O’Really? Bill O’Reilly’s Ongoing War on Facts (and Racial Justice)

Poor Bill O’Reilly. I mean, it’s not as if we should actually expect him to know anything about black people or black culture in America. This is the guy, you’ll recall, who was actually amazedamazed — a few years ago when he went to Sylvia’s restaurant in Harlem, only to discover that black patrons of this venerable institution were respectful and didn’t harass wait staff by yelling things like, “Hey motherfucker, bring me some more iced tea!” Because apparently, that’s what he was expecting: crude epithets dished up with chitlins, cornbread, and purple drink, or perhaps a hostess who greets newcomers with “Yo momma’s so ugly” jokes while they wait for a seat.

Seriously, what do you expect from a guy who grew up in Levittown, on Long Island? This is a community, after all, which was established for whites only, due to the wishes of its developer. And although Bill insists he never received any of that white privilege he keeps hearing people speak of (as if it were tantamount to fairy dust) — this despite growing up in a middle class neighborhood from which black people were entirely excluded, in a home financed by a government-backed loan, also off-limits to blacks at the time — it certainly meant that his contact with folks of color was, shall we say, limited from the jump. Not a lot of black folks in his Catholic schools growing up either, and hanging out occasionally with Juan Williams really isn’t sufficient to fill a lifelong blind spot.

Anyway, and despite coming by his ignorance honestly, Bill’s latest attempt to explain black culture to the masses (or at least that part of it to which he refers as “ghetto culture”), demonstrated more than just his usual complement of asshattery. Indeed, it was a statement of such monumental and verifiable stupid — unlike many of his other assertions, which at least belong to the realm of sincere if naive opinion — that one can only assume his recitation of it signifies a deliberate attempt to smear, to demean and defame black people, and especially the black poor. Feeding subtle (or perhaps not-so-subtle) bigotry-enhancing stereotypes to an audience of millions is journalistic irresponsibility of the highest order, and yet, sadly, it is something O’Reilly does, secure in the knowledge that most of his supine audience will believe it, not simply because he says it, but because the images he spoons to them fit so neatly with their equally ignorant but well-established beliefs already.

To wit, a segment on O’Reilly’s July 28th FOX News program concerning the legalization of marijuana, in which O’Reilly slipped in the jab that “in certain ghetto neighborhoods, it’s part of the culture” for children as young as nine to smoke weed. Got it? Not simply that occasionally a pre-teen might smoke marijuana in such a place (no doubt true, as it would be among some white suburbanites from Long Island, like the one who proved to be the biggest weed dealer at my college), but that the practice is absolutely normative among the black and urban poor.

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Because They Hate: Health Care Obstructionism and the Conservative Mind

It’s because they hate. There is no other logical explanation.

After all, it’s one thing to oppose a piece of legislation and fight to keep it from being passed because you honestly disagree with it as a matter of principle. Decent people can disagree on policy.

But it’s quite another to celebrate like frat boys at a keg party upon hearing the news that millions of people may now lose their health care, or that their care may become so financially prohibitive as to bankrupt them.

Yet that is what they are doing, and by they I mean pretty much the entirety of conservative America. Check out their Twitter spew, where you can see their nearly orgasmic delight at yesterday’s 2-1 decision by an appellate court panel to the effect that only persons enrolled in state level insurance exchanges can receive federal subsidies for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Since most states — especially those with conservative political leadership — have refused to establish exchanges, thereby forcing residents to turn to the federal version, the ruling (were it to stand) would mean that millions of Americans may no longer be able to access care under the law.

Decent human beings, irrespective of their take on a matter of policy, do not celebrate at the news that millions of peoples’ lives could now be made harder. Decent human beings do not cheer and gloat at the news that millions of children could now go without care, or that millions of people may once again be forced to choose between health insurance they really can’t afford, or paying a light bill, or buying groceries, or paying rent. Decent human beings don’t put such a premium on political victories that they would purposely seek to harm people, deliberately make them worse off, intentionally leave them adrift with no real recourse to obtain care, possibly causing them, in many cases, to quite literally die. But conservatives in America do all of these things.

Because they hate. There is no other logical explanation.

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This is What Happens…When You Heckle the Child of a Stand-Up Comic (Tim Wise at U of Cincinnati, 9/13)

Just was tipped off to this video. I remembered the event but didn’t know anyone taped it,,,

Some Nazi punk thought it was a good idea to fuck with me at the University of Cincinnati last September. He saved up all his energy just to let everyone know that I was Jewish. This is a “secret” about as “secret” as the fact that “Captain” from the 1970s super-duo Captain and Tennille never actually piloted a boat. In other words, no shit…Way to go skinhead. You had one job: actually discredit Tim Wise in the Q&A of his speech, and you failed…miserably.

This is what happens when you decide to heckle someone whose dad was a stand up comic and therefore taught him how to deal with hecklers really damned early…please, show up again Nazis. I enjoy playing with you…

White Noise: Immigration, Antiracism and the Spreading of a Neo-Nazi Meme

Nazis like shortcuts. Maybe it’s because of their aversion to work, which is mighty difficult to do when you spend all day on the Stormfront web board, talking about your favorite Norse God, or newest tattoo, or how the reason you can’t find a job is because the blacks and Mexicans took them all; the same blacks and Mexicans who you think all live on welfare because they’re lazy. Because, ya know, lazy people are often known to take all the jobs.

