Thursday, July 28, 2016

Abigail Adams vs. Bill O'Reilly

Bill O'Reilly's attempt to correct First Lady Michelle Obama's statement that the White House was built by slaves was horrifyingly reminiscent of efforts on the part of early American slave owners to justify slavery. While O'Reilly has since "clarified" that he agrees slavery was an "abomination," his comment that the slaves which helped build the White House were "well fed" is too offensive to ignore.

First, as The Atlantic makes clear, O'Reilly's claims aren't true. Abigail Adams is a far more credible source of information than Mr. O'Reilly or any of us. And she makes clear that the slaves building the White House were not adequately fed or taken care of.

Second, it's irrelevant to the First Lady's point, which is a good one: America has come a long way and nowhere is this more evident than what Michelle Obama is saying about the White House in which she and her husband reside.

Third, even if O'Reilly were correct (and he's not), slavery is still inherently dehumanizing. You can't dress it up and make it good. It's evil. Period.

Now, I'm not one to bash America's Founding Fathers. On the contrary, I respect them deeply - as all Americans (regardless of color) should! But...I also don't believe in sweeping the sin of slavery under the rug. Slavery remains the most egregious stain on our nation's history and we must be willing to confront such things in history if we are to learn from them. And, while I don't always agree with First Lady Obama, I agree with her completely on this point. O'Reilly should apologize unconditionally for his offensive and hurtful comments.

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