Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Nicholas Kristof Helping Bill O'Reilly

Behind the TimesSelect firewall, Nicholas Kristof proposes raising funds to send Bill O'Reilly to Africa to raise awareness of the situation in Darfur. Here's a few choice selections:

I challenged [O'Reilly] to defend traditional values by joining [Kristof] on a trip to Darfur... A few days ago... Mr. O'Reilly declared in his column: "I do three hours of daily news analysis on TV and radio. There's no way I can go to Africa..." [M]aybe Mr. O'Reilly's concern is cost, so I thought my readers might want to give him a hand. You can help sponsor a trip by Mr. O'Reilly to Darfur, where he can use his television savvy to thunder against something actually meriting his blustery rage.

If you want to help, send e-mail to sponsorbill@gmail.com... and tell me how much you're willing to pay for Mr. O'Reilly's expenses in Darfur... Don't send money; all I'm looking for is pledges. I'll post updates at nytimes.com/ontheground.

Sure, this is a desperate measure. But with several hundred thousand people already murdered in Darfur and two million homeless and living in shantytowns, the best hope for those still alive is a strong dose of American outrage.

Of course, the thing is that Kristof is right: O'Reilly has enough of an audience that his attention to the issue really would make a difference. And, although this issue is often characterized as something only namby-pamby liberals would care about, it's actually an issue that is very important to many evangelical and other faith-based groups, which of course is a very important constituency for the Republicans. But the Republicans find evangelicals feeling their oats and getting involved in issues besides gay marriage and prayer in schools, including environmentalism and human rights. This would give the Republicans a gold star on the human rights card and could also conceivably help save the lives of tens or hundreds of thousands of people.

Look, I'm not about helping Republicans. But I am about saving people's lives. If it takes getting Bill O'Reilly, Fox News, and the GOP a gold star, I could care less. Unfortunately, Kristof's challenge is behind the pay wall at the NY Times, so I'm hoping to help spread this news.

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