America in black and white
Bill O'Reilly's comments today require an appropriate response from the Left - but I hope Progressives respond not just in knee-jerk fashion but use this as a platform to mount a permanent campaign against the Far Right, showing them for the America-hating, chickenhawk, shills for criminals that they are. It's time to make the distinctions in black and white - and make it again and again.
In the last year, we've seen that the Far Right has an almost consistent need to minimize, condone, excuse or endorse the imprisonment or torture of people regardless of whether they are innocent or guilty. Their rage is directed more at those who condemn torture than at those who commit or support torture. I have pointed out previously that not only is torture a crime, indefinitely imprisoning or torturing people who are potentially innocent, with no regard for whether they are really innocent or guilty, is also a crime. (I expanded on this somewhat with the analogy of Blacks and a potential (unacceptable) response to lynching.) So, what does this all mean? It means simply that if you condone, support, minimize, or excuse criminal acts then you are a shill for criminals. It's as simple as that.
People like Bill O'Reilly help enormously in making sure that the distinction between Progressives and the Far Right could not be more stark. Two important principles become obvious.
Progressives want to make sure that America protects the innocent and punishes the guilty. Progressives are advocates for security, freedom, liberty, and democracy.
The Far Right want to make sure that America protects only those who are not hated by the Far Right. They couldn't care less when innocent people are treated like guilty people, because they are not interested in finding out whether someone might actually be innocent. Many of them (including some in Congress) actively call for the imprisonment or silencing of innocent Americans (whether it be spouses of terminally sick patients, pro-choice Americans, judges, or liberals - to name just a few). As Markos has pointed out, they share far more in common with America's enemies than they will ever acknowledge. Such people - the Far Right - are shills for criminality, corruption, and despotism.
Now many Progressives have made this point in slightly different forms - like Dave, for instance. But it's important to go beyond pointing out hypocrisy or pointing out that when the Far Right accuses you of something they are usually guilty of it themselves. You need to state the fact plainly, with moral clarity (as they say). The Far Right (such as the O'Reillys and Hannitys and Limbaughs) are shills for criminals.
The second point is this. Progressives stand for a strong America - for superlative defense (or offense, if needed) against America's enemies, and for democracy and human rights everywhere.
The Far Right stands for a weak America - weakened by significantly underfunding and compromising homeland security, by sleeping at the wheel rather than working hard to face up to real terrorist threats, by promoting those who slept at the wheel while terrorists schemed and attacked us and firing those who pointed out the truth, by promoting those who authorized anti-American acts of criminality, by breeding new terrorist havens by attacking the wrong enemy under false pretenses, by dramatically undermining the military with appalling policies, by aiding the enemy's ranks by supporting or condoning torture, by delaying or underfunding protective armor and gear for heroic American troops fighting wars to keep America safe and using the money to corruptly feed hyper-rich campaign contributors instead, by institutionalizing immorality and corruption in virtually everything they touch, thereby ensuring the survival of the greedy and most well connected - not the survival of the fittest, and by insidiously or overtly undermining Western capitalism and the basic social and economic safety net in America.
The distinction is clear. The time has come for real moral clarity.