A Civil Response to Bill O'Reilly's Culture Warrior
Kem Stone - January 2008
My biggest criticism of this book is that I think it focuses too much on labels, pitting the “traditionalist” point of
view against that of the “secular progressive” and grouping media organizations and personalities into one of these
two groups.  But I think there are very few people who are completely beholden to one point of view or the other,
and to just dismiss someone as an “S-P fanatic” and not to seriously consider their arguments does nothing to
elevate the public discourse.  There is far too much dwelling on labels and “isms” and not enough on the specific
philosophical ideas that lie behind these ideologies and almost no discussion about their underlying validity and
ethical justifiability.  While O’Reilly does bring up a few very important philosophical points, the bulk of his writing
seems to consist of finger-pointing and repudiation of certain beliefs and tactics on the most extreme end of the
progressive spectrum.

While I agree with O’Reilly’s position that the S-Ps go too far in some cases, he fails to persuade me that
traditionalism is really the right way of thinking.  The points where I disagree are usually more basic, fundamental
ideas regarding which kinds of domestic and foreign policies are ethically superior.  I will begin this review by
listing and commenting on all of the major points with which I disagree.  I will then comment on the points I do
agree with, followed by the issues where O’Reilly’s arguments managed to sway my opinion in his direction.  I will
conclude with an overview of what I found to be negative over-all about the book, and finally what I found to be
positive.

Points of Disagreement:

•        The media is overwhelmingly S-P sympathetic. (20-25)

I think that it’s much easier to spot an opposing bias, so a conservative watching the news is more likely to
perceive a liberal bias than a liberal, who will usually discern the opposite.  While I’ll grant that most of the
individual reporters and journalists who cover certain stories are probably tilted to the left, I think it’s impossible
to ignore the underlying methods and practices that go into deciding which stories get reported in the first place.  
All of the major media organizations are owned by parent companies, most of which are owned by even larger
companies.  There is always a small group of wealthy elites at the top who have an interest in going along with the
government and the interests of big corporations.

We’ve seen this in the run-up to the Iraq war, during which one can not really accuse the media of a liberal bias,
as the statistics clearly show that about two-thirds of the experts and pundits interviewed by all the major media
organizations were in favor of the invasion, and only about 3% were adamantly anti-war.  This type of bias can
also be perceived in the stories that the media chooses
not to report, such as media consolidation, corporate
power-brokering, environmental degradation, and human rights atrocities going on in Africa and all over the
world.  These stories receive little or no coverage while most of the time is spent on wedge issues like immigration
or gay marriage.  They have a talking-head for the democrats and a talking-head for the republicans and call
themselves “fair and balanced” as if these are the only two possible points of view on any issue.

So while there is certainly a liberal slant among the ways in which stories are covered, there is a much larger and in
many ways harder to see bias in the media concerning which stories get covered and which points of view are
allowed to be expressed.

•        The rich do not owe anything to society. (31)

This is probably the most fundamental difference between liberals and conservatives, and the hardest to argue for
either way.  I can understand how a person who has worked hard for his entire life and now enjoys a great
standard of living can feel that he owes nothing to the other members of society who are struggling to get by.  
From my point of view living among the people of the invisible class of Americans who are not poverty-stricken or
unemployed, but living just on the verge of bankruptcy, it seems to me that much of this struggling is due to
corporate greed, and that these companies do in fact owe something to the rest of society.

To me it seems that there is no justification for the fact that a family in which both parents have full-time jobs can
still not afford health insurance or to send their kids to college.  I just heard a statistic stating that the richest 0.1%
of Americans have as much wealth as the remaining 99.9%
combined.  To me it seems obscene that a C.E.O.
can own three mansions, a yacht, a parking lot full of sports cars, and an island in the South Pacific while the
people who work for him can barely afford food, housing, and gas.  The whole idea of the American dream—that
if you work hard and respect the rules of society you can save up and climb the social ladder—is being destroyed
by these mega-corporations who base all of their decisions on how to increase the bottom line and raise that stock
price no matter how it adversely affects the workers who depend on them to live.  Their corporations could not
function without these workers, so it seems perfectly reasonable to me to suggest that they owe them more.

