You have to wonder the thinking behind Bill O'Reilly's decision to fact-check Michelle Obama's assertion in her Democratic National Convention speech that she has been living in a home built by slaves.
Michelle Obama said:
"I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. I watch my daughters — two beautiful, intelligent, black young women — playing with their dogs on the White House lawn."
O'Reilly acknowledged that Obama was correct, but in doing so, said the following:
"Slaves that worked there were well-fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government, which stopped hiring slave labor in 1802. However, the feds did not forbid subcontractors from using slave labor. So, Michelle Obama is essentially correct in citing slaves as builders of the White House, but there were others working as well. Got it all? There will be a quiz."
As you might expect, his assertion that slaves were "well-fed and had decent lodgings" didn't go over very well with a lot of people, including me.
Slavery - regardless of your slave master's meal plan and accommodations - is still slavery, and it should never be made to sound like anything but the stripping away of a person's freedom, dignity, and basic human rights.
Also, how the hell does Bill O'Reilly know what was happening to those slaves at the time?
- Well-fed, perhaps, but also likely beaten at the hands of their slave masters.
- Decent lodgings, maybe, but probably watched as their children were sold to plantations hundreds of miles away, never to be seen again.
- Even if the slaves that built the White House had three square meals a day and roofs over their heads, they also lacked the freedom to speak or travel or do what they wanted and love who they wanted for their entire lives.
Honestly, what was O'Reilly thinking?
Did this Fox News talking head find Michelle Obama's assertion so rhetorically effective that he just had to find a way to undermine it?
Is it simply instinct for him to attempt to mitigate anything that comes out of the mouth of a Democrat?
Was he so frustrated that Michelle Obama's speech (and almost every other speech delivered at the DNC) was almost infinitely better than the 75 minutes of vitriol spittled from the gaping maw of Donald Trump?
Even if all this were true, you don't defend slavery, even in a tiny way under the guise of fact checking. Find something else to attack. Find another way to undermine your opponent.
Here's a party game you can play sometime:
Try to make a list of things you could say that are as stupid and awful as saying that slavery wasn't as bad as you might think.
It's hard to do. It's a very short list.