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Secularism vs. Traditionalism in The Last Samurai

Editor's Note: This edition of the Talking Points Memo first appeared on December 8, 2003.

Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly.  Thanks for watching us tonight.

Tom Cruise, the last samurai in the battle over secularism, that's the subject of this evening's Talking Points Memo.

Okay, I go to see this Last Samurai (search) movie with Tom Cruise (search) over the weekend.  It's the usual.  Tom fighting, Tom frowning, Tom overcoming great odds to do the right thing.  Sounds like me.  Just kidding.  The only thing Tom Cruise and I have in common is that we're both Americans.

Anyway, you should go to see this movie because when you strip it all down, it's about secularism versus traditionalism, the civil war we're fighting right now here in America and reporting on an almost a daily basis here.

The samurai were Japanese warriors who lived by a code of discipline, honor, and spiritual spiritualism.  In the 1870's, the Japanese emperor wanted to move away from that traditional approach and make Japan a secular nation,  which it is today.

The movie documents the struggle between the secular emperor and the traditional samurai.  There are all kinds of scenes where the samurai leader prays -- the ACLU will not like that.  And there are confrontations between the discipline motivated samurai and the weak secular Japanese forces.

Of course, the movie's fantasy, but the basic theme of secularism versus a strict code of behavior is the crux of the civil war we're seeing in America right now.  So I recommend The Last Samurai as a vehicle that will teach you something.  It is kind of bloody, but you know, there you go.

But if you want real life, consider comparing America, the most powerful nation the world has ever seen to Canada, our liberal friend to the north.  Canada has wiped out its traditional approach to life and replaced it with a secular society.  Church attendance is down drastically.  The military there is so underfunded it might go bankrupt.  And legalized drugs are now a reality.

This is what a secular society brings.  Many Canadians are appalled, but the secularists have won.  Canada is totally dependent on America for defense,  even while it thumbs its nose at America's traditional values.

Over the next 10 months, Americans will have to make a decision what kind of country we want to be, traditional or secular.  Outside of the war on terror, this is a major issue today.  The samurai lost their quest for a traditional society.  So did the Canadians.  It'll be interesting to see if we do, too. 

And that's The Memo.

The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

Time now for "The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day."

I've received a ton of letters asking why I don't travel around the country doing signings for Who's Looking Out for You?  Hillary Clinton has dozens of events for her book, and the smear people are all over the place.

But I have to work doing both radio and TV daily, and air travel throughout the USA is brutal.  As you may know, I got stranded last Friday as air-traffic control in Washington and New York began backing up planes with less than two inches of snow on the ground.

The night before the snow, the air was perfectly clear.  My plane was still two hours late taking off for Florida.  So, if you're traveling this holiday season, be prepared.  Things in the skies remain chaotic.  I'm kind of grounded here in New York.

Tomorrow [12/9], I'll sign some books at 1:00 p.m. down in the Wall Street area at Borders, 100 Broadway.  That's at 1:00 p.m.  And then, on Sunday, I'll be out at the Costco in Westbury, Long Island, about two miles from where I grew up, at 12:30 in the afternoon.  That's on Sunday.

And that's it before Christmas and Chanukah.  I wish I could do more, but we have set up a toll-free phone number.  This is where the pen comes in.  1-877-4-ALL-GIFTS.

Now Santa has endorsed this number, as you see.  1-877-4-ALL-GIFTS.  So, if you don't have a computer, that's for you.  And if you want signed books and other stuff, you can call the number.

We hope that makes things easier for all of those out there who are looking for Christmas stuff, OK.

Ridiculous?  Only if you're flying over the next few weeks.  I feel bad.

--You can watch Bill O'Reilly's Talking Points Memo and "Most Ridiculous Item" weeknights at 8 & 11p.m. ET on the Fox News Channel. Send your comments to: oreilly@foxnews.com

Bill O'Reilly currently serves as the host of FOX News Channel's (FNC) The O'Reilly Factor (weekdays 8PM/ET), the most watched cable news show for the past 13 years. He joined the network in 1996 and is based in New York. Click here for more information on Bill O'Reilly