Open Letter: Star Jones Checks Bill O’Reilly’s Racist Remark
By Jawn Murray, BlackVoices.com
Star Jones Reynolds has never been one to mince words.
It’s no wonder that when Bill O’Reilly’s most recent controversial (see also: racist) comments about Michelle Obama, wife of Democratic frontrunner Barack Obama, were discovered by Media Matters, the TruTV legal analyst was infuriated!
O’Reilly, the curmudgeon host of Fox News Channel’s ‘The O’Reilly Factor,’ was talking to a caller that was angry that Obama had said on C-Span that “for the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country.”
The 58-year-old television commentator, who privately settled a sexual harassment lawsuit against him in 2004, responded to the caller by offering that of course they’d have to check the facts first.
He said: “I don’t want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there’s evidence, hard facts, that say this is how the woman really feels. If that’s how she really feels – that is a bad country or a flawed nation, whatever – then that’s legit. We’ll track it down.”
“Lynching party? Track it down?”
In the words of Whitney Houston: “Hell to the naw!”
Even better are the prolific words of Reynolds.
“I’m sick to death of people like Fox News host, Bill O’Reilly, and his ilk thinking that he can use a racial slur against a black woman who could be the next First Lady of the United States, give a half-assed apology and not be taken to task and called on his crap.
This week O’Reilly gave the following response to a caller on his radio show who was making unsubstantiated negative charges against presidential candidate Barack Obama’s wife, Michelle Obama:
‘And I don’t want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there’s evidence, hard facts, that say this is how the woman really feels. If that’s how she really feels — that is a bad country or a flawed nation, whatever — then that’s legit. We’ll track it down.’
What the hell? If it’s ‘legit,’ you’re going to ‘track it down?’ And then what do you plan to do?
How dare this white man with a microphone and the trust of the public think that in 2008, he can still put the words ‘lynch and party’ together in the same sentence with reference to a black woman; in this case, Michelle Obama? I don’t care how you ‘spin it’ in the ‘no spin zone,’ that statement in and of itself is racist, unacceptable and inappropriate on every level.
O’Reilly claims his comments were taken out of context. Please don’t insult my intelligence while you’re insulting me. I’ve read the comments and heard them delivered in O’Reilly’s own voice; and there is no right context that exists. So, his insincere apology and “out-of-context” excuse is not going to cut it with me.
And just so we’re clear, this has nothing to do with the 2008 presidential election, me being a Democrat, him claiming to be Independent while talking Republican, the liberal media or a conservative point of view. To the contrary, this is about crossing a line in the sand that needs to be drawn based on history, dignity, taste and truth.
Bill, I’m not sure of where you come from, but let me tell you what the phrase ‘lynching party’ conjures up to me, a black woman born in North Carolina . Those words depict the image of a group of white men who are angry with the state of the own lives getting together, drinking more than they need to drink, lamenting how some black person has moved forward (usually ahead of them in stature or dignity), and had the audacity to think that they are equal. These same men for years, instead of looking at what changes, should and could make in their own lives that might remove that bitterness born of perceived privilege, these white men take all of that resentment and anger and decide to get together and drag the closest black person near them to their death by hanging them from a tree — usually after violent beating, torturing and violating their human dignity. Check your history books, because you don’t need a masters or a law degree from Harvard to know that is what constitutes a ‘lynching party.’
Imagine, Michelle and Barack Obama having the audacity to think that they have the right to the American dream, hopes, and ideals. O’Reilly must think to himself: how dare they have the arrogance to think they can stand in a front of this nation, challenge the status quo and express the frustration of millions? When this happens, the first thing that comes to mind for O’Reilly and people like him is: ‘it’s time for a party.’
Not so fast…don’t order the rope just yet.
Would O’Reilly ever in a million years use this phrase with reference to Elizabeth Edwards, Cindy McCain or Judi Nathan? I mean, in all of the statements and criticisms that were made about Judi Nathan, the one-time mistress turned missus, of former presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, I never heard any talk of forming a lynch party because of something she said or did.
So why is it that when you’re referring to someone who’s African-American you must dig to a historical place of pain, agony and death to symbolize your feelings? Lynching is not a joke to off-handedly throw around and it is not a metaphor that has a place in political commentary; provocative or otherwise. I admit that I come from a place of personal outrage here having buried my 90 year-old grandfather last year. This proud, amazing African-American man raised his family and lived through the time when he had to use separate water fountains, ride in the back of a bus, take his wife on a date to the ‘colored section’ of a movie theater, and avert his eyes when a white woman walked down the street for fear of what a white man and his cronies might do if they felt the urge to ‘party’; don’t tell me that the phrase you chose, Mr. O’Reilly, was taken out of context.
To add insult to injury, O’Reilly tried to ‘clarify’ his statements, by using the excuse that his comments were reminiscent of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ use of the term ‘high-tech lynching’ during his confirmation hearing. I reject that analogy. You see Justice Thomas did mean to bring up the image of lynching in its racist context. He was saying that politics and the media were using a new technology to do to him what had been done to black men for many years — hang him. Regardless of if you agreed with Justice Thomas’ premise or not, if in fact — Bill O’Reilly was referencing it — the context becomes even clearer.
What annoys me more than anything is that I get the feeling that one of the reasons Bill O’Reilly made this statement, thinking he could get away with it in the first place, and then followed it up with a lame apology in a half-hearted attempt to smooth any ruffled feathers, is because he doesn’t think that black women will come out and go after him when he goes after us. Well, he’s dead wrong. Be clear Bill O’Reilly: there will be no lynch party for that black woman. And this black woman assures you that if you come for her, you come for all of us.” — Star Jones Reynolds
With her permission, The BV Buzz is running the current ‘Today Show’ legal contributor and the former ‘The View’ host’s entire ‘Open Letter’ about Bill O’Reilly.