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tv   Melissa Harris- Perry  MSNBC  February 25, 2012 7:00am-9:00am PST

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from verizon. i wonder how she does it. that's why she's the boss. because the small business with the best technology rules. contact the verizon center for customers with disabilities at 1-800-974-6006. stop me if you've heard this one already. what did the gay hairstylist say to the tea party-backed governor? .punch line coming up. and part for an actress in a movie role? the role played by the black woman is -- plus, we have reached racial equality 16 years early, maybe. the supreme court is going to decide. but first the virginia monologues, my inner gingrich and 17th century philosophy. yep, you're back in nerd land. good morning.
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i'm melissa harris-perry. we are following the news out of south africa this morning before nelson mandela has been hospitalized for what is described as a longstanding abdominal complaint. he is said to be resting comfortably. we'll have ab update coming up. first, news here at home and a story we started talking about last weekend, the proposal in virginia to legally mandate a physically invasive procedure for women. well, good news, this week our loins have been effectively girded. virginia governor bob mcdonnell, republican vice presidential hopeful, backed away frt state's medically unnecessary ultrasound law, saying, quote, no person should be directed to undergo an invasive procedure by the state without their consent as a precondition to another medical procedure. translation? the commonwealth of virginia koonts penetrate you with a probe in the event you are seeking to terminate a pregnancy. instead, they reserve the right to undress you, spread warm goo on your belly and perform an
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external ultrasound before you make a decision about a private and let's not forget legal procedure. so, yes, the state does in fact have limits. and oddly enough, on the issue of the origins of state power, newt gingrich and i agree. did you hear this one at wednesday night's republican presidential debate in. >> when you have government as the central provider of services, you inevitably move towards tyranny because the government has the power of force. you inevitably move towards the coercion of the state and the state saying, if you don't do what we the politicians have defined, you will be punished either financially or you'll be punished in some other way like going to jail. >> so here's the gingrich/harris-perry point of agreement, that the state certainly does have the power of force, that in fact force may be the defining feature of the state. as a had historian newt gingrich
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is just about to find the ha beesian social practical for us. not that hobbs. thomas hobbs. now, here's how hobbs saw it. people like to be safe and to know that their stuff is safe. but without the rules and protections of the state, people may have boundless freedom but their lives would be, as he put it, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. so, for the sake of self-preservation, we have given the state a tidy monopoly on the legitimate uses of violence, force and coercion. key word? "legitimate." if i kill the guy next goor dao, it's murder. if the state does it, it's adeath penalty. if i insert a probe where you don't want it, it's rape. if the state does it, well, you get the idea. giving legitimacy to the state isn't necessarily a bad thing. the state, let's not forget, is the organizing principal of modern civilization.
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but we must -- and here's where i agree with the tea party -- coff constantly question the power, making sure the government is using its monopoly on discipline and punishment legitimately. with me to discuss the balance of powers, matt welch, editor and chief of "reason" magazine and author of the declaration of independents. hi, matt. i'm so glad you're here to talk with me about this. >> thanks for having me. congrats on the show. >> thank you. this really is for me like a legitimate challenge, a real concern i have about, how do we think about when the state is legitimately using its coercion, its force, power, and when do we want to push it away from us? i think the example i use it, look, when the klu klux klan is using its freedom to lynch, i want the state to intervene. but if the state is racially profiling in black communities i want the state to give me more liberty. where do we find this balance? >> we've been arguing over this
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in america since the founding, since after the civil war the 14th amendments and the equal protection clause and all this. this is an interesting moment when you are agreeing with newt gingrich it's going to be temporary, right? >> i don't think this is a longstanding agreement with me and the speaker. >> but there's something to that. in any realm, when government takes a disproportionate or monopoly even role in the provision of services, for example, in health care right now government spends 50% of every dollar and that's just going up. you are going to have these fights. the flip side on some level of obama care is that awful word that i hope that i never would have to learn of "transvaginal." it's when the state and public thinks they have a right into what you're doing with your own business. that's when you get people making decisions about you that violate your own sense of moral code or ethics. that's a problem. that is a reason why people who believe more in terms of limited government like i do will argue that you do that in favor of tolerance and diversity of
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different opinions, like the best way to prevent those types of arguments is to not -- to give individuals an opt-out of various things and to not have the government be there making those decisions on sensitive issues. >> so here's what's tough, though, on the kind of libertarian position. here we are, making a choice for who will be the next president of the united states. so that person is going to be an arm of the government, an arm of the state, period, right? even a republican who is supposedly going to prefer smaller government, although like too small to provide health care for everyone but just small enough to be inserted transvaginally. it's hard to know what small government look like. but no matter what, these folks we're listening to are going to have to tell us what they're going to use the government to do. mitt romney can't tell us what he's going to use his private business to do because he's running for president. how do we make a choice like that in the context of an election? >> in fact, what we've seen in
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21st century republican party polit politics, exemplified by romney, george w. bush, santorum, gingrich, too, is they're not for limiting government. they're just not. republicans when they controlled everything in washington increased the size of government by 60%, nondefense spending. this is not just an artifact of war. terri shaivo i think was as much a reason for republicans getting their much deserved come up answer in 2006 because we saw what happens. >> the terri schiavo case is a really important one that i think we've forgotten that is sort of invasion of privacy literally us looking at this woman who was in a persistent vegetative state, for folks who don't remember the schiavo state, whose husband wanted to stop the feeding tubes and whose parents wanted to continue them. it's hard to think of anything more a private family decision
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making yet the state of florida intervened here. >> yeah. this was of a piece with compassionate conservative, george w. bush's sort of brand, which is santorum is probably the most adherence now. they wanted to sort of activate religious groups and ideas into the public policy sphere. there's no problem at all with having a very vigorous and active religious sphere. in fact, we have one because we have a free market in religion and a separation of church and state in this country. we have probably one of the most vigorous religious sort of sp r spheres out there. >> i like the language of a free market of religion. i wonder na's a push back. you've brought up santorum a couple of times here. i want to look at santorum hammering on this kind of right theme on the trail. this is him earlier in the month talking about texas in texas. >> when you remove the pillar of
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god-given rights, then what's left is the french revolution. what's left in france became the guilloti guillotine. ladies and gentlemen, we're a long way from that, but if we do and follow the path of president obama and his overt hostility to faith in america, then we are headed down that road. >> we're headed down the road to the french revolution based on -- seriously? >> he reads into the declaration of independence and the constitution, especially the declaration of independence, that whole endowed by our creator bit, that's everything that he's talking about right there. and he has these interesting principle disagreements. i think he's wrong on the facts. those can documents including the french documents for their revolution were not talking constantly about god and creator and the religious sort of foundations.
