"O’Reilly laments that you can’t make fun of Arabs anymore: ‘What has changed in America?’"
On Friday, Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly hosted country singer Ray Stevens — who proudly described himself as “right of Attila the Hun” — to discuss Stevens’ new right-wing parody song about “Obamacare.” O’Reilly praised Stevens, who performed parodies on the Andy Williams Show, and said he has been a fan “since I was a kid.” He then highlighted one of Stevens’ songs from 1962 called “Ahab the Arab” — about a cartoonish “sheik of the burning sands” who rides a camel — and lamented “you could never get away with it [today]“:
STEVENS: That was ’62. [The Council on American-Islamic Relations] wasn’t around. You know, there wasn’t evil or an intent in that song except for fun.
STEVENS: And, you know, as a kid I read “Arabian Nights.” I was a big fan of the whole culture. And so I wrote this song as a comedy song just for fun.
O’REILLY: So 48 years ago — 48 years ago in this country we could make fun of Arabs. … We could make fun of people in a general way, and certainly, Ahab was the Arab was a general parody. But now, we can’t. What has changed in America?
STEVENS: I think we’ve gone overboard with the political correctness just like so many other people think the same way about that. And I don’t know. We’ve got to come out of that, I think.
Of course, many Arab-Americans would find Stevens’ parody offensive. In fact, the term Ahab has become a racial slur thanks to Stevens’ song. This doesn’t seem to bother O’Reilly, who also said “in jest” that Islamic women cover themselves because “the most unattractive women in the world are probably in the Muslim countries.”