ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
August 14, 2013
Guests: Shairf Abdel Kouddous; Robert Nelson; Sharon Snyder; Bill de
Blasio, Harvey Fierstein, Dan Savage
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris
Hayes. Tonight, on ALL IN, a little more than a month since Egyptians
gathered by the millions to celebrate the overthrow of their president.
That country tonight is in a state of emergency. We will go live to Cairo
in just a moment. Also tonight, the growing momentum for a boycott of the
upcoming winter Olympics in Russia over new anti-guy laws there. We
brought you this story earlier this week. Well, it turns out actor and
playwright Harvey Fierstein had a real problem with our coverage. He
torched me on his FaceBook page. And tonight, he will be here to set me
straight. Stay tuned for that.
But we must begin with the horrifying violence unfolding in Egypt, in
what looks to be a massacre of demonstrators during a military crackdown at
two protest camps in Cairo. Two hundred and thirty-five civilians have
been killed, according to Egyptian health officials, with more than 2,000
NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel was there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: (INAUDIBLE).
Security forces are firing into the side streets. Positions between
protesters, security forces, all over Cairo, and this one looks like it`s
about to get very ugly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are lying about everything. They say we have
weapons, we have cannons inside. And if we have weapons or cannons or
whatever they said how can we -- we didn`t defend ourselves. This is a
massacre, do you know how many people have been killed today? I was here
about 9:00 a.m. from 9:00 a.m. until now, I was an eyewitness to about 15
killed and almost 24 injured.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: As the wrenching interview proceeded, more civilians arrived
at the (INAUDIBLE) hospital and morgues were filling up as Egypt`s military
took control of the camps. The 235 fatalities exclude 43 members of
Egypt`s security forces who have also been killed in the clashes.
Also, amid the mayhem today, three journalists were killed -- a
cameraman from Sky News, a reporter for a Dubai paper and an Egyptian
journalist. Egypt`s interim president, the country`s temporary civilian
leader has now declared a month long state of emergency with the backing,
of course, of Egypt`s military. But Egypt`s interim vice president,
Mohamed ElBaradei, has resigned in protest. Some security forces were
backed by bulldozers. But in this video, a police vehicle can be seen
tumbling over the sixth of October, bridge in Egypt`s capital and evidently
pushed from the bridge by protesters. Five soldiers were reportedly
There was also evidence of protesters in some instances firing back.
The unrest is not limited to Cairo. In Alexandria, there were massive
protests. The local council building was taken over by pro-Morsi
At the center of it all is General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, leading a
military that a little more than a month ago was being cheered by anti-
Morsi revolutionaries and celebrated by millions in the streets.
Then, the Obama administration avoided calling that action a military
coup. That same position is harder to maintain today. The Obama
administration has condemned the use of violence against protesters as well
as the imposition on the state of emergency.
Joining me now from Cairo is NBC News foreign correspondent, Ayman
Ayman, what precipitated the violence today? What happened?
AYMAN MOHYELDIN, NBC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Well, over the
course of the last several weeks since the removal of President Mohamed
Morsi from power, his supporters have formed an umbrella organization
called the anti-coup coalition, made up mostly of Muslim brotherhood
supports and other Islamist parties, but one that`s widened its base over
the course of the last several weeks.
Well, over the course of those weeks, they have staged two massive
sit-ins, one in a northern part of the city of Cairo, and the other on the
western part of the city. And those two encampments, really, have become
sore points for the government. They have blocked down major parts of
Cairo. But more importantly, the government felt that they had become a
threat to national security, and disrupted the public peace. And more
importantly, that they were being used to rally crowds to more marches and
So, the government had been threatening for the past several days that
it was going to go in with force if necessary, to try to break up these
protests, since the Muslim brotherhood and their supporters refused to
negotiate or refuse to find a peaceful way to end these sit-in
demonstrations. And that`s what led to the clashes unfolding this morning.
Now, over the actual logistical part of it, the police moved in to
these demonstrations. They say they came under attack. They were acting
in self-defense. But obviously, as you heard from our reporting, our
witnesses and others are giving a very different narrative saying they were
engaged in peaceful protests, early hours this morning, when they came
under attack involving live ammunition and teargas at the end of the
Egyptian security forces.
HAYES: The sheer numbers we are seeing to take off on that last
point, looks -- it`s being described obviously by those protesters as a
massacre, the numbers of fatalities, 257, a staggering number. There are
43 fatalities of the security forces. We have reports of, for instance,
the 17-year-old daughter of one of the leaders of the Muslim brotherhood
who has been killed. It does read, sitting here across the ocean watching
this, like it is something like a massacre.
