Guests: Frank Rich, David Bahati
KEITH OLBERMANN, “COUNTDOWN” HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Keith. Capital T, capital C, the compromise, right?
OLBERMANN: Yes, it‘s like the Missouri compromise. We know how well that worked out too.
MADDOW: Yes. If this were the same deal, they‘d be getting change from Missouri at this point.
MADDOW: Thank you, Keith.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
All night, we have been keeping a close eye on what‘s been happening in the Capitol. This hour, we had expected for much of the day to see a vote in the Senate on the defense bill. Now, this is the bill that funds the entire military. There‘s a ton of important stuff in it. Republicans have been filibustering the entire funding of the Pentagon as a means of stopping the potential repeal of the “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” policy.
Well, today, Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska joined Republican Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts in saying that she would vote to defy the Republican filibuster and, as a side matter, repeal the “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” policy.
Lots of back-and-forth today about whether Republican Senator Susan Collins would also vote to let the debate begin on repealing the “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” policy.
We are expecting to find out whether it would be tonight, but at this hour it appears that that vote will not happen tonight. The Senate is an unpredictable animal at this point. So, we will keep you posted if things change.
Of course, the even bigger political issue in Washington right now is taxes. Every Republican senator signed a letter to President Obama, you‘ll recall, saying they wouldn‘t work on anything else until they‘d settled the issue of whether or not income over a quarter million dollars a year would get a special bonus tax cut. The White House and congressional Republicans came to an agreement on that issue on Monday.
So, is agreeing to that framework enough for Republicans to consent to now work on anything else? Or does it actually have to be debated and passed and signed, sealed, and delivered before anything else is allowed to happen? If that‘s the case, it is hard to imagine how anything gets done anytime soon.
Today, former Republican President George H.W. Bush came out in support of the Senate ratifying the nukes treaty with Russia. Former Bush Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice came out in favor of that yesterday. That vote on the nukes treaty, the START Treaty, that one is still on deck.
The DREAM Act which would grant legal status to immigrants who complete two years of college or who join the military, that vote is still on deck.
Given the news tonight, the defense authorization bill is still on deck, including, of course, “don‘t ask, don‘t tell.”
And, of course, there is that tax cuts deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think Democrats are looking at this bill, and you‘ve already had a whole bunch of them who‘ve said this makes sense, and I think the more they look at it, the more of them are going to say this makes sense. This is the right thing to do. I expect everybody to examine it carefully. When they do, I think they‘re going to feel confident that, in fact, this is the right course.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: All day today, the White House press office blasted out emails to reporters showcasing various politicians who support the president‘s tax deal with Republicans. This is not usually the thing the White House does. This kind of e-mail blasting of reporters on something like this is usually the sort of thing that you would see, say, from the Democratic Party.
But, in this case, it was the White House itself, and the list of people they touted as supporting the president‘s deal with Republicans ended up being sort of an eye-catching list. Vermont Governor Jim Douglas supports the deal. Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett supports the deal. Detroit Mayor Dave Bing supports the deal.
Cavalcaded emails like this from the White House today prompted a bit of teasing of the White House on Twitter by political reporters who were on the receiving end of the e-mails. Quote, “Breaking from White House, Duluth area glass-blower Hubert T. Grimset backs Obama/GOP tax cut compromise.”
“Breaking, White House announces support for tax cuts deal from guy who delivered Thai food to the speechwriters today.”
The White House sensing it had become the butt of the joke here, decided to get in on the joke, which is always a good idea. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs tweeted, quote, “President Josiah Bartlett release is all ready to go—just waiting to hit send.” Mr. Gibbs, of course, referring there to the fictional President Josiah Bartlett from the great TV show “The West Wing.”
To also be clear, I follow somebody who says he‘s President Bartlett on Twitter, and that person‘s reaction to the president saying I had to negotiate with these hostage-takers, they were going to hurt the hostage, they are going to hurt the American people—fake President Bartlett‘s response to that was, look—“I‘m not an expert or anything, but I‘m pretty sure when someone holds people hostage and demands a jet, you don‘t give them the damn jet.”
All joking aside, or not, this is a bit of a political crisis for the Obama administration. Common wisdom about political fights like this is that presidents can afford to kick a little sand in the face of their base. They can afford to disappoint their own party when they need to because, after all, where is the president‘s own party going to go? They‘re not going abandon the president.
By making this deal with Republicans, the president made most Republicans very happy—as you can se from the happy looking Republicans. Good times.
