The Racist Factor

Exploiting Politics and Hysteria Over the Park Sex Attacks

The suspects in the Central Park attacks clearly had gotten under O'Reilly's American skin. "[T]hat thing in Central Park bothers me," he sneered. "That thing bothers me."

"I think it's one of the worst events we've had in many years, and it destroys the hard work and the image of New York City and what people have done," Silverman chimed in. "What we need to do is get the police and the community on the same page. . . . "

"That's never going to happen with guys like Al Sharpton, because he whips it up," O'Reilly declared. "Us against them. Us against them." Never mind that, Silverman argued, there are many untold stories about harmony between cops and minorities.

"I know there's good policemen," snorted O'Reilly. "Then why when Sharpton gets out there, as buffoonish and as demagoguish as he is—you know it and I know it—does he get such a big crowd?" Silverman maintained that it's "because anyone who speaks very extremely will get attention by others and the media."


One New Yorker who may have watched The O'Reilly Factor last week writes, in Silverman's words, "very extremely" about the Central Park incident in the context of race, crime, and black activist politics. In an unsigned letter to me, Anonymous, who I assume is white, has the suspects tried and convicted. "The Black and Hispanic men went on a rampage and attacked all of these women," the faceless accuser charges. "Why isn't this a bias crime? Now there is outrage that the police did nothing. Could you imagine if the police tried to help? I'm sure there would be brutality claims then, and there would be more marches."

In analyzing the letter, I found that the only difference between Anonymous's extremist views surrounding the Central Park "rampage" and black criminality and Bill O'Reilly's is that the writer is overtly racist while O'Reilly presents himself as a reasonable racist. "Due to all of the utter nonsense, the racial climate in the United States will never change," Anonymous asserts. "Blacks will always be treated like criminals until they get their act together. When you behave like humans you will be treated like humans."

It seems that my sin is that I had declared in the April 11 Voice that in the wake of recent shootings of unarmed black men, if a cop unjustifiably killed my son, I would kill that cop. Anonymous had seen me on NY1 debating New York Posteditorial writer Robert George, who is black. "You and the rest of the famous liberal minorities are outraged over the couple of incidents where black men were killed," writes Anonymous. "Never mind that the numbers are much lower than when Dinkins the incompetent jerk was in charge. There was no outrage then. Why?. . . . Since you appeared on NY1, we have had an explosion of attacks on livery cab drivers. All of the victims were minorities, and all of the assailants were minorities. Why no outrage?

"The Wendy's massacre. All minorities again. No outrage? The two killers were black men. Is that really a surprise to anyone? If the police did not pick them up as quickly as they did, and they had to look for the killers, they would have had to stop black men and question them. How else would they find the killers? Just like in the other incidents, the police were looking for criminals based on solid descriptions. It is not their fault that the criminals are always black. Incidentally, the families of the victims now want the death penalty. I'm sure they did not want the death penalty before members of their families were killed."

Anonymous chose to ignore the unbridled outrage in African American and Latino communities over the livery cabbie murders, the massacre at Wendy's, and the assaults in Central Park. It was Reverend Herbert Daughtry, the prominent black activist pastor of Brooklyn's House of the Lord Pentecostal Church, who appealed to blacks and Latinos in all of the cases not to protect those who are responsible.

Reverend Daughtry condemned what occurred in Central Park as "inexcusable and savage," adding that the women should be supported and protected. But in the same breath, he blasted songs and rap music laced with profanity and references to anal intercourse and ejaculation. "We are saturated with sex songs and stimulants by rappers who sing of 'whores' and 'bitches,' " said the minister. "Most disturbing is when young ladies start shaking and grinding to their own humiliation. I believe that our young people see our hypocrisy and they manifest the extreme acts of that hypocrisy. Adults may not go wildin' in Central Park, but they will make a million dollars enticing a woman to take her clothes off in the movies."

Anonymous's opinions, which are shared by many whites in this city, only shore up the argument that there is still a great racial divide on the vexing issue of criminal justice. "A football player [Reggie Lewis] and O.J. are free, yet poor Justin Volpe [the cop who confessed to beating and sodomizing Abner Louima] is in jail," notes Anonymous. "That is a crying shame. By the way, the Haitian community disregarded the family's plea for calm at the Dorismond funeral and they went on a rampage. Twenty-three cops were injured. If they cannot even respect the members of the Haitian community, how do you expect them to respect a white man in a uniform?"

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