May 20, 2009

Bill O'Reilly unleashed one of his patented vicious attacks last night on the ACLU, blaming them for fighting to have photos of detainees being abused by American soldiers released to the public:

O'Reilly: Now, last night we told you that the New York Times and other committed-left media want the pictures out so they can blame them on President Bush and the Republican Party. It is a pure political play. But the ACLU is a different story. That vile organization believes the USA is a bad place, desperately in need of an overhaul. The ACLU sympathizes with the New York Times but takes the situation much farther.


I believe the ACLU is the most dangerous anti-American organization in the country. And if clear-thinking Americans do not confront this group, and their members, and their support system in the media, people will die.

Gee, this all has a familiar ring to it. Back when the ACLU was the only organization to take up the legal cause of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, the jingoistic Bill O'Reillys of the day similarly attacked them for ostensibly hating America and siding with the enemy.

Pauling door_9e677.JPG

This was the graffiti painted on Linus Pauling's garage door in San Francisco after he hired a Japanese gardener after the internment camps closed. Pauling's wife was an ACLU activist who had been vocal in opposing their forced evacuation and internment, while Pauling himself had been a "center right" Republican up until the jingoes attacked him and his wife in 1945. It included death threats.

Now, can O'Reilly produce a single shred of evidence -- any document, statement, speech, photo, whatever -- that the ACLU "believes America is a bad place, desperately in need of an overhaul"? No. He's talking out of his rear quarters, as usual.

Mostly, O'Reilly wants us all to forget that clear and irrevocable object lesson of this controversy: Torture makes us less safe.

It's not the photos themselves that have made us vulnerable, but the policies that enabled the acts captured on film:

What's clearly never occurred to O'Reilly is the reality that what he's looking at is one of the very pragmatic and practical reasons American forces have historically eschewed torture: Indulging it not only gives our enemies a rationale to employ it on our own soldiers when captured, but in fact motivates them to capture our soldiers solely for the purpose of retaliatory torture.

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