We could get worked up about Bill O’Reilly’s talk of a holy war. Or not. The Religious Right has been fighting a holy war against all of us for decades now. Muslims are a relatively recent addition to their list of enemies.
Think about it: the “culture war” is just a euphemism for holy war. This push for so-called “religious freedom” is actually a holy war on women, where one group tries to force its religious doctrines on everyone else.
When O’Reilly said on Tuesday, “The holy war is here,” he was right though. The Religious Right’s holy war has been with us and building since 1964 when they laid the groundwork for taking over the Republican Party.
On Wednesday, Bill O’Reilly doubled down on his holy war shtick and proved his clown car bona fides by proclaiming, “The civilized world needs to come together to eliminate the threat from the Earth. And if the politicians won’t do it, the clergy must lead the way.”
Nothing new here. Again, the clergy have been leading the way for decades in the culture war and now in calls for “religious freedom.” They’ll just be turning their attention from our women and children and the poor to going after specifically Muslim women, children, and poor.
He even clenched his fists to show he was serious. Leave it to Bill O’Reilly to respond to something sane from President Obama with something insane. Everything Fox News encapsulated in a single moment:
The holy war begins…. The holy war is here. And unfortunately it seems the President of United States will be the last one to acknowledge it…. President Obama needs to lead – needs to lead the world in this holy war.
Presumably, while we are waiting for ISIL to bow down to Jesus.
O’Reilly doesn’t explain how a man his network insists is a Muslim terrorist sympathizer is supposed to do this, but the less thinking the better, as far as O’Reilly is concerned.
Speaking of a lack of thinking, Monica Crowley, of course, was ecstatic: “I think your call tonight is a very important move. I think it’s long overdue. I give you kudos. I also give you kudos for using the phrase ‘holy war.”
Yes, because President George W. Bush’s holy war against Iraq worked so well. By all means, let’s have a redux. That’s what gave us ISIL in the first place.
MSNBC’s Chris Hayes immediately pointed out, “That sort of rhetoric is, of course, exactly what ISIS wants.”
If this is a holy war, they aren’t some murderous cult or some fringe Sunni militia. No, if it’s a holy war, then they are the representatives of Islam, which is why the President at today’s summit on violent extremism was so careful not to cast the fight on those terms.
Sure it gives the Religious Right the opportunity to cast the United States as a defender of Christianity, but it will make ISIL the champion of Islam, as Hayes made clear:
Can you imagine anything ISIS wants more than a Christian-identified army lining up from Christendom against them?” Hayes asked. “It only feeds their claim that they represent Islam and a holy war against the rest, a narrative that helps recruitment and radicalization, and gives oxygen to the very fire we are trying to snuff out.
Rachel Maddow said much the same thing:
ISIS wants everybody to believe that there’s a holy war in the world and they are one side and the West is the other side. That’s what ISIS wants people to believe. That’s what al Qaeda wants people to believe too.
And it used to be American consensus politics – at least American consensus mainstream politics – to reject that narrative, to not let those terrorist groups define what’s going on here and define themselves as half of the fight in a clash between two equal civilizations, with them as the Muslim side and everybody else as the other side.
And they are right. There is no way a holy war on ISIL will not morph into a holy war on all Islam, which is really what the Religious Right and the Republican Party want anyway. ISIL is just a convenient excuse to attack yet another group of people who aren’t sufficiently white or Christian to be “real” Americans.
Before denouncing Obama, Bill O’Reilly played a clip of Fox contributor George F. Will, who said,
Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall in the room where the White House semanticists meet every morning and figure out how they could possibly describe what happened without offending those who did it. I think the phrase they should come up with is non-Islamic randomness.
This is actually funny coming from a network that specializes in doing just that, going so far as to edit film to make it appear that Obama is saying something he is not saying, and in the absence of film, simply making things up out of whole cloth. And let’s face it: had Obama said “Christians” Fox would have denounced him for even daring to say “Christian,” just as they do every time he mentions the Bible.
Until Republicans get somebody into the White House, we can laugh at their foreign policy utterances, even those of Arkansas State Senator Jason Rapert, who took to Facebook to suggest combatting the “insanity” of ISIL with some insanity of his own:
With ISIS spreading all over the Middle East and Africa and Islamic Extremists carrying out violence in Europe, the United Kingdom and even in the United States, I wonder why the civilized world just sits by when we have weapons that could wipe out these barbarians where they are concentrated?
I believe it is time to annihilate the strongholds and pursue the rest till we have them all captured or killed. A strategically placed nuclear weapon would save the lives of our soldiers and quickly turn things around. It is time for the insanity to be stopped.
Yeah, nukes are always fun. Let’s do that.
After the negative feedback his suggestion created, he tried to make a nuke sound like a good thing, as though there would be no collateral damage and that he didn’t mean at all that we should harm our allies. But if you start using nukes, everyone will be hurt, friends and enemies alike.
We have to be careful as the temptation to commit U.S. ground forces grows:
There won’t be any nukes and there won’t be any holy war while Obama is president, and he has insisted on multiple occasions that there will be no boots on the ground in this war. But war has a life of its own.
And there are a whole slew of Republican dupes waiting in the wings eager to do exactly what ISIL wants them to do, and declare a holy war against Islam. And the Republican Party is doing everything in its power to ensure that one of them sits in the Oval Office in 2016 so they can spread that holy war love around.
Holy war. It’s not just against the American people anymore.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.