MSNBC Hosts: Rep. Joe Wilson A White Southern Racist

According to MSNBC’s David Shuster on Friday, South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson shouting ‘you lie’ to President Obama was racism on display: “The fact that Joe Wilson is from South Carolina...it strikes a lot of people as awfully close to the idea that maybe there was some sort of racist or bigoted element there.”

Shuster went on to add: “And especially then when you look up at the picture and you see older white men, all Republicans, sitting there. Just it gives off a strange vibe.” On Thursday, Shuster claimed that Republicans were: “...all white males with short haircuts. They look sort of angry. No women, no minorities, and it looks like they’ve sort of become unhinged.”

During the segment late in the 3PM ET hour, Shuster spoke with Reverend Jesse Jackson, wondering: “What role, if any, do you believe that bigotry is playing in some of this venom toward President Obama?” Jackson seized on the opportunity to cry racism: “Well, substantial. There is a struggle between the hope of going forward and the fear of going backwards....the big C-word, conservative, for some that means fiscal, for some, it means religious ethics, for some it means a code word for race.”

Co-host Tamron Hall proclaimed: “...this yelling at the President during that address had never happened to any prior President...that was almost like the straw to break the camel’s back...to have that southern white male shout down the first black president, it seemed to really hit a nerve.” Jackson replied: “Well, it’s globally embarrassing.”

Hall went on to ask Jackson about a possible censure of Wilson: “There are many who are calling to censure Wilson. Is that what’s necessary to perhaps send a message that will trickle from the President on down?” Jackson agreed: “Well, censure may be a thing to do.”

Shuster concluded the segment by ranting: “I think the evidence is so overwhelming that there is an effort out there to demonize the first African-American president. I think that the question is, is there sort of an institutional bigotry in certain quarters of this country, or are these isolated instances? And I don’t know the answer to that, but it’s frightening either way.” Hall added: “...you can’t say what is in someone’s heart, but you can certainly judge by the actions. And if nothing else, that action taken by Wilson has been seen by so many Americans as disrespectful.”

Here is a full transcript of the segment:

 3:45PM
 
TAMRON HALL: Welcome back. It is time for ‘Making Their Case.’ And today it’s all about what some are calling, David, the elephant in the room.

DAVID SHUSTER: That is right, Tamron. President Obama is the first ever African-American to hold the nation’s highest office and now he’s the first President to be openly heckled during an address to a joint session of Congress. Mr. Obama has been compared to Hitler at town hall meetings, where some people showed up with loaded guns. Conservative radio TV hosts have called him a racist with quote ‘a deep seeded hatred for white people’ the President had his birth in Hawaii and nationality questioned and he’s been called everything from a socialist to fascist who wants to empower the government to kill senior citizens. This week, Mr. Obama was criticized for a speech to school kids about staying in school and working hard. Every president faces scathing criticism from the fanatical fringe but this, at least, feels different. And even officials in the Secret Service acknowledge that threats to President Obama’s life have been coming in four times as often as they were for president George W. Bush. Reverend Jesse Jackson is the president and founder of the Rainbow Push Coalition and a former presidential candidate. Reverend Jackson, what role, if any, do you believe that bigotry is playing in some of this venom toward President Obama?

JESSE JACKSON: Well, substantial. There is a struggle between the hope of going forward and the fear of going backwards and the word – the atmosphere is loaded with coded words. Hitler, socialist, un-American, not born in America, even indoctrinate our children, these are very heavily coded words. And the elephant in the room really is the big ‘C’– behind the big C-word, conservative, for some that means fiscal, for some, it means religious ethics, for some it means a code word for race. And we would do well to try to keep fighting to relieve these [inaudible].

SHUSTER: I’ve heard from so many people the fact that Joe Wilson is from South Carolina – he was part of the Sons of the Confederacy or supported the group, he voted against removing the Confederate flag – that even though we don’t know what was, I suppose, in the heart of Joe Wilson, but it strikes a lot of people as awfully close to the idea that maybe there was some sort of racist or bigoted element there. And especially then when you look up at the picture and you see older white men, all Republicans, sitting there. Just it gives off a strange vibe.

JACKSON: You see, it’s not just that, it’s Amadou Diallo being shot in New York 41 times unarmed and the police walk free. It’s Rodney King being beaten in California with cameras on and a jury set the four of them free. It’s 2.3 million Americans in prison, a million are black, 500,000 are Latino. I mean the structural injustice, racial disparities, from birth to death is too real to ignore, so we must enforce EEOC, we must enforce contract compliance. We must urge people who have hope not to allow fear to overcome them.

HALL: Rev-

SHUSTER: But is there a special – oh, go ahead, Tamron, I’m sorry.

HALL: Reverend Jackson, I wanted to ask you, because a lot of the things that are being said about President Obama have been said about other leaders, such as communist or socialist, but this yelling at the President during that address had never happened to any prior President. And when you listen to a lot of African-Americans on the radio who are telling how they feel about it, there seemed to be – that was almost like the straw to break the camel’s back, and that other things certainly have been implied racist, the birth movement, so on and so forth, but to have that southern white male shout down the first black president, it seemed to really hit a nerve.

JACKSON: Well, it’s globally embarrassing. The whole world watched that display by the congressman from South Carolina. But it’s not just that. It’s the – we see patterns in the subprime lending scheme, predators targeting, steering, clustering blacks and browns by race. A man who won that suit here in Chicago, another suit in Baltimore, another one in Cleveland. The pervasiveness of this issue of race disparity is all too real for us to kind of try to put it under the rug any longer.

HALL: But does it hit extra – I mean, because people believe certainly that, obviously, these things happen and when you’re poor you feel like you’re helpless. But this is the President of the United States. Someone of power and prestige and the leader of our country. Black or white or whatever. But let me ask you, that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to move this forward. There are many who are calling to censure Wilson. Is that what’s necessary to perhaps send a message that will trickle from the President on down?

JACKSON: Well, censure may be a thing to do, but my concern is that there are those who think it was his being discourteous, not the content. Never mind his having said that in the cloak room. I mean in that same room they argued slavery was – was ordained by God. In that same room they argued segregation was ordained by God. So he said something that was embarrassing, but there have been other things said on that floor for a long time. I think we’re over it, we’re getting better. And I think when it raises up its ugly head, we should address it in a meaningful way. [inaudible] the venom of racism remains in America today.

SHUSTER: Reverend Jesse Jackson. Reverend, thanks so much coming on. We appreciate it.

JACKSON: Thank you.

SHUSTER: You know, Tamron, I do – I think the evidence is so overwhelming that there is an effort out there to demonize the first African-American president. I think that the question is, is there sort of an institutional bigotry in certain quarters of this country, or are these isolated instances? And I don’t know the answer to that, but it’s frightening either way.

HALL: I think, David, it was a great point that you made. You can never speak for someone’s heart and I think that’s what makes this such a complex and difficult debate. Because you can’t say what is in someone’s heart, but you can certainly judge by the actions. And if nothing else, that action taken by Wilson has been seen by so many Americans as disrespectful.
SHUSTER: Indeed.
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC