July 11, 2006

The Delusional and Dangerous Bill O'Reilly

In yet another of my blessedly brief masochistic episodes, I'm listening to Bill O'Reilly fulminate on his radio show. (A similar unfortunate incident involving irreparable harm to my desperate attempts to maintain my grasp on reality is noted in this post about O'Reilly's fellow intellectual thug, Rush Limbaugh.) Oh, dear God: O'Reilly's guest now is David Horowitz. I may not survive the morning.

The theme of this morning's show (a perpetual theme for O'Reilly and Gang, needless to say) is the treasonous media, led by the "far left" traitors who run the New York Times. O'Reilly once again repeated in various forms (and repeated and repeated) that "the New York Times is not a newspaper anymore. It's a daily journal put out to undermine the administration." He went on to maintain that there is now "a group of journalists, a group of media people in our country, who believe that we, the United States, are the villain in the 'War on Terror.'" He emphasized, as he has countless times, that the NYT ran "70 front page stories, 70!" on abuses "supposedly" committed by the U.S. at Abu Ghraib (and other places). According to O'Reilly, these stories convey the message, one that is never to be entertained in his universe, that "we are the torturers, we are the human rights violators."

Guess what, Bill. We are. See this post in particular: Brutality and Sadism as National Policy, and the Monsters of Our Time. No one is saying we're the only torturers and human rights violators in the world. That would obviously be nonsense. But it is undeniable that the Bush administration has made torture and innumerable forms of abuse an explicit, systematic part of the "legitimate" methods to be utilized by our government in its amorphous, constantly shifting, never to be defined "War on Terror."

What caused my jaw to drop this morning was O'Reilly's discussion of how the NYT and the other "leftists" in the media are undermining the administration's noble efforts to protect us. O'Reilly is outraged that the Times has revealed the government's illegal wiretapping and the government's massive tracking of financial transactions. Like all True Believers, O'Reilly believes that innocent people who aren't doing anything wrong have nothing to fear.

As I have pointed out a number of times, this misses the main point -- which concerns the nature of the power the administration claims for itself. If the administration has the power to wiretap everyone and track everything, and if it even has the power to declare anyone, even a U.S. citizen, an "enemy combatant" and throw him in jail for life without ever being charged and without recourse to a lawyer, no one is safe. The Bush administration claims it can do all of this and more, under its indefensible notion of "war time" powers held by the "unitary Executive." As I expressed the actual issue:
To put the point the other way, which will hopefully penetrate the wall of resistance erected by so many people: the only reason you aren't in a concentration camp right now is because Bush hasn't decided to send you to one -- yet. But he claims he has the power to do so -- and there are almost no voices of any prominence to dispute the contention. What is even worse than the loss of liberty is the fact that most Americans aren't even aware that the loss has occurred. If there are any national leaders who understand these issues and have the courage to fight for our freedom here at home, they ought to realize that the battle must be waged now. Given the hysteria that followed 9/11 -- and the hysteria that would certainly follow another terrorist attack in the U.S. of the same or even greater magnitude -- protesting against round-ups at that point would be entirely futile, and would come far too late.
But in O'Reilly's world, all of this is completely inverted. O'Reilly said he that wants "the government to get the bad guys," and, in essence, to do whatever it takes. And at one point, as he mocked the claims of the "far left" that the government's dictatorial powers might represent a threat to individual rights and civil liberties, he said: "They're not tapping my phone. They're not reading my mail. They're not interfering with me. Okay, the airport inspections are annoying, but other than that, there's nothing to be concerned about at all."

I find it hard to believe that people are actually this irredeemably stupid. If O'Reilly's phone is being tapped, is he going to know it? If O'Reilly is being carefully tracked, is he going to know it? And more than this: if I were in O'Reilly's position and a prominent and well-known media figure (however undeserved that prominence and fame are), I would assume the government is keeping tabs on me all the time. I assume that about my life as it is, and I'm not famous at all. (Of course, I should be, but that's a different discussion. :>))

O'Reilly also carefully avoids the fact that he faithfully conveys the administration's propaganda to the great unwashed, unenlightened masses. He and his fellow thugs reassure us countless times every day that the government is only keeping us safe and protecting us from those who want to kill us. If I thought he was capable of learning anything at all, which I do not, I would suggest that O'Reilly read some history: every dictatorship makes the identical claims in the early stages. That's how they convince a gullible public to grant them unchecked power in the first place.

Here's a news flash for you, O'Reilly: if the administration should ever decide to utilize its claimed powers to their fullest extent, and if they should decide you're no longer useful to them, you'll realize that they've been keeping very careful watch over you -- as they haul you off to prison or to a detention camp in the middle of the night. I'm sure you will howl in indignation and terror, but your protests will do you no good then. But you might realize that perhaps, just perhaps, you ought to have paid closer attention to the many warnings provided by all those "leftists" who "undermined" the government's unending, entirely noble efforts to "protect" us.

And while I will not weep for you or your fate personally, I will weep for the final, irrevocable loss of the liberty and freedom of all of us. Even now, our liberty vanishes by the day, as certainly as the early morning mist is burned off by the sun. If we continue on our current course and if, God forbid, there is another 9/11 or worse, our liberty will only be a memory -- and we will have people like you, Mr. O'Reilly, to thank for helping to make this historic tragedy and the enslavement of a nation possible.

Related Essays:

"They Don't Represent America"? Not Quite, Mr. President

The Horrors Against Women

The Real Scandal

The Practice of National Self-Deception and Denial

On Torture