When someone speaks of personal responsibility on national television they open themselves up to cries of "coded" racism by Princeton University professors. So when Bill Murray did just that on CNBC the other day, it took people by surprise.

Bill Murray was on CNBC the other day, and the famous comedian set off alarm bells in liberal circles everywhere when he dared to speak of “personal responsibility.” Doesn’t Bill know that, according to Princeton’s African American Studies professor, Melissa Harris-Lacewell, that he’s using racist “code” language? Regardless, he went there:

CNBC Host: Do you have…a view on this country and what we need to do and where we are in time?

MURRAY: I think we ought to be personally responsible. I think if you can take care of yourself and then maybe take care of someone else then that’s sort of how you’re supposed to live. It’s not a question of asking other people for help or being rescued or anything like that. I think we’ve sort of gotten used to someone looking out for us, and I don’t think any other person is necessarily going to be counted on to look out for us. I think there are only so many people that can take care of themselves and can take care of other people, and the rest of the people—they’re useful in terms of compost for the whole planet—but there are just certain people who are going to go up, and certain people that are going to stay the same, and certain people who are going to drop. So, you’d like to be that person who is going to elevate. And if you can do that you can take care of yourself, and if you’re really good enough you should be able to take care of about this many [ the panel of four ] people.

CNBC HOST: Are you saying that America was founded on individualism, as opposed to Europe? Are you making a contrast—

MURRAY: This country really is a pioneer country. We forget the kind of discipline they had to have to get from—occasionally it seeps in that they came in wagons from Illinois to Oregon or whatever it was. That they came in wagons and the wheels broke, and you see it. The [researchers say], “Gee, that must have been hard for those women to push that wagon up the mountain.” And that’s what they had to do.  There was no option but to do it yourself, to have your own personal responsibility. There is no turning back. This is your life. As we say to one of my brothers, “This is your life. This is not a dress rehearsal.”

Bravo, Bill. He makes incredibly lucid points, which seldom happens with Hollywood stars. I highly suggest watching the entire interview, if for no other reason than to see just how carefully Bill treads. He seems to be a very smart man, and throughout the entire interview you can see him very delicately addressing the issues, as if he knows all of Hollywood is watching. Conservatives in the entertainment industry—or even those with tinctures of conservatism—need to lay their cards on the table with a pitter-patter, while “comedians” (I use the term loosely) like Rosanne Barr or Joy Behar get to blurt out liberal brain-farts without a care in the world.

Regardless of Bill Murray’s voting patterns (he may very well be a Democrat), it’s obvious that he at least realizes just how far of a departure the country has made from its founding. Whereas we once road rickety wagons across the Great Plains to realize our dreams, we now have kids who are on their parent’s health care coverage until age 26 complaining about how hard things are. We’re at an all time low and we don’t even realize it because our friends overseas are in an even sorrier state of affairs.

While I commend Bill Murray for even broaching the subject of personal responsibility when asked about his worldview, I can’t help but find it sad that in this time and place common sense earns a pat on the back. Since I probably won’t run across Murray in public anytime soon, I’ll just check him out in Moonrise Kingdom on opening night.

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

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