In the past week, Bill O’Reilly has joined his fellow Fox News hosts in condemning the “political correctness” that they see as blocking the public from viewing the Fort Hood massacre as an act of Islamic terrorism.
But now it appears O’Reilly may himself be pushing a different kind of political correctness: The notion that, to be labeled a terrorist, you have to scream “Allahu akbar” (“God is great”) as you launch your attack.
That’s the gist of an exchange on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor last night between O’Reilly and the Washington Post‘s Sally Quinn.
“You have a hard time saying the words ‘Muslim terrorist,'” O’Reilly said to Quinn. “I don’t know why.”
Quinn protested and said: “You can call the guy who shot up the Holocaust Museum a terrorist.”
“Did he yell Allah[u] akbar?” O’Reilly retorted. “If he yelled Allah[u] akbar and emailed an Al Qaeda in Yemen, I’d call him that, Ms. Quinn.”
Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the man now charged with 13 counts of murder in the Fort Hood shootings, reportedly cried “Allahu akbar” before opening fire on his fellow soldiers. On Wednesday, the FBI announced it believed that Hasan “acted alone in the Fort Hood shootings, and was not involved in terrorist activities when a joint terrorism task force crossed paths with him last year,” the San Antonio News-Express reports.
Quinn was referring to the case of James von Brunn, who was arrested and charged in connection with the killing of a security guard at Washington, DC’s Holocaust museum in June. Even though von Brunn was said to have connections to white supremacist groups, in that case, as in the Hasan case, authorities charged the alleged shooter with murder, and denied that it was an act of terrorism.
At the time of the Holocaust shooting, progressive commentators criticized O’Reilly and other conservative TV news personalities for having created an atmosphere where acts of right-wing violence can flourish.
“Today, as in the early years of the Clinton administration but to an even greater extent, right-wing extremism is being systematically fed by the conservative media and political establishment,” New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote at the time.
Other media critics took O’Reilly to task for minimizing his show’s coverage of the Holocaust Museum shooting, even though he had earlier criticized other networks for not giving enough coverage to other acts of violence that may have been politically motivated.
The following video was broadcast on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, November 11, 2009, and uploaded to the Web by MediaMatters.