MSNBC Panel Sees Racism 'Code' in 'Take the Country Back,' Values Voters Summit

On Friday's The Last Word, a panel of MSNBC regulars fretted over President Donald Trump's speech to the Values Voters Summit, and made their latest accusations of racist "code," with contributor Jonathan Capehart ridiculously suggesting that the words "take their country back" used by Tea Partiers in 2010 was motivated by racism.

Substitute host Ali Velshi also fretted over a flyer from the event warning about the dangers of homosexuality, and, while previewing the segment, even briefly mentioned the MRC's "I Don't Believe the Liberal Media" bumper stickers that were also displayed on Saturday's AM Joy.

 

 

In the last segment of the show, without noting that the Southern Poverty Law Center is a far-left group, Velshi noted that the SPLC considers the Family Research Council to be a "hate group" as he set up discussion of FRC's Values Voters Summit. Velshi:

Presidents don't usually go to the Values Voters Summit even though it's a good place -- candidates actually often go to them -- run by the Family Research Council which is labeled as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center largely because of their anti-homosexual tendencies.

After panel member Joan Walsh of the far-left The Nation magazine injected, "Right, very extreme," Velshi continued:

They actually put out a pamphlet -- a book about homosexuality called The Health Hazards of Homosexuality: What the Medical and Psychological Research Reveals. I really can't get my head around it, but I understand why candidates sometimes want to court this kind of an audience. But, as the President of the United States, this is not a -- this is not a broad-ranging group.

The MSNBC host's fretting over a conservative group's flyer on homosexuality belies the fact that warning against the health dangers of homosexual sex is hardly unreasonable since even the Obama administration Centers for Disease Control reported that about 70 percent of new HIV infections are found in homosexual or bisexual men.

After Walsh mused over why white evangelical Christians selected Trump over other Republican candidates, she suggested that their real motivation was to make women and minorities "know their place." Walsh:

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But that they believed Trump really was going to bring us back to a place where men are men, women know their place, people of color know their place, gays --

Velshi then jumped in to inject: "And people say Merry Christmas to you when you walk into the store." After Walsh finished, the MSNBC host then turned to Capehart and suggested that there was a "code" in what the President was saying at the summit:

Jonathan, there are some who say it's nostalgia, and there are some who say that's all code. "Things are changing back." Something as innocuous and benign as "They're going to say Merry Christmas again" really means something different.

Without it occurring to him that political talk of "taking America back" or "taking the country back" is standard rhetoric that is used by both political parties, Capehart imagined racism as he responded:

Mm-hm. Yeah, it's code. Remember "Make America Great Again"? The people who gravitated to that phrase are the ones who were saying around the time of the rise of the Tea Party in 2010 that they wanted to "take their country back."

And, of course, Joan and I -- we've always asked this question: Take the country back from whom? We know what's going on here. There are people in the President's base who are very uncomfortable with the demographic changes that are already under way in the country, and so they're very nostalgic about a time they were central to the political life and concerns of this country.

One need only do a few Google or Amazon searches to find events, speeches and books involving prominent Democrats that have utilized some form of this phrase during George W. Bush's time as President.

Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and Nancy Pelosi all spoke at a Take Back America conference in 2006.

Clinton also used such phrasing in a speech to the DNC in 2007, in her concession speech in June 2008, and her August 2008 speech at the Democratic National Convention.

Former DNC chairman Howard Dean used the phrasing in not just one, but two books.

And Walsh's colleague from The Nation -- Katrina Vanden Heuvel -- released a book during the Bush administration that utilized similar wording.

The words have also been used by Arianna Huffington, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., James Carville and Paul Begala.

As Velshi turned back to Walsh, he again referred to "code" as he argued that immigration is necessary for the U.S. economy:

So it's not just DACA, it's the legal immigration that the President wants to stop, and Stephen Miller again painted that in terms of English-speaking better immigrants. Again, it's code. It's not actually economically sound.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Friday, October 13, The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC:

ALI VELSHI: Presidents don't usually go to the Values Voters Summit even though it's a good place -- candidates actually often go to them -- run by the Family Research Council which is labeled as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center largely because of their anti-homosexual tendencies.

JOAN WALSH, THE NATION: Right, very extreme.

VELSHI: They actually put out a pamphlet -- a book about homosexuality called The Health Hazards of Homosexuality: What the Medical and Psychological Research Reveals. I really can't get my head around it, but I understand why candidates sometimes want to court this kind of an audience. But, as the President of the United States, this is not a -- this is not a broad-ranging group.

WALSH: No, but this is his base, Ali. I mean, I think one of the central mysteries of last year's election -- and there are many, many of them -- but one of them is: Why did white Christian evangelicals go overwhelmingly for this guy who'd been married three times, four bankruptcies, accused of sexual harassment at minimum by 14 plus women, why was this libertine -- the candidate of these folks rather than somebody like, say, Ted Cruz who seemed much more along the lines? What about Ben Carson? Why was it Trump?

And I think, you know, that clip that you played right before the break where he said, "Times have really changed, but we're changing them back," is so illuminating -- it was such a great gift to us because, what polls have found is that these Christian voters, they went for Trump not thinking so much about his morality, not keying in on, you know, maybe Ted Cruz has obeyed Christian dogma more, but that they believed Trump really was going to bring us back to a place where men are men, women know their place, people of color know their place, gays --

VELSHI: And people say Merry Christmas to you when you walk into the store.

WALSH: And people say Merry Christmas to you, that he's going to turn the clock back. And he sees it. He gets that that's what they want, and he's telling them that he's done it already.

VELSHI: Jonathan, there are some who say it's nostalgia, and there are some who say that's all code. "Things are changing back." Something as innocuous and benign as "They're going to say Merry Christmas again" really means something different.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Mm-hm. Yeah, it's code. Remember "Make America Great Again"? The people who gravitated to that phrase are the ones who were saying around the time of the rise of the Tea Party in 2010 that they wanted to "take their country back."

And, of course, Joan and I -- we've always asked this question: Take the country back from whom? We know what's going on here. There are people in the President's base who are very uncomfortable with the demographic changes that are already under way in the country, and so they're very nostalgic about a time they were central to the political life and concerns of this country.

And, you know, if we are ever going to get anywhere in terms of solving all the economic issues and things like that, we've got to come to terms with the fact that everyone who is in this country right now wants to be an American. The ones who are citizens are Americans, and we're all here to foster and move along this great experiment that is America. And there are a lot of people who are supporting the President who think that America is for them. And to be perfectly blunt, Ali, America is a white Christian nation. That's what a lot of the President's base thinks.

VELSHI: Joan, America is a prosperous place, and, as a result, prosperous nations have fewer children -- we don't have a good worker replacement rate. We have an aging population, so we use our immigrants to do what any country that wants to economically grow does. We -- it creates a work force. I know Donald Trump talks endlessly about this unachieveable economic growth number, but you can't even achieve that if you wanted to without immigration. So it's not just DACA, it's the legal immigration that the President wants to stop, and Stephen Miller again painted that in terms of English-speaking better immigrants. Again, it's code. It's not actually economically sound.


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CyberAlerts Immigration Conservatives & Republicans Race Issues Racism Religion Christianity Homosexuality MSNBC The Last Word Video Media Research Center Ali Velshi Joan Walsh Jonathan Capehart Donald Trump