What Bill O'Reilly Just Learned About Black People
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
If he weren't such a ridiculous, pathetic oaf, I'd invite Bill O'Reilly up to my 'hood for a little white-on-white bonding, re-education and diversity training -- if he weren't afraid to set foot in it!
It would obviously surprise, and perhaps even frighten the Man Who Wouldn't Shut Up, to learn that I now live in Harlem -- along with many other white people, not to mention a wide and growing assortment of Asians, Hispanics, Arabs, African Americans and all the rest of what makes Manhattan such a vibrant, interesting and exciting place to live and work.
Apparently O'Reilly, trapped back in time as well as in his suburban cocoon and Fox bunker, hasn't noticed any of the ongoing changes in Harlem -- or for that matter the rest of America -- that have taken place since he and I attended the same very Catholic, very strict and very segregated college prep school in lily-white Long Island back in the '60s.
Back then there was only one skinny little black kid in the class -- and he was regularly brutalized by the hulking football players. Given that racist background -- and given the further fact that he obviously hasn't progressed much since then -- it comes as no surprise that O'Reilly recently expressed his surprise that "there was no difference" between Sylvia's, a world-famous Harlem restaurant, and other restaurants in New York.
"I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship," the amazed talkmeister told his national audience of millions.
This latest in a depressingly long series of O'Reilly racial dustups began last week on his syndicated radio program, while he was discussing a recent dinner he had enjoyed at Sylvia's with his new pal Al Sharpton.
O'Reilly told his audience he "had a great time, and all the people up there are tremendously respectful." (For Bill, it's somehow always all about him!) He added, "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, while talking with Fox News contributor (and National Public Radio senior correspondent) Juan Williams, O'Reilly further exposed his cosseted ignorance, saying, "There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, 'MF-er, 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."
Just imagine -- those crazy MF-ers in Harlem "ordering and having fun" just like they do in Italian restaurants in the "all-white" suburbs that O'Reilly STILL inhabits! What will they think of next -- donning leisure suits? (Frankly, the only crazy people I've ever heard yelling obscenities in New York restaurants were O'Reilly's Fox fellow travelers screaming for more booze in Langan's, the Irish pub they hang out in near their Sixth Avenue headquarters.)
The racist ranter then compounded his idiocy by noting, "I think black Americans are starting to think more and more for themselves. They're getting away from the Sharptons and the Jacksons and the people trying to lead them into a race-based culture. They're just trying to figure it out. 'Look, I can make it. If I work hard and get educated, I can make it.'"
As noted above, this embarrassing outburst is far from the first time O'Reilly has made provocative statements about race. (See Media Matters for America for documentation.)
But here are a few past lowlights:
- During the Feb. 5 edition of Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor," in a conversation about President Bush's description of Barack Obama as "articulate," O'Reilly told a Temple University professor, "Instead of black and white Americans coming together, white Americans are terrified. They're terrified. Now we can't even say you're articulate? We can't even give you guys compliments because they may be taken as condescension?"
- On the Aug. 16, 2006, edition of "The O'Reilly Factor," O'Reilly called for "profiling of Muslims" at airports, arguing that detaining all "Muslims between the ages of 16 and 45" for questioning "isn't racial profiling," but "criminal profiling."
- In a Feb. 27, 2006, conversation with a caller about the disproportionately few jobs and contracts that have gone to locals in the rebuilding of New Orleans, O'Reilly said: "[T]he homies, you know ... I mean, they're just not going to get the job."
- On the Sept. 13, 2005, broadcast of "The Radio Factor," O'Reilly claimed that "many of the poor in New Orleans" did not evacuate the city before Hurricane Katrina because "[t]hey were drug-addicted" and "weren't going to get turned off from their source," adding, "They were thugs."
On the recent (Sept. 19) edition of O'Reilly's Westwood One program "The Radio Factor," the all-white-suburb-inhabiting race man once again opined with false authority about "black people," whom he clearly has little-to-no contact with. Here's part of the transcript:
O'REILLY: Now, how do we get to this point? Black people in this country understand that they've had a very, very tough go of it, and some of them can get past that, and some of them cannot. ... So it's there. It's there, and I think it's getting better. I think black Americans are starting to think more and more for themselves. They're getting away from the Sharptons and the Jacksons and the people trying to lead them into a race-based culture ..."
Then, after trashing Sharpton, the two-faced O'Reilly turns around and praises him as "a very, very interesting guy."
O'REILLY: You know, I was up in Harlem a few weeks ago, and I actually had dinner with Al Sharpton, who is a very, very interesting guy. And he comes on "The Factor" a lot, and then I treated him to dinner, because he's made himself available to us, and I felt that I wanted to take him up there. And we went to Sylvia's, a very famous restaurant in Harlem. I had a great time, and all the people up there are tremendously respectful. They all watch "The Factor" ...
Fat chance! Ain't nobody in Harlem watching this guy unless they want to know when to duck ... but Bill's ego, like his ignorance, apparently knows no bounds.
Is it at all possible, one wonders, that O'Reilly can't "get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City" because he hardly ever meets or talks with anyone outside the narrow little world his narrow little mind is exposed during his daily commute from Long Island's North Shore to 1211 Avenue of the Americas? "I mean, it was exactly the same," O'Reilly said with evident wonder. "Even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship. It was the same ..."
Fancy that, "those people" are capable of being just like "us!" Amazing! All you can add is "God Bless America," because after all, "that's really what this society's all about now here in the U.S.A."
To the newly and self-anointed Soul Brother No. 2: "There's no difference. There's no difference. There may be a cultural entertainment -- people may gravitate toward different cultural entertainment, but you go down to Little Italy, and you're gonna have that. It has nothing to do with the color of anybody's skin."
Incredibly, O'Reilly somehow stopped short of repeating the old saw that some of his best friends are black (even his most loyal listener would never believe that!) although he did add, "I like that soul food ... It was great."
I'll tell you what would really be great -- if Bill O'Reilly just took his ill-gotten gains and retired to his North Shore estate tomorrow. Instead, he blathers on ... and on. Not only do blacks not yell obscenities at the wait staff, we learn they also can dress well. Some even go so far as to wear tuxedos!
O'REILLY: You know, and I went to the concert by Anita Baker at Radio City Music Hall, and the crowd was 50/50 black/white, and the blacks were well-dressed. ... The band was excellent, but they were dressed in tuxedoes, and this is what white America doesn't know, particularly people who don't have a lot of interaction with black Americans. They think that the culture is dominated by Twista, Ludacris and Snoop Dogg.
Would that it were! Instead the culture is still dominated by dumb-ass, ignorant old white farts like Bill O'Reilly, spouting bromides from the '50s while we're busy going to hell in a hand basket. So here's an open offer to my fellow Flyer from Chaminade High -- come on up to my neighborhood sometime soon, get educated, and join the rest of us in the 21st century!
Either that or just shut the F up, you silly MF-er!
Filmmaker and journalist Rory O'Connor is now completing AlterNetâ€™s first-ever book, which is on the subject of right-wing radio talkers like Oâ€™Reilly, and will be available soon. O'Connor also writes the Media Is A Plural blog.