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tv   Melissa Harris- Perry  MSNBC  December 12, 2015 7:00am-9:01am PST

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she can get all the car insurance options her little heart desires. or the women might do the hard work of making money. [ chuckling ] women don't have jobs. is this guy for real? modernizing car insurance with -- that's enough out of you! the name your price tool, only from progressive. where is your husband? this morning, my question, did buzz feed get it right? plus, slavery after the 13th amendment. and the peril of see something, say something. but first fear and radicalization. good morning. over the last week, miriam webster noticed a spike in lookouts for a word that appeared in headlines of a new
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development into the investigation of the san bernardino shooters. a word that has been the focus for investigators as they looked into key questions about when and how syed farook and tashfeen malik became motivated to carry out the attack and whether or not they were directed by forces outside the united states. fbi director couply used the word on wednesday when he announced the bureau's latest discovery about the couple. >> two killers who were radicalized long before their attack. they were actually radicalized before they started courting or dating each other online, and online as late as, as early as the end of 2013, they were talking to each other about jihad and martin dom before they became engaged and married. >> by friday, the word has reached the top of the list of
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trends as everyone wanted to know what does it mean to be radicalized. the fbi defines it as the process by which individuals come to believe their engagement in nonstate violence to achieve social and political change is necessary and justified. the fbi's definition of radicalization as a transformation that is likely to result in violence underscores finding answers. as it relates to the attackers. if we can learn the whens and whys of their radicalization, then maybe we can reduce the likelihood. i want to offer a broader definition. a strong conviction in the need for extreme action does not always push people to behave violently. it was a radical act for protesters in the civil rights movement to expose injustice.
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but that was nonviolent. it's also worth considering we tend to think of the word radicalize with regard to religious ideology but that has more to do with the news cycle than the word itself. a definition that encompasses all those ideologies suggest radicalization is what happens when people reject beliefs in what is rational and reasonable and in favor of a position at the extreme fringes of those same beliefs. second, it's what happens when those beliefs compel an extreme course of action against mainstream. it's clear that the definition describes one particular emerging strain of american ideological thought. he said, quote, trump is literally trying to radicalize
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our fellow americans against our american muslim and international muslim brothers and sisters. we have also heard these beliefs in what our fellow americans have to say for themselves. >> mr. trump is absolutely right. president obama actually under the 1954 act has the right to shut down the doors, which he is refusing to do. we have a problem. there's a -- there's beliefs coming into this country that do not coincide with our constitutional rights, our amendments, our bill of rights. and if they cannot if their beliefs are complete opposite of what we believe in, then it does not belong in this country. >> i think in 1939 and 1940 it was not exactly easy for someone from germany, japan or italy to get into the united states.
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sometimes you have to look at solutions that, you know, in a slightly calmer time you wouldn't but i think can still be valid in a more dangerous time. >> it's a belief and course of action that may most recently have been amplified by donald trump but was already part of our public discourse long before he ever announced his candidacy for president. we have seen it in the efforts by state legislators around the country to ban the system of islamic laws known as sharia. despite the fact as noted in 2011 it's virtually nonexistence in the united states. we've seen it in the nypd's use of religious profiling. we have seen it in the persistent skepticism about president obama's birthplace. and we see it today when a party's top candidate for president is boosted by a belief and course of action that is in
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opposition to one of our country's most foundational principles. this is what it means to become radicalized. joining me is malcolm nance, counterterrorism consultant to the u.s. government and executive director of the terror asymmetrics project. and linda, executive director of the arab-american association of new york and co-founder of power of change, a grassroots movement that works towards building political power in the american muslim community. thank you both for being here. so malcolm, i have talked with you before about wanting to define terrorism more broadly or in ways that encompass more actionings that we see in the world. is it also reasonable to try to expand this definition of radicalization? >> you know, i find it fascinating this is the most looked up word in the dictionary. it should be patently obvious what it means to radicalize. i think the fbi may even be making a term know logical
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mistake here. what they should be saying is terror radicalization. you have to put it in context. we come from a nation of protests. just today, i was looking at a photograph of woody guthrie who always kept on his guitar a sticker that says this machine kills facists. in the '50s and '60s, a form of visual protest. anyone can be radical. it's an asim mitt trickal way of confronting the environment by use ago form of judo to get your protest heard. however, we're talking about crossing a line from your belief that there must be change and there should be an allowance within all law enforcement and all intelligence communities to understand that political protest is a fundamental right in america and what we fight to defend. understanding that, when you transition from protests to terror, that is a cog that doesn't decision. it is something which requires concrete actions.
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and of course it has its own profile. i think if we're not looking at that, as opposed to the transitional points along the radicalization path, then we may be misusing this term. >> and i think part of what's important to me and the points you've just made is this is actually not just about language. i mean, language matters. my college adviser used to say words are things, right. so language matters. but specifically this idea that if we call it radicalization and then radical means thinking outside of the box and pushing against the mainstream, then in order to sort of save or protect the nation against violence, you see a clamping down on protests. a clamping down on public discourse, because if we think of them as all part of the same kind of bad thing, think only in the mainstream. so i guess i'm wondering then, for you, how do we preserve the value of a counter narrative while at the same time saying but not terrorism? >> absolutely.
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radical is being now used towards black protesters and black lives matter. the new york police department created a new unit called the strategic response group. in the mission of that new unit, they say this is -- this student is tasked with mass protest and counterterrorism. how do mass peaceful protests and counterterrorism go hand-in-hand? like that makes no sense. for me the word radical -- >> yet, that's been the history, right? it's the history in the civil rights movement. >> i've been called radical. why? because i can challenge the state. because i can stand up for my rights. because i'm a defender of the constitution. it looks like that term radical or radicalized is only being used for certain groups. right now, for me, it's being used against muslims and against black people. >> and yet the place where i fear violence is that once we have identified an entire group as enemies of the american story, enemies of the american project, and we believe we can
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identify them visually, we know in our history that that has often led to violence. >> you're absolutely right. you know, as a counterterrorism practitioner, this offends me deeply. no, really. i have really important things to do. people in the counterterrorism community should have other important things to do which is running down the intelligence and the leads we have on known or suspected threats. when we transition away from counterterrorism to predicting protests such as black lives matter, other civil discourses and liberties which are absolutely allowed under the constitution, you're wasting resources. if it was one of my staff, i would be hammering them for wasting my time. we really need to understand that people here have rights. there is a way to go out and do fundamental counterterrorism and intelligence collection without violating those rights and wasting people's time or violating their civil liberties. >> it feels like there's been a
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lot of yet tycritique of mr. tr. but that it also allows us a kind of cleansing of the national self as though this didn't come from somewhere. i'm not that huge of a hillary clinton fan but i do love her quiz who said it, donald trump or not donald trump that went up on their site this week. just pointing out that this is discourse we have seen a lot in the u.s. >> it's policies being implemented against our communities. unwarranted surveillance. putting suspicion on entire faith communities or criminalizing entire racial communities like black communities, latino. i don't really care about the words, it is the policies that continue to target our communities. if we're going to talk about radicalization and getting from radical to terror, let's talk about white men that go and shoot white supremist groups. why is no one saying how did richard deer get radicalized before he shot up a planned parenthood office or how did roof get radicalized when he went and shot up nine black
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worshipers. the fact we only apply these terms to certain groups is problematic. >> we did ask that question with roof and when we asked it, went and took the confederate flag down in south carolina. part of the world was how did he end up doing that. it would lead us potentially to make different kinds of decisions if we did ask that about white supremacy. more voices to come after the break. we'll also take a look at the story of what's being called the trump bump for white supremist groups.
