Carl Bernstein, Cenk Uygur Team Up to Thrash Muslim-American Hearings as 'Un-American,' 'Coliseum-like Atmosphere'

MSNBC's "panel" on today's hearings about radicalization of Muslim-Americans featured liberals Carl Bernstein and Cenk Uygur – with MSNBC's Richard Lui moderating. With no substantial conservative counterpoints to be offered, the two guests sounded their condemnations of the hearings as "cultural warfare" and bigotry.

Bernstein slammed the House inquiry as a joke and as a "debating society for cultural warfare." Referencing the institution's past for producing McCarthy-ite investigations, he compared the current hearings with the gladiatorial combat of the Roman coliseum.

"Now we have this question which is part of this coliseum-like atmosphere of cultural warfare," Bernstein spat.  

Cenk Uygur turned up the invective knob to 11 when it was his turn to speak. He questioned whether Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security, is a "real American."
 

"I wonder whether Peter King and the people who are in favor of this hearing understand what America is about," Uygur ranted. "I question whether they're real Americans. I think they're completely and utterly un-American to suggest that one race or one ethnicity should be looked into in its entirety."

Uygur also claimed that non-Muslim have masterminded almost twice as many domestic acts of terror since 9/11 than Muslims in America. "There's been these right-wing extremists," he referenced, "and we don't have any hearings about that." Uygur's point was that the FBI and local authorities should look into all acts of extremism, Muslim or not.

"But for a bigoted, un-American congressman like Peter King to come out here and to question people's Americanism, and to question whether they should be investigated is horrible and grotesque," Uygur concluded.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on March 10 at 10:15 a.m. EST, is as follows:

CARL BERNSTEIN: I think there are two core questions, and that is the radicalization of Islam and real danger from Islamic radicals, which is genuine; and then there's also the danger from the Congress of the United States, which is also genuine. The Congress of the United States has shown itself in the past 30 years in this country to be incapable, almost, of seriousness.

Matters such as this, with such sensitivity, with so many experts available in other forums, and you would think that the Congress is not the right place for this. We have experience in this country with the Unamerican Committee, with the old Senate Internal Security Committee in the 50s, with the investigations of left-wing organizations – it's not a happy history. This is not the right place to be doing this. There could be a Presidential commission with Islamic members, with police, prosecutors, experts appointed to look at the question of radicalization of the Muslim community and what kind of threat, if indeed it exists, in that way – that's one way to go about it.

But the Congress of the United States being capable of – you know, it's really a debating society for cultural warfare, and now we have this question which is part of this coliseum-like atmosphere of cultural warfare.

RICHARD LUI: Let's go to Cenk. So Carl was saying it's not the right time in history, but Cenk as you know these hearings –

BERNSTEIN: Not the right place.

LUI: Right. Not the right place, perhaps time. But this has happened many times in the past, some 20-plus hearings looking at radicalization of the Muslim-American community.

CENK UYGUR: Yeah, I reject these whole hearings. And I reject the idea of questioning whether Muslims are Americans. I wonder whether Peter King and the people who are in favor of this hearing understand what America is about. I question whether they're real Americans. I think they're completely and utterly un-American to suggest that one race or one ethnicity should be looked into in its entirety. I'm now agnostic, but my family's Muslim. Are they saying that my mom is in league with al-Quaeda? And she needs to be looked into? Are they saying that about my uncle? Are they saying that about my cousins? It's sick, it's grotesque, and it's un-American. It disturbs me to my core, and you know what, there's been, since 9/11, almost twice as many extremist attacks, terrorist attacks here in the United States from non-Muslim groups as Muslim groups. There's been these right-wing extremists. They killed an abortion doctor. They did the Olympic bombing, that was before 9/11. Over and over again, the Holocaust Museum they attacked. And we don't have any hearings about that. Look, you want to look into radicals, whether they're Muslims or they're non-Muslims, of course you should. That's what the job of the FBI is. That's what the job of the local authorities are. We want to protect all of us, and we have a vehicle to do that. But for a bigoted, un-American congressman like Peter King to come out here and to question people's Americanism, and to question whether they should be investigated is horrible and grotesque.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014