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>> and jefferson -- >> it's about individual rights. >> right. jefferson is kind of a unitarian universalist, almost secularist. his religious views would not fit at all with sort of santorum's understanding of religion, right? within this context of free marketplace of religious ideas he would be buying from a very different aisle than santorum. >> santorum on a daily basis is campaigning against the radical individualism as he sees it. he thinks that we are too secular in our approach to things, that it's undermining the morals an the family and the country. that represents a sizeable view in the republican party and i would argue it's sizably worrying view and one at odds with its own kind of libertarian tendencies which have been eroding in recent years but which are now championed by ron paul as a last effort. >> this is why ron paul is arguing with the other folks on the stage. this is the piece that i think maybe for casual observers can be tough to figure out. okay, what's going on here? they're all part of the republican party, but ron paul
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is taking this kind of very different perspective on the role of the state, the role of religion. although he is pro-life in a way that still -- maybe it's not transvaginal ultrasound sort of pro-life, but he is pro-life in that way. >> absolutely. he also has immigration stance that's don't necessarily line up with mine precisely. but he has -- he views and a lot of libertarians view the constitution especially as protection against government. it is it the ennobling of the individual and a recognition that individuals are free to pursue their own happiness as they see fit. that's the thing. that is the key to happiness. it's radical. it's a wonderful, incredible document or concept we came up with we keep trying to power sue at this point, but it's completely different from the rick santorum view. you have that butting heads on a daily basis. >> i'm a big fan of individual rights. i'm not such a fan of state rights. we'll talk about those connections if you stay right there. we're going to add another voice to this conversation. we're going to keep fighting the power and we'll get a little
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hayes. [ indiscernible ] >> we shall prevail. >> on january 24th, apple computer will introduce macintosh and you'll see why 1984 won't be like 1984. >> that was apple's tv commercial introducing the macintosh personal computer for
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the first time, saving humanity from big brother conformity, the apple revolution has since stood for personalization, individual liberty and that "have it your way" mentality. yet, look around you and a new type of conformity has set in. white earbuds and silver-backed laptops abound. the revolution has settled in. is this the ground floor of anti-establishment mentality today? with me to parse all of this is matt welch editor in chief of "reason "magazine and irshad manji, the director of new york university's moral courage project and author of "all"alla liberty and love." welcome to the table and thank you for being here. we were talking before the break about this idea of sort of the power of the state and the state relative to particularly individual freedoms. i wanted to start with this notion of consumption because we went to this kind of free market of religious ideas and nothing
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stands more for the free market than i think mackintosh and apple. how complicated is this question of the right use of state power versus our individual liblibert? >> well, it's a perennial question really, one for the ages. you know, philosophers have been debating this in many ways from time in memorial from recorded history. it is complicated especially when religion enters the picture because, while religious liberty seems like an easy peasy idea, the fact of the matter is, for example, if you take a look at a country like israel, known far and away from this side of atlantic as a democracy and in many way it is, freedom of the press, lots of it, an independent judiciary, rule of law, et cetera. >> free and fair elections. >> yet when a woman is seeking a divorce and she's jewish in israel, she still has to go to rabbinical courts and winds up
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often not with a divorce but with the shaft. so the question with how you sort of balance out sort of commitment to belief with freedom of belief is not linear in the least. >> right. because this is the thing about religion, right? it's not just about what sort of do you do with your weekend, religious of religion is in the advice giving business of the choices we make personally and of course choices we make collectively. this is in part what's going on with santorum, that we have a set of collective choices that are moral and ethical or not. help me, though, on this question of how this version of libertarianism consistently feels to me like it becomes a states rights question rather than a question about the state in the broadest sense. i want to show quickly we have right now states that are suing the federal government about the liberty that states are meant to have. so we have seven states suing over a birth control mandate, 26 states suing over the affordable
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health care act that i said before we went to break. i don't like states' rights. i like individual rights. why does the issue of the state become about states with a little "s"? >> first, we have the project of federalism in the country and a balance we've been arguing over for a long time. there's something to devolving a lot of decisions and provision of services on the state level. i think a lot of people retreat into states' rights in order to not have to deal with difficult questions for sure. and most people, myself included, are hypocrites on it. in the specific cases you mention, though, we are talking about huge federal mandates on states that they can't get out of, and we see a lot of wickedness underneath that. i mean, states' rights issues under george w. bush were something that were championed by the left. in gonzalez versus raich, the great medical marijuana case suddenly a woman who wants to grow pot for herself to help had her own -- >> medicinally.
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>> not to sell it, this became the precedent to obama care and something that a lot of people on the left said, why does the federal government have any stake at all to affect a woman -- >> this is how newt and i end up agreeing. states rights or this issue of states rights can be complicated. so on the fugitive slave act, that's a states rights question on the other side. what the fugitive slave act did is to say the freedom of northern states was not being respected by southern states who could go into the free states and take back their so-called property, human beings who were enslaved, right? so in that moment states' rights is actually a flip the other direction. >> can i raise sort of the big question and maybe it's because i'm a bit of on yacht sioutside see it this way. it is interesting that a lot of countries that over the last, say, 20, 30 years have become free, have become liberated have rarely, if ever, adopted the u.s. system of democracy.
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they've had plenty of chances to do so, and most of the advisory committees for those new governments have looked into it and have decided that the constitution of the united states is far too vague and there's too much sniping and too much griping that is allowed as a result of the question of, well, what does the federal government do and do the states do? >> and to which i would say that's fully appropriate. i mean, we were founded on this deep suspicion of government. most people just don't have it. parliamentary democracies which most people have puts an enormous amount of power into parliament. you win your majority. you get to call the shots in ways that we would find as measure americans to be -- we're allergic to. nobody wants the government to have that much power. >> you have a particular sort of -- you have a very international history where you have literally lived in, studied and worked in very different kinds of state s afternoon the world. >> yeah. and it -- this is sort of -- in
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theory i get what matt is saying, but how then does a country like this that does have this fundamental commitment to liberty itself, to individual liberty, stop almost everything from becoming a political football? at what point do we get clarity about who does what? >> never. >> and then -- >> right. this is it. it's the messinesmessiness. so the one thing i do like is the very messiness, right? we go about the hobbs because in part we are this weird like 17th, 18th century enlightenment country still working out its feel for examples about king george. >> working it out is the key. while i appreciate we live in an age of instant gratification. i personally don't assume if something is not resolved today it will never be resolved. but at the same time let's get back to reality here. millions of americans are not just scratching their heads but are, you know, very frustrated with how nothing gets done. >> it's not going to -- in fact, i want to show quickly because
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this point about like the reality of it. on the ground in virginia, right, we saw as the state was overstepping its bounds around this transvaginal ultrasound, we saw people actually coming out in virginia and we saw what it looks like to be trying to kind of work this out in a very real way. and then in addition to sort of what we saw in virginia in terms of those protests, those protests, as much as they were vocal, they're very different from, for example, what we're seeing in syria and sort of what it means to be pushing back against a state that is repressive in that way. so we're having this kind of conversation up here, but the fact is it's happening on real people's bodies in realtime with very real consequences. >> and, you know, the frustration that we can't get things done and it's always messy, take the long view for a second, you know. there's been places where you can get stuff done in a hurry by the government, didn't always end very well. meanwhile, like the long trend lines, despite the fact we're
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going over a fiscal cliff right now, the long trend lines in america have mostly worked out pretty well, workable chaos. >> if you want no chaos and just some real easy decision making, i can do that for you as a government, right? >> but obviously it doesn't have to be that extreme. >> that's right. >> various countries around the world show, the leests of which i come from, is canada. >> canada. coming up, getting ready for a good laugh, everyone in the studio, because i'm going to try to speak french. that's next. ♪ we were skipping stones and letting go ♪
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mexico, the governor is in danger of having a serious bad hair day. stylist antonio darden said no do for you. the openly gay hair dresser after grooming the gubernatorial hair three times refused any future book beings until the governor changes her position on same-sex marriage. here is antonio in his own words. >> i think it is just equality, dignity for everyone. i think everyone should be allowed the right to be together. my partner and i have been together for 15 years. in france, adieu as two feminist groups persuade the the government to get rid of madam ma zell and madame refers to marital status and age whereas the term ma sewer is a catch-all. the phrases dare to be feminist and the watch dogs began a joint
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campaign in september. a spokesperson for the campaign protested the linguistic distinction as, quote, a reminder of the time when women passed through marriage from the authority of their fathers to the authority of their husbands. undoubtedly the french will now protest this show based on what i just did to the language. and in dallas, texas, i do. well, actually, i don't perform weddings, that is. county judge tanya parker is taking a stand saying she won't perform weddings for heterosexual couples until she's legally able to perform weddings for the homosexual dumb couple. she will not apply a sum not applicable to all. to all you doers out there, i say well done. later on in the show, i'll be dealing with the subject you know i couldn't let lie on oscars weekend. i'm taking on "the help" next hour. but first i'm going to call people names, that's next.