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the southern poverty law center which tracks hate groups in the united states, found a 17% decline in the number of those groups between 2013 and 2014. it was actually the lowest since
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2005. you see, it found that activity among the radical right was depressed following the president's re-election. and the failure of congress to enact gun legislation and comprehensive immigration reform. but this week, politico is reporting that hate groups have found a new reason for hope. the leader of one of those groups, which is upgrading its website servers partly because of increased traffic, told politico, quote, demoralization has been the greatest enemy, and trump is changing all of that. politico reports of white supremist groups that, quote, its leaders consistently say that trump's read rihetoric abo minority groups has brought more attention to their agenda than any american political figure in years. a development many of them see as a golden opportunity. joining the panel now is christi christina, who is social
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professor at nyu and also from nyu, the professor the social analysis history. so christina, for me, this week has been fascinating in part because the kind of moral ethical backlash against mr. trump feels maybe six months late in that so much of what he's saying is not all that different from what we heard him say about latinos and about mexican immigrants for months now. >> you're exactly right. it started with mexicans. it's gone to muslims. i think you're earlier discussion, talking about the way radicalism expands the terrain of the sayable, right? it can do it in really damaging ways. one of the things so striking to me now is the fact that it's really turned into a deeply ethnic cleansing kind of logic. first, it was this mass deportation. then it was a discussion of now we're not going to let muslims into the country. the other thing that really strikes me is the fact that he's
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evoking this by evoking presidential laws. he's bringing up eisenhower and '54 and operation wet back. he's bringing up executive orders and presidential orders. >> the interments. >> it's an interesting moment to see how he's evoking a story that even liberals and republicans don't always like to talk about which is the fact that this is also a really dark part of our history but he's also turning us back into thinking about it in a positive way, which is dangerous. it's interesting that he's reminding us that, too, is american history. >> i think it also strikes me as important, i keep hearing legislators say, oh, man, this is so anti-american. i'm like, well, anti-american values maybe, but american history actually is replete with examples of this. and, in fact, even contemporary politics, also saying all these candidates who are denouncing trump are also planning to attend an anti-muslim event next week with mr. gaffney who says things, you know, that are very similar to what mr. trump has been saying. so i'm wondering if there is a
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way to go back and rethink about that history in ways that allow us to recognize it is a part america, while preserving some space to condemn both the explicit discourse but also all of it going on when it's not explicit. >> right, right. >> that's one of the hardest challenges we face. america has two political traditions. one of them is xena phobia. if you're a foreigner and outsider. nativism. the other, openness, welcoming. they've been in contest at every key moment of transition in american society. the 1840s and 1850s, when irish were coming over from the potato famine. and anti-cath rick riots devastated catholic communities in cities around the country. several churches were burned in philadelphia in the 1840s. or the sentiment against chinese immigration to california that led to one of the most draconian restrictions on entry to the united states later in the
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century. or the fear of italian, eastern european and jewish socialists and anarchists who were perceived to be fundamentally un-american and our democracy was at threat if we didn't think about some way of putting up the barriers which of course leads to the racial exclusions and ethnic exclusionings in 1921 and 1924 legislation. >> as you walk us through that history, i keep wondering if there are a couple of other aspects. politico saying it seems to be this one guy and his campaign helping to drive this. but let me just ask, there are two other things that seem very real as possibilities as causal for a right radicalization going on right now. one is just two days ago we see reports that the middle class is now a minority among americans. that, in fact, now, unlike in the 1970s, fewer than 50% of americans are identifiably in the middle class. i wonder if economic insecurity is part of it. the other piece is rwanda.
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which is to say i wonder about the role of media and the way we shrugged and called what was happening on rwandan radio from 1990 to 1994 silly and ridiculous and then the next thing, the soundtrack for genocide. if what we've done here is to keep playing mr. trump's words in public sphere until suddenly they become the sayable thing. >> that's interesting. back when i was a baby operator, i worked on the rwanda mission during the genocide. we have a term of art for that. it's called eliminationist rhetoric. terminology which steps up, through the media, as you recall radio in rwanda, which stepped up the terms to term your neighbor from an enemy to a cockroach, to an object that must be killed. we have not reached that level of rhetoric here. since i returned back to the united states, i see this ramping up of terminology which endangers all of us. i just recently went to a
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ceremony at the cia. and i had the honor to put my hand on the wall of stars of people who i knew personally who were killed in the defense of this nation. the other day when i hear this terminology, these phrases of, we will get rid of muslims, that impacts the defense of this nation. we are defending. i have intelligence officers in the field who are now looking with askins of, do you believe that man's rhetoric? we cannot allow that to endanger our nation. we certainly can't allow it to endanger our children and my peers. >> a final thought on this. >> trump's words and those that are like him are translating into action against muslims, you know, firebombing of mosques, shooting that woman in florida, throwing rocks at the house of a president of an islamic organization in plano, texas, girls being harassed and kicked on a bus stop right here in brooklyn. i mean, this is not just words. they're actions against innocent
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people and we can't have that in this country. >> thank you, linda. still to come, why the 13th amendment did not entirely end slavery in america. up next, a little bit of history being made today in the world and we're going to bring that story to you. red 97! set! red 97! did you say 97? yes. you know, that reminds me of geico's 97% customer satisfaction rating. 97%? helped by geico's fast and friendly claims service. huh... oh yeah, baby. geico's as fast and friendly as it gets. woo! geico. expect great savings and a whole lot more. you can't breathed. through your nose. suddenly, you're a mouthbreather. a mouthbreather! how can anyone sleep like that? well, just put on a breathe right strip and pow! it instantly opens your nose
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history's being made today in saudi arabia for the first time, women in that country are voting and running in a national election. of the 6900 candidates rubbing for municipal council seats nearly 1,000 are women. nbc's kelly cobia joins us on the election. what's been the reaction so far? >> you can see a lot of the reaction on twitter, women posting pictures themselves voting. about 131,000 women registered to vote, a small number out of a popular of 40 million in saudi arabia. about 1.3 million men registered
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to vote in this election. but many of the women who did vote today hailed it as historic. one woman saying we feel part of society, that we contribute. but this was a very small step toward change and toward women's rights in saudi arabia. female candidates were not allowed to campaign in front of men. they had to speak from behind a screen or have a male relative campaign for them. and they had to be driven to the polls. saudi arabia, still the only country in the world where women are not allowed to drive. they can't marry, travel abroad or go to university without the permission of a male relative. these elections won't change any of that. these are for local councils which oversee community issues like maintaining parks and public spaces. not many women, if any at all, are actually expected to win seats. they're up against nearly 6,000 male candidates. they have no experience in running for office. but winning isn't necessarily
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the goal for the of them, melissa. one activist told the guardian newspaper we're looking at this as an opportunity to exercise our right and push for more rights, melissa, an historic day for women in saudi arabia. but again, a very, very small change toward getting more rights. >> yeah, i mean, worth pointing out, this is always a long path. women in the united states have had the right to vote for less than 100 years, continue to earn only 77 cents on the dollar. of course, there's never been a woman president and of course if we look at statewide elections, very few women holding those offices. so it is undoubtedly just to put it in global context, even true here in the u.s. thank you to kelly in london. we celebrated the anniversary of the 13th amendment to the constitution. this morning, we're going to read it carefully. ok, we're here. here's dad. mom. the twins. aunt alice... you didn't tell me aunt alice was coming. of course. don't forget grandpa.
