Guests: Lionel Chetwynd, Malik Zulu Shabazz, Karen Russell, Jesse Lee Peterson, Michael Stipe
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Hey, welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, where no passport is required and only common sense is allowed.
A new movie called “Saved!” shows life at a Christian high school. A boy thinks he‘s gay. A girl gets pregnant. And her catty friends turn on them. Is the film trying to speak to our teens in a language they understand or is it trying to make money mocking Christianity? We‘re going to be talking about that with the film‘s producer, REM lead singer Michael Stipe.
And then, has the media forgotten 9/11? It sure seems like it. You know, the attorney general and the head of the FBI asked America to help find suspected terrorists. And the so-called paper of record doesn‘t even put the story on its front page.
And the comedian Bill Cosby has started a firestorm by telling African-Americans to stop blaming whites for their problems. We have got a heated SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY showdown you are not going to want to miss.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, in the words of Paul McCartney, this again.
Jesus hits the theaters again tomorrow. And you can bet his arrival is going to start a fight. It is time for tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
Now, earlier this year, you remember Christians battled Jews over the meaning of Mel Gibson‘s “Passion.” And tomorrow, the teen movie “Saved!” is going to hit theaters nationwide. And it has got a religious-based theme. But this coming-of-age flick is no Mel Gibson parable. Based in a Christian high school, “Saved!” has provoked religious leaders. And they‘re claiming it is a hateful, politically correct assault on Christianity.
Movie critics Roger Ebert gives the movie two thumbs up and he says that “Saved!” is not sacrilegious. And remember, Ebert was one of the few national critics to stick his neck out earlier this year to praise Mel Gibson‘s “Passion.” And there‘s no doubt, conservative Christians are one of the last demographic groups who can be mocked and ridiculed without consequence. But it is also true that, for too long, self-righteous Christians have done as much to undermine Christianity than anybody else and certainly more than any teen flick could ever do.
If this movie pushes teenagers to examine their faith, I say that‘s a good thing. After all, we live in a politically correct world where no teacher or public figure dares utter the name of God. But if “Saved!” openly mocks the faith of million of Americans, the judgment at the box office will be swift and it will be harsh. And the makers of this film will only have themselves to blame.
You know what? I‘m going to catch this movie tomorrow when it opens and I‘m going to let you know what I think. And that‘s tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
REM front man Michael Stipe is the producer of the movie “Saved!.”
And he joins me now.
MICHAEL STIPE, PRODUCER, “SAVED!”: Thank you for having me. It is a great honor.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘ll tell you, it is a great honor for me. I must say this up front. We may not agree politically on everything, but I‘ve been a huge fan of yours for a very long time since “Chronic Town” and “Radio Free Europe” and “Sitting Still.” So it is. It is a great honor for you to be with us tonight.
Hey, tell me about this movie. Why did you make “Saved!”?
STIPE: I always wanted to work on a film that was kind of a coming-of-age movie. And it‘s very rare in Hollywood that you find a script that has an original voice. And this one to me and my producing partner was very original.
STIPE: We had no idea when we started making the movie three and a half years ago that Mel Gibson was going to put out a film called “The Passion of the Christ,” which paved the way nicely for religious themed films in 2004.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, the movies has obviously kicked up a lot of controversy, just like “The Passion” did.
And this is what the founder of the Christian Film and Television Commission said about your movie. He said: “‘Saved!! is a hateful, politically correct movie. It is being heavily marketed to the community it mocks to lead Christian youth astray and make them resent their own faith.”
How do you respond to a broadside like that?
STIPE: Well, I don‘t think it‘s hateful at all.
SCARBOROUGH: Are you surprised by it?
STIPE: I‘m not really surprised, to tell you the truth.
But I don‘t think it is a hateful film at all. We really went out of our way to present a film that, rather than mocking Christianity, questions it and questions certain things about it and people‘s interpretation of the holy scripture.
SCARBOROUGH: I had read somewhere that you said you were raised in a religious family and the last thing that you wanted to do was to ever do anything that would mock Christianity or any other faith. But some people are saying that this film actually jabs at the hypocrisy of Christianity and especially in the evangelical community. Is that a fair statement?
STIPE: No, I don‘t think it is, Joe.
And I think most of the people who are really deeply offended by this film haven‘t seen it yet. It is a very sweet film. It is subversive in that it brings up issues that real teenagers have to deal with on a day-to-day level. And it is subversive in Hollywood in that we used actual teenage actors to play the teenagers, rather than doing an “American Pie 2” kind of thing, where we have 26-year-olds playing 17-year-olds.
