Ever since he made an ugly scene on The View with his smear that "Muslims killed us on 9/11", Bill O'Reilly has been obsessing on the subject, insisting that no, really, there really is "a Muslim problem in the world."
First he tried comparing it to World War II: "Do we say we were attacked by Japanese extremists? No." Um. Bill. We were attacked by a nation's army. That's why we said we were attacked by Japan. No such nation attacked us on 9/11. FAIL. Even Karl Rove thought so.
Undeterred, O'Reilly keyed off a week's worth of obsessing about the issue with his opening Talking Points Memo segment on Monday, which was unusually long:
Of course, what I said is absolutely true, but is insensitive to some. In a perfect world you always say Muslim terrorists killed us, but at this point I thought that was common knowledge. I guess I was wrong.
Anyway, the heated controversy continues and goes far beyond me and "The View" ladies. It has entered the fabric of America.
Barbara Walters said something interesting on Monday. She said that the nation is very angry, therefore commentators must watch the rhetoric.
OK, but my question to Ms. Walters is: Why is America angry?
There are a number of answers. One of them is that folks are fed up with politically correct nonsense. There is no question that there is a Muslim problem in the world, and if "The View" ladies will not acknowledge that, that's their problem because most Americans well understand the danger in the Muslim world.
The Muslim threat to the world is not isolated. It is huge. It involves nations and millions of people. Yet, the left in America will not face that fact.
No sane individual thinks Muhammad Ali or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is responsible for 9/11. But the reality is that most Americans are uneasy with the Muslim world in general because moderate Muslims have not stepped up in a visible way to help combat the jihadists.
The cold truth is that in the world today, jihad, aided and abetted by some Muslim nations, is the biggest threat on the planet. If Iran gets a nuclear weapon, Israel and other countries are in grave danger.
Finally, wherever I went this weekend, people were high-fiving me. It was amazing. People were yelling out windows, "O'Reilly, keep going," that kind of stuff. Are all these people bigots? Do they all hate Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? That's nuts. This has nothing to do with theology and everything to do with politics.
Americans are simply fed up with politicians and media people denying the obvious. There is a dangerous problem in the Muslim world, and once again I call for all peace-loving Muslims to join the United States and other conscientious nations to fight the jihadists, to defeat radical Islam.
Just remember: Every time a Fox pundit says bigoted crap like this, Osama bin Laden -- who envisioned 9/11 as a way to create a war between Islam and the West -- pops a champagne cork.
It also does seem a bit strange that O'Reilly is wholly willing -- indeed, eager -- to smear an entire religion with the actions of a tiny fringe, yet he and his Fox cohorts are outraged, outraged we tell you that the "librul media" are "smearing" their beloved "ordinary Americans" of the Tea Party persuasion by the actions of "a few" sign carriers (who unfortunately showed up in large numbers the first year and more) (and let's not bring up the nutcase extremists who've been speakers at Tea Party events too).
But logic and consistency and basic decency have nothing to do with this: It's all about justifying anti-Muslim bigotry, giving it the cloak of "common sense."
Because, if O'Reilly and his Fox pals -- who have all been vigorously nodding their heads in defense of O'Reilly all week, which in fact led to Juan Williams' firing -- were genuinely interested in dealing honestly with the world's problems, they'd begin by recognizing that many moderate Muslims, in fact, have been vocal and active in opposing radical Islam -- and that the problem isn't just a Muslim problem.
Indeed, while radical Muslims' violent acts are a major problem, there are also many other violent factions at work in the world who have nothing to do with Islam -- but who are just as surely fomenting social upheaval and violence on a scale comparable to that of radical Muslims.
After all, it wasn't Muslims who:
Violently attacked a gay-rights parade in Serbia. Those were radical Christian fundamentalists.
-- Proposed death-penalty legislation for gays in Uganda. Those were radical Christian fundamentalists.
-- Are proposing to install a theocratic monarchy in Nepal. Those are radical Hindu fundamentalists.
-- Have massacred dozens of innocent Kenyans under the pretext of hunting witches. Those are radical Christian fundamentalists.
[Oh, that's right. There's a reason no one at Fox ever comments on that story.]
-- Have conducted, as we recently had to remind another of O'Reilly's on-air defenders, a long list of domestic-terrorist attacks against abortion clinics, abortion providers, gay bars, and various "liberal" and government targets over the past two decades. No, those were largely radical Christian fundamentalists.
The thing that connects all of this turmoil and violence isn't Islam -- it's radical fundamentalism. And that enemy takes many guises, including many non-brown people.
We don't a have a "Muslim problem," we have a "radical fundamentalist problem." However, we also have a media -- embodied most particularly by Bill O'Reilly and Fox News, but hardly they alone -- who are willing to go the lazy, knee-jerk xenophobic route by assuring their audiences that "the Enemy" they face is a readily identifiable brown person in a turban -- not someone who looks, talks and thinks like your average Fox News viewer.
The much more difficult truth, moreover, is that the very real enemy in confronting terrorism is sometimes an all-too-familiar one. That terrorism is ultimately engendered by people who modernity has left behind and abandoned and isolated, and simply killing them all is not a solution but a guarantee of making the problem worse.
When you have a media that won't tell the public those hard and complex truths, well, that's a real problem.