Race and politics

Is it possible to criticize the President without someone suggesting you're racist?


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," April 11, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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INGRAHAM: In the "Factor Follow up Segment" tonight. Is it possible to criticize the President without someone suggesting you're a racist? A few days ago Attorney General Eric Holder implied that criticism of him and President Obama is being driven by race. Holder made the comment in front of Al Sharpton's advocacy group and the same place where President Obama gave the key note address today focusing on the Voting Rights Act while taking a shot at Republicans.


OBAMA: The right to vote is threatened today in a way that it has not been since the Voting Rights Act became law nearly five decades ago. Across the country, Republicans have led efforts to pass laws making it harder, not easier, for people to vote.


INGRAHAM: Joining us now from New York is Rich Benjamin he's a senior fellow at Demos and the author of the book "Searching for Whitopia: An Improbable Journey to the Heart of White America." Ok Rich, it's great to see you.

Here is what I am wondering about ok? We have the anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, obviously the President wants to commemorate that. All the former presidents did. And we take this moment to turn it into partisan attack on the Republicans who want -- some want more voter I.D., integrity at the polls.

And we turn a moment which I think should be a bipartisan moment into a real partisan frame of speaking. I find that to be frankly reprehensible but it doesn't surprise me. Your response.

RICH BENJAMIN, SENIOR FELLOW, "DEMOS": Well, Laura, democracy itself is not partisan, so it's not about attacking the Republicans. It's about protecting our democracy. Something that's very important here on the milestone of this crucial bill that you have benefited from, that I have benefited from. So that's the way the President sees it.


BENJAMIN: This fundamental right to vote that we need to protect for everybody's good. And so it's democracy when you protect it is really not a partisan move.

INGRAHAM: Right but this is about race here. For the President, this is about race. I mean he's speaking about this at an incredibly important race you know event that commemorates racial equality and so forth and on the heels of what Eric Holder said this week. And intimating that the reason he is being questioned about four dead Americans or IRS targeting or any of these scandals is because of the color of his skin.

Now, he is the attorney general of the United States. He's supposed to enforce the law across the board without regard to party politics and instead this week he turns his position into a battering ram against the Republican Party using this sickening and cynical race card again.

Again, I find that to be antithetical to what the civil rights movement was supposed to be all about -- true through opportunity. He has an opportunity. I think he is failing as attorney general. Not because he's black, but because he's doing a really lousy job. That doesn't make me a racist. Go ahead.

BENJAMIN: Well, I don't think Eric Holder would agree that he's failing. So he -- A, he didn't say that he was failing and B, he didn't say he was failing because of his race. Rather, what we saw today is a civil rights group that works on behalf of all Americans gathering and the President remarking a civil rights legislation and commenting on the right to vote. And it's going to be very important because, from Wisconsin to Ohio, and all these important swing states that are going to matter, not only in 2014, but in 2016, winning the right to vote of several.


INGRAHAM: Rich, rich, this is an attempt to deflect, right? I mean your own think tank did a study about black and brown unemployment. I'm sure you are aware of the study, are you not? The crisis in black and youth -- black and brown youth unemployment, your organization commented on what's happened to young African-American and Latino males over the last several years. And it is disastrous.

BENJAMIN: We are proud of that study. We are proud of the study.

INGRAHAM: Right. So why are you talking about that with President Obama, why aren't you challenging him?

BENJAMIN: But we have also done work building pathways to the -- building pathways to the middle class for all Americans regardless of race and so this what we've done --

INGRAHAM: But what's more important today that?


INGRAHAM: It is -- don't you think that is the real crisis today? Young African-Americans and Latino males and everybody, frankly? They don't have any opportunity --

BENJAMIN: Jobs is a crisis, democracy is a crisis. What the President spoke of today is a crisis when people are limited in terms of voting hours, in terms of voting times, in terms of restrictive voter IDs that's also a crisis alongside jobs.

INGRAHAM: Do you think it's a hard thing to get an ID today Rich is that a hard thing to get a voter I.D.? Is that difficult?

BENJAMIN: For some people it is. Not for you not for I, 25 percent of African-Americans who have abided by the law find it difficult to get voter IDs. And we've got to honor that if we are interested in them voting we have to let them vote.

INGRAHAM: It's a lot harder to get a job than it is, of course, to vote -- voting is fairly easy not very difficult but that's the crisis in America. And I wish -- I wish all of you folks would focus on that.

BENJAMIN: So why limit the right to vote then? Why do we need the right to vote then?

INGRAHAM: Well we actually want people voting who are qualified to vote and have a proper I.D. that's not a civil rights issue. That is a logical issue. Richard, we appreciate it.

And straight ahead Jeb doubles down in his controversial position on illegal aliens. A look at how that is going to play with voters in a moment.

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