CBS Uses Opposition to Ground Zero Mosque to Lecture About ‘America Becoming Islamophobic’

“A CBS News poll out tonight finds that seven of ten [71%] Americans oppose building a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero,” fill-in CBS Evening News anchor Jeff Glor announced Wednesday night, but instead of exploring why most think it’s inappropriate to build there, Glor pivoted to how that and “controversies over new mosques in Wisconsin and Kentucky have led some to question is America becoming Islamophobic, a prejudice against Muslims?”

Those “some” started with the wife of the iman behind the Ground Zero mosque, Daisy Khan, who charged on ABC’s This Week, in what is becoming TV’s favorite soundbite of the week: “It's not even Islamophobia, it's beyond Islamophobia, it's hate of Muslims. And we are deeply concerned.”

Glor first went to how “police say anti-Islamic sentiment turned violent,” proven by a single New York City incident, as a “21-year-old man is in police custody tonight charged with attempted murder. Police say he attacked a cab driver after asking if he was a Muslim.” Glor warned “that alleged hate crime took place in the shadow of a heated and divisive debate over whether a mosque should be built near Ground Zero.”

Highlighting a Time magazine poll which found “46 percent believe the Islamic religion is more likely than other religions to encourage violence against nonbelievers,” Glor wondered: “Why?” Maybe it has something to do with how the terrorists who committed the 9/11 atrocities and others since are Muslim. A university professor answered Glor’s set-up with the obvious: “Incidents like the Times Square Bomber or the Fort Hood gunman certainly should be expected to amplify people's anxieties.”
Monday night: “ABC Works to Rehabilitate Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's Reputation After Pining for George W. Bush.”

Sunday: “Amanpour on One-Sided This Week: ‘Profound Questions About Religious Tolerance and Prejudice in the U.S.’”
From the Wednesday, August 25 CBS Evening News, transcript provided by the MRC’s Brad Wilmouth:
JEFF GLOR: In this country, it's become the subject of a red-hot national debate, those plans to build an Islamic center, including a mosque, two blocks from Ground Zero. A CBS News poll out tonight finds that seven of ten Americans oppose building a mosque there. Our poll also found only 24 percent of Americans have a favorable impression of Islam, 39 percent unfavorable. Supporters of the Islamic center gathered near Ground Zero again today, but, in a different part of Manhattan last night, police say anti-Islamic sentiment turned violent. In New York City, this 21-year-old man is in police custody tonight charged with attempted murder. Police say he attacked a cab driver after asking if he was a Muslim.

RAYMOND KELLY, NYPD COMMISSIONER: He said, "Asalaam Alaikum," and then began to stab the driver.

GLOR: That alleged hate crime took place in the shadow of a heated and divisive debate over whether a mosque should be built near Ground Zero. It's not just protesting near Ground Zero –  the sentiment against building new mosques has reached from New York's Staten Island 15 miles away to Tennessee where a debate over a proposed mosque near Nashville has raged all summer.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It's not about religion, it's about stopping Tennessee homegrown terrorists.

GLOR: Other controversies over new mosques in Wisconsin and Kentucky have led some to question is America becoming Islamophobic, a prejudice against Muslims?

DAISY KHAN, ON ABC’S THIS WEEK: It's not even Islamophobia, it's beyond Islamophobia, it's hate of Muslims. And we are deeply concerned.

GLOR: A recent Time magazine poll found that 43 percent of Americans hold unfavorable views of Muslims, and 46 percent believe the Islamic religion is more likely than other religions to encourage violence against nonbelievers. Why?

RICHARD LLOYD, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: Incidents like the Times Square Bomber or the Fort Hood gunman certainly should be expected to amplify people's anxieties.

GLOR: In this election season, politics is driving the argument as well.

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: Nazis don't have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum.

GLOR: It's become a wedge issue in campaigns from North Carolina to New York.

RICK LAZIO, NEW YORK REPUBLICAN GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE, IN AD: We don't need silence now, we need leadership.

GLOR: But with nearly seven million Muslims and more than 1,200 mosques already in America, Muslim leaders say that fear is unnecessary.

MOHAMMAD SHAMSI ALI, ISLAMIC CULTURAL CENTER: I'm very sad because we know that America is the most tolerant country in the world.

GLOR: In New York, many 9/11 families insist their opposition doesn't make them Islamophobic, they're just trying to heal.

KEN FAIRBEN, FATHER OF 9/11 VICTIM: I feel strongly about it. The mosque, I understand their religious beliefs, I understand they should have a place to pray, an educational center. I have no problems with that whatsoever. But not there. Definitely not there.

GLOR: A city commission gave final approval to the Islamic center and mosque earlier this month. Opponents vow to continue their fight in court.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center