Bill O'Reilly Explained the Racist History of the U.S. But Didn't Even Realize It

Former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly stressed the "brutal injustice" of his Irish ancestors and said slavery reparations for black Americans falsely reinforces that the U.S. was founded by racist white men.

O'Reilly revisited last week's "Sins of the Past" column on his personal website Monday, saying the only way reparations discussions within Congress become reality is if "radical leftists take control of the country." O'Reilly argues that cash payments in 2019 can't possibly right the serial wrongs of American ancestors and putting aside centuries-old grievances and working together for a "stronger, more just country" is the right way forward. O'Reilly said reparations would only divide Americans more along racial lines and completely overlooks the hardships faced by ethnically white ancestors.

The 69-year-old took to Twitter to relay his personal case against slavery reparations Monday, quoting his essay introduction.

"Slavery reparations is a far-left favorite because it does a number of things," O'Reilly tweeted Monday. "It reinforces the radical belief that the United States was founded by racist white men who installed a system whereby white guys would run everything and blacks, women and others would be exploited ... it also defines poverty among minorities as not the fault of the individuals but of an unjust society that exists to this day."

"It also suggests that personal responsibility does not count when the legacy of slavery dropped a curtain of oppression on the black race and there is no recovering from that," he continued. "The radical left says our society remains unjust to this day, forget personal responsibility."

At a House Judiciary Committee meeting last week, author Ta-Nehisi Coates made the case that through Jim Crow laws and other racial repression tactics, black people were "subjected to a relentless campaign of terror" for more than a century after the end of the Civil War.

O'Reilly cited a 2016 Marist College poll which found only eight percent of white Americans believe the federal government should collect reparations for slavery and other historical injustices against black Americans. The poll found more Americans across all racial lines were more supportive of taking financial action against private companies who have admitted profiting from U.S. slavery.

Coates also stressed the massive economic impact the slave "assets" had on white Americans acquiring wealth literally on the backs of black Americans.

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The Fox News host would have needed a time machine to do some of the reporting he boasts about in one of his books. Andrew Hetherington for Newsweek

"It is impossible to imagine America without the inheritance of slavery," Coates said. "By 1836, more than $600 million, or almost half of the economic activity in the United States, derived directly or indirectly from the cotton produced by the million odd slaves. By the time the enslaved were emancipated, they comprised the largest single asset in America—$3 billion in 1860—more than all the other assets in the country combined."

O'Reilly pointed to his own Irish ancestors fleeing British tyranny and attacks by sailing on a "coffin ship" across the Atlantic to the U.S. in the mid-19th century. He notes "historical injustice has existed since the dawn of man...millions of white people in America were harmed by the Civil War when their ancestors died in the conflict that freed the slaves."

O'Reilly, who departed Fox News in 2017 after paying $45 million in sexual harassment settlements, also touched on the case made by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week and then-Democratic Senator Joe Biden in 1975: white people shouldn't be forced to pay for something that happened hundreds of years before they were born.

O'Reilly writes, "In 1975, Joe Biden weighed in on the reparation issue saying: 'I don't feel responsible for the sins of my father or grandfather ... and I'll be damned if I feel responsible to pay for what happened 300 years ago.'"

"Too harsh, in my opinion," O'Reilly added. "And Biden would never say that now in the age of Political Correctness."

In July 2016, O'Reilly tossed one of several rebukes aimed at then-First Lady Michelle Obama on his top-rated Fox News show, The O'Reilly Factor, saying the slaves who helped build the White House "were well-fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government."

He was responding to a speech Obama gave in which she said, "I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent, black young women playing with their dogs on the White House lawn."

O'Reilly, a history author himself, looked to do an on-air fact check of her comments using historical documents showing it was not just enslaved African-Americans who built the White House: "[R]ecords show about 400 payments made to slave masters between 1795 and 1801. In addition, free blacks, whites, and immigrants also worked on the massive building."

Bill O'Reilly Explained the Racist History of the U.S. But Didn't Even Realize It | U.S.