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tomorrow on the show, i'll have professor anita hill here with me. be sure to tune in because i can't wait for that. but first, let me introduce my panel. with me here at the united colors of ben aton or nerd land as the case may be is iror schaad manji, our muslim lesbian, elaum james white, our own black straight -- actually, not straight, our funnyman and nona willis ha ron wits, our white jewish feminist. thank you all for being here and standing in for your entire, race, gender, sexual orientation, religious background. you can even stand in for all of canada if you'd like, irshad. >> bring it on. i'm lousy at it all, missed it in all category. >> you're going to be thrown out of each and every category. i'm here as your host, the bi-racial black lady. we're going to play what we like to say this week in identity
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politics. stalin from the podcast in blackness. we actually saw the republican presidential candidates asked to reduce themselves to a single word. this is my favorite part of wednesday night's debate. let's take a look. >> we have a question from without caveats or explanations, please define yourself using one word and one word only. congressman paul? >> consistent. >> senator santorum? >> courage. >> resolute. >> cheerful. >> you got to have hats off to newt gingrich for realizing the absurdity of the question, like which dwarf are you? i'm cheerful dwarf in this one. my question in part is, why do we do this? why are we reducing candidates, reducing ourselves, our political disdors to these one-word descriptors. what is up?
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>> i imagine this is how people can handle things. the fact is, people can't deal with a lot of nuance, complex y complexities so they need it boiled down to the most simple thing possible. it's like, one word, go, or keep it at least within 140. >> 140 characters. >> that's right. >> maybe again you were presuming what media assume when they ask these sorts of questions. but i actually think that people are capable of handling a lot more than, you know, we chattering classes tend to give them credit for. >> i hope so. >> believe me, every time i speak with somebody who says to me, well, why do you as a feminist refer to god as "he"? i say, the truth is i actually don't know god is a he, but here's the deal. i wear this ring on my married finger, and it is engraved with the word "allah," which means god. because i wear it on my married finger and assuming god is a he, does that mean i'm not gay? so the point is, everything -- >> you are actually destroying so many people's minds on
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saturday monk rigrning right no >> yes, that's exactly the point. people can dig nuance. i think we just need to have faith that they're capable of doing that. >> interesting. >> but at the same time identity politics is used as a short hand. i enjoy when people call me a new yorker because that kind of signals my values. i think especially in politics when you have a candidate, you need somebody to do that. you need to sort of get that story in five seconds and know where they're coming from. >> but suppose you turn yourself a feminist and that's fine, that's what you choose for yourself. but suppose somebody as a result of the baggage that word sometimes carries automatically assumes, just assumes, that you hate men. now, what would you -- do you think -- >> no. we hate men. >> just patriarchy. feminists don't hate men. they just hate patriarchy. >> right. but labels can be a decent starting point. obviously we need the convenience of language to be able to start a discussion. just don't let it be the finish line.
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>> but i'm going to argue that your belief in people is not based in people because if you watch society -- >> based in animals, that's right. >> oh, they understand nuance? really? give an example. so far, watching how the primaries are going and government in general, like people are not the brightest of folks at times. you try to give nuance, literally they will fight you on it. >> journalists are not the brightest. >> people who are not -- >> let me get back to nona's point, the idea that part of what we need in candidates, i'm sympathetic to this point, had when we elect for example a president we don't know what everything is going to happen. if you think about the election of george w. bush, if you think about that moment, i just had to pause, then of course no one knew we were about to have september 11th. we didn't know we were electing a wartime president. part of what you do is look for someone who shares your world. president obama has been interestingly labeling himself
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with an identity lately and talking about it as a policy-making identity. that is the identity of father, right? so president obama has been telling us that because he is a father he was interested in restricting over-the-counter sales of plan b. do we have -- i think we have sound on that, that would be worth seeing. >> i will say this as the father of two daughters. i think it is important for us to make shure that we apply som common sense to various rules when it comes to over-the-counter medicine. she could not be confident that a 10-year-old or an 11-year-old going to a drugstore should be able, alongside bubble gum or batteries, to buy a medication
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that potentially if not used properly could end up having an adverse effect. >> so elom, i as president obama am not making this decision specifically as my -- specifically as my identity as a father. >> yeah. to me, i understand that because the fact is that, how can you sometimes step out of that space? like when it's something so strong. because not only is that his identity, that's his responsibility on top of it. so it's not just like, oh, i'm this and you go about it from there. a lot of times identity and the labels along with identity comes responsibility. you have certain responsibilities as a black man, like i can't go around being silly on national television because now i ruined it for black people. >> i literally had somebody come up to me in nbc, came up to nerd land on the morning before we launched, hi, melissa, congratulations, don't shame the race. i was, like, oh, wow!