MOHYELDIN: Well, this is the very difficult point that Egypt finds
itself in, everybody is right. Everybody is wrong. There`s no doubt that
there is a little bit of truth in what everyone is saying. On the one hand
the government is correct in saying that there are throws using weapons
among the protesters that are supporting the Muslim brotherhood and
supporting the ousted President Mohammed Morsi. The videos have come out
There are reports of a lot of supporters of the former president
attacking churches, attacking targets or buildings belonging to minorities
and other facilities across the country. So, they have painted the picture
of them as being perpetrators of violence. There is credibility to that.
To what extent though, you can use that to paint the entire brush of the
thousands of supporters who have gone to the streets in support of Mohammed
Morsi. That is the question that everyone is concerned about. Is this
disproportionate use of force, and that is the concern among human rights
activists, and a lot of people who say the military and police are using
very strong handed tactics in what is by far and large a peaceful
demonstration. And we have been to that square. We have been to several
squares. We have seen for ourselves, there are women, there are children.
The large parts of these demonstrations have been mostly peaceful. And
that is why from their perspective, they are saying that this is a
The police came in here with strong tactics. They did not do any of
the things that people here were expecting them to do, and that includes
besieging the square, perhaps firing water cannons to try to dispel them.
There were reports that the police were saying they warned the
protesters to leave the square this morning. But none of that has been
substantiated by the actual protesters, in fact the exact opposite. They
say the police moved in with very strong tactics, firing live ammunition,
firing teargas, and essentially blockaded all four sides of the square,
making it impossible for people to get out and those are people that
included, as you mentioned, the 17-year-old daughter of one of the leaders
of the Muslim brotherhood, but several other women and minors as well,
HAYES: NBC News foreign correspondent, Ayman Mohyeldin, thank you so
Joining me now on the phone from Cairo is Shairf Abdel Kouddous,
correspondent for democracy now and a fellow at the Nation institute.
Sharif, you have been tweeting out remarkable pictures today. What
did you see today?
SHAIRF ABDEL KOUDDOUS, CORRESPONDENT FOR DEMOCRACY NOW (via phone):
Well, Chris, today I was really -- scenes of chaos and bloodshed. And
certainly the most violent episode that I have witnessed as a reporter here
for the past two and a half years covering this revolution. There was the
crackle of machine gunfire echoing throughout the northeastern neighborhood
in Cairo where the robust sit-in was. There was teargas filling the air,
mixed with the black smoke of tires burning. There were lights by the
protesters and just to get into the encampment while this raid was going
on. You have you to make this perilous run across a road that was exposed
to sniper fire.
One man was shot in the head next to me, as we ran with what looked to
be bird shot pellets. Some protesters took to even writing their names and
phone numbers of who to call if they were shot on their arms or legs
writing it down.
And inside the main medical facility, which is a four-story building,
next to a mosque in the square, the hospitals really very tragic scenes. I
personally saw over 60 bodies, corps just strewn on the ground, packed very
closely together. Most of the people I saw were shot in the head or in the
The floor was slippery with blood. I mean, the facility was
completely overwhelmed with casualties. There are have been dead and
wounded were being brought in every few minutes. They have to keep the
windows closed to keep the teargas out and it was unbearably hot inside.
And as Ayman said, many of the people that I spoke to said that the
attack began sometime after 6:00 in the morning and there was no warning.
And the casualties started coming in very quickly after that.
So, the ministry of interior has spoken repeatedly of its gradual
plans for disbursal for surrounding the protests and doing this kind of
gradual escalation. But it seems that they just came in very hard and the
ambulances did not have access to the medical facility in Rabah (ph). And
many people who may have been rescued who were critically wounded did not
have access to proper medical clearance.
HAYES: Sharif, can I ask you --
KOUDDOUS: It`s a very violent and tragic scene today.
HAYES: Can I ask you how this reverberates from here on now? There
is a country that it seems like is increasingly, they polarized between
different camps. There was, it seemed mass celebration of the military`s
takeover from the Muslim brotherhood just a little more than a month ago.
What happens tomorrow? What is the ripple effect in Egyptian public
opinion now? Does this turn the massive opinion against the government or
do they see this as a necessary step to preserve law and order?
KOUDDOUS: Well, it`s very difficult to say, Chris. What we do know
is the country is extremely polarized, more so than it has been at a other
time since Mubarak`s ouster. And those who are opponents of Morsi, the
vast majority of them, I think supported this kind of crackdown, we heard
shrill media coverage, painting all of the Muslim brotherhood, and all of
the Morsi protesters as terrorists and labeling this as a war on terror.
We heard the national foundation front, the main umbrella opposition group,
praising the police for today`s actions as well as the cabinet doing so.
Much of the business and traditional elites as well as the security
establishment defending the use of this force.
So, it is very difficult to say where the country is going, when you
have thousands if not millions of people who feel disenfranchised. Cut out
completely from the political process, and who may be driven even further
to take violent reprisal and we have seen the attacks on at least 23
churches around the country. And so, one church has burnt to the ground.
