On Wednesday's "The O'Reilly Factor," Bill O'Reilly had himself a good kvetch about Black Lives Matter and how MAD he is that it even exists. Now he is accusing the movement of basically murdering people in the streets, because poor police officers are so scared they might actually murder an innocent unarmed black person that they cannot do their jobs. And what kind of way is that to live! What if a really dangerous black person is mixed up among all the innocent black people, and then they get away? Isn't it better just to shoot first and answer questions later?

The real problem, O'Reilly insists, is that there is "a violent subculture in the African-American community that should be exposed and confronted." THE OTHER PROBLEM, he says, is that Black Lives Matter is going around promoting a "false narrative" that police are hunting down black people, even though he is pretty sure they are not doing that. Also, they hate free speech because they shut down poor Breitbart wingnut Milo Yiannopoulos's chitchat at DePaul University ... with speech. Because freedom of speech means never interrupting a white dude!

The thing that hurts O'Reilly the most though? It is the liberal media's absolute refusal to talk about how violent and murderous the blacks are. Oh, how beautiful life would be if only Bill O'Reilly could turn his tee-vee on and hear the nightly "How Are Black People Failing Us Today?" report. But NO, they cover allllllll of that up, so when Bill O'Reilly comes in with his NO SPIN ZONE talk about black people, like how they are violent criminals who refuse to pull their pants up even though he has repeatedly stated that he does not care for that look, everyone thinks he is a racist. Even though he is just being totally objective. Because, again, it is the NO SPIN ZONE, so all of his opinions are actually facts. Them's the rules of the NO SPIN ZONE!

Of course, it's not so much that there is "a violent subculture in the African-American community,” as much as that there is and always has been a relationship between poverty and crime. 26.6 percent of black people live in poverty in this country. It's not a "cultural thing," it's an economic thing. Because when you have people who can't afford to live or eat, they tend to get a little testy. Aristotle said "Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime," and two thousand years later people like O'Reilly are still throwing their hands up and going "Gee! Whatever is going on here?"

Once upon a time, during the Red Scare, Scott Paper Towels ran an advertisement, which you might have perhaps seen:

The text here reads "Is your washroom breeding Bolsheviks? Employees lose respect for a company that fails to provide decent facilities for their comfort." While it seems silly now, it's actually quite clever. If you fail to provide decent facilities for people's comfort, you cannot be surprised when they revolt against you. You cannot be surprised when there is more violent crime in impoverished areas. You cannot go "OH, that's obviously a cultural thing! It's their culture! It is a very violent culture."

Any group of people, when living under these kinds of conditions, will eventually revolt in one way or another. White people too, even! Heck, in 1914, Italian-American immigrants rioted in Providence's Federal Hill area over police brutality and, I shit you not, the price of macaroni. Was it because it was just a violent culture? No, it was because they were poor, and on top of that they had to deal with the police beating them on the regular. Sound familiar? Throughout the first half of the last century, there were myriad labor and poverty related riots, and it wasn't because people were "culturally violent," it was because they were hungry and scared and pissed off and hopeless. You put literally any group of people into this situation, and that is what happens.

For what it's worth, Black Lives Matter, as a group, has been about 20,000 times more peaceful than many other similar groups in the past. And, historically, police violence and abuse of power has pretty much never gone over too well!

If Bill O'Reilly were really very concerned about putting a stop to crime in predominantly black areas, he wouldn't just be sitting around having a sad for the poor police officers who can't harass black folks like they used to, and sad for himself because the liberal media won't tell him things that validate his racism. He would listen to those communities about what they think would be helpful. He would advocate for higher wages, single-payer health care and, to boot, FREE COLLEGE. Because surprise! In New York, where Bill O'Reilly lives, it costs $60,000 a year to send someone to prison for a year. It costs $3,300 - $4,700 to send them to a SUNY school. I'm willing to bet good money that if you give people more opportunity to go to college, they are going to be a lot more careful with their own futures.

You put people in a situation where they actually feel safe believing they have a way out of poverty, where it doesn't hurt to hope for better things because the odds aren't stacked so high against them, where they aren't scared, and you will find far fewer people going, "Fuck it, who cares. I might as well hold up this convenience store."

Helping to raise people up out of poverty would also, believe it or not, curb police violence. I don't care how racist a police officer is, he's gonna think twice about screwing with a kid if he thinks there's a chance that kid's parents can afford a good lawyer. Now sure, Bill O'Reilly may worry that this will make cops feel like they can't do their jobs ... but somehow they manage to mostly avoid indiscriminately shooting unarmed white kids on a regular basis, and that seems to be working out OK with them.

BUT, ALL OF THAT WOULD JUST BE TOO HARD. And Bill O'Reilly would just rather talk about how he is victimized by the liberal media's refusal to talk about how violent black people are. He has yet to explain how that would accomplish a damn thing, other than making Bill O'Reilly feel good.


Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. In addition to her work at Wonkette, she also has a biweekly column at Dame. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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