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that's a lot. i'm going to try really harder not to shame the race. but you never know. i might. >> i completely disagree about the reason why obama did that. i think it was a dog whistle to more conservative idea who like family values. that was possibly ill conceived because that never works with obama apparently. but that particular decision really enraged feminists, really enraged new yorkers, people who wouldn't normally use the "as a father" narrative. >> i promise i'm going to let you keep talking about it. in our next hour, we'll go live to johannesburg, south africa to talk to nbc news, the latest information on the condition of nelson mandela who's been hospitalized. first tweer going to talk more about identity politics and specifically why i'm puzzled about why women are, despite their identity, more supportive of rick santorum after this
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maximize your budget with great buys, like mosaic tile, just $4.98 per square foot. welcome back to our paint our guest by numbers. we are checking all the right diversity boxes here at mhp. just take a look at my panel. one of our favorite identity politicians rick santorum just had this to share today. he's in michigan this morning. take a listen to what he had to say a couple of hours ago. >> it is absolutely laughable to have a liberal government of massachusetts suggest that i am not the conservative in this race. the top 1%. hmm, where have i heard that before? we have a republican running for president who's campaigning as an occupy wall street adherent. >> yes, i'm the conservative, he's the occupy wall street
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adherent. another tidbit of identity politics this week is the poll we've been looking at for the past 24 hours, ai post"/abc news poll showing gop women are starting to throw sue port behind rick santorum. we see kind of a steady progression of favorability moving up for santorum, straight down for newt gingrich and pretty flatlined for mitt romney. so what is it, do you think, that might be going on? sort of contraception debite be damned, transvaginal ultrasounds, none of that, but the sense that women, in this case gop women, actually throwing their support increasingly behind rick santorum. is this like the very inversion of identity politics or a different version of identity politics? >> a different kind. i'm completely unsurprised that conservative women are getting behind rick santorum. he's principled, quote unquote pro life. he's against unwed mothers, things like that. and in the context of conservative voters, he's a
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perfect candidate. i think what i can see happening is women are thinking, well at least he's talking about my issues. at least he's talking about abortion, you know, romney doesn't seem to be very principled. he doesn't seem to be even talking about these sort of things. he's waving it off like it doesn't matter. i think when it comes to birth control, rick santorum at this point has publicly said during the election campaign that he wouldn't actually ban birth control, that he funded -- voted to fund title 10. that's good enough for some conservative voters. >> right. >> see, the way i look at it is, everyone can vote against their own interest a lot of times. you've seen it within almost any group of minorities and women are no different. the fact is they're willing to go with him, but it's more about, well, you're still not obama, you know what i mean? above all else, you may want to take away my rights, you may not believe i should have control over my body, but you're still not the negro so i'm going to go with you. >> so the key identity here is,
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i am not obama. >> i am not obama. and he can win that vote. >> he certainly is not president obama, that is true. irshad, did you want to weigh in on this question? >> no. because i have no idea why conservative women are voting in large -- rather, intending to vote in larger numbers for rick santorum. but i do think that -- and i see this everywhere i go. i do a lot of speaking right across america. that all kinds of people, people in whom i have faith unlike some individuals i know -- >> this week in blackness is not faith in people. >> people ought, people suck. he said it, not me. generally, all kinds of people are getting sick and tired of being known for one particular label, and it may very well be that a lot of these women are saying, wait a minute, i'm not just a woman. i am also a mother. i am also a citizen. i am also this or that. and, moreover, that i'm sick of the chattering classes reducing my womanhood to being a feminist, otherwise i am not properly presenting myself as a
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woman. so there is, again, a lot i think of percolating nuances underneath. >> speaking of percolating nuances, i want to throw out to you -- i labeled all of you, but if you were sort of picking this week in my identity group, whatever identity group you would pick at this moment, what are some of the news stories we ought to be paying attention to? if i'm bi-racial girl, i was interested in the response to the beyonce video, yes, i have worked in my beyonce cue this week the the commercial for the super bowl where she talks about literally they put up a visual of her and all of the different racial and ethnic backgrounds she is. do we have beyonce? yes, we do. there she is, african-american, native-american, french. there was just this reaction about this, this idea of how are we going to label her as a sort of multiracial person, almost like they're stripping her out of the very definition of blackness. i wasn't interested in that response. other things happening over the
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past couple of weeks? >> i personally identified as a secular -- i'm one of the four me lennials who aren't affiliated with any religion. >> athere are four of you? >> i'm sorry. one out of four. there's only four of us. i was thinking, you know, religious freedom, fine. what about secular freedom. that's what i was thinking. >> over the sort of church/state debate, what about those of us who are secular. >> yes. i feel there's a lot of cross-speak with religious freedom virz take your religious freedom out of my government. it's very confusing. >> yeah, indeed. >> i think the very fact that you can be here openly acknowledging your secularism shows that, in fact, we don't have theocracy and that is a very, very good thing. but, you know, melissa, i don't define myself by a particular birth right. i define myself by the values that i share with other people. i'm very much a pluralist. and what i found interesting about the question that the candidates were asked about the
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one word that you would define yourself as, if you think about it, each and every single one of them defined a value, not a particular identity. so many, again, journalists call them out for not saying american or not saying conservative, but in fact that was a good thing because they really prentded themselves as people who believe in a particular way of being, not a particular birthright. >> i love that you have revived that moment in the debate and turned it into something interesting and compelling. >> for me, as much as i would like to say that i don't allow any labels to label me, i am in fact labeled no matter what happens because upon seeing me you see black dude and i don't really have a choice about that. i can say all i want, don't identify me, i'm a chef, i'm a this that or the other. for example, this week in blackness, trademark -- >> i'm an entrepreneur. >> i am an entrepreneur. there was a discussion about this white teacher who was
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suspended for using the "n" word and then he sued back. >> but he didn't use the "n" word. he discussed the "n" word. >> which to me was hilarious because it shows the lack of ability to look at situations with nuance. because the fact is, yes, he used the word but he was using the word to have a teachable moment. he brought up huckleberry fin and all of this stuff. they were like, no suspension. what's wrong with you? people have to be adults at some point to go, yes, he's white but he used the word in a way that we understand the word can be used and can teach. you have to be able to teach. >> yes. >> he believes in people. >> obviously they didn't go with it showing they suck. >> elon james white shows us he's the populist who actually likes pe s people in theory, no practice. maids, nannies, caregivers, they all count. i'm counting all the ways.
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you is kind. you can smart. you is important. >> my message to all the maids, nannies and caregivers out there? no, you are important. and let me tell you why. two is how many fictional domestic workers moviegoers got to know and love at the 3,014 theaters that screen "the help" since its release in august. 2.5 million are the real-life domestic workers whose lives we largely ignore as they work in american homes every day. 26 is the percentage of new york domestic workers who reported wages below poverty line or minimum wage in a 2006 study. 67% is how many of those
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laborers failed to receive overtime pay, 33 is the percentage of new york domestic workers who reported being verbally or physically abused or being made to feel uncomfortable by their employers. and 90% is how many received no health insurance from their employers. and remember these are not jim crowe statistics. these are today's numbers. and these are figures from new york, which of 50 states is the only one, the one state that has p passed a measure to ensure rights for domestic workers. in november of 2010, new york's domestic workers bill of rights gave four, four new rights to which domestic workers in new york are now entitled under the law. overtime pay at time and a half after a 40-hour workweek, a day of rest every seven days, three paid days off for each year of work, and protection under new york state's human rights laws. which leaves us with 49, the long road ahead for the rest of the states who have yet to
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ensure basic human and labor rights for their help. coming up, why "the help" doesn't help any of this. r unner, in absolute perfect physical condition and i had a heart attack right out of the clear blue... he was just... "get me an aspirin"... yeah... i knew that i was doing the right thing, when i gave him the bayer. i'm on an aspirin regimen... and i take bayer chewables. [ male announcer ] aspirin is not appropriate for everyone so be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen. so he's a success story... [ laughs ] he's my success story. [ male announcer ] learn how to protect your heart at i am proheart on facebook.