•        The U.S. should act unilaterally to fight terrorism. (38)

I would agree with this if I believed that the threat of Islamic fundamentalism was really as great as the
neoconservatives would have us believe.  They had one major success with 9/11, but nothing since then.  And
even if they did manage to blow something else up, the United States has such overwhelming military superiority
that to say these dirt poor backwards third-world militants are a significant threat to National Security seems like a
huge overstatement to me.  This is a manufactured threat—an enemy to go after now that the Soviet Union is
dissolved, to keep the economy going and the defence contractors earning a profit.  They wanted to invade Iraq
long before 9/11 happened and that attack gave them the perfect excuse to go in.  Now they’re trying to keep us
afraid so we’ll continue to go along with this “war on terror” which can literally go on forever because terrorism is
not a country or a political force or even a particular ideology like communism, but a military
tactic with such a
broad definition that any offensive move against the United States can be called “terrorism” and the use of military
force to retaliate can then be justified under the Bush doctrine.

As for unilateralism, it’s both unwise and unnecessary when dealing with this kind of enemy.  The threat of radical
Islam is worldwide, as we’ve seen by the attacks in England and Spain.  After 9/11, the rest of the world was
ready to rally behind us and work together to eradicate this problem, but Bush in his arrogance decided to barely
even try to reach out for international support and was declaring from the very beginning that we would do this
alone if we had to.  He quickly lost the good will of the other nations and by the time we invaded with England
and several other relatively insignificant countries, we were perceived as a rogue nation, an empire looking to
expand its territory, and an even greater threat to world peace than radical Islam.

I’m not saying we should not have done anything to address the problem of Islamic terrorism (and it is a problem)
but I am saying we went about it in the worst possible way, which was to go it alone.  Now, O’Reilly is right
in
principle
.  If our nation is facing a threat and no other nations are willing to help us fight it, then we absolutely
have a right to stand on our own and take unilateral action.  This was just simply not the case with Al Qaeda,
which stands against the entire Western world and which the rest of the Western world was perfectly willing to
help us go after.  But rather than go after Al Qaeda we went into Iraq, a nation which never attacked us, which
had nothing to do with 9/11, and which we did not have international support to invade.  The damage to the
international reputation of the United States may not seem like a big deal to those of us living within the United
States, but the U.S. is not the entire world, and while we may be the sole superpower at this particular moment in
time there is absolutely no guarantee we will remain this way forever.  And if China, India, Russia, a unified
Europe, or any other major force comes into play as a superpower within this century, we don’t want to look like
an evil empire.

•        Noam Chomsky is a “full-blown radical.” (43)

I have read a few books by Chomsky and seen him in several documentaries, and I’m baffled by the reaction he
gets from the major media.  He is always called a “radical” or a “wacko” or “anti-American” and this and that, but
nobody ever takes half a second to consider what he is actually saying.  Chomsky is merely telling the verifiable
truth of some of the uglier things the United States has done to increase and maintain power.  He is not making
wild accusations or calling for the downfall of America, nor is he even offering many statements of opinion.  He
speaks in facts and cites legitimate sources, and while he paints a very unflattering portrait of America, it is one
that is impossible to deny on the basis of fact alone.  And if they can’t attack his facts they’ll attack him
personally.  The tactics used against him by those on the far right are the same tactics that those on the far left use
to attack O’Reilly.

•        Bill Moyers is the farthest-left broadcaster in the history of journalism (51)

Again, I think it’s wrong to ignore everything Bill Moyers has to say by dismissing him as fanatical S-P
propagandist with an anti-American agenda.  I’ve been watching Bill Moyers’ Journal on PBS for months and I
think that anyone can judge for themselves whether he is making legitimate points or just spewing leftist
propaganda.  Personally, the most intelligent political discussions I have ever seen on television have been on Bill
Moyers’ program, and I don’t think that anyone who watches it with an open mind can disagree.  He usually
speaks to one guest at a time for about twenty minutes during which he spends most of the time just letting them
speak and occasionally asking intelligent questions to bring out the more important points.  It stands in such stark
contrast to the way interviews are done on the major news networks, as there is no shouting down an opponent,
talking over one another, name-calling, and interrupting.  While he certainly has a liberal viewpoint on the issues,
he explores these points thoroughly without standing on a soap-box or preaching, and leaves the viewer free to
make their own judgments.

