Mohammed-Phobic Comedy Central Lectures Conservatives About Religious Liberty? Jon Stewart's Actually That Shameless

Jon Stewart landed both his jokey feet on the Ground Zero Mosque controversy on The Daily Show Tuesday night. He mocked conservatives for having no respect for freedom of religion. This, from Comedy Central? The network that mocks Jesus and Christians relentlessly, but censors whenever the radical Muslims threaten them? Yes. Stewart was arguing for the “greatness” of Islam, that it should be accepted with great tolerance as a global religion – regardless of how much tolerance Islam demonstrates for freedom of religion.

Stewart mocked conservatives and Republicans. “Haven’t these people ever heard of freedom of religion? Lieutenant Goveror of Tennessee, you wanna take this one?” He ran a hacked-up snippet of GOP Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey: “I'm all about freedom of religion [edit]...you could argue whether being a Muslim is actually a religion, or is it a nationality, way of life, or cult, whatever you want to call it.”

We’ll get to Stewart’s surgical removal of context later. Stewart made a shocked face, narrowed his eyes, and lectured: “I think religion is what they wanna call it. But point taken. I can see being confused with Scientology, or the thing that Madonna does with the red bracelets, or this whole Justin Bieber craze, certain World Warcraft guilds, Harry Potter book clubs. But I think over 1400 years and over a billion Twitter followers, Islam’s kind of an accepted religion now.”

Again, this is a rich line of argument coming from Stewart, whose acidulous attacks on the Roman Catholic Church hardly qualifies as treating Catholicism as an “accepted religion.” Instead, it’s a den of perverts and hypocrites. It's the "villain" that's "easy to spot."

Stewart insisted that Islam deserved more respect than Harry Potter or Justin Bieber fan clubs, but unlike certain mosques, those groups haven't been known to nurture terrorist cells. 

Then Stewart moved on to mocking Newt Gingrich: “But some people don’t want to be lectured about religious liberty.” He ran a clip of Gingrich saying “I don’t want to be lectued by them about religious liberty when there’s not a single church or a single synaogue in Saudi Arabia.” 

Stewart took the easy retort: “Why should we as Americans have higher standard of religious liberty than Saudi Arabia! Makes no sense!” The audience applauded.

But it is Stewart and the Comedy Central crowd that are the shameless hypocrites about religious liberty. If they really believed in free expression, they might dare to mock radical Muslims instead of cower before them.

Now let’s consider how much Fake-News Stewart edited out from Ramsey’s argument. Mediaite printed a fuller transcript (saying it was "all wonderful stuff"). But there’s certainly more substance in here about the Islamic threat to religious liberty than Stewart wanted to allow. It would ruin his perfectly cocky liberal rant. Ramsey said this (Stewart’s edit in bold) about controversy over permits for a mosque proposal in Murfreesboro, Tennessee:

Now, I'm all about freedom of religion. I value the First Amendment as much as I value the Second Amendment as much as I value the Tenth Amendment and on and on and on. But you crossed the line when, when they start trying to bring Sharia law here to the state of Tenn, in the United States. We are a law- we live under our Constitution and they live under our Constitution. But it's scary if we get there. It's always arguable- and I've been studying this issue, but I'll be right up front with you, like I say until two weeks ago, three weeks ago, nobody ever asked me about this on a governor's race. And why do you ask about that? Til this mosque started coming in up there.

I've been trying to learn about Sharia law, I've been trying to learn about what going on-, it is not good if that's what's going on. Now, you could argue whether being a Muslim is actually a religion, or is it a nationality way of life, or cult whatever you want to call it. But certainly, we do want to protect our religions, but at the same times, this is something that we are gonna to have to face.

Right now, though, the most ironic part of what's happening in Rutherford County is I'm in the real estate business, you want to get something re-zoned, if you want to get something put in, that's a three-month process. They approved that in 17 days ["mmm" from audience] in Rutherford County. The least they can do is back up, and say, let's, let's see what we're doing over there, (inaudible) 53,000 square foot mosque in the middle of basically a neighborhood and they did it all almost overnight, 5:16. So that has become an issue, and what an issue. I've tried to study up on it. But I've read enough about Sharia law to know that it's crazy.

When liberal journalists (think Tom Brokaw) tout Jon Stewart as a precious steward of democracy, please remember how he'll take video clips wildly out of context for a punchline. Tom Brokaw would think that would give bloggers a bad name, but apparently not fake news anchors.

CORRECTION: It is clear that we've reported that Stewart mocked radical Islam (sort of) over the Comedy Central censorship in April. Stewart mocked them with Jewish-deli-and-Frisbee jokes: They "try to intimidate the creators of south park all while enjoying our lovely theater district, our many diverse restaurants including really the best Jewish delis you'll find and our new high line park. It's a park made out of an elevated train line. It's a super-thin park in the sky. Let's play Frisbee." Radical Muslims make death threats; Stewart makes Frisbee jokes and mocks gospel choirs with his "F You" song.

That hardly compares in tone and temper to another April bit, Stewart trashing the 21st-century Catholic Church for heinous massacres in the 13th as well as everything from Galileo to the Spanish Inquisition:

SAMANTHA BEE: The Cathars, the gnostic sect in 13th century France.

STEWART: I still got nothing there.

BEE: Tens of thousands of them were massacred under the direct authority of Pope Innocent III, persecuted out of existence by the Catholic Church.

STEWART: Oh, I see.

BEE: Well, that's what you're doing now.

STEWART: Sam, see, if any other organization had done anything close to what the church is being accused of, they'd be done! The church is barely showing any contrition.

Stewart can barely mock Islam by remembering 2001, but he can drag the Catholics back to 1209 and mock their lack of atonement.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis