In an interview with controversial Florida Pastor Terry Jones on Wednesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith doubted whether or not Muslim extremism was really a threat: "Would you regard radical Islam, then, as the enemy?"
While Jones' plan to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of 9/11 has been rightfully condemned as offensive and an unnecessary provocation, Smith's response of questioning the danger of Islamic radicalism altogether denies the ideological motivation of America's enemies. After Jones described receiving threats over his planned event, Smith responded by quoting scripture: "...you're a student of the New testament, I'm sure. Did not Jesus say you're to love your enemy?"
After Jones continued to defend the burning of the Muslim religious text, Smith again cited the Bible: "But there are at least two different times in Matthew and Luke where Jesus is quite, quite clear about loving – about loving your enemy." Concluding the interview, Smith commented: "Well, I know you say you've been praying about it. And I hope that you find the wisdom in order to do the right thing, as the next couple of days unfold."
Reporting ABC News President David Westin's plan to step down at the end of the year, the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz noted “some early missteps” during his 13-year tenure, such as “a comment after the Sept. 11 attacks, for which Westin apologized, that journalists should offer no opinion about whether the Pentagon had been a legitimate military target.”
That apology was promoted by an MRC CyberAlert item in October of 2001 which put into play an answer Westin delivered during a Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism seminar. Barely six weeks after the 9/11 attack, Westin was remarkably reticent about expressing an opinion, contending that's improper for a journalist to do so – how quaint:
The Pentagon as a legitimate target? I actually don’t have an opinion on that and it’s important I not have an opinion on that as I sit here in my capacity right now....Our job is to determine what is, not what ought to be and when we get into the job of what ought to be I think we’re not doing a service to the American people....As a journalist I feel strongly that’s something that I should not be taking a position on. I’m supposed to figure out what is and what is not, not what ought to be.
NBC's Richard Engel has done some good reporting from Iraq. But scratch the reporter's surface, and you find a political partisan eager to echo the anti-Bush party line. Witness his exchange with Ari Fleischer on Morning Joe today. Engel twisted the former Bush press secretary's words, accusing him of alleging an Osama Bin Laden connection with Iraq. Fleischer had palpably said no such thing.
The springboard was Fleischer's citation of a 1998 OBL interview in which the terrorist boss said America was weak because it is unable to see through long wars. Fleischer went on to argue that America's resolve will be tested should things go badly wrong in Iraq or Afghanistan, thus putting under pressure the arbitrary dates that have been set for US withdrawal from those countries.
Engel jumped in to accuse Fleischer of claiming an OBL tie with Iraq. Even after Fleischer made explicitly clear he was alleging no such connection, Engel obdurately pressed his point.
Defenders of controversial imam Feisal Abdul Rauf have been touting his past efforts in offering counterterrorism advice to the FBI as a way to illustrate his bridge-building intentions. Much like other reports, they tend to gloss over the more controversial aspects of Rauf's statements. But, as is typical with the Ground Zero mosque imam, it can be demonstrated that he is frequently speaking with a forked tongue.
There is no doubt that Rauf has made some questionable and incendiary comments regarding America and her role in the Muslim world. Perhaps these statements fit the imam's overall rhetoric involving U.S. complicity in the attacks of 9/11. As does the following statement to the FBI, which is conveniently omitted from media reports defending Rauf.
Bridge-building imam Feisal Abdul Rauf was giving a crash course in Islam for FBI agents in March of 2003. When asked to clarify such terminology as ‘jihad' and ‘fatwa', Rauf stated (emphasis mine throughout):
"Jihad can mean holy war to extremists, but it means struggle to the average Muslim. Fatwah has been interpreted to mean a religious mandate approving violence, but is merely a recommendation by a religious leader. Rauf noted that the U.S. response to the Sept. 11 attacks could be considered a jihad, and pointed out that a renowned Islamic scholar had issued a fatwah advising Muslims in the U.S. military it was okay to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan."
With the eager help of the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and others, the liberal media have warned of and bemoaned an anti-Muslim backlash since 9-11. Unfortunately for them, the evidence never bore that out.
Now they think the wait is finally over, and they're hitting the anti-Islam hate meme with gusto. Case in point: the front page of the Washington Post's Metro section on Aug. 27. "Hostility across U.S. jars young Muslims," read the headline.
Author Tara Bahrampour focused on Muslim students at local D.C.-area colleges and their reaction to the "swelling hostility that many of these students had scarcely known was there ..."