•        The invasion of Baghdad was morally superior to 9/11. (52)

I think that both of these incidents were terribly wrong, but to say that we hold the moral high ground because we
were going in to remove a brutal dictator is to distort the reality so greatly that you can’t really justify this
statement.  The terrorists
did kill civilians on 9/11, but their ultimate goal was to strike a blow at what they
perceived is an evil empire.  They were wrong of course, but so were we.  The invasion of Iraq has ultimately
resulted in far more civilian deaths than the attack on 9/11, and the fact that we
believed we were doing the right
thing does not make it morally superior.

•        Insurgents in Iraq who blow up women and children are not freedom-fighters. (56)

I can understand why O’Reilly would not want to attach a label with positive overtones to our enemies who are
killing our soldiers and our own citizens.  But the fact is that from their point of view, they are fighting for their
freedom and while it may be poor judgment I certainly don’t think it’s treasonous to call them “freedom-fighters.”

•        Drug legalization is anti-religious because intoxication is wrong (81)

Without getting into the debate over drug legalization, I find it odd to object on religious grounds because the
Bible condemns intoxication.  Didn’t Jesus drink wine?  And if all forms of intoxication are wrong, shouldn’t we
condemn alcohol use just as harshly as we condemn the use of marijuana or other such substances?  I understand
that many hard drugs like heroin and cocaine are much more dangerous than alcohol, but I’m only saying that if
our justification for making drugs illegal is religious, it is hypocritical not to want to make alcohol use illegal as well.

•        There should be no constitutional protection for terror suspects. (105)

This also has to do with an underlying hypocrisy that we don’t address.  Why shouldn’t terrorism suspects have
the right to legal representation?  Are they inherently more evil than the murderers and rapists whom we give
protection to every day?  Are they less human because they’re not Americans?  What is it?

It would seem to me that most of the people we’ve got detained in Guantanamo and other military prisons are
probably innocent.  These are people either just rounded up on the battlefield or turned into us by neighbors with
a grudge, or people who just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.  Now, I could be wrong and
it may be the case that most of these people are guilty.  But you’d have to try very hard to ignore common sense if
you want to claim that they are
all guilty.  And if we know that at least a few of these people are innocent, how
can we justify holding them for years without ever giving them a chance to respond to their charges or make a
case for their innocence?  How can we know whether most of them are guilty or innocent if we never let any of
them make a case?  Meanwhile we abuse them and hold them for years under brutal treatment, and if any of them
were not radically anti-American when they were brought into these prisons, we almost guarantee that by the time
they get out they’ll be chanting “death to America” along with the rest of the terrorists.

•        The threat of terrorism justifies the repeal of civil liberties (106)

It’s a personal issue whether one holds freedom or security as the greater value.  I think that most people would
rather live safe, comfortable lives in slavery than to risk death in a fight for freedom.  Personally, I’d rather die than
submit to slavery, and I would stand up and fight against fascism if the threat ever took hold.  But this
administration has taken away many of our freedoms in order to protect us, which I disagree with on principle.  
But I admit that my disagreement is on principle alone, and I can’t speak for the people in the building down the
road who may get blown up by terrorists unless the government can obtain a wiretap without a warrant.  
I would
be willing to risk it for the sake of personal liberty, but I know that many would not so I’m not extremely adamant
about this issue.

•        S-Ps believe the U.S. is fundamentally evil. (106)

I object to broad statements like this which grossly misrepresent the opposing point of view.  Maybe some
secular-progressives really do see the United States as evil, but the vast majority would say the U.S. is neither
inherently good nor evil.  There are some policies that are good and some which are not, some historical things we’
ve done that are good (such as getting involved in World War II) and some that are not (such as the annihilation of
the Native Americans), but no country can be placed in one category or another.  To say any particular country is
fundamentally evil is both ignorant and dangerous, as in every country there will be both kind and generous people
as well as violent and greedy people, whether it’s the United States, France, Iraq, Iran, or anywhere.

