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The Campaign to Blame O'Reilly for Tiller's Death

6:55 PM, Jun 1, 2009 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Minutes after news broke yesterday that George Tiller had been murdered in Kansas, The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan declared "O'Reilly's Target Shot Dead In Church." Sullivan wrote that "there is a Bill O'Reilly connection" to a "campaign of domestic terrorism" against Tiller and posted the video at right.

Sullivan is not alone in his effort to connect O'Reilly to the murder of Tiller. Today, Michael Tomasky writes in The Guardian that it's a "fair question" to ask, "Does O'Reilly have blood on his hands?" David Frum promotes an item at Gawker that accuses O'Reilly of waging "jihad against Tiller." A front-page Daily Kos blogger also alleges that O'Reilly "has waged jihad against" Tiller. "As you can see from these video clip samplings of O'Reilly's holy war, you don't have to actually pull the trigger to help sponsor terrorism," writes Kos's blogger.

So, Sullivan, Gawker, and Daily Kos say that Bill O'Reilly bears some responsibility for Tiller's death because the Fox News personality used overheated rhetoric when discussing the third-trimester abortionist (for example, O'Reilly called Tiller a "so-called baby killer" who ran a "death mill"). And yet these same bloggers say that O'Reilly is guilty of engaging in a "jihad" or a "campaign of domestic terrorism" against Tiller? Are Sullivan and friends trying to incite violence against O'Reilly?

Since it appears that the campaign to blame O'Reilly for inciting the murder of Tiller began with Sullivan's post, it's worth noting that The Atlantic blogger routinely compares those who support harsh interrogations of al Qaeda members to the Gestapo and the Khmer Rouge.

Does all of this amount to "incitement" against Sullivan's alleged "torturers"? I don't think so. As Rod Dreher writes:

It cannot be true, however much some pro-choicers may want it to be, that pro-lifers are obliged to shut up and go away because one violent kook killed an abortion doctor. Think about the harsh criticism of the US torture policy under Bush. If, God forbid, someone infuriated by that committed murder against one of the Bush officials who devised the policy, it would be a heinous crime, but most people would understand that torture critics could not be blamed for it. Nor would the severity of their moral indictment of torture be at issue. If torture -- or abortion, or war, or discrimination, or any other morally consequential issue -- is wrong, then we are obliged to speak out against it, no matter what.