MSNBC’s Harris-Perry Compares Rick Perry to Segregationists Trying to Stop Integration of Public Schools

Weekend MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry is known for making controversial statements about race, such as when she mocked Mitt Romney for having adopted black grandson, and on Saturday, July 26 she made yet another controversial statement on race.

Perry used her weekend platform to disgustingly compare Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) and his decision to sent National Guard troops to the border to that of southern Democrats blocking African American children from integrating into previously all-white public schools. [See video below.]

Perry began her show by insisting that Americans need to “pause for a moment here and remember that we are talking about children who are vulnerable, unprotected, and afraid, who are fleeing extreme violence and poverty in their home countries?”

The MSNBC host continued to argue that the current border crisis is reminiscent of America in the 1960s and compared Governor Rick Perry to segregationist Democratic Governor Orval Faubas of Arkansas:

Rick Perry was preceded in his call to send armed troops to confront children by Arkansas Governor Orval Faubas. He, of course, called the National Guard to stop the Little Rock Nine from their first day of school at Central High. The presence of children on buses integrating Boston schools in 1974 didn't stop white crowds from confronting them with slurs and threats of violence. 

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Nor did it give pause to the adults who hurled objects and insults at 6-year-old Ruby Bridges on the day she became the first African-American child to desegregate an elementary school. And so when we look to children seeking safety at our borders and see instead an invasion to be defended against, a contagion to be contained. Or a drain on resources that we just don't want to share, that is a side of history on which we are choosing to stand.

Not only is Perry’s comparison between Governor Perry and segregationist Orval Faubas highly offensive but it is historically inaccurate. The Arkansas Democrat deployed the National Guard to prevent African-Americans who were citizens of the United States from accessing public schools. In contrast, Governor Rick Perry called on the National Guard to help stop the flood of non-U.S. citizens from entering the country illegally, which is in no way comparable to the treatment of African Americans during the days of segregation. Southern Democrats used dogs and fire hoses to attack U.S. citizens attempting to access public schools. Those at the border, while opposing illegal immigration, have insisted that the children be treated humanely and receive medical attention. 

Will Melissa Harris-Perry issue yet another public apology for the offensive comments she makes on her MSNBC show? Only time will tell.

See relevant transcript below. 


MSNBC

Melissa Harris-Perry

July 26, 2014

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: A dangerous demographic of disease infested thieves, murderers and rapists who are coming to get their hands on all of our free goodies, who apparently pose so much of a threat to the United States that both House Republicans and Texas Governor Rick Perry feel that it will take no less than the full military might of the National Guard to defend ourselves against them. Could we please pause for a moment here and remember that we are talking about children who are vulnerable, unprotected, and afraid, who are fleeing extreme violence and poverty in their home countries? Drawn to the United States border by our nation's reputation as a place where children are valued, precious and protected, and to some extent what that they have found here is as good as what is advertised. 

There are people of the Rio Grande Valley who, despite being at the epicenter of the surge in children and families cross the border, have stepped up to support their region's strained resources with thousands of hours of volunteer time, food, shelter, and emotional support for the migrant kids. Then there was Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who last week offered temporary shelter for up to 1,000 unaccompanied minors citing what he calls America's century-long tradition of giving sanctuary to desperate children. And if we looked at had history, we do indeed see where there are moments where children have been the catalyst that moved Americans to push beyond their own biases and borders, both national and racial. In May of 1963 the children's crusade organized by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference brought more than 3,000 young people to the city of Birmingham, Alabama, in a show of civil disobedience against segregation in the city. Once Americans saw those images of children standing courageously against injustice, the tide of national public opinion took a pivotal turn in support of the civil rights movement's cause. 

But we can't embrace that moment of America's moral fortitude without also owing the great -- owning the great moral failing to which it was responding. Because the children at the border have also been confronted with the hostility that is as old as the segregated south and just as American as the grace and charity of those to who have extended a hand of help. And if we are to claim our history in protecting vulnerable children, we must also grapple with our history of responding to them as a threat when their presence undermines an established order. As much as Americans rallied to the cause of the children's crusade, it was also agents of the American state that were willing to attack them with armed officers, fire hoses, and police dogs when they challenge a deeply entrenched way of life in the south. 

Rick Perry was preceded in his call to send armed troops to confront children by Arkansas Governor Orval Faubas. He, of course, called the National Guard to stop the Little Rock Nine from their first day of school at Central High. The presence of children on buses integrating Boston schools in 1974 didn't stop white crowds from confronting them with slurs and threats of violence. Nor did it give pause to the adults who hurled objects and insults at 6-year-old Ruby Bridges on the day she became the first African-American child to desegregate an elementary school. And so when we look to children seeking safety at our borders and see instead an invasion to be defended against, a contagion to be contained. Or a drain on resources that we just don't want to share, that is a side of history on which we are choosing to stand.

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.