In an unusually clear-headed performance, Bill O’Reilly deviated tonight from his usual “shoot first and ask questions later” mentality. After showing a video of retired elementary school teacher Robert Davis being ruthlessly attacked by New Orleans police officers in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, O’Reilly acknowledged that it looked kind of disturbing.
To be sure, the police beating, as well as officer Robert Evangelist’s subsequent “Not Guilty” verdict, looked more than disturbing. Evangelist’s bogus trial and subsequent acquittal epitomized the “blue wall of silence”–the double standard that places cops above the laws we trust them to enforce.
It was refreshing to see O’Reilly for once live up to his claims of being a populist who “looks out for the people.”
But alas he reverted to his typical cowboy mentality in the following segment about Abdullah Mehsud, a suicide bomber released from Guantanamo who later blew himself up in Pakistan. To O’Reilly, this tragedy proves that U.S. troops patrolling neighborhoods in countries we occupy must detain all suspicious-looking Arabs. If he seems less than thrilled with having American soldiers in his front yard, then obviously he’s a terrorist who eventually will walk into a supermarket and explode. The only solution, then, is to haul him away to Cuba and to consider him guilty until he proves himself innocent–never mind how tough it must be to prove innocence without a lawyer or the ability to speak the language of your accusers.
Has it ever occurred to the Pro-Torture/Pro-Gitmo crowd that law-abiding citizens may be driven to terrorism as a result of being tortured? Just like we were driven to attack the Taliban as a result of 9/11.
When our military invaded Afghanistan, al-Qaeda propagandists announced that Americans were trying to take over the world. But for most American citizens, our invasion was not an action at all, but a reaction to having been provoked on September 11th.
Without the September 2001 attacks, neocons never could have duped the good people of America into war. The scars from 9/11, the lingering images of our skyscrapers toppling to the ground, left us hungry for revenge. We’d been attacked unfairly and by God now it was payback time–not just against the terrorists who attacked America but against anyone who reminded us of them.
While standing on the Ground Zero rubble, George W. Bush looked toward the Muslim world and said: “They will hear from us.”
Ours has thus become a culture of retaliation, adopting the ancient “eye for an eye” mantra as our foreign policy. When people mistreat us, we track them down and make examples out of them. We are easily provoked and not afraid to overreact–like a wall of police officers, armed with nightsticks and legitimacy.
But we didn’t start it; we were innocent.
Why is it so unthinkable that other “innocent” people might share this mentality?