The Spin Zone – War on Christmas


Bill O’Reilly is something to behold. If you haven’t watched an entire show of his, I recommend it. I’ve been watching him on and off for the last few years, and with all the anger and frustration he brings out in me, at least his particular brand of insanity always manages to make me laugh.

Recently he debated Ellis Henican, a Newsday Columnist and, surprise, a FOX News Contributor. Henican barely tried to oppose anything O’Reilly said, except for things they weren’t even talking about. What they were talking about was Ann Coulter’s recent speaking appearance at the University of Connecticut where she was greeted loudly by a large group of protestors in the audience shouting “You suck!”. O’Reilly was infuriated by these protestors. After all, Coulter was showing up somewhere she was invited to, she’d been asked to come. O’Reilly, angry and agitated by this treatment of Coulter, portrayed her as innocent and vulnerable, undeserving of this kind of “shout down”, as he called it. If you’ve watched and listened to Ann Coulter even once, you know that at the very least, “innocent” and “vulnerable” do not apply.

Then O’Reilly jumped off his perpetual cliff of insanity and not only labeled the protestors anti-American and suggested these non-violent protestors practicing free speech should be thrown in jail. Then he topped it off by calling them nazis more than once.

It’s currently more than acceptable for the media to label certain groups and individuals as anti-American. But if you pay close attention you’ll see that those accused are usually simply being Americans. Protesting the war, questioning the administration, fighting for the freedom of all Americans. In 2005 these are now things that will get you labeled as a traitor to America. All this while those doing the accusing are in fact the ones practicing anti-American tactics. They’re trying to silence protest and question and doing their best to make sure that only the ones they deem worthy are afforded the freedoms “guaranteed” by the constitution.

O’Reilly lists the ACLU on his site as being anti-American and dangerous to this country. I’ve heard this literally from every Republican I’ve ever spoken to. Forget that the ACLU is an organization that fights daily to preserve the rights of all Americans. Forget that in truth, it’s one of the most American organizations that exist in this country. Forget all that. Because true American values are not important to most conservatives in America, and certainly not to the uptight and overzealous crazies populating the media these days, most obviously over at FOX NEWS.

Lately you don’t have to go far before you hear that anti-war protestors are “putting our soldiers at risk” or “putting our troops in harms way”. This kind of hyperbole has a long history, which was ignited into a firestorm in the early 70’s when Jane Fonda posed with the enemies anti-aircraft weapon during the Vietnam war. Fonda has since apologized, explaining that it was a quick and impromptu photo request, and that she in fact didn’t’ even realize the implications of the shot. She’s been labeled by conservatives ever since as anti-American, and continues to be to this day by people I’ve spoken to. Forget that Fonda was against the war but for the soldiers. Forget that she was trying to stop bloodshed and was admonishing the administration of the time, not the soldiers. But as I’ve said before, conservatives use potential harm to American soldiers in order to silence critics of policy. They always have and they probably always will, despite the lack of truth to any of it.

Does it mean that if dissenting American voices are allowed to criticize a military operation that situations could possibly become inflamed and cause further harm to the soldiers fighting? Of course, that’s possible. Does that make it anti-American? Of course not. Does it mean we should be silenced? Of course not. If you still don’t understand this very simple fact then you obviously missed a few history classes.

The latest controversy that O’Reilly has dived into is “Merry Christmas” VS “Happy Holidays”. O’Reilly took this one and ran with it. Many businesses around the country decided that “Happy Holidays” would be a better theme and greeting for them than “merry Christmas”. The reason was that “Merry Christmas” was only applicable to a certain portion of Americans. “Happy Holidays” was all inclusive. Makes sense, if your brain is turned on, that is. But after an angry letter to Walmart from a disapproving customer, it became a national debate, as so many things do that piss off one random, closed minded person.

