During Wednesday evening's edition of All In on MSNBC, host Chris Hayes attacked Bill O'Reilly and other anchors on the Fox News Channel for calling the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria a “holy war,” which is “exactly what ISIS wants.”
Hayes began the segment by stating: “The self-proclaimed caliph of the Islamic state, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and Fox News host Bill O'Reilly -- two very different men -- are in agreement on one very crucial point: There is a holy war being waged in the Middle East.”
The liberal anchor then showed a clip of The O'Reilly Factor host asserting: “This is now a so-called holy war between radical jihadists and everybody else, including peaceful Muslims.”
“The holy war is here,” O'Reilly continued, “and unfortunately, it seems the president of the United States will be the last one to acknowledge it.”
Hayes then noted: “For months, Fox News personalities have been attacking the president for not attributing the horrors committed by ISIS to 'radical Islam,' fixating on that phrase and for not using the phrase 'Islamic terrorism.'”
As proof of his assertion, he displayed a tweet by Eric Bolling, a co-host of Fox's The Five afternoon program: “C'mon, Mister President … you can do it. Say it with me: 'I-S-L-A-M-I-C terrorism.'”
Next up was Charles Krauthammer, a frequent Fox News guest, who noted: “Even the United Arab Emirates call ISIS 'Islamic extremism,' and ISIS itself calls itself 'the Islamic state.' They proudly proclaim this, and Obama denies it.”
“We have an administration that will not even admit that there's a religious basis underlying what's going on,” Krauthammer then stated.
Hayes returned to the screen, asserting: “If the president's refusal to cast the enemy as fundamentally Islamic got the folks at Fox mad, his obviously true statement that during the Crusades, people did bad things in the name of Christianity, that made them positively apoplectic.”
Steve Doocy, a co-host of the Fox & Friends morning program, referred to Barack Obama as saying: “You know what, yeah, ISIS is bad, but you know what, Christians were just as bad as ISIS was a couple of centuries ago.”
Fellow co-host Brian Kilmeade then claimed that Obama is “making excuses, it seems, for ISIS's behavior, essentially saying 'We started it.'”
The All In host continued: “Then the next step was anger at the president because in a statement, the White House referred to the 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians murdered by ISIS as 'Egyptian citizens' instead of explicitly calling them Christians.”
Finally, Todd Starnes, host of the Fox Radio program American Dispatch, declared:
The president could not even summon the moral courage to speak the truth. They're called Christians, Sir, and their heads were savagely torn from their necks by monstrous Islamic jihadists.
“And that sort of rhetoric is, of course, exactly what ISIS wants, for if this is a holy war, they aren't some murderous cult or some fringe Sunni militia,” he stated.
The host then played a clip of Barack Obama, who addressed a summit on countering violent extremism:
We must never accept the premise that they put forward because it is a lie. Nor should we grant these terrorists the religious legitimacy that they seek. They are not religious leaders; they're terrorists, and we are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.
Hayes returned to the screen, stating: “But ISIS has had success in framing the fight on their terms, not just on Fox News, but also to some extent on the battlefield.”
He then noted:
Western volunteers are now joining a Christian militia in Iraq fighting ISIS, including a 28-year-old American veteran in U.S. Army fatigues who sports a tattoo of Jesus in a crown of thorns.
Another American veteran ... from Wisconsin who fights with the Kurdish militia against ISIS, reportedly wears a vest emblazoned with the words “Christ Is Lord.”
“Can you imagine anything ISIS wants more than a Christian-identified army lining up from Christendom against them?” Hayes asked. “That only feeds their claim that they represent Islam in a holy war against the West, a narrative that helps recruitment and radicalization and gives oxygen to the very fire we are trying to snuff out.”
The host concluded the segment by interviewing Nihad Awad -- national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations -- who said that “a holy war is a Christian concept that does not apply to Islam” since the actual definition of “jihad” is fighting in self-defense.
If we refer to the terrorists as Muslims, “we are doing PR for ISIS” and “shooting ourselves in the foot,” he added.