December 5, 2002
Moyers Answers O'ReillyBill Moyers did a guest commentary on Buzzflash to respond to attacks by O'Reilly.
The idea of Bill Moyers going on the O'Reilly show reminds me of an old saying. "Don't wrestle with pigs. You just get all dirty and they love it."
Moyers says he declined O'Reilly's invitation to come on his show. But O'Reilly said Moyers wouldn't even take his phone call. Moyers said, "He's not telling the truth. One of his staff called my assistant to ask if I would appear on Mr. O'Reilly's show, but I declined. I would never refuse a call from Mr. O'Reilly, although my ears are not quite tuned to his decibel level."
The thought of the kind, dignified Bill Moyers engaged in dialogue with the feral O'Reilly is distasteful, but ultimately reading Moyer's answer is rewarding. According to Moyers, O'Reilly says Moyers called him a warmonger.
He is not telling the truth. Here's what happened: In the aftermath of 9/11 Mr. O'Reilly, from his battle station at Fox, was calling for the United States "to bomb the Afghan infrastructure to rubble, the airport, the power plants, the water facilities, the roads." He went on to describe Afghanistan as "a very primitive country" and to say "taking out their ability to exist day-to-day will not be hard. Remember the people of any country are ultimately responsible for the government they have. The Germans were responsible for Hitler, the Afghans are responsible for the Taliban. We should not target civilians but if they don't rise up against this criminal government, they starve, period."
I puzzled over Mr. O'Reilly's glib wish to make people endure "yet another round of intense pain" when the incredible suffering they were already enduring came from a totalitarian regime that kept them subjugated with terror and torture. It would be like punishing the inmates of Auschwitz and Buchenwald with further starvation and humiliation because they did not rise up against their Nazi guards. In the coming fight against terrorists, such a cruel disposition to visit pain on helpless people would make us like them and create sympathy and allies for their cause. In a speech soon thereafter I pointed out that "Afghanistan is a wasted land, full more of widows than warriors and that the people there have been so beaten down and run over and oppressed and exploited by the Taliban" that they couldn't possibly rise up against the theocratic thugs ruling them, as Mr. O'Reilly said they must or be savaged once again, this time by Americans. His passion, I noted, is equaled "only by his stubborn, ignorant denial of complexity." As the transcript of the speech shows, I did not call Mr. O'Reilly a warmonger. It didn't occur to me.