“Just because he calls himself a Christian,” begins Bill O’Reilly, Fox News Political ‘commentator’, flustered with a typical rage, before stuttering…
“Mussolini called himself a Christian!”
Sally Quinn, of the Washington Post, spends most of her time with a patient smile on her face – it’s hard to tell if she’s flustered or grinning in disbelief at the complete absence of logic in O’Reilly’s rhetoric.
“There is no evidence this man followed the teachings of Christ! No evidence he had anything to do with the Christian faith.”
O’Reilly is referring, of course, to Anders Breivik, the perpetrator of the Oslo attacks in which over 70 people were slaughtered.
Quinn repeatedly attempts to correct O’Reilly, but he blusters on, constantly and consistently, interrupting her attempts to provide the evidence that O’Reilly (a Christian himself) claims doesn’t exist.
All this from a man who claimed, after the attacks on the World Trade Center, that “Muslims killed us on 9/11”.
Sally Quinn meekly attempts to raise a similar point – that O’Reilly, when referring to Fort Hood terrorist attack, was insistent on referring to Nidal Malik Hasan as a Muslim terrorist.
Incredibly, it gets worse.
“I’m saying he was a Muslim,” he shouts, interrupting Quinn, “because he carried a business card that said ‘soldier of Allah’!
“The guy in Fort Hood he was acting in the name of religion,” he continues. “He killed because he believed that Allah told him to kill. The guy in Norway – Jesus had nothing to do with it. He wasn’t even cited! Using the word Christian to label him is dishonest.”
It almost goes without saying: the hypocrisy is nauseating. The baffling, insidious endgame of the ‘No True Scotsman’ fallacy incarnate, with a touch of disingenuity chucked in for good measure.
If O’Reilly had taken the time to listen, Sally Quinn might have presented this, taken from Breivik’s ‘manifesto:
“At the age of 15, I chose to be baptised and confirmed in the Norwegian State Church,” wrote Breivik. “I consider myself to be 100 percent Christian.”
Or maybe she would have quoted Stephen Prothero, a religion scholar from Boston University, who stated that “[i]f he did what he has alleged to have done, Anders Breivik is a Christian terrorist”.
Yet, despite the fact that the mainstream media was terrifyingly quick to claim that the Oslo attacks were perpetrated by Muslim terrorists, no-one in their right minds is attempting to blame Christianity for this vile act of terrorism. Not for a second. It’s the hypocrisy that stings, the veiled xenophobia of the Christian right.
As Editor of the gaming website Kotaku Australia, I had the misfortune of being caught up in this maelstrom of hypocrisy when Jim Wallace of the Australian Christian Lobby – yes, the same Jim Wallace who tweeted that Anzac soldiers didn’t die for homosexuals and muslims – had the gall to claim that it wasn’t Christianity, or a twisted sense of justice that was to blame for the attacks. No – of course not…
The culprit? Those dastardly video games.
“If there are even a few deranged minds that can be taken over the edge by an obsession with violent games, claimed Wallace, in a statement published on the Australian Christain Lobby’s website, “it is in every Australian’s interest that we ban them.
“The studied indifference of this killer to the suffering he was inflicting, his obvious dehumanising of his victims and the evil methodical nature of the killings have all the marks of games scenarios.”
Again, assumptions that fly in the face of peer reviewed studies – a vast, vast majority of which state that games have no stronger an impact on our behaviour than any other type of media you wish to name.
Some perspective: there were roughly 50 references to video games in Breivik’s 700,000 word manifesto – mostly references to games he enjoyed playing in his spare time – one reference where he stated that Modern Warfare 2 was like a training simulator (a statement that any trained soldier would, and has, openly laughed at). This was enough for Jim Wallace of the ACL to openly call for the banning of any and all violent video games.
Despite the fact that Christianity was referenced over 2000 times in the same manifesto.
Despite the fact Breivik openly referred to himself as a modern day crusader, protecting Europe against “Islamization”.
Again – just to clarify – no-one is blaming Christianity. It’s the hypocrisy that stings.
And the ignorance; a hostile brand of ignorance that has become increasingly infused in the rhetoric of these middle-aged men who claim to represent the Christian faith across the media and in government – on television, in newspapers, in cabinet meetings across Australia.
Right now? When I think ‘Christian’ I think Jim Wallace. I think Bill O’Reilly. And that’s a real problem.
As someone married to a Christian – a reasonable person who gasped in disgust when I showed her the video featuring O’Reilly – I worry for the way that Christians are being represented in Australian and across the world. Mainly I worry about the people who are representing them.
It’s a narrative that has become increasingly dominated by an extreme right agenda, where the vocal minority scream and the rest cower in abject fear and embarrassment. People like Jim Wallace and Bill O’Reilly make it embarrassing to be a Christian.
For the life of my I cannot understand why moderate Christians – reasonable, rational Christans – allow themselves to be represented by people like Jim Wallace and the Australian Christian Lobby. Why they allow themselves to get caught up in this culture – this practiced ignorance, this hostile ignorance.
Jim Wallace should not be representing Christianity.
And Bill O’Reilly is not a Christian.