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O'Reilly defends use of "Islamo-fascist" label to CAIR Director Nihad Awad

Reported by Chrish - August 15, 2006 -

Bill O'Reilly had as his first guest tonight 8/14/06 Nihad Awad, Executive Directorr of CAIR, Council on American Islamic Relations, a Washington DC based organization representing American Muslims. The discussion was centered on Bush's (and O'Reilly's, and others on the far right) use of the term "Islamo-fascist" and/or "Islamic fascists."

As noted and discussed on an earlier thread, the term is deconstructed by Dr. Andrew Bosworth at Virtual Citizens.

Before he answered any question, Awad extended his organization's best wishes for kidnapped FOX reporter Steve Centanni and his cameraman, Olaf Wiig from New Zealand, noting that CAIR had issued a statement demanding the safe release and return of the two victims. In keeping with their behavior all day regarding the incident, O'Reilly stated that they would not have any more on that topic because they were trying to "get that solved." (Unspun, FOX mangement is in negotiations with the kidnappers, and it appears that FOX is ordered to remain mum on the subject. So be it - get them home alive and well.)

O'Reilly insisted that the jihadists, the terrorists, the killers that he and Bush refer to are, exactly, Islamic fascists. Awad cited the use (and subsequent retractions) of "crusades" right after 9/11 and "Operation Infinite Justice" and observed that inflammatory rhetoric can be devastating to our image and the message we send to the Muslim world. He said that there's nothing Islamic about fascism, and there's no link between the religion and fascism. O'Reilly stopped him and asked if there's anything linking Italians, or Germans, with fascism? (Is he being disengenuous or is he really this dumb? I shudder to think he was ever a history teacher.) O'Reilly was being coy after all, and states that they were fascist states, were they not? Awad counters that we didn't call them fascist Christians, but O'Reilly persisted, overtalking, saying right now we're fighting a stateless enemy but they're aaallll Muslims. When Awad tried to explain that terroism is not Islamic, O'Reilly whined "then why are all the terrorists Muslims?" Awad's frustration was showing already, as he tried to clarify for O'Reilly again that they are Muslims but their actions are not Islamic.

Awad stood his ground as O'Reilly tried to move on, and brought up Eric Rudolph, noting that he was not labeled a Christian terrorist on FOX (and specifically added "and you should not.") O'Reilly got defensive and progressively louder, admitting he had not been called a Christian terrorist - "no, he's a nut" - and asserting that the far-right militias are fascists, "and we call them neo-Nazis." Awad inserted "and they're Christians!" and O'Reilly said "and we call them that!" and Awad replied "No you don't!" , back and forth, until O'Reilly said "all those people up at Hayden Lake, and all those people up there in Idaho, we label them neo-Nazis!" O'Reilly was overwrought, and Awad was firm, reiterating that O'reilly did not call them Christian terrorists, and he shouldn't, but he should extend the same respect to Islam and Muslims, because they clearly and loudly distance themselves from (unintelligible - O'Reilly overtalking) and terrorists.

O'Reilly has one last question: "the Taliban in Afghanistan - were they not fascists?" (Note that he put it in the past tense, as if they are gone from Afghanistan, when actually they are back, killing innocents and American soldiers again.) Unfortunately, Awad agreed again that they too were fascists. They argued much in the same vein as descibed above, O'Reilly insisting that since they're Muslims and alleged fascists the term is appropriate; Awad argued that anyone can say they are acting in the name of a religion but the religion itself procludes the action so they're not. (In essence.)

Awad, who was there to make his point known, summed up as follows: "My point here, Bill, is very clearly: we have to enlist Muslims worldwide, and here in the United States, in this war on terrorism. If we should like to win we should not alienate them because mainstream Muslims see themselves as offended** and insulted when we put these together."

At the point ** O'Reilly began overtalking (again!) saying "I don't want to alienate anyone but I'm not going to play a politically correct game in the middle of a war on terror."

Awad overtalked O'Reilly, shaking his head and saying "it is not politically correct, it is correct not to do it."

Comment: I was disappointed but not surprised that the definition of fascism was further blurred. The Taliban and the terrorists share some traits but not all, making them bastards and monsters but not fascists. As some have noted, it would be typical of Karl Rove's machine to take a frame useful to liberals/Democrats and turn it around on them before they properly employ it, muddying the definition and reducing its effectiveness. Read Bosworth's analysis (linked above) or, for the trolls who read it earlier and still didn't get it, watch the video (brought to you by the same folks who bring us the "V for Vendetta" video, also very illuminating.) Or read Dr. Britt's article:

The 14 Defining Characteristics Of Fascism Free Inquiry Spring 2003 5-11-3

Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each:
1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
4. Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.
6. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.
7. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed
to the government's policies or actions.
9. Corporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
10. Labor Power is Suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
14. Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

Yes, it's all frighteningly familiar.