Posted by: sean | December 20, 2005

Kristof v. O’Reilly, winner Darfur?

In the Times this weekend, Kristof challenged Bill O’reilly to really defend Christmas values (as opposed to complaining about the imaginary war on Christmas by godless liberals):

…Fox News Channel’s crusade against infidels who prefer generic expressions like “Happy Holidays” included 58 separate segments in just a five-day period.

After I suggested in last Sunday’s column that a better way to honor the season might be to stand up to genocide in Darfur (a calamity that Mr. O’Reilly has ignored), Mr. O’Reilly denounced me on his show as a “left-wing ideologue.”

…So I have a challenge for Mr. O’Reilly: If you really want to defend traditional values, then come with me on a trip to Darfur. I’ll introduce you to mothers who have had their babies clubbed to death in front of them, to teenage girls who have been gang-raped and then mutilated – and to the government-armed thugs who do these things.

You’ll have to leave your studio, Bill. You’ll encounter pure evil. If you’re like me, you’ll be scared. If you try to bully some of the goons in Darfur, they’ll just hack your head off. But you’ll also meet some genuine conservative Christians – aid workers who live the Gospel instead of sputtering about it – and you’ll finally be using your talents for an important cause.

So, Bill, what’ll it be? Will you dare travel to a real war against Christmas values, in which the victims aren’t offended shoppers but terrified children thrown on bonfires? I’m waiting to hear.

It’s comforting to see more coverage of Darfur, and if the region comes up in a spat between O’Reilly and Kristof, then all the better.

O’Reilly responds (I couldn’t find a permalink) to Kristof’s op-ed by only addressing the Darfur claim in a single sentence — by saying that he had not ignored Darfur, without giving any examples — and spent the rest of his “talking points memo” calling Kristof a dishonest ideologue and character assassin, stating that he doesn’t understand America:

Mr. Kristof is a committed secularist who seems to not understand the culture war, or that his team is intent on diminishing the traditions of Christmas and other Judeo-Christian hallmarks, and that is deeply offensive to most Americans.

Kristof lives in The New York Times world–an isolated island of politically correct liberalism with little connection to everyday Americans. But in the spirit of Christmas, I’ve asked St. Nicholas to bring our pal Nicholas a special gift–the wisdom to see what is really going on and to do some honest analysis.

Of course O’Reilly’s comments are so mind-numbingly stupid that it’s not even necessary to rebut them (but if you really feel the need to, you can check out Adam Cohen’s piece on the so-called war on Christmas). So what’s really important to me is that the world is getting a little more exposure to the genocide in Darfur, and if Bill O’Reilly comes off (once again) as a jackass, well that’s just icing on the cake.

Otherwise, I’ve started reading Gérard Prunier’s new book on Darfur (available in English as well as in French. So far it’s given a very interesting background of Darfur as an independent Sultanate and sparked my interest in the Mahdists. But I’m only about 60 pages in, so I’ll hold my comments on it until I’m done.

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