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Sharpton Hits RNC on Rosa Parks Tweet, Milbank: 'Racism' 'Bubbling' from Tea Party

Media Research CenterOn Monday's PoliticsNation on MSNBC, host Al Sharpton and the Washington Post's Dana Milbank mocked the Republican National Committee for the wording of a tweet that the group sent out marking the anniversary of Civil Rights Movement icon Rosa Parks defying racist Jim Crow laws: "Today we remember Rosa Parks' bold stand and her role in ending racism."

Sharpton picked up on liberal entities interpreting the tweet to be suggesting that racism has already ended, and, without even noting that the RNC sent out a second tweet a few hours later to placate critics by changing the wording, Sharpton pounced as he teased the segment: "Plus this weekend, the RNC declared that racism is over. Racism is no more. Yes. Doesn't make sense to me, either."

A bit later, he plugged again: "Plus the RNC sends out a tweet declaring that racism is over. And they wonder why the GOP has problems with the minority outreach?"

The MSNBC host then began the segment by showing a pre-recorded clip of himself in black and white pretending to announced that racism is over. He then added: "Sorry to break it to everyone, racism didn't actually end. But someone should tell the Republican Party."

After quoting the RNC's first tweet, he continued:

Now, I doubt that the GOP was trying to be offensive, but the tweet received so much attention because of the recent unfortunate history between some on the right and race. This year alone, a Tea Partier waved a Confederate flag at the gates of the White House. The GOP has a Senate candidate who addressed a neo-confederate group. And to this day, sitting members of Congress are still accusing the President of being born in Kenya.

A bit later, after Ohio Democratic Rep. Marcia Fudge and Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank were brought aboard as guests, Milbank added to the mockery of the GOP:

It is a bit ham-handed the way they go about doing this. You can sort of see what they might have been trying to do here. And one hopes that tomorrow they might send out a tweet ending poverty and the next day, they might send out a tweet ending all warfare. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. And I think what's happening here is, people are not inclined to give this Republican Party the benefit of the doubt because of the record of statements and because of the record of policies. The most prominent of which right now is immigration which is being bottled up entirely because of the Republican leadership.

He then added:

Look, you've got a Republican leadership in Washington, and then you've got the Tea Party, but, and that's certainly where the latter is certainly where the racism is bubbling up right now. But you've got a Republican majority in power in the House that is refusing still to take on this Tea Party because they're frightened of that. So the best you come up with now is these sort of ham-handed efforts to say, "See, we, too, care about inclusion and equality."

Below is a complete transcript of the segment from the Monday, December 2, PoliticsNation on MSNBC:

AL SHARPTON: Plus this weekend, the RNC declared that racism is over. Racism is no more. Yes. Doesn't make sense to me, either.

(...)

SHARPTON: Plus the RNC sends out a tweet declaring that racism is over. And they wonder why the GOP has problems with the minority outreach?

SHARPTON: Hey, folks, did you hear that a major news story broke yesterday morning? Do we have the tape of it? Yeah, folks. Let's roll it.

SHARPTON: Hold on, hold on. We're getting breaking news into the MSNBC newsroom.

SHARPTON (IN BLACK AND WHITE): Folks, we're getting bits and pieces here. Unconfirmed reports at this time into MSNBC that racism has ended. Yes, that's right. Racism is no more. Clearly a developing story. What is this, folks? Stand by. Stand by. I'm now getting confirmation that racism has ended. We struggled with this issue for centuries. And this morning at 9:58, it ended. It came in a tweet from the national Republican Party. Just moments ago they announced that racism has ended in America. Now, that is a story for the ages.

SHARPTON (BACK IN COLOR): Sorry to break it to everyone, racism didn't actually end. But someone should tell the Republican Party. This weekend they honored the 58th anniversary of Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on a segregated bus by tweeting, "Today we remember Rosa Parks' bold stand and her role in ending racism."

Now, I doubt that the GOP was trying to be offensive, but the tweet received so much attention because of the recent unfortunate history between some on the right and race. This year alone, a Tea Partier waved a Confederate flag at the gates of the White House. The GOP has a Senate candidate who addressed a neo-confederate group. And to this day, sitting members of Congress are still accusing the President of being born in Kenya.

REP. CLIFF STEARNS (R-FL): All I can tell you is that the general consensus in that he has produced a birth certificate. The question is, is it legitimate?

REP. VICKY HARTZLER (R-MO): I mean, if someone asked for my birth certificate, I'd get out my baby book and hand it out and say, "Here it is."

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MI): All the President has to do is show it.

SHARPTON: But it's not just what they're saying as ugly as that is, it's the policies they're pursuing, including harsh anti-voting laws. This year alone, at least 90 bills have been introduced restricting voting access in 33 states across the country. These are reprehensible efforts to stop people from exercising a basic American right, and no tweet can change that fact. ... Congresswoman, this tweet was clearly a mistake. But, in your view, what is the larger GOP problem that's reflected here?

