It’s hard to criticize Bill O’Reilly for using coded language, because I do actually think he believes what he’s saying. I don’t think, as I do with some on the left and on the right, that he is using common-sense-sounding language to try and trick people. But the way O’Reilly talks about Muslim people versus Christian people is fundamentally flawed, and last night on The Factor he demonstrated this problem once again. Do you remember back when he said, on the View, “Muslims killed us on 9/11”? The problem then wasn’t that he called the terrorists Muslim. They were Muslim. (Crazy, uncommon, evil, Islamist ones, but that’s what they called themselves and that’s what they were.) The problem was the “us.” Because Americans, lots of them, are Muslim. Including ones who died in the Twin Towers. But in Bill O’Reilly’s mind, “us” is white Christian America. Muslims = other, Christians = us. Keep that in mind as we go forward.
Last night O’Reilly had a bone to pick with the New York Times and other papers that referred to Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring-Breivik as a Christian. He went on an extended rant on the subject, in fact. “Breivik is not a Christian. That’s impossible. No one believing in Jesus commits mass murder,” he said. “The man might have called himself a Christian on the ‘net, but he is certainly not of that faith.”
Okay, let’s stop there. First of all, Muslims believe in Jesus Christ. Surely Bill O’Reilly knows that. So why is he so willing to ascribe mass murder to Muslims? Why is it impossible for an insane Christian extremist to exist, and not an insane Muslim extremist? That is laughably hypocritical and reveals the fundamental flaw with the bias of O’Reilly’s “common sense” worldview. “Jihadists have killed tens of thousands of people all over the world. The Taliban, Iran, and elements in Pakistan use governmental power to support terrorism by Muslims,” he said, in the exact same segment. He added that “the primary threat to this world comes from Islamic terrorism” and that “Muslim suicide bombers blow people up almost every day.” Did you see how he used reasonable facts there to come to a conclusion that directly contradicted what he said about Christianity? Assuming that you, the viewer, are a Christian and therefore wouldn’t see the obvious problem?
But let’s go on. O’Reilly says, “We can find no evidence, none, that this killer practiced Christianity in any way.” That’s simply not true. Breivik referred to himself as a Christian, and said that he believed in the religion as “as a cultural, social, identity, and moral platform.”
Really, though, the funniest part of O’Reilly’s screed is when he turns his ire to the so-called liberal media. “The West wants you to believe that fundamentalist Christians are a threat just like crazy jihadists are,” he says. He calls this “dishonest and insane.” Let’s just set aside the fact that (rightfully) referring to Breivik as Christian is a far cry from trying to push any such claim. What about Fox News’ agenda, which is to push the storyline that all terrorists are Muslim? They’ve even said it on the air. Is that not “dishonest and insane”? It seems like Fox, of all outlets, shouldn’t be throwing stones at people for demagoguery.