And so, you know, this is not bode well for the future, and it also
opens the door for a more firmer authoritarian regressive political order
with the police and the military re-empowered.
HAYES: Shairf Abdel Kouddous with remarkable reporting from Egypt,
thank you so much.
KOUDDOUS: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: The Stop-and-Frisk election. Now, how it`s turned politics
upside down when we come back.
HAYES: The amazing story of a man who is exonerated for a crime he
did not commit after being helped by a woman who was later fired.
And the playwright and actor Harvey Fierstein will be here coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to tell you a little bit about Bill de
Blasio. He is the only Democrat but the gasps are really break from the
Bloomberg years. He is the only one that will end a Stop-and-Frisk era
that unfairly targets people of color. Bill de Blasio will be a mayor for
every New Yorker, no matter where they live or what they look like. And I
would say that even if he weren`t my dad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That incredibly effective campaign ad comes from a guy who is
now against all conventional wisdom and much of the shock and horror of
much of the city`s elite. The frontrunner in the New York City mayor`s
race is the candidate who from the beginning staked out the strongest
position against the city`s controversial Stop-and-Frisk policy.
And so, earlier this week, when a federal judge ruled that that policy
in fact violates the constitutional rights of people of color, was Bill de
Blasio`s lefty anti- Stop-and-Frisk campaign that seems sensible and right
thinking. In fact, by last night`s mayoral debate, the Bill De Blasio
position against Stop-and-Frisk was suddenly so popular, that every single
candidate seemed to be taking it up as their own.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I`m mayor, unconstitutional stops will end.
ANTHONY WEINER, NEW YORK CITY MAYOR CANDIDATE: The conversation about
Stop-and-Frisk are people who are being stopped who did nothing wrong.
BILL THOMPSON, NEW YORK CITY MAYOR CANDIDATE: Stop-and-Frisk has been
misused and abused.
JOHN LIU, NEW YORK CITY MAYOR CANDIDATE: It`s unconscionable that so
many people could be racially profiled.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: And judge calls it unconstitutional and the guy who always
opposed it, wins a round of polling, and suddenly, no one can condemn Stop-
and-Frisk strongly enough.
New York City is home to 1.6 million 2012 Obama voters. And there are
approximately three million active registered Democrats in the city. That
is about six times more than a number of Republicans. This is a blue,
blue, blue city.
And yet, there has not been a Democratic mayor in New York City in 20
years, and arguably the last New York city mayor was a truly a national
progressive leader was Fiorello LaGuardia who served in the `30s and `40s.
It is a city that is saturated with progressives.
But even so, for generations now, it`s not been a city that`s produced
the kind of out front progressive leader you would think it would given the
numbers. But that could change this year, as Bill de Blasio makes an
underdog play to take up the almost forgotten mantel of the high profile
New York City progressive leader.
Joining me now is Bill de Blasio, Democratic candidate for New York
Mayor, currently the public advocate for the city of New York. People
are saying that the Stop-and-Frisk decision is what propelled you into the
lead on the latest poll which I think genuinely surprised a lot of
observers. Do you think that`s right?
BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK CITY MAYOR CANDIDATE: I think it`s one of
the reasons. I mean, I have been talking about the disparities in this
city. My whole campaign is about fighting inequality in New York City. I
have talked about a tale of two cities. And I think that disparity is
sharpest when it comes to policing. It is two systems of policing,
separate and unequal, depending on what kind of neighborhood you live in.
Well, the judge I think made a fundamental decision here to reset the
equation to the good of New York City. Of course Mayor Bloomberg attacked
the judge, and once again is trying to tell us if we don`t continue things
exactly the way they are, we are somehow coddling murders and criminals.
HAYES: I want to play this clip of the mayor attacking it. Given the
fact that your son Dontae (ph) is actually here, stars in this ad. I want
you to listen to this line from the mayor in that press conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK CITY: I worry for my kids and
your kids. I worry for you and I worry for me. Crime can come back any
time the criminals think that they are going to get away with things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: What do you say to that?
DE BLASIO: I think Mayor Bloomberg has never understood that
guaranteeing people`s constitutional rights, respecting civil liberties, is
supposed to walk hand in hand with public safety in this country. That it
is not a false choice between the two. And I think what he is doing is
fear mongering. In fact, we have had 20 years of reduction in crime. You
know, what`s standing in the way of more reduction in crime, the fact that
police and communities have a tension between them in so many
HAYES: OK. So, here is the case against Bill de Blasio. There`s two
cases, I`ll give one and then the other. You respond to both.