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♪ need a little happiness to be ♪ ♪ living the life with me ♪ welcome back. it's oscars weekend and here's how we do oscars in nerd land. we pulled together a panel with a historian, comedian and activist and dissect the very guts of pop culture. since its release in august, the film "the help" based on the book of the same name has grossed $206 million at the box office and it's up for a best picture at the oscars. and tomorrow night if the academy keeps the award season love going, 2011's feel-good movie will have even more reason to celebrate. the real stories of black women domestic work hes are among the most compelling narratives in our history. the oral history project of doz
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stories like that of 87-year-old edith johnson who remembers, quote, i work ford a woman who would not let me sit at the table. she gave me a sandwich and i sat at the top step going to the basement. there are women who, after the assassination of met ger edwards organized against groups like the klu klux klan and there is the woman who long became a civil rights icon for refusing to giving up her seat on the bus once made a living as a domestic worker. black women's resistance in the jim crowe south certainly resulted to more than a couple of scat logical pie. but in the art "the help" does not imitate art and life. it rewrites a rich and robust history in which black women never needed anyone to speak for them. the true story is that for some white people and the black female domestics who worked for them, there really is a much closer to a horror film than a
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lighthearted drama. just ask those who found themselves at the mercy of jim crowe justice at the end std lynch mab's rope for a burning torch. in the real story, white men are not the benign hen-pecked husbands of "the help," they are not a group of mean girls in donna reed dresses who are the terrifying villains for black maids, the threat of rape was always clear and present danger. even though i'm appalled at the historical inaccuracies of "the help," i'm moved by the actresses in the film. but more than 70 years after hattie mcdoaniel -- use their extraordinary talents to do the same thing. back with me at the table are elon james white, creator and host of this week in blackness, joining him now are mickey mckelly, author of "clinging to ma'amy also also, also an
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assistant professor and barbara young, national organizer of the national domestic workers alliance. barbara has been a domestic worker for the past 17 years and is an active member of domestic workers yuntded. thank you all for being here. i actually want to start with you, nicky, for two reasons. one, you know, i went absolutely nuts when this film came out. i had a lot of critical things to say. lots of folks said, oh, you're just mad because a white woman wrote it. i said, no! my favorite book written about black domestic workers is written by a white woman, your text clinging to mammy. i was hoping you could help us put into historic context, why in 2011/2012 are we still so enthralled with this idea of a maid figure? >> right. i think primarily what this film does is and what the book does is present us with a mammy mare tiff for the 21st century.
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it refits the 0 story that a black woman working in a white household loves the people she works for. she's not there for wages. she's not there because she's coerced to be there. this goes back to the history of enslavement. she's not forced to be there but she wants to be there. she authorizes those relationships because she loves the people there. and in this way this film produces a story and the book produces a story thattett ettts in the context of civil rights and segregation but says at the end of the day these women still love the white people they work for. >> ms. young, i know you've actually said you felt like that moment, for example, of the relationship between the young child and nanny is one of the most humanizing aspects of the film. you have a very different critique than what mickey and i have had. >> yes. as a domestic worker myself here in new york, melissa, when i saw
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that as peblpect of the film, i really moved. i was touched by the human feeling that abilene bring to the movie and to the child, eventually got down on her knees. she was about to be fired from her job, and she got down on her knees. and it bring me back to so much that i myself went through as a domestic worker ando other nannies go through from day to day working adomestics. you know, for instance, i was a nanny working for a family seven years, loved the children i work with, and then the family would go out at night, sometimes my workweek would be six days, working 16 hours. >> right. >> and they would go out at night, time for me to finish my shift and go home, and come back
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at 1:00, 1:30 in the morning. and i would be on the street at 2:30 trying to get home without fare for a cab. >> right. this is the challenge. on the one hand, wanting to acknowledge that there is a possibility for human compassion, love even across status differences and race differences. but also acknowledge that fair labor practices matter. i mean, the work you do is not, oh, don't worry because we care for children, we don't -- we love the children, we don't need cab fare or reasonable working hours. we may in fact have affection for the children whom we're caring for, but we also need fair practices. i know you went nuts on twitter. >> i watched it yesterday specifically for this. all the points are valid. my issue with the movie, like i said, separating viola davis out
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of the movie because of her performance, fine, as an artist, great. the disneyfication of this really, really deep thing was problematic because it was supposed to be abouted black here we heroines but it was more a white woman's coming of age, she learned all these things and they sprinkled a little oppression on it so people felt deep about it. no, this could have been jennifer aniston and they could have just like grown. >> the fact is, i might have actually liked the movie had it been pitched as, a, entirely fictional -- because in fiction you can do anything. i was watching the transformers the other night. and my car, camaro, isn't going to stand up and walk around. in fiction you can do anything. it was presented as histortoricy accurate and from the viewpoint of the help, but it 'twas from ms. skeeter's viewpoint, about her had coming of age. >> about ms. skeeter, she is the
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one that brought the stories of the maids and that. i am the real-life domestic worker, and i see -- i can see what she did in the movie because she tell her story at the end and the love she had for the woman that take care of her. and today her story, to me, was giving those women a voice. and today domestic workers are finding their voice. at the beginning of the program you started with rosa parks. rosa parks was not just one individual who sit there on the bus. she was part of a movement. >> indeed. >> that wanted to speak out for the wrongs that were happening to them at that time. >> ms. young, i'm so glad you bring up rosa parks. we actually have a little piece of the letter that rosa parks wrote about her sexual violation dur t
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during the time she was serving as a domestic worker. do we have that image? we don't. but part of rosa parks' story is a story of being violated by the white man in the household for whom she worked. i think part of what was so distressing about the movie is that aspect was so left out. >> exactly. all of the frameworks of exploitation, segregation are actually held external to the xpeenss of the women in this film. sot civil rights movement happens almost as a setpiece out of the narrative, out of the stage and what you get is this tight domestic focus as if that domestic space isn't a space of politics or isn't a space of change. or thinking about rosa parks' history as part of a movement, the montgomery busboy cot wouldn't have worked if it hadn't work for the hundreds of thousands of domestic work hes who participated and yuch held that boycott who refused to ride the buses and who walked the streets to show that they were refusing to ride. >> and didn't need -- and there were white women who were part
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of that, right, the movement who helped to drive and -- but the point is, the white women were the help. they were the ones who railroad contributing small helpful aspects. they weren't the main story. elon, i felt you itching a little bit. >> yes. there was a scene in the movie -- when the movie decided to walk out of the white woman wonderland, it went to one of the maids was accused of stealing and then she was bashed by a cop. within a half hour to 25 minutes of that, she was in prison with other women smiling and laughing, like this book is so funny, as opposed to her face still being bashed for being attacked over nonsense. this is like, oh, you know what? snashg conquers all. we're going to have a poop pie and fix it all. i was terribly offended by that. >> right. because it felt like that was the one moment where we were starting to get to the level of violence possible in the jim crowe south. but then it was all made better by this little story. so we're going to take a quick break.
