Unethical Quote Of The Month: Oprah Winfrey

 “I always think of the millions of people who heard that as their last word as they were hanging from a tree.”

Oprah Winfrey, in an interview with Parade Magazine, discussing race in America, the use of the word “nigger,” and how young people in the U.S. don’t know “diddly squat” about the civil rights movement.

Yes, Parade Readers, it's true, whites tried to wipe us off the face of the map.

Yes, Parade peaders, it’s true, whites tried to wipe us off the face of the map.

Now, thanks to Oprah, those young people think they know that “millions” of blacks were lynched in the United States.

Oprah Winfrey, one of the most admired, respected and trusted public figures in the nation, decided to join the recent concerted effort to magnify racial hate and fear, this time by grossly misrepresenting U.S.history. Not only that, but she did so in the context of representing herself as knowledgeable about the history of race relations in America, while others know “diddly-squat.” The recklessness, lack of responsibility, and ignorance that Winfrey’s statement represents is staggering.

In the past I have pointed out the ridiculous historical misrepresentations by Herman Cain, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, political figures who are trusted as authorities by millions of Americans and thus have a responsibility to be sure that they don’t pass along misinformation. Writing about Sarah Palin’s misrepresentations regarding Paul Revere’s ride. I wrote,

“… Bachmann, Palin and Cain, who extol our  heroes and founding documents while not knowing a thing about them, operate on the cynical theory, sadly accurate, that their supporters and flag-waving fans are even more ignorant than they are. Such political figures are beneath contempt. A responsible medical school professor doesn’t give a lecture on open heart surgery that begins…”Ok, well, the, uh…heart, you know, has..uh, these little rooms and stuff, and…it has blood, and is kinda like a clock…except that love and heartburn and things come out of it, so we gotta be careful.” Neither heart surgery nor national leadership are trivial matters, and require serious practitioners, not posturing frauds.”

Let me be clear. Oprah Winfrey’s casual and wildly inaccurate representation of the extent of black lynchings in the United States was infinitely more harmful than any historical gaffe by Cain, Palin or Bachmann. Their historical whoppers only made their followers dumber. Oprah’s makes hers hateful. Their bad history was at least favorable to the United States. Oprah’s slandered the United States. Worst of all, Winfrey is far more admired and trusted than any of the three Republican dolts, and she is idolized in black America. She has an obligation to use her status responsibly. She has an obligation not to divide the nation along racial lines. She has an obligation, as an African-American leader, to know as much about civil rights history as she claims to know and is expected to know. She failed in all of these, and there is no excuse for it.

How wrong was Oprah’s assertion that “millions” of blacks were lynched in this country?

The Tuskeegee Institute at Tuskeegee University maintains a database of lynchings by race, state and year, from 1882 to 1968. Prior to 1882 there were no reliable statistics kept, and since the statistics we have are primarily from newspaper reports, they cannot be said to be completely accurate. The statistics we have, however, tell us that 3,445 Africa-Americas were lynched between 1882 and 1964, when the last lynching was recorded. (1,297 whites were lynched in this period as well.) Let’s assume, to be generous to Oprah, that the statistics under-represent this genocidal crime by a factor of 1o: no historian has ever suggested this, but I’m trying to give Oprah the benefit of every doubt. That unsubstantiated adjustment would suggest that there were 34,450 black lynchings. I’ll  give her the gift of presuming that her “millions” comment was meant to convey the smallest number possible, which is two million. Using those generous (to Oprah) numbers, Oprah’s lynching stats are exaggerated by a factor of 58. If we stick to facts that we can document, she inflated the number of black lynchings by a factor of 580.

At a time when the news media, race-baiting activists, MSNBC and what appear to be deranged Democrats are working overtime to support the idea that white vigilantes will hunt down and shoot innocent black children for the crime of wearing a hoodie and carrying skittles, Oprah Winfrey decided to throw kerosene on the flame by elevating the already horrific history of black lynchings in this country to the scale of the Nazi extermination of  the Jews. Was she just being careless with words? That is no excuse—she is a former journalist, and she knows her influence and the explosiveness of the topic. She cannot be careless. Was she intentionally exaggerating the number?  I don’t believe that. I believe she is misinformed herself, and if there is one thing Oprah Winfrey should be adequately educated about, it is American race relations—especially when she is mocking the ignorance of other African_Americans on that topic,

Meanwhile, did actor Forest Whitaker or “Precious” director Lee Daniels, both present during Winfrey’s gaffe, correct Oprah’s error,for the benefit of Parade’s readers? No, they did not. Maybe they think her statistics are accurate. Neither the Parade interviewer, or the editor corrected the error. Maybe they believe Winfrey’s myth too. Maybe you do.