The first case, this comes from Howard Wolfson, who you actually
worked on the Hillary Clinton senatorial campaign with in 2000. He now
works for Mayor Bloomberg (INAUDIBLE). He`s a very 1960`s, 1070`s vision
for the city, prefer to the vision to say the existed then. He is your
guy, the subtext there is, high crime, irresponsible liberal governance,
high taxes, chase out the job creators that make the city function, and get
rid of all the technocratic data driven implementations of our most
destined mayor Bloomberg and turn the city into this kind of liberal Petri
dish where all sorts of craziness festers. What do you say?
DE BLASIO: We have to address fundamental inequalities that are
actually holding back the city. And what Howard said there, reductionist
would be a nice way of putting it. It`s a misrepresentation of what`s
I want, for example, to tax wealthy New Yorkers so we can fix our
schools. I don`t know what would bring us forward more than having full
day pre-K for every child and after school programs for kids who need it.
I want to end the Stop-and-Frisk era that has fundamentally made it
possible for communities and police to have the relationship they need to
be able to go safe going-forward.
Howard is presenting a stereotype, which is inappropriate and doesn`t
refer to the reality of the city today. This is the same Howard Wolfson,
by the way, that when I offered a plan for reforming Stop-and-Frisk, said I
must want to go back to the days of 2000 year and hand over control to the
ACLU. Now, that`s fear mongering.
HAYES: OK. Here`s the other critique.
You know, it`s perfectly nice to say all this liberal stuff, you`re on
the campaign trail. Cuomo once said you campaign in poetry. You govern in
pros. This city has a lot of powerful people. And basically, in my
lifetime, the only people who have been successful mayors have been
basically maniacs, like I don`t mean maniacs in a clinical sense. I just
mean like massive egos, huge personalities, who seem to relish telling
people to go exploited themselves. And you just seem like a nice guy. And
I worry that you are going to be in a whole bunch of meeting with all these
powerful people and you do not relish enough telling people to go
exploiting themselves. So, disabuse people of that fear?
DE BLASIO: I relish making the changes we need. I led the opposition
to Bloomberg, when wanted to change the term limits law to give himself the
third term. Multibillionaire, he had the Democratic Party establishment on
his side, the real estate industry, the big business leaders. I took them
all on to fight to protect the will of the people. It didn`t bother me one
bit. So, I have the steel I need to take on this fight.
I think the fallacy is that somehow you need this kind of negative
personality no, in fact, times have changed. People in the city want these
inequalities addressed. They feel urgency, 46 percent of New Yorkers at or
near the poverty level. That`s a fact that came out from a city government
study just two months ago. They will back up a leader who works for
progressive change. That`s the X factor here. Maybe that wasn`t as true
in past politicians in the city. It is true now.
HAYES: Mayor de Blasio, Democratic candidate for New York City.
Mayor, thanks for joining me.
DE BLASIO: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: The saying no good deed goes unpunished is especially true in
the case of one of the people we are going to introduce you to, next.
HAYES: Right now as I speak to you, there`s a man in Kansas City who
was in prison for a crime he did not commit. He has been exonerated based
on DNA evidence and the woman who helped him get his freedom, she got fired
for doing so.
Robert Nelson was awaiting trial on unrelated robbery charges almost
30 years ago, when an anonymous tip came in saying the two brothers in jail
at the time of the robbery, two brothers with a different last name had
committed a string of rapes nearby. While police couldn`t find those
brothers, they did find Robert Nelson who just happened to be awaiting
robbery trial charges with his brother. That single anonymous tip
perceived by police plus a single problematic witness ID led to Robert
Nelson being convicted for rape and sentenced to 70 years in prison for a
crime he maintains he did not commit.
In 2009, Nelson filed a motion seeking DNA testing that had not been
available at the time of his trial. That motion was denied on the
technicality. In 2011, he filed again and once again denied by the same
judge on a technicality.
After two failed motions, Robert Nelson`s sister, distraught and
wondering why the motions were being denied called up court clerk, Sharon
Snyder, a 70-year-old great grandmother, 34-year court employee looking for
answers. Snyder responded by going way above and beyond her duty.
She went and found a successfully filed motion seeking DNA testing
from a different case. She blacked out the names and gave it to Nelson`s
sister as a model. Nelson and his sister submitted a third motion based
off that document. And finally, that motion was granted. And lo and
behold the DNA evidence revealed that Robert Nelson is innocent for the
brutal rape he was serving time for. He was released from prison this
June. And not only that, the DNA tested and the folks from the innocence
project who worked on behalf of Nelson and in cooperation with prosecutors
found the two men who actually committed the rape.
But for her effort in helping to free an innocent man from prison and
finds the real perpetrators in the brutal crime, Sharon Snyder was fired by
Judge David Byrn. The judge who denied the original two motions and
granted the third for, in his words, quote "a violation of canon seven."
The court rules with warns again the risk of offering an opinion of
suggested course of action.
I`m so happy to be joined now by Robert Nelson and Sharon Snyder for
their first national television interview together.
