Colbert defends ‘Papa Bear’ O’Reilly: ‘It’s not racism if it’s a compliment’

By David Ferguson
Tuesday, January 8, 2013 8:39 EDT
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Colbert defends O'Reilly via screencap
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Monday night on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report,” host Stephen Colbert took on critics of his friend and mentor Bill O’Reilly, who claimed that O’Reilly’s statement that people of Asian descent are not “liberal by nature” because they are so “industrious and hard-working” smacks of racism.

Colbert began the segment by discussing Wikipedia, and a prank he and his viewers played years ago when the host urged his audience to go to the Wikipedia page about elephants and say that they’re no longer endangered because their numbers have tripled in recent years.  Wikipedia locked the page until March of 2014 to prevent tampering, giving the Wikipedia page about elephants, Colbert said, more protections than elephants themselves.

“But first I have to come to the defense of a friend in need,” he said, “My mentor, colleague and competitive couples’ massage partner, Bill O’Reilly.  We’re going to regionals, Bill!” he said as an aside.  ”So, stay loose!”

“Bill is once again being attacked by the liberal media for speaking the truth,” Colbert continued, “and you know what that means.  This is blood in the water.”

On Thursday, O’Reilly and producer Jesse Watters were discussing the state of Hawaii, and the fact that in spite of the fact that the population there is 35 percent Asian, the state overwhelmingly supported the re-election of President Barack Obama.  O’Reilly found this astonishing.

“Asian people are not liberal, you know, by nature. They’re usually more industrious and hard-working,” he said.

“Leave it to the liberal media,” said Colbert, “to twist that to racism.  Folks, Bill was not being racist.  He was merely painting an entire race with one brush.”

And, according to Colbert, “No one in the media-scape frothed harder than MSNBC host and talking block of smoked Gouda Ed Schultz.”

Schultz took O’Reilly to task, saying that in his “spouting off” about Hawaii, the Fox pundit went too far.  Hawaiian congressperson Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D) said, “Leave it to Bill O’Reilly to thoughtlessly insult 1.3 million people with one sweeping misstatement.”

Although, Colbert pointed out, Schultz wildly mispronounced Hanabusa and “Hassabushi.”

“You say ‘tomato,’ I say ‘chop suey,’” Colbert said.  ”Let’s not get distracted from the issue, racial insensitivity.  Everybody just calm down.  Papa Bear said they’re ‘hard-working.’  It’s not racism if it’s a compliment.  If the Asians can’t stand the heat, then they need to stay out of the kitchen…where the Latinos are.”

Watch the video, embedded via Comedy Central, below:

The Colbert Report
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[image via screencap]

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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