As usual, Bill O’Reilly has it all wrong.
On last Monday’s episode of The O’Reilly Factor, O’Reilly gave his take on Hillary Clinton running for president and the competition she faces.
O’Reilly proclaimed that,
“If you’re a Christian or a white man in America, it’s open season on you. Therefore, Hillary Clinton has an advantage. She can run a general campaign: ‘First woman in the White House, and I’m gonna help you by increasing the entitlement society.’ It will take a very articulate and tough-minded Republican to defeat her.”
That’s right. According to Bill-O, in addition to the never-ending war on Christianity that he loves to go on about, there’s also a war on white men being waged across our country.
Now, Bill O’Reilly has said many unbelievable things during his career as a talking head, but this one might just take the cake.
That’s because white privilege and male privilege are alive and well in the US today.
In her 1990 essay, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack,” Peggy McIntosh writes that,
“I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male privilege. So I have begun in an untutored way to ask what it is like to have white privilege. I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets which I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was ‘meant’ to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless backpack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks.”
McIntosh goes on to lay out a white privilege litmus test of sorts. If O’Reilly or any white male in the US took that test, they would see that the idea of an “open season” on white men is completely bogus.
But more importantly, they would see that white privilege is very, very real.
For example, if a white man wants to move, he can pretty much rent or purchase a home anywhere he can afford and would want to live. Many Americans can’t say that.
If a white man in the US wants to go buy a new TV, he can go to the store and shop around without being hassled, followed or marked as a potential shoplifter. Many Americans can’t say that either.
If a white man gets pulled over by a cop, chances are pretty good that he didn’t get pulled over because of his race. Again, many Americans can’t say that.
And, if a white man gets hired for a job, he believes that he was hired because he was the best fit for that job, and that race had nothing to do with it. You guessed it; many Americans can’t say that.
But it’s not just all about white privilege. White men in the US also have the benefit of male privilege.
For example, white men can expect to be paid accordingly for the work that they do. Their gender isn’t going to affect their pay.
White men can be promoted within a company, without rumors swirling that they “slept their way to the top.”
White men can interrupt, pontificate and argue without ever worrying about being called “uppity” – instead, they’re called “assertive” and “strong.”
And, white men can balance their professional and home lives, without being called selfish and uncaring.
So, when Bill O’Reilly says that it’s “open season” on white men in this country, he’s either mind-numbingly ignorant or just not taking a good hard look at our society today.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that the presidency of Barack Obama has brought out the issue of white privilege and the candidacy of Hillary Clinton will bring male privilege and misogyny to the front of the news. And those are conversations and lessons that we all need.