Bill O'Reilly is outraged, outraged we tell you, over Sunday's superb New York Times editorial calling out Republicans -- and particularly movement conservatives who have thoroughly embraced the nativist wing of the party -- for the ugly racism they've indulged in recent years, driving what should be a rational debate over immigration into the fetid wastelands of hysterical fearmongering, bigotry, and scapegoating.
So last night on "The O'Reilly Factor" he declared "war" on the Times:
O'Reilly: In the Impact Segment tonight, more lies from the New York Times over illegal immigration. As you may know, the Times and other far-left entities favor amnesty for illegal aliens, primarily as a way to gain political power. As you may also know, most Americans reject blanket amnesty, as was demonstrated when the immigration bill of 2007 crashed and burned in Congress.
So yesterday, this man, editorial page director Andrew Rosenthal, printed a vicious piece of propaganda called "The Nativists Are Restless." In this smear, the Times implies that I and others racists because we oppose amnesty. The editorial says:
It is easy to mock white-supremacist views as pathetic and to assume that nativism in the age of Obama is on the way out. The country has, of course, made considerable progress since the days of Know-Nothings and the Klan. But racism has a nasty habit of never going away, no matter how much we may want it to, and thus the perpetual need for vigilance.
It is all around us. ... Google the words “Bill O’Reilly” and “white, Christian male power structure” for another YouTube taste of the Fox News host assailing the immigration views of “the far left” (including The Times) as racially traitorous.
Of course, you can post anything on YouTube, any lie you want, any distortion, and Google can highlight the smear in the blink of an eye -- there are no rules. For example, I could post that Andrew Rosenthal completely distorted Bill O'Reilly's view on illegal immigration, because Rosenthal is a dishonest far-left zealot who uses hateful tactics, like implying people with whom he disagrees are racist. I could post that, and then you could Google "Rosenthal" and "illegal immigration" and it would be there -- uncensored. Now if Rosenthal doesn't know that, he's stupid. If he does know it, then he's dishonest and intentionally misleading Times readers.
Well, besides O'Reilly's point being the most meaningless of nonsequiturs, it's also worth remembering exactly what does come up when you Google those terms: actual video from this site showing Bill O'Reilly, in full context, saying the following:
Bill O'Reilly: But do you understand what the New York Times wants, and the far-left want? They want to break down the white, Christian, male power structure, which you're a part, and so am I, and they want to bring in millions of foreign nationals to basically break down the structure that we have. In that regard, Pat Buchanan is right. So I say you've got to cap with a number.
John McCain: In America today we've got a very strong economy and low unemployment, so we need addition farm workers, including by the way agriculture, but there may come a time where we have an economic downturn, and we don't need so many.
O'Reilly: But in this bill, you guys have got to cap it. Because estimation is 12 million, there may be 20 [million]. You don't know, I don't know. We've got to cap it.
McCain: We do, we do. I agree with you.
Mind you, this was not an aberration for O'Reilly:
O'Reilly, in fact, is one of the major media figures responsible for whitewashing the reality that Patrick Buchanan's recent work has finally tipped the scales into outright white supremacist extremism. O'Reilly, in fact, had previously hosted Buchanan in 2005, an interview in which they discussed Buchanan's "Decline of the West" thesis.
Indeed, as Media Matters has observed, the decline of white male dominance is a frequent concern of O'Reilly's:
-- On the May 16, 2006, edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly claimed that The New York Times and "many far-left thinkers believe the white power structure that controls America is bad, so a drastic change is needed." O'Reilly continued: "According to the lefty zealots, the white Christians who hold power must be swept out by a new multicultural tide, a rainbow coalition, if you will." O'Reilly's comments came during a discussion of opposition by the Times and others to deploying the National Guard to help secure the border.
-- On the May 1, 2006, edition of Westwood One's The Radio Factor, O'Reilly alleged that the "organizers" of nationwide pro-immigrant protests had a "hardcore militant agenda of 'You stole our land, you bad gringos,' " and that the protest organizers were seeking to "take it back by massive, massive migration into the Southwest.' "
-- On the April 12, 2006, broadcast of his radio show, O'Reilly claimed that on the April 11 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, guest Charles Barron, a New York City councilman, had revealed the "hidden agenda" behind the current immigration debate. O'Reilly told his listeners: "[T]he bottom line is Charles Barron said last night is there is a movement in this country to wipe out 'white privilege' and to have the browning of America." O'Reilly suggested that this "hidden agenda" included plans to let "people who live in the Caribbean, people who live in Africa and Asia ... walk in and become citizens immediately."
From the May 17 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: Reluctantly, and I mean reluctantly, "Talking Points" is going to support this legislation. It's the best we can get and does improve the situation. But make no mistake, it's not fair. It drastically alters the United States of America. And there will be unintended consequences all over the place.
The new census report says America's now one-third minority. And in four states -- California, New Mexico, Texas, and Hawaii -- whites are the minority. So with the infusion of as many as 20 to 30 million new citizens in the next 10 years, the landscape of America will absolutely change.
