MSNBC host Martin Bashir tore down Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) for his ill-founded comparison between the Tea Party and the Ku Klux Klan, leaving the Congressman with no defense except to claim that Bashir himself supported racism.
Grayson appeared on Martin Bashir on Friday afternoon, where the host asked him about whether or not his recent comparison was a bit unfair. The Florida Democrat has been called out by both sides of the aisle, but refuses to apologize.
Bashir acknowledged that some members of the conservative political movement have made racist remarks in the past — but he pointed out the difference between that and actual murder.
“I have to ask you, how can you possibly compare racist epithets with the racist actions of the KKK, which actually led to racist murders?” the host asked.
“Well today, Martin, the home of discrimination and bigotry in our country, in our political system, is the Tea Party, in the same way that the home of bigotry and discrimination generations ago was the Ku Klux Klan,” Grayson responded.
The Congressman added that he was glad the current situation hadn’t “gone so far as to see those murders.”
Bashir interrupted, agreeing with examples Grayson gave of Tea Party racism, but pressed that the group had never murdered anyone.
“How many young black and white civil rights workers has the Tea Party lynched?” Bashir asked.
In response, Grayson blustered that he understood the history of the Civil Rights Movement, adding that some analogies are “imperfect.” He said that the Tea Party had been asked to expunge the racists from their organization, but the group had not. The Congressman said his point was valid.
The host kept pressing, however, saying Grayson was stooping to the level of those who made racist remarks to begin with and diluting the terrible evil that was the Ku Klux Klan. Bashir pointed out that even members of Grayson’s own party, like Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), said the comparison between the KKK and the Tea Party was not the best means for pushing back against the conservative group.
“I imagine John Yarmuth does not have emails from Tea Party members going to him saying, ‘Go to hell, Jew boy,’ or ‘I wish that it were you on that cross,’” Grayson responded, trying to justify himself. “So maybe John Yarmuth does see it differently from the way I do.”
“Mr. Grayson, I receive emails from people regularly, describing me in the most inappropriate terms and asking that I be murdered and shot and hung,” Bashir shot back. “I accept that that happens. The point I’m simply making to you is that — is it appropriate to use such heinous crimes and to analogize them when describing the Tea Party when you and I know members of the Tea Party have not perpetrated murders or lynching?”
“And the point I’m making to you, Martin, is that if you don’t speak out against it, in effect you’re collaborating with it,” Grayson answered. “And, in fact, if you give someone like me a hard time for speaking out against it, then maybe you’re collaborating with it.”
“I am not collaborating with it,” Bashir finished as the segment ended.