In a Sunday morning show on MSNBC last week, a dustup occurred between former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and MSNBC pundit Michael Eric Dyson. Mayor Giuliani was quoting crime statistics and the idea that white on black crime is actually pretty rare. Dyson took exception to the comments and said that his remarks came from a place of white supremacy in the mayor’s mind. Still clinging to the narrative that Mike Brown was not the aggressor, and that he has surrendered to the officer, Dyson didn’t back down and neither did Mayor Giuliani. In fact, Dyson claimed that blacks who commit crimes against other black people ‘go to jail,’ a statistic I’m sure the local law enforcement departments would be very interested in.
On Sunday morning, a heated debate broke out on NBC’s Meet the Press between former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and MSNBC’s Michael Eric Dyson surrounding a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri’s eventual decision on whether or not to bring charges against Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown.
During the combative segment, Mayor Giuliani argued that with regards to Ferguson “93 percent of blacks in America are killed by other blacks. We`re talking about the exception here.” Dyson, who is a frequent fill-in host on MSNBC, took particular offense to Giuliani’s comments and insisted that “this is a defensive mechanism of white supremacy at work in your mind, sir.”
The fighting began with moderator Chuck Todd bringing up “the larger issue here that I think other communities may need to confront. Mayor Giuliani, I want to show you this graphic of the disproportionality of white police forces basically not looking like the communities that they serve.”
The former mayor of New York City argued that the real issue was “the fact that 93 percent of blacks in America are killed by other blacks. We`re talking about the exception here…I would like to see the attention paid to that, that you are paying to this and the solutions so to that.”
What followed was an explosive back-and-forth between Dyson and Giuliani:
DYSON: First of all, most black people who commit crimes against other black people go to jail. Number two, they are not sworn by the police department as an agent of the state to uphold the law. So in both cases, that`s a false equivalency that the mayor has drawn which has exacerbated tensions that are deeply embedded in American culture. Black people who kill black people go to jail. White people who are policemen who kill black people do not go to jail. If a jury can indict a ham sandwich, why is it taking so long?
GIULIANI: It`s hardly insignificant.
TODD: Mr. Mayor, let me ask you — it`s the trust issue, though. This is a trust issue.
GIULIANI: It`s hardly insignificant.
DYSON: I didn`t say it was insignificant, I said it was out of proportion in your false equivalency, sir.
GIULIANI: It is the reason for the heavy police presence in the black community.
DYSON: Not at all..
GIULIANI: 93 percent is because of the high level of crime–
DYSON: Not at all. The police presence cannot make a distinction between those who are criminals and those who call the police to stop the criminals.
GIULIANI: Well, how about you reduce crime?
DYSON: Absolutely, when I became mayor, I will do that.
GIULIANI: The white police officers won’t be there if you weren`t killing each other. 70 to 75 percent of the time…
DYSON: This is a defensive mechanism of white supremacy at work in your mind, sir.
Unsurprisingly, MSNBC’s Michael Eric Dyson has a long history of using highly charged rhetoric to attack those he disagrees with. On July 23, 2014 Dyson compared former NFL coach Tony Dungy to ‘white racists’ following Dungy saying he “wouldn’t want to deal” with the media attention that followed the drafting of Michael Sam.
During an appearance on CBS’s Face the Nation on May 4, Dyson compared Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling and on June 9, the MSNBCer eagerly blamed “right wing media and conservative politicians” for the shooting of two police officers in Las Vegas.
On Monday’s Morning Joe, co-host Mika Brzezinski surprisingly called out Dyson for “lowering the conversation” after he attacked Mayor Giuliani:
Well, and in places like this and on Meet the Press, there should be room for a conversation to happen where as Wes [Moore] pointed out, Mayor Giuliani made a point that was legitimate and it may not be the most popular one. It may not be one you want to go on for an hour about but just like your conversation with Claire McCaskill last week, there are different facets to this story that are of concern. We can’t be seizing upon each other and calling them white supremacists or whatever else and lowering the conversation like that immediately.
See relevant transcript below.
NBC’s Meet the Press
November 23, 2014
CHUCK TODD: I’m now joined from Ferguson by Anthony Gray, he’s a lawyer for Michael Brown; Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York City who joins me from our studios in Rockefeller Center; and Michael Eric Dyson, professor of sociology at Georgetown University who is here with me in Washington.
Mr. Gray, let me start with you. Ron Allen just brought up the sort of the anxiety over the secretive process of the grand jury. Now grand juries to be effective, need to be secretive. What are you concerned about in this process? Are you concerned about the secrecy or are you simply concerned that they are not going to indict?
ANTHONY GRAY, LAWYER FOR MICHAEL BROWN`S FAMILY: Well, I’m not concerned that they`re not going to indict. I am concerned about the process itself. There seems to have — like you said before, in your lead in to this segment, there’s just a level of distrust over the whole process and those that are involved in the process that I think that that’s adding a level of anxiety to this whole situation that doesn’t have to be necessary had they done things a little bit differently in the beginning.
TODD: Do you believe if there is a trial, even if it’s a trial that the cop is found innocent, Mr. Wilson is found — Officer Wilson is found innocent, that having the trial itself will be therapeutic for the community?
GRAY: I think it may be therapeutic. But you got to understand, Chuck, there are people that are locked and loaded into how they feel about this situation. And anything short of reaching their full expectation will just never be satisfied. And you got that small or maybe perhaps large group of people that feel that way. I’m not so sure if it will be therapeutic for them. It may be they therapeutic for the community, however.
TODD: Mayor Giuliani, I’m curious what you thought of Governor Nixon’s decision. You managed the largest city — bigger, frankly it`s bigger just about every — most states. So Governor Nixon declares a pre-emptive state of emergency not for a natural disaster. Was that the right call?
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: You know, it’s hard to second guess a governor in a situation like that. What I would have done – – I have had — I had three situations similar to this. I would have had a state of emergency, but I would have kept it quiet. In other words, I would have kept my police on alert. I would have kept them in places where you couldn’t see them, be ready in a moment’s notice to stop any kind of violence.
But maybe not do it in advance. But it’s hard to second guess him. He had a tremendous amount of violence back in August. Had he not declared a state of emergency, he probably would get criticized for not doing it. What I’m concerned about is no one is explaining the grand jury to people. I mean we’re not educating people. Grand juries are secret to protect innocent people.
GIULIANI: That’s why they`re secret. It’s a federal crime to release information from a grand jury because a grand jury has a very low burden of proof, probable cause to commit a crime. And this grand jury is under incredible pressure, incredible pressure to indict. I feel sorry for these people, because they know if they walk out of that grand jury room and have not indicted, they may have created a massive riot in their city and maybe throughout the United States. To me, that kind of pressure is completely inconsistent with the American criminal justice system and the people who are putting on that pressure should be ashamed of themselves.
TODD: Michael Eric Dyson, I want to go back, though, to this decision to preemptively declare a state of emergency. It was interesting to hear Mayor Giuliani said he would have done it without telling anybody about it, because that seems to be the criticism is — Trevor Burress at Cato wrote this: he said, when troops march in with an expectation that protest will become violent, it creates a crowd atmosphere of ugliness and conflict. Quote, “the paramount concern has become officer safety not to protect and serve the community.”
DYSON: Right. I mean, Mayor Giuliani speaks about what`s unconscionable and what should be indicted. What should be indicted is a criminal justice system that continues to impose undue burdens on African-American, Latino and other poor people. Number two, the police force is not to be an occupying force. It is there to be there to protect and serve.
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