I‘m really—I‘m really proud that our cast are actual teenagers. And they were all very excited to be a part of this project, because I think the voice, the teenage voice that is speaking through this film is a real voice. And it is not one that—it is not one that tries to either turn a teenager into a cartoon and something laughable. It doesn‘t turn Christianity into something that‘s being mocked. It is for people who are secure in their faith something that they can laugh at and I think enjoy.
It is a very funny movie. It is thought-provoking more than it is provocative.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, you said something that—and I‘m going to tell my viewers something that may surprise them. But actually, after I get out of college, I wrote a musical. It was called “The Gospel According to Esther.” And it was—I started writing it before the Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker scandal broke. But it was actually mocking them.
And then when it broke, everybody said, oh, you just wrote this thing to sort of ride in the wake of this Bakker scandal. That wasn‘t it at all. I‘m a very conservative, a very traditional, you would even say orthodox Christian as far as my beliefs go. But, at the same time, I saw elements out there of hypocrisy in the church of some church leaders and televangelists, especially, that was disturbing to me.
I want to read you a quote of something that you also said about this movie. You said: “It is like those monster vampire high school kind of movies. Only here, the monsters are Jesus-freak teenagers.”
Now, when you say Jesus-freak teenagers, you‘re certainly not talking about all teenagers that have faith in Jesus Christ, right? Is it about those that may go overboard? Or what were you trying to say there?
STIPE: No, of course, not.
And that quote, I would like to put in it context—was actually—it was one of the earlier things that I said. It has come back to haunt me several times, three and a half years ago.
STIPE: The first draft that we got of this film was taking some jabs. And we went to great lengths to make sure that it was a movie that really delivered the message that we were trying to deliver, which is one of tolerance and acceptance and to maybe have people who are people of faith, Christian or otherwise, maybe look at their own belief system, their own faith and question, why do I accept this about this? Why is teen pregnancy something that you don‘t discuss? Why is homosexuality something that is not allowed?
These are things that happen every day in high schools around the world, certainly in this country. And I think they‘re things that need to be discussed. At the very least, I would be happy if this film opened up that discussion a little bit. And, I‘ll say again, it‘s a very funny movie.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, actually, from the clips that we‘ve seen, it certainly looks funny. And I‘m looking forward to seeing it. And I would like to get you and some other people back on to talk about it after all of America goes to see it.
Thanks a lot for being with us tonight, Michael. We greatly appreciate it.
STIPE: I would be honored. I would be honored to come back. Thank you, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: And now I‘m joined by actor and born-again Christian Stephen Baldwin, also have Jennifer Giroux of SeeThePassion.com and Women Influencing the Nation, and MSNBC entertainment editor Dana Kennedy.
Now, Dana, a you got a sneak peek. You saw this movie. Where do you fall down in this debate? What side?
DANA KENNEDY, NBC ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR: Well, I thought the movie was funny. I‘m obviously not really here to talk about, you know, Christianity.
But you remember the movie a few weeks ago, Joe, called “Mean Girls”? This movie is very much “Mean Girls” for Christ. It‘s kind of surprising to hear what Michael Stipe had to say, because I really feel it does mock a certain sector of Christians. In this movie—and I‘m as big a fan of Michael Stipe as you are—but in this movie, definitely, the mean girls are the Christian girls. And they are the villains.
However, for the first hour and a half, you think that is what the movie really is about that, showing the hypocrisy of these girls, of their beliefs and how they think teen pregnancy is wrong and homosexuality is wrong. However, stay for the last 20 minutes, because the writer/director, Brian Dannelly, who himself went to a Christian high school, kind of does an about-face.
And, in the end, maybe right-right-right-wing Christians won‘t love it. But it really does—he does basically say there is a deity and we should all basically worship it.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, I have a lot of friends who went to Christian high schools and I see some of these clips. And I got to admit, I laugh and say, ouch, that hits a little too close to home in some points.
I want, though, to show you all a look at one of the clip where the movie portrays these teen girls trying to save one of their friend‘s souls.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “SAVED!”)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: You are backsliding into the flames of hell.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: You have become a maggot for sin. We‘ve all witnessed it.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Sure, Veronica acting all pure. What about last spring break at the Promise Makers rally, huh?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Oh, my God. You are making accusations as we‘re trying to save your soul? Mary, turn away from Satan. Jesus, he loves you.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: You don‘t know the first thing about love.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: I am filled with Christ‘s love.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: My gosh, did she just throw a Bible?
