Guests: Sherrod Brown, Jesse Jackson, Mary Kay Henry, Chris Larson, Jenny
Fish, Sheila Jackson Lee
CENK UYGUR, ANCHOR: Good evening. I‘m Cenk Uygur. Welcome to the show.
I‘ve got a warning for you. This show tonight is going to be on fire.
Don‘t say I didn‘t warn you. Now let‘s talk Wisconsin.
It‘s now official. Wisconsin Republicans have revealed their true identity. No matter what they say about creating jobs or cutting budgets, what they‘ve really been after is the crush the union movement.
And you know what? At least now it‘s absolutely inarguable since they gave up their pretense of caring about the budget last night. Today, there was outrage at the state capitol about their extremist tactics.
By breaking the budget bill into two parts, Republican senators were able to vote to end decades of collective bargaining rights for public unions without a single democratic state senator in the chamber.
That unfair and some are now saying illegal move, they ignited a firestorm in Madison last night. Protesters flooded the capitol and many of them stayed until the police dragged them out this morning.
In about an hour ago, the state assembly passed the bill that Governor Walker says he will sign. Now we‘ve seen a complete turnaround in Wisconsin in the past 24 hours. You know, we were telling you they seemed to be on the ropes. We told you that all throughout.
Yesterday, reports streamed out throughout the state that three Republicans in the state senate were about open to compromising with the Democrats. Now remember, public opinion had shifted firmly against the governor and it looked like he was in a lot of trouble and there were talks of recalls and the Republicans were in trouble and they started worry, maybe it‘s my job on the line.
Then all of a sudden, right before the compromise last night, the GOP threw what they thought was a knockout punch. They went in the other direction, split the bill. Basically went with the nuclear option. But you know what? I don‘t think it was a knockout punch at all. I think it was an act of desperation and it reminded me of this.
Do you remember that? See, Mike Tyson thought he couldn‘t win that fight. He was on the ropes and he was outmatched. He was outclassed. He just did not have a way to win. So what did he do? He had to end the fight, just like Governor Walker. He had to end the fight one way or the other. So what did he do? He bit the ear of Holyfield.
And that is exactly what‘s happened here. It was a dirty move. It was a cheap move. It was a cheap trick. He did it just to get out of there and they think, you know what? All right, this fight ended today. And hopefully the media coverage will die down and then we‘ll come back and fight another day.
And then when we come back for those elections, we‘re going to overwhelm the Democrats with money. We‘ve got all those donors. We‘ve got the billionaires on our side and all they had was the unions, and we just left out the unions.
And look, I get why they think that. On a national level, out of the top 10 nonparty groups donating in 2010 election, seven were right leaning organizations. The other three were unions. So if the Republicans get rid of those three, well, then the Democrats are obviously in huge trouble.
Here‘s what the Republicans are trying to do. They‘re going for check mate. They think if the Democrats don‘t have any big sources of money during their campaigns, they can run whatever ads they like on the Republican and trick all of you into voting for them. They think, you know what? These guys are going to forget.
It‘s not just a message we have—even if we have a bad message the Republicans think, so what? We have the bigger microphone and we can blast it and we can do the misleading ads like Karl Rove just did in Wisconsin and throughout the country where he said 42 percent of government union employees are making 42 percent more. Not true.
Even the conservative organization he leaned on for that fact said that‘s not true, but he thinks who cares I got the money and he does. Remember Politico reported that the Koch brothers, for example, plan to raise $88 million for the 2012 elections. Karl Rove‘s American Crossroads spent $22.5 million in last year‘s election at least.
And the L.A. Times reports that American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS plan to raise $120 million for 2012. Their plan is, you know what? Do dirty tricks. Do whatever you got to do, get out of there now and people will forget. And we‘ll have the money and you know, if people wise up for these brief moments because we gave up our pretenses, who cares.
We‘ll come back and overwhelm them with our money. Look, I‘ve got to ask you and I‘m about to ask my guest, they just bit your ear off. What are you going to do about it? My strategy is fight back. Let‘s figure out how we can do that.
Joining me now is Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Reverend Jesse Jackson of the Rainbow Push Coalition who joins us from outside the state capitol in Madison, Wisconsin.
Senator Brown, I want to ask you a tough question. I want to start with you because look, these guys—it‘s a national campaign, they‘re doing with it in your state of Ohio. They‘re doing it in Idaho. They‘re doing it in Indiana and the list goes on and on.
Do the Democrats have a counter plan? Have you guys even sat together and said, how are we going to match the $120 million and the $88 million and they just took out the unions here and there? Do you guys have a plan to fight back?
