ABC’s Walters Disputes Charges of Racism Against Ground Zero Mosque & Illegal Immigration Opponents

Catching up on an item from the Thursday, September 9, The View on ABC, Barbara Walters was at odds with her co-hosts over the issue of whether racism was the primary motivation of the Arizona illegal immigration law as well as opposition to the Ground Zero mosque. Whoopi Goldberg raised the question of whether "there may be an undercurrent of racism in the USA that’s building up," leading co-host Sherri Shepherd to assert that "you certainly hear racism a lot more, I think, than you ever heard it." Walters soon jumped in to voice dissent:

I think that we're kind of mixing things up. When you say there's more racism now, oh, there's so much less racism than 20 years ago or 50 years ago. ... There is racism in this country. That's not new. There is racism against the President. That's not new. But I disagree with putting the mosque and the Arizona laws. I think the Arizona laws have to do with losing jobs and people coming across the border to get those jobs.

After Goldberg responded, "Then why don't they say that?" Walters continued:

Please let me just finish. It is what they say. It is what they say. And the drug wars right across the border. If you had Canadians – and this doesn't happen – and they were all coming and taking jobs and there were drug wars-

She soon added, "I don't think it's because they are Mexican or because they're brown. ... And I don't think the mosque is because Muslims have a darker skin. That's fear of terrorism. I don't think we can mix everything up and say it's all racism."

Walters and Goldberg soon resumed their back-and-forth:

WALTERS: But we've also had things about learning another language in school and whether languages should be taught in Spanish. What I'm saying is, of course there is racism, but I don't think you can take everything that's happening in this country and say, well-

GOLDBERG: If you are targeting, if you are talking about Mexicans coming and taking your jobs, say that. Don't say "illegal immigrants" when that's not what you mean because people come from Canada and people come from England and people come from Africa, all over, and their-

WALTERS: But they're not coming en masse.

GOLDBERG: -visas go away, but you know what. If you are going after illegal immigrants, then you have to go after all illegal immigrants, not just the brown ones.

A bit later, they added:

WALTERS: All I'm saying is that, we're agreeing that there is racism. But I'm just saying that there are other things. The mosque has to do with terrorism. It's not just the, I know, we disagree. It's not just the color. I don't think that you can just do a blanket.

GOLDBERG: I think it feels that way. It feels that way, and that's the question I'm posing. It feels that way.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Thursday, September 9, The View on ABC:

WHOOPI GOLDBERG: Do you guys think there may be an undercurrent of racism in the USA that's building up? Because, now, particularly against brown people? Because we have the Arizona immigration law, the Ground Zero mosque controversy, burn-the-Koran day and the hammering that folks seem to be taking. I can't think of the woman's name and it's probably better, but she was screaming the "N" word all over her Web site.

SEVERAL PANEL MEMBERS SAY: Dr. Laura Schlessinger.

GOLDBERG: Yeah, so does it feel to you that there’s a little tension or am I just being kooky?

SHERRI SHEPHERD: You know, I don't know if it's that because we now have an African-American President, all of this stuff that has always been simmering underneath the surface, has bubbled up. Because you certainly hear racism a lot more, I think, than you ever heard it. And so, it just seems like it’s now bubbling up, and, I don’t know, it seems like there’s just something going on-

JOY BEHAR: Well, it's disguised, isn’t it? I mean, as far as President Obama is concerned, some people still say he's a Muslim, that they don't believe he's really American.

SHEPHERD: They want to see his birth certificate.

BEHAR: Those are kind of like code words for, you know, we don't trust the other. He's the other.

ELISABETH HASSELBECK: Well, there are fringe groups like that regardless of who’s President. But especially now, it does seem ironic because we have our first black President, yet all this stuff is coming up. And so you have to wonder why, especially since Obama did receive a large portion of what they call the white vote, you know, so it seems disheartening that this is happening. And it does seem like, you know, the word "tolerance" gets spread around, you know, you can be tolerant, but-

BEHAR: He got a large portion of the white vote. But this is a small group of people that are pushing this type of agenda that is not American.

