Well at least don’t be a guest who isn’t an inflammatory reactionary shill. Geof Stone, who is doing some interested guest blogging over on the Lessig blog on the subject of dissent was asked to appear on the O’Reilly to talk about the war and dissent. Read about it here. Of course the normal O’Reilly stuff happened, and Geof got a lot of vitriolic hate mail and veiled threats.
What is interesting to note is O’Reilly’s manipulation of the discussed issue, changing from “Is Dissent Disloyal” to “Can an American want the United States to lose the war in Iraq and still be patriotic?”. Of course even the second question is somewhat interesting except for the loaded and heavily misused “patriotic” moniker. I tend to agree with Geof that someone who believed that “losing” the war would save more American lives could hardly be called unpatriotic in any real sense of the word. Of course O’Reilly dismissed that out of hand.
Someone in the comments pointed out that there seems to be a growing faction of people who want America to lose the war simply to spite Bush and prove that he’s not fit to lead the country. Of course that’s reprehensible. But as another comment pointed out, this group of people seems to be something of a bogey-man, a non-existant super far left to offset the all too real super far right.
The Iraq war has been in a very dangerous place since the admission that we were not going to find WMDs. Our aim in the war has changed from “get the WMDs” to “Liberate Iraq from Saddam” to “Ummm what are we doing here again?”. Some would say we’re fighting the terrorists in Iraq. It seems most Americans who support the war believe this. But most of the Muslims fighting in Iraq are not terrorists, or associated with groups like Al Qaeda. They are instead fundamentalist muslims who feel the war in Iraq is an oppressive invasion aimed at installing a puppet government to control Iraq’s oil supply and undermine Islam with western christian value systems. I’m not saying they are right, but it’s dangerously dismissive to suggest that these people are terrorists. We as Americans have engaged a far larger section of the middle east than just the fringe fanatics eager to secure their place in heaven by blowing themselves up.
Most Americans know very little about the middle east, and most of what they do know is often colored by christian belief systems or the Palestinian/Israeli struggle over Jerusalem. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it doesn’t give them much insight as to what drives a 13 year old muslim to pick up an AK-47 and fire on American soldiers. American media does little to rectify the situation caught up in the hysteria of war playing out the same good guy bad guy roles that were used in the cold war.
Recent polls show that 44 percent of Americans support curtailing the liberties of Muslim Americans. This is a particular highlight of how little Americans know about Muslims, their nationalities, belief systems or politics. How many of us could draw distinctions between Turkish, Indian or Saudi Muslims? How many of us can separate the cultural aspects of being a Muslim from the religious and political aspects? In a cloud of ignorance and misinformation we are willing to sacrifice the liberties of others in reaction to events we don’t understand.
O’Reilly is not interested in discussing the complexities of middle eastern history that have lead to numerous clashes in the area, or the intricate politics that have been played out over hundreds of years. O’Reilly isn’t interested in understanding these people and how we can peacefully coexist with them. O’Reilly really isn’t interested in much other than pandering to the worst aspects of people for his own financial profit. O’Reilly’s viewers aren’t interested in getting educated, they’re looking for cheap stoking of their own indignation and support of their uninformed self-involved views. O’Reilly is the white middle class bungie jumping. Lots of cheap thrills without having to actually stick your neck out and admit all the crap you believe to other people.
Bottom line: Don’t go on his show.