But the president made most Democrats, other than the guy who delivered Thai food to the speechwriters today, made a lot of Democrats really unhappy, and that is not just an optics problem for the White House. This is a political crisis because if Democrats are against the deal, if they vote “no” on the deal, then the deal doesn‘t happen, and then nobody knows what happens next in Washington. Or what happens to any of the other things that anyone wants to get done. Even the supposed must get done things, you can‘t get there if you are a president without a party.
Beltway common wisdom is always pretty anti-Democrat in my view. Beltway common wisdom is enthusiastic about Democrats telling the Democratic base to go shove it. Beltway common wisdom is very, very condescending and snotty to the whole idea of a Democratic base.
In this case, though, saying no to the Democratic base, taking away the half loaf, the Democratic base is used to getting in any negotiation and telling them to get by instead on crumbs this time—in this case, it means Washington coming to a halt.
If this is a political crisis, how does it get solved?
Joining us now is “New York Times” columnist Frank Rich.
Mr. Rich, it is nice to see you again. Thanks for coming in.
FRANK RICH, NEW YORK TIMES: Nice to see you.
MADDOW: Do you agree with me that this is, at least, a potential political crisis here, that the president has had a break-up with his own party?
RICH: Yes, potentially. But I think there‘s hypocrisy, too, on at least the part of the—some of the congressional Democrats because where were they pushing the White House when something might have really happened? During the campaign for the midterms, everyone was sort of—every wanted to see the tax cuts for the richest Americans and the super rich expire, but it was really played down by many Democrats as well as the president during the campaign. Now, we‘re in a lame-duck session with sort of the gun to everyone‘s head, and so, the sort of rebellion of the congressional base seems to me a little—a little tardy and a little bit theatrical.
MADDOW: So, they were timid saying don‘t let us do anything that‘s going to attract headlines or be risky in any direction before the election. And now, in retrospect—
RICH: They‘re all ginned up.
MADDOW: They‘re all ginned up.
RICH: You know, they lost the election, and so, they have fewer cards in the deck to play, so where were they then? And now I think they‘re in a terrible position because if this bill were to be stalled or die, not only are the Democrats likely to be blamed, even if they don‘t deserve all the blame or even most of the blame for not extending unemployment benefits, for not extending middle class tax cuts, but they‘ll also in a way take “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” repeal down, START Treaty or could without any Republican help.
So, it‘s a real mess. I don‘t see who the winners are in this situation. It‘s really not the public.
MADDOW: Well, Nancy Pelosi does seem to be able to get things passed
RICH: Yes. Absolutely.
MADDOW: -- in her chamber. We just actually had word that the House has passed the DREAM Act, which is just happened.
RICH: How about that?
MADDOW: How about that? Also, the House under Nancy Pelosi passed the actual Democratic plan on tax cuts, which was in extension for income under $250,000, but not above that. She‘s able to get it done. You obviously think that she should have done it before the election. But this does, however—this does have the side effect now of focusing the attention really intently on the Senate. The Senate is where things die. The Senate is where this presidency comes to crisis.
RICH: Right. I think it‘s a mess, because the Senate has this intransigent leadership, and Obama has limited cards to play, and he is sort of still being held hostage particularly by Republicans. Also to some extent by his own party, but I—it‘s the Republicans who really have the cards here, and they know what‘s going to happen after January 1st, and they‘ll have more of them.
MADDOW: And any Republican of 40 or more—any minority of 40 or more will alleges have the upper hand in the Senate from here on out. I mean, the idea that it is the Republicans in the Senate, the minority in the Senate, they will continue to be the minority in the Senate, even when the new Congress comes in in January, can hamstring the Senate itself but thereby an entire presidential agenda seems to me to be a precedent that no minority party is ever going to walk away from.
RICH: I think you‘re right. It‘s an incredibly dysfunctional situation. Look, today, everybody has been focused on Susan Collins, who is considered one of the more reasonable moderate Republicans in the Senate, and she‘s brought everything to a halt exactly as you say, and she‘s—she‘s one of the—she‘s considered one of the nice guys.
So, it‘s a completely dysfunctional situation, but Obama—I don‘t see how Obama can beat it, and the Democratic rebellion in the Senate, if there is one, I think is sort of not really a decisive factor in the politics of this.
MADDOW: Does it matter that the president is fighting with Democrats outside of Congress, fighting with his base? Does it matter ultimately?
RICH: It matters over the short-term. But over the long-term, who knows? A lot is going to happen in two years, and if the economy turns around, if he does win some victories, he may not win many, but if he does win some and if he projects, I think, more strength and more commitment to actual ideals for his party, this too could pass.
MADDOW: Frank Rich, “New York Times” columnist—it‘s always a real pleasure to have you here, Frank. Thanks a lot.
