Conservative Wall Street Journal editor Jason Riley and liberal Fox News contributor Juan Williams both agreed on Friday that the Ferguson-inspired narrative questioning whether police in America “value black lives” is “a stupid conversation.”
Riley appeared on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor,” which Williams was guest-hosting while Bill O’Reilly vacationed. The two discussed the underlying problems driving the sudden violence in Ferguson, Mo., after the police shooting of an unarmed, 18-year-old African American.
The WSJ editor largely blamed the disproportionate rate of black crime for the tension between blacks and police officers in many communities.
“If you want to stop the perceptions of young black men as dangerous, you have to go after what is driving those perceptions, which is black crime!” Riley asserted. “And that’s not a lot of conversation a lot of blacks — or a lot of whites — want to have in this country.”
Williams didn’t disagree but also pushed back. “You can’t sit here and say, ‘Oh, it’s ok for the police, therefore, to profile Jason or Juan while they’re walking down the street!'” he said.
Riley agreed the profiling is unfair, but noted again that the deeper issue of black crime must be addressed to solve the profiling. “And what happens instead is that when a Ferguson happens, we don’t talk about that,” he explained. “We talk about whether cops value black lives, and we talk about whether America values black lives!”
“Well, you know, that’s a stupid conversation,” Williams said.
“It is a stupid conversation, but that’s what we have!” Riley exclaimed. “We talk about unemployment, we talk about poverty. But we don’t talk about black crime rates.”
“And I think President Obama and the civil rights leaders — people in touch with the black community — need to speak out about it,” Williams agreed. “And not make excuses for criminal actions!”