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).