(Outright Barbarous arrives May 1! Please stop by my online book launch "party"--help send it to number 1 on!!) --- Remember this? On April 5, 2007, FOX personality Bill O'Reilly unleashed a violent rant about Latino immigrants on live...

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Jeffrey Feldman, Editor-in-Chief
Frameshop, 04/30/2008

Booklaunch(Outright Barbarous arrives May 1!  Please stop by my online book launch "party"--help send it to number 1 on!!)


Remember this?

On April 5, 2007, FOX personality Bill O'Reilly unleashed a violent rant about Latino immigrants on live television

What we see in this video of O'Reilly is a key example of a right-wing pundit who uses violent-rhetoric to undermine political debate in the United States--in this case, violent-rhetoric used to create an atmosphere of hate and fear for Latinos.

A little over one year later, Sen. Hillary Clinton--who enjoyed wide scale endorsements from Latino leaders in a variety of early primary states--is sitting down for an interview with O'Reilly.

This is a grave error that risks lending the prestige of a prominent Democrat to a pundit infamous for violent-rhetoric and ideas.

O'Reilly's Culture Warrior Key Anti-Latino Text
While many people are familiar with O'Reilly's anti-immigrant rant from April 2007, few people realize that his book Culture Warrior (2006) is one of the biggest selling anti-Latino texts of recent years.

In Culture Warrior, O'Reilly argues that liberals in America are engaged in a cultural 'jihad' (p. 16) to take over the United States, and transform it into a repressive, immoral society.

As an example of what the United States would look like if liberals win the 'war' and transform America.  The chapter is called "The Conflict: America in the Year 2020?" (pp. 9-13) and takes the form of a fictional State of the Union address delivered by President "Gloria Hernandez," which begins like this:

My Fellow Americans, after much hard work, we have finally arrived at a point in our history where we can truly call the United States a diversified nation striving to be at peace with the world.  We are well on our way to completing our program of making America a more just, progressive society based upon--secular humanism!


Looking to the outside world, my administration will continue to fight for open borders and unfettered free trade, because the entire world community should have access to the prosperity that, by chance, has thrived in America.  We must be generous people and commit to developing one world where decisions are made by nations working in harmony for the good of all.  No longer can America expect to be the sole superpower on this earth.  That is counterproductive and selfish.  We are all the human race, inhabiting one planet.  We re all in this together, and exclusion can no longer be a policy for America. (B. O'Reilly, "The Conflict: America in the Year 2020?" from Culture Warrior, pp. 9-13)

O'Reilly's chapter is an extended caricature of a socialist future imposed on the United States by a Latina woman.  In his imaginary future, the election of a Latina represents the downfall of 'traditional' America and a total loss of the culture 'war' that O'Reilly describes in the rest of the book.  In O'Reilly's twisted vision,  the final outcome of liberal love for abortion, sexual depravity, seizure of private assets, elimination of educational standards, and abrogation of independent U.S. government--is a Latina being elected president.  "Gloria Hernandez," the reader easily concludes, is not just the opposite of everything "traditional" in O'Reilly's vision of America, she is the terrible outcome that will come to pass if O'Reilly's readers do not dedicate themselves to winning the culture 'war.'

In Outright Barbarous, I describe O'Reilly's vision of a Latina President in these terms:

The battle to stave off the Latinas-on-top nightmare of a Secular-Progressive future leads us to O’Reilly’s glibly sexist and bigoted vision of President Hernandez. She is the driving force behind O’Reilly’s vision of the future, where progressive “fanatics” who wage “political jihad” against the traditionalists. Flanked by Hollywood fanatics, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) leads the progressive army. O’Reilly brands the ACLU a “fascist organization” because “they seek to impose their worldview on gaming the legal system” instead of by popular vote.

We need only read O'Reilly's own book to come to this very basic conclusion.

O'Reilly's Violent Rant, Backed By Violent Ideas
O'Reilly's role as a key right-wing pundit is rooted largely in his strategic use of three kinds of rhetorical violence.

First, O'Reilly blurs the line separating verbal and physical confrontation during his interviews.  Anyone who has seen The Factor has witnessed O'Reilly using this technique, and the video linked above is a perfect example. When we watch O'Reilly, his physical persona creates a particular kind of violent tension.  As his voice rises and his body leans into his guests personal space, the threat of an actual physical outburst seems imminent.  It is a calculated tension.

Second, O'Reilly couches his punditry in a self-stylzed image of a street fighter.  Culture Warrior,  for example, is as much a call to cultural arms as it is O'Reilly's attempt to describe himself as some kind of hair-trigger street fighter and inheritor of an Irish warrior spirit.  But the idea that his work is 'war,' is one that O'Reilly constantly brings to the fore of his commentary and writing.

Third, O'Reilly uses a vast majority of his political commentary to frame liberals as a dangerous threat to American citizens.  To achieve this, O'Reilly does much more than simply describe readers of liberal websites as 'Nazis.'  He renames them 'Secular-Progressives' or 'S-Ps' and then proceeds to equate these terms with supposed guerrilla programs to seize control of the United States.

All three of these techniques are combined with virtually unfettered access to broadcast television and large-production publishing.

In Sitting With O'Reilly, Clinton Legitimizes Anti-Latino Rage and Ideas
There are many reasons, politically, to sit for an Democrat to sit for an interview with FOX News--a self-professed advocate for the Republican Party, actively engaged for years in political broadcasting to preventing Democrats from being elected.  In the past, for example, many  Democratic leaders have accepted interviews in order to communicate important policy initiatives to parts of the electorate dominated in whole or in part by FOX News affiliates.  Just recently, Sen. Barack Obama sat for an interview with FOX News' Chris Wallace, and Sen. Clinton has done interviews with FOX News in the past.

Sitting for an interview with O'Reilly, however, can have no possible political outcome that does not include deep offense to the Latino community in this country, as well as anyone alarmed by the use of violent-rhetoric directed at Latinos by right-wing pundits.

Not only has Bill O'Reilly not retracted his violent rant from April 5, 2007, he uses a phrase in that rant--"sanctuary cities"--that directly attacks the policies of Sen. Clinton's own state of New York.

By sitting for an interview with him, Sen. Clinton is effectively rewarding Bill O'Reilly for violent, anti-Latino rage.  In addition, by sitting for an interview with O'Reilly without first explicitly denouncing Bill O'Reilly's anti-Latino, misogynistic caricature in Culture Warrior, Sen. Clinton risks lending her prestige and legitimacy to his hateful writings.

Bill O'Reilly is a key voice of a cohort of right-wing pundits who use violent-rhetoric to undermine American political debate, the result of which is a weakening of our Democracy.

Democratic candidates for President should denounce him and explain why, not walk into his studio and sit down.

<p>© 2008 Jeffrey Feldman, Frameshop</p>

© Jeffrey Feldman 2008, Frameshop

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