SENATOR SHERROD BROWN: Yes, we have several things to fight back. One, we‘ve got a president with a loud microphone that‘s going to say no to these guys.
UYGUR: Really? When?
BROWN: Yes, I think we do. We‘re already seeing the pushback in Ohio. They did the same kind of—call it a dirty trick, call it unusual, whatever, to pass the bill in Ohio. They first of all took a Republican no vote in the state Senate off the Labor Committee, substituting a Republican yes vote and did the same thing in the Rules Committee, because they didn‘t have the votes and passed it by one vote.
So that‘s not going to work. We‘re going to see a referendum in Ohio if Kasich gets this bill and signs it, we‘re going to see a referendum and we‘re going to win on the referendum. And we‘re going to begin to continue to point out that this is oil company money.
It‘s money from people like the Koch brothers, it‘s money, it‘s foreign money that‘s coming in for Karl Rove and we‘re going to continue to point that out in very much a contrasting, combative way.
The last thing people like me and others, I have a website sherrodbrown.com/ohio. Go on and sign my petition in opposition to what they‘re doing, SB-5 in other ways and push them back that way and organize. This is about organizing and fighting back.
UYGUR: I want to go to Reverend Jackson in a second. He‘s in Wisconsin. He‘s got an amazing story to tell. But Senator Brown, you said something I have to go back to.
I‘m sorry, I don‘t want to be a jerk here, but you said the president has a big mic and can fight back. Really? Where‘s his mic? I haven‘t seen him say anything about Wisconsin - I mean, all of these. We‘ve been covering it for nearly a month here. Where‘s the president?
Where‘s his mic? I don‘t see it.
BROWN: I think the president is focused on the budget now. I think that what the Republicans are trying to do, defund everything we care about from maternal health care to education to head start to Planned Parenthood and to all the things they‘re going after. They tell that‘s going to undercut job growth.
The president, we‘re all urging him to come out louder and more—more loudly and strongly than he has. I think he will. I think he‘s going to be engage in that. I think he‘s going to be engaged in the pushback on what they are doing with the labor rights and worker rights and collective bargaining.
I‘m optimistic he‘s going to engage on that. We‘re going to see a very different politics emerge, but we‘re already seeing poll numbers that show people actually do care about worker rights. They do care about unionization because the public understands we have a middle class in this country because of the labor movement and collective bargaining for 75 years. How important that is private sector and public sector.
UYGUR: Yes, the polls are incredible. You don‘t have to worry about that. The American people are on your side. You‘re a little bit more optimistic about the president than I am.
But I want to go to Reverend Jackson. Reverend Jackson, there was a really interesting moment today in Wisconsin where you led the Republicans and the Democrats together in prayer. What was that about? Tell me what happened there and tell me what the move there in Wisconsin is now?
REVEREND JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: Well, we seek redemption and reconciliation, but what is happening here now is that the governor has overreached. It‘s not about the budget deficit. It‘s about taking away the workers‘ rights to be at the table.
If the issue was really about money, he‘d turn the way, you know, (inaudible) offered by the president the stimulus plan. So we‘re going to have infrastructure and more rail. He wants more money and (inaudible) for example.
It‘s not just the right to bargain, of course, the content of it. Now there‘s going to be another cut in public education, in K through 12 that means fewer teachers, bigger classrooms, less access to Medicare, for example.
As people come alive as to what the content is, it‘s going to be a bigger deal. I think the big deal here. There‘s a big election in this state, the Supreme Court justice, April 5, and county execs running all around the state. So in some real sense there‘s a showdown date, April 5th that could determine the factor in the course of Wisconsin politics.
UYGUR: Right. You know, and there are talks of protests on April 4th, the day that Martin Luther King was killed. He was, of course, there for a sanitation strike in Memphis, supporting the middle class and the working class of America. Senator Sherrod Brown, I want to ask you about that.
BROWN: I want to say also this is the week we are fighting for the right to vote in Selma in 1965. So we fought for the workers, for the people‘s right to vote in ‘65. Now workers right to have a voice in 2007, unbroken line of an ideology, a right to work laws and labor and civil rights and marginalization. We see the game plan. The people are going to fight back.
UYGUR: So Senator Brown, you know, you have all these people who want to fight back. You have activists like Reverend Jackson. You‘ve got the unions. How do you put them together in one cohesive strategy and do you think that April 4th might be the beginning of that? Do you think Democrats should participate in that? Tell us about it.
BROWN: Absolutely and it‘s way more than public employee unions as important as they are. In Ohio, I had a round table in the church in State House Square a couple of weeks ago. People who have faith, public employees, students, progressives, civil rights, where all kinds of people came together in opposition to taking away worker rights.
