Christmas means something a little different to each of us. For many, it is an exercise in faith - a time to reflect on the ultimate gift to humanity, from a being they believe to be our creator. For others, it means being with loved ones and serves as a reminder to do something good for those less fortunate. And for too many, it means only shopping, headaches and a forced meeting with people they really don't like. To some, it evens means Hanukkah. Or nothing. I would hope that, to my readers, it means a time to pay special attention to what you can do for your community or the world. But to many, however, the Christmas season only means happy words, lights, and presents.
I have several little Christmas traditions, and though I'm not a religious person, they amount to a mixture of all of the above. Most of these are rather personal. I am willing to share, however, that probably the least noble of them is giving myself a present or two that I know no one else can give me. For me, it's usually some high-tech gadget.
Bill O'Reilly seems to share in this tradition. But, instead of the latest in home entertainment technology, it seems Bill prefers to give himself the kind of smug smile that can only be bought with the knowledge you're getting away with another outrageous lie.
When Raw Story columnist Katie McKy asked me how the Bay Area was responding to Bill O'Reilly's invitation for terrorists to "blow up the Coit Tower," I had the sad duty of informing her that, on the street, there wasn't one. Very few people in the Bay Area take Bill O'Reilly seriously.
It isn't that his politics are particularly offensive - in this day and age, he's practically a liberal. O'Reilly opposes the death penalty. He claims he would vote in favor of gay marriage. He believes global warming is a real and urgent problem. In fact, newsmakers of all political persuasions dread or avoid appearances on O'Reilly. But it isn't because of his views; it's because he utterly lacks credibility and respect for the intelligence of his audience.
You see, Bill O'Reilly has this strange little habit of, well... Lying. Fibbing. Telling untruths. Just plain making shit up. Right there, on national television, in front of God and everybody, lying through his unjustifiably self-satisfied smirk.
In fact, his lies are so obvious and so copious that I wonder if they're an insult to his audience at all; if they're not catching them, they can't really be the brightest lights on the tree. This isn't meant to be read as a reference to the famous survey that found the "Daily Show" outdid his viewers in terms of education and success. Neither indicates intelligence. I'm simply observing that, judging by the content, a human operating at full capacity would immediately see that O'Reilly is... Not.
Before you write your angry letters, I'd like you to seriously consider the quality of content his audience regularly, and happily ingests. O'Reilly's level of discourse (including his use of the word "moron" to describe anyone who doesn't believe there's a "war on Christmas,") hardly deserves even the limited amount of respect this column grants him. I am uncompelled to show sensitivity to that.
Take O'Reilly's defense of his Coit Tower remark. He responded by playing, on air, the clip that supposedly outraged people - omitting, of course, the part that outraged people: "If Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. ... You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead."
When a guest called O'Reilly on the mis-representation, he claimed they "couldn't play the whole thing" because it was "five minutes long." In reality, it clocks in at just over a minute, and the invitation to bomb Coit Tower is but a few seconds. That's right: it takes the man two levels of dishonesty to cover up one silly, hyperbolic statement. Is his audience so eager to believe the juvenile drivel spewing from O'Reilly's lips that it can't be bothered to look into what he really said, or just so obtuse it cannot rightly recall a radio broadcast from two days before?
In fact, the recall of O'Reilly's audience would have to be pretty short to take anything he says seriously.
Perhaps the most discussed (and most disgusting,) example of O'Reilly insanity came out of the "Factor" appearance of Jeremy Glick, an author whose father died in the September 11 attacks. Glick argued that the attacks wouldn't have happened if the U.S. and George W. Bush hadn't funded the jihads that brought the Taliban to power, and supported the Taliban against certain rivals. This is speculation, of course, but fairly safe speculation if such a thing exists.
Glick also calmly accused O'Reilly of unfairly invoking sympathy for victims' families to promote his political agenda. The host answered this charge by proving it. He ranted that Glick's father was a hero who would be ashamed of him, and even threatened the boy physically, unless someone removed him from the studio. After O'Reilly's hissy fit (the size of which had been unseen since someone snatched his Barbies in second grade,) subsided, he apologized for how "out of control" Glick-who sat calmly with hands folded through the interview-had behaved.
O'Reilly later excused his own bizarre behavior by repeating the indisputably false claim that Glick had "accused President Bush of knowing about 9-11 before it happened". Does his audience skip every other broadcast, or is it... Well, just plain dumb? I think given the evidence, it's a fair question.
O'Reilly's fans also seem to have forgotten his pre-invasion pledge: "If the Americans go in and overthrow Saddam Hussein and it's clean, he has nothing, I will apologize to the nation, and I will not trust the Bush administration again." Instead of making good on his promise, he decided it would be a better use of his time to continue a boycott of France for not going along with the invasion. He justifies this behavior by calling the lack of WMDs "a left wing lie." It's a good thing he does oppose the death penalty; with a burden of proof like that, everyone's a killer.