Newly uncovered audio recorded at a forum in 2006 shows Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the man behind the Ground Zero mosque, reaffirming his belief that U.S. 'terrorism' fostered Islamic terrorism. (h/t Ace)
"There is a debate to be had about the sensitivity of building this center so close to Ground Zero. But we can not let fear and rage tear down the towers of our core American values." -- Katie Couric's Notebook, 8-23-10 [emphasis added]
Hey Norah: Katie's stealin' yer lines!
As I noted here, last week Norah O'Donnell accusedmosque opponents of acting "like the people who attacked America and killed 3,000 people."
In her "Notebook" of yesterday, Katie Couric sounded the same theme. Couric employed WTC imagery to claim that "fear and rage" [translation: animated mosque opponents] were threatening "to tear down the towers" of our core American values.
We have picked out a couple posts from each of the five categories and asked the authors to reflect back on writing them up. In this series of short videos, they share their thoughts on how they caught the particular media moment and describe the impact their post had.
File this under "Fascinating Things You Learn When Researching Other Things."
The Associated Press's infamous memo huffing and puffing about how it will henceforth describe the 13-story mosque/community center/kumbaya center that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf would like to have built on a site two blocks away from where the World Trade Center Towers once stood opened with this sentence:
We should continue to avoid the phrase "ground zero mosque" or "mosque at ground zero" on all platforms.
Obviously the publicly announced editorial decision was news, but how about the lack of uppercase letters in "Ground Zero"?
It turns out that both the AP and the New York Times routinely do not capitalize "Ground Zero," making them grammar outliers. Here was one grammarian's take on the matter in 2007 (bolded in final sentence is mine):
On Sunday’s Reliable Sources on CNN, during a discussion of the Ground Zero mosque controversy, after Bloomberg’s Margaret Carlson recommended that the mosque be moved as a compromise, NPR’s Michel Martin – formerly of ABC News – compared relocating the mosque to similarly treating a Catholic church after the Oklahoma City bombing.
Even though McVeigh -- who described himself as "agnostic" despite his Catholic parents -- timed the bombing to coincide with the second anniversary of the Waco disaster to signal that he was motivated by revenge, Martin ridiculously responded: "Did anybody move a Catholic church? Did anybody move a Christian church after Timothy McVeigh – who adhered to a cultic, white supremacist cultic version of Christianity – bombed the Murrah building in Oklahoma?"
Below is a transcript of the relevant exchange from the Sunday, August 22, Reliable Sources on CNN:
On Thursday's Situation Room, CNN's Jack Cafferty questioned the motives of the planners behind the proposed New York City mosque near Ground Zero: "The developer... has said the proximity of the planned mosque and center is not an issue. Really?...It's simply unrealistic to think you can build a Muslim house of worship two blocks from where this awful thing happened, and not get a negative reaction."
Cafferty raised the mosque controversy during his 5 pm Eastern hour commentary: "Sometimes no answer can be an answer. When asked if a portion of the $100 million needed to build the mosque and Islamic community center near Ground Zero here in New York City might come from either Saudi Arabia or Iran, the developers refused to comment. This only adds to the already heated controversy surrounding this project."
The CNN personality, after noting that "15 of the 19 hijackers responsible for the deaths of nearly 3,000 people, and the destruction of the World Trade Center on September the 11th, came from Saudi Arabia, and the U.S. considers Iran to be a sponsor of terrorism," applauded New York Governor David Paterson's effort to find a compromise over the planned mosque's site, labeling him "one of the few rational voices in the conversation."
CNN's American Morning and Newsroom programs on Thursday brought on Time magazine's Bobby Ghosh to highlight his "Is America Islamophobic?" article and help promote his accusation that "hate speech" and "bigotry" have "come out into the mainstream" during the course of the debate over the proposed New York City mosque near Ground Zero.
During his American Morning appearance, anchor Kiran Chetry hailed Ghosh's article, which is the cover story of the upcoming August 30th issue of Time, as "a very thoughtful piece." Anchor Ali Velshi, who conducted the second interview of the Time deputy international editor, went further than his colleague: "Okay, you're American- Time magazine is required reading....Bobby Ghosh...wrote the Islamophobia piece that I think everybody is going to have to read because if you are in this country, it's part of the dialogue that we are involved in at this point."
But only days earlier, in an August 3 Time.com article about the imam behind the mosque, Ghosh stated that the "last legal hurdle to the proposed Islamic center near the site of the World Trade Center has been removed, but ignorance, bigotry and politics are more formidable obstacles....Criticism [of the mosque] spans the gamut, from the ill-informed anguish of those who mistakenly view Islam as the malevolent force that brought down the towers to the ill-considered opportunism of right-wing politicians who see Islam as an easy target." So the "thoughtful" Time editor whose latest is "required reading" even had the gall to criticize the families and the friends of those who died on 9/11, or who are generally emotionally-touched by the carnage of the attack.
