For at least the third time on the Fox News airwaves, Rivera appeared on The O’Reilly Factor last night to whitesplain to basketball great LeBron James about the shirt Rivera thinks James should be wearing instead of the “I can’t breathe” shirt James chose to wear.
As you probably know, “I can’t breathe” references the words that unarmed African American Eric Garner kept saying as he died in the hands of New York police. ESPN columnist J.A. Adande wrote:
(NBA) Players like Derrick Rose, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant have brought clarity to the issues. The disparity between the significance of black lives and the power of the police has reached “a tipping point,” as Bryant called it. That is the larger implication of the deaths of Garner in Staten Island and Michael Brown in Ferguson. It is about lost lives, the sorrow of the families, the public policies that need to be addressed.
But on Fox, the issues are always about Black Behaving Badly.
Rivera acknowledged that the cases of unarmed African Americans getting killed by the police have “great resonance” and “traction.” Rivera continued, “You can’t delegitimize the issue. It is real, it exists.” With a backhanded compliment, he added that it has mobilized young people who had previously been “just sitting on their butts doing nothing.”
That’s why he wants “tasers, no tanks" for the police.
But Rivera also wants to reprimand.
RIVERA: My point with LeBron is there is no doubt but that the dysfunction and disintegration of the urban family is resulting in more and more young people being adrift so that they can run afoul of the law or have these encounters, these dangerous, perilous encounters with the cops. But there’s no organized group dealing with that. What you have is, the easy issue (of) Eric Garner.
…LeBron, with your fame and your celebrity and the fact that you are beloved, can’t you have an effect on this bigger issue? This is easy for him, “I can’t breathe.” Just like it was easy when they came out with hoodies after Trayvon Martin. It’s much harder to say, “Why were 80 people killed in Newark,” a tiny city of 200,000, so far this year?
Instead of challenging Rivera, O’Reilly tried to one up him. “Who’s been saying this forever?” O’Reilly asked. What he did challenge Rivera on is the “myth” of African Americans getting killed by the police. “That’s infinitesimal,” O’Reilly declared disdainfully.
Those "infinitesimal" numbers are way greater than the Americans who died from Ebola. But O’Reilly thought THAT a national crisis, urged viewers to "rise up and demand" President Obama enact travel bans and accused him of endangering Americans - while Obama followed the recommendations of real experts.
But guess what? O’Reilly thinks Eric Garner is another reason to lecture Obama.
O’REILLY: The real problem is that President Obama, who has the platform. He’s done it with the Brother’s Keeper initiative and he’s done it three or four times. But here, this is what he’s done. You see this? That is the worst thing.
What was this “worst thing?” It was a photo of President Obama standing next to Sharpton.
O’REILLY: This guy is poison, he’s poison. And they’ve legitimized him and that has alienated white people all over the country.
Notice how O’Reilly acknowledged – and then dismissed without discussion – Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative? It’s designed to do exactly what O’Reilly and Rivera pretend to care about and yet they showed no interest in what it is or isn’t doing. In case you needed any more proof that these guys’ real concerns about problems in the African American community go no further than using them as weapons of delegitimization.
To his credit, Rivera noted that Sharpton deserves at least some respect as the “most followed and adored civil rights leader in the country today.”
He should give African Americans the same respect over what they wear and how they grieve.
Watch it below.