Ever on the lookout for ways to counteract African American “grievance,” Bill O’Reilly dropped into his praise for Michelle Obama’s DNC speech the fact that slaves who built the White House were “well-fed and had decent lodgings.”
In her speech, Mrs. Obama said:
"That is the story of this country, the story that has brought me to this stage tonight, the story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, but who kept on striving and hoping and doing what needed to be done so that today, I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves -- (applause) -- and I watch my daughters—two beautiful, intelligent, black young women—playing with their dogs on the White House lawn. (Applause.) And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters—and all our sons and daughters—now take for granted that a woman can be President of the United States."
Obama was talking about progress toward a more perfect union, not the treatment of slaves. But O’Reilly felt the need to emphasize to his viewers that she was talking about the country “in a positive way.” Because on Fox, Michelle Obama’s patriotism is regularly questioned.
But even so O’Reilly felt the need to make America’s history a little more white-friendly. In his Tip of The Day segment, he said the following:
O’REILLY: As we mentioned, Talking Points Memo, Michelle Obama referenced slaves building the White House in referring to the evolution of America in a positive way. It was a positive comment. The history behind her remark is fascinating. George Washington selected the site in 1791 and, as president, laid the cornerstone in 1792. Washington was then running the country out of Philadelphia.
Slaves did participate in the construction of the White House. Records show about 400 payments made to slave masters between 1795 and 1801. In addition, 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.
In 1800, President John Adams took up residence in what was then called the Executive Mansion. It was only later on they named it the White House. But Adams was in there with Abigail, and they were still hammering nails, the construction was still going on.
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.
Now, you might be surprised to know that I don’t think O’Reilly’s remark about the slaves being well-fed was objectionable on its face. I think it’s an interesting factoid, assuming it’s true. Nor do I think O’Reilly meant to be insulting. But, as one of my former colleagues said about O’Reilly’s now-infamous surprise at the well-behaved black patrons at Sylvia’s restaurant in Harlem, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
And just like O'Reilly's Sylvia’s remarks, this one is wildly insulting and tone deaf. It’s completely irrelevant to what Obama was talking about and, far more importantly, it does nothing to mitigate the immorality of slavery itself. Do you think a single African American would feel better about the fact that the White House was built with slave labor knowing they were well-fed and worked alongside some free laborers?
And whether O’Reilly meant it that way or not, the implication was, “Blacks didn’t have it so bad as they want you to think.” And that happens to perfectly jibe with O’Reilly’s intentional messages about African Americans.
Watch it below, from the July 26 The O’Reilly Factor.
Imagine how it would affect you if, every day, people crossed the road rather than walk past you; if you had to explain to your children why they were not allowed to go to their little friends’ houses; if you were turned away from apartments and jobs way too often to be ‘just a coincidence’. Imagine if you were looked at with suspicion if you walked through an unfamiliar neighbourhood and regularly stopped by police on the flimsiest of grounds.
Life for coloured people is not the same and they know out-and-out racism when they see it. “Look at my African American” was not only a crass and insensitive way to refer to a man who turned out to be a Republican candidate, but it was only possible because he stood out like dog’s balls in a sea of lily-white faces.
I believe there were 18 black faces at the Republican Convention, 5 if you don’t count the tame ‘house n…..s’ bought and paid for by Fox and the rest of the frothing-mouth RW media. I doubt that there were many more people of Hispanic extraction, either new arrivals or third generation Americans.
Trump ONLY appeals to racists, cowards and haters. Take a look at Hillary’s crowd and feel the difference.
As per his website, it sounds like he’s pissed about the “vicious attacks from the far left media deceivers”. On tonight’s show, he’s going to “show us what was actually said”. Um, we heard what you actually said, BOR. Then BOR, Mr. Spinmeister and Race Hustler Extraordinaire, is going to “talk about the state of the media in America.” Bwaaah!
Guests will be Geraldo Rivera & Eric Bolling
I find his use of the word “participate” (when talking about their work building the White House) to be interesting. Participate sounds so cheerful, friendly and willing. They were slaves – they were told what to do and had no free will to do otherwise. Even if BOR wasn’t intending to be provocative in his remarks, he should have known better than to say what he did. It simply wasn’t necessary – and now he’s stepped in it. Again.
Lets run the tape:
“The Collected Quotes of Donald Trump on ‘the Blacks’”
Which might explain why The Donald says stuff like “Look at my African American over there! Look at him. Are you the greatest? You know what I’m talking about?”
In swing states Ohio and Pennsylvania Trump polls 0% of the black vote. How is that even possible? Nationally he soars to 1% according to Quinnipiac (6% NBC/WSJ/Marist).
That doesn’t mean they’re turn out for Hillary but she is over 80%.
It appears, in part, from the article conservatives are having kittens over what Michelle said Monday night at #DemsInPhilly.
If you single out blacks in any context [except black on black crime] you’re a lib playing the race card who’s dividing America. ‘Cause we just know #DemsInPhilly, which is bending over backwards to be inclusive of so many groups ignored, abused, or forgotten like blacks, Hispanics, the disabled, women, etc., isn’t uniting America. No, only politically correct white conservatives who don’t make their fellow conservative white brethren uncomfortable are.
Bill, I’m loving the irony!
This is a Factor you and your family DON’T want to miss.
True since slavery wasn’t made illegal until the Civil War so nothing wrong with their immigration status, eh Bill? 👍
Bill is just putting the #BlackLivesMatter crowd in their place. Like most conservative whites he’s tired of blacks complaining about minor slights like slavery and unequal justice when his white brethren are not getting their due.