•        Islamic fascist terror cells are true evil. (110)

Even the term “evil” is objectionable when applied to people and not specific ideologies.  No person or group of
people is totally “evil.”  The more accurate word would be “ignorant” and I would most certainly say that these
Islamic terrorists are woefully ignorant, but they believe that what they are doing is good and righteous and it’s
naïve to say that this is “true evil.”  I would say that the idea that all infidels must be killed is evil, but I would not
extend this moral judgment to the ignorant people who believe it.  In the same manner I would say that the Nazi
ideology of world domination by a pure race is evil, but a Nazi is just ignorant.  I can go down the list.  
Oppressive socialism is evil.  A socialist is just ignorant.  Violent racism is evil.  A racist bigot is just ignorant.  My
point is that we should be careful about using the label of “evil” when we’re talking about people, who are never
wholly good or evil but are always equally capable of both.

•        America can’t eliminate poverty at home or abroad. (111)

O’Reilly subscribes to the argument that the only way to win the war on terror is through the use of brute force, to
go into these countries and display our power and make them fear us and therefore stop attacking us.  I subscribe
to the opposite view, which he clearly thinks is ridiculous, that the anti-Americanism so rampant in these countries
is a result of terrible poverty and the misdirected anger of those who are victims of it.  I believe that going there
and killing civilians only makes them more angry, only breeds more terrorists, and is absolutely counter-productive
to the fundamental goal of the “war or terror” which is to get these people to stop attacking us.  I think the only
way to get them to stop attacking us is to get them to stop
wanting to attack us.  This means not going in with
guns and bombs, destroying their infrastructures and making them struggle even harder than before.  It means
sending in men and money to help
raise their standard of living, to bring them out of poverty, and to educate them
out of their cultural ignorance.

But O’Reilly thinks this is a fantasy because if we can’t eliminate the poverty in our own backyard like in New
Orleans or any inner city, we certainly can’t fix the problem across the world.  But that’s just not true.  If we can
spend billions of dollars on bombs and weapons and death and destruction, we can sure as hell spend billions of
dollars on food and housing and health and education, especially when the goal is the same.  You can’t expect to
eliminate terrorism just by killing terrorists, because for every terrorist you kill, ten more will just step up to fill his
shoes.  You have to go after the cause of terrorism, to strike it at its roots.  And while it may not be
emotionally
satisfying to see our troops going in and handing out food and medicine to the people who look like the people
who attacked us, it’s the only way they’re going to stop seeing us as the evil enemy and start seeing us as the
caring, good-natured people we are.

•        S-Ps believe the government should provide prosperity for all. (114)

I think this another misrepresentation of the actual opinion of secular-progressives.  We don’t think the
government should take care of everyone from the cradle to the grave.  People have to work to earn a living and
we shouldn’t give hand-outs to lazy people who just want to leech off the system.  What we believe is that it
shouldn’t be so hard for people who
are willing to work to make a living.  The government does not need to be
this huge, fascist patriarchal socialist money-machine designed to redistribute the wealth equally among all citizens,
but it should at least step in and impose
some regulation on giant corporations who get away with paying their
workers as little as possible in order to greatly increase the wealth of those at the top.

•        The world is a struggle between good and evil. (116)

Many people do see the world as a struggle between good and evil, but many of us do not.  I don’t think that
there are any deeper forces of good and evil constantly battling each other for control of the world and for each
individual soul.  I think there are just people and our natural proclivities towards compassion and generosity on the
one hand, and violence and greed on the other.  I think all of the world’s biggest problems can be attributed to
selfishness and ignorance, not some dark malevolent force pervading everything with an agenda of pure evil.  
There is no “evil agenda”.  There are just people who harm others out of self-interest and prefer not to think about
it.  And these people are not evil, just ignorant.

•        You can’t reason with a secular-progressive. (168)

I don’t even think Bill O’Reilly really believes that.  Of course you can reason with a secular-progressive.  Just
because a person adheres to a particular political ideology does not mean they have automatically closed their
minds to any opposing points of view.  Yes, of course there are many stubborn, closed-minded people who will
not even consider an opinion that conflicts with their own, but these people are in the minority and can be found
on both sides of the ideological fence.