RICH: Good to see you.
MADDOW: If I do say so myself, we‘ve got a heavyweight show tonight. First, Frank Rich. Next, NBC‘s Tom Brokaw. Same show. News gods, thank you.
If that‘s not enough, later on, we will have my interview, “The Interview” tonight, with the author of “the kill the gays bill.” The bill that has been linked so C Street in Washington and the secretive religious group that runs C Street. I have been looking forward to this interview and believing it would never happen for a very long time.
It‘s all coming up. Please stay with us.
MADDOW: NBC‘s Tom Brokaw right here, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WES MOORE, YOUTH ADVOCATE: The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine and the tragedy is that my story could have been his.
TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The other Wes Moore made headlines as an accomplice to a jewelry store robbery gone bad, during which an off-duty policy officer and father of four was shot and killed. This West Moore was sentenced life in prison.
MOORE: But the time of the murder, he was over here, I was actually living just a ways up here.
As I learned more about him through article that I read, I realized how much more we had in common than just our name. In fact, we were living in the same neighborhood. We were around the same age. We both grew up in single parent households and academics and had troubles growing up.
And the more I thought about it, the more I actually wanted reach out to him. And I started thinking that there‘s something larger here, and how do disparities exist where you can have two people that have such similar backgrounds and circumstances, who end up in two completely different places and what does that mean for all of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was a small bit of youth advocate, Wes Moore‘s story, featured in Tom Brokaw‘s new documentary, “Tom Brokaw Presents Bridging the Divide.” It‘s excellent. It premiers this Friday night at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on the USA Network.
NBC News special correspondent and the legendary anchor of “NBC Nightly News,” Mr. Tom Brokaw.
Thank you for joining us.
BROKAW: We have a legendary anchor coming, Rachel?
MADDOW: Yes, that explains why I‘m nervous.
All right. I really want to talk with you about the documentary. I do think it‘s excellent. I would be remiss in having you here if I did not first get your perspective on the situation in D.C. right now.
Is the president‘s party likely to buck him, do you think, on this tax deal he worked out with Republicans?
BROKAW: My guess is that he‘ll win. Frank Rich and I were just talking about it on the way out and I said, Frank, I know you don‘t engage in sports metaphors, but what‘s going on with the Democrats in the House is they‘re trying to put time back on the clock, after it turned out on them. You know, the election was a big signal, and that‘s the reality that the president is trying to deal with here.
I think there are a couple of ways that he could frame it. He would -
key say we‘re all in this together. This is high risk. You know, we‘ve got to get this economy going again, bumped up two points on unemployment just last week. As Frank said, Democrats had a couple of years in which they did have the numbers to go after those kinds of issues and didn‘t get it done.
The country wants to get something done. Big signal that, you know, we‘re going to try to hold the line on taxes and see if we can refuel the economy.
I think it goes beyond that, by the way, Rachel. I was talking about it today. This unemployment and the economic duress that we find ourselves in is systemic. It‘s not just about freeing up more money to get people to go buy more things.
We‘ve got to have more innovation. We‘ve got to have a better skill set among our workers. We‘ve got to compete in a whole variety of ways that just continuing the tax cuts won‘t do that. So, it has to be—it has to be organic in a way.
MADDOW: Last night, I hosted the former chief economist at the IMF, Simon Johnson, about this. I asked if he was going to be able to put $900 billion towards anything—
MADDOW: -- to try to improve the American economy, he said he‘d spend it all on teachers, teachers and community colleges, because that functions as aid to the states, it is immediate stimulus, and it is what we need.
BROKAW: Well, you know, the community college thing is going to be a larger part of who we all are in the next several years because that‘s where people who would normally not go to college could go off to Detroit or other places with a strong back and good pair of work boots, good hands and find a job. Now, they have to have additional skills, and maybe they don‘t want a four-year degree. They‘re not going to major in electrical engineering, but they‘re going to get a number of skills if they go to community college that are necessary for the modern workplace.
So, I do think we‘ll be hearing much more about that, and that‘s a very, very big charge for this country. We‘ve got to raise the level of the education and the skills of the workers who are out there.
MADDOW: And it requires a big investment, which decries difficult politics right now.
In all of the stories in this documentary that you‘ve done, you examine discrimination, racism barriers as institutionalized things in the country—the structure of the way that we function as a country. Two years after the election of our first African-American president, has that had an affect on the structural issues related to race?
BROKAW: To some degree it has, but what‘s had a bigger impact, obviously, at the moment is the economy. Economic distress is causing a lot of anxieties. People tend to withdraw into their homes and worry more about just where they are in the spectrum of American life. And they acknowledge that in the poll.