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president obama marked an extraordinary milestone in our national story this week. he joined members of the house and senate to mark the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 13th amendment which altered our constitution to ensure the permanent abolition of legalized slavery and involuntary servitude. >> at its heart, the question of slavery was never simply about civil rights. it was about the meaning of america. the kind of country we wanted to be. >> the president also signaled his understanding that the question of what kind of country america wants to be is still being debated in current reactions to republican presidential candidate trump's proposal on a total ban on muslims from entering the united states. >> to remember that our freedom is bound up with the freedom
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others. regardless of what they look like or where they come from or what their last name is or what faith they practice. >> but while we trumpet ratification of a 13th amendment, let's also take a moment to read it carefully. neither slavery nor involuntary servitude except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the united states or any place subject to their jurisdiction. notice that, except as punishment for crime. this often forgotten clause. the little carve out for continued slavery and involuntary servitude so long as it is in response to conviction for a crime. chattal slavery fell in the aftermath of passage of the 13th amendment. but the modern incarceration state was born in those same years. it began with a convict lease system that returned many newly emancipated black men to the very plantations where they had
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labored and slaved and were now forced to work unpaid. this time, their bodies owned by the state instead of by individual land holders. historian douglas blackman described this brutal system that lasted until world war ii as slavery by another name. another, continue to subject a disproportionate share of black bodies to involuntary servitude. african-american men are ensnared by the system at six times the rate of white men. the president has made important strides by banning the box for the formally incarcerated in federal jobs. but many men and women who have served time in jail find they continue to serve time on the outside as they search for paid work that proves elusive. 60 to 75% of formerly incarcerated persons have trouble finding a job for more than a year after release. the president is right to call us, to commemorate ratification of the 13th amendment. he is right to ask us to think
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about what kind of country we truly want to be. >> we would do a disservice to those warriors of justice, tubman, douglass, lincoln, king. were we to deny that the scars of our nation's original sin are still with us today. we condemn ourselves to shack manies once more. if we fail to answer those who wonder if they're truly equals in their communities or in their justice systems or in a job interview, we betray the efforts of the past if we fail to push back against bigotry in all its forms.
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we tend to discuss terrorism in america as if it is a fear
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that first gripped our nation on september 11, 2001. the shadow of terrorist violence has been cast across the american landscape much longer. almost 4,000 people were lynched, often brutally and publicly, without trial or conviction. because of who they were, not because of what they had done. their spectacular deaths sent a message to black communities not to challenge white supremacy or to seek social, economic or political equality. during that same time period, the u.s. house of representatives repeatedly passed bills that would have given the federal government authority to investigate, prosecute and punish lynchings. each time, the u.s. senate filibustered these legislative actions. it is a legacy so shameful that in june 2005, the u.s. senate formerly apologized for failing to intercede on behalf of black americans as they were profiled, pursued and killed for decades.
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during the apology, then senator from louisiana told the gruesome story of the 1934 lynching of claude neal in florida and offered this stark reminder of just how many were complicit. >> one might ask, how do we know all the details of the death? it's very simple. the newspapers in florida had given advance notice and they recorded it. proudly relayed all the details reporters had missed seeing it in person. yet even with the public notice, 7,000 people in attendance and people bragging about the activity, federal authorities were impotent to stop this murder. state authorities seemed to condone it. and the senate of the united states refused to act.
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>> joining me now from london is megan, assistant professor at the university of washington and author of civil rights and the making of the modern american state. nice to see you this morning. >> good to see you too. >> so what can we learn about this moment and our understandings of terrorism in america from the history of lynching? >> i think there's a lot to learn from the history of lynching. in this book, i talk about the naacp's campaign against racial violence. one of the chapters documents their work in congress, in trying to get congress to pass an anti-lynching bill and to get federal protection for black lives. kind of in this amazing moment in 1922, the house of representative also passes this bill, but then of course the filibuster. the senate then filibusters it. in terms of what we can learn from this moment, it oftentimes is not just this moment but a number of other times in history, that oftentimes racism
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is used in the service to kind of stoke racial fears against a marginized group. so that i think is one of the big things that comes out, that we continue to see again and again in american history. >> i kept feeling -- i looked back at 1922, at some of "the new york times" coverage. and there is senator saying that ignorant negroes of the south would interpret the bill, this would be the anti-lynching bill, as a federal license to commit the foulest of outrages. the good negroes of the south do not want this legislation. saying the good and the bad. discourse not unlike we hear, for example, good muslims and bad muslims and we need to have these policies because this category is so dangerous to us as a country. >> yes, yes, yes, yes. there's a way in which i think the language used -- that the language has been used in the '20s around lynching and used now to otherwise a particular group of people.
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a lot of the rhetoric that protected lynching in the senate, in the broader public, was that lynchings were done because there were these bad african-americans who raped white women, right, so therefore we should condone lynching and look the other way with all the terrorization african-americans faced. there's a way we tell these stories and we focus on kind of who the bad people are in a particular group. we did this of course around japanese interment. talking about who are the bad japanese americans. we see that again today. >> hold on for me just a second. i want to come out to you, linda. i just read that language from 1922. let's listen. i almost hate to play it but i think it's worth listening to jerry fall well jr. at liberty university talking. so let's take a listen. >> i've always thought if more good people had conceal carry permits, that we could end those muslims before they -- so i just want to take this opportunity to encourage all of you to get your
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permit. we offer a free course. let's -- let's teach them a lesson if they ever show up here. >> i mean, i can't listen to that and not hear senator overman 1922. i cannot hear that without hearing a certain kind of terror. >> it puts terror in my body. i get goose bumps listening to that. if he was saying that against any other religious group in this country right now, he would be out of a job before he stepped off that stage. and the fact we're expanding the sayable. like this is acceptable. like it's cool. and this cheering that happens in the room, this is our next generation, young students in the university. this is not some 70-year-old grandparent. these are kids that are going to be future leaders, future senators. future military leaders. imagine just young muslims listening to that. if i would have walked in that room just out of interest maybe, i was a guest, what does that
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mean, if a kid had a gun, they should turn around and shoot me? it's absolutely outrageous. >> it feels not unconnected to this part of our history. and, again, i just want to point out there is mary landrieu in 2005 actually apologizing for it. so we get to a point where it becomes so shameful that institutionally we feel like we have to apologize but it's worth noting it is part of the long history of who we are. >> it is part of the very long history of what we are. i mean, kind of these -- also reminded me, there's this thomas sissen, democratic from mississippi in 1922, he stands up, on the house floor, and he argues in this very kind of -- this crazy rhetoric about these black who are raping white women. there's huge applause from other members of congress. part of what i think is so dangerous about this rhetoric is that it helps to i think lead to a particular type of violence against people. it did this during the kind of error of american lynchings.