•        S-Ps support partial-birth abortion. (175)

This is just another generalization that I don’t agree with.  My views are closely aligned with secular-
progressivism, and I do believe in a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy, but I think that the procedure for
partial-birth abortion does cross a very fundamental moral line and I agree with the Supreme Court’s decision to
ban the procedure.  This issue is not as black-and-white as many politicians and pundits would have us believe.

•        Relativism leads to weakness.  A relativist only fights for himself. (176)

I was very pleased that O’Reilly actually brought in the underlying philosophical difference between traditionalism
and secular-progressivism, which is of course moral absolutism vs. moral relativism.  Having spent a great deal of
time studying ethical theory I am quite familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of both positions, but I’ve
withheld my judgment from adopting either.  The problem with moral absolutism, which says that there is an
absolute Right and Wrong that any action falls under, is that the only legitimate foundation for this type of moral
claim is the existence of a higher power which makes these moral determinations.  If we all believed in the same
God, there would be no problem.  A Christian can make an ethical argument for something to another Christian,
using the word of God as a justification, and that’s fine.  The problem is that the Christian can’t use that
justification when making the argument to someone who does not believe in God, or sees God differently.

So moral relativism has arisen as a reaction to these circumstances, and it states that there is no fundamental right
or wrong but that good and bad change from time to time and place to place depending on the prevalent opinions
of a particular society.  The problem here of course is that it’s absurd to say a practice is right just because most
of the people in a given society are okay with it.  Is human sacrifice a good thing if 51% of people support it?  If
next year the balance tips and only 49% support it, does it then become evil?  This is clearly ridiculous.

So neither position is superior, but I think that O’Reilly’s characterization of relativism as a weakness is
unjustified.  Relativists tend to be more open-minded about what is right or wrong than absolutists, but I see open-
mindedness as a strength.  Furthermore, O’Reilly says that relativism leads to the idea that moral judgments are
solely up to the individual, and so relativists will ultimately only look out for themselves.  This is a totally different
position altogether.  It’s Ayn Rand’s philosophy—ethical egoism—the belief that an action is right if it is to your
own benefit, and wrong if it isn’t.  Under this theory, giving to charity is wrong because it helps others at your own
expense.  That theory is certainly wrong, but it is
not relativism, which is less of a theory than a philosophical
attitude—the attitude of withholding moral judgment until the entire situation can be examined.  It is essentially the
idea that certain things may be right in some cases and wrong in others, that there is no absolute Good or Evil, and
that human beings must choose their own values in life.  Most importantly, relativism forces us to take
responsibility for our own actions and moral judgments, denying us the easy appeal to divine law in order to justify
what we believe and what we do.

•        We need voter IDs to stop illegal immigrants from voting. (185)

I don’t understanding the big push make these IDs mandatory.  I don’t know any illegal immigrants who vote, but
there are plenty of poor people who don’t have an ID who won’t be able to vote because of this.  I’m much more
concerned with the privatization of election machinery.  The Diebold machines that leave no paper trail and can be
easily hacked to change votes without leaving a trace of manipulation are a far greater threat to democracy.

•        There is no difference in attitude between Nazis and jihadists.  If we attempt any appeasement or show any
sign of weakness they will attack us even harder. (193)

This goes back to what I was saying earlier about going after the root causes of terrorism instead of just using
brute force.  To simply declare that the only language “these people” understand is force is a dangerous and
misguided oversimplification.  That may be the case with the people who are
already terrorists, but the young
people who still haven’t made up their minds are going to be a lot more likely to join these terrorist groups if
American forces are in their country, bombing their cities, breaking down doors and taking their family members
away, than they would be if we were over there providing food and aid.  If we’re helping them build their
infrastructure I don’t think their first reaction would be “America must be weak and vulnerable if they want to
help
us!  I’m going to join Al Qaeda and attack them!”  Even General Petraeus knows this, as the main reason he’s
had success in Iraq is from reaching out to the Iraqi people rather than just rounding them up and shipping them to
Abu Ghraib.