So, we find a little more polarity here than you‘d like to see in this country. On the other hand, stepping back, I‘ve been doing this a long time. You know, we‘ve made enormous progress in a lot of areas. But we should try to be a more perfect union constantly. And the difference between now and when the civil rights movement really began 50 years ago, and we time it to that, is that 50 years ago, we were really just worrying about race primarily, and it was too concentrated in the South. We found out shortly after that, with the explosion in the northern urban areas, that there was that kind of segregation going on there as well.
This documentary deal is not just with race, but it also deals with sexual orientation, physical disabilities, and that kind of thing—and those are the issues that we now have to spend more time thinking about. We have a big section in here, for example, on American Muslims and how they‘re feeling, and whether people would like to have a mosque in their neighborhood. And as a result of all the attention that the mosque near Ground Zero, not at Ground Zero has gotten, more people than you like to see would say, I don‘t want one in my neighborhood.
MADDOW: One of the things I found so useful about the documentary is talking about the institutional things that can be done to remedy those different forms of structural discrimination. I think it‘s eye-opening. Thank you for doing it. Thanks for coming in.
BROKAW: I‘m glad to be here.
MADDOW: Nice to see you, Tom.
BROKAW: OK. Great to see you.
MADDOW: “Tom Brokaw Presents Bridging the Divide” premieres this Friday night at 7:00 p.m. on the USA Network.
All right. Still to come: my interview with the author of “the kill the gays bill.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID BAHATI, UGANDAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER: God‘s law is always clear, that the wages of sin is death.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That‘s ahead. Please stay with us.
MADDOW: The slippery slope is the idea that if one thing happens, inevitably, a whole bunch of other things will happen as well. So, if the president wants to give a speech to schoolchildren, then that means the president is indoctrinating schoolchildren with his political ideology, which means our schools are political indoctrination centers. And since indoctrination breeds zealots and zealots will do anything for the cause about which they are zealous, then public schools are becoming camps to breed child soldiers for Obama-ism, which means Obama is doing what Hitler did, so presidential speech to school kids equals Fourth Reich.
Slippery slope: A leads to B, B leads to C, eventually A leads to Z, and you‘re not washing your hands before dinner means you‘re on death row. You hear this kind of argument all the time in American politics. It‘s a “be afraid” argument, explaining to a patient their option to fill out a living well, that should be a reimbursable expense for doctors under Medicare, that‘s death panels, pulling the plug on grandma. Don‘t do thing A now because hypothetically that could lead to thing Z down the road.
Sometimes, though, it‘s not hypothetical. Sometimes you don‘t need to imagine the hyperbolically awful thing that might happen someday as a consequence of some smaller step you take now. Sometimes you can just watch life careen down the slippery slope right in front of your eyes.
In the late ‘70s, a former second runner-up Miss America and sort of popular singer named Anita Bryant became the nation‘s celebrity spokesperson against gay rights. She led a campaign for Dade County, Florida, to repeal a county nondiscrimination policy. Anita Bryant argued that the county must be allowed to fire people for being gay because gay people are predators who recruit schoolchildren into homo sexuality.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bryant Drew attention with statements like, quote, “Gays can‘t reproduce, they have to recruit,” end of quote.
ANITA BRYANT, GAY RIGHTS OPPONENT: The war goes on to save our children because the seed of sexual sickness that germinated in Dade County has already been transplanted by misguided liberals in the U.S. Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This is one of the foundational myths of anti-gay activism. Gay people are out to get kids. That‘s the gay agenda. To recruit kids to be gay because that‘s how gay people get this way. They‘re lured into it by recruiters who sexually abuse them as kids and thereby, turn them gay.
So, opposing gay people‘s rights is a means of protecting the children from the gays. I say this is a myth because the people whose job it is to know these things say it‘s a myth. They‘ve proved it. The American Psychological Association says homosexual men are not more likely to sexually abuse children than heterosexual men are. Quote, “No specific psychosocial or family dynamic cause for homosexuality has been identified, including histories of childhood sexual abuse.”
That, of course, does not stop anti-gay activist from making that assertion that gay people are out to recruit kids, making that assertion over and over again. Jerry Falwell telling supporters of his “Old Time Gospel Hour” by direct mail in 1981, quote, “Please remember, homosexuals do not reproduce. They recruit. Many of them are after my children and your children.”
Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina pushing for years for anti-gay restrictions in federal education law because the homosexuals are out to recruit in the schools.