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it's doing that right now. around muslims and other groups of people. >> thank you to megan ming francis in london. i appreciate you being there from london to chat with us. very nice to see you this morning. and coming up -- >> good to see you too, melissa. >> coming up, a news organization says it is perfectly fine to call donald trump racist. if a denture were to be put under a microscope, we can see all the bacteria that still exists. polident's unique micro clean formula works in just 3 minutes, killing 99.99% of odor causing bacteria.
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thinner. even curvier. but what's next? for all binge watchers. movie geeks. sports freaks. x1 from xfinity will change the way you experience tv. much media coverage of trump has been characterized by questions about his increasingly flamer to campaign rhetoric. too far, question mark. islamphobic, question mark. unconstitutional, question mark. this week, one media organization has given the green light for its employees to describe trump with what it says is simply a statement of fact. racist period. in a memo first leaked to the blaze and later tweeted by buzz feed editor, smith gave this
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response to staff members wondering about how to talk about trump on social media. it is, for instance, entirely fair to call him a mendacious racist. he's running an overtly anti-muslim campaign. buzz feed's news reporting is reported in facts. joining the panel now is the political recorder for the guardian. what do you think, did buzz feed get it right in this case? >> i think so. one of the issues we all deal with especially reporting now a days is how do we use our voice on twitter? when you cover these campaigns, it is difficult in the face of this unprecedented rhetoric to not feel like you should be using more of a voice to call someone out for what it is. i think that, you know, the only slippery slope here is how to differentiate between some of the other can'ts wdidates who m be using milder versions of the same rhetoric. but i think that what we've seen from donald trump, again, has
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gone so far beyond the pale. at least the message ben is trying to send to his staff, it's okay if you say this on twitter, it's okay if you use this on social media to call him racist, you will not be penalize for that. >> it was such a fascinating moment. it brought up another dawn moment. for me, this was the dawn sterling moment. this is the first time i've seen news organizations almost casually use the word racist to describe someone. typically we do push back from that a little bit. i thought, okay, sure, but you know that he did have one of the largest settlements ever in housing history against him for rationally discriminatory practices in housing and nobody used the word racist but as soon as there was language that appeared on a tape, then it can be racist. it makes me wonder what we think racism is. >> on the one hand, i'm pleased this false equivalency of saying well, you know, democrats say
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things too. so trump is sort of equal. no, like, really drawing a line. but i agree with you. i think one of the real dangers here is by talking about racism only as these sort of hyper extreme moments, then we're not able to talk about. jeb bush suggesting only christian syrians come into the country. or just the appalling rhetoric that's moved to the right here. we need to figure out a way to really have that sort of conversation. i think the other thing that's sort of interesting here is i think the media's finally really intervening in a really critical way, but on the other hand, there's a fundamental fact here that trump is not operating on a discourse of truth. this isn't about truth. this is about, so there's like all this fact-checking which is fantastic, but the fact of the matter is, him and his followers don't really believe as fact as information, it's fact as affect. things that feel true are really true. i don't think the media has been able to intervene in that, in that problem that's going on. >> not only intervene but partly
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for me i guess part of the question is, is racism the biggest part of the problem here? for example, we can think about the context of american enslavement. i suppose slavery was racist. but that seeps like the least important part of it, right, it was evil because it kept people's freedom and human liberty from them. if it was based on race, that was one aspect of it. i guess part of what worried me here is that what you have said now repeatedly on the show, which is this is discourse that literally makes us less safe nationally. and that we almost want to say that about the presidential candidate, more than he's racist. >> right. this is a -- the cast call for commander in chief of the united states of america. and all the arms forced and potential weapons systems including weapons of mass destruction we have under our control. we need to understand that the president of the united states, whoever is elected, needs to be a person who must speak with deliberation and must understand that the words that he says
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matters. >> or she says. >> or she says matters. and that's very important here. the lives of our family members depend on this. i come from a family, we fought in every war in the united states since the civil war. we have over 100 years of military service on today's army/navy day, navy will win, but it is most important to understand that we all have a higher calling. every person, muslim, christian, whatever. and that you must live up to the values of the united states. you can't harness a false political equivalency in order to demonize a segment of the united states. it is un-american. simple as that. >> i just want to say, to me what's more important is to get this right. when we're actually talking about islam, when we're actually talking about muslims and what constitutes this religion. given we've been in this so-called war on terror for a decade and given people have been reporting on, you know, radicalism from a certain region for so long, it's remarkable how little reporters in the media
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know about islam. what i think is a lot more important is for people to be able to fact check when there are misrepresentations of an entire religion that you are seeing kind of built into how the media covered this particular debate. >> i have one more media question for you. i wonder if patting ourselves on the back about being brave enough to call out mr. trump's rhetoric as racist is also a way, again, of kind of cleansing ourselves as innocent in a space where every time mr. trump says words like this, he dominates the news cycle, right? so there is a clear tradeoff to this kind of behavior with more media minutes. >> there's no question that he's being given this microphone. in no insignificant way by the media. a lot of time also he gives an interview and that's all that is talking about for the course of the day and it's dissected. and we're kind of allowing that conversation to flow into the
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mainstream, even if we might be sitting here talking about it critically. not everyone who's reading or watching is interpreting it that way. >> almost gives it more respect than it deserves. like more creative. like, oh, could it possibly be true? no, no, in fact, it could not. next topic. >> there's a way in which -- i think right now we have a political divide that's more of an historical divide. americans don't know the context for our history. so we don't know the back ground of what trump signifies and what the actual facts on the ground are. so there's a lot of speech out in the media, but not a lot of conversation. you know, discussions like about these really fundamental facts. as opposed to just sort of repetition. the politics of repetition. and then it becomes increasingly. i think that's right, there's a kind of innocence in saying i'm so good because i think he's so bad and that logic gets us to
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the problems of real instructional in this country. >> he's engaging in hateful speech. we have to call it what it is. it's hate speech. we should not be giving airways to people radicalizing others. then engaging in violence against innocent people. so racism, you want to be a -- but it's not -- it takes hate speech. >> there's hate speech with jeb cruz and bush, rubio. >> thank you to malcolm nance who is apparently going to go root for navy. the rest of my panel will be back a little later in the program. coming up next, the real world consequences of our climate of foreand intolerance. also, some good news as one of our foot soldiers gets a major boost from congress. more at the top of the hour. 
