In President Obama's speech Tuesday, he urged people to set aside their pre-programmed talking points, their cynicism, and their tendency to slip right back into divisive ways, but to instead listen to people. It was a speech full of sorrow, but also hope infused with his unshakeable belief in people.
The president directly confronted systemic racism, too. From his speech:
And so when African-Americans from all walks of life, from different communities across the country, voice a growing despair over what they perceive to be unequal treatment, when study after study shows that whites and people of color experience the criminal justice system differently. So that if you’re black, you’re more likely to be pulled over or searched or arrested; more likely to get longer sentences; more likely to get the death penalty for the same crime. When mothers and fathers raised their kids right, and have the talk about how to respond if stopped by a police officer — yes, sir; no, sir — but still fear that something terrible may happen when their child walks out the door; still fear that kids being stupid and not quite doing things right might end in tragedy.
When all this takes place, more than 50 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, we cannot simply turn away and dismiss those in peaceful protest as troublemakers or paranoid.
We can’t simply dismiss it as a symptom of political correctness or reverse racism. To have your experience denied like that, dismissed by those in authority, dismissed perhaps even by your white friends and coworkers and fellow church members, again and again and again, it hurts. Surely we can see that, all of us.
This came after the part of the President's speech where he commended the Dallas Police Department for the progress they've made, and where he passionately defended police officers and admitted the dangers they face.
So really, the President was asking us all to just open our minds a little bit. But Bill O'Reilly just cannot do that. He cannot.
O'Reilly chose instead to focus on President Obama's remarks in favor of the police, and then accuse him of airing "grievances" (word of the day on Fox News) that detracted from his message. My responses to his nasty, venomous prejudice is in italics.
First, an understanding that we simply cannot have a black man ask for white people to open their minds to people of color at Fox News, which exists only to administer regular injections of venom to its audience who is dependent on the hate, fear and venom to get through another day without having to confront their own biases.
"If we are ever to become one nation under God, we will have to put the grievances behind us and not use them as an excuse for bad behavior," O'Reilly declared.
You hush now, people who have been wronged at the hands of white men. Hush about your children, hush about your young men who are dead and gone. Hush about those grievances, now and don't expect anyone to put a hand out with an apology and a promise to make things better. Just hush.
He continued, "The truth is bias will always be with us. Every country has it. From the dawn of mankind, unfair treatment has occurred."
So deal with it, you miscreants.
O'Reilly concluded, "Americans should all be in this together. But we are not. What we really need is a federal government to create laws that are fair and make sure they are enforced without prejudice."
Except for that whole bias thing. Don't you worry about that. Sure, white boys will live through their encounters with police and Black boys will die, because we simply cannot acknowledge that the "grievances" are real.