It‘s all about what they‘re doing to the middle class, how they want to take away workers‘ rights and people‘s rights. I think once this bill is signed by Governor Kasich, which likely it will be. It will likely pass the House in the next week or so because they probably have the votes, then we begin circulating petitions.
And we need, I believe, I‘m not sure of this, I think 250,000 signatures. We will get them. We will go to the ballot. We will repeal this.
And that‘s why I urge earlier in the broadcast, go to my website, sherrodbrown.com/ohio, sign up. We‘re organizing. We‘re working. We‘re going to fight back. This is our opportunity to see people - to organize to do what we need to do right now and at election time next year.
UYGUR: Reverend Jackson, look, you were a part of the one of the greatest organizations of people this country has ever seen, the civil rights movement. Now the middle class is under attack.
This is some of the similar thing as you were worried about, as I said, you know, Martin Luther King was worried about. He went out to support. How do you galvanize people again? And how do you, you know, fight back against these billionaires who are trying to buy our elections?
JACKSON: Well, the president must particularly for us we need a better deal. There are more wealthy people up top and more poor people at the bottom and the middle class is sinking. We need a better deal to put America back to work.
Today as we gather here rounding and protesting, the 59 million Americans who have no health insurance. The 50 million who are malnourished, the 49 million who are in poverty, and the 40 million who are now on food stamps.
That suggests that that vast middle class workers and would be workers to plan to put America back to work. We cannot keep on subsidizing the wealthy and marginalizing the poor people. People are fighting back and maybe Wisconsin‘s ground zero for that fight.
They‘ll be a big fight here. April 5th will be the showdown date for democracy. You will see what democracy looks like here April the 5th.
UYGUR: All right, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Reverend Jesse Jackson. Thank you both for your time this evening.
BROWN: Thank very much.
UYGUR: Before we go here to the break, thank you guys. I just want to tell the viewers something, look, the most important thing for you to understand is that there‘s a battle going on. They‘re waging that battle. Warren Buffet even said it. He said look, there‘s been class warfare all along. It‘s just my class that‘s winning.
In Wisconsin, they began the fight just because there was a dirty trick last night, you can‘t give up. In fact, that should redouble your energy. Whether it‘s recalling them to send a message or whatever it is, don‘t wait until election time and let them spend those hundreds of millions of dollars to trick the voters again.
You‘ve got to join the fight right now if you ask me. As we go into the next segment, we‘ll talk about how that battle is just beginning and how workers and Democrats are planning to fight back and get even.
Democratic state Senator Chris Larson and SCIU President Mary Kay Henry on how their plan of attack. And Peter King and his radicalization of Muslim-American hearings in my opinion are flat out on American.
Congressman Ellison was brought tears telling an emotional story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was only when his remains were identified that these lies were exposed. Muhammad was a fellow American who gave his life for other Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: More on Ellison‘s extraordinary testimony straight ahead.
UYGUR: I can‘t help it, man. The president has got a big mic and it‘s on its way? When is it going to arrive? 2017? All right, look. The Wisconsin 14 and the American workers have fought for three weeks now and they are fighting, but now comes the ultimate test.
How do they respond to Governor Walker‘s sucker punch? State Senator Chris Larson and Mary Kay Henry, President of the SCIU on how to fight back when we come back.
UYGUR: The union fight may be over in Wisconsin legislatively for now, but the counter attack is just beginning. The Republicans‘ underhanded bill move to run the bill through the legislature just raised the ire of the opposition as you saw on the video we‘ve been showing you all day long.
The Wisconsin Democratic Party raised $300,000 overnight after news of the state Senate vote spread. So what happens now? Let‘s talk about the options. Here‘s a few.
The bill can be challenged in court. That‘s a real option here because the main complaint right now is that Republicans violated the state‘s open meetings law by failing to give 24-hour notice that they were holding a committee meeting.
Now normally you‘re supposed to give 24 hours. In this case, they didn‘t even give two hours‘ notice. The assembly minority leader, Peter Barcap has already gotten the wheels in motion to make the complaint.
The other big issue, of course, is that the Republican argument was that the bill was non-fiscal, which allows the state Senate to pass it without a quorum, but Governor Walker spent the last three weeks arguing that he had to get rid of collective bargaining rights because of the state‘s fiscal problems so that makes no sense nonetheless he repeated that argument today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER, ® WISCONSIN: We followed the law and yet allow us to move forward with these reforms, which are indeed fiscal. They‘re not in conflict with that requirement for a quorum, but they are indeed fiscal. They give a fiscal benefit to the state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: But - I mean, he‘s just basically saying, I‘m going to lie to you. I don‘t care. You can‘t not pass it as a non-fiscal bill and then turn around and say it‘s actually fiscal. Well, it‘s just admitting you broke the law, which one is it?