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♪ welcome back, i'm melissa harris perry.
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we've been talking about a growing climate of fear in america. but we should always remember that this is not just rhetoric. fear can easily lead to violence. both the council on american islamic relations and the anti-defamation league say there's been an increase of crimes against muslims and those perceived to be muslim in recent weeks. they say this most recent increase in anti-muslim sentiment, but yet after the terrorist attacks in paris, isis extremists, and they say this climate is being sustained in the wake of the mass shooting in san bernardino and politicians use those attacks to call for blocking syrian refugees. or in trump's case, all people who practice islam. from entering the united states. of course, we cannot and are not saying that any particular politician or public figure is directly responsible for any of these alleged crimes. but we are saying there are real-world consequences to a climate of fear built in part on this rhetoric. accord to police, the owner of a
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store in queens, new york, was beaten last saturday by a man who said he wanted to, quote, kill muslims. police are investigating the alleged assault as a hate crime. philadelphia police have stepped up patrols outside a mosque after someone left a severed pig's head on the building's doorstep on sunday night. a cab driver in pittsburgh was shot and wounded on thanksgiving by a man he said ranted about isis and mocked the prophet muhammad before shooting. police in california say a fire was intentionally set at a mosque there yesterday. the local sheriff's office is investigating the fire as a hate crime. luckily, no one was hurt. mosques in florida, texas, connecticut and oregon have been va vandalized, shot at and threatened. individuals have been reported being harassed or receiving death threats. also experienced hostility and suspicion.
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award-winning filmmaker and activist valerie core, a friend of mhp show, was boarding a plane recently when a fellow passenger became angry she'd taken the luggage take off her carry-on, prompting a gate agent demand she check the bag. valerie was only allowed to board after she showed the agent and her fellow passengers the breast pump she needed to bring on the plane. to valerie, this was an all too familiar incident of discrimination. she wrote about how often muslim people, sick people and brown people in general are lumped together facing similar suspicion. she said the incident left her angry, shaken and sad. but not all is bleak. in many cases, these incidents also trigger a wave of support in community. representatives for delta, the airline that valerie was flying, contacted her to apologize and promised, quote, we will be better for this. and valerie said she was overwhelmed by the messages of love and support she received.
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at the store in queens, neighbors have gathered in support of the store's owner and inundated him with cards and flowers. a 7-year-old boy donated the entire contents of his piggy bank to the mosque members. there's been a rise in anti-muslim and anti-sentiment recently but we shouldn't forget such hatred has long been simmering. a sick man was murder by a gunman who said he wanted to kill a muslim in retaliation for attacks. in 2012, six people were killed at a sikh temple by a white supremist. this february, three muslim students at the university of north carolina were killed by a neighbor in an incident that federal authorities are still investigating as a possible hate crime. at the table, christina belltran, professor at nyu and director of the latino studies program. thomas agrew who's a civil
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rights historian, nyu. visav singh, creator of sikh and linda, executive director of the arab-american association of new york. thank you so much for being here. so i feel like we're now in a moment where we're seeing the embodied realities of this discourse. talk to me a bit about the ways this moment is being received and understood within communities that are vulnerable. >> to me, the first thought that comes to mind, just as my experience, this reminds me of 9/11. that's the intensity i'm feeling. i've been at the forefront of basically people's fear and anxiety since 9/11. turbin and beard, that's the first thing that is one of those things that unfortunately most americans just don't know the variety of turbin and beard from
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many different traditions. it's a reminder that we have made progress but we've taken steps back as well since 9/11. and i think all too often the narrative is still defined by news media. political pundits. cable news network pundits. which is fine. what we're not getting is really stories of people on the ground. that's really what's missing. that's what i try to do with my work. it's a challenge because most americans in general are good people. now they're openingly saying, look, i'm not a racist, i don't have problems with muslims, but i have these feelings of fear and anxiety. and that's something we have to figure out how to solve that issue. >> it feels to me like, thomas, we are faced with a particular challenge around this question of misidentification of muslim identity. because on the one hand, the goal is not to say, no, no, i am not muslim, i am sikh. or the president having to
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constantly talk about his religious and national or jen identity. simultaneously saying, i am not that, but also not affirming, which can happen. but if i were, it would be okay for me to then be the target of violence. does that make sense? >> it does. one of the real challenges we face is that americans are ill ed, ill-educated about world cultures. which allows many to make sweeping generalizations. but there's something even more poisonous at core of this fear we have now. which is an entire group, you know, or one person then becomes kind of a stand-in for an entire group, right, in ways that don't recognize the incredible diversity of the communities that we're talking about. and the fact that one person seldom speaks for an entire community, even if we want to give them that nominal voice. >> and yet this is a thing that only happens to folks on the
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margins, right? the idea of one person as a representative of the group in an idea that creates high stakes is almost the definition of being part of a marginal group, right? so dylann roof doesn't come to represent all white men for example, right? and i guess -- nor do we want him to, right? we also want to be able to continue to recognize the humanity in people who are straight, white, men who earn high incomes, right, that does not necessarily make those folks enemy of equality. >> there are going to be troubled people in lots of different communities. but you're totally right, the way whiteness has' way of indivuating subjects in a scary way. the one possible thing here is perhaps we can expand the logic of terrorism and talk about white racial terrorism. and talk about the way white fear has garnered racial violence historically from anti-immigrant riots, to
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anti-black riots, to lynch mobs. find a way to talk about that that doesn't just demonize all white people. that's not the conversation. but to talk about when fear and hiss store ya happens, that there has been racial terror in this country, and we need to have a conversation about that, people saying to themselves who are like frightened in those communities to realize, oh, that's the history here, don't want to be lumped in with that either. want to think about how to indivuate people. >> we as americans go to that because that is the space in our history where we understood marginalized identities. but a racialized identity, it is a post-9/11 moment. part of what i love about your organizing and your work is you will talk about sort of all of these. yet there is a weirdness, right, to describing this moment as a race moment.
