O’Reilly misunderstood by everyone

On the Sept. 19 airing of his radio talk show, Bill O’Reilly discussed O.J. Simpson’s legal predicaments and a recent dining experience he had with the Rev. Al Sharpton in a famous Harlem restaurant. As a hero to conservatives, and my second father, I feel that it is imperative to defend Bill O’Reilly against those who wish to demonize him in a vain attempt to silence candid and open racial discourse.

First and foremost, contextual information is critical to accurate and ingenuous reporting. With that said, the following is a contextually-precise account of what was said. What Americans heard through the airwaves when tuning to O’Reilly’s Radio Factor was a segment of a dialogue with Juan Williams, a prominent black political journalist who works as an analyst for Fox News and National Public Radio, in regard to his book titled Enough. The actual interview was conducted in August and simply re-broadcast last week, probably in lieu of the recent racially-charged events concerning the Jena 6.

Nonetheless, Enough attempts to elucidate why many blacks are born in a country that offers so much opportunity and promise, but they still remain outside the gate of these endless possibilities. O’Reilly allowed Williams to come on the air and rationalize his thoughts in order for the public to become educated and be enlightened about the divisiveness of racism and the impact it has had on American, and specifically black culture.

It was a forum intended to illustrate the hazards that go along with stereotyping and the repercussions arising from corporations using negative role models in the form of black rappers. O’Reilly, who loves to discuss how explicit rap lyrics damage America, opened up to his audience and cited his own example.

O’Reilly used his grandmother, a woman who grew up sheltered from anything other than whiteness, as an individual who was entrenched in the media’s destructive imagery of blacks engaging in all forms of criminal activity. Ranging from drugs, murder and thievery, she quickly became naive. O’Reilly was quick to point out that she was obviously wrong and took a harsher stance against her than Williams did.

The conversation then shifted when O’Reilly recalled a recent dinner he had with Sharpton at a famous soul-food restaurant in Harlem called Sylvia’s. O’Reilly, reacting to his experience, told Williams, "(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. There wasn’t one person in Sylvia’s who was screaming, "MF-er, I want more iced tea."

Racist? Do not be so quick to judge.

The context and crux of O’Reilly’s statement is apparent – I advise everyone to log onto and hear the complete unedited version for yourself. In an honest and unfastened conversation with Juan Williams, O’Reilly opined what many, even blacks themselves, sometimes, consider to be true: Too often the imagery on television consists of rappers degrading women, a veneration of drugs and violence and putting all things consistent with illegality on a pedestal.

According to O’Reilly, and backed by Williams in his book, a subculture’s embrace of these qualities is appalling and risky. Blacks, other minorities and even whites who grow up in impoverished areas of the nation often succumb themselves to the harmful rhetoric of these people. They then transfer their focus from overcoming their hardships to becoming more like the people who spit out the injurious lyrics. For some, it has now become "cool" and "proper" to be a Nas or Snoop Dogg.

All O’Reilly was attempting to do was say that these individuals are not representative of black Americans and was caught in the middle of a war by, which incessantly gets off at attacking conservatives but never liberals, and propagated by an abysmal news network which has shown nothing but declining ratings, CNN.

A fair and balanced report ought to be just that – fair and balanced. We cannot depend on media outlets whose sole purpose is to increase the volume of traffickers on their Web sites, or viewers on their network, at the expense of ruining someone’s character and not engaging the facts. Conversations about racism are never easy and too often we dance around what we really want to say in fear that it may be taken the wrong way.

Jawanmardi, a political science senior, can be reached via [email protected]

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