I know this will come as a shock to a lot of you. But the blowhard Bill O’Reilly can actually be an idiot when he longs for “strange new respect.” Such is the case with how he dealt with Pam Geller and the Garland, TX terrorist attack. Via the Daily Caller:
“The dead men deserved what they got,” O’Reilly said. “But the incident was ignited by a contest featuring cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. Any depiction of that Islamic icon is a sin in the Muslim world.”
“Many Americans believe the provocation was legitimate under freedom of speech, but that is not the issue,” the host contended. “No one I know favors curtailing speech in this case. The real issue is whether the exposition was the right thing to do.”
See the problem here? The incident was not “ignited by a contest” any more than the Benghazi attack was caused by a video. The contest was privately sponsored and by invitation only. The two yahoos who ended up on the morgue slab ignited the incident by driving over a thousand miles to attack people who made them mad. The only issue here is curtailing free speech because if, Heaven forfend, Bill O’Reilly gets in the business of deciding if something is the “right thing to do” then we are really screwed. In all seriousness, if the “right thing to do” standard was in force, does O’Reilly think he wouldn’t be forced off the air by the very people he’s fellating right now?
“Rev. [Franklin] Graham represents the Christian point of view that you don’t demean other people unnecessarily. Jesus would not have sponsored that event,” O’Reilly said. “The goal of every decent person in the world should be to defeat the jihad. And in order to do that, you have to rally the world to the side of good, our side.”
I must confess, I really don’t even know what this means. First, and most obviously, I don’t think Pam Geller has ever claimed to be Christian. This is not a criticism of Geller, or even an assertion that a plurality of American Jews support her, only to point out that Franklin Graham’s opinion doesn’t really bear on the subject and if it did, I think a lot of people would say that it is unnecessary to assert your rights in the face of threats of terrorism.
“Emotional displays like insulting the prophet Mohammed make it more difficult to rally law-abiding Muslims, for example. Including nations like Jordan and Egypt, who are actually fighting the fanatical Islamists,” O’Reilly said. “In any war, you have to win hearts and minds, and the situation in Garland, Texas goes against that. Again, the freedom of speech issue is bogus. No one is saying the exposition was illegal. The point is winning, defeating the jihad.”
This is true if you work from the perspective that Muslims are unable to function in a pluralistic society. That may be the case. From what we’ve seen of how Muslim communities operate in Western Europe and Islamic ghettos like Dearborn, Michigan and the antics of CAIR and various “Muslim student associations” in suppressing free speech I think it is something that should be up for discussion. More to the point, if you need to rally “law-abiding Muslims” to oppose murder we have a problem completely different than the one O’Reilly thinks we have. And if the support of Muslim populations in the Middle East is dependent upon us totally kowtowing to their peculiar set of values then the war with ISIS is already lost because if they make a value judgment that they’d rather live under ISIS than have non-Muslim caricaturing Mohammed then they were never really in the fight to begin with.
I hold no brief for Pam Geller. I’m generally not a fan of anyone afflicted with a monomania. Personally, I wouldn’t have done this not because I give a fat rat’s ass about offending Muslims but because it strikes me as bad form. I didn’t like Martin Scorcese’s perfectly awful and ugly little movie “The Last Temptation of Christ.” I think Jose Serrano (of “Piss Christ” fame) and Chris Ofili (the elephant dung Virgin Mary) are no-talent hacks barely more artistically interesting than my 10-year old and kept on the public dole by a certain self-identified cultural elite. But I didn’t kill them. That’s because God doesn’t need me with an automatic rifle to take up the slack. God will take care of business in His own time. And you know what, they, in a nation of a couple of hundred million sorta-Christians (by the then Census count) these jerks were never in danger and neither were the people who went to their exhibits. (Just as an aside, if Jesus is an honored prophet according to Islamic mythology, why didn’t Muslims try to kill these douchebags?)
The real issue here is Islam. Pure and simple. In a big country that has hundred of millions people not everyone will do the right thing and not a plurality will even agree on what the right thing is. There is noting wrong with that. We have a right, guaranteed by the Constitution, to say wrong, hurtful, false, and unwise things (with some minor limits). And if we hear those things we can protest, boycott, ignore or write opposing wrong, hurtful, false, and unwise things. I mean you know that, hell, you’re reading a political blog. But, if keeping the peace with a people depends upon not offending them, the problem isn’t speech. The problem is the people listening to the speech. Then they have a decision to make. And making everyone shut up because of fear of giving them hurty pants is not one of the choices on the table.