Robert, my first question to you is, how did it feel to spend those
years in prison, knowing you had been wrongly convicted and how did it feel
to get the news that you were being released.
ROBERT NELSON, EXONERATED BASED ON DNA EVIDENCE: It was exhausting.
At times when I was in prison, I want to give up because it took -- I filed
three DNA motions. Two DNA motions and the judge denied them both. And
during the course of the time I was incarcerated, it was like I gave up
hope. And then my sister -- me and my sister both gave up hope.
HAYES: Sharon, if you knew when you helped out Robert`s sister, if
you knew what would happen, you would be fired for what you did, if you
could go back in time and have the choice again, would you do it again?
SHARON SNYDER, COURT CLERK WHO WAS FIRED: Oh, yes, I would do it
again. I am so happy that he got exonerated on this charge and felt that,
that would happen or he wouldn`t have filed that motion to start out with.
HAYES: Do you --
SNYDER: So, I was --
HAYES: -- do you --
SNYDER: I would have done it.
HAYES: Are you angry at the fact that you have apparently been
punished for doing something that has led to a wrong being righted, to
justice being served?
SNYDER: I think that they severely punished me financially by
suspending me without pay, when other persons in the court system had
embezzled much -- a lot of money and they were suspended, but with pay. So
I thought that was a severe punishment for me, and to make me retire long
before I planned my retirement in March of next year. It hurt me. And, I
think it was too severe.
HAYES: Robert --
SNYDER: I think --
HAYES: -- Robert, how do you feel about what Sharon did?
NELSON: I feel -- she`s -- to me, she is truly my angel. I call her
my angel. Because without her help, I think I would still be in prison and
probably would have died in there. Thus, the motions I filed have kept
being denied by the judge.
HAYES: Sharon, what does it say to you about the system that you
worked 34 years inside of that what happened to Robert could have happened?
What do you take away as a lesson from this episode?
SNYDER: Well, the lesson is that people need to help parties that are
going pros se. What I did was I give him a public record that he was able
to use. And, I think that the law should be changed that judges should be
taken out of the mix on deciding these DNA motions. And, they should
automatically be granted because it will either, you know, show that they
were guilty or they were innocent.
HAYES: And, Robert, what are your plans for your future now out in
NELSON: It`s amazing. It`s nice to be free. I`m planning on getting
a job. And, I`m also planning on donating some time with charity. To help
guys who have been in my situation. You know? Be like a mentor to them.
HAYES: Robert Nelson and Sharon Snyder, thank you both for being
here. I really appreciate it.
SNYDER: Thank you, Chris.
NELSON: Thank you.
HAYES: We`ll be right back with #Click3
HAYES: On Monday we did a segment about the crackdown on gay people
that is happening right down in Russia and what impact it`s having on the
Olympics scheduled to take place there this winter. Legendary actor and
Playwright Harvey Fierstein, who is also a gay rights activist took issue
with our coverage of that story and he will be here later to discuss it.
So, stay tune for that.
But, first I want to share the three awesomest things on the internet
today. The first thing is this beautiful time lapse video, "Supercut," the
great European landmarks. It`s called night vision. And, it is the work of
filmmaker, Luke Shepard, who traveled through 36 cities in 21 days and
strung together the thousands of photographs to create this film.
In all, Shepard created sequences of 47 monuments and buildings from
over 20,000 total photographs. What`s extra cool about it, was this
project was almost entirely crowd funded on Kickstart. Let`s see the video
on website LSHEP.com. You`re probably looking at these incredible images
and wondering, how did he do that? Well, luckily for your, we have the
exclusive #Click3 behind the scenes video.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: Kids, big Ben. Parliament again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Oh, well played. The second awesomest thing on the internet
today, originated from the Jewish parenting website, kvell.com, and has
spread like wildfire to Gawker, Huffington Post and Elsewhere. It`s the
greatest most elaborate coming of age video since Tracy Jordan`s werewolf
bar mitzvah on "30 Rock."
Last November, a young man by the name of Sam Horowitz held his Bar
Mitzvah party in the ballroom of the Omni Hotel in Dallas, Texas. But, as
you are about to see, Sam`s grand entrance was a doozy.
HAYES: Yes, accompanied by nine backup dancers and his massive neon
lights behind him. Sam became a man. Now, that man has now becoming an
internet legend with him back stance is the day of his bar mitzvah was the
best day of his life. Welcome to manhood!
And, the third awesomest thing on the internet today, a new spin on an
old classic, "The hey girl, it is Ryan Gosling mean." It is an internet
treasure. "Hey! Girl, feel my sweater. You know what it`s made of,
boyfriend material." It is now a chromic tension. It has spawned
countless spinouts. "Hey! Girl I like big cuts and I cannot lie."