Who cares, I‘ve got money coming for the next election. Do you think the Koch brothers are going to let me lose? So - now a second counter attack to these guys is recalling GOP state Senators so you don‘t have to wait until next elections.
Democrats have already started to collect signatures to hold recall elections for eight Republican members who are eligible for recall. Now the events in the last 24 hours have inspired labor to step up those efforts, which make sense.
Finally a third option is strike. Up to this point, there have been a few reports that union leaders are discussing the possibility, but so far nothing is planned. In fact, the teacher unions urged their members to go to work today rather than protest at the statehouse.
Instead, the unions are planning a national mobilization day for April 4th. Now that‘s the day that Martin Luther King Jr. died, of course, and remember as we told you last segment, he was there for—in Memphis for a sanitation workers strike.
So that makes a lot of sense. Now to talk more about their options moving forward, let me bring in Mary Kay Henry, President of the 2.2 million member Service Employees International Union and Wisconsin Democratic State Senator Chris Larson who joins us via Skype.
All right, let me start with you, Mary because I‘m very interested about this strike idea. How real is that? What‘s going to happen on April 4th? Is that related to a strike? Tell me what‘s cooking over there?
MARY KAY HENRY, SEIU PRESIDENT: Thanks, Cenk. We think of our plan of action now as exposing the corporate agenda that is really behind what Governor Walker is doing. Uniting our collective effort across all of the movements that you‘ve seen in Madison by calling for an organization called “We are Wisconsin.”
Uniting students who want to object to the tuition increases at UW, nurses who are outraged that this governor wants to throw 300,000 people off of badger care, and then taking the recall efforts to shine a light on the corporate elite like M&I bank that backed this governor and who don‘t pay a dime in tax that owe us $2.6 billion in TARP money.
And that we want to say we are not going to deal with this inequality in our country anymore, and we‘re going to stand up for a middle class way of life own behalf of everybody in Wisconsin and across the country.
UYGUR: You know, that brings up a great point. I just want to ask everybody, anybody who has an answer to this. You know, they keep talking about shared pain. Where‘s the pain for the top corporations who pay no taxes? Where‘s the pain for the very rich funding these campaigns?
UYGUR: Which part of this pain is shared? By shared pain, I think they mean you feel the pain and they you don‘t.
HENRY: Right, and the M&I bank executive just took a $25 million bonus during this fight and is going to eliminate Wisconsin jobs because he sold to M&I to a Canadian bank. We want to figure out how does this governor call on the private sector to get people back to work in Wisconsin and across the country?
UYGUR: Well, that‘s the thing, you know, Mary Kay. You don‘t understand, the teacher had to take a pay cut because he had to get a $25 million bonus.
HENRY: Right, Cenk. How could—I was confused.
UYGUR: Now let me go to Senator Larson here in Wisconsin. You guys have been outside the state for a long time obviously. Now they‘ve pulled this trick, when do you go back and what do you do when you go back?
STATE SENATOR CHRIS LARSON, (D) WISCONSIN: Well, we‘ll be making that decision soon. We‘ve been out for three weeks exactly. When we left, we set out to make sure that the people of Wisconsin were aware of what was in this Trojan horse bill and to delay it a little bit. We‘ve achieved both of those to an extent we never thought possible.
The middle class in our state and across the country woke up to what the Republican agenda was, to what Walker‘s race to the bottom was. He revealed that in his billion dollar phone call. So they decided to move forward anyways and it‘s unfortunate that they used these tactics and these tricks to try to shut out the public for the last three weeks, but they‘re not going away.
UYGUR: So, Senator Larson talk to me about recalls. I mean, how do you work with these guys? If I was in your position and I went back we would like to strike up some sort of bipartisan compromise on something. I would be like yes, right, tell it to somebody else, buddy. I‘m looking to recall you. Are the Democrats going to do that?
LARSON: Well, I think it‘s unfortunate that the Republicans decided to rubber stamp this extreme agenda. They have the opportunity to stand up for themselves and their constituents, but they decided to instead do this.
And it‘s going to make it really hard to work with, especially considering this last week, we thought we were able to work towards some type of agreement only to find out they were meeting behind closed doors with the governor and they rammed this thing through for two hours without any chance of us getting back there or any chance of the public giving input.
