Bill O’Reilly and America Need to Be De-Programmed

On Tuesday’s episode of the O’Reilly Factor, Bill O’Reilly got in a huge fight with liberal guest Kirsten Powers.

As is usually the case on the Factor, the fight was all about race and racism. Kirsten Powers said that racism was still a problem in American; Bill said it wasn’t, and argued that the racists who do exist are a small minority and just an unfortunate byproduct of human nature.

Bill is wrong. Racism is still an issue in America, and that’s because we’ve never de-programmed ourselves from our national death cult of white supremacy.

You see, one of the startling facts of history is that nations, just like people, can be taken over by cults. Most of the time these national cults are benign and gentle like Canada’s love for hockey. But sometimes these cults are brutal and destructive.

They’re more than just cults; they’re death cults, and they destroy everyone and everything that belongs to them. The two greatest examples of this in the 20th century are Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

In Nazi Germany, the majority of Germans literally thought that Hitler was the reincarnation of Jesus who was going to usher in a 1000 year Reich, and so they followed him into the most destructive war the world has ever known.

Meanwhile, in Japan, the people thought that their emperor was descended from the sun god and were so hopped up on xenophobic nationalism that they crashed planes into our ships thinking it would bring them into eternal favor with the god-emperor.

This what death cults do - they use myths to convince regular people to participate in evil.

In the end, what ultimately destroyed the German and Japanese death cults was war. When Germany and Japan lost World War II, their people saw for the first time how their societies had been hijacked by evil, and they rejected it.

We here in America could learn a thing or two from the Germans and the Japanese because our national death cult - the cult of racism and white supremacy - is still as powerful as ever.

We defeated that death cult’s most dangerous form in 1865 when the North won the Civil War, but we never did what the Germans and Japanese did. We never confronted our death cult head on, recognized it as evil, and exorcised it from our national consciousness.

We started to during the decade of Reconstruction that followed the Civil War, but when Rutherford B. Hayes withdrew some of the last federal troops from the South to get elected president in 1876, that put an end to our first best hope at de-programming the American death cult of white supremacy. And so that death cult survived.

Without any federal troops to stop them, KKK terrorists re-imposed white supremacy with Jim Crow, which was slavery by another name.

Even now, half a century after the Civil Rights movement liberated black Americans from the worst kinds of segregation, the legacy of America’s original death cult lives on. The idea that some people are inferior because of the color their skin still infects every single aspect of our society, especially public policy.

It’s not a coincidence that, as Paul Krugman pointed out in the New York Times the other day, “Only one former member of the Confederacy has expanded Medicaid” and that “a history of slavery is a strong predictor of everything from gun control (or rather its absence), to low minimum wages and hostility to unions, to tax policy.”

And it’s not like this is limited to the South.

The reason why only one state of the old Confederacy has expanded Medicaid is the same reason why people cheer when Scott Walker tries to drug test welfare recipients, and it’s the same reason why being “tough on crime” helped Rudy Giuliani get elected mayor of New York City. As a nation, we still think “those people” don’t deserve equal rights.

Slavery is gone, but the racial logic that made it possible is still very much with us. So why is that? Why, more than 150 years after the Civil War, do so many people still hold on to the white supremacy death cult?

Easy – Because Republicans have told them it’s OK to do so.

Ever since Nixon in 1968, the Republican Party has made a conscious effort to capture the white-racist vote using a strategy recapped by Reagan advisor Lee Atwater back in 1981.

Atwater’s strategy has worked like charm, especially in the South. One recent study actually found that even when controlling for other factors, counties in the South with active Ku Klux Klan chapters saw the biggest shift towards the Republican Party between 1960 and 2000.

In other words, the KKK helped the Republican Party win the Solid South. So it really shouldn't be any surprise, then, that people like Dylann Storm Roof are still being indoctrinated into this death cult.

It shouldn't surprise us that white right-wing racist terrorists have killed more Americans since 9/11 than Muslim terrorists have?

And the simple reason is that politicians from one of our major political parties - the Republican Party - depend on America’s racist white supremacy death cult to get elected.

Forty-eight percent of Americans people still think the Civil War was a constitutional dispute about state’s rights. Gone with the Wind is still treated like authentic true-to-the books history.

Now that we’ve seen the evil face of this death cult in Dylann Storm Roof, it’s time to call it what it is. It’s time to say that the pre-Civil War South was a police state, that plantations were concentration camps, and that white supremacy was the guiding belief behind the “Lost Cause” of the Confederacy.

And it’s time to admit that we’ve never really come to grips with the real history of slavery or its legacy.

If we don’t deprogram ourselves from the white supremacy death cult that has infected this country from its very founding, it will destroy us all.

Taking down the Confederate battle flag is a good first step, and so is calling Dylann Storm Roof a terrorist. But what really needs to happen to deprogram America from its death cult is for Republicans to stop pandering to racists and racism and for white Americans to come to grips with the power of white privilege.

And that starts with policy - like stopping the Republican voter suppression efforts in the South, having those states accept Medicaid expansion for all their people, and beginning to regulate in a rational way our national civilian arsenal.

Only then can we exorcise the demons of our past and move towards a more just and equal future.

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