S Aufrecht

www.globeandmail.com 404 - Page Not Found (linkrot)…excerpts from Heather Mallick’s column in The Globe and Mail, Saturday May 1, 2004.

My Fox trot with Bill O'Reilly

By HEATHER MALLICK

… I appeared on The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News Tuesday night to discuss a column I wrote welcoming the presence of American deserters in Canada.

I always say yes to American TV because how else are Americans going to hear about radical notions like feeding the poor and sheltering the gentle, or letting black people vote in Florida?

So I asked … for a car and driver and a makeup person to lacquer my face into immobility, and I did one of those remote-studio things where the host can see you but you can’t see him and he asks you questions through an ear mike. And that’s when the trouble started.

Mr. O’Reilly is not a smart man. He’s like one of those old guys you see on the street ringing a bell and shouting about eternal damnation. He talks to his trousers. You know the type. They let wasps nest in their hair so they can lure weasels, trap ‘em and eat ‘em slow over the summer.

We were supposed to be discussing American deserters fleeing to Canada; instead, he went off on some wild thing about the mayor of Vancouver injecting people with heroin and unless Canada shapes up, “we” will boycott you and destroy your economy, just like “we” did to France.

I said France seemed to be doing fine. He implied that France now looked like Dresden in 1945. I hadn’t heard that.

I said the United States couldn’t boycott Canadian goods because it would be mutually damaging. “We’re your biggest trading partner.”

“No, you’re not.” (We are.) Naturally, I wanted to reply, “Yes, we are,” so that he could say “No, we’re not,” and then I’d say, “Everything you say bounces off me and reflects back on you, so there,” but I couldn’t regress that far. …

And then he asked me if I was a socialist, and I said, “Certainly,” and it was as if I’d said I like donkey semen in my latte instead of milk. He then went into a mad rant about lefties … and how I was a typical Globe columnist. I said, no, truthfully, I think I’m regarded as “idiosyncratic” (the first six-syllable word ever spoken on the O’Reilly show), and he erupted again.

It was like talking to a manic child who had eaten 800 cherry Pop Tarts for breakfast. He kept interrupting, so that no point could be made that could win a reply, much less a reasoned response – not so much a gabble of sound bites as a howling from Bedlam.

Overnight, I received hundreds of e-mail messages from American men who think my private parts have gone communist, if you grasp my meaning. The saddest thing was the e-mail from kind Americans, apologizing for their “idiot,” quivering with humiliation and praising me for having remained calm and composed under fire, not realizing that I was simply frozen with disbelief. I have replied to each one of the nice ones.

The whole degraded debacle and everyone’s reaction to it, including mine, reminded me that Americans now have to cope with a new surrealism in public life. In the 1936 Spanish Civil War entries in a diary I read long ago, by someone who may well have been Stephen Spender, the writer describes an O’Reilly-esque scene. “A man squats and defecates in the street, without comment.” Re-reading these diaries decades later, Spender writes, “What on earth did I expect him to say? Olé?”