Looking Like a Muslim

O’Reilly has taken a lot of flak for claiming the senior Bergdahl looked like a Muslim. "The Daily Show’s" Jon Stewart got in the act with the clever quip that he didn‘t want “to complicate your hatred of facial hair there, friend, but my guess is if you gave Bob Bergdahl a bandanna and a duck, you’d like him just-f***ing-fine.” In general, there was little hesitation on the part of commentators, left and right, to drape O’Reilly with the mantle of Islamophobia.

However, the “looked like a Muslim” remark cannot, per se, be the issue. After all, on the commentator’s own account, what is the matter with looking like a Muslim? To claim that there is something insidious about looking like a Muslim presupposes that there is something wrong with being a Muslim -- which would itself be Islamophobic.

In order for O’Reilly’s remark to be deemed offensive it must be taken as implying what? That O’Reilly has a negative view of Muslims in general? Fine, take that up and address that. And good luck with that. He never said as much and would qualify that and limit it to jihadist or Muslim extremists.

A more interesting tack is whether O’Reilly thinks that there may be more to the Bergdahl story than a desperate father trying to leverage his son’s release -- that Bergdahl  may be in sympathy with the Taliban or even be of the opinion that his son’s captors had justification considering American actions in Afghanistan? Fine. Take that up. But railing against O’Reilly just for daring to claim someone looks like a Muslim suggests that it is the railer who at some level harbors the opinion that being a Muslim is a negative. The retort would be, “And what is wrong with looking like a Muslim?”

O’Reilly’s critics have been hoisted on their own petard. It is his critics who look to be crypto-Islamophobes.

Moreover, the Islamophobe crutch is getting to be a bit pathetic. It has become a dodge for countering any criticism of practices done in the name of Islam when no such counter can be mustered. Every jihadist group from Boko Haram to ISIL claims justification for their murders and atrocities under the banner of Islam. If criticizing blowing up people in weddings, funerals and marketplaces in the name of Islam is Islamophobic then so be it. If criticizing the beheading, butchering and maiming people for being of the wrong religion -- all in the name of Islam -- is Islamophobic then the term is an asinine accusation.

As Robert Spencer writes in Jihad Watch, “ … “Islamophobia” is essentially a propaganda tool designed to shut down discussion and thought rather than foster either one …”  It is an attempt to shut down honest discussion rather than foster it.

Bergdahl’s deferential affirmation that Allah is most gracious and merciful? There is more to that than meets the eye? “Shut up,” she explained.