But O'Reilly isn't interested in facts, proof, or even being right. Although it seems too obvious to state, he's interested in manufacturing outrage. His face betrays a sick sort of satisfaction each time he gets away with another whopper.
And his audience eats it up. Time and again, when O'Reilly's slanderous lies are called out, the facts laid bare, O'Reilly attacks the messenger, labeling any correction a "smear." If his audience can't see the doubly sick irony of defending slander against criticism in the name of decency, well... Let's just say he doesn't have to work too hard for the money.
So, it's no surprise that he's taken Christmas - a great opportunity to plug Toys for Tots, or relief efforts in Pakistan - to open the gates for a Katrina-style flood of falsehoods. And boy is he generous.
He claimed a town in Michigan had banned red and green clothing. Lie. He claimed a school in Texas had done the same. Another lie. He claimed the post office no longer offered Christian - themed stamps. That lie's so obvious anyone who's been to a Post Office should be able to spot it a mile away. He said a school in Wisconsin changed the lyrics to "Silent Night." You guessed it: big fat lie. It's as if he's his very own Santy Claus, only hateful and less genuine.
When exposing these make-believe atrocities, O'Reilly called the people enforcing his imaginary rules "fascists" and "Nazis". He then called the people who corrected these lies (most notably MediaMatters.org,) "fascists" and "Nazis". He capped this off by objecting to the San Francisco Chronicle's having referred to him as a "field marshal," which he called a "Nazi reference." If you can get away with that kind bald-faced hypocrisy on national radio and television, and make money doing it, well it's Christmas for you all year 'round.
One of O'Reilly's favorite rants about that Constitutional hang-up we call secularism echoes his fascination with fascism. "In every secular progressive country," he said, "they've wiped out religion ... Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler..." Adolf Hitler? Does O'Reilly even know what a Nazi was? The Nazis were big on their vision of Christianity; not so big on Judaism. If Bill O'Reilly is on your Christmas list, please do us all a favor by picking up a few things he's obviously never come across: a copy of Mein Kampf, some Leni Riefenstahl films, and a dictionary.
Or, perhaps the best thing one could do for O'Reilly would be simply flipping the common sense switch on the back of his skull that seems to have become jammed in the "off" position. Religion, as history has shown, is a far more effective way of controlling the masses than politics. This leaves a rising fascist two choices for dealing with it: Quash religion (Stalin,) or co-opt it (Hitler). But, then, if a man cannot recall what he screamed about for fifteen minutes on national television the night before, asking him to keep his implied causal relationships logically sound is probably a bit much.
The hypocrisy doesn't end there, either. The Fox News website didn't sell Christmas ornaments sporting O'Reilly's logo; they sold "holiday ornaments." Because they hang so beautifully off a menorah, and can double as Easter eggs come Spring? I'd say that perhaps this war on the "war on Christmas" was invented by a Jewish producer simply because O'Reilly needs something to talk about other than Bush having declared his own authority to circumvent the Fourth Amendment, but I think my readers are intelligent enough to take that as a given.
I've avoided O'Reilly in the past because his discourse is so juvenile it's virtually impossible to address without stooping to his level. Well, he's finally managed to construct an argument so vapid it's actually offensive. So, I'm stooping.
You see, hypocrisy in the name of Christmas is hypocrisy magnified exponentially. Anyone who's read the Bible can probably tell you that hypocrisy ranks as one of - if not its single least - favorite human trait, surpassed in level of contempt only by hypocrisy of those claiming to be holy, of course. He also makes a huge public show of his faith (discouraged among those who got to keep their foreskin,) in an effort to make money (oh, the tables Christ would turn). Furthermore, it takes two things that were meant to be good and productive - Christmas, and well-wishes - and uses them to turn people against each other. Thus, he has selected the second option of the hopeful fascist, co-opting religion to place himself on the "right" side of an imaginary divide between good and evil.
Holier-than-thou Bill claims to be majorly pissed-off by the fact that people are walking around saying "happy holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." In fact, when people say, "Happy holidays," their intention is not to exclude Christians, but to include in their well-wishes those who don't celebrate Christmas. You know: those people who don't believe that, as Sarah Silverman so aptly put it, "Jesus is magic."
After claiming that a year-old clip from "The Daily Show" (featuring Samantha Bee, due to give birth in January,) had aired the night before, O'Reilly flaunted his disregard for those of different faiths by wishing Jon Stewart, who is widely known to be Jewish, a "merry Christmas." "My way or the highway, you godless Jew" - but wrapped in holiday cheer. His own perversion of a message of good will was distastefully malicious. The same cannot be said of the considerate and time-saving well-wishes he hopes to make a mint maligning.
As a fellow gentile, (or goy as my Jewish friends call me,) I'd like to take this opportunity to show Bill O'Reilly the same kind of holiday goodwill, on behalf of Americans of all faiths: Happy Hanukkah, Bill O'Reilly. I'll be thinking of you when I hang your holiday ornaments on my Christmas tree, and throughout the New Year.