Last night, Bill O’Reilly did a segment where he refused to accept that people who believe that President Obama is a Muslim have any ties to the birther crowd or that it might be construed as racism.
“So that there is some Americans who think he is a Muslim, all right? Now, OK. So Muslims attacked us on 9/11. He is a Muslim, he’s sympathetic to the Muslim world. That’s where they are going. How does race get in it? How does the KKK get in this? Muslims aren’t black, most of them. In Africa, maybe, but not in other places. I’m not understanding this race black white thing comes into a Muslim thing. It would seem to me Muslim is a religious issue.”
The other two panelists, Juan Williams and Mary Katherine Ham, tried to explain to O’Reilly how the two things do have a connection, though Ham tried to blame the media for exploiting the issue and Williams expressed doubt over whether it would have a very high impact on the next election.
Said Williams, “You know the whole Muslim thing, I see how it’s connected to the idea that you are trying to say the President is other. You are trying to make him out to be different and weird. But the numbers just aren’t there in terms of saying it’s going to make a huge difference in terms of American politics right now.”
Ham backed up that point by saying “I think Juan is right that the assumption is that people are othering, as the left likes to say, Barack Obama in making him into this sort of foreign creature by creating myths about him and that’s where the racism lies.”
Williams also pointed out that “the majority of Muslims are people of colour in this world, Bill… but the idea that you make somebody into different. He is not a Christian. He was not born in the United States. At some point then people start to say, ‘Hey, wait a second, is this a policy argument or you just are trying to marginalize and diminish our President?'”
While O’Reilly readily admitted that they are “obviously trying to diminish him” he still saw them as separate issues.
“You’re connecting two things that are not even close. A religious belief system with an African-American thing.”
Being anti-Muslim does not make a person racist but using the President’s skin colour to spread lies about him does, and that is what O’Reilly seems to fail to grasp.