O'Reilly: Imams kicked off plane "wouldn't get handcuffed ... if they started chanting stuff" at Crate & Barrel

››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN

Bill O'Reilly revived the "war" on Christmas and declared that "[m]aybe the imams who got thrown off the plane [would] shop" at the home furnishings retailer Crate & Barrel because it has a policy of saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." O'Reilly also declared that Christmas is "a secular holiday" that "honors the birth of Jesus. ... And the reason it does is because Jesus was a philosopher," but "you can have a religious connotation to the holiday if you choose to."

On the November 27 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly revived the "war" on Christmas and declared that "[m]aybe the imams who got thrown off the plane [would] shop" at the home furnishings retailer Crate & Barrel, because, he said, the chain has a policy of saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." O'Reilly added: "I bet you they wouldn't get handcuffed in Crate & Barrel if they started chanting and stuff." On November 20, six Islamic imams were detained at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport after a passenger became alarmed that the imams were praying. The imams were cleared of any wrongdoing.

During The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly also declared that he would not shop at Crate & Barrel because retailers having a policy of saying "Happy Holidays" during the holiday season is "annoying": "It's just one of these little annoying things that I say if you're not going to say 'Merry Christmas,' and it's a federal holiday, I'm not going to buy the lamp. I mean, I am that small." O'Reilly cited a November 22 Minneapolis Star Tribune article, which reported that Crate & Barrel spokesperson Betty Kahn said, "We would definitely not say Merry Christmas"; O'Reilly asserted that he "confirmed" that Kahn's statement was true. In fact, according to the weblog Think Progress, "Kahn said her quote was misconstrued. Crate & Barrel has no policy encouraging or discouraging store employees from saying 'Merry Christmas' or any other greeting. Kahn said she was trying to communicate that the store does not actively require employees to say 'Merry Christmas.' "

Earlier in the program, during a discussion with Quinnipiac University law instructor John Pavia about a lawsuit regarding the display of religious symbols in New York City schools, O'Reilly declared that Christmas is "a secular holiday" that "honors the birth of Jesus. ... And the reason it does is because Jesus was a philosopher," but "you can have a religious connotation to the holiday if you choose to."

O'Reilly also declared that "the return of Christmas to most retail stores in America" was a "big win[] for Americans, who believe this country stands for what's right and promotes positive things like Christmas;" that "loons are still denying there is a Christmas controversy;" and that "our society has changed dramatically in the last 40 years," mainly due to "[t]he emergence of the secular progressive [S-P] media." O'Reilly concluded: "Without the Fox News Channel and The Wall Street Journal editorial page, the S-P media would go unchallenged in this country."

As Media Matters for America has documented, O'Reilly began promoting the notion of "Christmas under siege" before the 2004 holiday season with Fox News host Sean Hannity, and Fox News host John Gibson joined in during the 2005 holiday season. Gibson is the author of The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought (Sentinel, October 2005).

From the November 27 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, which also featured Democratic strategist Kirsten Powers and right-wing pundit Michelle Malkin:

O'REILLY: Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly. Thank you for watching us tonight. Some wins, some losses in the culture war. That is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo."

While on vacation last week, I cheered the Simpson victory [the cancellation of the O.J. Simpson book If I Did It and related TV special] from afar and the return of Christmas to most retail stores in America. Both are big wins for Americans, who believe this country stands for what's right and promotes positive things like Christmas, a federal holiday that encourages goodwill toward all people.

Now, I knew when I returned to work that the far-left secular forces in America would not take kindly to those two victories and to the fact that my book Culture Warrior is a huge success. And I was correct. The print press clippings over Thanksgiving show stepped-up attacks on me by fanatical S-P columnists from coast to coast.

Many of these loons are still denying there is a Christmas controversy, even though one is before the Supreme Court right now. Here in New York City, the public school system has banned the manger display, while allowing the menorah for Hanukkah and the star and crescent flag for Ramadan. Federal appeals court upheld this blatant bit of discrimination. And now the Supreme Court must decide whether to review the case. We'll have more on this coming up. But to deny there are attacks on Christmas in America is a flat-out lie. And you should take note on who is doing that.