In small, incremental ways like this, racial distrust, antipathy, fear and hate spread in America. The President contributes to it when he attaches himself to the fate of a Trayvon Martin, killed in a tragic accident carefully distorted by journalists, activists and politicians to be the equivalent of the murder of Emmet Till. Now Oprah Winfrey, more popular and trusted than the President, adds to the ignorance and hate by representing what is already a national disgrace to be a thousand times worse than it was, because she can’t bother to check her facts. Race relations, as Oprah was presuming to lecture us, are too important to be tampered with like that.

They are also too fragile.


Pointer: Newsbusters

Sources: Parade, UMKC

Graphic: Parade

23 thoughts on “Unethical Quote Of The Month: Oprah Winfrey

  1. I know, regardless of which number it is it is appalling, but I’d hate for you to get called out on ‘statistical anomalies’ as well. Unless you contend that the 1,297 number represents White-African-Americans and not Caucasians.

    I just eagerly await adamant individuals to find some obscure study somewhere that does support the notion that a million African americans may have been lynched followed by a solid demonstration of why that study is the only reliable source of data.

  2. Well, like, uh, DuH! It wasn’t like she was counting or anything, dude. She was like saying “A Gazillion Million.” I mean, it was a lot of black Dudes who got lynched, ya know what I’m sayin? What’s so wrong with saying ‘Millions?” It’s just a word, dude. She was trying to make a point and get peoples’ attention. She could have just said “a shitload” right? I woulda. I mean, you gotta make your point, right? Get real, man.

        • Other Bill, I have to admit that I am getting more agreeable with your characterization of American society as one following the Greek mythology model. (or something like that) One observation though, that (to me) conflicts, is the failure to normalize the behavior of Jerry Sandusky.

          But perhaps that is unfair, and a mere mortal like me is expecting too much, too soon; how dare I attempt to define the great leaps of progressivism while in my lowly, inferior state! Perhaps THIS is the progression you and I must accept:

          A man-god who sexually harasses women in his chain of command (Bill Clinton)…then,

          A man-god who flashes his whoopee parts to females of little or no acquaintance with him (Weiner)…then,

          A woman-god (Oprah) who conjures a climate of vengeful violence against innocents in the wake of the death of someone, the killer of whom some mere mortals had the ignorant gall not to sacrifice to the justice-gods…

          …makes me wonder what’s coming next – maybe, another woman-god (45th President Hillary?), who imprisons by the millions as hate criminals, those mere mortals who dare defy the gods and not refer to certain relationships between certain persons solely and precisely as the gods have decreed those persons’ relationships shall be referred to?

          • Nah. The Gods aren’t really all that concerned with those sorts of things. All they want are riches and sexual playthings. You know, the kind of things the Gods did in Greek mythology.

            The Clintons don’t care about progressive agendas. All they want is a foundation that allows them to take in money from all over the world and spend it as they see fit, primarily on themselves. All they want is their daughter to marry a kid with a job at Goldman Sachs who, surprisingly enough, runs the “Bill Clinton’s son-in-law’s desk” for two million bucks a year. Gay marriage, gun control, political correctness? Get a grip. Who cares about any of that? That’s just the blather our hired specialists tell us we have to toss down to the minions to keep them confused and distracted. Pass the shrimp. Oooh, look at this, Hil, there’s a low hours 767 for sale for only $45 million. That would be a nice upgrade for us, er, the foundation. Where’s that cute massage girl?

            • Bill, you’re right. I forgot about the $1,200 haircut in the plane while on the ramp at LAX, holding up all the flights behind it. Silly me!

              I must keep reminding myself. There is no double standard, only a standard: Liberty and justice, and riches and sexual playthings, only for the gods.

              • Atta boy.

                It’s the hypothesis (dare I say prism?) that keeps me sane when looking at contemporary America and its values. I think it makes some sense out of a great deal of absolute inanity.

                • It was also the only way I could make sense out of the behavior of managing and senior partners at the large law firms in whose lower depths I toiled away in as a pup.

                  • It also provides the comfort of knowing “there’s nothing new under the sun.” The Greeks knew it three or four thousand years ago. What the Judeo/Christians were thinking, I have no idea.

          • A woman-god (Oprah) who conjures a climate of vengeful violence against innocents in the wake of the death of someone, the killer of whom some mere mortals had the ignorant gall not to sacrifice to the justice-gods…
            I saw an article about Oprah several weeks ago.
            Apparently, just minutes after the Zimmerman verdict was announced, she tweeted some lame info on an upcoming Wanda Sikes program.
            This highly inflamed all of the already inflamed sentiment over the verdict and caused her fans to slam her unmercifully.
            But it didn’t happen because she was being calloused, it was because she was away in some part of the world without TV (so she says) and had no idea a verdict was coming in.

            Ever since then, I’ve noticed she is making a point of really speaking out on the matter.

    • I so enjoyed your rant, and you did an excellent job of staying in character, right down to the misplacement of the apostrophe in forming the possessive of people. A couple of honest-to-gosh run-on sentences would have made it even more authentic, but good job. It was an enjoyable beginning to the day.

  3. The lynching of African-Americans and any other people was horrible. It would behoove all of us to remember that in thousands of human beings were gassed each week at Auschwitz-Birkenau. That’s just one death camp. I don’t say this to belittle the deaths of lynching victims. We (African-Americans) would have a healthier worldview, if we realized that experiencing hatred and cruelty is not unique. It’s a universal human problem. The root is sin.

  4. I’m sick of Oprah.
    I wish she would go away.
    She bears a great responsibility for the nitwit we have sitting in the White House right now.
    She thought he was wonderful, she sold him as wonderful, thus proving she knows nothing about anything.

    • Gawd! I clicked the link, saw the title, and clicked the back arrow before I viewed one second of video.

      Have any of the lap-dog cartoonists yet to draw this? Zimmerman, lying on his back; our hero, Trayvon, viewing George from a righteous, commanding height; pinning Zimmerman to the ground while, obviously, attempting merely to disarm the vigilante – when suddenly, George, ever the evil one, whips out, instead of a gun, a NOOSE?

      • No, but I think the made for TV movie will involve a Denzel Washington, made up to be a 5 or 6 year old Trayvon. One night on his way to give his only 10 dollars to charity he will be intercepted by a menacing, hand rubbing, red-neck with an AR-15.

        As little movie Trayvon says “Greetings, fellow citizen, I bid you good day” (I haven’t decided if an Oliver Swift accent is necessary), the red-neck George Zimmerman will raise his AR-15 and after a stream of racial expletives and a quote “Ah buleev in Murca!” will mow down young Trayvon with a 30 round magazine, and will swap mags to unload again. (see, the scene will be in slow motion to allow for this magazine swap).

        As little movie Trayvon lays there, his only $10 dollars he was going to give to charity in his hands slowly morphs into a constitution of the united states.

        As the scene fades to an image of our first President, little movie Trayvon will say slowly “Et tu, George?”

        The movie ends with “Fin”.

        Do you think Hollywood would prefer that script to the facts?

  5. Would you actually have expected Whitacker or Daniels to have corrected Winfrey’s statement, Jack? First of all, no one in the business- black people in particular- defies Dame Oprah with impunity. Secondly; look at the character of these two men. Whitacker has made radical leftism the cornerstone of his public image. Daniels, as you mentioned, is the creator of “Precious”- one of the most nauseating sexploitation films ever that “starred” a 13 year old girl. Miss Winfrey- like others that are “too big to touch”- can carry on like Sheila Jackson Lee without consequence. At least she didn’t try to claim- as a congressman did on the floor of the House- that 150 million blacks were taken to America as slaves and that sharks still patrol the shipping routes looking for their bodies being cast overboard. Overstatement can be a powerful political tool. It comes under the general heading of “The Big Lie” as practiced by Herr Goebbels.

  6. As it appears OW was not a student of history of any form. If you study the writings from news clippings after the Civil War it would open eyes in another way. I will not use this forum to teach post-Civil War history but reading news clippings from that time period of American History would benefit OW. But of course telling the truth is not much fun when the cameras and reporters are involved.

    I quit OW back when she went after the Texas ranchers. For one person to speak such untruths while ignorant people still fall at her feet like sick groveling dogs shows that there are many in this country who believe the Emperor was really wearing clothes……

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.