On December 8 of last year, at some point before hitting the "print" button, someone at the New York Times decided that a story about what has since become known as the Ground Zero Mosque needed to be reworked.
Earlier that day, the Times published an online powder-puff piece by reporters Ralph Blumenthal and Sharaf Mowjood about Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's GZM plans. The pair's story was revised before it went to print, and the online version was changed ("Muslim Prayers and Renewal Near Ground Zero," with a web page title bar that reads "Muslim Prayers Fuel Spiritual Rebuilding Project Near Ground Zero") to mirror it. It's even puffier.
Several bloggers posted about the pair's online original when it appeared. A few, including Pamela Geller at Atlas Shrugs and Ben Muessig at The Gothamist, excerpted some or all of the key paragraphs shown on the left below (bold in the third paragraph is mine). On the right is how that segment went to print on December 9 (link is to hard-to-read enlarged scan of that day's front page, where the story's opening paragraphs appeared near its bottom right), and how it currently appears online:
Bill Press is confused. He can't seem to decide whether Ground Zero is a sacred site. When he was using the memory of 9/11 as a political football to blast Glenn Beck, lower Manhattan was hallowed ground. But now that conservatives are making that claim, Press has proclaimed that the area "is not a sacred site." Make up your mind, Bill!
In June, Press compared Beck's planned 8/28 rally at the Lincoln Memorial commemorating the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech to an Al Qaeda "rally on September 11 - at Ground Zero." "Sometimes you have to stand up and say, this is wrong - the wrong place," he added. "It's a slap to the American people... There are some places where cheap political tricks should not be allowed."
But now that the right is saying virtually the same thing about the Ground Zero Mosque, Press has proclaimed that "there's only one reason to oppose this mosque, and that is to paint Islam as an evil religion and to paint all Muslims and equate them with a 19 terrorist who's flew into that building. it is wrong. it is un-American and the people against it ought to be ashamed of playing a cheap political trick" (h/t Jamas Taranto).
It was deceptive. At a White House dinner with Muslims celebrating Ramadan, Barack Obama finally weighed in on the Ground Zero mosque controversy. Incredibly, he lectured Americans about the religious freedom of Muslims “that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan.”
Those were prepared remarks, a clear and very deliberate effort to skirt the issue. But this time, it was blatantly sophomoric, too.
Of course there is a legal “right.” That doesn’t make it the right thing to do. After causing an instant national uproar, Obama saw the need to flinch. The next day, he suddenly announced to CNN that “I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there.”
There is a new media meme rearing its ugly head in the many discussions of the Ground Zero Mosque. A number of journalists seem to be suggesting that if critics oppose the construction of the Mosque, they should also be incensed by the presence of strip clubs, bars, and an off-track betting location in the area.
"Just How 'Hallowed' is the Ground Near Ground Zero?" asks Time Magazine's Madison Gray. "New York Doll's Gentleman's Club, and the Pussycat Lounge are two strip clubs that sit within a block of Ground Zero, but are not seen as a threat to the land's hallowed nature," Gray added. "So it seems to some, freedom of religion might be a problem, but a $10 lap dance is not."
Gee, could it have anything to do with the fact that pole dancers didn't fly planes into the twin towers? For some, the right to build a mosque and the move's moral implications are two distinct issues, and $10 lap dances have exactly nothing to do with either.
On Monday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann delivered a "Special Comment" in which he invoked Nazi Germany and suggested that blocking construction of a mosque near Ground Zero could be the first of a "thousand steps" toward another holocaust. He also hinted at a moral equivalence between the Islamic Empire’s conquests and America’s expansion into the lands of Native Americans as he attempted to discredit former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s concerns about the choice of "Cordoba House" as the original name planned for the mosque as being intentionally symbolic of a Muslim victory at Ground Zero.
After starting his "Special Comment" by quoting Pastor Martin Niemoller’s famous words about the Holocaust of World War II, he at first tried to make his rant sound more moderate as he contended that, "I make no direct comparison between the attempts to suppress the building of a Muslim religious center in downtown Manhattan and the unimaginable nightmare of the Holocaust." He added: "Such a comparison is ludicrous – at least, it is now."
But the Countdown host was still alarmist enough to fear the mosque controversy could lead in that horrific direction. Olbermann: "Niemoller was not warning of the Holocaust. He was warning of the thousand steps before a holocaust became inevitable. If we are at merely the first of those steps again today, it is one step too close."
Harry Reid may have deserted Pres. Obama over the Ground Zero mosque, but PBO can count on at least one stalwart defender: Norah O'Donnell.
