Bill O’Reilly’s Dangerous Islamophobia

oreilly-jihadFox‘s  Bill O’Reilly, who hosts the most-watched cable news show, has spent much of the week making inflammatory claims about Islam.

On his April 23 program, O’Reilly explained that Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev was “posting jihad garbage on the Internet. And still, he was not being watched. We simply can’t have it.”

But that was just the beginning. “It’s clear to any sane person that Muslim jihadists are a threat to the world,” O’Reilly declared. “Yet, President Obama will not say that.”

O’Reilly went on to play what he figured was an incriminating clip of Obama not decrying jihadists. His point was slightly undermined by the fact that the clip was from the day of the bombing, when no one knew who had carried out the attack. O’Reilly went on:

It’s clear the two Boston bombers were jihadists. They believed they have a right to kill children to serve their religion. Who else does that? What other theology in this world justifies murdering innocent people? The answer is? Only radical Islam allows terror murder. That’s the truth.

Islam, radical or otherwise, does no such thing–just as it would be wrong to blame Catholicism for O’Reilly’s calls to attack civilians in several predominantly Muslim nations.

He went on to make this unusual claim:

Also, most Muslims on this Earth are good people but they are not helping to neutralize the jihad. They are not standing up against it in any numbers. And that includes American Muslims; they largely remain silent.

This is confusing–most Muslims are “good people” who don’t oppose murdering innocent people?–mostly because it’s not true.

Bob Beckel

Fox’s Bob Beckel

The following night (4/24/13), Fox “liberal” Bob Beckel was on to defend his plan to halt all student visas for Muslims for the next two years–a policy that he defended in part because Muslims have never condemned any terrorist acts. He might feel otherwise, he said,

if I listened to one person from those Muslim communities, leaders, either in politics or in the mosques, who at one point, any one, tell me, whoever said it’s a bad thing that happened 9/11 or any other terrorist act. Not one of them ever stepped forward. Not one.

This is, of course, a grotesque and bigoted falsehood

Put the pieces together, though, and the “logic” of O’Reilly’s argument is pretty clear–and clearly disturbing: Islam allows for the murder of innocents. Muslims, even in this country, do not condemn such acts. You don’t have to work too hard to figure out that this is what he means.

 And if that weren’t enough, he raised the stakes:

This is a situation we all face in America. The jihad is real. Radical Muslims are killing innocent people and threatening the world. Country like Iran would wipe out every Jew on earth if it could and then they would wipe us out, if it could.

And the following night (4/24/13), O’Reilly revealed himself to be a conspiracy theorist about the Boston bombings. 

Some left-wing media already touting the lone wolf theory that the two young terror bombers acted alone; nobody helped them kill four Americans and injure more than 200 others in Boston last week.

Of course, “left-wing media” are saying this because that is what investigators are saying. O’Reilly’s not buying it, because clearly hatching a terror plot would require outside funding:

So how did that guy afford a six-month trip to Russia? Who paid for that? Also, who bought the guns, the explosives and the cars the brothers had? Who bought all of that? It simply doesn’t add up that these two financed their own terror spree.

He went on:

Now, it’s certainly possible someone was giving them money, not knowing they were jihadist loons. That’s possible. But again, it’s doubtful these two could have financed the Boston Marathon terror attack on their own. Now, why do some on the left want the lone wolf theory to be true? Because if it is shown that organized Muslim terrorists helped the two brothers, that would lead to a crackdown on whoever did it.

So, in O’Reilly’s mind, Islam permits violence. “Good” Muslims don’t condemn terrorism. The Boston bombers must have had some outside funding or organizing. Sounds like somebody is looking for a religion to scapegoat–or, given his track record, some countries to attack.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.