Bill O'Reilly tells Newsmax TV that the raging debate over Confederate statues is a symptom of a much deeper problem — the U.S. is in the throes of a "social civil war" and the aggressors are "far-left extremists" who want to tear down much more than just monuments.
They want to destroy the entire legacy of the U.S., the former Fox News host told Newsmax TV on Friday.
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"The people behind this movement aren't the left. They're the far left, the extremists who believe that the United States from the jump was an evil country," O'Reilly said.
"They believe that the whole system . . . was designed to keep white men in power and prosperity at the expense of minorities.
"So to them, destroying all of our legacy, all of it, and rebuilding it in this socialistic, far-left vision is what is necessary," O'Reilly said. "This is how bad this is. So this movement, it's not many Americans, but they're given a pass by the media."
O'Reilly said there's one defense available to most Americans who want to push back — "know our history."
The timing of O'Reilly's latest "Killing" series book — "Killing England: The Brutal Struggle for American Independence" — couldn't be more poignant.
There's a debate to be had in this country about statues, and O'Reilly said removals of some should be a "case-by-case."
But this notion put forth by the far left of tearing them all down should be alarming to the "vast majority of Americans do not want their statues and monuments defaced."
"The truth is always, when you're dealing with flawed human beings, good and bad. And that's what we're dealing with today in this country," O'Reilly said.
"But Americans don't know how brutal this eight-year war was. And the savagery that it took to get our freedoms that we are right now exercising and it wasn't pretty," O'Reilly said. "And if you're going to go back and start to demonize, as the far left wants to do, of people who were directly involved in getting us the freedom that we enjoy today, I'm going to come after you."
O'Reilly said he's in favor of removing the statue of confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, founder of the KKK, in New Orleans, but said monuments of Robert E. Lee should remain.
Forrest "started the Ku Klux Klan after the war and the Klan did a lot of damage and does a lot of damage to this country. Should that statue be up there? And I say no," O'Reilly said. "That's a legitimate, absolutely a strong argument that that guy should not be honored with anything. You want that statue, you put it in a museum and then you tell a story about Nathan Bedford Forrest.
"But Robert E. Lee is a whole different story," O'Reilly said.
"Yes, Lee fought for a system that wanted slavery. No question. Yes, Lee committed treason against his own country because he put his state, Virginia, over the union," O'Reilly said. "So Lee is not a hero, per-se, in my opinion.
"However, he was involved after the war in healing the nation, bringing the nation together as [Abraham] Lincoln wanted. He was deeply involved with that and on the battlefield he was an honorable man. So are we going to wipe out Robert E. Lee's message? That's just stupid," O'Reilly said.
Point is, O'Reilly said, educated discussions are the only way to push back against extremism in our own country.
"The pressure is going to get worse unless the majority of Americans start to push back. But the only way you can push back is if you really know our history," O'Reilly said. "The American people are struggling to put forth their side of the debate which is why I wrote 'Killing England.'
"So you know exactly what Washington did right and wrong and then you can make a determination of the totality of the man. The same thing with [Thomas] Jefferson and [Benjmain] Franklin," O'Reilly said.
"So it becomes very important for individual Americans to stand up and say 'you know what in my town you're not going to do this fascist stuff. You're not going to knock down all this stuff.' This is what ISIS does. We're not going to do that here," O'Reilly said.
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