On today's Morning Joe, the MSNBC "correspondent" declared that the prez is deserving of praise for his position. Then, dancing a quantum leap further, O'Donnell accused mosque opponents of acting "like the people who attacked America and killed 3,000 people."
Ironically, just minutes earlier Mike Barnicle and Joe Scarborough were heaping scorn on Newt Gingrich for having said that the mosque has no more right to be built near Ground Zero than would a Nazi site near the Holocaust Museum or a Japanese one next to Pearl Harbor. The pair were horrified by Newt's analogy. But when Norah compared mosque opponents to the 9-11 murderers, Mike and Joe were peep-less.
It’s one thing to acknowledge that the Muslim world has had a negative reaction to America's war effort in Afghanistan and Iraq, but, when one starts referring to "the previous eight years" before the Obama administration, it starts to sound like partisan Democratic talking points. As ABC’s Christiane Amanpour appeared on Sunday’s Good Morning America to discuss President Obama’s predicament regarding his speech on the proposed mosque near Ground Zero, Amanpour at one point recounted that relations with the Muslim world had suffered during the "previous eight years" before Obama became President.
After host John Berman queried as to "how is this playing in the Muslim world," Amanpour in her response asserted: "But clearly President Obama from the very beginning went out of his way to try to repair relations with the Islamic world which had been so devastatingly damaged over the previous eight years."
The war in Afghanistan was only seven years old when Obama took office, so her "previous eight years" crack could only be interpreted as a direct reference to the Bush presidency rather than just the war.
It's bad enough that the Daily Kos posts outrageous claims like “the 9/11 attacks were horrific, but they were more about optics than actual harm.” When bizarre sentences like these are exposed, then the exposers are accused of being enemies of “meaningful dialogue.” What is meaningful in telling the families of the victims of 9/11 that their losses were more “optics” than “actual harm”? But that's how the blogger "Something the Dog Said" tried to defend himself against my post on NewsBusters:
Mr. Graham is using the quotes from my posts that are most likely to confirm his readers prejudice against the Left and Daily Kos. By doing so he makes sure there can be no meaningful dialog between the Right and Left.
While the Ground Zero Mosque controversy strikes the media as an opportunity for "healing" that's being denied by stubborn conservatives, the leftists at the Daily Kos see it as an opportunity for Holocaust Denial. The blogger known as "Something the Dog Said" dropped this jaw-dropping paragraph Thursday morning about fear of Muslims:
Given that they are such a small minority in this nation, it is odd that so many of our fellow citizens see them as such a threat. Yes, the 9/11 attacks were horrific, but they were more about optics than actual harm. The economy was already taking a hit before the Twin Towers fell. The reaction of the nation to seeing two major buildings in New York fall on T.V. has boosted the attack out of proportion. While the loss of even a single life is to be condemned and the devastation these deaths caused the families of those killed, more than this number of teens are killed every year in car crashes. These are also tragic losses but we do not make the kind of high profile issue of it that the 9/11 attacks are.
This blogger obviously can't tell the difference in political meaning between a collection of teen car accidents and an intentional, ideological mass murder. This is the same blogger who just wrote on July 30 that Republicans are much scarier than jihadists:
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann named MRC president Brent Bozell Wednesday's "Worst Person in the World" for my NewsBusters post on Jon Stewart's sneering attack on conservatives as supposedly being opponents of religious freedom over the Ground Zero Mosque controversy. (Audio here.)
Predictably, in choosing this dishonor, Olbermann was playing rip-and-read from certain Hillary Clinton-founded Fox-and-Rush watchdogs, as he routinely acts as the TV Xerox of the Bush-Hating Left-Wing Blogosphere. Olbermann also re-tweeted them yesterday. None of these analysts on the left evaluated their own tendency to see grave threats to freedom of religion and church-state separation from Christian evangelists, but nothing at all threatening to their swaggering secular coolness from Islamic advocates of "dialogue." (See, for example, one take on the Ground Zero Imam Feisal Abdul-Rauf's views on America's "Shariah compliance." Hello, Barry Lynn?)
Love him or hate him as a "conservative," MSNBC host Joe Scarborough just showed he hasn't been completely brainwashed at his network. On his Aug. 11 program, Scarborough demonstrated just how thin the veil is over the parlor tricks going on with in the U.S. House of Representatives controlled by Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
At the center of this was the back-and-forth between Reps. Peter King, R-N.Y., and Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., over Sept. 11 responders compensation legislation. Their disagreement has been well documented dating back to Weiner's late-July outburst on the House floor accusing House Republicans of playing politics with this legislation. The two had one more dust-up on Fox News a day later, but since then it has been a he-said, he-said situation.
