Fox is gearing up for the Ferguson, Missouri grand jury decision as to whether or not to indict the police officer who shot and killed the unarmed teenager Michael Brown last summer. Bill O’Reilly was all set to whitesplain proper behavior to his guest last night, an African American state senator from Missouri. He was clearly floored when it turned out she didn’t need his lecture.
Tonight was another Ferguson edition in Fox’s ongoing series of Black People Behaving Badly, as my readers so aptly call them.
O’Reilly started out by giving the segment the ominous title, “Fear in Missouri.” He did his part to ratchet up that fear by announcing, “Many people in and around Ferguson and St Louis are buying guns, business owners say they’ll board up because of possible violence when a decision is announced about the Michael Brown case.”
State Senator Jamilah Nasheed (D), however blew his plan when right off she said she does not expect any “major violence.” She explained that “lines of communication have been opened with law enforcement as well as the organizers and even the protesters.” She also said that organizers are working with law enforcement to maintain peace.
O’Reilly was unconvinced. He said he’s “praying” she’s right. Then he began lecturing: “Because this doesn’t help anybody.” In a condescending tone, he added, “I have to be a bit skeptical.” He went on to denigrate the “Don’t Shoot Coalition” by saying “some would call it anti-American.” But not O’Reilly. He called them “disenchanted with America” – plus some “flat-out America haters.”
That was on display right here, as a matter of fact. After Nasheed reiterated her belief that peace will prevail in Ferguson, O’Reilly showed no interest in what is being done or could be done to ensure that. Instead, he went straight to trying to denigrate Nasheed.
“I’m very happy you’re taking that tack,” O’Reilly said, as if he were expecting otherwise. Then he added, “Now, you, yourself got involved in a little controversy. You were protesting. …What were you demonstrating against?”
It’s hard to believe O’Reilly would not know the answer to this, given how prominently the Ferguson protests played out in the news last summer. And if he didn’t know, that might be even worse.
If O’Reilly was planning on using Nasheed to make the protesters look like angry blacks behaving badly, she blew that out of the water. Instead of railing against whitey, Nasheed said she was there “to convey to the protesters that it is OK to be angry. It’s OK to be frustrated but it is not OK to damage property.”
“So you were out there as a peace maker?” O’Reilly asked. The doubt and surprise in his voice was unmistakable.
Nasheed said she was there “to show them how to peacefully protest and do civil disobedience without resulting to violence and burning businesses down.”
O’Reilly interrupted her as she tried to explain that her message got lost. Rather than explore what Nasheed had tried to do and maybe what she has done since, O’Reilly sprung a “blacks behaving badly” gotcha. “When the police arrested you… you had a gun,” he said. He wondered “why a Missouri state senator had a gun in a demonstration.”
Nasheed said she carries it because she has had “many death threats.”
“Whose threatening you?” O’Reilly asked incredulously. Was he actually suggesting she had made up the threat or exaggerated it? As if it’s any of his business anyway?
O’Reilly also wanted to know if the gun was legally registered.
Nasheed remained polite and cordial throughout the interview – way more than O’Reilly deserved, if you ask me.
As he wound up the discussion, obviously pleasantly surprised by how reasonable and level-headed Nasheed was – just like those diners at Sylvia’s restaurant in Harlem! – he teased the upcoming segment:
Bernie Goldberg says he knows why so many black Americans remain in poverty.
That’s right, two old, white guys have all the answers those African Americans need.
Yes. Yes, he could.
If anyone can find a way to be more condescending than usual, it’s O’Reilly. I just have that much faith in the man.