Howard Dean: Athletes Wearing “I Can’t Breathe” Shirt Okay, But Not “Abortion is Murder”

National   |   Mark Finkelstein   |   Dec 9, 2014   |   12:15PM   |   Washington, DC

Hypocrisy, thy name is Howard.

The former Dem prez candidate is predictably all good with NBA players wearing “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts. But what, posited Joe Scarborough on today’s Morning Joe, if other players wore “Abortion is Murder” shirts?

Dean claimed that’s “not exactly the same” and is “a different kind of debate.” Why? Because, according to Dean, “the survival of our country depends” on resolving the police/black men issue. You really want to talk about “survival,” Dr. Dean, when tens of millions have not survived since Roe v. Wade?

howarddeanNote that Dean seemed to change his opinion during the course of the segment.  When Joe first raised the issue, Dean was apparently okay with players wearing an “Abortion is Murder” shirt.  But Howard later circled back to the question and attempted to distinguish the two political statements.

Note also that Nicolle Wallace said that as a matter of political correctness, an “Abortion is Murder” t-shirt would not be accepted.  My read was that she said that as a matter of the realities of contemporary political correctness, not as an expression of her own view on the underlying matter.

Note finally that at the end of the segment, Scarborough amended his suggestion, saying that a better analogy would be Charles Barkley in a “Looters are Scumbags” shirt.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: But you’re okay with Lebron [wearing an “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirt].

HOWARD DEAN: Of course. 

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SCARBOROUGH: Would you be okay if somebody went out and said “abortion is murder” if they felt strongly about that on their t-shirt?

DEAN: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I might never [watch?] —

NICOLLE WALLACE: Of course not. I mean really?

SCARBOROUGH: That’s what I’m asking. I respect the right for him to do that but tonight if somebody wants to go in with a t-shirt that says abortion is murder, would that be okay?

NICOLLE WALLACE; I mean, we can pretend for the purpose of this conversation. I feel like our political correctness cup runneth over. Of course it wouldn’t. Of course it wouldn’t.

. . .

DEAN: Joe, it [“abortion is murder’] is not exactly the same analogy. The abortion question is a question we’ve been debating for 50 years. People have strong feelings about it, but it’s an ongoing —

SCARBOROUGH: If you’re a young black man in America you’ve been dealing with this for 350 years.

DEAN: Yeah, but this is an issue that I think —

SCARBOROUGH: I’m sorry you can’t explain it away. If you’re going to allow a political statement on one side you got to allow a political side on all sides.

DEAN: I wasn’t saying–this isn’t about allowing the statement, it’s a different kind of debate. 

SCARBOROUGH: How is that?

DEAN: Because the question of what happens with white police officers and black men, that’s not a debatable problem. It is a problem. People need to fix it. People have different ideas how to fix it. That’s a national issue that the survival of the country depends on. Note: Mark Finkelstein has a B.S. from Cornell University, an Ed.M. and a J.D. magna cum laude from SUNY Buffalo, and an LL.M. from Harvard. He lives in Ithaca, NY where he hosts “Right Angle,” a local political talk show. Finkelstein is a Contributing Editor at MRC’s NewsBusters blog, where this article originally appeared.