•        The
N.Y. Times consistently champions S-P causes (214)

I won’t argue that the N.Y. Times is not a liberal paper, but I think O’Reilly should have at least acknowledged
that when it mattered most, during the run-up to the Iraq War, the
Times completely caved in to the administration
and Judith Miller reported their lies as facts to sell the war to the American people.  As slanted towards the left as
the reporters for the
Times may be, they’re going to line up behind the powers that be when they are called upon
just like every other major media organization.


Points of Agreement:

•        Conservative talk-radio is pre-occupied with elective politics and ignores larger issues (67)

This is absolutely true, and I would extend the criticism to the major media news channels as well.  So much time
is spent dwelling on bullshit like, “Is America ready for a black president?” or what did Hillary mean by this
comment and on and on.  Meanwhile, the direction of the country and therefore the world is at stake, history is
going to change forever, we’re at one of the most important crossroads in American history and even the entire
history of human civilization, and they’re talking about which candidate has the best haircut.

•        The “war on Christmas” was the S-P agenda taken too far (75-93)

Even though I have a very secular political ideology, I agree that the elimination of the word “Christmas” from
Holiday greetings is absolutely ridiculous.  Even if 3% of the population does take offence at the greeting (or at
least tell the pollsters that they do), they can deal with it while the other 97% say “Merry Christmas” to each
other.  This country is so obsessed with not offending minorities that we can’t even acknowledge the
name of the
holiday that most of us are celebrating?  It’s completely insane, but because there are a few secular fanatics out
there who raise hell whenever they hear anything slightly religious—and not just religious but specifically
Christian—companies have to instruct their employees to give the non-offensive “Happy Holidays” greeting just
in case they’re talking to a Jew.  And the fact that it’s perfectly fine to display a Menorah but not a Nativity scene
is the height of hypocrisy as well.  Why should one religious symbol be perfectly acceptable while another is not?  
This whole controversy is a huge load of crap, and I agree that it wasn’t created by Bill O’Reilly but by a small
group of crazy ultra-left-wingers who in the name of “tolerance” just wind up creating more hostility and
resentment.

•        There is a difference in the morality of [some] S-Ps’ arguments and their conduct. (113)

This is of course true, and the perfect example would be those people who claim to support religious tolerance
while at the same time being absolutely
intolerant of Christianity.  You’ve got people who will stand up for black
students if they are victims of white students’ racism, but who will not even denounce those students for ganging
up on and beating an innocent white student.  There are people who say that freedom of speech should be
unfettered, and yet these are the same people who are the first to jump down anybody’s throat if there may be
even the slightest bit of offense taken by minorities.  But—and I don’t think O’Reilly disagrees here—there is
hypocrisy on both sides.  Many of the people who proclaim themselves as champions of traditional Christian
values are greedy, selfish, and sinful.  Hypocrisy does not belong to any particular ideology but can be found all
across the spectrum.

•        A 60-day sentence for the systematic rape of a little girl over a 4-year period is an outrage. (123-134)

This story got my blood boiling.  Even though I do understand and to a certain extent agree with the idea that
many violent criminals suffer from mental illnesses and should be treated for them, there’s no reason they can’t get
this treatment while safely behind bars.  And even if this piece of scum who raped that girl was mistreated himself
as a child, the best way to show him (and other members of society) that this behavior can’t be tolerated is to
throw him in prison where he can be raped by the other inmates.  I don’t care how many excuses you have—
there has to be
some punishment for a crime as horrible as that.  The girl may still be alive but she’ll never be the
person she could have been, so in a way he
did murder her.  And if anyone should be removed from society and
locked up for life, it’s people who rape and murder children.

•        The environment is good. (188)

I am very glad Bill O’Reilly acknowledges that there is an environmental problem and that figuring out how to
better use our resources and keep air and water clean is an important issue.

•        One should operate according to a code of honor.

