Here's your honest conversation

Incisive commentary on race draws praise, even more hatred

Whatever you think of Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, he at least tried to start an honest conversation on race.

The response to him demonstrates why the country may never have that conversation.

In a particularly hard-hitting commentary July 22, inspired by President Obama’s reaction to the Trayvon Martin verdict, O’Reilly noted some of the problems facing the African-American community – including high rates of crime and skyrocketing out-of-wedlock births.

“Young black men commit homicides at a rate 10 times greater than whites and Hispanics combined,” O’Reilly said. ... “Right now about 73 percent of all black babies are born out of wedlock.”

The latter is not a moral judgment, it’s a practical and economic one: Nearly every societal ill is exacerbated by single parenthood, particularly poverty.

O’Reilly blasted black leaders, the civil rights industry and President Obama for ignoring such pathologies, and the entertainment industry for propagating and glorifying them. And he said the problem is the disintegration of the family.

He’s spot-on right.

And they hate him for it.

Remarkably, liberal CNN personality Don Lemon not only agreed with O’Reilly, but politely chastised him for not going far enough. Lemon gave his own five-point plan for his fellow African-Americans: pull up your pants; stop using the “N” word; respect your environs; finish school; and don’t have children out of wedlock.

But Lemon and a few others have been drowned out by a very loud and uncivil backlash – and not just at O’Reilly. One black MSNBC talking head called Lemon a “turncoat (expletive).”

We won’t even repeat what MSNBC contributor Michael Eric Dyson said about O’Reilly.

There’s your honest conversation about race.

Maybe they lash out at the person because the facts are incontrovertible.

Moreover, O’Reilly is right to ask where the black leaders are when it comes to addressing these problems. Where are the public service announcements about the links between out-of-wedlock births and poverty, crime and other dysfunction? Where are the exhortations from civil rights and political leaders to do the things that are healthy and that work? Where are the calls for individual responsibility and collective action?

“The sad truth is that from the president on down,” O’Reilly said, “our leadership has no clue, no clue at all about how to solve problems within the black community. And many are frightened to even broach the issue.”

After what has happened since O’Reilly’s remarks, can you blame them?

Well, yes. Leaders are supposed to be at least as courageous as talk-show hosts.

Other than exhibit a model family, Mr. Obama has done next to nothing to foster a healthy, honest discussion on these matters. Instead, he fans the flames of division and of paralyzing victimization by comparing himself to a dead teen. And he invites some of the purveyors of unhealthy culture for parties at the White House.

It’s not enough to bemoan verdicts and attack O’Reilly and the people brave enough to agree with him in public. Either show him where he’s wrong or do something to change the circumstances that make him right.

Wouldn’t it be great if the country had political, racial and moral leadership of that caliber?

Can you believe how far we are from it?

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