August 13, 2008

O’Reilly Dislikes Protest Music, At Least in Bush Administration

In an August 10th Op-Ed in the Boston Herald, Bill O’Reilly takes a select group of musicians to task for what he views as their disparaging stance which they disseminate through their songs against the United States.

He uses his recent attendance at an Earth, Wind, and Fire concert as a basis, writing how “shocking” it was to hear lead singer Philip Bailey thanking God and America for the legendary band’s four-decade career. He’s more accustomed to hearing artists “promote things like drugs and violence,” he concedes.

In a flawed and gratuitous presumption, O’Reilly equates Bailey’s expression of gratitude
for his band’s hard-earned success and longevity to a sweeping endorsement of the nation as a whole. He then utilizes this already-twisted postulation to bolster an even more distorted argument, namely that certain musicians who write and perform songs in protest of the current Bush administration are essentially disparaging everything and everyone that comprises this country.

In particular, he singles out Bruce Springsteen, Chris Martin (of Coldplay), and Neil Young, who in his words have “demeaned the United States this summer” (ostensibly on their respective concert tours) by performing such seemingly condemnatory material. Summarizing their concerts, he says, “They yell out dumb stuff to their zombie followers and revel in the applause.”

Odds are that O’Reilly has neither attended a recent concert by any of the three artists he chastises nor listened to their most recent albums to discern some semblance of honest context. Lest someone take his word for it, though, nowhere on Magic (Springsteen), Viva la Vida (Coldplay), or Living With War (Young) do any songs
even those most critical of the president, his administration’s policies, and actions amount to or condone across-the-board contempt toward America and its citizens.

O’Reilly’s incapacity to distinguish between voicing justifiable grievances and spouting indiscriminate vitriol is patently absurd. “These guys say it’s about the evil Bush administration,” he writes, “but believe me, their message is clear: America, itself, is one screwed-up place.”

Such might be the meaning O’Reilly ascertains from his cursory impression of this music and it’s certainly what he wants others to believe. However, by generalizing music that he clearly knows little about (and a government that he should understand better), Bill O’Reilly has only dumbed down the civic discourse to a level where an all-or-nothing, you’re-either-with-us-or-against-us contention endears him to anyone incapable of forming an independent, well-informed opinion.

“Throughout history, music has been used to protest injustice,” he asserts. “That is a good thing.” Apparently it’s not a good thing, though, when the music
like that of Springsteen, Martin, and Young protests the injustices that O’Reilly seems to support.