Bill O’Reilly Declares “Open Season” On Reality

Terrance Heath

In Fox host Bill O’Reilly’s alternate right-wing universe, Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy means, “If you are a Christian or a white man in the USA, it’s open season on you.”

Here on earth, two more unarmed black men were killed by law enforcement officers. Rep. Hank Johnson (D, Georgia) took to the House floor to condemn Congress for its inaction, and to read the names of several victims of police violence into the congressional record, in hopes that his colleagues “will no longer ignore this crisis.”

Walter Scott from [South] Carolina; Michael Brown from Missouri; Anthony Hill from Georgia; Tony Robinson from Wisconsin; Kevin Davis from Georgia; Nicholas Thomas, Georgia; Daniel Elrod, Nebraska; Antonio Zambrano-Montes, Washington; David Kassick of Pennsylvania; Jessica Hernandez, Colorado; Kevin Davis, Georgia; Dennis Grigsby, Texas; Rumain Brisbon, Phoenix; Tamir Rice, Ohio; Akai Gurley, New York; Carlos Perez, Nevada; Kajieme Powell, Missouri; Ezell Ford, California; Dillon Taylor, Utah; John Crawford III, of Ohio; Naeschylus Vinzant, of Colorado; Charly Leundeu Keunang, of California; and the list goes on.

O’Reilly’s paranoid persecution fantasies, from a man so privileged that he still has a job on television after lying about key parts of his work as a journalist, are an insult to the memories of the victims Johnson named, and the families and communities that mourn them.

Bill O’Reilly should tell the family of Walter Scott how persecuted and endangered he feels.

On April 4, in North Charleston, South Carolina, officer Michael Slager pulled 50-year-old Walter Scott over for having a broken taillight. Scott fled the traffic stop on foot. He had been jailed over unpaid child support before, and though he struggled to be a better father, he’d fallen behind again and feared going back to jail. (At the time of his death, there was no warrant for Scott’s arrest.)

Scott was careful to avoid police encounters. He took circuitous routes to visit his mother’s home, because police regularly patrolled the more direct routes. He was vigilant about making sure any car he drove had working tail lights. He knew that, as attorney Mark Garages said on CNN, “Broken tail light means go hassle somebody of color.”

In his incident report, officer Slager claimed that Scott struggled with him and attempted to take his taser. Video footage shot by a witness showed otherwise. Slager stood over Scott’s motionless body and cuffed Scott’s arms behind his back. Slager opened fire after Scott had run 15 to 20 feet away, retrieved his taser, and planted it next to Scott’s body to lend credibility to his claim. Minutes later, Slager laughed and joked about the adrenaline rush he felt.

But for the video, Slager would have gotten away with it. He had brutalized another unarmed black man, and gotten away with it. He worked in a police force with a stunning record of abuse. The North Charleston Police Department has been sued 46 times since 2000, just in federal court.

O’Reilly should tell Eric Harris’ family that it’s “open season on white men.”

Harris, the subject of a police sting operation, was shot and killed by 73-year-old “reserve deputy” Robert Bates — a wealthy executive, allowed to play police officer because of his donations to the Tulsa, Oklahoma police department. Bates thought he was reaching for his taser, and grabbed his gun instead. “I’m losing my breath,” Harris pleaded as he lay bleeding. One officer callously responded, “Fuck your breath.”

Perhaps O’Reilly can commiserate with the family of Ernest Satterwhite. Satterwhite was shot and killed by officer Justin Craven, in Edgefield, South Carolina. Craven fired repeatedly through the driver-side door of Satterwhite’s vehicle, after Satterwhite had come to a full stop in his own driveway.

Maybe the family of Barbara Lassere would understand how threatened O’Reilly feels.

Police shot and killed Lassere, 60, in her driveway, after she fled a traffic stop near her home in LaPlace, Louisiana. Officers’ claims that Lassere brandished a gun at them were never substantiated. Lassere’s family insisted she never carried a gun, and fled the scene because she was “terrified of police officers.”

Perhaps the family of Phillip White would understand how O’Reilly feels.

White, 32, died in police custody after being beaten by officers and bitten by a police dog. White was pronounced dead at the Inspira Medical Center in Vineland, New Jesery.

Floyd Dent would probably empathize with how targeted O’Reilly feels.

The 57-year-old Detroit resident was dragged from his car by officers in Inkster, Michigan. Officers punched Dent in the head 16 times, and tasered him three times as he lay bleeding, before arresting him.

Maybe O’Reilly should tell the family of Nicholas Taft Thomas about “open season” on white men.

Thomas, 24, was shot and killed at his workplace in Smyrna, Georgia, by officers who came to serve him with a probation violation for a traffic offense. Thomas attempted to flee in his vehicle. Officers claimed they opened fire when Thomas drove at them. Witnesses said Thomas did not drive towards the officers, and there were no bullet holes in his car.

As Rep. Johnson said, the list goes on and on.

If Bill O’Reilly had any decency, he would burn with shame over his remarks, and apologize to the families of real victims. But that’s too much to expect of a man safely ensconced in a network that has, like him, declared “open season” on reality.

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