Bill O'Reilly's Ode to Barack Obama and What It Could Mean for Politics

Yes you read the headline right. Bill O'Reilly, one of America's most popular conservative journalists recently wrote in an article in Parade Magazine entitled "What President Obama Can Teach America's Kids". In what I can only describe as a tribute to Barack Obama, O'Reilly wrote about four areas that Obama's life story can help impact children. Those areas were: Forgiveness, Respect, Persistence, Hard Work, and Anything is Possible. These are all key traits that can be a source of inspiration to children around the world.

While I could easily detail the article, I believe that there is a larger context to look at. The potential political ramifications for what O'Reilly has done can be far-reaching. But the only way this can happen is IF we allow the current political discussion to open up more. Bill O'Reilly has never been one of my favorite journalists (the impact he had on Ludacris years ago that ultimately cost Ludacris the Pepsi endorsement was deplorable). But what he showed in writing this article was the belief that you can dislike a person's politics, but you don't have to dislike them as people. I believe that this tenet of democracy is slowly eroding in America today.

Look at any of the major political battles that are raging today, from health care, to the "birther movement", to the conservative-liberal divide among others and there clearly seems to be a discourse that is infected by hate. To see images of political leaders being hung in effigy next to smiling people doing the hanging hearkens back to a hateful moment in America where hanging was done on the regular. Seeing leaders of Congress receive letters calling them Marxists and way more derogatory terms has become part of the political dialogue. Watching members of the other side being called stupid and uninformed have been offensive as well. And the recent trend of militia groups coming back in force, with one of the main reasons being that the face of America is becoming more diverse and less of what it used to be.

What Bill O'Reilly did by writing this letter is clear. He showed that it is fine to disagree with one's politics. But at the same time you don't have to hate that person for who he is. I can only hope that as the debates on various politics and policies rage on that we as a country can debate in peace. Because once hate comes into the discussion, then where are we to go. So kudos to you Bill O'Reilly for doing the right thing. Here's hope that others, on both sides of the aisle learn a lesson from it. If not for their sake, then for the sake of the children who you hope can learn from Barack Obama.


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