During a segment on Tuesday evening's edition of The O'Reilly Factor, the Fox News Channel host stated he “does not, does not believe in white privilege. However, there is no question that African-Americans have a much harder time succeeding in our society than whites do.” [video below the jump]
Those assertions led Charles Blow, a columnist for the New York Times, to ask in his Thursday column “Is white privilege real? Not according to Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly.” The black writer also criticized the cable news host by declaring: “It is statements like this ... that make you the race hustler.”
If the Fox News anchor really believes there is no white privilege, Blow noted, “why would it be harder for blacks to succeed? Could interpersonal and, more important, systemic bias play a role?”
He then added: “And, once one acknowledges the presence of bias as an impediment, one must by extension concede that being allowed to navigate the world without such biases is a form of privilege, which … can be gendered, sexual identity based, religious and, yes, racial.”
“When one has the luxury of not being forced to compensate for societal oppression based on basic identity,” Blow noted, “one is in fact privileged in that society.”
O'Reilly made some other comments that drew Blow's ire.
“Instead of preaching a cultural revolution, the leadership provides excuses for failure,” the host asserted. “The race hustlers blame white privilege, an unfair society, a terrible country. So the message is, it’s not your fault if you abandon your children, if you become a substance abuser, if you are a criminal.
“No, it’s society’s fault,” he continued. "That is the big lie that is keeping some African-Americans from reaching their full potential. Until personal responsibility and a cultural change takes place, millions of African-Americans will struggle.”
“No, Mr. O’Reilly,” Blow charged, “it is statements like this one that make you the race hustler. The underlying logic is that blacks are possessed of some form of racial pathology or self-destructive racial impulses, that personal responsibility and systemic inequity are separate issues and not intersecting ones.”
The Times columnist also noted:
O’Reilly even trotted out the Asian “model minority” trope to buttress his argument, citing low unemployment rates and high levels of income and educational attainment for Asians compared not only to blacks, but to whites.
Whenever people use racial differences as an argument to downplay racial discrimination, context is always called for.
Blow charged that people who use this line of logic fail to address “the extent to which immigration policy has informed those statistics and the extent to which many Asian-Americans resent the stereotype as an oversimplification of the diversity of the Asian experience.”
He then quoted a 2012 Pew Research report entitled “The Rise of Asian Americans,” which found:
Large-scale immigration from Asia did not take off until the passage of the landmark Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. Over the decades, this modern wave of immigrants from Asia has increasingly become more skilled and educated.
This evolution has been spurred by changes in U.S. immigration policies and labor markets; by political liberalization and economic growth in the sending countries; and by the forces of globalization in an ever-more digitally interconnected world.
Blow put forth his own view of the subject: “Much of the African-American immigration policy came in the form of centuries of bondage, dehumanization and unimaginable savagery visited on their bodies. And that legacy is long and the scars deep.”
He then quoted O'Reilly as addressing this issue as a minor part of his point of view:
One caveat: The Asian-American experience historically has not been nearly as tough as the African-American experience.
Slavery is unique, and it has harmed black Americans to a degree that is still being felt today, but in order to succeed in our competitive society, every American has to overcome the obstacles they face.
Apparently, Blow must have missed another part of O'Reilly's "Talking Points Memo," in which he stated: "The primary reason" for the gap between the success of white and black people "is not skin color. It's education and not just book learning."
In addition, he stated: “American children must learn not only academics, but also civil behavior, right from wrong, as well as how to speak properly and how to act respectfully in public.”
Nevertheless, the columnist added: “But at the root of it, we can’t expect equality of outcome while acknowledging inequality of environments.
“Only a man bathing in privilege would be blind to that,” he concluded.
Of course, “equality of outcome” is a liberal fantasy that is supposedly part of our “cultural diversity.” But how can people end up the same when we emphasize differences in such areas as race and language?
The answer to that is we can't expect it, but people on the left side of the political aisle nevertheless find it useful as a tool to forward their liberal agendas.