REP. MARCIA FUDGE (R-OH): Let me tell you something, Rev. If this thing was not so ridiculous, it would really be laughable. So I thought your intro was very, very well done. But the same people who talk about not wanting people to have health care, not wanting to fund education, not wanting to continue the fund Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security at its current levels. People who want to destroy food for poor people by cutting $40 billion from food stamps, these same people actually can say that there is no racism in America? The same people who are  trying to make sure that it is difficult for people of color, poor people and minorities in general to have their vote counted. I mean, it is just ridiculous that people would actually make a statement like that and believe that someone would take them seriously.

SHARPTON: And, you know, Dana, when you look at the record, when you look at the fact that their attempt to quote, "reach out to minority voters," has failed repeatedly this year, look at the fact that Republicans turned down the offer to speak, any of them, at the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. The Tea Party hero Senator Ted Cruz praised Senator Jesse Helms as a crusader, and he praised him saying we needed more Jesse Helms's. Party members have compared ObamaCare to slavery. Even Sarah Palin embraced the term "shuck and jive." I mean, these kind of outreach attempts, I mean, are the most backfiring I've seen in American politics probably in my lifetime.

DANA MILBANK, WASHINGTON POST: It is a bit ham-handed the way they go about doing this. You can sort of see what they might have been trying to do here.  And one hopes that tomorrow they might send out a tweet ending poverty and the next day, they might send out a tweet ending all warfare. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. And I think what's happening here is, people are not inclined to give this Republican Party the benefit of the doubt because of the record of statements and because of the record of policies. The most prominent of which right now is immigration which is being bottled up entirely because of the Republican leadership.

Look, you've got a Republican leadership in Washington, and then you've got the Tea Party, but, and that's certainly where the latter is certainly where the racism is bubbling up right now. But you've got a Republican majority in power in the House that is refusing still to take on this Tea Party because they're frightened of that. So the best you come up with now is these sort of ham-handed efforts to say, "See, we, too, care about inclusion and equality."

SHARPTON: But, you know, Congresswoman, it's not just the tone. It's policy. I mean, just last week, you Congresswoman Fudge, you wrote Attorney General Holder a letter asking him to review two new proposed voting laws in Ohio. Let me quote you. You said with no indication that voter fraud is a widespread problem in Ohio, this proposal is a thinly veiled attempt to reduce the number of people able to exercise their right to vote. They are attempts to suppress the voting rights of African-Americans and other minorities.

FUDGE: Absolutely, Reverend. I think that they will stop at nothing to make sure that they make it difficult for people who they don't want to vote to vote. I mean, quite frankly, they are out to make sure that Democrats, obviously, but minorities, young people, senior citizens, the disabled. Those people who the Democratic Party has always supported, they are making it more and more difficult for these people to exercise their right to vote. And so they're going to continue in any way they possibly can to either reduce the number of days you can vote early, to make it more difficult to get an absentee ballot. They are going to do whatever it takes. And Ohio is one of the states that is doing this in a big way. John Husted has continued to do everything he can to make sure that people who look like me, people who vote like me cannot vote.

SHARPTON: You know, Dana, it becomes difficult when they're taking their cues from right-wing pundits who are the real bosses of the party. Listen to this.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, TALK RADIO HOST: In Obama's America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering, "Yeah, right on, right on, right on, right on."

BILL O'REILLY, FNC HOST: Race hustlers in a grievance industry have intimidated the so-called conversation.

GLEN BECK, FORMER FNC HOST: This President, I think, has exposed himself as a guy over and over and over again who has a deep-seeded hatred for white people.

LIMBAUGH: Bush had shock and awe. We're looking at shuck and jive here. That's what I'm going to name this. The Obama operation in Syria, operation shuck and jive. Because that's what this is.

SHARPTON: One tweet, Dana, or a series of tweets can't undo all of that because these are the guys who are really the heads of the party.

MILBANK: Well, yeah, Reverend. That's so. And the problem really with the Republican Party right now is if they look at the demographics where things are going in future elections, they're not going to be a majority party in America for very long at all if they're only catering to white males. So there are two things going on. One is the sort of voter intimidation efforts the Congresswoman was talking about. And then there's sort of the window dressing of the Rosa Parks tweet. But it's very difficult when you look at the policy direction and you hear the voices of the de facto leaders of the party to give them the benefit of the doubt on those sorts of window dressing things.

SHARPTON: And madam chair lady, it's not just race. The GOP is ostracizing other groups, too. They won't hold a vote on immigration. They're vowing to run on the abortion issue in 2014. And they're fighting birth control access at the state level.

FUDGE: Certainly it is not strictly race. I mean, anyone who thinks differently, who looks differently, who believes differently, they are under assault by the GOP. When you think about the people who need health care, they are not just all people of the same racial background. They're young, they're old, they're sick, they're well. When you look at people who need a better education, when you look at people who are going to be cut off from food stamps, when you look at the immigrants, you look at an America that is very different from the America that they have always known.

SHARPTON: Congresswoman Marcia Fudge and Dana Milbank, thanks to both of you for your time this evening.