Jan
21
2010

O'Reilly's Lament: We Can't Make Fun of Arabs Anymore

On the January 15 edition of his show, while chatting with Ray Stevens, who recorded the song "Ahab the Arab" nearly 50 years ago, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly seemed to become nostalgic for a time when making fun of Arabs was acceptable:

Forty-eight years ago in this country we could make fun of Arabs. We could make fun of people in a general gentle way, and certainly, "Ahab Was the Arab" [sic] was a general gentle parody. But now we can't. What has changed in America?

As American Prospect blogger Adam Serwer put it, O'Reilly is really

mourning the demise of what he refers to as the "white Christian male power structure." It's not really that you "can't" make racist jokes anymore; it's that when you make them, you can't expect everyone to remain silent as you assert your cultural or racial superiority through humor.

Serwer adds that we are apparently still a country where it's not entirely "taboo to whine about no longer being able to make fun of Arabs." However, while jokes about Arabs may be frowned upon, it should be noted that full-throated calls for their profiling, detention and bombing are practically required by certain media outlets, Fox News among them.

For more on O'Reilly's record of bigotry, see "O'Reilly's Racist Slurs–in Context" (Extra! Update, 6/03).

About Steve Rendall

Senior Media Analyst and Co-producer of CounterSpin Steve Rendall is FAIR's senior analyst. He is co-host of CounterSpin, FAIR's national radio show. His work has received awards from Project Censored, and has won the praise of noted journalists such as Les Payne, Molly Ivins and Garry Wills. He is co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error (The New Press, 1995, New York City). Rendall has appeared on dozens of national television and radio shows, including appearances on CNN, C-SPAN, CNBC, MTV and Fox Morning News. He was the subject of a profile in the New York Times (5/19/96), and has been quoted on issues of media and politics in publications such as the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post and New York Times. Rendall contributed stories to the International Herald Tribune from France, Spain and North Africa; worked as a freelance writer in San Francisco; and worked as an archivist collecting historical material on the Spanish Civil War and the volunteers who fought in it. Rendall studied philosophy and chemistry at San Francisco State University, the College of Notre Dame and UC Berkeley.