BY LEA SEVCIK
Never one to shy from a controversial opinion himself, Fox News correspondent Bill O’Reilly spoke on how “Political Correctness has Damaged America” at the Kennedy School’s ARCO Forum on April 1. O’Reilly, who spoke at HLS last year, is best known as host of the Fox News show “The O’Reilly Factor.” O’Reilly spoke in a lively and humorous style and characteristically confronted the most controversial issues with self-termed “maverick” views.
To explain the origins of political correctness in the Federal government, O’Reilly introduced two “opposites”: George W. Bush, brought up by a watchful family with a “sense of right and wrong,” and Bill Clinton, brought up with “no restraints” to believe that “there really isn’t a right and a wrong.” According to O’Reilly, Clinton spread his “moral relativism” to his administration. For instance, Clinton removed human rights violators and felons from the CIA’s payroll of informants because it was politically incorrect to associate the CIA with criminals. As a result, intelligence “dried up” because terrorists mostly give their information to those who are like them.
O’Reilly believed that “anybody” would have responded to the terrorist attack of September 11 in the same way as Bush, because of the overwhelming demand for quick retaliation. However, he proposed that while Bush simply labeled the terrorists “evildoers” and his solution was “we will kill them,” Clinton would have had “angst” over how America had offended the terrorists. Though O’Reilly said he found nothing wrong with trying to understand the motives of one’s enemies “as an intellectual exercise,” he warned against policies founded on trying to understand “evil,” as such attempts are “perceived unfortunately in most of the world as weakness.”
O’Reilly delved into other controversial issues when responding to student questions. He argued against reparations for African-Americans, saying that, “if African Americans get reparations from the government then everybody has to get them,” including Chinese Americans, Native Americans, and the families of union soldiers who fought to end slavery.
O’Reilly took personal credit for the current increase in U.S. border patrols, saying that “nobody else in the media would touch it” because it was politically incorrect. O’Reilly argued that even China, where “nobody wants to get in,” has strongly militarized borders, while America allows three million people to enter illegally each year. He said that while the media feared that securing the borders would be offensive to Hispanic Americans, the “Federal government’s mandate is to protect us” and “hey, it’s offending me that we have people coming in with narcotics… [and] that we have people coming to blow us up.”
Finally, O’Reilly criticized “morally relativist” European nations, saying that they “don’t like us” because our culture “overpowers” them. He added that Europeans identify Israel with America, and that if the United States were to stop supporting Israel, “the Arab nations would go in there and destroy them, just as Hitler tried to do, and the Europeans wouldn’t life a finger to help them.”