Bill O'Reilly explains the African-American

The Fox host finds that a Harlem restaurant is just like any other "even though it's run by blacks."


Tim Grieve
September 25, 2007 9:12PM (UTC)

So Bill O'Reilly has dinner with Al Sharpton at a restaurant in Harlem ...

If that sounds like the beginning of a joke, Media Matters has the punch line.

Here's O'Reilly, discussing the dinner on his radio show:

"Black people in this country understand that they've had a very, very tough go of it, and some of them can get past that, and some of them cannot. I don't think there's a black American who hasn't had a personal insult that they've had to deal with because of the color of their skin. I don't think there's one in the country. So you've got to accept that as being the truth. People deal with that stuff in a variety of ways. Some get bitter. Some say, 'You call me that, I'm gonna be more successful.' OK, it depends on the personality.

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"So it's there. It's there, and I think it's getting better. I think black Americans are starting to think more and more for themselves. They're getting away from the Sharptons and the Jacksons and the people trying to lead them into a race-based culture. They're just trying to figure it out: 'Look, I can make it. If I work hard and get educated, I can make it.'

"You know, I was up in Harlem a few weeks ago, and I actually had dinner with Al Sharpton, who is a very, very interesting guy. And he comes on 'The Factor' a lot, and then I treated him to dinner, because he's made himself available to us, and I felt that I wanted to take him up there. And we went to Sylvia's, a very famous restaurant in Harlem. I had a great time, and all the people up there are tremendously respectful. They all watch 'The Factor.' You know, when Sharpton and I walked in, it was like a big commotion and everything, but everybody was very nice.

"And I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship. It was the same, and that's really what this society's all about now here in the USA. There's no difference. There's no difference. There may be a cultural entertainment -- people may gravitate toward different cultural entertainment, but you go down to Little Italy, and you're gonna have that. It has nothin' to do with the color of anybody's skin."

When a caller interrupted to complain about rap music, O'Reilly contrasted the terminology of rap with the behavior he saw at Sylvia's. "There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, 'M-Fer, I want more iced tea,'" he explained. "You know, I mean, everybody was -- it was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense of people were sitting there, and they were ordering and having fun. And there wasn't any kind of craziness at all."


Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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