CBS ‘Early Show’ Sees Racism Epidemic in America

On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," host Harry Smith had on the founder of the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center, Morris Dees, to discuss "...the ugly news about nooses. Why this symbol of bigotry is suddenly back." Smith then went on to ask: "Is there some way to account for this resurgence in seeing this as a symbol? We've done an internet search. It's popping up all over the place." I think we are all impressed with Harry’s extensive research skills.

Beyond the recent noose controversies at Columbia University and in the Jena Six case, Smith and Dees launched into a litany of examples of racism in America and declared a rise in such sentiments:

SMITH: "You've monitored hate groups for decades now. Do you have a sense that they're flourishing, floundering? Are we -- is there a resurgence? Might this be a symbol of some resurgence?"

DEES: "Well I think definitely it is. In the last five years, we've seen a 30% increase in the number of hate groups. We're tracking at the Southern Poverty Law Center Intelligence Project some 844 hate groups in the United States, and we see that a large percentage of them, the motivation for their increase has been Latino immigrants in the United States."

It is interesting to note that one such "hate group" listed in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project is the conservative student organization known as Young Americans for Freedom. Not to be confused with the Young America’s Foundation, Young Americans for Freedom was founded in the 1960's and had former President Ronald Reagan as member of its Advisory Board and he remained an "Honorary Chairman" of the organization decades after. Last time I checked, Ronald Reagan was not a leading member of a hate group.

To drive the point home, Smith and Dees continued the segment with this exchange:

SMITH: "Wow, so Latinos in California. There were, certainly was a rise in the number of hate crimes against Muslims. We come back to sort of the original, one of the original hate crimes in the United States, is violence against blacks. Is -- do you trace this back to Jena, or is there something larger going on?"

DEES: "Oh, I think it's something larger. We have systemic built-in racial bias and prejudice all across the United States."

I guess Harry Smith feels we are getting back to basics with our "original" hatred of minority groups. To Dees’ credit, at the very end of the segment he did mention instances of fabricated racist displays:

We've seen a lot of these hoaxes perpetrated...So, I think we have to look at it and not jump to conclusions. Just because you see a noose, you think it's something that has been done against the victim.

At that point, Smith was suddenly very tight on time and ended the segment.

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

7:15AM TEASER:

HARRY SMITH: "Ahead this half hour, the ugly news about nooses. Why this symbol of bigotry is suddenly back."

7:18AM SEGMENT:

SMITH: "Good morning again. I'm Harry Smith. This is "The Early Show" on CBS. Here in New York, students protested at Columbia University after a noose was found hanging on the office door of an African-American professor. In the last two months, we've seen at least a dozen incidents involving nooses around the country. Apparently copycats of the Jena Six case in Louisiana. Morris Dees, founder and Chief Legal Counsel for the Southern Poverty Law Center has been tracking racial incidents like these for more than 35 years. He joins us this morning. Good morning, Morris."

MORRIS DEES: "Good morning, Harry."

SMITH: "You know, the noose in and of itself is such a vile symbol, and it represents the wanton killing of human beings, of racism at its most base form. Is there some way to account for this resurgence in seeing this as a symbol? We've done an internet search. It's popping up all over the place."

DEES: "I think maybe Jena, Louisiana, possibly has caused some copycat situations. There are no real database you can go to check on this, and we've seen nooses and flame crosses and swastikas used over the last 10, 15 years all over the United States, not just in the south."

SMITH: "If you want to get a message to somebody, though, this is a pretty clear message sender, isn't it?"

DEES: "It certainly is. It's a fearful message. I noticed in the last couple of weeks we've seen in Long Island, New York Police Department, a noose was put in the break room. And in Pittsburgh, we saw it in a bus station. So, I think this is a thing that's going all over the United States, not just in Jena and the south."

SMITH: "Yeah. Also in the Coast Guard Academy. I mean, really, you need to Google it and you'll see it pop up all over the place."

DEES: "Right."

SMITH: "You've monitored hate groups for decades now. Do you have a sense that they're flourishing, floundering? Are we -- is there a resurgence? Might this be a symbol of some resurgence?"

DEES: "Well I think definitely it is. In the last five years, we've seen a 30% increase in the number of hate groups. We're tracking at the Southern Poverty Law Center intelligence project some 844 hate groups in the United States, and we see that a large percentage of them, the motivation for their increase has been Latino immigrants in the United States."

SMITH: "Right."

DEES: "In fact -- in fact, California's the leading state with the largest number of hate groups of nearly 60. And Pennsylvania has 27 hate groups. They're in Texas and Florida, also have large numbers."

SMITH: "Wow so Latinos in California. There were, certainly was a rise in the number of hate crimes against Muslims. We come back to sort of the original, one of the original hate crimes in the United States, is violence against blacks. Is -- do you trace this back to Jena, or is there something larger going on?"

DEES: "Oh, I think it's something larger. We have systemic built-in racial bias and prejudice all across the United States. But I think we also have to be real careful and look at each individual noose situation or cross burning on its own. At Duke University not too many years ago, a black doll was found hanging from a tree on campus with a sign that says "Duke has not changed." And a few days later, three African-Americans pleaded guilty for doing it. We've seen a lot of these hoaxes perpetrated. In fact, one college professor was claimed that racial epitaphs were painted on his car, and he did it himself. Right? So, I think we have to look at it and not jump to conclusions. Just because you see a noose, you think it's something that has been done against the victim."

SMITH: "Got it. Alright, Morris Dees, thank you so much."

 

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC