"I was up in Harlem a few weeks ago, and I actually had dinner with Al Sharpton, who is a very, very interesting guy, and he comes on The Factor a lot, and I treated him to dinner because he's made himself available to us, and I felt that I wanted to take him up there. And we went to Sylvia's, a very famous restaurant in Harlem. I had a great time. And all the people up there are tremendously respectful, they all watch The Factor. You know, when Sharpton and I walked in, it was, like, big commotion and everything, but everybody was very nice. And I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean it was -- it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship; it was the same."
He goes on to say:
"There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, 'M-Fer, I want more iced tea.' You know, I mean, everybody was -- it was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense of people were sitting there, and they were ordering and having fun. And there wasn't any kind of craziness at all."
What gets me is how O'Reilly clearly means this to be a compliment and genuinely believes it to be one. He's praising the staff and patrons of a legendary restaurant for being well-behaved. What could be wrong with that? You couldn't get him to recognize the depths of racism his comments reveal any more than you could explain the concept of "wet" to a fish. If Al Sharpton said to Bill O'Reilly "When I visited your studio, I was very impressed that even though you're Irish, you didn't spend the whole interview getting drunk, throwing up on the carpet, and waving a broken bottle around before passing out in a puddle of your own vomit," I don't think O'Reilly would understand what he was talking about, much less draw any parallel with his own words.
If there were any justice in this world, this incident would lead to a Imus-like public scandal and the end of Bill's broadcasting career...but that won't happen. I suppose we should just be glad O'Reilly didn't mention feeling disappointed that he wasn't greeted with a rendition of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" or "Camptown Races"...because what could possibly be racist about praising those people for their natural rhythm and their urge to sing spirituals? It's a compliment, after all!