Stephen Baldwin, what do you think?
STEPHEN BALDWIN, ACTOR: Well, I think it boils down to—on the record, I haven‘t seen the film. I watched the EPK and saw some of the comments, went to the Web sites, read a bunch of comments.
It really depends, in my opinion, Joe, it depends on where you are in your faith, if you ask me. And obviously, the film is poking fun at Christianity. And that‘s cool. I think the thing that‘s really weird about this movie is, see, what Christianity, in my experience, is all about, is, it is about getting into spiritual solutions about worldly problems. And what I‘m curious about, about this film, is, it seems to be presenting worldly solutions to worldly problems.
And I would like to know by the filmmakers and all the people that
participated in it, I would like to know, what are the spiritual solutions
that they suggest in this film? Because what Christianity and the Bible is
about, in my experience, is finding spiritual solutions to worldly
problems. And I just—I think that they rolled the dice here. And they
think they‘re making something kind of fun and cute and goofy and comical -
· and I love comedy. I‘ve been in a lot of B, C comedies, so to speak, in my career.
And you won‘t be catching me in the sequel to some of those films any time soon. But, again, I think that, at this time in this country, with all the controversy, with Christianity and this and that, it just seems to me that if the goal of people, Christians in media and entertainment, if they‘re trying to promote Christianity in a positive light, I just don‘t think that this was done very successfully. And that‘s just because, again...
BALDWIN: The solution to worldly problems for Christian teenagers today about pregnancy and sex and drugs and all of those things that are problem today in the world, the solution hopefully for them, depending on how they‘re walking their walk, is a spiritual solution.
SCARBOROUGH: Jennifer Giroux, you‘ve checked out “Saved!.” Do you agree with Stephen? What is your view?
JENNIFER GIROUX, SEETHEPASSION.COM: First of all, I think it could get great insight if could I get a look at that Scarborough gospel that you wrote.
SCARBOROUGH: “The Gospel According to Esther”?
SCARBOROUGH: I take some pretty hard whacks at Jim and Tammy Faye before the scandal broke.
GIROUX: We‘ll save that for another show.
SCARBOROUGH: But, anyway, you are not going to get ahold of that script any time soon, I can promise you that.
But tell us about “Saved!.” Does it disturb you?
SCARBOROUGH: Or do you think that it‘s something that will get teenagers to talk?
GIROUX: I have not seen it. Now I‘m going to have to go see it this weekend, because what I read is just wretched.
There‘s nothing at all sweet. I‘m sorry to tell Michael Stipe about a virgin Christian teenager giving up her virginity to change a homosexual. I mean, yes, it is a charitable thing to, in a Christian love expression, tell a homosexual why he should come out of that lifestyle. You don‘t do it by committing a sin and sleeping with them and getting pregnant. This is clearly a movie that targets preteens.
That‘s a huge concern. Michael said it‘s exactly for those secure in their faith. I don‘t call 12- and 13-year-olds that you exposed on your show in grade school wearing sex bracelets people that are secure in their faith. So this movie clearly intends to violate and offend Christians in every way. And that bothers me.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Jennifer, Jennifer, stay there, because I‘m going to show you some more clips from this movie. And I want to you respond. We‘re going to continue this debate when we come back.
And later on, we‘re going to have much more. And we‘re also going to be talking about Bill Cosby and some remarks he made that have inflamed the African-American community nationwide.
We‘ll be right back.
SCARBOROUGH: Bill Cosby says African-American parents should stop paying $500 for sneakers and instead teach their kids how to talk. We‘ll talk about that and more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, we‘re back with our panel, Stephen Baldwin, Jennifer Giroux, and Dana Kennedy.
I want to play you a clip that, while trying to keep a kid in line with Jesus, incorporates hip-hop culture.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “SAVED!”)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Listen, I‘m concerned about Mary. Something is going on.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Yes, me, too.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: She‘s part of your posse. And I think that you could help her. I‘m going to need you to be a warrior out there on the front lines for Jesus.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: You mean like shoot her.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: No. I was thinking of something a little less gangster.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Jennifer Giroux, you obviously were very involved with “The Passion” and promoting “The Passion.” Do you see a difference in the way this film may have been embraced by Hollywood or will be embraced by Hollywood and what happened with “The Passion”?
GIROUX: Hollywood loves this film, Joe. Give me a break. This is the type of garbage they like to put out and the type of Christian that they like to project.
