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Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly. Thank you for watching us tonight.
Violence and rioting in Michigan, that is the subject of this evening's Talking Points Memo. Benton Harbor, which is more than 90 percent black, is under siege after two days of rioting by more than 300 people. Five billings have been torched. 15 people hurt, at least seven arrested. And gunshots have been fired at the police after a motorcyclist was killed fleeing from the cops.
Terrence Shurin (ph) was apparently riding his bike at speeds up to 100 miles per hour. He had an expired license. And then he himself expired after he crashed trying to outrun the officers. More than 250 policemen and women are now on the scene. A curfew has been imposed. And some people in Michigan say they're shocked by the racial confrontation.
Since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in '68, racial rioting has periodically broken out in the USA, the most notorious being the '92 riots in Los Angeles after the Rodney King beating. But the Benton Harbor situation is strange. It's a small town with no racial history. And even in a recessionary period, the economic picture for blacks has improved dramatically around the country.
Per capita income for African-Americans has more than doubled since '68. And the poverty level for blacks has fallen from 35 percent to 23 percent. This, despite the fact that blacks continue to have babies out of wedlock to the tune of 70 percent. In fact, if an African-American couple stays together, they are likely to earn only slightly less than a white couple, according to the census of 2000.
So there's no question that economic progress is being made in the African-American community. Why then the rage? And that's what is happening in Benton Harbor and two years ago in Cincinnati as well. A case can be made that blacks are not treated as well as whites by the criminal justice system. That's probably true, but it's true of all poor people, not just people of color.
Destructive rioting is a criminal act. No excuse for it, especially in a case like this, where the motorcyclist actually brought it upon himself. So all Americans who think clearly must condemn this kind of action.
The question is, will the African-American community in general say enough with the rioting? That question at this point remains unanswered.
And that's The Memo.
The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day
Time now for "The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day"...
Former Vice President Al Gore says he wants to start a liberal TV network to challenge what he sees as conservative dominance in cable television and talk radio.
Apparently, Mr. Gore is trying to raise money for that effort, but we don't know why. He should just take over PBS. That way it doesn't need to raise any money because we the taxpayers are kicking in over there. That's a pretty liberal place. I think everybody would agree.
We would also remind Mr. Gore that MSNBC tried liberal radical Phil Donahue. That didn't work out.
The whole thing is ridiculous because there are just as many liberal voices being heard in the media as conservative ones, and that's the way it should be.