Moreover, much as O'Reilly may mewl -- as he does through the rest of this interview, as well as in the subsequent segment in which he whined with other "victims" of the editorial about how mean the New York Times is and how awful it is that you can't talk about immigration without being accused of being a racist -- and claim that he's been a friend of illegal immigrants, the record is very much to the contrary:
For his part, Bill O'Reilly will often take a story of a specific crime and treat it as though it were a matter of national urgency. For example, he devoted segments on 13 separate programs to discussion of a case in Virginia Beach in which a drunken driver, who happened to be an undocumented immigrant, killed two young women in a traffic accident. As tragic as these deaths were, drunken drivers kill dozens of people every day; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 16,885 fatalities in alcohol-related auto crashes in 2005.16
O'Reilly was hardly on a crusade against drunken driving; his interest was in the fact that in this case, the driver was an undocumented immigrant.17 O'Reilly brushes aside arguments that such cases are unrepresentative -- and even makes attempts to link immigration to terrorism. "If the local authorities, and they should be part of homeland security, were to be more vigilant on criminal illegal aliens, notice the word criminal, and track them harder, the Fort Dix thing [a thwarted plot to kill U.S. soldiers] would have been caught sooner," he said in June. "The deaths of the Virginia Beach thing which we talked about. And all of these guys at 9-11 were stopped by local police."18 When O'Reilly is unavailable, his compatriots will pick up the slack. "The never-ending criminal alien revolving door," said guest host and conservative columnist Michelle Malkin last August. "Another heinous crime, another illegal alien suspect with a mile-long rap sheet, another bloody tragedy wrought by open borders."19 O'Reilly also uses the immigration issue to bash "the left": "The most extreme elements in this country want open borders, blanket amnesty, and entitlement for foreign nationals who have come here illegally, and generally want to change the demographics in the USA so political power can be assumed by the left," he said last October. "That is the end game."20
It's this kind of ugliness that the NYT editorial in question was specifically addressing:
Americans want immigration solved, and they realize that mass deportations will not do that. When you add the unprecedented engagement of growing numbers of Latino voters in 2008, it becomes clear that the nativist path is the path to permanent political irrelevance. Unless you can find a way to get rid of all the Latinos.
What was perhaps more notable than the report itself was the team that delivered it. It included Bay Buchanan, former adviser to Representative Tom Tancredo and sister of Pat, who founded the American Cause and wrote “State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America.” She was joined by James Pinkerton, an essayist and Fox News contributor who, as an aide to the first President Bush, took credit for the racist Willie Horton ads run against Michael Dukakis.
So far, so foul. But even more telling was the presence of Peter Brimelow, a former Forbes editor and founder of Vdare.com, an extremist anti-immigration Web site. It is named for Virginia Dare, the first white baby born in the English colonies, which tells you most of what you need to know.
Note that Pinkerton and Buchanan both appear in the whinefest that follows the "Impact Segment":
It's also in this segment in which O'Reilly declares:
O'Reilly: Look, I'm gonna take this New York Times on. I mean it's war. Absolutely war. I've had enough.
Note that neither the guests nor O'Reilly bother to address the substance of the NYT's point: That these "mainstream" conservatives were lending their voices to an enterprise irrevocably tainted by the significant involvement of virulent racists. It's not guilt by association when the association is entirely relevant.
For instance, Brimelow, it turns out, is also taking part, as Eric Ward reports, in a "racial awareness" event this coming weekend with the overtly racist British National Party (essentially the English skinheads party) at airport hotel in Baltimore:
According to the “Preserving Western Civilization” website, one of the goals of the conference is to address white guilt for the “disappointing performance of blacks.” The event, being held at the Four Points Sheraton BWI Airport Hotel in Baltimore, MD, will also feature alleged “mainstream” anti-immigrant leader Peter Brimelow. Brimelow is a regular contributor to white nationalist John Tanton’s quarterly journal Social Contact Press.
The Times' own retort is both pointed and on the money:
The reaction in some quarters to our editorial has been furious. Some accused us of erecting a straw man. Some said we were “frothing at the mouth,” defaming those who don’t share our supposed traitorous devotion to “open borders” and instant citizenship for illegal immigrants. Bill O’Reilly, who presents himself as a defender of the “white, Christian male power structure,” called it “one of the nastiest pieces of propaganda from the New York Times we’ve seen in recent memory.”
For the record, The Times does not support open borders, and never has.
We support comprehensive immigration reform, a combination of stricter enforcement at the border and the workplace, a chance for those already here to earn legalization, and an improved system of future legal immigration.
What Bill O'Reilly, Bay Buchanan, James Pinkerton, Lou Dobbs, Michelle Malkin, and the whole crew of right-wing media transmitters who repackage old racist nonsense for mainstream consumption fail to understand is that merely talking about immigration isn't a sign of racism. It's talking about immigration like racists that is.
What usually raises questions of racism is how readily the discussion turns to how Latinos are polluting or diluting white culture, how they're bringing crime and disease, turning America into "a third world cesspool," how they're "invading" the country. In other words, it isn't talking about immigration that makes people hear racism; it's talking racist crap that does.
The favorite whine of O'Reilly, Dobbs, Malkin, and the right-wing nativist cohort is that "it's not fair that you can't discuss illegal immigration without being accused of being racist." But the problem isn't discussing illegal immigration. Indeed, I think everyone involved would love to have a discussion on immigration without racism rearing its ugly head.
But racism is rearing its ugly head when O'Reilly and Dobbs and Malkin and the whole pack of "immigration reformers" treat white-supremacist propaganda as reliable information and parrot talking points from those white supremacists as well.
Pointing out that they're doing it isn't the problem. Pretending that they're not is.
UPDATE: NewsHounds has more, including detail on the third segment of TORF, which featured even more mewling.
UPDATE II: Scott Lemieux remembers one of the better examples of O'Reilly's fetish about white male culture.