In 1995, Congressman Pete Hoekstra‘s committee holds hearings on parents, schools and values, hearings that, in part, investigated—yes, homosexual recruitment in the schools. The proponents of Proposition 8 in California, the proposition to rollback gay rights in that state, making their case just last year—
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can‘t reproduce, so they got to recruit. And they‘re trying to recruit our kids. They‘re trying to promote their lifestyle to our kids and I say no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Here‘s how you fall down the slippery slope. You make this argument. Anita Bryant, Jesse helms, random anti-gay orator guy. You make this argument that you opposed gay people‘s civil rights because gay people are out to get kids, never mind the facts. You like making the case. We‘re out to save the children from the homosexuals who prey on them.
What‘s the next logical step? If gay people are out to get the kids, how are you going to protect the kids? Keep gays away from the kids. Keep gays from being declared normal.
Protect people‘s rights to fire people for being gay if they don‘t want to work with them. Protect people‘s right to kick somebody out of their housing for being gay if you don‘t want to live near them. Protect the children. Counteract the recruitment.
Show that homosexual is wrong. Make homosexuality illegal. Make homosexuality have severe punishments. Make it have really severe punishments. Make being gay punishable by death.
It is not a logical fallacy, the slippery slope, if it really happens. If the arguments made by anti-gay activists ultimately go down to serious legal proposals to kill people for being gay.
In October 2008, Uganda held its national prayer breakfast. The national prayer breakfast is an event started by the Family, mostly known as C Street here in the U.S., a powerful secretive religious organization in the U.S. with ties to many members of Congress. One of the founders of Uganda‘s national prayer breakfast, a member of the Family, floated the idea at an event associated with that breakfast that Uganda should have a “kill the gays” law, that homo sexuality should be punishable by life in prison or in the case of aggravated homosexuality, it should be punishable by death.
A few months later, in March of last year, the guy from the Family who drafted the bill hosted a delegation of anti-gay activists from the United States preaching, surprise, that gay people are a threat to children. They‘re out to recruit in the schools. And they also said nobody is stuck being gay if they don‘t want to be. It‘s a learned behavior. It can be cured.
A few weeks after their visit, the “kill the gays” bill was introduced. Meanwhile, the anti-gay populist press in that country started campaigning. This publication published a list of allegedly gay Ugandans along with, in many cases, their addresses and their photos. You can see a small yellow banner under the word—underneath the S in Uganda‘s. It says, “Hang them.”
Because of the American connections to this, the fact that the author is a member of the Family—which is tied to a lot of American politicians, there‘s C Street and elsewhere. Because the resultant publicity earned criticism for the “kill the gays” bill from our president, secretary of state, lots of politicians associated with C Street, it is fairly widely believed because of the coverage that the kill the gays thing is over. It‘s not. Its author expects it to be voted on in a matter of weeks, and its author is here in the United States promoting Anita Bryant‘s old line that he‘s only doing this to save the children.
The author of Uganda‘s “kill the gays” bill joins me at the bottom of the slippery slope—next.
MADDOW: The reason we know basically anything about C Street and the secretive religious group behind it, The Family, is because of Jeff Sharlet‘s two books on the subject. The Family‘s most famous for operating C Street, a secretive subsidized dorm for members of Congress in Washington. It was linked to the Governor Mark Sanford sex scandal and the Senator John Ensign sex scandal and the Congressman Chip Pickering sex scandal.
But as Jeff Sharlet has been reported, the deeper reaches of The Family are bigger than sex scandals. The group has essentially helped along a number of super shady causes and characters in countries around the world for decades, including some of the worst dictators in modern history. As part of Jeff‘s ongoing reporting on the activities of the secretive religious group, he has been keeping us updated on the “kill the gays” bill promoted by The Family‘s key man in the nation of Uganda, a member of parliament named David Bahati.
It was also Jeff who let us know that David Bahati had been granted a visa to come to America.
David Bahati is here now. He sees this trip as an opportunity to promote here his “kill the gays” bill.
MADDOW: Joining us now for “The Interview” is a member of parliament in Uganda who introduced the bill and is promoting it, Mr. David Bahati.
Mr. Bahati, thank you very much for your time, sir. It‘s nice for you to make time for us.
BAHATI: Great to be on your talk show.
MADDOW: You were granted a visa, as I understand it, to attend a conference in Washington, the International Consortium of Governmental Financial Management. I understand that it‘s been reported that you were not allowed into the conference once you arrived. Is that true?
BAHATI: Yes, that‘s true. One of the reasons they gave was that because of the bill that I propose in parliament. Their denial for me to enter the conference was extremely unfortunate, but, as I said, it does not deter me from pursuing the cause that I think is important, a cause to defend the children of our country, and a cause to defend the family of Uganda.
