On Wednesday, I heard Bill
O'Reilly tell actor/activist Matthew Modine that we must kill
all the "Islamic fundamentalists" in the world -- wipe them off
the face of the Earth -- in order to protect America.
Modine asked O'Reilly how he would win the "war on
O'Reilly replied, "You use every weapon you have to kill as many Islamic
fundamentalists as you can, and then bring them to their knees, the same way we
An incredulous Modine asked O'Reilly if he was advocating
something akin to the nuclear annihilation of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
with a question, O'Reilly asked if Modine would have ordered the nuclear
attacks had he been in President Harry Truman's shoes, saying, "He
was fighting to protect America. And he wiped out the enemy, just as we have to
wipe out the Islamic fundamentalists . . ."
How, pray tell, does that differ in any way with the words
of Iranian President Ahmadinejad about Israel that have been so vehemently
denounced by O'Reilly and his far-right compatriots? They have raised non-stop
holy hell over a comment made in a speech by Ahmadinejad in which he
purportedly called for Israel to be "wiped off the map." This
translation of his words has been hotly disputed, and the consensus of
linguists and experts is that what Ahmadinejad actually called for was the fall
of the Israeli "Zionist" regime, and the rise of a democratic
government in which Palestinians participate in free elections.
University of Michigan Professor of Modern Middle East and
South Asian History, Juan Cole,
says the statement should be translated as "The Imam said that this
regime occupying Jerusalem must [vanish from] the page of time."
Professor Cole explains
that, "Ahmadinejad did not say he was going to 'wipe Israel off the
map' because no such idiom exists in Persian". Rather, "He did say he
hoped its regime, i.e., a Jewish-Zionist state occupying Jerusalem, would
Cole then comes to the real point of the matter: "What
is really going on here is an old trick of the warmongers. Which is that you
equate hurtful statements of your enemy with an actual military threat, and
make a weak and vulnerable enemy look like a strong, menacing foe. Then no one
can complain when you pounce on the enemy and reduce his country to flames and
Other experts agree with Cole.
Ahmadinejad himself states that his words were
misinterpreted and wildly exaggerated, saying, "There is no new
policy, they created a lot of hue and cry over that. It is clear what we say:
Let the Palestinians participate in free elections and they will say what they
So in that context, what Ahmadinejad was actually
saying was that he was against the Israeli political system and the regime in
power, and was stating his belief that Palestinians are suffering an injustice.
That sounds an awful lot like the Bush administration's view that the elected
government of Iran should be replaced with one that is friendly to U.S.
But let's leave all that aside. Let's pretend that
Ahmadinejad really did call for Israel to be wiped off the map. We'll even
presume that he advocates the total eradication and genocide of Israeli Jews.
That is inarguably despicable. What is the difference between that and
the slaughter endorsed by Bill O'Reilly? In either case, the underlying
cause of conflict boils down to religious and cultural differences. Israeli
Jews and American Christians don't like Muslims, and Muslims don't like Jews
and Christians. This is, of course a gross generalization because there are
many in each religion who do not feel that way. But historically and now,
religious differences are a cause, if not the main cause, of almost every war fought by mankind.
Racism and religious bigotry is alive and well in the U.S.
as evidenced by this disgusting assertion made by a member of a right-wing
group, which has the nerve to call itself the "Founding Fathers
Party," on their website: "Once again I ask, why does the rest of the world
accept this turd spewing 'religion' as valid? Wipe them off the face of the
Earth. The only good mongrel muslim [sic] is a dead one."
Similar sentiments can be found on countless
"conservative" sites and can be heard on talk-radio everyday. That is
the unedited, extremely politically incorrect version of the views of people
like Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck. It is the basic
platform of politicians like Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo, who revealed his true
colors when he publicly advocated bombing Muslim holy
sites as a "deterrent" to attacks on the United States: "If it
is up to me, we are going to explain that an attack on this homeland of that
nature would be followed by an attack on the holy sites in Mecca and Medina.
That is the only thing I can think of that might deter somebody from doing what
they would otherwise do."
Of course, Mecca and Medina happen to be located in Saudi
Arabia, a country considered to be a U.S. ally. But all
that matters to Tancredo is that Muslims live there.
O'Reilly called for wiping out an entire religious
denomination -- one he labeled as "Islamic fundamentalists." We have
here in the U.S. several Christian and Jewish denominations and sects whose
membership includes a significant number of "fundamentalists" who
endorsed and continue to support the occupation of Iraq and are now
salivating over starting a war with Iran because they detest anything and
everything "Muslim." We have clergy who preach that Islam is a
false religion, or an evil religion, and say that it is our duty and God's
purpose to rid the world of Muslims.
George W. Bush had the unspeakable arrogance to label
three entire countries as an "Axis of Evil." How does one even begin
to explain how ignorant and immoral that is? Whole countries proclaimed to
be evil, worthless, subhuman. We're not talking about terrorists who actually
come to America with an intent to harm us. We're talking about people spread
out all over the world, in countless countries. And we're talking about killing
them not because they represent a credible, serious threat to us, but because they
don't like us. Because they don't support our
"interests." Imagine another nation invading America and overthrowing
our government because we don't like them. Not because we have bombed them, not
because we have enslaved them, but because we don't agree with
them. Where is the righteousness in that?
We are stuck in a perpetual juvenile game of "my God's
better than your God." When will we realize that it's the same God?
When will we accept the fact that the only difference is the wrapping paper
that we artificially package Him in? And when will we come to understand that
God does not belong only to certain nations, and that evil does not
respect the invisible boundaries of national borders? Only when we accept that
we do not own God and realize that He is not to be used as a justification
for killing each other will we ever know true peace.
Garrett is a freelance writer and constitutional scholar from the piney-woods
of East Texas. He apologizes to the entire world that the great Lone Star State
could have produced the monstrosity currently occupying the Oval Office.