Fox News pundit Bill O’Reilly claims he’s taking on the issue of hate speech, aiming to “out” people who do it. O’Reilly decided to use controversial remarks by one-percenter actor Jamie Foxx whose Saturday Night Live monologue comprised promoting the new film Django Unchained. Ironically, O'Reilly gave Foxx a pass.
Fox said that in the film, after he saves his wife from slave owners, he kills “all the white people in the movie.”
O’Reilly said he wasn’t upset by Foxx’s monologue. It was just satire. “Foxx has some latitude because his ancestors were slaves…”
O’Reilly is supposed to be a smart guy. After all, he’s got an Ivy League pedigree and like Foxx, the pundit is most definitely a one-percenter.
Therefore you’d think O’Reilly would have weighed his comments more carefully, and you might think the same of Foxx.
U.S. slavery, in the scheme of things, was a blip on a long historical timeline. Slavery dates to pre-Biblical times, and many different races were held in bondage. Slavery was not exclusive to those with black skin. For a contemporary look at slavery, read The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. The book is beautifully written and the narrative is compelling.
In a recent column about Foxx's remarks I pointed out a citation written by a Fulbright scholar at Manchester College [boldface added]:
There is nothing notably peculiar about the institution of slavery. It has existed from before the dawn of human history right down to the twentieth century, in the most primitive of human societies and in the most civilized. There is no region on earth that has not at some time harbored the institution. Probably there is no group of people whose ancestors were not at one time slaves or slave holders. Slavery was firmly established in all the great early centres of human civilization (Slavery and Social Death-A Comparative Study, U.S.A. 1982, p. vii).
The tragedy in both O’Reilly and Foxx’s remarks is the lack of regard for human life, regardless of skin color.
When did it become acceptable to joke about killing people of a certain skin color? Foxx didn’t say he killed all the “bad guys.”
Both men are adults who have, in every sense of the word, mastered the mythic American Dream. O’Reilly and Foxx should be ashamed. Vast opportunity has been given these wealthy, influential celebrities to unify people. These men are insulated from the world you and I live in; it’s a good thing most of us are wiser than they are.
Instead they choose to divide.
Latitude? That’s pure codswallop, Mr. O’Reilly.
Both celebs are on my boycott list, right up there with quite a few others whose mouths ran away with their brains.
Foxx and O’Reilly might call attention to the fact that slavery is still practiced in some parts of the world, including Africa where, according to scholars like Professor Donald R. Wright, slavery began long before colonialism. Thus, it is possible that Foxx’s own ancestors could have just as easily been slave holders.
All human life is sacred, regardless of the color of one’s skin, and we are all born with God-given rights. Perhaps affluent pundits could point that out every now and then.
Hate groups of all colors do just fine without inspiration from celebrities.
Child soldiers, human trafficking, slavery and exploitation of women are but one manifestation of the lack of regard for human life. O’Reilly and Foxx both deserve a head thump and so do U.S. schools who teach slavery in a narrow window, devoid of a broad historical context that indicates slaveholders had many different skin colors, and it's likely the first slaveholders were people of color.
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Dec. 12, 2012)