Bill O’Reilly, who generally eschews the label of “conservative,” portraying himself, instead, as an “independent with traditional values,” has been vehemently taking on “the Muslim problem” for the past several months.
While O’Reilly often frustrates true conservatives and libertarians with his middle of the road views, the Fox News host has not held back on any of the recent hot-button issues involving Muslims.
Defending those who lost loved ones in the 9/11 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, some of whom he counts as personal friends, O’Reilly has fervently maintained that the Ground Zero mosque project will not be achieved as planned because it will be difficult to fund, and no construction crews will agree to build it.
On August 9, in what appeared to be, for O’Reilly himself, one of the most inspiring and, perhaps, surprising, interviews of his show’s history, the commentator welcomed Raheel Raza, author of Their Jihad…Not My Jihad! and a board member of the Muslim Canadian Congress. Raza stunned O’Reilly with her articulate no-nonsense criticism of “Mayor Bloomberg and other bleeding heart white liberals, like him” who promote political correctness which – and here is the clincher – makes it difficult for moderate Muslims, like herself, to confront radical Islam. Raza turned the liberal argument on its head by accusing the proponents of the mosque of intolerance and insensitivity to those who were victimized in the terrorist attacks, and charging that political Islam has been allowed to flourish because of the left’s insistence on political correctness.
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During the past two weeks, O’Reilly has spent a good part of his air time on two issues. Two weeks ago, he was walked out on by the politically-correct-when-it-suits-my-side Joy Behar, and Whoopi Goldberg, on the set of The View, after his statement, which they viewed as bigoted, that Muslims attacked us on 9/11. Then, last week, he began the continuing coverage of the NPR firing of Juan Williams, a contributor to The O’Reilly Factor, over Williams’ admission, on that show, that, in post 9/11 America, he feels nervous when he is flying and sees Muslims, dressed in cultural garb, identifying themselves primarily as Muslims. In both situations, O’Reilly has denounced namby-pamby political correctness, and has defined the “Muslim problem” as the failure of peace-loving, non-political Muslims to join together in condemning jihadists. Like Raza, O’Reilly knows that political correctness is only enabling radical Islam, not calming its fire, as liberals believe.
His most recent interview on the subject, with Ahmed Rehab of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) was not as remarkable as that with Raza two months ago. O’Reilly accepted a “correction” to the record from Rehab that there had been a statement from Muslim-Americans condemning the Times Square bomber, but finally agreed to disagree when Rehab asserted that average Muslims are not part of the problem. “Your language needs to be revised,” Rehab cautioned O’Reilly.
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So, the questions are: 1) Do average people who are part of a cultural group, another part of which is extreme and engaging in terrorist activities, have a responsibility to confront the latter and demand its cessation of these activities so that this entire cultural group can enjoy a peaceful life among others? 2) How does denying, rationalizing, and overcompensating for (i.e. politically correcting for) the behavior of the extremists affect this group?
Perhaps we can look at how these questions are played out in other arenas. Let’s take the tragic issue of child abuse. Unfortunately, I have encountered a number of families in which child abuse has continued for years without any report from a family member until the child becomes involved in school and activities outside the family, when someone in those venues notices something is wrong. The heinous behavior of the perpetrator aside, I am still always taken aback when I interview family members of the abused child who say they knew of the abuse, but did not report it to anyone because they were afraid of some repercussions; they thought, perhaps, the child’s frequently obstinate behavior deserved this treatment (rationalization); they couldn’t deal with it because of other issues in their life, so they ignored it (denial); they understood how difficult the perpetrator’s life has been, so figured they had to be understanding of it (overcompensation).
Clearly, the other family members did not take their hands to the child, but don’t they share responsibility for passively allowing the abuse to continue?
Similarly, do the family and colleagues of a drug addicted medical professional have a responsibility to confront this individual, to avoid unsuspecting patients from being harmed by his or her behavior? Clearly, the family and colleagues are not directly harming patients themselves, but don’t they share responsibility for passively permitting potential danger by not speaking up?
And, culturally, when Americans view other Americans terrorizing others, committing crimes, or threatening a way of life- do they have a responsibility to confront these others? Clearly, not all Americans are engaged in this behavior, but aren’t they responsible to speak out against it in order to stop it?
Honesty with ourselves, our families and friends, our colleagues, our fellow citizens, and our political leaders is hard. It involves confronting fear. But, those who are slaves to the denial, rationalization, and overcompensation of political correctness are not solving the problem. Instead, they are contributing to its strength and power.