While expressing sympathy for some parts of Rep. Alan Grayson’s (D-FL) viewpoint and expressing his own distaste for Tea Party politics, MSNBC host Martin Bashir still challenged Grayson on Friday over whether a fundraising email explicitly linking the conservative group to the Ku Klux Klan is appropriate, or even accurate.
“How can you possibly compare racist epithets with the racist actions of the KKK, which actually led to racist murders?” Bashir asked Grayson.
Grayson responded by arguing that the Tea Party now hosts discriminatory and racist elements in much the same way the Klan did during its generation.
“I’m pleased that we haven’t gone so far as to see those murders,” Grayson answered. “But the analogy holds to that degree.”
Bashir countered by citing the 1964 murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner by Klan members in Mississippi.
“How many young Black and white civil rights workers has the Tea Party lynched?” Bashir pressed on.
“I have given a reproduction of the painting of that incident to our local African-American history museum,” Grayson responded. “I am well aware of what you’re describing.”
Grayson also acknowledged that “some analogies are imperfect” before Bashir interjected to ask, “So do you accept that that may have been an inappropriate analogy?,” an argument Grayson rejected, arguing that the Tea Party has refused to eject its racist elements despite being exhorted to do so by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples (NAACP).
When Bashir, citing criticism from Grayson’s party colleague Rep. John Yarmouth (D-KY), asked Grayson if a fundraising message with a burning cross in place of the “T” in “Tea Party” debased the Democrats, the congressman let out a quick laugh before pushing back against Bashir.
“Do you think that racism is the same as calling out racism?” Grayson asked. “Do you think that my effort to end racism in America is somehow analogous to racism itself?”
Watch the discussion, as aired on Friday on MSNBC, below.