Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly says he is “fleeing to Ireland” if Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (a registered independent and self-described democratic socialist) is elected president. “I’m not going to pay 90 percent of my income to that guy,” the conservative and combative host of “The O’Reilly Factor” said on his show.
Now the Washington Post‘s Henry Farrell, “a recent emigrant from Ireland and current U.S. citizen,” has written a piece suggesting O’Reilly might be surprised by what he finds in Ireland:
From the perspective of its Western European neighbors, Ireland is a small, market-friendly, right-of-center country. But from the perspective of American conservatism, Ireland looks like a hellhole of socialism.
Farrell notes that O’Reilly can’t claim Irish citizenship through ancestry because he is more than one generation removed from the island. His great grandfather was from Co. Cavan. A recent episode of “Finding Your Roots” profiled the Irish ancestry of O’Reilly, as well as Bill Maher and Soledad O’Brien. Watch it here.
Farrell continues that Ireland is not a conservative paradise. Taxes are high; gun ownership is highly restricted; and medicine is socialized.
“If O’Reilly really thinks that Ireland is a good alternative to a Sanders-led America,” Farrell concludes, “it’s probably because he’s unfamiliar with what Ireland is really like as a country.”
Farrell doesn’t mention the socialist strands of Irish revolutionary history, most notably 1916 leader James Connolly.
O’Reilly, no stranger to controversy, got into trouble last year for claiming that he saw “Irish terrorists kill and maim their fellow citizens in Belfast with bombs.” It turned out he only saw photographs shown by police while on a freelance reporting trip to Northern Ireland in 1984, for a book he never finished.
Thanks to my lovely wife, Angie Drobnic Holan, who tipped me to the Post story and the PBS show.