By Daryl Hannah
The only thing more ridiculous than denying white privilege is watching two white millionaires debate it on national television. But that was the case on Wednesday when FOX News host and author Bill O’Reilly ostensibly stopped by The Daily Show to discuss his latest book, Killing Patton. Only instead of a polite exchange about the history of World War II General George Patton, the conversation immediately turned to the existence of white privilege.
Host Jon Stewart spent all of 10 seconds discussing the 368-page book (“We’re just going to call the series Killing Treesthey sell like crazy”) before launching into a discussion of white privilege and asking O’Reilly to admit that white privilege exists.
“This is all I want from you today,” Stewart said off the bat. “I want you to admit that there is such a thing as white privilege. I just want you to say, ‘I’m terribly, terribly wrong on this.'”
O’Reilly, who has a long history of denying the existence of white privilege, has gone on record saying that he is “exempt” from white privilege because he grew up “kinda poor.” But that didn’t stop the “prepared” conservative talk-show host from offering a false equivalence between the systemic oppression of Black Americans and the pan-Asian immigrant experience.
“If there’s white privilege there must be Asian privilege because they make more money than whites,” O’Reilly said without clarifying to which segment of the Asian population he was referring. “Maybe you haven’t figured out that there is no more slavery, no more Jim Crow, and the most powerful man in the world is a Black American, and the most powerful woman in the worldOprah Winfreyis Black!” O’Reilly yelled.
Stewart then launched into O’Reilly, forcing him to acknowledge the “systematized subjugation” of Black people in America and the residuals of slavery and racism.
“Oh, boy,” Stewart responded. “Slavery and Jim Crow are dead, but the residual effects of that systemic subjugation exist today. If you live in a neighborhood where poverty is endemic, it’s harder to work hard. It’s harder to get an education.”
“It absolutely exists. It exists for every race,” O’Reilly said. “But America is now a place where if you work hard, get educated and are an honest person, you can succeed.”
That didn’t fly with Stewart. “They don’t stop and frisk Wall Street bankers,” he responded, “even though they’ve done far more damage to the economy.”
Stewart also used O’Reilly’s example of growing up in Levittown, N.Y., as an example of white privilege, pointing to the reality that, at the time, African-Americans were not allowed to buy homes in that community.
The live version of the interview was abruptly cut short after a commercial break, but Stewart cleverly closed by making aThe O’Reilly Factor reference.
“I’ll call it this, and I think it’s a word you’ll understand. It’s a ‘factor,'” Stewart said of the role race plays in one’s opportunities.
O’Reilly conceded with a smile, saying: “It’s a factor. I’ll give you that.”
Click the video below to watch the full-extended version of the interview.
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