MADDOW: In the cause that you describe as defending the children and the family in Uganda, it‘s your anti-homosexuality bill. And the provisions of that bill would establish life in prison for any homosexual act, as well as execution for what the bill calls aggravated homosexual. How is that defending the children and the families of Uganda?
BAHATI: You know, Rachel, we have a huge problem in our country. The problem of people who are coming from abroad investing money to recruit children into behavior that we believe that is a learned behavior and can be unlearned. We know that homosexuality is a human right here in Uganda, but also we need to appreciate the fact that it is not a human right across the world. And certainly, in Uganda we don‘t take it as a human right.
And as we debate this issue, it is important that we tolerate to one another, listen to one another, understand the background of one another and respect one another. And the background that I come from is that 95 percent of the population does not support homosexuality. We believe that man was created to marry woman, and that‘s the purpose for which God created us. The purpose for our pro-creation, and that‘s the higher purpose that we believe in.
We believe that our children should not be recruited into something that they don‘t believe in. The clause that you are suggesting in the bill that you are talking about to the bill, that proposes this penalty was actually is moral clause in the bill which was imported from a bill that we pass in 2007 regarding the defilement of children. It‘s a clause meant to discipline those adults who defile minors, and, by the way, it is a clause that because of the international outcry that I‘m very much willing to drop when the bill comes to the house for debate.
MADDOW: It should be noted that among the seven different clauses of aggravated homosexuality is one where you were eligible for execution if you were a serial offender. Does that mean that if you are a person who has been convicted more than once of homosexual sex? Would that make you a serial offender and eligible for the death penalty?
BAHATI: I know there has been a lot of spin, negative propaganda, about this bill using that clause, and I want to make the record straight. I am not in a hate campaign. I do not hate gaze. I love them. But at the same time, I must protect our children who are being recruited into this practice.
MADDOW: Sir, what—what evidence do you have for the recruitment of children into homosexuality. That allegation has been made to justify all anti-gay legislation in the United States going back for more than a generation. It is a claim that is rejected by all, for example, major medical organizations in the United States and by all other responsible authorities that have looked into it.
You‘re saying, specifically, that foreigners are investing in Uganda to recruit children into homosexuality. I‘ve heard claims like that over and over again. I have never ever heard any credible evidence of it.
BAHATI: Rachel, I need to tell you that it is not an allegation. It‘s a fact that recruitment is taking place in Uganda, especially in secular (ph) schools. It‘s a fact that is very disturbing. It‘s a fact that is vey disturbing to people who don‘t believe in homosexuality. Even the pro-gay groups have condemned this.
So, it is something that is factual. And all you need is to get these facts, and I will be very willing to publish these facts.
MADDOW: I have heard a lot of other people ask you for evidence on this. I have heard you assert that it is fact. I have never, as I said, seen any evidence that is fact.
How, for example, do you suggest that children are recruited into homosexuality? If you wanted to recruit someone into homosexuality, how would you do it, and what do you think the tactics are?
BAHATI: I can tell you that in the last seven months, there has been a lot of investment in terms of money, close to $15 million, U.S. dollars has been invested to fight the bill, but also to recruit children, and this is how they do it. They go into a school. They recruit some people, teach them, entice them with money to lure them into this practice.
And this is something that is disturbing everybody. This is something that disturbs and I‘m sure you‘re also being disturbed about it as fact.
MADDOW: To be clear, you‘re saying that U.S. $15 million has been—is being spent in Uganda in the past seven months not only to oppose the bill, but to give money to teachers to go into schools to pay kids to become gay? That‘s your assertion?
BAHATI: Not to pay teachers, but to use to recruit young people. The young people, recruit them.
BAHATI: -- teaching him on how to move (ph), entice them. There are videos that have been moving around, tell them that a man sleeping with a man is OK. So, this is something that is really very disturbing. And this is the focus of this bill, to protect our children.
MADDOW: This is also—
BAHATI: -- to defend the traditional family.
MADDOW: Sir, this is also one of the—I didn‘t expect to find much international commonality around debates over gay rights and homosexuality, but what you‘re describing is one of the foundational myths of how gay people have been slandered and attacked in almost every country in which these laws or laws like the ones that you‘re proposing has been debated. The idea this myth that gay people are out recruiting kids, asserted as if it is baldly true, no evidence of it is ever, ever, ever been put forward in any way that can be evaluated and every responsible authority who has ever looked into it says that it is a myth.
If you think that there are videos out there of young people being recruited to homosexuality in Ugandan schools, why haven‘t you released them?