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am. we're here talking about both fictional and historical representations of "the help." but every day we entrust 2.5 million real-life it domestic workers with the care of our most precious possessions, our homes our children, our paifrnlts, loved ones and every day we fall short of giving back the same care to them. back with me, elon james white, mickey mckayla and barbara young. barbara, i want to start with you because i am fascinated that the historian and political scientist and the cultural comedian at the table are all enraged by this film or at least critical of it and you're saying, no, there's ways in which this gave a voice, this had an opportunity. i want to keep saying, no, no, it was terrible. but the thing i find terrible is it speaks for people who are
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necessary tick wo dmek tick workers. i woonant to be sure you expres what you found valuable about the film. >> you mentioned the civil rights movement and one thing that i find that was very valuable in this film is that people, millions of people, get to see and view the film who were i would say not interested in the civil rights movement, not interested in domestic workers, but they get to see domestic workers and it tells the story of domestic workers, whether wrong or right, the real-life domestic workers today can join in the film and sprelding tspreld i ing the word of what goes on in the industry. and the sufferings that they face and the -- whatever says --
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what they gain from being domestic workers and in the household of the people that they work for. >> elon? >> see, even as you're saying, that i find it problematic because, yes, that's the case. this is the opening of the door for these problems. but should this have been the case? did we need a starter story? it's like you can't deal with real problems and real oppression and how domestic work hes have been treated so let's come up with this cute little thing that you can kind of have a bite size of so you kind of know there was a little bit of a problem. not the real problem yet, just enough so you can kind of go, oh, so apparently it wasn't all good for the domestic workers. >> yeah. i wanted to point out, one of the things i learned from "clinging to mammy" is about this 1923 senate-approved land space for a mammy monument. we just had the groundbreaking of the african-american history museum. i keep thinking that was probably the same ground on which they were going to put the
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mammy monument in 1923. so this idea of building monuments to domestic workers is not actually new, but it's still sort of this covering, this imaginary. >> right. in 1923, the daughters of confederacy are almost successful in erecting a memorial of the mammys in washington augu, d.c. the same senate passes this -- that refuses to protect black people from violence celebrates this version of interracial relationship hads, this version of black and white interconnection that's not about violence, which i argue is fundamentally violent and is about doing violence to those women's lives. this is a piece of that ongoing political narrative. i think one of the histories, one of the figures we have to include in thinking about this film and the book, the book "the help" was published in february 2009, within weeks of barack
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obama's inauguration. >> what else was happening in february of 2009. >> exactly. as candidate obama and president obama is asking us to choose our better history, the better history that a number of people are choosing, the better history about the civil rights movement, about race relations, about progress is "the help." and i find that terrifying and problem at icati problematic. but it's part of the framework. >> i think the thing that made me so nuts is the home shopping network developed a line of products inspired by "the help" so when the film launched you could go on the home shopping network and buy donna reed dresses and waffle makers. i'm thinking, this -- now home shopping can make money from the suffering of black women in the context of domestic work. >> aunltt jemima's pancakes.
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>> this is indicative of a bigger problem we have with history in general. america is a big fan of photo shopping history. what we don't like, oh, there's a dimple in the thigh of america, we're going to thaik that out. they kind of like -- >> dimple in the thigh of america. >> yes, i said it. that's become a problem, and we -- we're watching this happen all over the mraiplace, when th wanted to take the "n" word out of huckleberry fin, how they wanted to change how the founding fathers referred about slavely and stuff like that. all of these different things are just all part of a bigger change of history. like we're upset about right now the education of our children. imagine once everyone gets finished with just totally wiping out everything they don't like. people are just going to be like, negroes had a problem? that's crazy. >> ms. young, if there was -- your work is as an organizer. i actually think the 2010 new york bill of rights around domestic workers is probably the
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biggest 21st century civil rights win that none of us know very much about. what is the work now? we've got it in one state. what are the next steps so that the work of domestic workers now is not what it was in 1965? >> the next step, what's going on now is we have a necessary tick workers bill of rights in the state of california and that has already passed one part of the legislature in california and it's in the senate for a vote. it's up for a vote in the senate. we don't want it to be just like one state pass a domestic workers bill, and this is something that new york did. we want california to pass the domestic workers bill of rights so that we can go on to other states and pass rights for workers. and we are just for the same for basic rights for workers. when this movie "the help" came out, we said, wow, the many millions of people that view this, we're asking them to be
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the help for the domestic workers that are fighting for rights for the 2.5 million people who are doing this work throughout the country. >> ms. young, thank you so much. we are going to take a quick break and have more of this conversation as soon as we come back. [ other merv ] welcome back to the cleaning games. let's get a recap, merv. [ merv ] thanks, other merv. mr. clean magic eraser extra power was three times faster on permanent marker. elsewhere against dirt, it was a sweep, with scuffed sports equipment... had it coming. grungy phones... oh! super dirty! and grimy car rims... wow! that really works! ...all taking losses. it looks like mr. clean has won everything. the cleaning games are finished? and so are we. okay, but i just took a mortgage out on the cabinet. [ male announcer ] clean more, work less, with the mr. clean magic eraser extra power.
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back with elon james white, mickey mckayla and barbara young. we only have a few minutes left, but i didn't want to move on because i felt like there resist something still missing. it's not just about saying mean things about the movie. if we wanted to have a panel about everything wrong with hollywood, that could probably go on for three or four days and would be a different kind of panel. i want to give each of you sort of one quick opportunity here to weigh in on what you either see as the contribution, the problem or next step. >> well, it's also not about saying that movies shouldn't have characters who are domestic
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workers in them and we shouldn't be foregrounding this history, which is a huge part of our history, but that the domestic worker character should not be in the service. i use that phrase literally, of the white narrative and white progress white overcoming. that they need to be stories about domestic workers themselves. they need to be true to this history. and this film is not true to the history and mystifies the history in a way that i'm afraid people will take away as being the story. >> right. the whole point of the story is ms. skeeter gets a job, ms. xeelter gets a boyfriend, ms. skeeter moves on. >> exactly. >> i mean, as an artist, i am clear to disconnect my critique of the movie to the actors in the movie. i believe that what they've done is a great job. but -- and people keep confusing that. they say, when you critique the mov movie, they defend the actresses.
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nuan nuance, again, terribly problematic, i can find it problematic and say, you guys did a great job. >> we have about ten seconds, ms. young. >> i think people need to support the real-life actors that is doing domestic work in this country because for too long domestic workers has been one of the best-kept secret in this country. as long as people want to have a career and a family, they need to have a domestic worker in their house taking care of their children and their homes. and so we need to the support of the millions of people who watched the movie and help us help the people in their communities to pass legislation to help the workers. >> ms. young, i love that task. if you loved the movie "the help," do something to actually pass workers rights for domestic work hes in your community. thank you to ms. barbara young, to mickey makaela and elon james white who will harng around a little bit longer. affirmative action, is it
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it now appears that affirmative action as we know it could, could, be coming to an end, at least on college campuses. so earlier this week the supreme court agreed to hear fisher versus universities of texas, a suit brute by ab i gait fisher who alleges that the university denied her admission in part because she is white. if we were to believe the last supreme court ruling on this issue, affirmative action in college admissions, was supposed to be safe for at least 16 more years. that's if former supreme court justice sandra day o'connor w right when she wrote, the court expects that 25 years from now the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interests approved today. that is taken from justice o'orion from the 2003 case in which the court held that the equal protection
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clause of the 14th amendment was not violated by the university of michigan in its -- because it was using but fwhe ining but no race in the factor of admission. contrast that to chief justice john roberts decision in the decision that killed dedignify ra gaigs programs in washington state. there the decision reads, the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race. is affirmative action discriminatory? we sent out our intrepid producer alison to find out where some local college students here in new york stand on the issue. >> my niem is at i cuss brigham. i'm a junior at nyu and i'm co-chair of the editorial board at the washington square news, nyu's student newspaper. we wrote about affirmative action this week. our general thesis is that race conscious dmigsz policy is necessary as long as systemic racial inequality is inconstitutionalized in america
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but also i think many students believe that the goals of the civil rights era have been achieved and america's somewhat post-racial regardless of how accurate those assessments are. they seem to be more widespread than they were so a decade ago. >> i feel that affirmative action is a good thing. it probably was more of a good thing in the past. >> universities shouldn't take into account race as a factor in admissions. >> it really isn't a big deal anymore. >> i'm particularly indifferent to affirmative action because it doesn't necessarily apply to me right now because everything that i'm getting is based off of my merit and everything i've done on my own. >> i think affirmative action is necessary. it's a utopian view of the world that just doesn't exist, to say there's no prejudice and no discrimination. >> it's something that needs to be done to address some of the structural inequalities that have been built into the nation. >> you're not going to school to learn with people who are just like you. you're looking for people who are challenging you and so people from different backgrounds can provide that.