Now, "All In" super fans have created the ultimate "Hey! Girl, super
mean." "Hey! Girl, it`s Chris Hayes, the mild disclaimer." And, the
tumbler says it all, "Hey! Girl, this blog isn`t affiliated with MSNBC, but
we`d love to get affiliated with you." As you can see, my internet alter
ego is offering only the best in pickup line material.
"Hey, Girl, there might be a debate over who will be president in
2016, but you will always be present in my heart." You want me to listen
to you talk about your day, I`m all in; which reminds me there`s no
competition, you are my click 1, 2 and 3. You can find all the links for
tonight`s #Click 3 on our website, allinwithchris.com.
HAYES: The crackdown continues in Russia, where it`s open season in
the country`s LGBT citizens. The global outrage and intense spotlight on
Russian policy has gained momentum over the past few weeks due impart to
the upcoming Winter Olympics to be hosted in Sochi, Russia early next year.
At issue is the country`s recently implemented ban on so-called gay
propaganda. A law so broadly written it allows authorities to arrest and
detain anyone so much as wearing a rainbow flag pin. And, it`s growing
international concern over the rights and safety of visiting athletes, the
pressure is on the International Olympic committee, the governing body of
IOC President, Jacque Rogge is asking for clarification on the law
from the Russian government. Meanwhile, some athletes have chosen to speak
out in support of the LGPT folks. Yesterday, American middle distance
runner and two-time Olympian Nick Simmons, won the silver at the World
Athletic Championship in Moscow, and dedicated his medal to his gay and
One state news agency reports that Simmons became, quote, "The first
athlete to openly criticize Russia`s controversial anti-gay law on the
country`s Soya. Simmons telling them, if there is anything I can do to
champion the cause and further, I will shy of getting arrested. It`s easy
to see why the story continues to pick up steam. And, why some are
debating in outright boycott of the games, a topic we covered on this
program, Monday night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I`ve been hearing a lot of people saying, "Look, this idea of
boycotting the games is crazy and misguided." The idea of the spirit of
the games is to cross these boundaries and for athletes to go and compete
GIGI FERNANDEZ, OLYMPIC TENNIS GOLD MEDALIST: Yes, absolutely. I
mean I have never been a proponent of mixing politics with sports. We as
athletes are trained to do sports and there are so many athletes that this
is their one moment.
And, many, many athletes were really hurt in 1980 when we boycotted in
Russia. And, I think it sends the wrong message. It is hurting the wrong
people. I`m not a proponent of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: While that was airing, legendary actor Playwright and gay
rights advocate Harvey Fierstein was watching and he would take to Facebook
to vent his frustration. Quote, "I watched the Chris Hayes show last night
with open mouth. One would swear the entire controversy was about the
stupid Olympics. I wondered if there is any way to reach a white male
Christian heterosexual and let them know what it is like to live in fear of
I wonder if he would be so off topic, if our elected officials
threatened to pass a law that removed his baby from his home. Might that
wake these folks up? Because, that`s what`s happening to us, Mr. Hayes.
Joining me now to work it out is Harvey Fierstein. Harvey wrote the book
for the amazing new Broadway show, "Kinky Boots," the winner of six Toni
awards. You were really upset about that?
HARVEY FIERSTEIN, LEGENDARY ACTOR PLAYWRIGHT: Of course, I was. You
know, what`s going on in Russia is absolutely frightening. And, even in
your intro just now, you talked about one law. There are three laws that
have already come out.
One saying that gay couples or single couples may not adopt at all.
The other saying that nobody in any country that allows that gay marriage
can adopt out of Russia and then the third is the propaganda.
The fourth law, which was not passed, which is rumored by the press to
have been ready to be passed was one that said that children would be
removed from gay and lesbian households.
That meant whether they were adopted or they were your biological
children, but hopefully the spotlight that we`re putting on now has stopped
that law just as we stopped these laws in Armenia.
HAYES: OK. So, yes, what do you say to people that say there are
horrible laws discriminating against LGBT folks everywhere in the world --
FIERSTEIN: You know --
HAYES: -- why --
FIERSTEIN: I remember when the aids crisis first hit. I would have
people say to me, "Why are we spending so much energy on aids?" There`s
cancer too? But, one doesn`t negate the other. Let`s go to work.
Here is my feeling, the gay community has in our history been attacked
in every way you can attack a group. We have been -- There`s nothing that
the human race has thought of to tear down other people that hasn`t been
used on us.
Thankfully we have over the centuries, over the decades and over the
last few years made some great strides where people realize we`re just
human beings. We are your family. We`re not a strange group from
somewhere else. We belong in your family. We are teachers. We are
parents. We are your children. And, those strides have been made.
My feeling is, at this point it is time to stop being scapegoats for
the rest of the world. Putin is not doing these laws because he actually
believes them to be homosexual. I don`t know what his real agenda is, but
I have to assume it has something to do with money, because with Putin, it
I assume that he`s trying to get his right wing people behind him and
everyone loves to hate a homo. And, so, he gets the church right behind
him. He has his wing behind him. And, he can go out and do whatever it is
he`s doing and no one`s looking that way.
