The case involving the death of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in Florida certainly has sparked a great deal of debate. This debate has seen sides being taken on one of the most fundamental issues we have ever faced….race. Since the incident, millions of people have been discussing race all across the world, culminating in two addresses to the masses outlining differing views on the subject. One was from President Obama just after the verdict and another was from FOX News host Bill O’Reilly. Normally I wouldn’t put O’Reilly in the same category as the President, and I do not pretend to do so here, but the fact remains that his talking points memo has quite a few people on the opposite side of President Obama saying that O’Reilly was spot on. Since O’Reily is widely viewed by many on the right as a “facts guy”, lets check the facts.
O’Reilly begins his talking points by saying that we cannot implement effective policies by “dwelling on sins of the past”. If you watch the clip, O’Reilly says this in response to President Obama saying that many African-American men have experienced being followed when they shop or heard doors lock when they cross the street and saying that sets of experiences like that inform how the African-American community interprets what happened in Florida. Right off the bat, O’Reilly is off base by calling this “sins of the past”. The President wasn’t talking about slavery, or firehoses being turned on marchers…he was talking about the millions of little things that happen everyday in America as I type this. These aren’t in the past. These are happening right now.
O’Reilly goes on to say that Zimmerman did profile Martin, but not because of skin color, but because he “was a stranger to Zimmerman” and because he “was dressed in clothing sometimes used by extreme criminals”. There is a lot to cover here. First, are we really to the point in our society when anyone who is a stranger to you is to be deemed suspicious and followed? Really? I’m sorry but that’s not the kind of society that can exist in a civilized manner and show respect for others. There are billions of people on the planet. There are a lot of people who are strangers to you. If you are suspicious of all of them, you need help. Next we have this continuing dialogue about what Trayvon was wearing…clothing “sometimes used by extreme criminals”. Oh, you mean a suit and tie? Because some of the most extreme criminals I know wear a suit and tie and destroy entire communities with the push of a button. No….that’s not what you meant? Then maybe you meant jeans and a button down shirt like John Wayne Gacy or Jeffrey Dahmer? No….not jeans and a shirt either, huh? I got it….maybe he meant white men in robes and hoods. After all, no choice of outfit screams “criminal” more than that of the Klan, no? Wrong again? I now….it was a priests robe. Zimmerman was afraid someone was about to become one of the thousands of victims of rape. no? Well I must know what Trayvon was wearing. Lets see…”a grey hoodie, with either jeans or sweatpants and white gym shoes.” Shit…you know who dresses like that? My twelve year old daughter and almost everyone of her friends. Wait…..the two guys who work for me, ages nineteen and twenty, also dress like that. Son if a bitch….my wife dresses like that when she goes grocery shopping. Can you not see the absolute ignorance in saying that a hoodie with jeans and gym shoes are clothing “sometimes used by extreme criminals”? Go on twitter some time and look at the pictures of people under the age of twenty five and tell me how many of them DON’T wear the exact same clothing. It’s ludicrous. So why is Bill O’Reilly saying this? Well, he says it was wrong for Zimmerman to profile Martin, but the culture that we have in America lends itself to profiling because “young black Americans are so often involved in crime.” Wait….I thought O’Reilly said it had nothing to do with the color of Martins skin. Here are Bill’s exact words in regards to that. “Trayvon Martin was killed because circumstances got out of control. He was scrutinized by neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman, because of the way he looked. Not necessarily the color of his skin…there is no evidence of that.” We’ll, I think O’Reily disagrees with himself because he clearly says that we have a tendency to profile young black men because they are so often involved in crime, but says Zimmerman didn’t profile Martin based on his skin color. so was it really strictly a hoodie and jeans that set Zimmerman off? Which is it Bill? Was he profiled for being black at a time when black men are so highly involved in crime or was he profiled for wearing what millions of young Americans wear every day? See folks, what we have here is O’Reilly, and those who listen to him, wanting to have it both ways. They want to say that Zimmerman wasn’t profiling Martin because he was black, but then saying that it was ok for Zimmerman to profile Martin because he is a black man and black men commit a lot of crime. It is talking out of both sides of ones mouth.