And, again, Christians are OK to target. Now, there is absolutely nothing redeeming about this movie. And it makes me wonder what kind of mind sits down and thinks that the type of messages they want to get across to preteen audiences. They deliberately made this PG-13. There is nothing redeeming or humorous about targeting this audience and telling kids it is OK to have sex, it is OK to tolerate homosexuality, and that the real mean kids are the guys that are the bad guys.
And it‘s just horrible that they continue put out the same filth, those that had no tolerance for the truth that was going on in “The Passion.” So I think, the scary thing is, I‘m going to predict—I haven‘t seen it—at the end of the movie, everyone realizes, it is better to be tolerant of everything. There‘s really no white and gray—white and black. It is all gray area.
And Mandy Moore winds end up being the one who we all hate because she was so intolerant. Now, real Christians, they are loving. But, actually, our society suffers from too much tolerance of immoral behavior. And that‘s something people are afraid to say on TV. So I find this a real wretched film. And it is offensive to million of people. And I think it will show at the numbers at the box office.
SCARBOROUGH: Dana Kennedy, you know what? I‘m hearing from a lot of people. You look at the Web sites and you hear sort of chatter out there, to borrow a term from Secretary Ridge. You hear the chatter out there about this movie among Christians. And a lot of them are saying the same thing, that you couldn‘t make a film like this about Jews, you couldn‘t make a film like this about Muslims, and if you did, it would be politically incorrect. Is this going to be used as one more example to show that Hollywood is politically correct?
KENNEDY: I don‘t know. This movie kind of came out of nowhere. It is a bit of an art house movie.
I think if there wasn‘t this controversy with it, it might have kind of sunk without a trace. I think all of us talking about it is going to help more people see it. As I said, Jennifer Giroux hasn‘t seen this movie. I understand her concerns. But the last 20 minutes, she is right in, at the end, it is all about, we should tolerate everything.
But it is not as hard-core an ending as I think she thinks. I think you really need to see—what we‘re seeing on these clips makes it looks as if they are simply against Christians. But the message is a bit of a surprise at the end. It really isn‘t an anti-Christian message.
But I have got to tell Joe one thing which is the key scene in this movie. The most hilarious scene in this movie involves the only Jewish girl in the school getting down on her knees and appearing to speak in tongues and starting to open her blouse. It turns out she is actually speaking in Pig Latin to make Mandy Moore go even crazy.
But you‘ll love the fact, Joe, the actress is played by Susan Sarandon‘s daughter, Eva Amurri.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘m sure a lot of conservatives will love that fact.
GIROUX: But, Joe, could I jump in here and just say one thing?
GIROUX: Do you know who this really offends, and target and offends, are the good teenagers out there right now that are choosing, instead of sex bracelets, to wear chastity rings.
And that is becoming more prevalent, that the tide is turning. And Christians and Muslims and Jewish teenagers are realizing to have self-respect and, with God‘s help, they can live the virtuous life. You don‘t see that reflected in this film.
SCARBOROUGH: Stephen Baldwin, your whole ministry seems to be geared towards trying to make Christianity hip, trying to make it a little more cool than it has been in the past. In fact, I saw the DVD that you got me to pass along to my son. It is great stuff.
But are you afraid that a movie like this may actually undermine the type of ministry that you‘re actually working on?
BALDWIN: Oh, absolutely.
I don‘t know about undermine. But I think that, look, it is tough enough in this country and around the world to get kids to dig the word of God, which is what I believe to be found in the Bible. So here‘s what I‘m going to say. I believe that these people that are in this movie that are calling themselves Christian actors are responsible. And I don‘t believe that what they‘ve done with this film is shed a positive light to this demographic of youth about getting them into God, getting them into the Bible.
Look, Christianity and born-again Christianity, it is not—I don‘t have—I don‘t want to say this wrong, but I don‘t have the right to kind of make the Bible my own and make God my own, this designer Jesus thing. That‘s not how it works, guys. The Bible is the Bible. And either you read it and know it and obey it or you don‘t. And I really think that this movie is kind of like shedding a light, hopefully, toward that whole thing that‘s not very positive. I think it is kind of gnarly.
SCARBOROUGH: Dana Kennedy, there‘s a scripture like reference to the movie‘s release date. And one of the tag lines reads, “Got Passion? Get Saved! 5:28.” And the “Saved!” movie Web site offers this advice to Christian youth ministers: “It is the youth minister‘s job to find ways to illustrate biblical truth with clarity and applicability. “Saved!” addresses dozens of issues teens grapple with daily and will launch them easily into significant spiritual discussions.”
