Wednesday, July 24, 2013


From MEDIAite:

O’Reilly Tears Into Obama’s Race Speech: President 
Has ‘No Clue’ How To Combat ‘Gangsta Culture’

Coming back to Trayvon Martin specifically, O’Reilly said there is only evidence that George Zimmerman “profiled” the 17-year-old because he was “dressed in clothing sometimes used by street criminals”–not his skin color. “It was wrong for Zimmerman to confront Martin based on his appearance,” he said. “But the culture that we have in this country does lead to criminal profiling because young black American men are so often involved in crime.” 

This led O’Reilly to pinpoint the primary cause of these statistics: “The disintegration of the African-American family.” More than anything else, he chalked up black crime to the fact that “73% of all black babies are born out of wedlock,” a problem that he said Obama and other civil rights leaders refuse to address. He also pointed fingers at the entertainment industry, and particularly “gangsta culture,” for “encouraging irresponsibility” and “glorifying bad behavior.” 

O’Reilly outright rejected the notion, put forward by “race hustlers and limousine liberals” that “unfair” incarceration rates for “non-violent” drug offenses contribute to the problem, calling out Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Obama for refusing to condemn drug dealers. Getting more and more heated as he progressed, O’Reilly argued that blacks’ disadvantages “has nothing to do with slavery. It has everything to do with you Hollywood people and you derelict parents.”

More here, with video.

MSNBC's Chris Hayes does a pretty good job of taking down O'Reilly's bullshit, so there's no need for me to reinvent the wheel as far as that goes.  On the other hand, Hayes has some advantages doing that sort of thing that a lot of us don't have.  He's got an organization behind him putting together some hard data for him to have at his fingertips.  He's got visuals, charts and graphs, emotional images.  He does this for a living and is pretty good at it.  And he's speaking to a friendly audience which already agrees with his point of view.

But what do you do without all these advantages?  This is a serious question.  O'Reilly's tirade on race in America is pretty packed, with a lot of assertions, which rest on a foundation of hundreds more assumptions.  That is, the aging Fox News commentator essentially presents the right wing's standard narrative about African-Americans: there are so many problems with it that it's difficult even to know where to start dismantling it.

Imagine you're having a conversation with someone who actually believes this claptrap.  You want to convince your conservative friend that he's got it all wrong.  So maybe you start with asserting that single parent black families are a lot more about capitalist economics and how they've laid waste to black communities than they are about individual personal choice.  But then suddenly you're caught up in an hour-long back and forth about economics, and have totally lost focus on your real goal, which is to disprove the racist and fictional conservative narrative about race.  In other words, you've lost before you've even really gotten started.

That's what's so insidious about extended false narratives in politics, especially the ones enjoyed by the mainstream news media.  You can't simply argue an issue.  Instead, you have to argue an entire world view, one that, in itself, contains so many other issues that doing so is a near impossibility for a single conversation.  It doesn't matter if you can show some misuse of facts here and there: the rest of the narrative is still intact, so winning a point or two is ultimately meaningless.  And is it really feasible to engage people in multiple continuing conversations about how they're wrong, you know, just so you can finally get them to see it your way?

This is what we're up against.  An entire worldview, one with multiple redundancies, one that can take some pretty heavy hits while continuing to be compelling and persuasive to people who already embrace it.  I've been trying the continued conversation approach on facebook for a while, but I have no idea if I'm making any headway.  What else can I do?