I really liked the last chapter, as these particular ideas go beyond the struggle between traditionalists and secular-
progressives and reach a more basic, human level.  The way so many of us in this country go about trying to affect
social change is despicable and counter-productive.  Smear-tactics only breed closed-mindedness and dismiss a
person altogether without considering their point of view.  To argue effectively or to consider a particular
argument, you have to be able to divorce the person making the argument with what they are actually saying.  I
may think Al Gore is an arrogant, self-important asshole, but if he makes a convincing argument with legitimate
facts that global warming is real, I’m willing to listen.  All of these points: practicing what you preach, being
generous, being willing to see the truth even if you don’t like it, defending those who can’t defend themselves, and
just being honest—these are virtues for everyone to live by.  And if more of us practiced these virtues, we could
have more open, intelligent discussion without so much anger and resentment standing in the way of real dialogue.  
This country is so polarized not because our ideologies are irreconcilable but because people are stubborn and
much more quick to attack a person than to give serious consideration to the points being made.


Points that Swayed my Opinion

•        The Constitution does not guarantee separation of church and state.

O’Reilly made a great point that the Founders only wished to prohibit the government from forcing citizens to
adopt a particular religion, not to exclude all religion from the public arena.  People should be free to practice
religion in all areas of life, so long as they do not impose it on others.  Students should be allowed to pray in public
schools, but the teacher can’t lead them in prayer or tell them this particular religion is the correct one.

•        It is worth considering that S-Ps want to turn children against their parents. (123-126)

I’m not completely convinced that there is such an agenda, but it certainly made me think.  The surest way to
advance any point of view is to go after young people who have not yet solidified their convictions, and it may be
the case that some of the more extreme progressives really do have this in mind when they go after parents for
invading their children’s privacy and impose other constraints on parents to prevent them from raising their
children the way they think is best.  But I don’t think you can limit this sort of accusation to S-Ps only, as every
political group, government, corporation, religious organization, etc. target young people to sway them to think
their way or buy their product.

•        Martin Luther King was a [liberal] traditionalist (144)

At first I thought it was absurd to claim that Martin Luther Kind would have sided with the traditionalists, but it
makes some sense when you think about it.  What he wanted was a radical transformation of values, but he was
not rebelling against religious values.  He was speaking out against the kind of values that place personal self-
interest above the well-being of society, which was and is still pervasive in this country especially among the
powerful.  But he probably would not be standing on the side of the secular-progressives, as he was still very
much a champion of the traditional Christian values of non-violence and love for one’s enemies.

•        The similarities between the S-P vision and
Brave New World are worth considering (189)

If you haven’t read Aldous Huxley’s
Brave New World I would highly recommend it.  I had to stop and think
when I read this because I’d never considered its meaning in this particular context.  But the Utopian society
depicted in that book in which people are bred in test-tubes, not raised by parents but by the state, encouraged to
engage in promiscuous sexual activity, and provided with drugs to make them feel good whenever they’re
unhappy, can certainly be construed as aspects of the S-P vision if taken to their extreme.  But on the other hand,
that society has no regard for equal rights, having divided all human beings into a strict caste-system and brain-
washed into accepting their particular role, which is the opposite of S-P values.  But this was definitely an
interesting point.


Over-all Negative

•        Over-emphasis on pointing out which journalists, new organizations, and celebrities are S-P sympathetic.

I think O’Reilly spends too much time pointing out bias among particular people who are prominent in public
discourse.  Just because someone has a bias in favor of one point of view or the other does not automatically
negate the relevance or truth of their argument.

•        Under-emphasis on actual arguments to support his points of view.

The other side of the same issue is that O’Reilly spends very little time actually giving reasons and arguments for
why his point of view is correct.  Why does he think the rich do not owe anything to society?  Why does he think
the United States should ignore world opinion and act unilaterally when it comes to foreign policy?  Why shouldn’t
the U.S. give some form of protection to the detainees in our military prisons?  I’m willing to consider that
all of
these opinions might be correct, but I wasn’t presented with any persuasive arguments.  Then again, I think Bill O’
Reilly is writing for an audience that already agrees with him on these points, and so he doesn’t spend much time
trying to convince those of us who disagree why we should change our minds.

•        Over-use of negative characterizations of opposing viewpoint: “S-P fanatic” “S-P jihad” “S-P war plan”.

All of these phrases can be found just on page 65.  It’s pure propaganda to attach words with a negative
connotation to a philosophy you disagree with.  Why can’t someone just be a secular-progressive?  Why must
they be a “fanatic”?  And why does the S-P agenda have to be characterized as a “jihad” or a “war-plan”?  Isn’t
it just a “cause” plain and simple?

