Larry Wilmore Nailed the Media's Hypocrisy Over Fires at Black Churches

July 2nd 2015

Laura Donovan

On Wednesday's installment of Comedy Central's "The Nightly Show," host Larry Wilmore invited "fire truther" Santana Crimsey to facetiously weigh in on recent Black church fires in the South following June's tragic shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Wilmore showed footage of different news outlets claiming some of the fires could have been a result of lightning and not necessarily arson or hate crimes.

"I mean, it seems unclear if this is a hate crime or just arson or accidents or some weird cosmic coincidence, or if lightning just hates Black people, I don't know," Wilmore said before introducing "fire truther" Crimsey to share his take on the pattern of fires.

Conspiracy theorist Crimsey said he was standing in front of a Black church in Jackson, Mississippi, to make "sure these white firefighters hop to it [as] soon the next Black church starts burning" and that he expects more churches to burn up at the hands of racists.

"Santana, I can understand why you're concerned, but the fact is that some of these fires are not hate crimes," Wilmore said. "That church in Florida likely caught fire after a tree fell on a power line."

Crimsey still wasn't convinced, telling Wilmore, "You don't think there's a white man out there devious enough to cut down a tree onto some power lines? Come on, man! White folks been secretly chopping down trees since George Washington did it!"

Wilmore then cited a 2013 report from the National Fire Protection Association that found an average of 1,780 fires occurred at a "variety of churches in only four years" and that just 16 percent involved arson. The show host also pointed out that some of these buildings are worn down and made with bad wiring anyway.

"Larry, again, you're being naive brother," Crimsey said. "You don't think there's a white man out there devious enough to join the electrician's union with the sole intention of filling Black churches with faulty wiring? Come on, man! Larry, white people been fooling with electricity since Benjamin Franklin!"

Wilmore then explained to Crimsey, "I can't make those blanket statements, if I start making racial accusations that aren't true, people might lose faith in me. What if my show got canceled?"

"And you don't think there's something suspicious about that, Larry?" Crimsey said. "You don't think there's a white man out there devious enough to work his way up through a television station in order to give a brother a late night show so he can cancel it? ... 'We tried Black shows, it didn't work out,' you know how it goes!"

That Wilmore agreed with.