Those people, those same people who have been turning out for protests, have been turning out to speak at town halls and have been protesting in their streets and back in neighborhoods, they‘re going to continue to be involved in these recalls. I think the fact that the Republicans shut them out of the capitol, I think they forced their hand.
They forced them to the streets and that‘s where they‘re going to pick up clipboards and start these recall efforts against these eight Republicans.
UYGUR: I think the recalls make 100 percent sense. I think it‘s crazy not to do, but Mary Kay, I want to go back to you on this. Look—
HENRY: Cenk, can I just thank Senator Larson. I just want to honor the senators that stayed out and allowed our country to have the real conversation about this terrible economic inequality in our country that this governor and those senators allowed to get into motion. So I want to thank you for allowing me to honor their incredible courage and leadership in this moment.
UYGUR: Somebody had to show leadership and they did. That‘s why it‘s amazing. Mary Kay, last question for you real quick here. Look, as soon as this vote happened last night, when we got news of it and we told it to you on this program first, my e-mail blew up.
I had so many e-mails saying general strike, general strike. At what point does SCIU go enough, I mean, we‘re going to get steam rolled by these guys unless we take action.
HENRY: Well, you know, our members have been having that conversation for three weeks. There‘s a registered nurse from oncology that was in the capitol all night. She‘s been e-mailing registered nurses at UW Madison.
So there‘s a growing conversation among all workers who have the privilege of collective bargaining and having a voice to figure out what it is we can do to escalate and expose the corporate agenda that‘s wreaking havoc on our communities.
UYGUR: All right, Mary Kay Henry from the SCIU and Chris Larson, state senator from Wisconsin. We really appreciate both of you joining us tonight.
And before we go, as always, I would like to tell you one more thing. By the way, when we‘re talking about the banker who took the $25 million bonus, some people will say that‘s not connected to the teachers getting their pay cut because that one is part of the state budget and the other one is just getting a private check.
But when is the last time the Republicans in Wisconsin, or the Republicans nationally said to the guy getting $25 million bonus hey, wait a minute, can you also chip in? Instead what we‘ve done is giving them tax cut after tax cut after tax cut and then ask you to chip in everything. That‘s enough of that, man. That‘s why we‘ve got to fight for the middle class.
All right, now, Republicans in Wisconsin didn‘t run on ending collective bargaining. Scott Walker never even mentioned it and neither did some Republicans who tricked teachers unions into supporting them.
Jenny Fish, a teacher in Wisconsin was one of the people lied to. We‘ll get her story and will Peter King‘s hearings backfire? That‘s what some are saying now. We‘ll tell you why.
CENK UYGUR, HOST: The biggest lie in Wisconsin was when Republicans kept repeating that they were simply doing what they were elected to do. Well, actually that‘s totally far from the truth. For one thing, according to PolitiFact Wisconsin, when Scott Walker was campaigning for governor, he never vowed to strip unions of their collective bargaining rights. Let me repeat that—ever.
You see? They want you to vote for them and they think you won‘t if you know what they‘re really up to, which is true enough. That‘s why according to some polls, Walker would lose if the election were held again today.
But Walker is not the only Republican who failed to play it straight during the 2010 campaign in Wisconsin. Ed Brooks was a Republican running for the state assembly. And he actually ended up getting the endorsement from the largest teachers union in Wisconsin.
Now, you may wonder, how in the world did that happen? Well, actually, it‘s really simple. He got the endorsement after telling the union point-blank that he didn‘t support repealing collective bargaining for insurance benefits. Then he got elected and then, what do you know? He did the exact opposite of what he promised. Today, he voted for the Walker plan.
But don‘t take my work for it. Take it from the teacher who Ed Brooks actually made the promise to.
Joining me from inside the statehouse in Madison, Wisconsin, is Jenny Fish. She‘s a 6th grade teacher in Reedsburg, Wisconsin, who is part of the team that interviewed Brooks for the union during the campaign.
So Jenny, is that right? Did he just flat-out look you in the eye and say, I will not take away collective bargaining rights? And today, he voted to take away collective bargaining rights?
JENNY FISH, WISCONSIN PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER: That is correct. When we interviewed, one of the questions of many was whether he would oppose stripping us of our bargaining rights, and specifically of our bargaining rights for insurance in which he stated that he did oppose that. I also had the opportunity to stop and talk to him on Tuesday, February 15th, after Governor Walker had presented his bill.
UYGUR: So, what happened? Did you ask him, you promised me—I mean, were you lying? What happened? I mean, if I was you, I would have asked that question.
