It’s been about a week since the words you spoke started echoing in my head. For some reason I can’t get your words to go away. For some reason, I’m convinced someone needs to speak a word to you about your words back then. Here’s what you said:
You were talking about the father of U. S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and your comment centered on the father’s growing of a beard while his son was a captive of the Taliban. Now, Mr. O’Reilly, I haven’t the slightest idea why Mr. Bergdahl grew his beard. I read reports he did so in an attempt to persuade his son’s captors to go easy on him. He also, I understand, learned to speak their language. But you didn’t focus on his linguistic skills. You focused on his beard. And what you said, Mr. O’Reilly, was, “He looks like a Muslim.”
Really? Really? He looks like a Muslim? And what, Mr. O’Reilly, pray tell, does a Muslim look like?
For a decade I was Chaplain at a secondary military academy. Seventeen percent of the cadets there were Muslim. Not one of them had a beard. A few miles down the road from where I live in a little village called Atlanta, there are several Mosques. A lot of the folks who attend services at those Mosques, who pray five times a day facing Mecca, whose children attend prestigious private schools, don’t have beards and are part of the cheering crowd at the Little League game. Tell me, Mr. O’Reilly, what does a Muslim look like?
For that matter, Mr. O’Reilly, what does an illegal immigrant look like. Were you to ask that question to a lot of folks where I live, they’d describe a Hispanic to you. That strikes me as humorous. You see, Mr. O’Reilly, I personally know four illegal immigrants who live within twenty miles of me. They don’t have the slightest fear that they will be arrested. The reason they don’t worry is that they are illegal immigrants from countries in the European Union. Again, Mr. O’Reilly, what does an illegal immigrant look like?
Let’s take this a little further. It was my pleasure in my younger days to pal around with, to referee basketball games with, to crack jokes with, to on occasion actually invite a couple of bigoted jerks to exchange fisticuffs, a real dedicated Christian. That fellow I hung out with back then is now the president of Oral Roberts University. Suffice it to say, he’s gone off the deep end in his fundamental interpretation of the scriptures, in my rather liberally informed theology. But if you ask me if he’s a Christian I’d tell you in half a heartbeat, “Oh, yes, he is. He’s one of the most dedicated Christians I’ve ever known.” And I’m pretty sure he’d acknowledge me as one of the sheep in the fold. So, Mr. O’Reilly, tell me, what does a Christian look like?
And then there’s you, Mr. O’Reilly. I looked up your biography. You were born one year and one month before my brother. Like you, my brother is an opinionated, stubborn, and forceful force to be dealt with. You are six-foot-four. My brother is five-foot-six. You are going bald. My brother still has his hair. You’re as ugly as homemade sin. My brother shares my genes and does not suffer from that affliction.
So, Mr. O’Reilly, what does an opinionated, know-it-all, look like?