On another front, there was a culture war setback while I was away. The National Center for Health Statistics announced that out-of-wedlock births in America are at an all-time high. Thirty-seven percent of babies are now born to single women -- 37 percent. This, of course, is an economic and social disaster. Single mom households are the primary poverty indicator and a huge risk factor for criminal behavior by young people.

The assault on marriage in our society comes exclusively from the secular-progressive community, which sees traditional marriage as a threat to their sacred tenet of inclusiveness.

Now, societies don't change by accident. And our society has changed dramatically in the last 40 years. The emergence of the secular-progressive media has been one major reason why. Without the Fox News Channel and The Wall Street Journal editorial page, the S-P media would go unchallenged in this country. That's how dominant it is.

[...]

O'REILLY: OK. You got the federal holiday of Christmas, correct?

PAVIA: Mm-hmm.

O'REILLY: All right, signed into law by U.S. grant. So we have it. It's on the books.

PAVIA: Right.

O'REILLY: Federal holiday. Everybody in America is entitled to not work that day. Now, the holiday honors the birth of Jesus, correct? It's Christmas?

PAVIA: OK.

O'REILLY: The birth of Jesus. Are you with me so far?

PAVIA: I may differ, but OK. It acknowledges a date -- it acknowledges Christmas as a federal holiday.

O'REILLY: OK, so you don't think Christmas is -- honors the birth of Jesus?

PAVIA: Sure, sure, for the sake of this argument, I'll --

O'REILLY: No, no, for real life.

PAVIA: No, it does. It does.

O'REILLY: You don't have to patronize me.

PAVIA: It does, it does.

O'REILLY: I mean, because there's no other meaning of Christmas other than the birth of Jesus.

PAVIA: But the reason that the court has now recognized -- the conversation we're going to get into has become the part of our culture as well. But for sake of this argument, I'll let you keep going.

O'REILLY: OK, thank you, because if there is another reason for Christmas, I'd like to hear it.

PAVIA: No, I agree.

O'REILLY: It acknowledges the birth of Jesus.

PAVIA: Right.

O'REILLY: And the reason it does is because Jesus was a philosopher. He was a philosopher and a man whose philosophy was taken by the Founding Fathers in association with Judeo tradition. And they use a lot of it to forge our Constitution and our Bill of Rights. You wouldn't disagree with that, would you?

PAVIA: I'm not disagreeing, no.

O'REILLY: Judeo-Christian tradition.

PAVIA: Right.

O'REILLY: All right, that's why it was -- now, you can have a religious connotation to the holiday if you choose to, as Christians do, but you don't have to. You can honor the man Jesus as a philosopher because it's a federal holiday, a secular holiday, are you with me?

PAVIA: I'm with you.

O'REILLY: OK. Now you're going to tell me, then, the public school system, paid for by the taxpayer, has a right to tell their students that you cannot see images of the birth of the philosopher Jesus? You're going to tell me in a free society that that is legal?

PAVIA: OK. What I'm going to tell you is that every town and municipality in this country now has the duty of balancing the different cultures that we have and our desire to celebrate our cultures during the holiday season. And the way they've come up with it is, there's a realm of constitutionality. And the system and the policy that the New York City school system has come up with, that you can display a menorah, the crescent star, and a Christmas tree or Santa Claus -- that's parity. That's fair. It doesn't promote one over the other.

O'REILLY: But Santa Claus comes from Europe. That's a secular sign from Europe, OK? The Christmas tree comes from Germany. It comes from Germany.

PAVIA: But where is it today? I mean, where are those signs and symbols --

O'REILLY: The holiday that was signed into law honors the birth of Jesus.

PAVIA: Right.

O'REILLY: And the public school system in New York has said, we will not allow a display of that holiday in our schools.

PAVIA: But that's not the issue.

O'REILLY: Blatantly unconstitutional.

[...]

O'REILLY: The manger is not a purely religious symbol either. All it does is remind people all over the world that Jesus the philosopher was born to humble origins.

[...]

