O'REILLY AND FRANKEN
Saw their CSPAN appearance replayed earlier today, most awesome to see Bill get clocked the second he entered a format other than his precious "no-spin zone". Franken deserves a lot of credit. Paul Bruno
During O'Reilly's pre-show segment, taking calls, he -- surprise! -- lied. A caller commented that he was aghast that O'Reilly, on his tv show, compared the Koran to Mein Kampf
, which of course is Adolf Hitler's prison manifesto. O'Reilly lashed back, saying it was a "flat-out lie", I believe those were his words. To the transcripts! (Fox News may have their own memory hole, but Google's cache
On this particular day, July 10th of 2002, Bill had on his show Dr Robert Kirkpatrick, a UNC prof who assigned a book explaining portions of the Koran to incoming freshmen. There's a discussion about Islam and Xianity, we'll skip that and get to the relevant segment...
BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Impact" segment tonight, an unbelievable situation at the University of North Carolina. Each incoming freshman this fall will be required to read a book that explains portions of the Koran.
Joining us now from Raleigh, North Carolina, is Dr. Robert Kirkpatrick, who selected the reading. "The Early, Approaching the Koran, The Early Revelations," is the book, I guess, professor.
But my problem is this with there. I don't look. I'm for academic freedom. I want all the students in universities and colleges across the country to be as well versed as possible. But I don't know what this serves to take a look at our enemy's religion. See? I mean, I wouldn't give people a book during World War II on the emperor is God in Japan, would you?
KIRKPATRICK: Sure, why not? Wouldn't that explain, wouldn't that have explained kamikaze pilots?
O'REILLY: No. It would have just -- I don't think it would have. I mean, I would say the culture of Japan, fine, but not the religion. The religion aspect of this bothers me.
Now, you're going to let kids not read it if they want, correct?
KIRKPATRICK: Of course, yes.
O'REILLY: And they have, but they have to write a 300-word essay telling you why they don't want to.
KIRKPATRICK: Well, I think that's part of the whole incoming first year student project is to get them to recognize that as a member of an academic community, they have to learn to think and to read and to write and to defend their opinions. And defending the right not to read the book is something that will be very interesting to read.
O'REILLY: Absolutely. I wouldn't read the book. And I'll tell you why I wouldn't have read "Mein Kampf" either. If I were going to UNC in 1941, and you, professor, said, Read "Mein Kampf," I would have said, Hey, professor, with all due respect, shove it. I ain't reading it.
KIRKPATRICK: Why? Well, is that because you think you would have been converted to -- if you read it?
O'REILLY: No. It's because it's tripe.
KIRKPATRICK: How do you know if you haven't read it?
O'REILLY: Because I know I would have read a summary about it and be conversant enough to argue and debate with you, as I am now.
I've looked at the Koran. All right? And I have nothing against the Koran, by the way. I mean, there are some things in the Koran that are good, and there are some things that aren't good. Same thing in the Old Testament, some things that are good, some things that aren't good.
But I'm telling you, these are our enemies now. I mean, the Islamic fundamentalism is our enemy. And I would have preferred you to have an overall global look at the Islamic world rather than the Koran. See? I think it would have been more instructive. Would I be wrong there?
KIRKPATRICK: Well, I think you would have a number of books to choose from, and each one of those books would have had its own slant.
O'REILLY: Yes, but you don't have them.
KIRKPATRICK: And we were trying to -- we were trying to pick a book that did not have a particular slant.
O'REILLY: You don't think you made a mistake here? It does have a slant, though. It has a slant! It's a re -- it's based on Islamic code, it has a slant.
KIRKPATRICK: It's a scholarly text showing any reader how these particular surahs are structured and how the poetry plays a part in making them clear to us.
O'REILLY: All right. Would you have read "Mein Kampf" in 1941 if you were a student then and they ordered you to do it?
KIRKPATRICK: I hope I would have, yes.
O'REILLY: All right.
KIRKPATRICK: I mean, knowledge is power. What -- if we don't understand other people, then we are putting ourselves in jeopardy.
O'REILLY: OK. Appreciate your point of view, thanks very much. Very provocative. (emphases mine)
O'Reilly associates the Koran specifically with religious fundamentalism
. This is simply foolish and stupid. More importantly, Mein Kampf
, on its own, stood as a mission statement for a universally detestable view, not of a religious faith shared by hundreds of millions of people around the world. Thus, to equate reading the Koran now with reading Mein Kampf
during WWII (respective "books of the enemy") is ridiculous.
Not to don some tinfoil or anything, but there's a bigger thing going on here. If I were a student during WWII, I would hope that I was assigned Mein Kampf
, because reading it would have helped me understand the nature of Hitler and the Nazi Party more clearly than otherwise, and would have revealed further justification for the military efforts of the Allied forces. Flash forward to now: Why don't people like Bill O'Reilly want to have the Koran discussed fairly on campuses across America? Because it would be revealed that the Koran is a religious text on par with the Bible, both in cultural influence and broadness of readers and followers. "Normal", "peaceloving" people read the Koran, and it informs their religious beliefs and daily lives. To associate it most closely with "fundamentalism" (read "extremism" and/or "terrorism") is simply to misrepresent it, just as it would be to associate the Bible first and foremost with Tim McVeigh and Eric Rudolph.
In short, what Bill O'Reilly did in July 02 was tantamount to channeling Franklin Graham. And he lied about it on CSPAN.
Now I have a lot of work to do, so this is probably the last you'll hear from me today.