MSNBC Panel Compares Pro-Gun Sheriffs to Segregationists, Tea Party Based on Racism

On Monday's PoliticsNation on MSNBC, liberal columnist Cynthia Tucker compared sheriffs who refuse to enforce new restrictive gun laws to people in the South who opposed laws banning segregation, while liberal talk radio host Bill Press, apparently forgetting that the Justice Department routinely refuses to enforce immigration laws, recommended that these pro-Second Amendment sheriffs should be prosecuted.

He went on to smear the Tea Party as being founded on racism and opposition to a black President.

After noting a New York Times article on sheriffs opposing some of the new gun laws, MSNBC host Al Sharpton turned to guest Tucker who fretted:

Well, you know, Reverend Al, I can't help but think back to the 1950s and '60s in the Deep South. When there were so many segregationists who were absolutely opposed to the laws of the land. And absolutely opposed to enforcing them. It didn't matter what the Supreme Court said. It didn't matter what the laws were passed. They were going to defy them. And you will remember that turned out to be a very ugly and very violent period.

As Sharpton injected, "Absolutely," she continued:

People died because of the refusal of some people to accept the laws of the land. And this makes me think of that period.

After Sharpton tried to change the subject to ObamaCare, Press called for sheriffs to be "arrested":

Well, I'm glad you used that word, "nullification" because I was thinking since Cynthia was talking, quick second, this really takes me back to quick second on the sheriffs, to 1860 when John Calhoun of South Carolina came up with this doctrine of nullification, which is, we don't have to follow the laws that we don't believe in. And I think, you know, people, I don't care whether they're law enforcement officers or not, if they're breaking the laws, they ought to be arrested for breaking the laws.

After the MSNBC host played a clip of North Carolina Republican Senate candidate Greg Brannon comparing ObamaCare to "tyranny," Press added:

Shows me two things. Yes. Number one, they are out to delegitimatize President Obama and they have from the very beginning. Two, it shows that this Tea Party, you and I have talked about this before Reverend, the essence of this Tea Party is a racist institution.

It is born of the fact that they cannot stand the fact that a black man is President of the United States. But it also shows me that despite what happened in Virginia, right? This Republican Party hasn't learned one lesson. They still will go as far right as they can. As extreme on the extreme fringe of the Republican Party.

Below is a complete transcript of the segment from the Monday, December 16, PoliticsNation on MSNBC:

AL SHARPTON: Cynthia, what's next? Succession the board game? I mean, what's your take?

CYNTHIA TUCKER, COLUMNIST: You know, Reverend Al, this would be funny if it didn't involve representatives in the United States Senate and the United States Congress. Because as ridiculous as this card game is, as you know, there are elected representatives who have been throwing around the word "impeachment." That's their fever dream. That is what they want Santa Claus to bring them more than anything else, a reason to impeach Obama. And so, while the American people are waiting for Congress to solve their problems-

SHARPTON: Right.

TUCKER: -too many of its members are out there trying to find a way to impeach a President who has done nothing wrong.

SHARPTON: And they're making it, they're attempting to make it more palpable to the public with games like this. So it doesn't seem like an outrage that you want to impeach a President for doing nothing wrong, hasn't done anything that would be considered a high crime or an impeachable act.

BILL PRESS, TALK RADIO HOST: Yeah, I was looking for the high crimes and misdemeanors among the cards that you played there, Reverend Al. The thing I would like to point out is, you know, this does not stand alone. That's what's so troubling about it. This started in the 2008 campaign.

SHARPTON: Right.

PRESS:  Remember Sarah Palin accused the President of hanging out with traitors, palling around with traitors, right? With terrorists, I'm sorry. And then, right after the President was in the White House. I mean, Janet Porter, who was an aide to Mike Huckabee, said she wouldn't be surprised if it developed that President Obama was a Russian spy.

You know, Glenn Beck said, he was trying to bring about the new world order. Rush Limbaugh said he was trying to destroy capitalism. In that book, my book, The Obama Hate Machine, I look back, Reverend Al. President Obama has been subject to more personal ugly attacks than any other President in history. And that's saying something because there's been a lot of stuff in the past.