FISH: And I did. I was with two of my colleagues and among other things, I reminded him of the fact that when we interviewed, that he had clearly made that statement. His response to us was: why would he vote no for a bill that was just going to pass anyway. He would lose credibility within his party and he wouldn‘t be able to do anything else, basically shared with us that his hands would be tied.
He also in that discussion in the capitol building shared with us that he hadn‘t even read the bill.
UYGUR: You know what I love about that story? He says, I would lose credibility within my party. Well, how about the credibility you have with voters who you looked in the eye and told them you wouldn‘t do it? Apparently, he doesn‘t care about credibility with you guys, with the voters or anything.
And he didn‘t even read the bill. I thought that‘s what all the Republicans—I remember during the health care fight, nationally, they were like, read the bill, read the bill. And this guy is, I didn‘t even read the bill.
So, listen—the other thing is, when he said his hands were tied, I found that interesting. So, do you think what happened here is, he thought, I guess I‘ll vote with the teachers and he comes into office and the Republicans say, no, no, that‘s not how we get paid, we get paid if we take away these rights. And he said, OK, well, then, I guess that‘s what I‘m going to do.
Is that how it went? Or you think he just intended to mislead you all the way?
FISH: I think he probably got talked into it. I would like to believe that he had intentions of not doing that, but when it came down to making that tough decision, he didn‘t do that. I did ask him and remind him, I should say, that he was not elected by his party, that he was elected by his constituents, that he should be representing his constituents, and his constituents have clearly spoken.
I‘m positive he has received probably thousands of emails and phone calls. I myself and many of my colleagues have visited him within his office and had discussions with him, and he apparently does thought that toeing the party line was better than listening to the people.
UYGUR: Jenny, look—you know, it‘s not surprising that he chose his party and the money instead of you guys, but—I mean, you seem like the perfect candidate for someone who would want to be part of a recall effort because this is not what you bargained for. This is not what you want to support. This is not what you funded, which you guys actually also gave funding as well.
And you just—you got rooked. You got robbed. You got had.
I mean, isn‘t that exactly when you do a recall?
FISH: It is. Unfortunately for us, because he was just elected, it is a process that will take a little bit of time. The other one of my representatives is Dale Schultz for the Senate. So, he is one of the—well, he is the only Republican senator who actually voted against it, which is interesting. And so, I have an assembly man who voted for it and a state senator who voted against it.
So—but I also know that Dale Schultz has guaranteed that he read the bill, which I would say is probably the difference between voting yes and no.
UYGUR: That‘s an excellent point. Jenny Fish, thank you for joining us. And, by the way, for Schultz, look, you‘ve got to give—actions matter, you‘ve got to give him credit. He voted the right way. You go after people who voted the wrong way, not the right way. It‘s not about party, it‘s about what they actually did.
So, Jenny, again, thank you for joining us.
FISH: Thank you.
UYGUR: All right. Now, next—thank you—next: Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison was brought to tears during Peter King‘s radicalization of Muslim Americans hearings, which by the way is a mouthful. He called it scapegoating. I‘m going to be honest with you, I‘m going to call it something much, much worse.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee did not hold back together either.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: This hearing today is playing into al Qaeda right now around the world. It is diminishing soldiers that are on the frontline that are Muslims, those who lost their lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee talks to us next.
UYGUR: Welcome back. I‘m Cenk Uygur.
Representative Peter King‘s hearings on so-called Muslim radicalization began today. Congressman King wants to investigate the entire Muslim community in this country. And he does not want to investigate any other kind of radicals because, of course, if he did, he might find out a lot of them are right wingers.
We‘re going to talk about how un-American these hearings are in a second. But, first, I want to show you the one good thing that came out of them. Representative Keith Ellison, who‘s the first Muslim ever in the United States Congress, gave this emotional testimony about the heroism of one man on 9/11.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: Let me close with this true story. But remember that it‘s only one of many American stories that could be told. Mohammed Salman Hamdani was a 23-year-old paramedic, a New York City police cadet and Muslim American. He was one of those brave first responders who tragically lost his life in 9/11 terrorist attacks almost a decade ago.
As a “New York Times” eulogized, he wanted to be seen as an all-American kid. He wore number 79 on the high school football team at Bayside, Queens, where he lived. He was called Sal by his friends. He became a research assistant at Rockefeller University and drove an ambulance part time.
One Christmas, he sang Handel‘s “Messiah” in Queens. He saw all of the “Star Wars” movies, and it‘s well-known that his new Honda was the one that read with the young Jedi license plates.
Mr. Hamdani bravely sacrificed his life to try to help others on 9/11.
