In case you were sleeping under a rock yesterday, you might have missed this, errrr, interesting exchange on The View. Of course, after the video became viral, folks on the left and right were clamoring to denounce O'Reilly's speech and Goldberg & Behar's actions.
Peter Wehner tackles Bill O'Reilly's wrong-ness:
O’Reilly’s claim is unfair – and O’Reilly should understand why. Here’s an illustration that might help clarify things. Assume that Sam Harris went on The O’Reilly Factor and, based on the child-abuse scandals that tarnished the reputation of the Catholic Church, made the sweeping claim that “Catholics are child molesters.” My guess is that O’Reilly would (rightly) respond, “No. Some priests molested children, and it was a horrific thing. But you can’t indict an entire faith based on the sins of a relatively few number of priests.”Very well put. Moreover, I think that Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar weren't the only ones on stage who looked pretty stupid.
We shouldn’t kid ourselves; there is a not-insignificant strand of people in the Muslim world who align themselves with the ideology of al-Qaeda – and an even larger number who more or less accept its narrative of history. The condemnations by more moderate Muslims against its militant strand could certainly be more muscular. At the same time, the militant Islamists who attacked us on 9/11 don’t represent the vast majority of Muslims in the world – and certainly not the views of most Muslim Americans.
I understand that in the midst of a passionate debate on television, you can say things in imprecise and offensive ways; we have to leave some room for that to happen in our public discourse. We’re all fallible, and we all, from time to time, say things we wish we could take back. Words that wound shouldn’t necessarily be a hanging offense. Still, I do wish that, on reflection, Mr. O’Reilly, rather than defending his comments, had simply said that in thinking over his statement, he made a mistake. His comment was far too sweeping. It was, in fact, an unfair indictment against all Muslims. And the distinction between radical Islamists and the wider Muslim world (including, of course, Muslim Americans) is important to maintain.
The ladies could have sat there and pointed-out that O'Reilly's sweeping generalization about Muslims was grossly unfair. They could have explained that, while he surely is passionate about this topic, to suggest that all Muslims attacked the United State on September 11th is nothing short of preposterous.
But, to make things exciting for the teevees, they decided to get up and walk out, thus effectively ending the debate.