Burying it in doo-doo

Why Anyone Should Care that Bill O’Reilly Calls Me A Communist

By Robert Reich, Monday, April 23, 2012

Bill O’Reilly, the tumescent personality of Fox News, said on his Friday show “Robert Reich is a communist who secretly adores Karl Marx.” (This came after Fox News’ Neil Cavoto called me a “sanctimonious twit” for suggesting the rich should pay more in taxes.)

O’Reilly’s accusation is odd, to say the least. If we were living in the 1950s, amid Senator Joe McCarthy’s communist witch-hunts, the claim might have some bite and cause me injury. But these days it’s hard to find a full-throated communist anywhere in the world.

O’Reilly’s accusation isn’t even logical. How can he know if I secretly adore Karl Marx, if it’s a secret?

For the record, I’m not a communist and I don’t secretly adore Karl Marx.

Ordinarily I don’t bother repeating anything Bill O’Reilly says. But this particular whopper is significant because it represents what O’Reilly and Fox News, among others, are doing to the national dialogue.

They’re burying it in doo-doo.

O’Reilly based his claim on an interview I did last week with Jon Stewart on the Daily Show, in which I argued that because America’s big corporations were now global we could no longer rely on them to make necessary investments in human capital or to lobby for public investments in education, infrastructure, and basic R&D. So, logically, government has to step in.

Since when does an argument for public investment in education, infrastructure, and basic R&D make someone a communist or a secret adorer of Karl Marx?

Obviously, O’Reilly has no interest in arguing anything. Ad hominem attacks are always the last refuges of intellectual boors lacking any logic or argument. (Whoops, I think I just stooped to name-calling. Sorry, Bill.)

Yet this is what’s happening to all debate all over America: It’s disappearing. All we’re left with is a nasty residue.

In Washington, Democrats and Republicans no longer even talk. They just vent charges and counter-charges.

The 2012 election doesn’t seem likely to clarify any issue. At this moment the candidates and their surrogates are debating the treatment of dogs.

Across the nation, conservatives right-wingers and liberal or progressive lefties have stopped debating their respective views, or even listening to anyone they disagree with. They just find broadcasters and bloggers who confirm their views.

We’re even sorting by belief according to where we live. Today your neighbors are more likely to agree with your politics than disagree. We’ve settled into like-minded enclaves where we don’t need to think because everyone we meet confirms what we assume we already know.

It’s not that the nation is more polarized than it’s been in the past. America has been through searing conflicts, some within the living memories of most of us. The communist witch-hunts of the 1950s were followed by the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, battles over womens’ reproductive rights and gay marriage.

What makes America’s current polarization remarkable isn’t the severity of our disagreements but our utter lack of engagement debating them.

So many Americans are so angry and frustrated these days – vulnerable to loss of job and healthcare and home, without a shred of economic security – they’re easy prey for demagogues offering simple answers and ready scapegoats. Take, for example, Bill O’Reilly and his colleagues at Fox News.

But people can only learn from others who disagree with them — or at least from witnessing debates between people who respectfully and civilly disagree. Without respect and civility, it’s not a debate – it’s just name-calling.

A democracy depends on public deliberation and debate. Without it, the members of a society have no means of understanding what they believe or why. The Lincoln-Douglas debates were notable not because they solved anything but because they helped Americans clarify where they agreed and disagreed on the wrenching issue of slavery.

Hence the danger today – when deliberation has stopped.

This morning I left a message on Bill O’Reilly’s office phone asking him to invite me onto his show to debate whether public investments in education and infrastructure are needed.

What are the odds he’ll invite me on?

http://robertreich.org/post/21670907549 or http://bit.ly/IagoHw

Photograph by Chris Gaede.  http://www.chrisgaede.com/index.php#mi=2&pt=1&pi=10000&s=9&p=1&a=0&at=0 or http://bit.ly/Jr1Gbz

Related Posts

An alternative vision of capitalism The Self-Made Myth: Debunking Conservatives' Favorite - And Most Dangerous - Fiction By Sara Robinson, April 25, 2012 ... The self-made myth ...
Climate change in Arkansas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aunab1wtUfY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aunab1wtUfY ... The following was just emailed to John Lowery, a Democr...
Flammable pool of toxic paranoia The Ghost of Joe McCarthy in Today's Republican Party By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, April 26, 2012 ... We’ve talked at times about George...
Coordinated, systematic racial discrimination Christians of the Holy Land By Ben White, 26 Apr 2012 06:36 ... A recent report by CBS show 60 Minutes on "Christians of the Holy Land" has r...
Indistinguishable from the lunatic fringe Satanazis III: Night of the Satanazis By Fred Clark, April 25, 2012 ... Don’t imagine you’re safe just because Pat Robertson, Demon Hunter, is ...
Our crime was looking like the people We Japanese Americans must not forget our wartime internment By George Takei, Friday 27 April 2012 15.15 EDT ... Seventy years ago, US soldiers...
Third-rate wingnut talkshow host This supremely Republican supreme court By Scott Lemieux, Friday 27 April 2012 15.41 EDT ... The 2008 elections represented a decisive repudiat...
Calling to America A (redacted) poem for the torture report By Brian Turner, Wednesday 10 December 2014 13.54 EST           &...
Brobdingnagian quantity of evidence “Oklahoma City”: The Bubba job By Laura Miller, Sunday, Apr 22, 2012 03:00 PM CDT ... In the hours after the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal...
A man of the people http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFuJ_1QPl9I http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFuJ_1QPl9I Announcing Our Newest Hire: A Current Fox News Channel Employe...

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2012/04/25/burying-it-in-doo-doo/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.