•        Questionable statistics: America is 15% hard-core liberal, 35% conservative, and 50% moderate or
apolitical (170)

Statistics can be presented in such a way to support whatever point you want to make.  I noticed how he only
gave the percentage of people who described themselves as “hard-core” liberal while he gave the percentage of
everyone who described themselves as conservative.  What percentage of those described themselves as “hard-
core” conservatives?  How many of the remaining 50% lean in a liberal direction?  The statistics I’ve heard have
all suggested that America is pretty much divided evenly along ideological lines, with about 35% liberal, 35%
conservative, and the rest moderate.  Conservatives do not make up an overwhelming majority of the population
as these stats suggest.

•        There are more important matters than a culture war.

This may be an unfair criticism, because the book never claims to be about the most
important ideological
struggle of our time, but only about this
particular struggle.  I just think that if you are going to devote yourself to
a cause, there are far more important causes out there than fighting for traditionalism against the threat of secular-
progressivism.  This is really just a tug-of-war over government policy that is always swinging back and forth from
one direction to the other.  All societies throughout all time have had similar conflicts within their culture, and no
side will ever completely prevail.  Secular-progressivism may increase in influence but the radical transformation of
the entire foundation of society that O’Reilly warns against is something I just don’t see happening.

The issues that I see as the most important concerns of our time are barely mentioned in this book if they are even
mentioned at all.  I’m concerned with the fact that industrial civilization is completely dependent on oil and other
finite resources, and that the planet has already reached the peak of how much oil it can yield.  Unless we figure
out a viable alternative fuel source, there’s going to be a worldwide economic collapse and the results will be
more chaotic than anyone can imagine.  Furthermore, the rate at which we are destroying the environment is
accelerating at a rapid pace and we are disturbing the fragile ecosystem of the entire planet.  Forests are
disappearing and more species are going extinct than ever before in the planet’s history.  Even if you don’t think
forests or species have value for their own sake, humans depend on the environment that we’ve evolved into and
if that environment is altered too radically, we’re no longer going to be able to survive.  You don’t have to be an
alarmist to know that this is just the simple truth—we can destroy ourselves if we’re not careful and it doesn’t
look like we’re being very careful.

I just wonder why Bill O’Reilly doesn’t talk about
that.  I wonder why nobody at all in the major news media
seems to be talking about these things.  If these guys really want to fight for something important, they should
focus more on the big picture and not so much on these little issues like gay marriage or illegal immigration.

Over-all Positive

•        O’Reilly gets a lot of un-due criticism

Most of the things O’Reilly is accused of are definitely unfair.  He is attacked far more viciously than warranted
and most people don’t realise that he’s not the brutal, rabidly conservative bully that he’s portrayed to be.

•        He is more open-minded than given credit for

The book only reinforced this opinion, because I’d already realized this when I saw him on an interview with Jon
Stewart, and was surprised by how much they actually agreed on.  If he really was this closed-minded stubborn
blindly patriotic person that the liberal pundits paint him as, he would still be supporting the Iraq war and the Bush
administration.  But he’ll go after you if he thinks you’re wrong no matter what party you belong to, and that’s
definitely commendable.

•        He genuinely believes what he says

Of course the most admirable thing about him is that he’s not just a talking-head for any party or political group.  
He has his own opinions which he has formed after careful consideration and he does not sell out his beliefs to
appease anyone, including Fox News or even his own audience.  He believes in what he says and even though I
disagree with him on most of the issues, he ought to at least be respected for standing by his convictions.


And so that’s my reaction to
Culture Warrior, which is almost as long as the book itself! It certainly provided me
with a lot of food for thought and got me to think and write about things I don’t usually think or write about.  I
hope that what I wrote here also got you to think about a few things you don’t normally think about, and I’d
welcome any responses you might have to what I’ve put down here.  I don’t consider any of my opinions to be
written in stone, and I’m always willing to change my mind if I’m presented with a good enough argument to make
me reconsider.  That’s one of the most positive aspects of studying philosophy—you learn how little you can
actually know for certain, and quickly find that the only way to truly understand another point of view is to
consider that it may actually be correct.