MSNBC host Contessa Brewer appeared on the liberal Stephanie Miller radio show on Tuesday and lamented the fact that the person arrested for the attempted Times Square bombing is a Pakistani American. She complained, "I get frustrated...There was part of me that was hoping this was not going to be anybody with ties to any kind of Islamic country." [Audio available here.]
Brewer continued, "...There are a lot of people who want to use terrorist intent to justify writing off people who believe in a certain way or come from certain countries or whose skin color is a certain way. I mean they use it as justification for really outdated bigotry."
The News live host didn't explain which ethnicity or religion she had been hoping the bomber would have been affiliated with. She did defensively mention members of a Michigan militia group arrested in March and asserted that they were "from far different backgrounds than what this guy is coming from."
Attempting to understand the mind set of Faisal Shahzad, Brewer speculated, "Were there failed family ties? Did he have a strong community network here in the United States? Did he feel isolated?" She opined that these types of terrorists are "guys who are, I don't know, isolated in some ways from their families."
This isn't the first time journalists have worried about the effect of Muslim extremists being responsible for terrorist acts. On November 7, 2009, Newsweek editor Evan Thomas worried:
EVAN THOMAS: I cringe that he's a Muslim. I mean, because it inflames all the fears. I think he's probably just a nut case. But with that label attached to him, it will get the right wing going and it just -- I mean these things are tragic, but that makes it much worse.
UPDATE: Brewer responded to the furor over her comments at 3pm EDT on Facebook:
I'm getting flak for expressing disappointment during a radio intvw, that the NYC bomb suspect has links to Pakistan. I wasn't hoping the suspect would be of a particular nationality, race, or religion. Instead, I worry ppl will use this to justify racism & religious bigotry. Mayor Bloomberg is concerned enough to say:... I want to make clear we will not tolerate bias or backlash against Pakistani or Muslim New Yorkers.
A partial transcript of Brewer's appearance on the Stephanie Miller radio show can be found below:
CONTESSA BREWER: I mean the thing is that- and I get frustrated and there was part of me that was hoping this was not going to be anybody with ties to any kind of Islamic country because there are a lot of people who want to use this terrorist intent to justify writing off people who believe in a certain way or come from certain countries or whose skin color is a certain way. I mean they use it as justification for really outdated bigotry. And so there was part of me was really hoping this would not be the case that here would be somebody who is not the defined. I mean he’s accused, he’s arrested you know I don’t want to convict him before it’s time to do so. He’s the guy authorities say is involved. But that being said, I mean, we know even in recent history you have the Hutaree militia from Michigan who have plans to, let’s face it, create terror. That’s what they were planning to do and they were doing so from far different backgrounds than what this guy is coming from. So, the threat is not just coming from people who decide that America is the place to be and you know come here and want to become citizens. And obviously this guy did.
BREWER: What’s interesting is you know we’re seeing within the boundaries of the United States it’s the people that they’re arresting seem to be you know- these loners, in some ways. I mean, the underwear bomber had obviously been sent. There was a network behind him. But, they’re guys who are, I don’t know, isolated some ways from their families. It will be interesting when we hear what is the background of Faisal Shahzad as we are, you know, of course our NBC crews are on that and looking onto more background there. We’ll find out more. Were there failed family ties? Did he have a strong community network here in the United States? Did he feel isolated?