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>> i mean, i think lots of people are more considerate of economic disparities in school districts and how that presents an obstacle to some applicants. >> instead of like putting someone in because they are a different color, maybe you should put them in because they can't afford it. >> people receive a different quality of education and a lot of time that's based on your neighborhood and where you come from. and how are you even going to compete? manufactu >> when you have people from a broad array of socioeconomic classes, geographical areas and even racial backgrounds, it's almost a guarantee that, you know, they'll enrich each other's education. >> let's discuss that and this new supreme court case with our guests elon james white, comedian and co-host of "this week in blackness pod cost," matt welch, irshad manji and nona willis aronowitz associate editor of "good" magazine.
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i started by saying, here's why you're qualified to talk about this. here's why you're qualified to talk about this. what do we make of this notion of sort of qualification and the idea that affirmative action basically discriminates on the basis of race while not accounting for merit, which i think is kind of the fundamental crux of where people have disagreement with ax tiffirmati action as a policy? >> oh, me? >> anybody. i'm not going there. >> i have an issue with people that critique it, especially in this situation where the school where the big lawsuit is coming up now has a 10% rule, if you're in the top 10% of your high school, you're automatically accepted into the school. >> let me pause and clarify that because not all the viewers know this. the university of texas, it takes the top 10% of all texas graduating students all get admission. they don't all come obviously of, which means in varying years
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you may get 60% of the classes from the top 10%. abigail fisher is actually challenging that in her year 81% of the students enrolled were enrolled from the top 10% program and she fell just below that so there was no need to take into account additional race claims in the 19% below that, they'd already diversified with the top 10%. >> right. so in that situation, like i said, there was 81% of the people, totally merit based, 19% came into play. so, in general, when it comes to affirmative action and people complaining about it, it's -- the only thing you can truly complain about affirmative action is if you ignore historical context, society that was built from the ground up on discrimination. like that is what it was done. and then people love to use sports metaphors. oh, it's not, fair, blah blah blah, it's not fair in the race. well, if this was an actual race, the way you would look at
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it is white straight dudes got to start running about 200, 300 years ago. everyone else was slowed down by their slave chains and vaginas, which were apparently very heavy and they weren't allowed to run. so these were put in place so they have a fighting chance against like centuries long of wealth and all of the other things that play a part into getting into school. >> maybe the white man is tired from running for 200 years. >> matt, yes. >> i'd like to agree and disagree. the agreement is, i think if you really care about the merit okay rascy in admissions you better be talking in addition to affirmative action, you should be talking about legacies. at public universities are legacies. who are the recipient of the those legacies predominantly is two-thirds white people.
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>> because they were the ones who could go to the schools particularly in the south. >> ward connerly, the litigant in most of these cases, fighting a lot of propositions in california and elsewhere, he has fought that and the university of california got rid of legacies in 2000 thanks to that. at least he's consistent about that. but i think you can principally oppose affirmative action -- where racism still exists in this country. i would argue it's more prejudice than racism on a day-to-day basis. people just put -- you've been talking about this all day -- people in boxes and can't imagine you outside of the box. it's the jeremy lin story on some level. people couldn't imagine that dude being a point guard. >> right. an asian harvard man being the lin sanity of new york. no nona, you wrote something very useful this week. >> hearing all of this, we're assuming that affirmative action is just about discrimination,
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just about racism, about reparations for segregation, for slavery. but that's not the whole conversation. it's also about how diversity enriches the educational experience of everyone, including white people. in 2003, sandra day o'connor framed it that way, saying that it's better for everybody. it's not necessarily only about racism. so in that case, you know, a lot of progressives, a lot of conservatives alike are saying, well, this is our perfect -- the perfect chance to do sort of economic affirmative action, and that really doesn't address the central problem of, we need to have a diverse educational environment. >> now, i know you have a different take on this, irshad. >> well, diversity, there's a word that needs to be thought critically because is it only about skin color? is it only about different religions? of course not. it's also about different ideas and opinions and viewpoints. and yet when a program like affirmative action is put into place and there are people who assume that you are at this
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university because that's how you got there, there's a burden that a lot of people of color carry simply because, as you joked about what was told to you when you started the show, you cannot shame the race. so what i'm saying is, affirmative action often does not wind up expanding diversity but rather concentrating it on this very superficial level, which is about skin color. >> i want to go to exactly this point quickly. at duke university right now there's percolating campus anxiety around affirmative action. the grio taukted about the duke study slamming affirmative action, reopening these kind of old wounds on duke's campus. you see african-americans walking around with signs saying, i have a 3.8 average. i've got to tell you, my first response to that was, you know, the reason that people are, you know -- that you carry a burden isn't because of affirmative action. it's because of the legacy of american discriminatory identity
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politics. in other words, i guess i would prefer to carry the burden of affirmative action and a duke degree than to carry the burden of not getting into college, like if i had to weigh the burdens. >> but if you're winding up self-censoring all the time because, you know, you are supposed to be carrying the pail of a good reputation for your own group, then how does that actually advance the notion of education? the point is that -- and it goes right back i think to the libertarian philosophy -- programs like affirmative action do emphasize group over individual, and actually i think it is the individual unto him or herself who is the locust of all kind of facets. if we're really interested in diversity we have to think of people as endowed with the capacity for self-reflection and personal growth, not just endowed with the baggage of their parents. >> i am going to allow elon to do whatever it is that face is doing as soon as we come back.
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we're going to talk more about what happens when there is no affirmative action. we'll talk a bit about this diversity of campuses on california's coast.