After the tragedy, some people tried to smear his character solely because of his Islamic faith. Some people spread false rumors and speculated that he was in league with the attackers because he was a Muslim. But it was only when his remains were identified that these lies were exposed.
Mohammed Salman Hamdani was a fellow American who gave his life for other Americans. His life should not be identified as just a member of an ethic group or just a member of a religion, but as an American who gave everything for his fellow Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Congressman Ellison‘s testimony goes to the heart of what is wrong with these hearings. Smearing people because of their ethnicity and lumping them in with terrorists because of their faith is grotesque, but more importantly, it is un-American. It misses the whole point of this country. Remember?
“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.”
That is part of what has brought countless immigrants from this country, from Italy and Ireland and Japan and Poland and yes, from Mexico and the Middle East. They came here with a belief that they would be judged as equals and that their children would have the same opportunity as any other American.
That‘s why my family came here. We‘re true believers. We believe what makes you American isn‘t being born in Nebraska or New Jersey. It‘s the belief in your heart that democracy is the right form of government, freedom is essential and that we should all be treated as equals.
But from time to time in this country‘s history, some ugly forces in the nation try to undo the essence of America and forget what made it great.
Joe McCarthy wanted to separate us. He held hearings that turned into witch hunts, trying to find people who he considered to be un-American.
During World War II, FDR made a terrible mistake and interned the Japanese just because of who they were. One of those interned was Mike Honda. He‘s now a 76-year-old congressman from California. He has condemned the King hearings, said he cannot believe that he has lived long enough to see our country turn back to these dark days.
Of course, throughout U.S. history, we‘ve attacked different
ethnicities for their race or creed. Just ask Native Americans or African-
Americans. But we persevered through all of this in the hope and the
belief that the core of America, the idea of America was better than that -
that the shining city on a hill would shine again.
So, now, we are confronted by another petty, ugly man who isn‘t just challenging a whole religion or ethnicity. He‘s challenging the concept of America.
If I am Muslim and I am an American, I don‘t have to prove a damn thing to Congressman King. I am no more or no less of an American than he is. He has no right to question my loyalty or to investigate my family based on what we are.
It is, of course, supremely ironic that King is the one who has started look into people‘s connections to radicals because he himself was an ardent supporter of the IRA, a terrorist group that killed over 600 civilians. He even raised money for those terrorists and made light of the deaths of the civilians that they caused.
So, if I were to go to Congressman King‘s hearings, I would not go as the accused. I would go as the accuser.
It is you, Mr. King, who is brazenly associated with terrorists. It is you who does not understand what it means to be an American. And it is you who is damaging our great country.
Now, let me bring in Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. I‘m going to bring her in actually in a moment. But she was as actually outraged at the hearings as I was. Check this out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON LEE: It has already been classified as an effort to demonize and to castigate a whole broad base of human beings. We could have had a hearing that spoke about any number of issues on terrorism. We might have gone back to the cold cases of the civil rights movement, acts of terror. We might have tried to understand whether the Klansmen still roam today and terrorize individuals in parts of this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: And Congresswoman Jackson Lee is with us now.
Congresswoman, what outraged you the most about these hearings?
JACKSON LEE: My time to speak came shortly after the eloquent statement of Congressman Keith Ellison. I had already listened to the opening statement of Chairman King and I heard the counter of ranking member Thompson, and I began to reflect on why we were here. What was the focus, why was this hearing predisposed?
The three Republican witnesses to one witness that we were allowed to have, which is a format now, because we are in the minority, all came already decided that Muslims should be the target and that they‘re all radicalized and that they‘re not being helpful.
And I raise the question, are there any Muslims on this panel? Two raised their hands. There goes the issue of Muslims not cooperating.
Why weren‘t the Muslims who had turned in the northern Virginia Five? Where were the Muslims on the panel that had turned in the Times Square alleged perpetrator, bomber?
This was again McCarthyism in its true sense, because it was information without fact and truth. It was predisposition, and that‘s why I had a sense of outrage because I believe in this Constitution.
And one of the things I said having been on this committee since 9/11, having been on this committee since 9/11 and was here in the Capitol on that day, we all went on the front steps and we sang “God Bless America” because wanted the world to see that our values of democracy, freedom of expression and religion were still in hand.
This committee quashed that. And if it was to show that Muslims were not effective, what do you think will happen now with all of the fury? Do you think this will bring Muslims who are simply trying to raise their family into the light to be able to contribute to what law enforcement would like them to do? Particularly when one can say that they were already doing it.
JACKSON LEE: I would have—I would have felt that this would have been more concrete. Our responsibilities are oversight, we‘re supposed have hearings to generate legislation or maybe to provide funding.