That, Dana, is driving Christians crazy. But it looks like they‘re borrowing a page or trying to borrow a page from Mel Gibson in promoting their movie through churches. Do you think that is going to succeed?
KENNEDY: It might.
But you know what? Movie is going to succeed in way as far as Christians are concerned, because you know what? The mean Christian girls in the movie are the cute ones. And the pastor is really cute. And the people that kind of are on the fence about Christianity aren‘t so cute. And, frankly, that is going to carry as much weight as anything with our public, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Jennifer, I‘ll give you the last word.
GIROUX: Joe, this movie is intended to offend. Whether it is deliberate or by ignorance on those that put it together, it is intended to offend.
Anybody that understands Christianity knows what we‘re seeing in that film does not describe Christianity. And it is not the way to teach teenagers how to embrace God.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, thanks so much. I appreciate it, Stephen Baldwin, Jennifer Giroux, and Dana Kennedy. And, boy, Jennifer and Dana, I sure miss Rabbi Shmuley tonight.
KENNEDY: I do, too. Where is he?
GIROUX: Where is the rabbi?
SCARBOROUGH: I don‘t know. I‘m sure we‘ll be hearing from him soon.
Thanks for being here. We appreciate it.
SCARBOROUGH: As you know, we track media bias here at SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. And we want to you help us. If you see any examples of media bias in your local paper or on your local newscast, let us know. We‘re going to cover it. And you can send us the e-mails at Joe@MSNBC.com.
We want to you stick around, because a new movie is going to show why Dwight Eisenhower was the right man at the right time during World War II. And we‘re going to talk to the director of that film tonight.
And next, we‘re going to be walking the beaches of Normandy for the 50th anniversary of D-Day.
But, first, Bill Cosby talks tough to black America. Is it justified outrage or entitlement? We‘ll be debating that right after this short break.
SCARBOROUGH: Bill Cosby has harsh words for poor African-American parents. He says, stop spending money on $500 shoes and start teaching your kids to speak properly. That‘s next.
But, first, let‘s get the latest headlines from the MSNBC News Desk.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Boy, I‘ll tell you what. That‘s big news that we just heard from Christy talking about how al-Sadr has agreed to negotiate and call a cease-fire. That is big news in the fight to liberate Iraq and calm things down before the handover. Let‘s hope it stays that way.
Now, legendary comedian Dr. Bill Cosby raised some eyebrows at a recent NAACP event that commemorated the 50th anniversary of Brown vs.
Board of Education by making comments like these about poor African-
American parents. He said—quote—“The lower economic and lower middle
economic people are not holding up their end in this deal. These people
are not parenting. They are buying things for kids, $500 sneakers—for
what? -- and won‘t spend $200 for ‘Hooked on Phonics.‘”
With me now is Karen Russell. She is a trial attorney and daughter of basketball legend Bill Russell. We have the reverend Jesse Lee Peterson. He‘s the author of Scam: How the Black Leadership Exploits Black America” and the founder of BOND, the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny. And we have Malik Zulu Shabazz. He is the head of Black Lawyers For Justice.
Want to welcome all of you here.
And, Karen Russell, I want to begin, Karen, by playing you something that Bill Cosby said. Dr. Cosby thinks that some black kids aren‘t learning to speak English properly. And this is what he said in an interview with Tavis Smiley.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL COSBY, COMEDIAN: Now I‘m also listening to what is a new language. And it is a new language in the area. And it is only good for the people you come in contact living in that area. It is no good on Wall Street. It is no good at Temple University. It is no good filing and understanding an employment waiver.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Karen, this isn‘t the first time Bill Cosby has said things like this. I remember when he went after the comedian Martin and said stop playing that role. I remember obviously everybody saw at the Emmy Awards when he was not really pleased with some jive-talking that was happening. They parodied him on “Saturday Night Live.”
This is nothing new for Bill Cosby. He said stop, playing that game and, you know, try to speak I don‘t know if you would call it the King‘s English, but at least American English. Do you think he was out of line saying that?
KAREN RUSSELL, TRIAL ATTORNEY: No, I don‘t think he was out of line.
I think if you saw the full interview with Tavis Smiley, Bill Cosby said, I look at the news, the 6:00 news, I hear about these shootings, and it breaks my heart. And Dr. Cosby has given away millions and millions of dollars to education. And I think he really does want to give people who have—are disadvantaged a hand up. And I think he feel like he has done this and that people haven‘t fulfilled their end of the bargain.