HASSELBECK: It’s no secret that (INAUDIBLE) have prejudice and it's disgusting and it’s ugly and it's there. And it’s been and for some reason now it’s maybe just being uncovered again.

BARBARA WALTERS: (INAUDIBLE) I just say something? Okay, because I think that we're kind of mixing things up. When you say there's more racism now, oh, there’s so much less racism than 20 years ago or 50 years ago.

SHEPHERD: I think maybe overt. Yeah, I think it was a lot of overt, I don’t know, you and I disagree on that.

WALTERS: Could I say something? There is racism in this country. That's not new. There is racism against the President. That's not new. But I disagree with putting the mosque and the Arizona laws. I think the Arizona laws have to do with losing jobs and people coming across the border to get those jobs.

GOLDBERG: Then why don't they say that?

SHEPHERD: Barbara, when you-

WALTERS: Please let me just finish. It is what they say. It is what they say. And the drug wars right across the border. If you had Canadians – and this doesn’t happen – and they were all coming and taking jobs and there were drug wars-

GOLDBERG: What jobs are they taking?

WALTERS: -you would find very much- They are taking, if you look, the reason (INAUDIBLE)

HASSELBECK: The jobs that, frankly, no one wants.

WALTERS: That’s right, but I don't think it’s because they are Mexican or because they’re brown. I know you differ-

(GOLDBERG SAYS SOMETHING INAUDIBLE)

WALTERS: But let me just finish.

GOLDBERG: Sorry, Barbara. Sorry.

WALTERS: And I don't think the mosque is because Muslims have a darker skin. That's fear of terrorism. I don't think we can mix everything up and say it's all racism.

SHEPHERD: When Jan Brewer signed into law, you know, a law that prohibits the children in school from having their ethnic studies, African-American studies, Mexican-American studies, and you're prohibiting people from learning about their country and it's targeting minorities, it certainly seems like it’s not because somebody is taking their jobs.

WALTERS: But we've also had things about learning another language in school and whether languages should be taught in Spanish. What I’m saying is, of course there is racism, but I don't think you can take everything that's happening in this country and say, well-

GOLDBERG: If you are targeting, if you are talking about Mexicans coming and taking your jobs, say that. Don’t say "illegal immigrants" when that’s not what you mean because people come from Canada and people come from England and people come from Africa, all over, and their-

WALTERS: But they’re not coming en masse.

GOLDBERG: -visas go away, but you know what. If you are going after illegal immigrants, then you have to go after all illegal immigrants, not just the brown ones.

(AUDIENCE APPLAUSE)

HASSELBECK: I agree with that. I absolutely think that it's powerful, and I think, you know, we can't spend millions and millions of dollars protecting borders in other nations if we cannot even control our own, and I do think that-

GOLDBERG: I totally get you. I get you what you're saying.

WALTERS: All I’m saying is that, we're agreeing that there is racism. But I'm just saying that there are other things. The mosque has to do with terrorism. It's not just the, I know, we disagree. It's not just the color. I don't think that you can just do a blanket.

GOLDBERG: I think it feels that way. It feels that way, and that's the question I'm posing. It feels that way.

HASSELBECK: I’d be asking that question if I were brown or black. I mean, I can totally understand how there is that sentiment. I can totally understand how there is that worry, and I think it’s legitimate.

BEHAR: Do you lump the mosque in with Mexico?

GOLDBERG: I do. Because, you know, I feel very strongly that you cannot take an entire religion and make it responsible for the kooky people because you can’t, because you have, you know, we don't want to do that with the Catholic religion. We don't want to take that religion and say, well, everybody is this, or the Christians or anybody else.

BEHAR: If the attack on 9/11 was done by Christians, would they not allow a church?

GOLDBERG: Well, that is a good question. That's a very good question.

BEHAR: (INAUDIBLE) but it’s a valid question to ask because, if the answer is yes, then you have a point.

HASSELBECK: The Catholic Church right now could never afford that property, so that would answer that question.