Now we start getting hard data from O’Reilly. He says that young black men commit homicides at a rate ten times higher than whites and Hispanics combined. He then correlates this with the left blaming guns, poor education and lack of jobs and says “rarely do they define the problem accurately.” So tell us Bill, what is the problem, according to you? Well, luckily, he fills us in. He says “The reason the is so much violence and chaos in the black precincts is the disintegration of the African-American family. Right now, 73% of all black babies are born out of wedlock.” He goes on to say “That drives poverty and the lack of involved fathers leaves young boys growing up resentful and unsupervised.” First, the notion that because the father isn’t involved, that the child is automatically “unsupervised” is a slap in the face to single mothers everywhere who are doing a damn fine job of keeping their kids in line and making sure they grow up with respect and honor. But single parenthood isn’t just a black issue. Even in places where black populations have declined, single parent households have increased. In South Carolina, where the black share of the population fell by 2 percent, single parenthood rose by 5 percent. In Kentucky and Louisiana, where the black population was constant, single parenthood increased 6 percentage points. So the problem surely isn’t single mothers. So, once again, what is O’Reilly driving at? Well, he says that without structure (once again, assuming single parents cannot provide structure) young black men turn away from education and gravitate towards drugs and gangs. It’s a personal decision. He has one thing right…it is a choice to get involved in drugs and gangs. Nobody is forced to make that decision. But he goes on to say that the entertainment industry glorifies this behavior by promoting a “Gangsta culture.” This, is by far, the dumbest thing Bill said during this talking points memo. The entertainment industry also promotes vampires, zombies, mob bosses, serial killers, alien robots that transform into trucks and many many other things, but we don’t say that alien robots are running amuck in the streets of our inner cities….because its ridiculous. The blaming of movies and music for violence in culture is something people have been trying to do for generations and it just doesn’t correlate. And if we are going to say that the entertainment industry is to be blamed for violence in society, then someone has to tell me what entertainment industry was around during the inquisition….the crusades…the dark ages….ancient Egypt…and so on. See, violence has been a part of society for eons before the entertainment industry came around. Now back to the notion that the left doesn’t address the real problem but rather blame guns, poor education and lack of jobs. Mr. O’Reilly, those ARE the problems. Lack of jobs: there is no doubt that a severe lack of jobs in the poorest, inner city communities exists. The jobs simply aren’t there. This is a contributing factor to why people take to dealing drugs, because its one of the few jobs they can get. Poor education: well, without a decent education, the very few jobs that are out there aren’t going to be coming your way. Guns: when the black community is overrun with guns, guns become the culture. So how can you say that these aren’t the problems and then point your finger at the entertainment industry and single mothers? That, I’m sorry to say, is simply insanity.
Now we get to the part where O’Reilly speaks about drugs. He is correct that addiction can lead to a life of crime in order to support said addiction. But what Mr. O’Reilly, and many on the right fail to point out are the statistics that show the systematically racism and profiling that leaves an entire category of people a few steps behind in their chances in life when it comes to the non-addictive drug of marijuana, which is rapidly become legal across the country, When you look at the statistics for marijuana usage between whites and blacks, they are almost identical. But when you look at the incarceration rates for possession of marijuana, the numbers get a little more lopsided. With an overall marijuana incarceration rate that has doubled since 1991, at last national count whites were arrested at 195 per 100,000 while blacks are at 598 per 100,000 for possession of marijuana. In general, youths age15 to 24 made up over half of all possession arrests. What this is is quite simply racial profiling. Despite the fact that young white men are using marijuana at the same pace as young black men, young black men are getting arrested for it far more often. What is the residual effect of this? Those young black men are now starting off with not only a stigma about them based on their skin color, but now have an arrest record to go with it. Two strikes. Why doesn’t anyone on the right mention this? Why doesn’t O’Reilly point out these stats? Because it would ruin the narrative. They only want to look at the end result of starting out with two strikes, but never address how those two strikes got on them to begin with. You know…..exactly what O’Reilly blamed Obama, Jackson, Sharpton and the congressional black Caucas for not doing. You cannot take an entire group of young men and give them two strikes so early in life, on top of the fact that many already come from poor homes, and expect them to rival their counterparts in society. It doesn’t work that way folks. Never has. The same thing can be said for all of us. We start out in a disadvantage to the children of people like Bill Gates or Prince William. The chances of us reaching that level in life are extremely low. So are we making bad personal decisions that keep us in our station in life? No. The fact is that there are various stations in life and everyone from those stations has to overcome things to get to the next station, and the stats say that very few do.
So what is Bill O’Reillys answer to these problems?
1. Actively discourage pregnancies out of wedlock.
2. To impose strict discipline in the public schools, including mandatory school uniforms
3. Impose a zero tolerance policy and mandatory minimums for gun and drug crimes, and impose serious jail time for these offenders.
4. Challenge the entertainment industry to stop peddling garbage.
1. What would you do, Bill…impose a Chinese-like child policy? I don’t see you talking about helping these people, but rather telling them what to do. I got news for ya……PEOPLE HAVE CHILDREN OUT OF WEDLOCK IN ALL RACES! I don’t see white children born out of wedlock being talked about as having the same disadvantages as black children that are. No….just focus in those black unwed mothers. Don’t you see this is profiling DURING and address about how the right doesn’t profile?