So, yes, he‘s a comic who is going to use some salty language. But I think his heart is in the right place. And I think he is trying to hold parents responsible. And I don‘t think it is limited to African-Americans, either. I think there are plenty of people, whether it‘s Appalachia or in the inner city, who are buying crazy $500 sneakers for their kids and whose kids aren‘t going to school.
So I don‘t think—I think it comes from a great place. I think he is a generous man and I think he means well.
SCARBOROUGH: Malik, some black leaders voiced concerns that conservatives would use Dr. Cosby‘s statements against the African-American community. And this is how Bill Cosby responded to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: I don‘t give a blank about those right-wing white people. They can‘t do any more to us than they‘ve already started with. They can‘t try to throw us back any farther than they‘ve tried to throw us back. And they‘re doing a very good job of it. But, by the same token, for God‘s sake, turn around and let‘s have some meetings and say, brother, let me explain to you. You‘re the father of so forth and so on.
Brother, you‘ve got to reel them in, man. You‘ve got to go talk to them. What do I do, man? He won‘t listen to me.
Well, hey, brother, that‘s your son.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Malik, do you disagree what Bill Cosby has said? Do you think he‘s wrong to talk tough to his own community?
MALIK ZULU SHABAZZ, BLACK LAWYERS FOR JUSTICE: I think he is wrong to talk family business in a public forum, which includes not just black people. It includes all of white America. I‘ve never heard him criticize Bush or white society.
But he is so open and frank about his feelings about the poor suffering masses of our people. I think he is intellectually dishonest. He does not represent me. And he is really pinning the tail on the donkey, which means black people, when he should be pinning the tail on the honky, white racism in America. I‘ve never heard him do that, sir.
SCARBOROUGH: Malik, you say the honky. What should he say about the honky?
SHABAZZ: What I‘m talking about, sir, to use the symbol, I‘m talking about white racism. I‘m talking about the conditions that produce poverty. Bill Cosby came up doing “Fat Albert” and the Cosby kids. He came up with a cartoon series that used Ebonics, that used slang.
Now he became part of the Huxtables and he became accepted by white society, now, with his arrogant self, thinks that he can talk to our people any way. Instead of talking this way, he should be in the ghettos helping our people.
SCARBOROUGH: Malik, one of the things you talked about, the root causes of poverty. I think most social scientists, be they black or white or Asian or whatever, would say one of the greatest causes for poverty, especially in the inner cities, has to do with single-parent households, with single moms having to raise their children alone.
SCARBOROUGH: And Bill Cosby, though, that‘s exactly what Bill Cosby was talking about here, wasn‘t it?
SHABAZZ: How can Bill Cosby condemn the black woman who has suffered so much to raise our children and our babies and to broad-brush condemn them, and then to ignore the conspiracy to destroy the black man, which is a white American institution, to destroy, to dehumanize, to underemploy, and to castrate the black man?
Bill Cosby knows better than this. And he is being intellectually dishonest and he is wrong.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, I think you‘re wrong to say there‘s a conspiracy to castrate the black man in America. But that‘s a debate for another night.
I want to play for Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson what Bill Cosby had to say about Tavis Smiley—what he said to Tavis Smiley about his critics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: Whether I deserve to, whether I have the right to, I‘m saying that I see many things. I‘m looking at Nashville in the march where people are trying to sit at a counter and we say, OK, all of that was done for this. And then here it is, 50 percent dropout. You can‘t just blame white people for this, man. You can‘t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Do you believe—do you agree with Bill Cosby or Malik, who said there‘s a while conspiracy for the honky to hold to black man down?
JESSE LEE PETERSON, BONDINFO.ORG: Well, I disagree with Bill Cosby that the so-called white-wingers are trying the hold black Americans down.
In reality, it is the Democratic Party. It‘s the liberal Democratic Party. But I agree with him 100 percent that most black Americans, not all, but most are suffering not due to racism, but the lack of moral character. You have 70 percent of black babies born out of wedlock today. And there‘s no shame about that at all.
And there‘s a lack of personal responsibility within the black community. And we‘ve been saying this within my organization for the last 14 years or so. Most of these single parents tend to reward their boys and girls for doing wrong, rather than doing right.
And another thing that I‘ve noticed within the black community, there is no real desire or need in the mind of many black Americans for more character. They don‘t really care about that. It is like, what can they get and what can they get for free? I am really shocked and surprised that Bill Cosby said it. I am glad that he said it, because if we don‘t start dealing with things moral issues or lack of moral issues within the black community, we‘re in trouble.
