Fox News host Bill O’Reilly announced last night on his program that the following paragraph, written by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Time magazine, was misguided. Teed up by the outrage over racist comments by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, the former NBA great wrote:
That’s why the best way to combat racism in the face of selective attention and situational racism is to seek it out every minute of every day and expose every instance we find. And not just racism, but also sexism, homophobia and every other kind of injustice that lessens the principles of inclusion that define this country.
Bad idea, concluded the Fox News host, who said that mentality would give rise to a “nation of witch hunters. . . . I mean, who exactly is in charge of defining and exposing every instance of racism? Who?”
Answer: Twitter, the media, the people. Those have been among the actors who’ve taken after Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and Sterling, two recent utterers of racist remarks. Yet in his monologue, O’Reilly managed to elide the public square and the public sector: “A call for all Americans to seek and expose racism is quite something else. It’s a vigilante situation. Again that’s dangerous. And if you study history you know that’s what totalitarian regimes do — seek out opinions they don’t like and punish them.”
Continuing the rant, O’Reilly seethed that “political correctness has taken deep root in this country. Conservatives and Republican students are targets on some college campuses. They are objects of derision in much of academia. In the media it’s more of the same — political correctness dominates. If the Fox News Channel didn’t exist, the traditional conservative voice would be buried in the media. We’re one of the few networks that give both points of view. And have not surrendered to PC nonsense.”
Footnote: In his Time piece, Abdul-Jabbar directly criticized O’Reilly’s viewpoint on race relations, perhaps accounting for O’Reilly’s reaction.