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more with our panel in just a moment. first it it's time for a preview with "weekends with alex witt". >> thank you so much. everyone, we have conflicting reports this morning on the hospitalization of nelson mandela. we'll get a live report from south africa on his condition. home field advantage. mitt romney hopes to hold on to michigan, but if he doesn't it throws the gop into more disarray. we'll look at what might happened. inside the world of sheldon adelson. we'll look at how he made his money. oscar predictions. "the artist" seems to have the momentum for best picture, but it's always a mystery until it is announced. melissa, i heard you talking about "the help" earlier on in
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the show. is that your pick? >> i'm going to say it's not my pick. >> really? >> but we'll see what happens. >> you whisper it to me later. we are actually back talking about race and college admissions and the new affirmative action case that the supreme court says it will consider in a year. joining me once again are elon james white, matt welsh, irshad manji and nona willis aronowitz. you were making the point before break if you have this mushy version of -- >> it's hard to explain sometimes without just freaking out because first you were like, you can understand hysteric al kconvict texts and be against affirmative action. i reject that idea. you were saying, it's this mushy thing and people have the burden of affirmative action on you. that's not on them to have that. that's on the people around them. you shouldn't question the
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people that were allowed to get in because other people have these ridiculous viewpoints on things. that's th ae's on them. the fact is we're trying to fix something and it's something we could have fixed a long time ago. affirmative action kicked in, what, 1961, the first time it popped up. if they really wanted to stop and like try to fix all of the inequality and all of that stuff, especially within school systems and stuff like that, they could have then poured millions upon millions of dollars into the education system and into places where school systems were terrible and fixed it. so they had a generation or two to go back and solve the problem of inequality within the education system. they did not. so now we still have generations of people going to crappy schools so they have -- they start off on a bad foot from jump. then they get to this point and you also pretend as if affirmative action means you are encased in this amazing bubble that when you get there, you can't fail out. you still have to work. people act like you get there on
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affirmative action and you just walk around not doing schoolwork, just nhaving a beer >> unless or muslim. >> or mormon. >> but this was part of my challenge around thinking about this question of sort of deservedness and merit. if we look at the ut system, the way it's currently working, on the one hand it bj accounts for and doesn't this question of, as elon put it, crappy schools. if it's the top 10% from everybody, then the fact is that schools that have higher performing students may end up that their 11th or 12th percent student is perhaps a better student by some set of metrics than a student who is a top 10 percenter at schools with a lower performer school. yet using a different metric by thinking about how to create diversity, you still are able to create a diverse campus with a different notion of what constitutes merit, right? >> that all starts to fall apart
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when you're talking about the most selective schools. you can look at the scamp of california as a perfect example. they abolished affirmative action in 1996 and they sort of took on this similar skim off the top 10%. it worked great except in the case of uc berkeley and ucla. all the other ucs have sort of caught up by now and ucla and uc berkeley never recovered. so it's going to sort of trickle down the same way with all of the selective schools that can't just skim ost top 10%. they may not even be forced to use economic or race-based diversity. they may not do anything at all. that's why i think it's worse -- yeah, it might be this mushy sort of, oh, we should all be in this utopia together, but the alternative is turning a blind eye to all of the issues. >> let's look -- but let's look at cal kaiforniacalifornia. the uc system as a whole, which i dropped out of because i was in the affirmative action legacy obviously, as a whole, since
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1996 when this was passed and everyone said, that's it, it's only white people from now on, which at uc santa barbara when i was there it 'twas actually true. what's happened since thenl is that the only group that has tailed off are white people. they've gone from 44% to 35% or some significant number like that. asians have gone up. latinos have gone up. african-americans are about the same, a little bit up, systemwide. so you can single out berkeley and ucla as a horror story, but as a systemic thing, about california's golden university system, it hasn't led to these disastrous outcomes, which i think is a reason or it's worth chewing on. like what does that mean? >> right. think of uc. they accept about 20-something percent, at least ucla and uc berkeley. think about harvard, like 6%, 5%. when is race going to become an issue if it's not sort of a model for the rest of the country? >> i just want to point out that the value of a college education
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today is not a small thing. so when we talk about giving this additional opportunity, even if you've had under-resourced schools as a result of property taxes and all the things things that we know that are wrong with how we address schools, to give someone the opportunity and it's only an opportunity to succeed in college is all the difference when you look at those unemployment charts, having the college education is the one sort of relatively flat line in the unemployment charts. like, this really fundamentally matters. >> can we talk about the concept of fairness that keeps popping up when this discussion comes up. it's not fair to the people that don't get in. it's not fair to her. i reject the concept of fairness in this sense because you're american, okay? and let's be real here. america was built on a lot of crap, all right? a lot of problems, a lot of discrimination and all of that good stuff, so as an american, guess what? you are a part of something that was a much bigger problem at one
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point so america is trying to fix these problems. so guess what? -- >> and we're going to leave it on that. how dare you talk about fairness. this is america. coming up, i'm going to tell you a little bit more about my sense of gratitude about where i am right now safe here in this studio. ohhh my head, ohhh. [ speaking in japanese ] yeah, do you have anything for a headache... like excedrin, ohhh, bayer aspirin... ohh, no no no. i'm not having a heart attack, it's my head. no, bayer advanced aspirin, this is made for pain. [ male announcer ] bayer advanced aspirin has microparticles, enters the bloodstream fast, and safely rushes extra strength relief to the sight of your tough pain. feel better? yeah...thanks for the tip! [ male announcer ] for fast powerful pain relief, use bayer advanced aspirin. ♪
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>> as i stand here and in the comfort and security of this studio i'm even reminded just how lucky we are as americans. while we fight ideological wars we have experienced a full-scale civil war since 1965. we're relatively safe and the citizens of syria cannot say the same thing. today's foot soldiers are those who bravely film, write and brutality facing the syrian people. they are those who are nameless
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until their deaths. ramani al said who used cameras, cell phone or whatever at their disposal to bear witness to the nearly year-old uprising. then those that we do know, marie colvins editor urged here to leave syria. she covered conflict for more than two decades giving voice to the voiceless and in 2001 she lost an eye doing so in sri lanka. marie wanted to file one more story from the battleground. she never got that chance and she and fellow journalist ramni were killed in homs. anthony shadid died of an apparent asthma attack. he, too, was collecting information to tell the stories of those fighting against the government and president assad. without them we wouldn't know the extent of violence in syria. without them, the syrian people
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would have less of a voice. without them, we are free to live our lives with little concern for theirs. and while i'm thankful for our security, i'm grateful for those who have laid their lives on the line to tell these stories and i am also hopeful that one day their bravery will win them the freedom and safety they deserve, that is why they are today's "foot soldiers." make your foot soldier nomination on our facebook pa / page/fhp show. >> we are having technical difficulties getting nbc special correspondent charlene hunter on the 10. president mandela who was hospitalized for a medical is well right now. that is our show for today. thank you to e lon james white, and nona willis for sticking
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around and shout out to the chat room, thanks to you at home for watching. i'll see you tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. dr. anita hill will be here with me. coming up "weekends with alex witt." [ female announcer ] your mom, so proud. tells the neighbors all about her son, the lawyer. someday, but not today mr. intern. today, your boss needs her caffeine. the boss that calls you nick. your name is nate. but you'll do whatever it takes to impress. you'll bring her the all-natural sugar in the raw and the all natural, zero calorie sweetener stevia in the raw. now run along and learn lots. like how she doesn't drink coffee, just tea. it's only natural. to the perfect swisssh. it's about zero weight, 100% more nourishment, which means hair that's not weighed down. introducing new aqua light from pantene. our lightweight conditioning formula nourishes then rinses clean in seconds,
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