Weiner alleges this was a non-controversial bill that should have been passed easily with a two-thirds vote. King argues the Democratic House leadership could have offered it up and it would have passed with a simple majority. But there were some issues with offering the bill up under normal House procedure with the Hispanic Caucus.
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 ...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."
UPDATE - 6:45 pm: Greg Gutfeld discusses the bar on the Glenn Beck Show. Video below the fold.
As we noted in this morning's Open Thread, Greg Gutfeld is planning on building the first gay bar catered to Muslim men next to the impending "Ground Zero Mosque."
Gutfeld wrote at his blog, the Daily Gut, that he has "already spoken to a number of investors, who have pledged their support in this bipartisan bid for understanding and tolerance."
On Twitter today, Gutfeld and the official twitterers of the Park51 project - the official name of the mosque - duked it out in what was a very telling exchange. See a full graphic of the back and forth below the fold, courtesy of Johnny Dollar (pic at right by way of Jim Treacher).
On MSNBC's August 9 broadcast of "Countdown," Yglesias did his best to psychoanalyze people that are upset a mosque is being built in the shadow of Ground Zero, where over 2,600 people died in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. According to Yglesias, whose blog, ThinkProgress.org, is a function the George Soros-funded Center for American Progress, opposition to the plan had nothing to do with sensitivities but instead economics. The anti-mosque sentiment, he believed, couldn't exist without masterminds like former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich whipping conservatives against the mosque into a frenzy.
"Well, it seems to me that there is or at least there - it's much more visible than it used to be because we're seeing it stoked by sort of the leads in the conservative movement, by Sarah Palin, by Newt Gingrich, by others, in a way that we never had before 9/11," Yglesias said. "And I think what's happening is that when the economy goes down, people become anxious, you see, historically, a lot of increase in xenophobia, in fear and in sort of intolerance. And we've got the conservative movement leaders, very opportunistically trying to take advantage of that, try to play on people's anxieties, and build this kind of anti-Muslim hysteria in a way that President Bush never did in 2001 and 2002."
More in sorrow than in anger, I'm about to record a personal blogging first: airing a gripe about Willie Geist. When writing of the Morning Joe sidekick, my habit is to append adjectives such as "affable." Willie is indeed a likable guy, patently comfortable in his own skin. And while I don't suspect him of being a closet conservative, neither is he anything of a raging liberal, typically striking a regular-guy's middle ground on most issues.
All of which makes his comment of today that much more surprising—and regrettable. Geist was commenting on an ad by an anti-Ground Zero mosque group to be displayed on NYC buses, which shows a plane flying into one of the WTC towers. Although defending the anti-mosque group's rights, Willieopined that it's "always in bad taste to show the plane flying into the building." Really?
The ad was illuminating for another, chilling, reason . . .
MELE: ...This sort of persecution, blindly, of one group is what was going on in Germany in the 1930s...You can't say because [Muslims were behind the 9/11 attacks], we can't have them doing anything in our country.
DEIRDRE DOD (staffer): I don't think that's what [opponents of the mosque are] saying...They're saying [that they] want this as a sacred site...They're not saying, 'We hate [Muslims].'
Into this fracas came O'Donnell, with the peace offering that radical Islam and radical Christianity are very similar:
But reporters Michael Barbaro and Javier Hernandez actually led with NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's weepy speech about religious tolerance, falsely asserting that that denying permission to build a 13-story Islamic center topped by a mosque would somehow be "denying the very constitutional rights" that New York City police and firefighters died protecting.
And the Times again insinuated that opposition to the mosque is coming mostly from outsiders, while New Yorkers have gotten on with their lives and don't oppose it -- a half-truth at best, as shown by results of a poll of New Yorkers.
Times reporters were very impressed with the speech. Both Jodi Kantor and Brian Stelter linked to speech coverage on their Twitter feeds, Kantor calling it a "must-read" and Stelter calling it "worth reading."
Here's the Times's lead:
As New York City removed the final hurdle for a controversial mosque near ground zero, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg forcefully defended the project on Tuesday as a symbol of America's religious tolerance and sought to reframe a fiery national debate over the project.
Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday Defended the building of a mosque near Ground Zero as a monument to tolerance. Talking to conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, he proclaimed, "This is a country founded on the notion of religious freedom. What better way to say they [the terrorists] haven't won?"
Ingraham decried the plan for being so close to the site of 9/11 terrorist attack: "And I say the terrorists have won with the way this has gone down. 600 feet from where thousands of our fellow Americans were incinerated in the name of political Islam?"
This prompted the ABC co-host to chide, "In the name of militant, radical Islam, not in the name of Islam."