From the January 23 edition of MSNBC Live with Craig Melvin:
EDDIE GLAUDE (MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR): I think we're always going to face people who have their assumptions affirmed by video footage and the like. Folks who are in their isolated silos, Craig. But, I think more than anything, underneath some of the backlash against hearing the young man is this question, who are allowed the innocence of childhood, right? So, you saw the image, and then there was this attempt to kind of give a fuller account of the young man. And I think a lot of folks were asking the question, when -- why do we always do this in these sorts of cases, when white boys are involved? And what do we do, how do we react when brown and black kids are involved? And people saw the difference. And I think that was underneath it all, if that makes sense to you.
CRAIG MELVIN (HOST): It does. It makes a lot of sense to me. One of the things that the young man did not say in that interview, two very simple words, “I'm sorry.” Had he uttered those words, would that have changed any of this?
GLAUDE: It would have reflected a little self-awareness on the part of the young man. I mean, when you look at that entire video, Craig, no matter where it starts, how it starts, what you see are a lot of young men acting out. You can say it's boys being boys, but it's the kind of culture that many of us know intimately, that produces all sorts of things, that sometimes go awry, right? If he would have said, “I'm sorry,” it would have reflected a kind of self-awareness about the circumstances and the situations, and a respect for Nathan Phillips. But what we saw instead was the hiring of a PR firm. What we saw instead was this becoming a part, a chess piece in the ongoing culture wars. What we saw is this incident, and the reactions to it, becoming part of a reaction by the right to what they perceive as, you know, the tyranny of political correctness. In other words, this incident has entered into the toxic culture of race in this country. So the young man has no room in interesting sorts of ways to grow, right, by, in some ways, accepting some level of responsibility for what happened.
MELVIN: I want to talk about a specific detail of the video that's gotten a lot of attention. The hat that he's wearing. This Make America Great Again hat, they've become quite popular, the red hats. Sandmann told Savannah [Guthrie] that he bought that hat that day from a vendor in D.C. That hat has become symbolic of a lot of things in this country. To some, it is merely a hat that dons a political slogan that the president has popularized. But, for others, it has become an invitation for confrontation. Some have even referred to the hat as a modern day version of the Confederate battle flag. Do we think that the same reaction would have been had on both sides if he weren't wearing that hat?
GLAUDE: Probably not. There was a sense in which the hat announced a certain set of political commitments. Alyssa Milano, I think, the actress, describes the hat as modern day white sheet, I think that's how she described it. The hat, in some ways, represents for many of us a kind of racial animus. “Make America great again” is a kind of nostalgic longing for the 1950s, not by way of public policy, Craig, but by way of the cultural ethos of the 50s, which meant a society organized along the lines of segregation, in which black people were to stay in their place, brown people were to stay in their place, and white people were to be treated and valued differently, as according to the color of their skin.
So, yes, I think if the hats weren't involved, it might not have been as intense. But there were also words. There were a lot of people who said that, you know, “Build the wall, build the wall,” said that that was shouted. We saw footage later on of the young men cat calling at young women walking by. There's so much there that we need to unpack. But, I also think this, Craig, really quickly, I want to emphasize a point I made earlier. Who are -- who do we allow to be innocent? The innocent child? Remember, Tamir Rice was 12, and the cops thought he was 20. We have study after study showing that young black girls aren't seen as innocent. You know, and then we just had, just recently in Miami, Mike (sic) Bartlett, in a Bikes Up, Guns Down protest by young men and women -- black men and women, trying to protect their neighborhoods, don a gun at children. At children. And there was no outrage in interesting sorts of ways. He was arrested, but there's no outrage. So, underneath this is this sense of hypocrisy. Underneath this is a sense of double standard. Underneath this is that we give privilege to these white kids. He can sit down with Savannah Guthrie and redeem himself, but then there are all of these other folk who we just presume, you know, who aren't so innocent.