Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The giant head strikes again

I make a concerted effort not to let the idiocy of the Fox News pundits get to me ... otherwise, I would spend my life in an infuriated fog of disbelief at the stuff that comes out of the collective mouth of Hannity, Coulter, et al. Life's too short. But then every so often one of them will say something that so far surpasses the bounds of decency, so defies belief, or exhibits such a flagrant disregard for truth, history and actuality that I simply cannot pass it by without comment.

Well, this time it's Bill O'Reilly, or as Keith Olbermann calls him, "the big giant head." In response to a caller's assertion that the deep racial rifts between black and white in the U.S. and the problems that plague the African-American community are rooted in decades of enslavement, O'Reilly denied that this was the case. His evidence? Well, the Irish were oppressed by the British, but emigrated to America overcame that injustice. Ergo, the African-American community has no recourse to blaming slavery -- since the Irish prevailed, then the same opportunity has been afforded blacks in America:

"My people came from County Cavan in Ireland. All right? And the British Crown marched in there with their henchman, Oliver Cromwell, and they seized all of my ancestors' lands, everything. And they threw them into slavery, pretty much indentured servitude on the land. And then the land collapsed, all right? And everybody was starving in Ireland. They had to leave the country, just as Africans had to leave -- African-Americans had to leave Africa and come over on a boat and try to make in the New World with nothing. Nothing."

I'm not certain if I'm more aghast at O'Reilly's apparent attempt to claim some sort of twisted solidarity with black America (echoes of The Commitments -- "The Irish are the blacks of Europe!"), or with this bizarre rewriting of history in which the Irish diaspora is placed on par with the violent kidnapping and enslavement of thousands of Africans. In O'Reilly's revisionist account, it sounds like the "emigration" of the Africans had some element of choice involved.

Africans did not cross the Atlantic to start a new life with nothing. They were forcibly relocated from the lives they were living. And they didn't have nothing -- they had less than nothing. At least the Irish owned themselves.



Anonymous said...

Good rant! It's nice to know other people have such strong reactions to ignorant opinions. Hear hear!

queen B said...

I'll see your "Arrgh" and raise you a "Grrrrrr" and a disgusted look. It seems the only thing O'Reilly didn't do was wear a pointy white hood while spewing this garbage.

Nobody's ever mistaken me for Irish, and I wear a claddagh ring, ferchrissakes!