SCARBOROUGH: Karen, let me play you one more thing that Bill Cosby had to say about victimizing some black criminals. He said—quote—
“These are not political criminals. These people are going around stealing Coca-Cola, people getting shot in the back of the head for a piece of pound cake. And then we run out and we are outraged, saying the cops shouldn‘t have shot him. What the hell was he doing with a pound cake in is hand?”
RUSSELL: Yes, Joe, I think actually Malik and Bill Cosby are right here.
I do think in the criminal justice system that there is a disparate impact on African-Americans. But I also think that there also has to be room for personal responsibility. I congratulate Bill Cosby for opening this dialogue, so we can talk about, you know, are there vestiges of racism and do we need also to be accountable? Do we need to be moral?
PETERSON: This is the type of teaching that‘s been going on in the black community. Black-on-black crime is out of control because the children have not been taught by their parents how to respect one another.
SHABAZZ: At this very moment, Bill Cosby and Reverend Peterson are being given a standing ovation by the Ku Klux Klan, by the Rush Limbaughs and by the Confederates of this next.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, come on.
RUSSELL: No, the Klan wins when black people shoot each other and
SCARBOROUGH: One at a time. Hey, please. Hold on. Hold on. Hold on.
SHABAZZ: It is false to say that there is a broad-brush lack of morality in the black community.
PETERSON: There is.
SHABAZZ: I condemn it. And Bill Cosby came up showing poor people
with moral values
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second. One at a time.
SCARBOROUGH: Stop talking, please. Stop talking.
Karen Russell, how is Bill Cosby playing into the Ku Klux Klan? Do you believe that?
RUSSELL: No, he‘s not. I think the Klan wins when black people aren‘t educated, when black people don‘t succeed. But I do think that there is moral decay, whether it‘s Britney Spears and the TV that we watch and the garbage in the movies.
PETERSON: But we‘re not talking about Britney Spears. We‘re talking about the black community.
PETERSON: And until we focus on that community, we don‘t care what Britney Spears is doing. We care what is happening to the black children. And black-on-black crime is out of control.
SHABAZZ: And it is family business.
PETERSON: And these single mothers are not disciplining their children.
SHABAZZ: I could accept that kind of talk from Louis Farrakhan, who would give you both sides, in black and white.
PETERSON: Well, Louis Farrakhan is a racist.
SHABAZZ: Louis Farrakhan is not a racist.
PETERSON: Louis Farrakhan is a racist.
SCARBOROUGH: All right.
SHABAZZ: But I cannot accept it from a man who has essentially become a member of the black bourgeoisie and is looking down his nose and has sold us out. I can‘t accept that.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Malik, Karen, and Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson, thanks a lot for being with us tonight. I greatly appreciate it.
I got to tell you, now, I‘m a honky, as Malik said. But I think Bill Cosby has done more to promote African-American causes and help the mainstreaming of that society in America than anybody else, at least since Martin Luther King. I think he had a lot of guts to step forward. And I‘ll tell you what. You have got the head of the NAACP that is saying the same exact thing.
Listen, we‘re going to be in France next week. And we‘re going to be celebrating the 60th anniversary of D-Day. And today, we‘re kicking off our special coverage by talking to the director of the new movie “Ike” about Eisenhower‘s role at D-Day.
And then, I‘m going to let you know a little history behind the three-day weekend that we‘re about to enjoy. And, no, it‘s not all about barbecue. So stick around.
SCARBOROUGH: The historical importance of D-Day cannot be overstated, nor can the ambition of undertaking.
On Memorial Day, you can tune into the A&E network for a movie that pays tribute to General Eisenhower and his success in the largest military operation in history.
I‘m joined now by the producer, “Ike: Countdown to D-Day,” Lionel Chetwynd.
Lionel, thanks so much for being with us.
And I want to start by asking you, as we come up on the 60th anniversary of this unbelievable epic battle, what made Dwight Eisenhower the right man at the right time to lead the world into this battle?
LIONEL CHETWYND, WRITER/PRODUCER, “IKE”: Many things.
Primarily, which I think is very interesting in this day and age, with Ike, it was never about him. Where MacArthur may have had 125 men in his P.R. department and Patton may have had more and I don‘t know how many Montgomery had, I think Ike had a captain and a lieutenant and maybe an admin sergeant. He didn‘t care about that. And it was not about him. It was about the task.
He wanted the responsibility. He wanted to be guy in charge. And then he took that responsibility and shouldered it. And it was never about him. It is hard to imagine in this era of the 24-hour news cycle a general who didn‘t give news press conferences. But more than anything, I think it was that. It was that ability to see the big picture and understand that, for it to work, he had to put himself somewhat in the background.