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>> what people have to understand about islam is that we represent every racial ethnic group, every geography. we have black muslims. a third of our community are black muslims. just listening to the listing of these attacks on individuals and on mosques and understanding the trauma that we're causing communities and we talk about terror and terrorism, of what we're doing, is we're engaging in terrorism against the innocent community that has nothing to do with this. the one girl, middle school, beat up in her school, asking questions. asking questions like, is muslim the right choice. we can't change who we are. we can't hide and not leave our homes. we're going to look like this when we reach out to the streets, traveling in this country. i'm not a person who is usually afraid. this is who i am. but genuinely, 15 years after 9/11, it's the first time ever i have ever feared for my life, walking in the streets of my
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city. >> the idea that the fear in muslim communities, in sikh communities, in misperceived miss lum communities, should be on the table when we talk about, this is fear, forgive americans for behaving badly, rather than saying, no, no, no, who is actually in a tangible way and odd to be afraid. when we come back, up next, the muslim community is called on to police itself. i tried depend last weekend. it really made the difference
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when president obama addressed the nation this week from the oval office, he took a moment to speak specifically about muslim communities in america and around the world. >> if we're to succeed in defeating terrorism, we must enlist muslim communities as some of our strongist allies,
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rather than push them away through suspicion and hate. that does not mean denying the fact that an extremist ideology has spread within some muslim communities. that's a real problem that muslims must confront without excuse. muslim leaders here and around the globe have to continue working with us to decisively and unequivocally reject the hateful ideology that groups like isil and al qaeda promote. to speak out against not just acts of violence but also those in interpretations of islam that are incompatible with the values of religious tolerance, mutual respect and human dignity. >> joining me now from houston, texas, is a political strategist and former security consultant for the department of homeland security who now helps local law enforcement agencies to do outreach to the muslim community. i have to say, i was a little confused about this aspect of the president's speech. because it's not clear to me why
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muslim-americans would know something about isis. >> well, i think more than knowing something about it, what muslim-americans really need is a partnership with law enforcement to educate them on how to fight and push back against isil because the kids are being radicalized and recruited over the internet. if you -- what we're not doing is looking at this problem the right way. isil recruiters, al qaeda recruiters, are kind of like sexual predators. they troll the internet looking for disenfranchised youth and they try to build a relationship with them and then get them to take an illicit action, try to create a rendezvous. we have to look at this problem the right way, which how we partner with the community to educate them, to push back against radicals trying to recruit our kids over the internet. >> let me ask. this is a really interesting framework. so if the goal is a kind of internet-based effort to find young people who feel
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marginalized, pushed out, then wouldn't the key counter terrorism tool be not so much within muslim communities but a call to those outside communities not to marginalize and shun muslim youth? in other words, to have a sense of collectivity, you know, sort of all in it together, so people aren't open for that kind of recruitment? >> well, absolutely. i think that the current rhetoric makes security analysts around the country very nervous because there's two parts to this. there's one part which is recruiters and how do we target them. we took out anwar al alawlaki through a drone strike, but on the other side is what do you do to make it better so they don't feel marginalized and this rhetoric is not helping. >> i want to come back to you
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for a second because there was -- there's something that happened in san diego with a group of young men, four young men, sikh men, also in turbines and beards, who were initially kept from entering a stadium to go watch a football game. i kept thinking, i have to say, why would people be radicalized? well, because we are profiling them in these ways. >> that's true. i think there was somebody who reported them. they were in their car, putting some box away. they knew they were not going to be able to take it in. police were called in, sniffer dogs. this happened after 9/11 as well. here is a dangerous component. citizens feel they can actually police everybody else, right, especially somebody -- exactly. that of course seeing brown bodies or head coverings. and that's what's been happening a lot. it goes down to, again, we just don't have narratives on the ground here where people at least can relate to. that's, you know, the big push we have to make.
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figure out for our muslims, for sikhs and everybody else, even latinos, blacks. we have to figure out ways to get our narratives out there. most of the introduction people have to sikhs and muslims is, you know, through news reports. and i know there are a lot of people doing groundwork. this is like a wake-up call. a lot of work to be done. >> mustafa, let me come back to you, because it does feel, in part, the question is why would muslim communities and what i'm going to call for this moment perceived muslim communities trust law enforcement? i mean, typically surveillance doesn't make people like you. and so i think about the black lives matter movement happening. and that this is a kind of -- it's a cousin or a brother or a sister to that movement in the sense that actually those bonds of trust have been frayed in part by the see something, say something discourse. because we know people aren't very good at see something say
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something. because what they see are these stereotypes. >> yeah, absolutely. part of i think that what needs to occur is a -- more of a partnership with the communities and teaching and educating them on how to push back against this type of recruiting. i think one of the things i talk about is if you look at isil as a gang, if we went into the chinese-american community, vietnamese american community, we don't go into those communities and say you have a cultural problem and that's why gangs are being developed. you go into the community and say, look, there's a gang problem and we're worried about your kids and we don't want your kids to be recruited by the gangs and here's what you need to know. that kind of a partnership is critical at this point, between law enforcement, both local and federal, and the muslim-american community. and i agree that this current climate and this rhetoric doesn't help. there's a lot of people leading that rhetoric. but also on the other side, americans are afraid. they're seeing things on their
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television of bombing attacks and it makes them very nervous and jittery and there needs to be a little bit more coming together. and so the pope spoke out very eloquently. the president has spoken out. george bush, president bush, spoke out right after 9/11. we need more of those voices out there. >> to keep reminding people when we say they're afraid, that muslim-americans and sikh americans are americans who are afraid. thank you to mustafa, also to visavija singh. the rest of the panel is sticking around. next, the bizarre fake shooting exercise scheduled for a few hours from now right here at texas college. oh, holiday ferr. i kind of love it. look at those reindeer. jeffrey, you're awfully quiet back there. i was just thinking... maybe it's time we finish this test drive and head back to the dealership? that is so jeffrey... soooo jeffrey... so jeffrey...
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instead, participants will use card board cutout guns. the planned demonstration has already sparked plenty of controversy. nbc's charles hadlock joining us now from austin, texas. charles, what? >> yes, the organization is going to -- that is in favor of campus carry legislation is organizing a protest that will end here just on the west mall of the tuut campus. the campus itself will not allow the protesters on. they're going to stay on the sidewalk and use card board cutout guns, noise makers and fake blood to demonstrate what a mass shooting would look like. so what's this all about? well, earlier this year, the texas legislature passed a campus carry law. basically allowing college cam pulses in texas to allow people with concealed handgun permits the right to carry their guns on campus. now, the university of texas
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along with other colleges have some leeway about where the guns can be kept and where they can be used on a person. that will -- those types of things are still being discussed. this group wants to make it clear that they want the guns to be available to permitted holders anywhere on campus, including the classroom. this university of course was the site of one of the worse mass shootings in u.s. history. 16 people were killed by a sniper who climbed to the top of the ut tower in 1966, so people are saying this is in bad taste they're doing this. here's what the organizers had to say about the event today. >> we started planning this about a month ago, long before the california shooting, but incidents like that shooting that happened recently are the reason that this point needs to get out there and people need to realize the reasons that they're happening in these places and the gun-free zone is the
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epdimmic that is happening in this country. the government politicians are providing shooting galleries for these people that want to do harm. >> this group is expecting about 80 protesters to take part in this event today. they say they could get more with all the publicity that's been going on for several days here in town. there's one caveat, it's beginning to rain here. just as the event is getting under way. melissa. >> do you know if there's an expectation that counter protesters will also be there? >> there will be a counterprotest. they're keeping it colorful, using other types of noise makers. they're planning a protest. they claim to have larger numbers than the people here in favor of the campus carry law. >> students there have been using fake male sex organs as counters to the guns as a way talking about kind of the ridiculousness of the policy. might end up being some really
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interesting video later today, thank you to nbc -- >> well, you know, one of the things of austin is the slogan "keep austin weird" so they're living up to the name today. >> there you go. thank you, charles hadlock in austin, texas. up next, a new poll sthat shows. (phone ringing) you can't deal with something by ignoring .t but that's how some presidential candidates seem to be dealing with social security. americans work hard and pay into it, so our next president needs a real plan to keep it strong. (elephant noise) (donkey noise) hey candidates! answer the call already. (politely) wait, wait, wait! you cayou have to rinse it first. that's baked-on alfredo. baked-on? it's never gonna work. dish issues? trust your dishwasher with cascade platinum. it powers... through... your toughest stuck-on food. better than finish. cascade.