O’Reilly rails against “Happy Holidays” on a daily basis. To him it’s not just un-American, in that it takes away the freedoms of those who want to say it or hear it, but it’s also anti-God, taking the Christianity out of Christmas. O’Reilly’s even been accused of calling for a boycott of the stores across the nation that plan on using “Happy Holidays”. This is where the real “Spin” for O’Reilly comes in. Though O’Reilly may not have uttered the word boycott, he has on his website , a link to a list of major department stores from around the country, detailing what their policy is on this matter. When you combine that with the continued O’Reilly diatribe about how horrific this plot to take the “Christ out of Christmas” is, how he says Americans are being denied their freedoms, then you have the makings of a real boycott. Take another look at O’Reilly’s site and you’ll find a link which takes you to a list of three media organizations; MSNBC, The New York Daily News and The St. Petersburg Times. He states that all of these “Have helped distribute defamation and false information supplied by far left websites”. He adds, “We recommend that you do not patronize these operations and that advertisers do the same. They are dishonest and not worth your time and money.”

By the way, that’s all there is. There’s no explanation whatsoever of what these organizations allegedly did. And maybe it’s me, but “do not patronize” sounds an awful lot like support of a boycott. So if he’s willing to do it to organizations with absolutely no explanation why, then is it so hard to believe that he’s doing it to department stores? The boycott is taking place across America today, with stores caving in right and left to the infantile demands of the conservative right.

O’Reilly is always quick with talking points in support of American freedom, but at least in the arena of Christmas of 2005, he’s retracted freedom from the media and business organizations he disagrees with regarding a personal belief. I’m sure he’ll let us all know when he’ll re-instate those freedoms, if he chooses to.

Daily on his show, O’Reilly spews hatred and anti-American rhetoric, the very thing he consistently accuses liberals of. But then again, Bill is employed by FOX NEWS  If you don’t already know about FOX NEWS I urge you to watch it from time to time. I don’t know why Republicans, who are quick to point to FOX NEWS as their information source, don’t seem to realize that we’ll see the gigantic holes of illogical and insane rhetoric if we tune in. In fact, if you really want to know about FOX, rent the documentary OUTFOXED. You’ll be enlightened about how FOX NEWS operates. If you go to you can see clips from the film and also see a charged debate between O’Reilly and Paul Krugman from the New York Times about the movie and other topics. Download the clip and watch while O’Reilly utters lie after lie while the actual facts he’s claiming to know are flashed on the screen. The real facts, not those that exist in his interpretation of reality. At one point he defends himself in regards to how often he tells people to shut up, but he does so with a false version of what he thinks he said to a gay student. Other links on the site will take you to a video clip of the actual O’Reilly show, where you can see what he really said.

O’Reilly is definitely the star at FOX. No one waves a flag faster while exhibiting all the traits of someone ready to re-write the constitution to his liking. I’m constantly amazed by people like O’Reilly who hold up the constitution but have no idea what’s in it.

A classic Bill O’Reilly was his interview with Jeremy Glick, the son of a man who lost his life at the World Trade Center on 9-11. Watch the interview, from February of 2003, and you can see exactly what kind of person O’Reilly is. The interview is downloadable at  (Keep in mind O’Reilly’s comments about Ann Coulter at the University of Connecticut while you watch the Glick interview)

Glick was clearly prepared for O’Reilly. He knew what he was talking about, even though I don’t think O’Reilly had any idea what he’d gotten himself into. Glick told O’Reilly at the start of the interview that Bush “inherited a legacy from his father and inherited a political legacy that is responsible for training, militarily, economically and situating, geo-politically, the parties involved” in the attack on 9-11. These are simple facts anyone can look up, just don’t try to get a conservative to believe them.

            O’Reilly eased into his disagreement with Glick, saying Glick was entitled to his opinion and that he was sure Glick was sincere about his position, but added that he didn’t think Glick’s deceased “father would approve of this”.

            Glick responded by saying his father actually thought Bush’s presidency was illegitimate. AT this point O’Reilly began to understand what he’d walked into.

            Glick attempted to lay out some of the things American administrations have done over the years to assist and strengthen terrorist organizations. Suddenly O’Reilly didn’t want to “debate world politics”.