BAHATI: Well, I have enough—we have enough evidence to this effect in Uganda. Ugandans have looked at this. We can publish it if you want on the Internet so that somebody—everybody in the world can have a look at it.
It‘s not a myth. It‘s a fact that this is happening. It‘s very disturbing that it‘s happening to our children, and it is a cause that you and me should support, to make sure that we protect the children of Uganda.
MADDOW: If you make homosexuality punishable by life in prison or in some cases by execution, what do you think will happen to gay people in Uganda? Will they flee the country? Will they become straight? What do you expect that they will do? What will happen to them?
BAHATI: Rachel, I think it is important that you don‘t use word that we don‘t use in our bill. We don‘t use the word execution. Don‘t make it so hard to look as if Bahati is a Hitler or is a Saddam Hussein or Idi Amin. I‘m just a simple young man who lost both parents at the age of 3 years, grew up as an orphan. I have a passion for children.
This is what‘s really motivating me. I‘m a God-fearing person. I want to make sure that this law is consistent with God‘s law.
MADDOW: To be clear, Mr. Bahati, I didn‘t call you Hitler or Saddam Hussein or Idi Amin. I didn‘t raise any of those issues, and I never would. And although you don‘t want to use the phrase execution, that‘s just a simile of the death penalty, which is part of your bill, and realize you said you‘d be willing to take that out.
But let‘s even say that was taken out, I‘ll ask you the question again.
MADDOW: If the bill succeeds and you make homosexuality punishable by life in prison in Uganda, what will happen to gay people in Uganda? What do you expect to happen to them? Do you expect them—do you expect that they will become straight? Do you expect that they‘ll flee the country? Do you expect that they will be arrested and imprisoned?
What do you think will happen?
BAHATI: Well, Rachel, first of all, I want to say that I know that homosexuality is a human right here in America. But we don‘t believe that it‘s a human right in Uganda. And we understand your side of the story, and we respect you and ask you to understand our side of the story.
Now, if we take it as a crime, then anybody who is engaged in this will be—will be—will face the rule of law, and this, I think, is straightforward, it‘s obvious. We hope that‘s a learned behavior that can be unlearned—
MADDOW: OK. OK. I used the word simile when I meant synonym. I know. Sue me. I‘m sorry.
Where do you think he gets the idea that homosexuality can be cured, it can be unlearned. Please stay tuned. There‘s more.
MADDOW: You know, talking to people who want you dead, you sort of get used to. Talking to people who are actively working to make that happen is unsettling. It can lead to outbursts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It‘s more than your opinion. It is the thing that has made you internationally famous, and it may be the thing ultimately that results in you being charged with crimes against humanity in some sort of international tribunal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: More of my interview with the author of the “kill the gays” bill—still to come.
MADDOW: I know that recently in Uganda, last month and in October, a small newspaper published names and addresses and photos of Ugandans who are allegedly gay and had published a big banner that said, “Hang them.”
If your bill passes, should police use that information to go hunt these people down and arrest them?
BAHATI: I know that paper “The Rolling Stone,” and I think these are young people who are also concerned on the huge problem that we have in our country. They are people who are frustrated by lack of a clear and specific law that can address this problem. And once the law passes, we would expect that the enforcement agencies would do their part to implement the clauses law.
But this is a bill, Rachel. It‘s being discussed in parliament. We expect proposals from all over the corners of the world, and it‘s debated. It‘s a democratic process in a democratic country. It‘s a Ugandan bill meant for Ugandans to protect the children of Uganda.
MADDOW: But let me—let me ask you about that, though. One other provision in the bill that I think is very interesting is that if Ugandans who are gay go anywhere else in the world, they go to any other country and they commit something that is an offense under your bill, so they have sexual relations in another country, your bill provides that they should be extradited from that other country back to Uganda to face prosecution. That implies that you are trying to eradicate homosexuality not just in Uganda, but anywhere else that it might exist in the world.
Is that your goal?
BAHATI: We are—we are proposing this for Ugandans and within the Constitution and legal framework of our country. It has nothing to do with Americans. It has nothing to do with other people of the world because Uganda is a sovereign state. It respects other sovereign states.
MADDOW: But somebody who was visiting here on a visa like you have from Uganda—
MADDOW: -- who engaged in consensual relations here in Washington, D.C., where you are, or New York City where I am, you would expect the United States government to extradite that person to Uganda to face prosecution for that relationship and the threat of life in prison? You think the United States government should do that as respect for Uganda?
BAHATI: That‘s what could happen when we have a conference where we have working protocols that agree to that, (INAUDIBLE) happened.
