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O’Reilly And Beck Agree: We’re ‘Afraid’ To Have ‘A Lot Of African-American Friends’

By Amanda Terkel on February 6, 2007 at 2:10 pm

"O’Reilly And Beck Agree: We’re ‘Afraid’ To Have ‘A Lot Of African-American Friends’"

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Last night on Fox News, Bill O’Reilly led a discussion about Sen. Joe Biden’s (D-DE) racially-insensitive remarks toward Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL). But instead of exlusively focusing on why the remarks were condescending to African-Americans, he said blacks should “feel sorry for us white folks here, because I’m telling you now I’m afraid to say anything. … White Americans are terrified.” Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/02/oreillyrace.320.240.flv]

My Two Sense points out that CNN’s Glenn Beck hosted a similar discussion last night, during which he said, “I don’t have a lot of African-American friends, and I think part of it is because I’m afraid that I would be in an open conversation, and I would say something that somebody would take wrong, and then it would be a nightmare.” Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/02/beckrace1.320.240.flv]

As The New York Times’s Lynette Clemetson notes, “When whites use the word [articulate] in reference to blacks, it often carries a subtext of amazement, even bewilderment. … Such a subtext is inherently offensive because it suggests that the recipient of the ‘compliment’ is notably different from other black people.”

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Transcripts below:

O’REILLY: Now you got to feel sorry for us white folks here, because I’m telling you now I’m afraid to say anything. You know, you’re an articulate guy, doctor, but I’m never going to say that. You’re a smart guy. Is that bad if I say you’re a smart guy? … Yes, absolutely, instead of black and white Americans coming together, white Americans are terrified. They’re terrified. Now we can’t even say you’re articulate? We can’t even give you guys compliments because they may be taken as condescension?

BECK: You know, Shelby, I don’t know if anybody else in the audience — oh, this is just going to be a blog nightmare over the next few days. But let me just be honest and play my cards face up on the table.

I was thinking about this just last week. I don’t have a lot of African-American friends, and I think part of it is because I’m afraid that I would be in an open conversation, and I would say something that somebody would take wrong, and then it would be a nightmare. Am I alone in feeling that?

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