UYGUR: Congresswoman, if you think that there‘s not honest intent in these hearings and it‘s hard to imagine how there could be when they don‘t include other radicals, they just include all Muslims and—you know, and investigate them all and claim they‘re not being cooperative when it‘s absolutely not true, then what‘s the real motivation here? Is it politics? Is it so that Representative King and the Republicans could put out Muslims as the boogieman, and say, oh, you better be afraid of them and vote for us in the next election, otherwise, they‘re going to get you?
JACKSON LEE: Well, you know how much fear-mongering lasted throughout the years after 9/11, unfortunately. And a lot of monies went for wars in Iraq and even continuing in Afghanistan. We‘re trying to correct that.
But I think your point is well-taken. My concern is, as I said, these are supposed to be oversight hearings. Where were the law enforcement? Or where was the question about whether or not we have enough resources for the intelligence community? Or as I said, the federal law enforcement that would actually be part of stamping out radicalism.
So, there was no legitimate end point. And when you have no legitimate end point to a hearing, it‘s important for the American people to understand, we don‘t just have hearings to be heard and seen. Of course, some of us expressed our outrage. But you are to have hearings that have oversight over an agency or to find the truth.
And my question today was: did we find the truth or did we in essence stifle this constitutional document that we love so much? Because we isolated a religion and we suggested that there was no freedom of religion and that have religion, contrary to all of our views, was the cause of radicalism in this nation.
JACKSON LEE: Might I just say one word, the gentleman‘s son, and I‘m a parent—so, I have the greatest affection for him. But I think it‘s important to note that that young man, unfortunately, went to Yemen and was in the jails of Yemen and therefore had the opportunity to be radicalized there. The captain in Fort—excuse me—in Austin, in Fort Hood—excuse me—was on the Internet with imam from Yemen.
So, we have to be careful of how we suggest Muslims here in this country—let us speak to this issue by bringing in the family of faith.
JACKSON LEE: Begin to talk to young people in a constructive manner, just as you did, talk about the glory of this Constitution and the Declaration of the Independence.
UYGUR: All right. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee—thank you for joining us tonight.
JACKSON LEE: Thank you very much for having me tonight.
We‘ll be right back.
UYGUR: King‘s crusade against Muslims is a waste of our time and taxpayer money. Of course, Bill O‘Reilly backed him up with absolutely no facts. I‘m going to give you the real fact when we come back.
UYGUR: Congressman King‘s hearings aren‘t about protecting America from would-be domestic terrorism. They‘re about whipping up fear and hate of the boogie man.
That‘s why Bill O‘Reilly lost his mind over a sound bite where a civil rights expert Mark Potok suggested there are other threats worth investigating.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
MARK POTOK, CIVIL RIGHTS EXPERT: It‘s not our biggest terror threat. I think that pretty clearly comes from the radical right in this country.
BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS: Are you kidding me? The radical right? The last terrorist act assigned to them was the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.
I mean, think about what the guy just said. Muslims of terrorists have killed tens of thousands of people all over the world, correct? How many people have the radical right killed? And Mr. Potok who runs a human rights agency says right wing loons are worse than the jihadists?
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
UYGUR: That‘s some wonderful nonsense. Look, first, you‘ve got a classic spin zone, bait-and-switch. The hearings aren‘t about foreign terror threats. It‘s not about people, quote, “killed all over the world” as O‘Reilly put it. It‘s about—it‘s not about 9/11. That was an attack on Americans by terrorists from other countries.
Congressman King‘s hearing are about—
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PETER KING (R-NY), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: The radicalization in the American Muslim community.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: American Muslim community, as King put it right there. Not the Muslim Saudis who did 9/11. Remember those mainly Saudi terrorists killed 29 Muslim Americans as well on 9/11.
But if we‘re investigating homegrown radicals, why just look at the Muslims? O‘Reilly pretends to be confused and outraged by the idea that there might be non-Muslim radicals and terrorists in this country. He‘s either faking his outrage or covering up the real facts, or he‘s just plain, old ignorant?
So, Bill, let me educate you. Here are the facts. According to report on domestic terrorism statistic, since 2001, Muslims have been involved in 45 domestic terrorist plots. Now, that‘s too much. But 80 of the domestic terrorist plots were involving non-Muslims, 63 of those 80-plus were hatched by anti-government extremists, anti-tax extremists or white supremacists.
So, if you‘re scoring at home, that‘s 63 for white ring radicals and 45 for Muslims. So, who‘s the bigger threat? And how would FOX cover it if we did hearings on those right wing lunatics in this country?
That‘s the show. “HARDBALL” is next.
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