May 2, 2008
O’Reilly and Ahmadinejad: We must wipe them off the map
On Wednesday, I heard Bill O’Reilly tell actor/activist Matthew Modine that we must kill all the "Islamic fundamentalists" in the world — wipe them off the face of the Earth — in order to protect America.
Modine asked O’Reilly how he would win the "war on terror".
O’Reilly replied, "You use every weapon you have to kill as many Islamic fundamentalists as you can, and then bring them to their knees, the same way we won WWII."
An incredulous Modine asked O’Reilly if he was advocating something akin to the nuclear annihilation of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
Answering with a question, O’Reilly asked if Modine would have ordered the nuclear attacks had he been in President Harry Truman’s shoes, saying, "He was fighting to protect America. And he wiped out the enemy, just as we have to wipe out the Islamic fundamentalists . . ."
How, pray tell, does that differ in any way with the words of Iranian President Ahmadinejad about Israel that have been so vehemently denounced by O’Reilly and his far-right compatriots? They have raised non-stop holy hell over a comment made in a speech by Ahmadinejad in which he purportedly called for Israel to be "wiped off the map." This translation of his words has been hotly disputed, and the consensus of linguists and experts is that what Ahmadinejad actually called for was the fall of the Israeli "Zionist" regime, and the rise of a democratic government in which Palestinians participate in free elections.
University of Michigan Professor of Modern Middle East and South Asian History, Juan Cole, says the statement should be translated as "The Imam said that this regime occupying Jerusalem must [vanish from] the page of time."
Professor Cole explains that, "Ahmadinejad did not say he was going to ‘wipe Israel off the map’ because no such idiom exists in Persian". Rather, "He did say he hoped its regime, i.e., a Jewish-Zionist state occupying Jerusalem, would collapse."
Cole then comes to the real point of the matter: "What is really going on here is an old trick of the warmongers. Which is that you equate hurtful statements of your enemy with an actual military threat, and make a weak and vulnerable enemy look like a strong, menacing foe. Then no one can complain when you pounce on the enemy and reduce his country to flames and rubble."
Other experts agree with Cole.
Ahmadinejad himself states that his words were misinterpreted and wildly exaggerated, saying, "There is no new policy, they created a lot of hue and cry over that. It is clear what we say: Let the Palestinians participate in free elections and they will say what they want."
So in that context, what Ahmadinejad was actually saying was that he was against the Israeli political system and the regime in power, and was stating his belief that Palestinians are suffering an injustice. That sounds an awful lot like the Bush administration’s view that the elected government of Iran should be replaced with one that is friendly to U.S. interests.
But let’s leave all that aside. Let’s pretend that Ahmadinejad really did call for Israel to be wiped off the map. We’ll even presume that he advocates the total eradication and genocide of Israeli Jews. That is inarguably despicable. What is the difference between that and the slaughter endorsed by Bill O’Reilly? In either case, the underlying cause of conflict boils down to religious and cultural differences. Israeli Jews and American Christians don’t like Muslims, and Muslims don’t like Jews and Christians. This is, of course a gross generalization because there are many in each religion who do not feel that way. But historically and now, religious differences are a cause, if not the main cause, of almost every war fought by mankind.
Racism and religious bigotry is alive and well in the U.S. as evidenced by this disgusting assertion made by a member of a right-wing group, which has the nerve to call itself the "Founding Fathers Party," on their website: "Once again I ask, why does the rest of the world accept this turd spewing ‘religion’ as valid? Wipe them off the face of the Earth. The only good mongrel muslim [sic] is a dead one."
Similar sentiments can be found on countless "conservative" sites and can be heard on talk-radio everyday. That is the unedited, extremely politically incorrect version of the views of people like Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck. It is the basic platform of politicians like Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo, who revealed his true colors when he publicly advocated bombing Muslim holy sites as a "deterrent" to attacks on the United States: "If it is up to me, we are going to explain that an attack on this homeland of that nature would be followed by an attack on the holy sites in Mecca and Medina. That is the only thing I can think of that might deter somebody from doing what they would otherwise do."
Of course, Mecca and Medina happen to be located in Saudi Arabia, a country considered to be a U.S. ally. But all that matters to Tancredo is that Muslims live there.
O’Reilly called for wiping out an entire religious denomination — one he labeled as "Islamic fundamentalists." We have here in the U.S. several Christian and Jewish denominations and sects whose membership includes a significant number of "fundamentalists" who endorsed and continue to support the occupation of Iraq and are now salivating over starting a war with Iran because they detest anything and everything "Muslim." We have clergy who preach that Islam is a false religion, or an evil religion, and say that it is our duty and God’s purpose to rid the world of Muslims.
George W. Bush had the unspeakable arrogance to label three entire countries as an "Axis of Evil." How does one even begin to explain how ignorant and immoral that is? Whole countries proclaimed to be evil, worthless, subhuman. We’re not talking about terrorists who actually come to America with an intent to harm us. We’re talking about people spread out all over the world, in countless countries. And we’re talking about killing them not because they represent a credible, serious threat to us, but because they don’t like us. Because they don’t support our "interests." Imagine another nation invading America and overthrowing our government because we don’t like them. Not because we have bombed them, not because we have enslaved them, but because we don’t agree with them. Where is the righteousness in that?
We are stuck in a perpetual juvenile game of "my God’s better than your God." When will we realize that it’s the same God? When will we accept the fact that the only difference is the wrapping paper that we artificially package Him in? And when will we come to understand that God does not belong only to certain nations, and that evil does not respect the invisible boundaries of national borders? Only when we accept that we do not own God and realize that He is not to be used as a justification for killing each other will we ever know true peace.
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