense of social competence and academic
achievement. You likely undermined that for her.
Superintendent van Zant, have you ever been the new kid in school? Do you
know how much you hope to fit in and to make friends? Did you think of how
much harder you just made that journey for this student? And this is about
more than Miranda. Every choice made by educators is a lesson to students.
What lessons have you taught your students? I think you taught them how to
label and taunt and shame. This is why we no longer have kids don a dunce
cap as punishment.
So, superintendent, maybe it`s time school leaders like you and apparently
many others around the country focus on the spirits and minds of young
people and a little less focus, please, on their outward appearance because
what you are teaching them is that how you look is more important than what
you know. Or who you are. Sincerely, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: On college campuses across the country it is now back to
school time and in California, back to school may soon mean back to a safer
school, because California is the first state to pass a yes means yes bill.
Requiring all universities adopt an affirmative consent standard defining
that as, quote, affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage
in sexual activity. Making it plain you need to hear yes before engaging
in sexual activity and, in fact, throughout it. And that lack of
resistance with the absence of no doesn`t count. Also, as I point out,
consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at
any time. Back in April the White House highlighted how serious an issue
sexual assault on campus has become when Vice President Joe Biden released
the White House`s first report on the issue stating that one in five women
will be sexually assaulted while attending college. Just this week
students filed complaints for the Department of Education`s office for
civil rights against four schools. The University of Michigan, the
University of California Santa Barbara, the University of Toledo, and
Valparaiso`s Law School alleging mishandling of sexual assault cases and
retaliation against survivors including one case where a student found
responsible for rape was given a $25 fine. Then there`s the story of
Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz, Emma is back at school this
semester carrying a heavy load not just as a course load, but instead a
mattress. Emma is carrying her mattress around the Columbia campus into
every class, to every building where she goes. It is the mattress upon
which she says she was raped. She is doing so until the man she says raped
her is expelled or moves off campus.
Joining me now is Emma Sulkowicz, a senior at Columbia University, also
back at the table, Megan Carpentier, deputy U.S. opinion editor for "The
Guardian" and University of Pennsylvania professor Salamishah Tillet.
Emma, I want to start with you and if at any point you feel like, hey, I`m
going to need to pause, let me know, because this is a kind of
representation artistically and personally of the burden that you are
EMMA SULKOWICZ, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY STUDENT: Yes, it is.
HARRIS-PERRY: There is not a conviction for the alleged rapist in this
case, but talk to me about the process -- because you did eventually tell
about what you experienced. There are other women who have also alleged
that this individual assaulted them. What is the process that Columbia
underwent and why do you feel it was insufficient?
SULKOWICZ: Well, first the three of us reported our cases to the office of
gender based and sexual misconduct. They held an investigation which I
felt was insufficient because the investigator didn`t even take down
important notes such as the position I was in when he raped me. And the
interviews aren`t recorded so it`s all -- my entire testimony is based on
her notes basically and that was obviously an important detail to leave out
until interview number three. And even when she compiled the report there
were so many typos and inaccuracies that we weren`t even allowed to
correct. We had - it`s so complicated. But all of the corrections had to
be stapled on to the back of the report in an addendum so my report is
completely jumbled. It was horrible.
My perpetrator was allowed to postpone the hearing for 70 months because of
academic conflict, which ended up being so long that one of the women he
attacked graduated. The only person who was punished in the entire case
was my closest friend and supporter who was forced to write an essay from
the perspective of my rapist which, to me, is disgusting and cruel. And
then finally, I mean, I`m just saying a few of the things that happened,
but one of my -- one of the hearing panelists didn`t even understand how
anal rape worked and kept asking me if there is lubrication.
HARRIS-PERRY: I keep wondering why this was happening on campus. This is
a crime. And so why campuses -- I`m going to go to Salamishah for a moment
here. Why campuses are managing -- I understand, in part, although I am
not happy about how the military addresses the question of sexual assault
within the military, all criminal actions within the military context go
through military chain of command. I guess I don`t understand if there
were other kinds of crime on campus, they are handled by law enforcement
outside of it. Why should this only be handled in this space? Are we even
equipped on college campuses to handle it?
TILLET: Yes, I just want to applaud you for your courage. I am a rape
survivor, I was also sexually assaulted in college. And I know this
generation and the presence of them and really being at the forefront of
campus sexual assault reform is really significant and important and, you
know, in many ways I`m just in awe of the ways you all are taking on this.
And also I just want to say that the reason she has to turn it into art and
this is kind of what our (INAUDIBLE), uses art - because the system has
failed. The legal system has failed. The judicial system has failed. And
so in many ways the biggest and most important form of self-expression is
your own story and obviously carrying the mattress as a form of protest and
resistance. So just thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: I really - I know I have to go to commercial but I don`t
want to move off this for a second because you said it quickly, that a law
-(INAUDIBLE) is in part about doing this, but I do -- I have seen the work
that you and your sister have done around using art and the telling of your
story as a way of pushing back against this broken system and so before we
go on to the campus -- I just want to pause there for a moment about,
again, why that way of addressing this is so important.
TILLET: I mean you can also talk about it, too, but I think a couple of
things. You know, before title nine is a kind of recent expression or
recent use of trying to get back -- to deal with these issues on college
campuses. And so, for my generation and for your generation, and for the
women before us, you know, we were trying to get justice on college
campuses and there were very few resources, right? So the women centers
have been underfunded. Occasionally, there was a campus sexual assault
center that people can go to.
