Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed that Obama appeals court nominee Goodwin Liu -- whom O'Reilly called “a loon” -- “believes in reparations for slavery.” In fact, in the 2008 discussion that O'Reilly cited, Liu actually suggested that people should deal with the legacy of slavery by working at the community level to address “problems that people face ... in their schools, in their workplaces, access to health care, in their housing.”
O'Reilly claims Liu supports reparations for slavery
O'Reilly: “Now we learn Judge Liu apparently believes in reparations for slavery.” In a discussion with Fox News' Megyn Kelly, O'Reilly said: “Miss Megyn defended the nomination a couple weeks ago, but now we learn that Judge Liu apparently believes in reparations for slavery.” O'Reilly also claimed: “Then you have a Liu, all right, who says, 'Yeah, even the white families who didn't have anything to do with it, they have to owe and pony up something.' ” During the segment, O'Reilly played comments Liu made during a 2008 discussion of race that have been distorted by right-wing media to falsely claim that Liu supports reparations.
Fact: Liu did not advocate for reparations during the discussion
Nowhere in the segment O'Reilly played did Liu say he supported reparations. O'Reilly aired comments Liu made in 2008 that “there are white families who were not involved as directly or even indirectly with the slave trade, but who still benefited from it,” and his statement: “Is it gonna require us to give up our money? It's gonna require giving up something.” But nowhere in the passage does Liu endorse reparations. From Liu's comments during the 2008 discussion:
LIU: Then there's a further issue, which is that maybe there are white families who were not involved as directly or even indirectly with the slave trade, but who still benefited from it. And then there is the whole question, which you put on the table, about people who came to America after, and, you know, like my family. And why is it that this movie speaks to me so deeply yet?
And so, what I would do, I think I would draw a distinction between a concept of guilt, which locates accountability in a sort of limited set of wrong-doers, and, on the other hand, a concept of responsibility, which is, I think, a more broad suggestion that all of us, whatever our lineage, whatever our ancestry, whatever our complicity, still have a moral duty to ... make things right. And that's a moral duty that's incumbent upon everybody who inherits this nation, regardless of whatever the history is.
And I think, to add one more point on top of that, the exercise of that responsibility ... necessarily requires the answer to the question, “What are we willing to give up to make things right?” Because it's gonna require us to give up something, whether it is the seat at Harvard, the seat at Princeton. Or is it gonna require us to give up our segregated neighborhoods, our segregated schools? Is it gonna require us to give up our money?
It's gonna require giving up something, and so until we can have that further conversation of what it is we're willing to give up, I agree that the reconciliation can't fully occur.
In discussion, Liu actually argued for dealing with the legacy of slavery through working at the community level -- not through reparations. Rather than advocating for “reparations,” later during the discussion Liu said that “instead of looking for the single national strategy” on racial equality, people should “think about what you can do on a much smaller scale in much smaller communities, around specific problems that people face, whether it's in their schools, in their workplaces, access to health care, in their housing -- whatever it may be” :
LIU: I think for a long time, the -- we have been entranced by a certain image of civil rights progress, which is an image that was forged during the 1960s in the wake of Brown vs. the Board of Education and in a time when we had all three branches of the government -- the national government supportive of a general civil rights agenda. I don't see that happening in the near future, however 2008 turns out. And so I'm not sure if we live in a time where we can transplant that model of national leadership to the present day. Instead, I think I agree with Ruth's comment that if this conversation is going to happen, it's gotta happen in much more localized settings around problems of local concerns to people. And that is a -- you know, there's a kind of entropy to that because you can't completely manage it and you can't direct it, but since we have, you know, about 100 different funders out there in our audience, I would say that instead of looking for the single national strategy, which is what everybody always looks for, think about what you can do on a much smaller scale in much smaller communities, around specific problems that people face, whether it's in their schools, in their workplaces, access to health care, in their housing -- whatever it may be. Because unless it's framed around a specific problem, the conversation will just be that: conversation.