2. While I’m all for imposing some strict discipline in the schools, mandatory school uniforms are not an answer to anything. This is an argument that circles back tithe jeans and hoodie garbage. How a person dresses does not tell you who they are. Are you trying to tell me if Trayvin was wearing a school uniform, Zimmerman wouldn’t have given him a second look? Please. Sell that elsewhere. But the real issue withO’Reillys statement is that the political party he supports has done everything in their power, include openly advocating for the complete dismantling of the public school system, to hurt schools…not help them. So if you want to come on the air and talk about politicians who aren’t doing enough for the schools, your argument starts and stops with three letters Bill….GOP. You guys actually had a man in the lead last election cycle that had, as part of his platform, to completely abolish the department of education. But yeah….the obamas and sharptons and Jackson’s are the ones turning their backs on these issues.
3. Mandatory minimums are not a solution. Mandatory minimums are how you end up with an otherwise law abiding, productive member of society, getting a prison term for possession of a personal amount of marijuana. You try and get a job with a record. It’s not easy Bill.
Mr. O’Reilly had a very few things he was correct about in his memo. But more importantly, what it did was fire up the right. It has empowered the right to continue the narrative of the Zimmerman case not being about an underlying issue of race inequality in America by calling the people who have lived it personally the racists. All of a sudden the victims of racism are the racists. This is the most backwards argument against racism I have ever heard. These people not only have lived it, but have tried to help rectify the situation by helping schools and by trying to keep guns out of the communities but have met resistance by republicans who want to take away from schools and let anyone by a gun. You simply cannot do everything in your power to stifle the help, and then yell about the fact that help isn’t there. Running ads telling people not to get pregnant, making kids wear khakis and collared shirts and no longer making certain kinds of movies does nothing. You have to get into these communities and get hands on. You know….like a community organizer would. You sit in the luxury of Long Island and accuse some of walking away, but the ones you accuse you also tear down for working within these communities during their lives instead of making millions and running from them. Remember the ’08 campaign? How many times did Obama get called a “community organizer” as if it were a bad thing? Every goddamn day on Mr. O’reillys station. Now they are saying he hasn’t spent enough time in the community.
So what are the REAL solutions? Well, start by not defunding schools so education is there for the kids that need it. Start by not cutting back on school meals for poor kids so they can fuel their bodies and minds for the lessons they are about to learn. Continue by funding after school programs to keep kids engaged after that bell rings. Give them something to be a part of and help them make better decision in life…don’t just put it in an ad. Stop profiling young black men so they don’t end up with that early police record. This isn’t helping these communities, yet Bill says more jail time is the answer. Take the necessary steps to keep guns up of the community. This is extremely difficult when neighboring communities are so lax with people getting their hand on guns, but keep up that fight, damn it. Do not let the NRA continue to tear down the work that has been done. You want to incentivize companies to build? Do it in these cities. Lets get some jobs in communities that have none. You want people to be able to have a job they can live off of? Then stop attacking and tearing apart the fabric of unions. The unions help protect employees from working like slaves for sub-living wages. But the biggest solution of all…..one that I personally have had to come to realize over the course of many years is this…we need to stop looking at people who are different than us as lesser than us. Until we can treat each other equally, there will be no equality. There are good and bad in every race and creed. Not all Mexicans are illegal aliens. Not all Italians are mobsters. Not all Irish are drunks. Not all Muslims are terrorists. And the biggest lesson for me….not all religious people are extremists. Just like not all people are racists. And this brings us back to the Zimmerman case. See, it’s not right to see a black man walking down the street and start following him. I’m sorry, but it isn’t right. Flip the script for a minute. Would you think it was right for a black man, with a gun, to follow a white man who was walking in Harlem at night? The white man is doing nothing but walking down the street, just as Trayvon was doing. All of a sudden we don’t like that scenario, huh? An armed black man following a white man through the streets at night. Puts things into a whole different perspective all of a sudden. So had Trayvon Martin not been profiled because he was black to begin with, he would still be alive today…and that is the most fundamental part of that entire case. Trayvon Martin died because he was black…period.
So, to those who loved the O’Reilly memo, I say he was dead wrong. And much like he wishes the President was watching, I hope he is reading, because we DO have serious issues that need to be dealt with and I, for one, don’t want to keep having this discussion after incidents like this.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Me only have one ambition, y’know. I only have one thing I really like to see happen. I like to see mankind live together – black, white, Chinese, everyone – that’s all.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.