Special Blog Post: An Open Letter to Bill O'Reilly
Dear Mr. O'Reilly:
You have received a small share of wrath from bloggers who are appalled and revulsed by your invitation to al-Qa'ida to bomb San Francisco without fear of retribution. That you deserve every angry word that has been published about you is not in dispute: you have earned that animus in its full measure, and you should receive more. Much more. Your right to speak your mind does not include the privilege of a wide audience; you should be fired that you may learn the right of speech carries the accountability for its consequences.
Far more diversity than you imagine may be found in the voices arrayed against you. I am hopeful that you will publish my Website in the list of your enemies: those who might have found some reason to continue their support for you need to see that your simplification of the world is not merely dangerous, but wrong, too.
I was born into a Republican family. I grew up during the Cold War.
Contrary to the facile way that era is now treated by many, the times were complicated and perilous, both at home and abroad; great men confronted the issues of those times. I learned to be what is now sometimes derisively called a "Rockefeller Republican." One of my uncles was a member of the Sierra Club; another was gay. My parents left a church, never to return, the Sunday the preacher thundered against John F. Kennedy. Eisenhower was a great man, but his vice president was something of a toad; and Barry Goldwater was just a little bit "out there" somewhere, more of a mild embarrassment than a contribution. Both of those men, though, regardless of how history and the institutional Left might treat their legacies, came to contribute something to the society. Despite their great flaws, I hold no grudge against either. They were Americans, and so am I.
The enemy back then was Communism, and its armies were to be vigilantly kept in check on a global chessboard, where most of the moves–actually, all of the good moves–were incremental. Nameless Air Force pilots patrolled the cold, night skies to keep us safe; young grunts tried to keep their eyes open through the miserable nights at Checkpoint Charlie; gunners stood watch ready, but never really believing, that those hills way out there on the plains of Europe could one day be a sea of Russian tanks to target in furious hails of artillery bombardment.
Men of long experience and extraordinary wisdom met with others of the same kind in places all over the world to maintain, and once in a great while expand, our sphere of influence. Occasionally, we made deals with the Devil, but we usually told ourselves that one day we'd get rid of him once and for all. That was the incremental vision of a world that we should hand off, generation after generation, a little better than we received it.
At home, we did our best to allow the tide of a liberal society to flow forward through the second half of the 20th Century, while trying to keep that inevitable process slow and introspective. That part was harder than keeping the Communists at bay: the American society was just bursting at the seams with new ideas, and everyone wanted everything to happen right then and there. Unrepentant kids wanted to tear it all down, and blustering ignoramuses wanted to hang them all in the streets.
Those who managed our world and our government were educated in the best traditions of Western Civilization. They had learned the lessons of history, philosophy, and science; and they were able to infuse into their policies and decisions a secular, rational mindset. They saw themselves as the caretakers of the Age of Reason, without any doubt at all that this was the age for all future ages.
All of that is gone, now. Men and women of your kind now stand prominent and proud in bitter anger at a world that is not exactly as you want it. An influential religious leader like the Reverend Pat Robertson warns that natural disasters will befall those whose beliefs and practices differ from his; an influential former political man like William Bennet says that crime rates would be lower if only we would remove people of color from our society; and you, sir, literally call down the most violent and destructive of our enemies—enemies who hate our nation, our beliefs, and even our very ways—upon those with whom you disagree on politics and social policies.
My God, Mr. O'Reilly, can you not see—can you not grasp—the utter shamefulness of what you said? What tribal, primitive god, or more precisely, what demon in the mask of a god, brought you to what you are?
Were you my boy, I would take a belt to you; and I would do so every time you opened your mouth to spew such filth. You see, Mr. O'Reilly, I'm Old School; and even though I abide to the extent I can the wise words of men like the rabbi from Nazareth, I haven't an eternity to wait for the world to come to my way of seeing things.
Make no mistake, though, sir: were you to be in the way of harm from our common enemies, I would defend you. That is the call of duty. More importantly, however, I would choose to defend you. That is the call of honor.
But should men, women, and children suffer and die because you have delivered them to the murderous hands of those enemies, I would take action. Were the civil society unable, infected as it is by men of minds like yours, to decline the obligation to exact retribution upon you, then I would have no qualm in exacting vengeance upon you.
Should you exhort your followers to seek pro-active harm to me, ensure first that they do not read this open letter. You might find that, when they have seen what I have to say, they will find that I am not as you have characterized all who disagree with you; you might find, instead, that they would affirm that you do, indeed, need that belt taken to you. You might find that they, too, are Old School.
And you might find that, unlike you, sir, most Americans are people of honor.
The Dark Wraith has spoken to you, Mr. O'Reilly.
(The Dark Wraith Forums can be accessed at http://dark-wraith.com/ -- ed.)
UPDATE: Anyone interested in advising Foxnews and Mr. O'Reilly of this letter can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com