There seems to be no limit to how far Bill O’Reilly will go to put a positive spin on slavery.
On Tuesday, O’Reilly responded to Michelle Obama’s powerful convention speech poignantly conveying the progress her historical legacy demonstrate as the first black first lady "living in a house built by slaves" by saying that slaves "were well-fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government."
After a considerable amount of blowback, O’Reilly decided he needed to go even further on Wednesday, and clarify exactly how well-fed the slaves were.
"As any honest historian knows, in order to keep slaves and free laborers strong, the Washington administration provided meat, bread, and others staples, also decent lodging on the grounds of the new presidential building," O’Reilly said. "That is a fact."
And yet there are number of other facts O’Reilly failed to mention.
Slavery put an entire population in bondage on the grounds that they were not considered full human beings. That did not change for the slaves who were contracted to build the White House. And the unverifiable diet of the slaves who labored to erect America’s presidential palace does not rectify the fact that black people should not have been slaves in the first place.
The fact that slave owners were paid for their slaves’ labor while the slaves' names were lost to history says everything about how the institution of slavery — and the price African Americans have had to pay — is remembered by far too many Americans today.
O’Reilly’s reluctance to view slavery, or the tokens we carry through history that were created as a benefit of slavery, as horrific or difficult just how far we still have to go to reckon with the history of slavery honestly.