O'Reilly Goes To Harlem, Leaves More People Convinced He's a Racist
I've written before about the ways in which O'Reilly couches racist ideas -- treating gangsta rap culture like the primary voice of black America and then blaming a host of ills affecting black people on that cartoonish caricature.
Now, after an attempt at rapprochement with civil rights advocate Al Sharpton, O'Reilly has stepped in it again, this time by marveling at how he had dinner with Sharpton at a Harlem restaurant and people were civil to him; no cursing, crotch grabbing or ugly behavior in sight.
Here's the quote, fresh from the admittedly liberal media watch Web site, Media Matters: "(O'Reilly) reported that he "had a great time, and all the people up there are tremendously respectful," adding: "I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship." Later, during a discussion with National Public Radio senior correspondent and Fox News contributor Juan Williams about the effect of rap on culture, O'Reilly asserted: "There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, 'M-Fer, I want more iced tea.' You know, I mean, everybody was -- it was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense of people were sitting there, and they were ordering and having fun. And there wasn't any kind of craziness at all."
Here's my first column, written in 1999, about how O'Reilly uses racially charged language about gangsta rappers to scare his presumably white viewership and press his points. Here's my second column about O'Reilly's racist rhetorical tricks, employed this time to criticize those stuck in New Orleans during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Here's his response to the Katrina column -- a typically personal attack in which he cites his radio comments, not the TV appearance I criticized.
I think these comments are typical of O'Reilly's technique. Too smart to personally use an epithet in the way Don Imus finally did, he instead turns rap culture into a straw man used to represent all of black culture. Then, he's free to tee off on the stereotypical excesses of THAT culture, rather than talk about real, live black people with all their contradictions intact.
Fox News executive Bill Shine, speaking to the Associated Press, had a different take on his channel's star pundit: ""This is nothing more than left-wing outlets stirring up false racism accusations for ratings," said Shine, senior vice president for programming at Fox News Channel. "It's sad."
O'Reilly seems amazed to meet black folks who don't fit his disconnected stereotype of what we are. That he finally got introduced to some real black people may be the best thing to come of this bizarre meeting -- and yes, Sharpton critics, it took the Rev Al to make that happen.
NPR's News and Notes Covers Jena and White Supremacy
NPR's black focused show had an interesting segment today on material posted online by the leader of a white supremacist group who claimed to have a supportive interview with the mayor of Jena, La., where thousands of people converged last week to protest the prosecution of six black youths.
The Chicago Tribune published a piece on the interviews, which quote Jena mayor Murphy McMillin praising efforts by white supremacists to mount counter demonstrations. News and Notes interviewed the Richard Barrett, the leader of a white nationalist movement in Mississippi, who said he didn't tape record the conversation but wrote it down later from memory. Murphy declined to speak for the radio but sent NPR emails denying the most controversial quotes.