But I think the bottom line, Rachel, is to make sure that we protect the children. That‘s the bottom line that we‘re looking at, to defend the tradition of family in Uganda.
MADDOW: How did gay people hurt the traditional family in Uganda? The existence of gay people living in Uganda, having relationships with one another, how does that hurt your family, for example?
BAHATI: It hurts my family when my child goes to school and the school (INAUDIBLE) into gay, that is not acceptable in our society. It distorts the cause of family. It hurts my family. It hurts the family of Uganda, when the purpose of creation is undermined.
MADDOW: Sir, when you say that homosexuals are recruiting children to be gay, you say that you have evidence for this, we‘ve not seen that—
BAHATI: I do have abundant evidence.
MADDOW: OK. I would love—we would—we would happily post anything you‘ve got online, if you got it. I‘ve never seen evidence of this.
BAHATI: I can give—I can give you enough evidence through your e-mail.
And American Psychological Association, which would be the appropriate medical authority looking into this, completely deny and defy the idea that anything like that has ever happened. They describe this as a myth that‘s been used to hurt gay people that is not based in fact.
Does that give you any pause at all in asserting that as grounds for putting people in prison for life for being gay?
BAHATI: You know we respect America. We respect the views from America. But I think we have our own views and our own mechanism to find out what affects our citizens in Uganda.
Homosexuality is not a way of life that we accept in our country. It‘s not part of our culture. It‘s not part of God‘s law. And this is—this is Uganda.
MADDOW: What is God‘s law about homosexuality in your view?
BAHATI: God‘s law is that homosexuality is a sin.
MADDOW: Punishable by?
BAHATI: God‘s law is that homosexuality is a sin. And God‘s law says that all authority comes from him and we should also consider what belongs to Caesar. We also know that it is also consistent—this bill‘s consistent with the preachings of a son of a Jewish carpenter.
MADDOW: So, to be clear you‘re telling me, you‘re sort of going halfway there. And I‘m asking to you explain your full view on this because this is clearly what‘s motivating you, and I‘m trying to figure out your ultimate aim here.
MADDOW: In your view, God‘s law is that homosexuality is a sin.
MADDOW: In your view, does God‘s law prescribe an appropriate punishment for that sin?
BAHATI: God‘s law is always clear, that the wages for sin is death. Whether that is implement through a legislation like mine or by a mechanism of a human being, whatever happens is the end result, that we need to turn to God if we have sinned.
I‘m not involved in a hate campaign. I‘m not involved in something of that nature that you are trying to describe.
I‘m involved in providing a framework to protect our children and make sure that everybody has an input in this bill. This is a proposal. Some of the ideas can be dropped. Some of them can be accepted. Others can be adjusted.
But the spirit of the bill is what we need to look at. We need to look at the problem of recruitment, the problem of promotion, and the problem of care for the victims.
MADDOW: To be clear, again, sir, I didn‘t say you were hateful, nor did I say you were a campaign of hate, nor did I compare you to Hitler, nor did I compare to Saddam Hussein, nor did I compare to Idi Amin. You have raised all those things yourself. And I have not said any of them. And I don‘t want you to put words in my mouth here.
The reason you‘re on this show, and the reason that you have become famous is because you are promoting life imprisonment for all gay people in your country. And your country has a lot of gay people who do not want to be subject to life in prison.
And I think the international community is trying to decide whether or not Uganda is going to become an international pariah, a rogue state, excluded from the community of nations because you‘re singling out a minority among your population for treatment that frankly is not the direction that the rest of the world is going. And that is all that I‘m trying to do. I‘m not accusing you of anything, sir. I‘m trying to figure out where you‘re coming from.
BAHATI: Yes. That‘s right.
MADDOW: All right. Let me ask you one last thing—
MADDOW: On tomorrow‘s show, that one last thing, what David Bahati sees as level of material support and encouragement he gets for his international anti-gay crusade and how it links to his membership in The Family, the secretive religious group that operates the C Street house in Washington, D.C., where lots of congressmen live.
Also, we waited all day by the inbox expecting that evidence he promised of kids in school being paid American money to become gay, still hasn‘t arrived. Totally checking the junk mail filters right now.
We‘ll be right back.
MADDOW: Programming note: we‘ll broadcast this show live from New York‘s famed 92nd Street Y on December 20th, 21st and 22nd. That‘s Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before Christmas. There will be live audiences, all three nights, very exciting prospect for us. There are reportedly a few tickets still available, though not for all the night.
All the detailed information is available on our very excellent blog, Maddowblog.MSNBC.com.
Now, it‘s time for “THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O‘Donnell.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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