When issues of crime and race emerge, Bill O’Reilly feels most comfortable. In the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin killing, O’Reilly railed against hoodies and “gangsta” culture. And after Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Mo., in August, O’Reilly fought back all notions that there’s a culture of white privilege in the United States. He famously debated that particular contention in an appearance this fall on Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show.”
Now that a grand jury in St. Louis County has declined to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the killing of 18-year-old Brown, O’Reilly is back on the beat. Yesterday a column titled “Ferguson, Truth, and The End of Time” surfaced on BillOReilly.com. The piece carried a peculiar byline — “BillOReilly.com Staff” — which may or may not include “Bill O’Reilly,” though the opinions contained within it sound a lot like those of a certain King of Cable News.
The thrust is a slap at a column in Time magazine by Darlena Cunha defending the role of rioting in expediting social change. Time magazine, argues BillOReilly.com Staff, has become “irrelevant,” though not so irrelevant that BillOReilly.com Staff doesn’t flinch at devoting precious column inches to rebutting it: “Let’s start by calling out Time Magazine for publishing garbage,” notes the column. “The aforementioned Darlena Cunha asks a question in her execrable column: ‘Is rioting so wrong?’ Yes, Ms. Cunha, it is. And nearly as wrong was Time’s decision to publish your incendiary diatribe.”
Cunha argues that racism is “still alive and well throughout our nation” — which is the sort of contention that short-circuits a guy like Bill O’Reilly, not to mention BillOReilly.com Staff. And so the column riffs:
To be fair, most Americans recognize that young black men are often viewed with more suspicion than, say, young Asian men. Not just by cops, but by shop owners and people walking down the street. Is it fair? No. But is it at least in part understandable? Of course.
All one has to do is examine a few stats. As the brave black columnist Jason Riley points out, blacks commit violent crimes at about ten times the rate of whites. Blame it on poverty or lack of education or anything else that makes you feel better, but the fact remains that black criminality is disproportionately high.
Bold text added to highlight a pernicious word. In stating that it’s “understandable” to profile young black men, BillOReilly.com Staff is essentially issuing a permission of sorts — permission to generalize, permission to stereotype, permission to propagate “the annihilation of the black individual.”
That last quote comes from an essay by the Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates in rebuttal to a column by The Washington Post’s Richard Cohen defending stop-and-frisk policing policies that weigh heavily on young black males. Coates wrote of such notions:
They hold that neither I, nor my twelve year old son, nor any of my nephews, nor any of my male family members deserve to be judged as individuals by the state. Instead we must be seen as members of a class more inclined to criminality. It does not matter that the vast, vast majority of black men commit no violent crime at all.
That sounds pretty “understandable” too, no?