Do you think there`s something hypocritical or misplaced for Americans
who haven`t yet won the victory here for equality and who are in a country
where gay adoption was outlawed in the states very recently to turn the
attention to Russia, particularly if the way that your median Russian voter
perceives that, is as these nefarious outsiders coming in and telling us
what to do?
FIERSTEIN: Absolutely, no and I believe no. Because you must fight
injustice wherever that injustice is. I will fight that injustice here on
American soil. I will fight it in Russia. I will fight it in Uganda. It
is time for us to put our foot down and say we will not be the scapegoat of
the world any longer.
HAYES: Richard Socarides is on the show the other night, and he said
he thought this was the beginning of a new phase in the gay rights
FIERSTEIN: That`s my feeling.
HAYES: Yes. What --
FIERSTEIN: As we`re sitting here talking downtown Queer Nation New
York is having a town hall meeting where we`re just deciding what should
our response be? What do we have the stomach for as an organization, as a
community. What is it we want to take on?
My feeling is, this is a moment as clear to me as stonewall was that
we can say, here`s the line in the sand, we are not going to sit -- When
you call us names, we`re going to answer back. When you demonize us in
your churches we`re going to answer back. When politicians make up stuff,
we`re going to answer back.
But, the thing that`s most horrible about Russia is that Putin says
he`s doing this to protect children. Now, everyone knows that 25 to 40
percent of all gay youth attempts suicide. The statistics go up when a law
is passed against someone. There`s something official done. So, you want
to protect children, you`re killing children.
FIERSTEIN: You are killing children. And, then in the United States,
I`m not sure about the figures in other countries. Forty percent of the
homeless children are gay and lesbian, either because they have been thrown
out by their own parents or they have so much self-loathing that they feel
their parents will never love them and they leave home --
HAYES: How --
FIERSTEIN: -- If you love your children, you got to be in there.
HAYES: How dire -- I`ve seen in some of the blogs I`ve been reading
and commentary and LGBT activists, I`ve seen people have been posting about
the Hitler in 1936 in the Olympics in 1936.
HAYES: And, there was actually a skirmish that was recorded in "New
York Times" John Arbose posted this in which Hitler agreed to take down
anti-Jewish propaganda. And, there are people who are making -- and
obviously, Hitler parallels get people incredibly wary.
FIERSTEIN: I was -- I didn`t want to insult you. I actually was
bringing you this great big book that I bought at the holocaust museum on
propaganda and Hitler, just to show you how it starts this way. It`s --
HAYES: You think it`s that dire.
FIERSTEIN: I do.
HAYES: You think it is --
FIERSTEIN: Absolutely. It starts really small. It starts with a
small community. You know, whether -- in Russia, it`s a small community
that says we will not adopt homosexuals any more. But, what it allows is
for people to be beaten up and for people to look the other way.
Like, I said, you had a young woman on, I think she wrote for the New
Republic that. And, she said this thing, "Well, I lived in Russia, and
when I lived in Russia, I can tell you, they all think that homosexuality
comes from the west. So, all of this protesting just proves they`re
And, I want to reach across and slap her across the face. I would
say, what if I grabbed you? Threw you into the back of a paddy wagon and
dragged you off to jail because you even mentioned the word homosexual.
How would you feel about it then?
HAYES: OK. But, that is Julia Ioffe from "New Republic" and I just
have to stick up here and defense her, right? She is making a point about
what the cultural reception of the activities will be and the possible --
FIERSTEIN: You cannot -- I am sorry --
HAYES: Yes -- please, no.
FIERSTEIN: We`re on television, but you cannot just ignore evil.
When evil shows its face you have to answer it.
FIERSTEIN: You don`t answer it like, "Look what happened, you were
talking about Hitler. So, we went to the Olympics in Germany, right?
FIERSTEIN: Yes, they took down the anti-Jewish posters for two weeks,
and what happened?
FIERSTEIN: Owens won a gold medal and then 6 million Jews were
killed. And, hundreds of thousands of people were killed in a world war.
What if the world had turned their back on Hitler, what if the world had
left Germany empty --
FIERSTEIN: -- for those Olympics? What? --
HAYES: I am going to --
FIERSTEIN: Certainly, nothing as bad as did happened?
HAYES: I think the question and there is a question I want to talk
about Dan Savage about who was one of the architects of the Stoli boycott.
HAYES: It is about the efficacy of this tactic -- You and I have no -
FIERSTEIN: The Stoli thing, you said --
HAYES: No. We`re going to talk to him about it. Yes, I know, I
know, I know. I am getting a lot of there --
FIERSTEIN: Just because a corporation -- because a corporation is
hiding its money. All of a sudden they`re innocent.
