In the latest development in a week-long controversy that began with Bill O’Reilly’s commentary about race, CNN host Don Lemon responded to his harsh critics on Sunday, saying that according to his haters, he’s “gonna get the Uncle Tom award.”
While President Obama and countless pundits have urged America to have a “conversation” about race in response to the Acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, Lemon has generated a hot controversy by actually having that conversation.
Lemon has been vocal on all sides of debates about race, having previously asked, “Should white men be profiled?”, saying that it is “insulting” to suggest that whites and blacks are profiled equally, and airing an entire special on the n-word, in which he condemned the widespread use of the word by all parties.
Now, however, Lemon is under fire for defending Bill O’Reilly’s Talking Points commentary about African-American crime and adding that the Fox News host “didn’t go far enough.”
O’Reilly’s commentary, which low-rated MSNBC host Chris Hayes described as a “super-racist rant”, attributed the high levels of crime in “black precincts” to the “disintegration of the African-American family” and also dished out blame to the “gansta culture” pushed by the entertainment industry.
Lemon’s Saturday commentary segment, ironically entitled “No Talking Points”, showed support for O’Reilly’s sentiment and offered five ways to fix the black community.
His list consisted of respecting communities, finishing school, pulling up sagging pants, eliminating the n-word, and addressing the issue of absentee fathers. A list offered by Fox’s Juan Williams last week was fairly similar.
For his advice, Lemon received harsh criticisms from, among others, GlobalGrind.com editor-in-chief Michael Skolnick, MSNBC contributor Goldie Taylor, and BET columnist Keith Boynkin.
Skolnick told Lemon, on his CNN show, that the openly gay host “sounds like a conservative preacher on a Sunday.” Additionally, Taylor fired off a series of tweets calling Lemon, along with other insults, “a turn coat mofo”, while Boynkin said he was “troubled” by Lemon’s remarks.
On his show the next day, Lemon stood by his statements during a panel discussion with ESPN columnist LZ Granderson and Republican strategist Ana Navarro and laughed off his critics who call him an “Uncle Tom” for having long-requested conversations about race.
Lemon also asked, what’s wrong with “telling people to dress appropriately?” His guests couldn’t come up with a reason.
Navarro later drew laughs after suggesting that he would be accused of being a Republican.
On Fox News Watch on Monday Jim Pinkerton and Alan Colmes defended Lemon against the Twitter attacks, with Pinkerton accusing the “liberal gatekeepers” of trying to “eliminate [Lemon's] thought from the discourse.”
Colmes added, “I object when he gets called Uncle Tom for having a different point of view than people think you’re supposed to have. We’ll have true equality in this country when someone like Don Lemon or anybody else of color can make a statement that doesn’t conform what the so-called majority feels, being called names, without being called an Uncle Tom. We can have a diversity of opinion among people of color without that kind of name-calling.”