SCARBOROUGH: As you read any book of any wartime president, they‘ll always talk about how the loneliest moment in the White House is when they have to decide to send most of the time young men to their deaths in battle.
Talk about how Dwight Eisenhower, what character trait he had that would allow him to launch this battle where he knew it had to be done. Hitler had to be defeated, but, at the same time, he was sending thousands and thousands of young Americans to their deaths on the beaches of Normandy.
Well, I think you‘ve hit on the thing that perhaps exposes the humanity of Eisenhower more than any other. He was, of course, for the moment, the most powerful man in the history of humankind. No one had ever commanded as many soldiers or ships or an air fleet. It was enormous, not Napoleon, not Caesar, no one.
But, of course, like all of these people, once he gave command to go, once he said, it is a go, send the troops, he was audience. He was front row, center, but only audience. Sergeant Anjuno (ph), a corporal on Utah, would have more influence on the outcome.
Now, what did he do once he relinquished that power and turned it over to his commanders and to the junior officers and the noncoms and the private infantry and the infantrymen? He went to visit—he went to where a group of the 101st Airborne jumpers, paratroopers were about to take off. And the predictions for the losses amongst that group were 70 percent.
And he went from his headquarters, now that he was merely audience, to look at those men in the eye and to talk to them as human beings and to touch them and be touched by them. That‘s an extraordinary thing. He was not a general who hid from his soldiers, which is—well, I won‘t talk about Patton. Let‘s talk about Eisenhower.
He was a man who felt that humanity deeply.
SCARBOROUGH: I want you to take a look at a depiction of an extraordinary exchange between Dwight Eisenhower and Winston Churchill that is in your movie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “IKE”)
TOM SELLECK, ACTOR: If I am not given complete and unfettered command of this situation, you can, if I may put it politely, sir, take this job and put it where you choose, because I will have damn well quit. America did not send a million of its finest men to stand by while faceless aircraft destroy the Europe they‘re willing to die to save. And I don‘t believe you rallied the British people to fight on alone all these long years to bear so much, only to see the great cities of Europe become heaps of rubble.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: No poetic license taken there. That exchange actually happened between Eisenhower and Winston Churchill? That‘s remarkable.
CHETWYND: I was not in the room, Joe, but, no, this was the first great debate.
And the reason the Air Force‘s Jimmy Spatz (ph), U.S. 8th Air Force and Bomber Harris, RAF, were resisting the supreme commander was, they had their own way to win this war, strategic bombing. They basically, as I have Ike say in the movie—I don‘t know if this was his expression, but they wanted to turn Holland into a swimming pool and Paris into a vacant lot.
And Ike said, you couldn‘t do this. You had to do more than liberate Europe. You had to save it. And he did not—this the first great debate on the invasion. Should we just use strategic bombing and destroy the continent, so that, when our troops set ashore, set foot on shore, there will be no resistance? And he resisted that had and, correctly so, for reasons that are given in the film.
But, yes, that was the nature of the debate. My job as the writer is to choose that issue. I chose certain issues that he had to deal with, and based on really exhaustive research—and I‘ve been here before—I take great pride in the scholarship of what I do—reduce it to a critical conversation. And that was the critical conversation between he and Churchill, because it was seductive.
Churchill, they had sat through—the British had been bombed strategically. They had seen Coventry and London reduced to rubble and probably weren‘t that easily dissuaded from doing the same to German cities.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, I‘ll tell you what, a remarkable movie. Thanks so much for being with us tonight, Lionel. We greatly appreciate it.
CHETWYND: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it. I appreciate being here. Thank you, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, you know what? I‘m going to be on the beach at Normandy next weekend. So make sure to tune in to our special D-Day coverage. It begins Friday June the 4th.
Also, check out Tom Selleck, who stars as Eisenhower in the movie “Ike,” tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. on “HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS.”
We‘ll be right back.
SCARBOROUGH: Monday night, Colonel Allen West saved his comrades from ambush in Iraq, but he got kicked out for his actions. He‘s going to talk about how he‘s putting his life back together with us Monday on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, next Monday is Memorial Day. And that‘s the holiday that acknowledges U.S. troops who have died protecting America.
It was first observed in 1868, honoring the Civil War dead. But following World War I, Memorial Day changed from just honoring Civil War soldiers to honoring all Americans who died fighting all wars.
So, as you and your family fire up the barbecue Monday, remember all those who have given their all for this country.
We‘ll see you on Monday.
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