HAYES: You`re now eating Dan Savages time. Actor and Playwright
Harvey Fierstein. Thank you! Syndicated columnist, Dan Savages has a
different opinion in all this, although it is safe to say he was not a fan
of our coverage either. He joins me next.
FIERSTEIN: Hi, Dan!
HAYES: Joining me now is Dan Savage, author of the book, "American
Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love, and Politics."
Dan, you`ve been one of the chief organizers behind this dump Stoli
campaign, which is a boycott campaign and probably the most well-known
Russian brand --
DAN SAVAGE, AMERICAN AUTHOR: Can I jump in right there.
HAYES: Yes. Please.
SAVAGE: Is it OK with you?
SAVAGE: The campaign is dumprussianvodka. You can learn about it at
dumprussianvodka.com. And it is just against Stoli, it is against all
Russian vodka brands, Stoli, Russian standard, all of the Russian Vodkas.
HAYES: But, why did the Russian Vodka --
SAVAGE: So, it is not just targeting Stoli.
HAYES: -- what role do the Russian vodka brands have in creating
essentially what are Putin promulgated laws that are targeting heinously
and unquestionably targeting LGBT folks in Russia.
SAVAGE: Well, the goal of the boycott is to target an iconic product.
And, Vodka is Russia`s most iconic product to raise awareness around the
world, which is what this Vodka boycott called by activist in San
Francisco, in New York, in Seattle has done.
And, what I really objected to in your coverage on Monday night is you
said, that I called for a boycott of Stoli, which is a lot being in Vodka;
which is Stoli`s argument right now -- They`re out there pushing that lie.
And, if I could read to you, this is something really brief --
SAVAGE: -- which is, Stolichnaya`s distributor in 2008 to Vanity
Fair, Stolichnaya as it is sold outside Russia is distilled in Russia and
then it is moved from Russia to Latvia where it`s put in bottles. There`s
nothing added, nothing taken away. No additions. No subtractions from the
product that leaves Russia --
SAVAGE: -- Stolichnaya is the original authentic genuine Russian
Vodka brand made with genuine authentic Russian Vodka from Russia, period.
HAYES: I will conceive --
SAVAGE: That is Stoli talking about -- It`s a legitimate target of
HAYES: OK. It is a legitimate target of the boycott. But, what it
seems to me is, the anger is being directed at this target because this is
a target that is a possible one to get as opposed to the one that is
responsible for what`s going on there.
And, I also think. I want you to respond to the idea. I mean you
talked about activist in San Francisco. Are you working with LGBT Russian
activists? Are you worried about the possibility of domestic backlash over
this kind of thing?
SAVAGE: Well, the situation the Russia could hardly get worse for
LGBT people -- The law basically may create a situation where you cannot be
openly gay. You cannot be publicly gay. Somebody held up a sign and say
Petersburg that he was for tolerance and he was beaten up by Russian
paratroopers and carried off by the police.
Not the people who beat him up, but 30 Russian gay, lesbian, bi, and
trans activists who signed an open letter a great personal risk endorsing
prominent gay activist in Russia endorsing the boycott of Russian Vodka to
help raise awareness around the world about the situation in Russia, which
has done. The vodka boycott has been a huge success. There is an article
you might want to read at the "Atlantic" called "The boycott of Russian
vodka is working whether you like it or not."
HAYES: So, there`s also a talk now about putting pressure on the
Olympics, and I should say as full disclosure, this network, NBC, will be
carrying those Olympics. What do you think about that?
SAVAGE: Well, there is an argument about moving the Olympics or
boycotting the Olympics. I haven`t taken a position one way or the other.
I think the arguments against boycotting the Olympics are persuasive.
I think Steven Fry`s point about perhaps moving the Olympics or George
Takei`s point about moving the Olympics is legit. You know, I think the
world looking back on 1936 would say, "Yes, we probably should have at the
last minute moved those Olympics and not handed the Nazis that PR victory.
And, you know, we`re not comparing the situation right now in Russia
to what went on -- what happened to the Jews. They are comparing it to the
holocaust. What`s happening right now in Russia to LGBT people isn`t what
happened to Jews in Germany 1943. It`s what happened to Jews in Germany in
1943. It is what happened to Jews in Germany in 1933. And, people didn`t
speak up then at the volume they should have, and we`re speaking up now to
try to prevent that kind of catastrophe --
HAYES: Syndicated columnist, Dan Savage --
SAVAGE: From unfolding.
HAYES: -- Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
SAVAGE: Thank you.
HAYES: That is "All In" for this evening, "The Rachel Maddow" show
starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST OF "THE RACHEL MADDOW" SHOW: Chris, I will
be honest. If I have been scorched by proximities to your previous two
HAYES: Oh, men!
MADDOW: Yes. Amazing stuff. Thanks, Chris.
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