Talking Points

Bill O'Reilly: The big event marking the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech

Talking Points 8/28


By Bill O'Reilly

All over the world people are honoring the memory of Dr. King and his extraordinary speech on August 28th, 1963. In Washington hundreds of thousands listened to a variety of talks today with President Obama as the headliner.

President Clinton described the gathering today as an observance of one of the most important days in American history. And that's true. But what Mr. Clinton and no one else mentioned is that today's event excluded black Republicans and conservatives. All the speakers were Democrats. That was a glaring error and does not indicate a desire for inclusion.

Most of the speeches were, however, uplifting and respectful to America, but not all.


MARC MORIAL, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: Somewhere along the way white sheets were traded for button-down white shirts. Attack dogs and water hoses were traded for tasers and widespread implementation of stop and frisk policies. Nooses were traded for handcuffs.


O'REILLY: Now that kind of grievance-mongering does the cause of civil rights no good whatsoever, period. The nation's first black president was the star of the day and gave an energetic presentation. He began with the history of Dr. King's speech in times 50 years ago. Then President Obama turned political.


OBAMA: The gap in wealth between races is not lessened, it's grown. And as President Clinton indicated, the position of all working Americans, regardless of color, has eroded, making the dream Dr. King described even more elusive.


O'REILLY: And whose fault is that? The reason working Americans are having such a hard time is twofold. First Mr. Obama's attempt to manage the economy from Washington -- that's largely failed. The private sector must drive economic expansion, not the feds and the President has not yet embraced that.

And second, the skill level of many Americans is declining. Even if jobs become more plentiful, you have to be able to do them. You have to speak proper English, to be able to do basic math and conduct yourself responsibly. Millions of Americans have not mastered the basics of the marketplace. And that is the truth.

The President then continued his economic theme.


OBAMA: The measure of progress for those who marched 50 years ago was not merely how many blacks could join the ranks of millionaires, it was whether this country would admit all people who are willing to work hard regardless of race into the ranks of the middle class life.


O'REILLY: Now having worked in corporate America for more than 35 years, I know firsthand that the private sector is seeking minority workers, wants them, recruits them. But they have to perform and have enough educational success to get a shot. There is little institutional bias anymore in this country. And if you practice that, you'll get sued.

That being said, there is -- there is -- individual bigotry, but nothing can ever wipe that out entirely. As John McWorther wrote in the "Wall Street Journal" today, dwelling on idiots who embrace prejudicial behavior is like dwelling on a world with germs, accept the fact that some things are always going to be there.

Finally President Obama entered the world of reality.


OBAMA: If we're honest with ourselves, we'll admit that during the course of 50 years there were times when some of us claiming to push for change lost our way. The anguish of assassinations set off self-defeating rites (ph). Legitimate grievances against police brutality tipped into excuse-making for criminal behavior.

Racial politics could cut both ways as the transformative message of unity and brotherhood was drowned out by the language of recrimination. And what had once been a call for equality of opportunity the chance for all Americans to work hard and get ahead, was too often framed as a mere desire for government support. As if we had no agency in our own liberation. As if poverty was an excuse for not raising your child and bigotry of others was reason to give up on yourself. All of that history is how progress stalled (ph).


O'REILLY: How progress stalled. That was a great statement accurate and important. Fair-minded Americans want all of their fellow citizens to succeed. And I believe most of us of fair-minded. But self-reliance and hard work is the key to success in life no matter what color you are.

President Obama and many in the civil rights industry believe that government must provide -- provide for those who fail. Even if it's their own fault they fail. The left wants paternalism. Cradle-to-grave protections and if you oppose that philosophy, there's something wrong with you. And in some cases, they'll accuse you of bigotry.

America remains the land of opportunity, but only for those who are honest and responsible. If you are irresponsible, lazy and/or corrupt, this country can be a tough place. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wanted equal opportunity for all. And while that has not been totally accomplished, our system is moving toward it.

And finally, I want to end this memo with the words of Congressman John Lewis who was with Dr. King 50 years ago.


REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: We may have come here on different ships, but we are all in the same boat now. So it doesn't matter whether you're black or white, Latinos -- Latinos, Asian-American, or Native American, whether we are gay or straight, we are one people, we are one family. We all live in the same house. Not just the American house, but the world house.


O'REILLY: I like that guy.

And that's "The Memo."