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Bill O’Reilly and psychological warfare

A. Peter Bailey

A. Peter Bailey

By A. Peter Bailey
Trice Edney  Newswire

Remember when Black folks with a high degree of Black consciousness resented those white liberals who promoted themselves — or were promoted by others — as experts on the Black community. Well, they have now been joined by white conservatives who make a similar claim.

One of the most notable of the conservative experts is Bill O’ Reilly who is undoubtedly the cleverest, slickest pundit and propagandist on American television. With smug certainty, he has devoted a significant amount of time on recent programs focusing on crime and young Black males.

Bill and others like him, who generalize about crime and young Black males, don’t do the same when dealing with crimes by young white males, such as the one who killed those 20 little children in Newtown, Conn. In such cases, their focus is usually on the pathology of that particular white male. However, when a Black criminal commits a crime, Bill and many of his colleagues in journalistic and academic circles go on and on about the pathology of Black males as a group.

What they often ignore is young Black males who commit crimes are quintessential “me, myself and I,” materialistic products of American culture, not Black culture.

Bill’s attitude is not surprising if one is aware of a statement he made in 2003. According to the Washington Post “members of the Best Men — as the sixth-to-eight grade boys in the program are called —  were delayed getting onstage to perform a lip-synched rendition of the Four Tops standard ‘Reach Out (I’ll Be There).’ O’Reilly ad-libbed: ‘Does anyone know where the Best Men are? I hope they’re not in the parking lot stealing our hubcaps.’”

Bill, with great indignation about critical reaction to his very revealing statement, insisted, “This is ridiculous and foolish. No good deed goes unpunished. If you guys want to snipe at me, then snipe at me. This thing raised a lot of money for a good charity. Everybody was happy. I don’t want to comment on anything else.”

Some may wonder why I pay any attention to Bill and other propagandists like him. I don’t believe we should spend too much time on them, but they are a part of a larger problem. Too many Black folks refuse to acknowledge we are literally involved in psychological warfare in this country.

In a hundred different ways, we are constantly reminded we are just not quite good enough for equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity. Physical attacks to remind us of this have been significantly reduced, mostly because of the courage of those who fought the good fight in the 1950s and 60s.

But psychological attacks in movies, television, radio, books, songs and so on are as unrelenting as ever. Attacks on the mind such as the one in which an adult white male “hopes” 11-13-year-old Black youngsters aren’t stealing hubcaps perpetuate the stereotypes millions of white Americans share about Black males and criminal behavior.

For both individual and group interests, we must psychologically arm ourselves with the knowledge needed to confront Slick Bill and his comrades in the journalistic and academic arenas. Suggestions on ways to do this will be presented in future columns.

Journalist/Lecturer A. Peter Bailey is author of the recently published book, “Witnessing Brother Malcolm X, The Master Teacher.” He can be reached at or 202.716.4560.


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