Sunday, November 25, 2012
Michael D. Higgins was elected President of Ireland in 2011 but when this interview took place while he was still leader of the Labor party. As he moved from health care to tea party racism to foreign policy and back again, all Graham can do is sputter.The interview took place in Ireland.
HIGGINS: I've spoken of my time in the Midwest. I'm going to the Greyhound bus station and hearing for the first time "poor white trash." These people, who -- you know, I was there before the Civil Rights charter came in and frankly the idea that a person would not have one job, but would have two jobs, or three jobs and work all the light hours that are there and still not be entitled to the basic protection of fundamental care is so outrageous.
So whether you agree with Obama on what he is doing and aspects of his foreign policy -- I disagree with some things about Latin and South America --
But one of the things I do agree, the idea of being a social floor, below which people wouldn't fall, that's the future. I think even the poorest people in the great country that is the United States should be entitled to basic health care --
GRAHAM: Okay --
HIGGINS: -- And I don't think they'll thank the Sarah Palin lookalikes and followers for taking it off them.
You're about as late an arrival in Irish politics as Sarah Palin is in American politics and both of you have the same tactic. The tactic is to get a large crowd, whip them up, try and discover what is the greatest fear, work on that, and feed it right back in a frenzy. And that leads you in time then when you have in fact maybe one of the most gifted Presidents elected. I happen to not agree with all of his foreign policy but you know you regard for example someone who happens to have been a professor at Harvard as somehow now very handicapped.
You don't find anything wrong at all with this Tea Party ignorance that is being brought all around the United States, which is regularly insulting people who have been democratically elected.
GRAHAM: Deputy Higgins, I'm not going to insult you by --
HIGGINS: -- oh I think you should.
GRAHAM: --by bringing up your lack of knowledge of the Tea Party movement other than to --
HIGGINS: I lived in the United States and you know one interesting thing, Mike? You know the big difference as I listened, I lived in the Midwest, in Willie Nelson country. I was a student there at the end of the 60s, I was a professor in Illinois when they entered the 70s.
The magnificent, decent, generous people of the United States, with whom I had supper. People who I sat and ate homemade ice cream with them. The difference between them and the tiny elite who are in charge of warmongering foreign policy in the United States is just enormous.
So therefore when you go on your picnic around the country you're really not representing the decent United States people who are very proud, correctly, of the person they've elected President which they're entitled to do.
But you have the neck to say that people like me who are willing to talk to people or at least are trying to build peace are somehow or another in favor of people who want to martyr Jewish people. That is an outrageous statement. I am not antiSemitic, I am not in favor of martyr, and unlike you, I make my profession in politics and I worked in human rights. And I condemned Hamas for sending rockets. Not that that will matter to you.
Because you know what you are, and I wish you well. Keep drinking Guinness and keep ranting away, but don't suggest that those of us who are working for peace in the heat of the day are somehow interested in martyring Jews.
There's a man in the United -- you know him. I think you may have interviewed him. Mark B. Klein. He represents fourteen Jewish organizations in New York. He organized forty-five members of the House of Representatives to sign a letter condemning Barack Obama for giving Mary Robinson the Medal of Honor. Yeah.
I was debating with him on a program rather like this and I said to him "How can you conclude that Mary Robinson is anti-Semitic?" And he said -- and I said "Or Bishop Tutu, for example?" "Bishop Tutu is anti-Semitic as well!" You're going down that road. And really, it is very dangerous stuff.
The fact of the matter is -- look. Young people from the United States are traveling all over the world again. They're welcome in Europe. They're backpackers and hostels. People are talking to them. Because the image of the United States, we've got away from this warmongering is getting better.
At least forty-seven million people that the likes of you condemn to no health care in a country that I was proud to work in -- these people are going to have some health care.