Fox News host Bill O'Reilly touched off a heated debate last week by offering an impassioned monologue that was sharply critical of black culture. He was predictably denounced as "super racist" by the MSNBC set, who apparently believe that conversations on race must begin and end with the sins of white America. Though it's fair to ask whether O'Reilly is an effective or appropriate vessel for this sort of tough message to the black community, suggesting that his remarks were motivated by racial animus is an odious smear. The Left's knee-jerk "racism!" template suffered a complicating setback over the weekend when CNN host Don Lemon defended O'Reilly and went a step further:
Lemon played a clip of O’Reilly stating, “The reason there is so much violence and chaos in the black precincts is the disintegration of the African American family…Raised without much structure, young black men often reject education and gravitate towards the street culture, drugs, hustling, gangs. Nobody forces them to do that. Again, it is a personal decision.” “Bill’s got a point,” Lemon said. “In fact, he’s got more than a point…In my estimation, he doesn’t go far enough.” Lemon then listed five essential reforms black men need to make in their lives in order to improve themselves and their communities: hike up their pants, remove the n-word from their vocabulary, take care of their communities, finish high school, and lower the rate of children born out of wedlock. “More than 72% of children in the African Americans are born out of wedlock,” Lemon said. “Studies show that lack of a male role model is an express train right to prison, and the cycle continues.” “Please, pay attention to and think about what has been presented in recent history as aceptable behavior,” Lemon finished. “Pay close attention to the hip hop and rap culture that many of you embrace, a culture that glorifies everything I just mentioned, thug and reprehensible behavior, a culture that is making a lot of people rich—just not you. And it’s not going to.”
For his unorthodox contribution to the media-demanded "national conversation on race," Lemon was immediately lambasted by fellow African-American commentators. Here's one example of the sort of thoughtful and productive criticism his analysis provoked:
But if I had a dollar for every turn coat mofo who made it up and out, then cut the rope ladder behind him...— Goldie Taylor (@goldietaylor) July 27, 2013
When the Left insists upon a wide-ranging discussion of difficult and contentious issues, what they seem to actually want is a tidy bout of pre-approved flagellation that reinforces their pre-existing worldview. When others accept the open invitation to debate and end up sharing "unhelpful" attitudes, they're upbraided as "racists" (if they're white), or "turn coat mofos" (if they're black). Agree with us, or keep your mouth shut. Kirsten Powers likely has a point about the Right's pitfalls in attempting to traverse racial minefields, but it serves nobody's interests -- beyond bad-faith actors, that is -- to shut down debate through bullying. Meanwhile, America's media-enabled healing continues apace:
A Bethesda man was beaten and robbed early Saturday morning in Adams Morgan by three men who yelled, “This is for Trayvon Martin,” before attacking him, police said. The incident is being investigated as a hate crime and robbery, according to D.C. police spokesman Araz Alali. Three black men approached an adult white male from behind while he was walking in the 1700 block of Euclid Street NW at 1:26 a.m. Saturday, police said. Two of the men threw the victim to the ground and kicked him, Alali said. The three perpetrators then took the victim’s iPhone and wallet and fled.
As I wrote at Hot Air earlier, this story "smacks of common criminals exploiting a racially-divisive event to “justify” crimes they would have committed anyway." But what do race-baiters expect to accomplish when they incessantly beat the "justice for Trayvon" drum, despite a jury's acquittal based on reasonable doubt and the evidence, or lack thereof? A meaningful "conversation on race" can only emerge from the starting blocks if people on all sides are willing to hear truths and perspectives that make them uncomfortable and refrain from lashing out. For instance, conservatives and whites might need to open their minds to fair critiques of the criminal justice system and historically race-based sentencing disparities. Likewise, the Left must resist blurting out the "racist" label at the slightest provocation They're failing. And that failure prevents the very sorts of honest and open discussions they claim to crave.