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Bill O’Reilly Uses Norway Tragedy To Fan Flames Of Divisiveness

Reported by Ellen - July 26, 2011 -

Bill O’Reilly may have had a legitimate point when he distinguished Norwegian terror suspect Anders Breivik from a jihadist by saying there was no evidence Breivik belonged to a church or “practiced Christianity in any way.” O’Reilly may even have had a legitimate gripe in alleging that calling Breivik a “radical Christian” was something of a misnomer that unfairly maligned Christianity. But the inconvenient truth for “Muslims are a world problem” O’Reilly is that Breivik clearly considered himself a Christian and acted in a way he thought was on behalf of Christians. But even if Breivik were an atheist or a Jew, O’Reilly’s hate-filled rant that tarred liberals and the liberal media with the same flimsy evidence he accused them of using was nothing less than a thinly-veiled attempt to use a tragic situation to promote a familiar, divisive agenda. The fact that he dismissed prior media attempts – right there on Fox News, even – to paint Breivik as a jihadist was even more indicative of a self-serving motive. Sadly, Jesus-loving O’Reilly seemed more upset over this liberal media/anti-Christian plot that he never substantiated than he was over the mass murders committed by Breivik.

The O’Reilly Factor spent two segments on this hissy fit. The first was a lengthy editorial in which O’Reilly laid out his thesis and accusations.

“Breivik is not a Christian. That’s impossible. No one believing in Jesus commits mass murder.”

Maybe no one who believes in Jesus the way O’Reilly thinks they should commits mass murder but there are plenty of mass murderers who believed in Jesus. Adolf Hitler springs immediately to mind. So do several Mafiosi.

But OK, maybe O’Reilly was right in spirit – that no one who seriously adopts Jesus Christ’s teachings could do such a thing. But O’Reilly’s next step – using his beef as an excuse to attack his favorite scapegoats was – well, not exactly in the Christian spirit.

So why is the angle being played up? Two reasons: First, the liberal media wants to make an equivalency between the actions of Breivik and the Oklahoma City bomber Tim McVeigh and Al Qaeda. The left wants you to believe that fundamentalist Christians are a threat! Just like crazy jihadists are.

The second reason the liberal media is pushing the Christian angle is they don’t like Christians very much because we are too judgmental… They want to diminish Christianity and highlighting so-called Christian-based terror is a way to do that.

That was followed up by a discussion with conservative Mary Katharine Ham and Democrat Alicia Menendez.

O’Reilly told Menendez, “We could find no evidence, Alicia, that this man practiced Christianity at all. Anywhere, at any time. Wasn’t associated with any church as far as we know, OK? Didn’t carry a Bible around, no educational background in that regard. Totally secular guy. But now he’s a CHRISTIAN terrorist. So I think this is patently dishonest.”

Some might say it was dishonest of O'Reilly to say such a thing given that on Sunday, Reuters reported:

On June 11 (Breivik) says (in his manifesto) he prayed for the first time in a long time. "I explained to God that unless he wanted the Marxist-Islamist alliance and the certain Islamic takeover of Europe to completely annihilate European Christendom within the next hundred years, he must ensure that the warriors fighting for the preservation of European Christendom prevail."

Sadly, Menendez seemed oblivious to O’Reilly’s disingenuous gameplan or else she deliberately chose not to deal with it. Instead, she endorsed it. “I as a Christian find it a little dishonest, I find it erroneous,” she began.

Unfortunately, my satellite signal was lost for several seconds just at that moment. But not long after it came back, O’Reilly was ranting, “This was an intentional, without a doubt, intentional brand of a mass murderer as a Christian. It is appalling. This is a serious situation, ladies. This isn’t a mistake or sloppiness or laziness. This is appalling.”

Menendez’ next response strongly suggested she had been playing patsy instead of challenging the hate mongering. She helped perpetuate the fiction that it was all a legitimate political debate. She said mildly, “In using the term ‘Christian,’ they buried what was the real lede, which is that he was radical in his political beliefs.” Menendez is a smart cookie whom I have admired in the past. She ought to know and to do better than this.

Ham knew the gameplan and how to play it, of course. She got right with the good-Christian program of attacking liberals and she didn’t let up. No bland advocacy for her! First, she argued that liberals called Breivik a Christian as some kind of misguided affirmative action. She said, “Many liberals – activists, certainly – desperately want an analogue to extremist Islam so that they can sort of pat themselves on the back for being equal and making this equivalence.” Later, she out and out accused the left of deliberately misleading in order to tarnish their enemies – Christians. “You kind of have to look at the record here and when the left and the media were so blazingly, spectacularly – and I think many times intentionally - wrong about something like Jared Loughner because all they want to do is pin that on the Tea Party. It’s been the narrative for three years and they keep doing it.”

Meanwhile, both O’Reilly and Ham ignored right-wing Islamophobia in response to the attacks. Did Ham think that was all a big accident or could the right be “intentionally wrong" because they always want to pin terrorism on Muslims? Sadly, the question seems not to have occurred to Menendez. Her weak response was to ignore the right-wing agenda, blandly allege “wrongdoing on both sides” and cite the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.

O’Reilly dismissed that wrongdoing as inconsequential. “That’s their fault!” He claimed that unlike the blame to Christians, incorrect blaming of Muslims was the result of journalistic laziness. “But this is intentional. People should know. Americans of all faiths – Muslim, Jewish, Shinto, Catholic, whatever – you should know that there is a movement in the American media to diminish and marginalize the Christian philosophy.”

While O’Reilly was railing about the “appalling” reporting about Breivik’s Christianity, he offered not a shred of evidence that it was deliberate, that it was the result of bias or an agenda or that there's any kind of movement in the American media to diminish and marginalize Christians. You know, the same kind of standard he was demanding others adhere to before painting someone (other than a Muslim) in a bad light.

If Menendez called O'Reilly on that, it must have happened while I was gone.

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