Social Justice Defined by O’Reilly

I find myself stumped, stymied and saddened by something Bill O’Reilly said the other day.

I occasionally listen to right-wing radio and television talk show hosts because I want to know what they are saying. I think we ought to know our neighbors, even if we do not agree with them or care for them. It might be that we are living in perception and not truth when it comes to those from “the other side,” and that is never good.

But O’Reilly the other day was criticizing social justice, and said that social justice is for people who want stuff. That’s what “social justice” means, he said. Social justice is when the government pays for people who want stuff.

I was floored.

I think I must have grown up naive, believing in the famous words, “All men are created equal.” I thought those were the most powerful, most true, and most intuitive words ever written …and they were written by our Founding Fathers.

My fantasy was initially cracked when I was a teen at an amusement park, watching people get on replicas of old cars, Model Ts and Model As, and I said that it must have been fun back then to have lived when these cars came out.

My friend said quietly, “Not if you were black.”

He reminded me of how there were not equal rights for people in this country and “back then” had certainly been worse than our present day.

Well, as I grew I watched and learned the painful lessons of racism. I watched my father, a brilliant man who worked for the Internal Revenue Service, cry as he told my mother how he’d gotten passed over for a promotion yet another time. Apparently, he knew that his being passed over was only because he was black.

I visited the South, my cousins in Alabama, and was told to be very careful about talking to white people. I stood in lines where white kids were let on the rides before we were, though we’d been standing there a lot longer.

I went to college and heard white students say that the only reason “we” were in college was because of Affirmative Action.

Stuff. Affirmative Action helped minorities get pieces of America that had been formerly shut down for them. There was the Voting Rights Act, that had to be put in place so that black people could have the right to vote. Stuff, I guess. Health care reform …helps more people get health care. Stuff, right?

O’Reilly alluded to the fact that people wanting “stuff” were those who were not willing to work for it. They want hand-outs, and,therefore, social justice exists, but for O’Reilly and others, it is not a good thing.

All people are not created equal. They are not supposed to have equal rights. God created the haves and the have nots. “People wanting stuff” is a said state of affairs, muses O’Reilly. This country, trying to serve more people, to make it so that more people have nearly equal rights, is going the wrong way, becoming socialist, under the socialist, non-American president, Barack Obama.

As I have mused and pondered over this, it occurs to me that democracy is not about “all people being equal.” It is about free enterprise. Those who have, get more, and those who do not have, get less. It’s the way things are, the way things are supposed to be. Nobody ever meant to say or to imply that all people in this country should have equal rights when it comes to “stuff.”

As government systems go, I am glad to be in America, but I am no longer deluded or fooled by lofty expectations of what freedom in a democracy means. The system is set up so that some people will succeed very well and others will not succeed at all. There are 30 percent more homeless people in this nation this year than there were last year, but democracy does not say or mean that they should have homes (though they are working.)

According to O’Reilly, democracy means that the homeless and poor, the sick and the hungry, are able to pull themselves up and do an “honest day’s work” and be able to participate in this free enterprise system.

You see? It helps to listen to those whom we do not like. We learn a little more about how our world works and how the people in our world think

The opposition to Mr. Obama from the Right is partially racial, that’s for sure, but it’s also deeply economic, a cry of protest against policies that attempt to help more people get “stuff.”

Thanks, Bill.

That is a painful…candid observation.

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Comments

  1. I straddle the fence on this issue. I fully understand Mr. O’Reilly’s comment that social justice allows for more people to aquire more stuff. I don’t think its a racial thing, it most certainly is, however, a socio economic thing. Unfortunately we live in a “stuff” society. People everywhere are looking outside themselves for something to make them feel better. They try to mask feelings of fear, anger, low self esteem and self worth with “stuff” thinking that the “stuff” will bring them relief. People who don’t have “stuff” use resources provided them by the government to get “stuff”. If you come to my office and see the population I work with you will understand what I mean. People with no jobs sit in the waiting area talking loud on cell phones dressed in matching sweat suites sneakers and hats. They use their money to purchase hair, loud cell phone ring tones and newport cigarettes. they dress their children in designer clothes that will only be worn for a month or two until the child grows out of it. They ride around in cars with expensive stereos so the entire neighborhood has to listen to the horrible crap they call hip hop. It angers me to no end when I see people draining the system and never giving anything back. Most don’t care to and others think they are entitled to something for which they did absolutely no work to receive . Of course I am speaking in general terms here. Not everyone needing and receiving help take advantage and abuse the help they get. There are those who do the right thing and seek help when they really need it and eventually pay back into the system. But there will always be people who drain the system dry and look for more. While this country has done a good job of putting limits on the amount of help one can receive there will always be those who use the resources given to them in foolish ways. They buy into an illusion hoping that the stuff they purchase will fill a whole in their spirit. Unfortunately, most never learn that the whole can only be filled by THE ONE who has already purchased for us everything we could possibly need.

  2. ozzie smith says:

    Hey Rev Sue:

    The right and its withering chorus of “angry” voices will always say what O’Reilly says. They will never be confused with the facts of our existence–it has not been theirs. Traditional privilege will never get it, but is quite angry now because its holy grail, the White House is now occupied by a descendant of the disinehrited hands that built it.

    I too lived the shame and being made to feel always less than in Memphis. I have grown weary of seeking for “them” to understand and really don’t care if they do. My out is when engaged in conversation with “them,” is to dispense my own strategic vitriol when they want to act as though this holocaust did not happen.

    Jesus said that we must make purses that don’t wear out. Stuff will always wear out. But purses that will not wear out are made with treasures that don’t come from down here, but treasures where no thief comes near. I remember seeing a sign in a 60’s documentary held by an angry racist that read, “They don’t want civil rights, they want special rights.” You see, the rhetoric hasn’t changed much. I must say that had it not been for faithful voices undeterred by the Wallaces, Bull Connors, and Jim Clarks of then and the O’Reillys and shrill right choruses of now, we would not have what we do have. Perhaps the “stuff” O’Reilly speaks about is the “stuff” he has that he does not want to share–traditional privilege. There will always be O’Reillys and such. It’s when they cease being shrill that I might get concerned. Right now, traditional privilege does what it does best–whine when the sandbox has to be shared and the playing field is leveled.

    • cassady2euca says:

      Love this response, Ozzie. I agree that the rhetoric of the privileged has not changed much, and that is really sad…It’s also the reason it’s stupid for anyone to ever have said we are a “post racial America.” Please! What the privileged want is to protect and maintain their privileged status. They are afraid that they are losing ground. Oh well…

      Thanks for commenting!

  3. Ronni Wilkey says:

    Mr. O’Reilly’s words sadden me, but to be honest I appreciate the fact that he was honest enough to speak them and speak them loud and proud. As ignorant as we all know he is we know where he is coming from so we know how to do battle with him. I fear those who “feel” this way but hide it. These same Men and Women who are in charge of distributing the “Stuff” like Home Loans or Higher Education he says disenfranchised People “want” and for some reason or another can’t get. All along it was their quiet Racism that stamped the application “denied”. Bill O’Reilly short of “Divine Intervention” will never change his wicked ways and there are People all across America who would love nothing more than to see their little boys grow up to be “just like him”

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