Like I said, Nazis like shortcuts; and so, many years ago, rather than going to the trouble of exclaiming “Heil Hitler!” (because that takes 0.78 seconds — no really, I clocked it), they decided to shave a little time off the sentiment by just saying “88″ instead, or writing the number “88″ on everything: e-mails, signs, their leather jackets, whatever. Get it? Heil and Hitler both start with an “H,” and “H” is the 8th letter of the alphabet, so “88″ is like “H” written twice. Ah, yes, Nazi numerology. Very tricky, very master race-y. We see what you did there skinheads. Kudos, you.

Anyway, a few years later they stepped it up a notch with a new symbol, 14/88. Although 88 by itself still represented an allegiance to a certain German dictator, the combination of 14/88 referred to the literary work of Nazi terrorist David Lane. It was Lane who compiled the so-called “14 Words” and “88 precepts” while serving time for multiple felonies, including his role in the murder of Denver talk-show host, Alan Berg, in 1984. The “14 Words,” a simple sentence involving “securing the survival” of whites and their children has long been a favorite stanza among white supremacists, who are unbothered by the violent, psychotic and hateful persona of its author: a man whom they continue to revere, several years after the fetid chambers of his pathetic heart blessedly gave out.

The 14 Words served them pretty well for a time, but lately even they have been supplanted, much as with the simple “88″ before them. This time, the Nazis have become attached to a motto that, by comparison to its predecessors, is damned-near an epic poem, at least in terms of verbosity if not literary merit. “The Mantra” as it’s proudly known (by people who apparently remain unaware how cult-like it sounds to go around repeating something you actually call “The Mantra”) was penned by Bob Whitaker, a self-proclaimed genius who in his younger days admits to hanging a swastika poster in his room in opposition to the civil rights movement.

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Tim Wise and Melissa Harris-Perry on “All In With Chris Hayes” on MSNBC, 6/26/14: Cross-Racial Organizing and the Implications of the “Moral Mondays” Movement in North Carolina

My appearance (along with Melissa Harris-Perry) on “All In With Chris Hayes” (MSNBC), June 26, 2014, to discuss the implications of current cross-racial organizing in North Carolina, as part of the “Moral Mondays” movement for economic and social justice. This segment followed a longer piece on the movement in NC, which can (and should) be viewed, here.

Tim Wise Discussing White Privilege on the David Pakman Show – 5/29/14

My appearance on the David Pakman Show, 5/29/14 to discuss white privilege. Sorry about the loud wallpaper in the background…you can thank the Indianapolis JW Marriott for that visual effect.

Tim Wise on News One Now (With Roland Martin), 5/27/14: Mark Cuban, Internalized Bias and Race in America

Part of my appearance (via Skype) on News One Now with Roland Martin. Here we discuss comments by Dallas Maverick’s owner Mark Cuban, regarding his own internalized fears of young black men, and what the matter says about race in America and the way we discuss racism as a national problem.

The entire discussion (around 16 minutes) can be listened to as well below:

Of Platitudes Facile and Persistent: Reflections on the Predictability of a Right Wing Robot

Sometimes one has to wonder: are conservatives really that obtuse, or do they deliberately distort facts and data for political effect?

Either way, let there be no mistake, Crystal Wright, who blogs under the moniker “Conservative Black Chick,” is possibly the most unadulterated prototype of a reality-challenged right-wing zombie ever to take up bandwidth, and that is no small accomplishment. Her almost complete separation from that sometimes useful commodity known as “evidence in support of one’s argument” is no doubt why she has been such a regular on FOX News, where asininity is churned out like buttermilk for those all too happy to ingest it, and it probably explains why she isn’t much used to having her foolishness pointed out. After all, in the echo chamber that is FOX, misunderstanding or misinterpreting things like statistics, or the difference between, say, weather on the one hand and climate on the other, is pretty much normative. Indeed, it’s what pays the bills.

But on Friday night on CNN (see the full video below this essay), I had the honor of confronting Ms. Wright with facts, a happy circumstance about which she was none too pleased, and in response to which she came entirely unglued, to the point where she couldn’t even get my name right, even after being corrected on that rather simple detail multiple times. Needless to say, if you can’t get the name of the person you’re debating right, you aren’t likely to do too well with the facts being discussed.

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Tim Wise on CNN with Don Lemon, 5/14/14: Donald Sterling, Racism and White Denial

Short clip from my May 14th appearance on CNN, in which I argue that the most disturbing thing Donald Sterling has said is not his blatant bigotry towards folks of color (specifically blacks), but his statement to Anderson Cooper that racism really isn’t a big problem in America anymore. It is this view, shared sadly by most white Americans, which actually makes progress on racial inequity harder. Condemning white supremacy in the guise of bigotry is easy. Confronting the white supremacy that comes in the form of white denial, and tells people of color “I know your reality better than you do,” is far more difficult.

Tim Wise at University of Wyoming, March, 2012: White Anxiety and the Politics of Resentment

Just found this…a part of my speech at the University of Wyoming in March 2012

Video streaming by Ustream