Rather than analyze the seriousness of the threat or the effectiveness of the US war on terror, FOX News used a recently-released video tape from an American Al Qaeda member to foment hatred toward Muslims, particularly American Muslims. With video.
On last night's (5/30/07) Hannity & Colmes, Sean Hannity, in his scripted introduction to the discussion about the tape made by Adam Yehiye Gadahn, read, “(Gadahn's) involvement with Al Qaeda may no longer come as a surprise to many Americans. Remember, a poll released last week revealed that 25% of young Muslims in America say that they would condone suicide bombings in defense of religion.”
In his zeal to attack American Muslims, Hannity neglected to mention that the figure (actually 26%, not the 25% Hannity erroneously reported) represents a combination of those who say suicide bombings are EVER justified (i.e. the 15% who say it's often/sometimes justified and the 11% who say it's rarely justified) ( p. 60 ). Even more significantly, he and the FOX News producers overlooked the fact that only 8% of all Muslims say that such attacks are ever justified against civilian targets (implying that most of the suicide-bombing supporters do so with regard to military targets, only) ( p. 59 ), that 78% of all US Muslims said it's never justified ( p. 59 ), as well as the much more positive overall conclusion that the Pew Center reached, as stated in the subtitle of its report: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream.
As the not-so-liberal Christian Science Monitor stated in its recent editorial on the study, the responses from young Muslims indicate an attitude, not a measure of behavior. Furthermore, the editorial said, “America needs its Muslims not just for the richness they bring, but also as allies in reporting and discouraging violent Islam. The survey found that 76 percent of U.S. Muslims are concerned about the rise of Islamic extremism around the world - more than Muslims in many European and majority-Muslim countries. The last thing non-Muslims should do is stir up anti-Muslim sentiment and fear by parading one statistic on youths' attitude.”
But FOX News threw caution to the wind when it came to cultivating any potential allies in the war on terror and bet nearly all its chips on fueling more hatred and prejudice. Why else choose a guest like Brigitte Gabriel for the discussion? Gabriel is author of the book “Because They Hate.” It should probably be renamed, “Because I Hate.” Because Gabriel's sole goal in life seems to be to make as many slurs against Muslims in as short a time as possible, usually at a high decibel.
Hannity, who surely knows what to expect from Gabriel, started out by asking if “the 25% number” is realistic.
“That is very realistic,” Gabriel said, apparently unaware that it was inaccurate. Then, she went on to contradict herself by implying that the number is actually unrealistic because it's too low. “The scary thing is, Sean, those are the ones who had the guts to come straight out and say it to our face.” Gabriel completely ignored the parts of the study that indicated more moderate attitudes.
She went on to claim that the top mosques in America are hotbeds of anti-American hatred. “What they are teaching in those mosques will absolutely shock you. They are teaching to overthrow democracy, to establish Islamic governments. They are teaching hatred. And that is simply unacceptable.” Next, she predictably attacked Muslim-American organizations such as CAIR for not “taming this radical teaching.”
The other guest, Kenneth Ballen, of Terror Free Tomorrow, acknowledged that Al Qaeda is a serious threat but he pointed out that another study, by the University of Maryland, indicated that three times the number of Americans, not American Muslims, supported suicide bombings.
With melodramatic flair, Hannity insisted that Ballen focus on the 25% number. “What does that mean to the security of this country?”
Ballen did an excellent job of pointing out that it means very little but, unfortunately, he missed an opportunity to discuss the larger picture, which was that Hannity and FOX News were conveniently focusing on one, insignificant statistic rather than discussing the larger, far more important factors involved in the security of our country.
The ghastly Gabrielle, who has what my mother used to call “a stupid face,” continued her non-stop screeching. “This is what Islam teaches: You have got to convert the world to Islam… As far as the Muslims are concerned, this is the instruction from Allah, to control the world. This is the problem we're facing.”
During his shorter share of the discussion, Alan Colmes quickly revealed Gabrielle's simplistic partisanship. First, he asked her if she believed what a terrorist says. “So when the enemy says we want the United States to stay in Iraq, stay in the Middle East so we can kill more of you, do you agree with that?”
Gabrielle insisted that when “he” (I wasn't sure if she meant Gadahn or Bin Laden) said he wanted the US to stay, he was being sarcastic, as evidenced (according to her) by the nuances of the Arabic language. (Funny how that has not been reported elsewhere .)
Colmes then noted Gabrielle's revolting comments on Your World last fall: “The Democrats are the allies of the Islamists who wish our destruction.”
“I don't believe that,” Gabrielle squealed. “This is what the jihadists are saying on THEIR website…. I am translating to you what THEY are saying.”
In fact, the quote Colmes read, which is nearly identical to the one Melanie recorded in her post about Gabrielle's appearance, indicates that Gabrielle was offering her own opinion. Otherwise, she surely would have said something like, “The Islamists who wish our destruction SEE the Democrats as their allies.” But, unfortunately, Colmes did not confront her further and went back to Ballen.
Ballen said, “We have to put this in context... Islam is not the enemy. Muslims are not the enemy.”
Hannity, not content with getting a disproportionate share of time already, interrupted. “Nobody said that,” he said peevishly.
Ballen continued by saying that every scientific study indicates Muslims want peace “as much as Americans do. To the extent that we demonize Muslims, and make them the enemy, we are playing into Al Qaeda's hands.” Referring to Gabrielle, Ballen said, “With your hate-filled speech about Islam, you're playing into Al Qaeda's hands.”
“She's talking about radical Islam here,” Hannity interrupted again with that falsehood. “This is very specific... She said those that buy into radical Islam." While Hannity spoke, Gabrielle caterwauled incomprehensibly. “There's a distinct difference there.”
Maybe so, but Gabrielle didn't make it.
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