I have some sympathy for critics of President Obama’s decision to trade five Guantanamo prisoners for Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. At the very least, the White House should have informed Congress beforehand, as required by law. And the administration’s effort to justify that failure by citing a presidential signing statement altering the law’s meaning sounds positively Cheneyesque.
Still, it's disheartening to see that some prominent conservatives are unable to critique the Bergdahl deal without resorting to anti-Muslim bigotry. Bergdahl’s father, an outraged Bill O’Reilly said earlier this week, “looks like a Muslim. He is also somewhat sympathetic to Islam.” Actually, Bob Bergdahl’s untrimmed beard would fit in well in Amish and ultra-Orthodox Jewish circles as well. But it’s revealing that for O’Reilly, sympathy for “Islam,”—not “Taliban-style Islam” or “radical Islam” but merely “Islam”—is a character flaw.
It’s remarkable, when you think about it. In recent decades, the stigma associated with offensive comments about African Americans has clearly grown. Donald Sterling is banned for the NBA for life for racist comments made in a private conversation. When it comes to homophobia, the shift has been even more dramatic. The term “faggot”—which was omnipresent and largely uncontroversial in my youth—is becoming as unacceptable as the term “kike.” (The actor Jonah Hill apologized profusely for using “faggot” earlier this week.) Feminists are enjoying success in their “ban bossy” campaign, an effort that would have been unthinkable a decade or two ago.