O'REILLY: Thanks for staying with us. I'm Bill O'Reilly. In the "Impact" segment tonight, most American retail stores are saying "Merry Christmas", as we mentioned, but not Crate & Barrel and Best Buy. Incredibly, Crate & Barrel spokesperson Cathy -- I'm sorry, Betty Kahn -- Betty Kahn told the Minneapolis Star Tribune, quote, "We would definitely not be saying [sic] Merry Christmas." Wow.

Also in Minneapolis, six Muslim clerics booted off a U.S. Airways jet because some passengers were nervous. The men were handcuffed, questioned for more than five hours before being released.

With us now, Fox News analyst Kirsten Powers here in New York and Michelle Malkin in Washington.

[...]

O'REILLY: I wasn't there. I don't know. All right. Crate & Barrel, you know, I don't care about Crate & Barrel. I got one near my house. It's a nice store. But I mean, I'm not into it. But the woman comes out, and we confirmed this, Betty Kahn, "We're absolutely not going to say Merry Christmas." It's annoying. Isn't it? I mean, I'm not going to go there because it's annoying, for no other reason than, Betty, you're annoying! Am I overdoing it?

POWERS: Yeah, I think you are.

O'REILLY: Yeah, you think so?

POWERS: It would be impossible to tell you how much I don't care that they're not saying "Merry Christmas."

O'REILLY: All right, but you don't care?

POWERS: I don't. And you know -- and I love -- I love -- I love Christmas.

O'REILLY: You don't know why other people do?

POWERS: No, actually, I don't.

O'REILLY: So you don't understand anybody who's annoyed by it?

POWERS: It has nothing to do with Christianity. It has nothing to do with Jesus' birth.

O'REILLY: True, true. All that's true.

POWERS: It has nothing to do with that. And it's a business decision. If they choose not to say "Merry Christmas," well, how does that how I affect how I celebrate Christmas?

O'REILLY: Because it's just so -- it's just so small. It's so small and dumb.

POWERS: Why? Maybe they feel like their clientele is so diverse that they would just rather say "Happy Holidays." I mean, why can't they just make that decision? How does this ruin your day, Bill?

O'REILLY: Because you -- it doesn't ruin my day. It's just one of these little annoying things that I say if you're not going to say "Merry Christmas," and it's a federal holiday, I'm not going to buy the lamp.

POWERS: See, I --

O'REILLY: I mean, I am that small.

POWERS: I think the other stuff -- I agree with that.

O'REILLY: I am. I am that -- Michelle, you -- you know me. You know I am that petty, that if you're going to annoy me like this -- because I just get annoyed. It's a federal holiday. Say "Merry Christmas," say "Happy Holidays," stand on your head, I don't care. But to say, "We're absolutely not going to say 'Merry Christmas'," I'm not going there then! That's how small I am. Am I wrong?

MALKIN: Well -- well, look, on my aggravato-meter, it's a two. On yours, it sounds like it's about a six with 10 being total eye-popping outrage. But -- you know, so you're not going to buy any crates or barrels. And you know --

O'REILLY: Right.

MALKIN: I think it's, you know --

O'REILLY: Isn't it dumb?

POWERS: That you feel that way? Yes.

O'REILLY: No, isn't to dumb for a spokesman of a major -- of a major company, where 80 percent of the country is Christian and 90 celebrates Christmas, isn't it dumb, Michelle, to come out and say, "I'm absolutely not going to say that"?

MALKIN: You know, it probably is, but --

O'REILLY: Thank you. Thank you.

POWERS: Michelle's sucking up.

MALKIN: You have to look -- yes, I am. You have to look at the clientele of a Crate & Barrel. Do you shop there? I don't shop there. Who shops there? Kirsten? You don't strike me as --

POWERS: I do sometimes. I have some Crate & Barrel stuff.

O'REILLY: I don't know. Maybe the imams who got thrown off the plane shop there.

MALKIN: Well, there you go.

O'REILLY: All right? I bet you they wouldn't get handcuffed in Crate & Barrel if they started chanting stuff.

POWERS: Probably not.

O'REILLY: All right, ladies. Maybe I'm wrong. Thank you.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Religion
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Fox News Channel
Person
Bill O'Reilly
Show/Publication
The O'Reilly Factor
Stories/Interests
Religion, War on Christmas, Separation of Church and State
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