Slavery Wasn't Really That Bad for Some Slaves, Says Fox News' O'Reilly
In his need to correct First Lady Michelle Obama, Bill O'Reilly said some slaves "were well-fed and had decent lodgings."
According to Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, slavery wasn't really that bad for some slaves, particularly those involved in building the White House, who "were well-fed and had decent lodgings."
O'Reilly's comments Tuesday were his attempt to correct First Lady Michelle Obama, who during her address at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia Monday night reflected on the fact that she and her family "wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves."
In his need to fact-check the first lady, O'Reilly on his show said that while "slaves did participate in the construction of the White House … free Blacks, whites and immigrants also worked on the massive building. There were no illegal immigrants at that time. If you could make it here, you could stay here."
O'Reilly went on to add that the "slaves that worked there were well-fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government, which stopped hiring slave labor in 1802. However, the feds did not forbid subcontractors from using slave labor. So, Michelle Obama is essentially correct in citing slaves as builders of the White House, but there were others working as well."
O'Reilly's apparent defense of the use of slave labor drew immediate backlash on social media and fed a long-held narrative that slavery was not as widespread and not as bad as it has been portrayed.
"If slavery was so great how come white people didn't want to sign up?" asked comedian and radio host DL Hughley.
— DL Hughley (@RealDLHughley) July 27, 2016
Film producer Sam Levine tweeted "How dare @oreillyfactor defend the practice of slavery?! He should be fired and/or resign for saying something so ignorant."
The narrative to portray slavery in a better light has been pushed by the likes of Sen. John C. Calhoun of South Carolina. Noted for his strong defense of slavery, Calhoun described slavery as "a positive good" during a speech in 1837, saying slaves are better off than many, since they are "in the midst of his family and friends, under the kind superintending care of his master and mistress, [compared] with the forlorn and wretched condition of the pauper in the poorhouse."
Sen. James Henry Hammond, also from South Carolina, explained in a speech to northerners two decades later, "The difference between us is, that our slaves are hired for life and well compensated; there is no starvation, no begging, no want of employment among our people, and not too much employment either. Yours are hired by the day, not cared for, and scantily compensated, which may be proved in the most painful manner, at any hour in any street in any of your large towns. Why, you meet more beggars in one day, in any single street of the city of New York, than you would meet in a lifetime in the whole South."
And, Hammond made the argument that whites were actually doing Blacks a favor by making them slaves.
"We do not think that whites should be slaves either by law or necessity. Our slaves are Black, of another and inferior race. The status in which we have placed them is an elevation. They are elevated from the condition in which God first created them, by being made our slaves. None of that race on the whole face of the globe can be compared with the slaves of the South. They are happy, content, uninspiring, and utterly incapable, from intellectual weakness, ever to give us any trouble by their aspirations."
And with regard to O'Reilly's statement that slaves that worked in the White House "were well-fed and had decent lodgings," in fact the opposite was true, according to First Lady Abigail Adams, who was actually there as the first family to occupy the White House in 1800 while construction was still going on.
In her writings, she remarked: "The effects of Slavery are visible every where; and I have amused myself from day to day in looking at the labour of 12 negroes from my window.
Two of our hardy N England men would do as much work in a day as the whole 12, but it is true Republicanism that drive the Slaves half fed, and destitute of cloathing, ... to labour, whilst the owner waches about Idle, tho his one Slave is all the property he can boast."
Joseph Silk wants a bill that criminalizes abortion to challenge the Supreme Court decision because the Court once ruled "that slaves were private property and they were wrong."
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"I think, at this point, everybody's qualified and everyone should run," Obama said, in jest. "I might even tap Sasha!"
We've never had a POTUS and FLOTUS like the Obama's before, and we've never had a Trump before. Two very different presidencies, one wrought with bigotry, racism and rampant white supremacy, and scandal, the other full of hope, unity and service. Former FLOTUS Michelle Obama says we need to pay attention to who is qualified in the next presidential election.
"I implored people to focus and think about what it takes to be commander-in-chief," Obama told Robin Roberts in a "20/20" interview, in reference to women electing a misogynist in 2016 instead of a qualified female candidate.
She expressed the importance of voting, but went beyond that to describe the kind of person qualified to run this country.
"The commander in chief needs to have discipline, and read, and be knowledgeable. You need to know history, you need to be careful with your words," she said.
"I'm going to be looking to see who handles themselves and each other with dignity and respect so that by the time people get to the general (election), people aren't beat up and battered," the former first lady, who said she will not run for president, stressed.
"I think this (Democratic nomination) is open to any and everybody who has the courage to step up and serve."
She even joked that at this point, anyone is qualified to run for president —even her daughter.
"I think, at this point, everybody's qualified and everyone should run," she said on Good Morning America "I might even tap (her younger daughter) Sasha!"
.@MichelleObama on whether Hillary Clinton should run for president in 2020: "I think at this point everybody is qualified and everybody should run. I might even tap Sasha!" https://t.co/E6lGKfK6oR pic.twitter.com/Axrvs7SDZQ
— Good Morning America (@GMA) November 13, 2018
Obama and her husband were about service before, during and after the presidency.
Candidates like Trump, drunk with power, have a past, present, and future that mirror that intoxication.
Coming off midterms there are questions about what to do next — investigations of Trump, what lessons did we learn articles, predictions of the 2020 election, but getting back to what a leader, a public servant of this country is supposed to do — lead by serving its people — is a message that voters can review candidate criteria with.
"It's amazing to me that we still have to tell people about the importance of voting," she said. "People have to be educated, they have to be focused on the issues and they have to go to the polls if they want their politics to reflect their values."
Obama explained, "Where I'm at right now is that we should see anybody who feels the passion to get in this race, we need them in there. Let's see who wants to roll up their sleeves and get in the race. That's what the primary process is for."
In looking at Trump's record, most of his decisions have been made to serve himself. His record of cheating employees out of money, not paying taxes, discriminating against Blacks in terms of who could claim residency in his buildings, misogynistic comments, scandals around payoffs for affairs — none of it shows signs of service.
Obama writes in her new memoir "Becoming" how Trump's division and bigoted messaging tactics to garner a movement to propel his campaign impacted her own family's safety:
"The whole [birther] thing was crazy and mean-spirited, of course, its underlying bigotry and xenophobia hardly concealed. But it was also dangerous, deliberately meant to stir up the wingnuts and kooks."
In current times, his decisions in the White House usually involve a lot of divisive words to spark attention from white supremacists, "look what I did" moments on twitter for validation, and little about what the country needs, but instead what the country should be afraid of.
And that is not why you get the job in the first place.
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Students have been fighting to remove the statue since 2016 and were met with a compromise.
After two years of protests from students, Florida State University has agreed to remove the statue of founder Francis Eppes VII, grandson of Thomas Jefferson and known slave-owner, from the school's entrance.