SHARPTON: No doubt about it. You know, Cynthia, it's not only the impeachment crowd. It's like they want to make their own rules as they go. They have nothing to do with what the country is built on and run by even when we have to deal with things we don't like. Let me give you a case in point. Today's New York Times has a big story about sheriffs refusing to enforce gun safety laws. One sheriff is quoted as saying, "The Supreme Court does not run my office. Just because they allow something doesn't mean that a good constitutional sheriff is going to do it." I mean, how dangerous is this kind of thinking from people who are supposed to enforce our law? They can reject laws that they disagree with politically.

TUCKER: Well, you know, Reverend Al, I can't help but think back to the 1950s and '60s in the Deep South.

SHARPTON: Right.

TUCKER: When there were so many segregationists who were absolutely opposed to the laws of the land. And absolutely opposed to enforcing them. It didn't matter what the Supreme Court said. It didn't matter what the laws were passed. They were going to defy them. And you will remember that turned out to be a very ugly and very violent period.

SHARPTON: Absolutely.

TUCKER: People died-

SHARPTON: Absolutely.

TUCKER: -because of the refusal of some people to accept the laws of the land. And this makes me think of that period.

SHARPTON: And not only some people. Law enforcement. But, Bill, you know, Mother Jones had a disturbing report that the leading GOP candidate for Senate in North Carolina Greg Brannon, in October he spoke at a rally to nullify ObamaCare. That rally was co-sponsored by secessionist group called League of the South. This is the leading Senate candidate in North Carolina.

PRESS: Well, I'm glad you used that word, "nullification" because I was thinking since Cynthia was talking, quick second, this really takes me back to quick second on the sheriffs, to 1860 when John Calhoun of South Carolina came up with this doctrine of nullification-

SHARPTON: Right.

PRESS: -which is, we don't have to follow the laws that we don't believe in. And I think, you know, people, I don't care whether they're law enforcement officers or not, if they're breaking the laws, they ought to be arrested for breaking the laws.

SHARPTON: Well, it's interesting you emphasized nullification because at a nullification seminar last year, Brannon, the same leading candidate now for the Republicans of North Carolina, he called health care law tyranny. Listen to this.

STATE SENATOR GREG BRANNON (R-NC) CLIP #1: What happens if you don't pay your taxes? You go to jail. And the doctors who don't partake in it, by doing, we go to jail. How is this not tyranny?

BRANNON CLIP #2: The more, the more tyrannical the state, right? That's what we have today.

SHARPTON: I mean, Bill, nullification, tyranny. I mean, isn't this all about delegitimatizing the President, particularly this President, so they can undercut his agenda?

PRESS: Shows me two things. Yes. Number one, they are out to delegitimatize President Obama and they have from the very beginning. Two, it shows that this Tea Party, you and I have talked about this before Reverend, the essence of this Tea Party is a racist institution. It is born of the fact that they cannot stand the fact that a black man is President of the United States. But it also shows me that despite what happened in Virginia, right? This Republican Party hasn't learned one lesson. They still will go as far right as they can. As extreme on the extreme fringe of the Republican Party. That's who's leading the party today.

SHARPTON: And Cynthia, you hear them beginning to say we're going to run some candidates that have mellow rhetoric. But you're not hearing leading Republicans denounce this kind of extremism. Even when Boehner kind of reprimanded them on the budget deal that Ryan had worked out with Senator Pat Murray. They still have not taken them on on things like nullification and impeachment. They have not directly gone after this kind of extreme unwarranted rhetoric.

TUCKER: Reverend Al, they're afraid to. They're afraid to go after this rhetoric because they have a too many constituents who cheer that rhetoric on. And they have a whole right wing media machine that says the same kinds of things. And, you know, they're scared to death of Erick, Red State's Erick Erickson. They're scared to death of Rush Limbaugh. And Rush Limbaugh and Erick Erickson are the very types who are out there cheering this sort of thing on.

SHARPTON: I've got to leave it there. Cynthia Tucker and Bill Press, thank you both for your time tonight.

--Brad Wilmouth is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Brad Wilmouth on Twitter.