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more americans now believe united states is likely to see a terror attack in the coming months than they have been at any time since the week immediately following 9/11. 79% say they believe it is either very likely or somewhat likely there will be a terrorist attack within the u.s. within the next few months. that is having a mighty impact on the 2016 presidential contest. joining us now from austin, texas, is bethany, assistant professor of government at the university of texas austin and co-author of the book "anxious politics." democratic citizenship in a
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threatening world. bethany, let me just ask you this question, i think many people believed that after the paris attacks, it would -- we'd see a decline in mr. trump's approval ratings, in the sense that now that the world was threatening and scary, people would really want someone with expertise, seriousness, a kind of grown-up response, and that has not been what's happened? do you know why? >> i have some ideas. one thing we think about when we think about anxiety and its relationship to politics is that when we're anxious, this is an argument shane and i make, we want protection and protective policies. we hope this squares with -- or this is my own personal opinion. we hope this squares with, you know, more establishment or perhaps experienced politics in a way. one suspicion i have is that
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we're not really -- as much as we like to speculation about who's ahead and who's behind, we're not really in the business of picking our next president yet. we're in the business of polling, right? we know these early polls have really weak predictive power in terms of who actually wins. so that's part of what i'm thinking about, is that the -- it's still too early. it's still too early in a way. the other thing is that we know anxiety is going to have us seek out protective policies. but what counts as protective is going to interact with partisan politics in a way. there's been a long standing republican advantage when it comes to foreign policy. and so when we're anxious and we're anxious about things related to foreign policy, historically, that's advantage republicans. >> i keep holding on to the kind of, like, classic political scientist.
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that it's just too early, these are just polls. nobody's cast a vote yet. when we see numbers like 40% this is not a poll of americans, right, this is a poll usually of likely republican voters and often likely republican voters in these very early relatively nonrepresentative states. i guess part of what i'm wondering is when you say in a moment of anxiety, we look for protection, if we expanded who the we is, would we actually see something quite different in preferences? >> yeah. i think we need to think broadly about who the "we" is. and here's something that gives me some hope. the fact that we're in an election season, i think we can also think broadly about who's offering up protective policies. so trump has his set. and they may be popular among a subset of the population, right, but we're getting a different message from president and we're getting a different message from clinton. we're getting a different message out of connecticut right now.
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i think that's interesting, right? post-9/11, you have one dominant elite message in terms of what we need to do to keep ourselves safe. perhaps we're lucky to in an election season now where we have thoughts about what's appropriate to keep us safe. >> every time trump says something outrageous, i wonder if the other responses to keep looking at what the thought is, okay, what are other candidates, even in the republican party, saying in these moments. >> what's interesting is trump has used these outrageous proposals to come out on top of polls of who would be the toughest when it comes to combating terrorism. even though the attacks we've seen sort of play into the hands of candidates like chris christie and mark owe rubio, and yet they're still struggling to break through as the most prepared commander in chief because trump is saying what
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they can't say. you saw the response, we can't take in any more syrian refugees. some candidates proposed it was a religious test. some supported it. some didn't. then further, after this attack in california, he said no more muslims in this country period, because he is at the end of the day, looking at the polls of likely republican voters and really playing into their deepest fears and embracing, again what other candidates are proposing milder forms of, but couldn't actually say, because they know longer-term implications of it. >> let me ask you the question, from your research, have you seen the point when the curve bends? basically, can one fearmonger too far? is there a space where after you've played too far, played fear too far, people push back? >> yes, we've seen this in immigration studies. when people are anxious and the anxiety is from something like a news source in our experimental work, we see widespread effects. when the source of the anxiety is a political ad, when it's a
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politician trying to inspire fear, the effects are conditional. right? when it's political ad trying to make us anxious, you can think of this as analogous of what trump's doing, you know, we have our racial predispositions. we have all sorts of things to help us insulate us from the fearmongering politician. >> i want to say thank you to professor bethany in austin, texas. be careful, know there's a lot of interesting things happening on your campus. >> it is interesting. >> when we come back, the message from nbc's tom brokaw.
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[cricket sound] richard. didn't think you were going to make it. hey sorry about last weekend, i don't know what got into me. well forgive and forget... kind of. i don't think so! do you like nuts? a muslim responded to a different kind of recruiting, 9/11. an american citizen, he joined the american army to show that not all muslims are fanatics. he was killed in iraq in 2007 by an ied, just 20 years old.
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mr. trump cannot exclude him from america. he has a permanent home here in section 60 at arlington national cemetery. >> that was nbc news special correspondent tom brokaw with a closing commentary on nbc's nightly news, making me proud to be a part of the american media this week when i sometimes have not felt like this in the context of our coverage. part of what i thought about in that moment is there's always other possibility when there's fear politics, always a possibility for kind of hope politics. >> i think one of the best examples is roosevelt, facing the country in its dirist economic situation ever. the challenges to the united states, to freedom and peace in the world everywhere. rather than playing the fear card and trying to rile up the me american public, he did sometimes, but he also talked about the four freedoms. he talked about the ness safety
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for security at home and abroad. coming from freedom from want, right? so there is an attempt to balance the fearmongering. of course roosevelt was also responsible for the interment of japanese americans. the vision, the alternative vision of bringing opportunity, freedom to the world, as a way of providing greater security in the long run was i think one of his enduring legacies. >> it's a harder claim for politicians to make, right? because in some ways, the american project is a really hard one. it is claiming that in the long run, we are a safer, better people when we are freeing. but at every point, we have fallen short of actually substantiating that in our policy. yet, it's striving towards the ideal, then the shrinking from it, that are our best selves. >> there are choices between
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freedom and security. freedom is difficult, right, freedom is a challenge, freedom is work, right. but i think the other thing that's so interesting is trump has been performing, people say he's been performing toughness, but he's been performing hysteria. over and over again. in part what's so interesting about fdr is these were moments of real crisis where we were really in need of a serious calm person to help us perform resilience. and it's so interesting that we actually need leadership that helps us perform resilience and there's kind a demand -- and sometimes from the media to perform hysteria, perform fear. somehow that's going to show you're representative of your republican. when really we need a resilience and language that says, statistically, you're fine. we live in a world of uncertainty. that's okay. we live through it every day. >> and we suggest the communities which we will find those best examples to follow around resilience are actually from precisely the communities we often think of as -- this is
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where the fear is. you were saying in an earlier block, i support freedom of speech, i support the right of people to be racist, and we're look at your twitter feed in the break and the kind of horror that is is being sent to you 140 characters at a time. and i'm thinking, and yet you sit on air, always with a kind of striving towards the american way of saying freedom, freedom of speech, of thought. and i just keep thinking, we are so confused about where we can find the models of actually how to push back against terror. because you are sitting here being terrorized by the internet and showing, right, this model. that people are unwilling to see it because you are muslim. >> i'm an american. that's why i'm an activist. one of the things that -- i commend our men and women in service both in police departments as well as in the military. some of whom are muslim. the fact we have to be, like, we served in the army. we're also police officers. we're also doctors. we're also teachers. we're also taxicab drivers and
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workers. i'm a social worker. i run an organization that provides direct social services to people in need. do i have to, you know, alleviate your fears or have to show you how patriotic of an american i am because i have to tell you muslims have served in the military? that is not how i want to be defined as a community. we are part of every facet of society. until i walk down the street and you look at me saying, just another american, going about her day, if we're not able to ever do that, we're not going to be ever in a safe place for us. >> this is what was missing from the republican response of dope nald trump and his comments. no one did what, for example, president bush did one week after 9/11. no one spoke about islam as a religion of peace. paul ryan actually did, the house speaker in in his own statement on this. but, you know, he so widely condemned the president in his address for speaking about how muslim-americans are an integral part of the society and what roles they play. none of the candidates were
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willing to do that. that speaks to where they are as a party and what they're catering to. >> i found myself in the weird place of yearning for president george w. bush. an indication of where we are. thank you to christina and thomas agrew and to linda. up next, a big update on one of my favorite foot soldiers. hey, how's the college visit? you remembered. it's good. does it make the short list? you remembered that too. yea, i'm afraid so. knowing our clients personally is what we do. it's okay. this is what we've been planning for. thanks, bye. and with over 13,000 financial advisors, we do it a lot. it's why edward jones is the big company that doesn't act that way.