            Then O’Reilly moved into overdrive and told Glick to “keep your mouth shut” and that he had a “warped view of reality”. From that point on Glick failed to break through O’Reilly’s constant interruptions and degrading comments. O’Reilly told him to “Shut up, shut up” while Glick tried to talk, until O’Reilly told his crew to “cut his mike”.

            In O’Reilly’s own words decrying the Coulter protestors at University of Connecticut, he said “they invited her there!” Well, O’Reilly invited Jeremy Glick and then proceeded to shout him down. But it’s pretty clear that O’Reilly’s rules of conduct only apply to those with a different opinion than his.

            I’m sure O’Reilly would tell us that his definition of “Shout down” doesn’t apply to what he does, but does apply to the college protestors. In order for most of the conservative double talk we hear to work, there has to be a different set of definitions for words and phrases. 

            This is something I come up against over and over again. People are more than happy to let you know that if you disagree with what they say, it’s because you didn’t understand what they meant by it, or that certain things can mean other things. It’s a war of words and definitions, which becomes more difficult since America has become adept at creating new words and phrases and meanings.

            How did civil protest, questioning the administration and promoting peace, the very things the Constitution supports and what our parents told us was our right as citizens, how did that become anti-American? Why can’t stores decide what they want to say regarding the holidays? If there are no laws being broken then is it right to boycott businesses simply because they don’t pander to your point of view? It may be our right to boycott, but is it right? Therein lies the spin.

            But hey, let’s forget about the fact that “Merry Christmas” may be offensive to someone of another point of view. Believe me, I learned to dislike Christmas and the whole happy, greeting thing years ago. About the same time I realized that Christmas is not about Christ or love or charity, but about American greed and ego. Don’t get me wrong, the warm feelings still creep up on me once in a while, when I smell a Christmas tree lot, or I watch a certain movie. And these are the feelings people like O’Reilly count on to make their hateful anti-American spin catch on.  The places being attacked for an omission of “merry Christmas” are department stores, places we can do the most financial damage to if we’re able to get a group of people together to boycott.

            What does it say about Americans that we can’t leave our homes without our private and personal beliefs being reinforced and celebrated on every street corner? How can we trumpet freedom of religion if the minute we don’t see or hear our icons of belief in a public place we stage a protest. If we aren’t constantly reassured that businesses share our personal beliefs will we stop believing? Will society crumble? Why can’t we seem to raise ourselves into adults, instead of constantly and aggressively seeking out the reinforcement and agreement of others? How egotistical and childish have we become?

            What’s the real horror here? Bill O’Reilly? No, I don’t think so. Doing research on Bill, as I have on so many issues conservatives are dead wrong about, it becomes fairly easy to write an article. I could go on and on about how wrong Bill O’Reilly is without breaking a sweat. No, what’s really horrific to me are those Americans who support and follow people like O’Reilly with steadfast devotion. I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to a Republican who didn’t cheerfully endorse O’Reilly. I’m not saying they aren’t out there (God, I hope there are at least a few), I just haven’t come across any of them. O’Reilly is only as powerful as the public allows him to be. And he’s hugely popular. So if O’Reilly is so full of contradictions and false theories, so much hatred and division, so much hypocrisy and ego, how screwed up do his followers have to be in order to not only buy into it, but to promote it.

            Let’s face the real reason behind this holiday greeting debate in the first place. The real pathetic part of O’Reilly’s arguments is that this issue has nothing to do with religion, or inclusiveness, or exclusivity, or morality. The motive behind the entire thing is money, as it is with every decision a corporation makes in America.

            This is publicity. It’s nothing more than advertising. If it didn’t work as the all encompassing compassionate message it was meant to generate, it would work as repentance, when stores back down from their policies (as almost all have) and welcome back into their fold all those who condemned them, but now are more than happy to patronize the halls of the reborn.

            If there’s one thing corporations in America have absolutely taken to heart and used to their advantage time and time again, it’s that you can always depend on the American public to get actively involved in marketing.

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