PHILADELPHIA — Political activist Michael Eric Dyson said the U.S. should be “figuring out a way to bring people” into the country rather than constructing a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border as GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has suggested.
Due to the passage of the Secure Fence Act of 2006, some fencing exists along the border but it was not finished.
Dyson said he specifically opposes Trump’s proposal for building the wall against Mexicans and his plan to temporarily ban travel from countries “compromised” by terrorism.
“Not only is it ludicrous, it’s xenophobic. We shouldn’t be building walls; we should be extending bridges. We should be figuring out a way to bring people in. Do we want to be safe? Of course we do. Do we want to guard our borders in a reasonable way? Of course we do. We have to do that with an appreciation for what is serious and what is democratic about our culture,” he told PJM at the Democratic National Convention.
Dyson, an MSNBC commentator and sociology professor at Georgetown University, has called for African-Americans to protest Trump at his campaign rallies. In a recent column, Dyson wrote that his words might be interpreted as a call for violence.
“I know that these words can be read as a call to violence unseen at a national political convention since Chicago in 1968. So be it,” Dyson wrote in a New Republic column. “As Martin Luther King Jr. taught us, it is a risk we must take. We have a positive moral obligation to protest the nomination of this racist demagogue for president.”
Dyson told PJM he is a “nonviolent” person and simply wants protesters to speak out in the face of threats.
“What I was saying is Martin Luther King, Jr., knew it would be violence when he went into Birmingham. He knew it would be violence not because he brought it — I’m a nonviolent person. I’m an ordained Baptist minister for 35 years. I don’t know violence, but I said even if there is the prospect of violence we must walk into the teeth of that violence,” he said at the convention.
“We must not be intimidated by people’s threat: ‘If you come here we are going to beat you down.’ So, my point is, let’s engage in some serious protests that – regardless of the potential that people will threaten that violence – we have to be brave enough and strong enough to weather that storm,” he added.
Some observers thought there would be more protests at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. PJM asked Dyson if he was disappointed in the level of protests.
“Well, certainly that, number one, but number two, what was far more reprehensible was their protest against equality, their protest against a serious, sustained engagement with the problems that confront America,” Dyson replied.
“I was disappointed in the RNC because their tent is not big. If you look at what’s going on here, there are many more people. Diverse kinds of people, other able people, Latino people, African-American people, Native people, there’s a variety of differences operating here.”
Dyson added that “the deal is within the RNC there was no serious engagement with the very diversity that characterizes us as a people, and on top of that Donald Trump’s amplification of the worst imaginable bigotry that this nation could conjure explicitly, unapologetically, before the nation, was reprehensible.”
“And so I think being here is a relief from that, but yeah, we’ve got to protest by voting, we’ve got to protest by getting out and making certain we rip through those chads and pull those levers so that Donald Trump is prevented from becoming president of the United States of America,” he said.