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we've been discussing the effects of fear, fear of terrorism, fear of random violence, but i want you to imagine how scary it must be to be a parent who cannot afford basic necessities for your child. fear of having to choose, day to day, between food and diapers. this fear is a reality for 1 in 3 families in our country. safety net programs like wic and the federal food assistant programs do not cover the cost of diapers. that's part of the reason why one of our favorite foot soldiers is a woman we featured two years ago. she's been working to make this
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terrifying choice between food and diapers or medicine and diapers a little less urgent by helping families in her community. michelle was the mom of a new infant who had a medical condition requiring cost of dia. so that is why one woman has been helping to make the e tefrfying choice of food and p diapers or medicine and diaper less urgent by helping people in her community. this is a mom who had a child who required diapers changes daily. she formed the kiper bank of north carolina, and it began as a one-woman operation, and it has grown to 150 volunteers across the state of north carolina who have now distributed more than 750,000 diapers. and now sh, michelle and groups like the diaper bank of north carolina might get some more help. a group of congressional democrats are advancing legislation to help advance
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diapers in need. the hygiene assistance program was introduced last month by minnesota democrat heath ellison and cosponsored by 19 members of the house of representatives an one of those representatives is barbara lee are from california who is joining us from berkeley, and also joining us from nerd land is michelle old who is the founder of the diaper bank. representative melissa lee, please tell us what would happen if this is passed? >> well, i want to congratulate michelle and this is how the democracy works. this is part of the hr-4055 would put into place. what we want to do, congressman ellison and congresswoman deel ldeelio would do is to provide grants
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for those who need diaper assistance. when you are looking at the pact that women and men spend $70 a month on diaper needs and yet a large percentage of the families either reuse the diapers or delay the changing of diapers, that is because they don't have the resources to purchase the adequate amount of diapers. so we believe that the funds that could be allocated for a variety of reasons could be allocated for diaper assistance, and we want to give states the authority to develop these demonstration projects throughout the country. >> i have to say i was so excited to hear this, because michelle, i have heard you as so many people who have heard you speak, that i am a diaper advocate for those who have talked about it, and help us to understand why diapers are so important and why are they a health issue, and such a big deal? >> and everyday work is about
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diaper diapers, but it is much more than that. it is about connecting families to resources that help them to become self-sustaining. for example, we use diapers as a gateway to other services. so we will see increased home visits that deter child abuse, and we will see increased immunizations and families who are able to provide for their children and take the diapers they need to the child care centers so they can go to work and buy the things they need for the family. so it is much more than a simple diaper. it has a huge impact on our community, on the families that live in them, and on the children, because they're healthier. >> i will never forget you making this point, michelle, that many child care scenters rerequire you the bring diaper, and so if you do not have diapers, you can not drop the child off at child care which means obviously, you can not go the work. and so representative lee, you are the one congressional representative who has come
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repeatedly on the show to talk to reg ular folks to live their lives and you had that with tiana gaines turner, and you are exactly what i think that we elect, is someone who is going to be elected to government and try to fix problems for people who are going to do bet ter for themselves. and tell me how likely you think that it is going to be passing for the congress that is so spl split? >> thank you, melissa, and thank you to michelle and all of those inspiring this effort. i was on at one point in public assistance, and so it is just that some people don't know how people have to struggle to make ends meet every day, and so as the task force of child care and poverty and community, we are looking for innovative ways to
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lift people out of poverty, and this is a creative and innovative strat swri to use. so we rare going to be fighting and making sure that the legislation is going to get cosponsors, and michelle, i know that the people around the country are going to to be supporting, this and the more cosponsors that we can get and the more public awareness made in terms of educating the public about the very important health aspects of this, the and what michelle said in terms of the comprehensive nature of the strategies to lift people out of poverty. the more people learn about this, the more cosponsorship we can build and then the more members of congress will listen. so we have to fight the good fight and we will win sooner or later. it is a long term struggle and a marathon, but i am confident when people learn what michelle and others are going through and the movement is about, we will pass this legislation. >> michelle, what is the one thing that you want people to really know about the work that your diaper bank and others do
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across the country? >> well, we recently did a study through unc greensboro, and what is really important to point out about that study is that the majority of families that seek assistance with diapers are working families. over 75% of them in our study alone. they are are working one to two jobs, and they can still not afford the basic needs to keep their children healthy and keep food on the table. we get calls all of the time from teacher, and military families that can not make ends meet. and so we are really talk about working poor struggling to provide the basic needs for their children and their families. >> i have said it to everybody in my life, all of my friends and family, of all of the things they want or need is a donation to your local diaper bank. thank you sh, representative len berkeley, california, and michelle old from raleigh, north
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carolina. thank you to those of you at home, and we will see you tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. eastern and for all of the true nerd, race, gender, and star wars. now si time for the preview of weekends with alex witt. >> that is very darth vader-esque. >> rror. >> yes, we got it, melissa. and with why there are some promising signs from a major polluter. and trump versus krewe. finally attack and what this new attention is going to mean for en is or the cruz. >> and obama's speech on t terrorism one week later, and what did it accomplish, and is it what ta country needed? don't go anywhere. i will be right back.
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