But these are the most under-resourced and underfunded parts of the
university and yet they are the first place that we`re encouraged to go to
to get a sense of justice, a sense of hope, a sense of healing. And so,
for my sister Shaherezad (ph) and me, it was through -- she was a student
when she started (INAUDIBLE). It was a way of trying to take back survivor
stories, put us at the forefront of the movement but also as experts and
trying to understand the way in which our telling of our own stories can be
a vehicle for social expression and social change. So, that`s kind of, you
know, that`s why we created the organization but there were so few places
to go in order for us to get justice.
HARRIS-PERRY: Emma, I`ve been I was thinking about it a bit because
obviously I`m sitting here in the journalist chair so I have to stay
alleged and those, you know, there`s all kinds of rules about whether there
is a conviction or not. But in your context, you have to be able to speak
back to this person. How has carrying the mattress either allowed or not
allowed you to do that?
SULKOWICZ: What do you mean by speak back to the person?
HARRIS-PERRY: Push pack against the idea that simply because there is no
conviction that this attacker is necessarily innocent?
SULKOWICZ: Well, for me, this art piece is a personal work. And I`m
making it based on what`s happening in my own life and I know who raped me.
I have no doubt in my mind. So it`s my piece. I`m going to carry it until
he`s gone. And it doesn`t -- it`s not a legal statement. It`s not -- it`s
not -- I`m not making some sort of press statement. It`s just my artwork.
It`s the same thing as if a woman drew a portrait of their rapist. It`s a
personal thing that they`re doing to try and overcome what happened to
HARRIS-PERRY: Has anyone on campus helped you carry it?
SULKOWICZ: Yeah. It`s been really amazing and part of -- one of the most
interesting and surprising parts of the piece that I wasn`t expecting was
that I`ve been having these really great conversations with people I`ve
never met before who just come up and introduce themselves and then offer
to carry the mattress. And on my way to class I`ll be having the ideal
number to carry the mattress is four. So, I`ll be having these really
interesting conversations with three people I`ve never met before who are
all really interested in the same things I`m interested in and passionate
about these same things as well. So, yeah, it`s been really amazing to not
only receive help from people who care, but also get to meet them and to
see what the campus community is doing in response to my piece. It`s
HARRIS-PERRY: Emma Sulkowicz, thank you for your courage on campus and for
telling the story and thank you for being here. Thank you to Salamishah
Tillet, Megan, I`m so sorry I didn`t get back around to you, time
management and also I`m obsessed with you, Emma --
HARRIS-PERRY: In the sense I really want to make sure that we are doing
the right thing and how we are telling your story, because you are being so
courageous and careful in how you are telling your own story. Up next, our
foot soldier of the week has his lens focused on black men in America.
HARRIS-PERRY: It is classic text invisible man. Ralph Ellison writes
about the experience of black men in America. "I am a man of substance.
Of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids. And I might be said to possess a
mind. I am invisible understand simply because people refuse to see me.
When they approach me, they see only my surroundings themselves or figments
of their imagination. Indeed, everything and anything except me." This
week`s foot soldier is countering this painful invisibility through a lens
that allows us to see black men as they see themselves. Tesfa Alexander, a
lead health scientist at the FDA and an adjunct professor at the University
of Memphis was a photographer in his spare time for years.
In July 2013 when the verdict of the George Zimmerman trial was announced,
Tesfa told us he felt compelled to use his art form for activism. He saw
it as creative outlet to channel his reaction to the verdict and reflecting
on his experiences as an African-American man. Alexander began a year-long
endeavor called the "I am photo project." He traveled to 17 cities to
interview 46 African-American men and photograph them in a setting they
choose. A setting that is important as a part of their identities. His
goal and his words is to share just a snippet of how we define ourselves.
To get others to see us as we see ourselves. So during each photo shoot he
asked the men he interviewed one simple question, how would you describe
yourself. He then set their words to their images. These were the
Spencer from Boston, who works as an aerospace engineer. John, from
Memphis, Tennessee, who was doing yard work when he was incorrectly
identified as a burglar and subsequently jailed for three months. Kenny
and Dontrell, two hip-hop artists living in Oakland, California, who use
their studio as a creative outlet. Alexander told us he hopes that this
project will be the first of many similar endeavors to help amplify the
voices of people who often feel they have been silenced and to share some
of their stories with the world. Tesfa Alexander is our foot soldier of
this week for creating a platform that help us see black men as each
individual would like to be seen. And for creating art that embodies these
words from Ralph Ellison`s "Invisible Man."
I feel the need to reaffirm all of it. The whole unhappy territory. And
all the things loved and unlovable in it. For it is all part of me. We
have this also special footnote to add to our "Foot Soldier" segment this
week. Alexander has begun a new photo project of sorts, taking snapshots
of his baby boy, born yesterday morning and shown here with the proud dad`s
oldest son. Congratulations to Tesfa and his wife Terry. And that`s our
show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching. I`ll see you tomorrow
morning, 10:00 a.m. Eastern. We`re going to get into just what it means
when the U.S. Attorney General decides that it is time to police the
police. We`ll also have special coverage of the funeral of the legendary
Joan Rivers. Right now, it`s time for preview of "Weekends with Alex
Witt." Hi, Alex.
ALEX WITT, MSNBC ANCHOR: Hello, dear Melissa. Thanks so much. Well, I
have one - we are going to have the very latest on the breaking news from
the White House and the president`s decision to delay action on a divisive
Also, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and his trip to Mexico. The one
topic he did not want to discuss on that. The changing faces of hunger.
We are going to hear personal stories about the problem of food insecurity
in this country. And great expectations. Days before Apple`s big
announcement, new questions about the iWatch could some day replace the
iPhone. Don`t go anywhere. I`ll be right back.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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