Hilarious! (h/t: CriticalDragon):
Posted on 30 September 2012 by Emperor
Hilarious! (h/t: CriticalDragon):
Posted on 09 January 2012 by Amago
by: David Harris-Gershon on January 7th, 2012
When Jon Stewart is called a “smug, self-loathing Jew” by a right-wing Jewish personality (who is often called upon by conservative pundits to wax political), it’s tempting to dismiss the comment as a disgusting tribal dig.
When Jon Stewart is called a Judenrat who “would have been first on line to turn over his fellow Jews in Poland and Germany” by this same hawkish voice, it’s tempting – even though this voice has a visible platform – to just ignore the comment as the product of the Republican, FOX-inspired echo chamber.
However, ignoring these comments wouldn’t just be dangerous, it would be to allow a growing brand of hatred coursing through America’s veins – produced on the fringes – to continue infecting our public discourse (and public opinion) on matters both foreign and domestic.
It’s a hate-filled islamophobia that masquerades as patriotic, as anti-terrorism, as proudly American and Zionist (as though the two are synonymous). It’s a brand of hatred that the current GOP seeks, a hatred it feels it needs, a hatred it foments for perceived political gain at great cost to civil society. And, as much as it pains me as a progressive Jewish American to say, it’s a hatred right-wing American Jews are often solicited to be spokespeople for on venues like Fox News, with claims of anti-Semitism at the ready should they be critiqued by people such as, well, Jon Stewart.
So, wait – what happened to Jon Stewart, exactly? – you ask. Here is the context:
Jason Jones and The Daily Show crew produced this rather brilliant segment on how Broward County Republicans orchestrated a campaign to block membership of a Muslim Republican to the Broward Republican Party’s executive committee. This was done with the help of the Muslim-hating group ironically called Americans Against Hate (headed by Joe Kaufman, who is running against Debbie Wasserman Schultz for Congress).
The segment elicited this disgusting display from Pamela Geller:
This is not the first time that The Daily Show made fun of, ridiculed, and smeared proud Americans and passionate zionists. What’s he doing? And why? Does he know how much CAIR raised for their home office, Hamas, whose stated goal is to destroy the Jewish homeland, through the Holy Land Foundation? Stewart missed his calling. He would have been first on line to turn over his fellow Jews in Poland and Germany. Smug self-loathing Jew.
Yes, Geller is a nut. And yes, this particular display has been limited – so far – to her personal site. But Geller, just one of many fringe figures who inexplicably get airtime aplenty, knows what she’s doing. She knows the game: play the anti-Semitism card.
And not just any anti-Semitism card – the self-hating-Jew card. And she plays it against one of our country’s most important media critics and defenders of reason. Why? Because he represents exactly what she and her right-wing minions loathe: someone willing to call out islamophobia for what it is, even when promoted by American Jews.
While it would be easy to dismiss all this due to the messenger, does Jon Stewart shy away from railing against hatred and bigotry when it is perpetrated by the unhinged?
And neither should we.
Posted on 26 January 2011 by Mooneye
Colbert does it again. Hilarious!
|The Colbert Report||Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|ThreatDown – Radical Muslim Snacks, Flying Robot Drones & Coked Up Vacuums<a>|
Posted on 29 September 2010 by Garibaldi
I love Stephen Colbert, the man is a genius! He talks about another instance of Islamophobiapalooza. This time dealing with a rural Muslim community being told by scared residents to dig up the bodies in their cemetary because you know the only thing scarier than a live Muslim is a dead one.
|The Colbert Report||Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|Terror a New One|
Posted on 17 August 2010 by Emperor
Two takes on the issues revolving on Islamic cultural center that has been dubbed the “Ground Zero Mosque.” One is a very serious toned and heart felt monologue from Keith Olbermann,
The other is a satirical and hard hitting segment of Jon Stewart’s Daily Show called “Mosque-erade,”
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
Posted on 14 May 2010 by Danios
In the wake of the self-censorship controversy surrounding South Park‘s portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad, artists intent on defending freedom of speech have responded by organizing an event they call Draw Muhammad Day, to take place on May 20. The goal, according to the website hosting the endeavor, is to defend free speech by showing Muslims that artists “don’t back down” when threatened.
But the fact is that millions of Muslim-Americans — many of whom have known about South Park caricatures of Muhammad for years — behaved exactly the way free speech advocates wanted them to: by remaining silent or expressing their feelings peacefully. The handful of thugs at a New York-based site called Revolution Muslim — who, by the way, are unwelcome in every New York mosque for their extremist rantings — were the only exceptions. And now these Muslim-Americans are being subject to mass insult as thanks for their respect of South Park‘s free speech rights.
Let’s think for a moment about what is motivating the people behind Draw Muhammad Day. Is it revulsion at religiously motivated death threats? I don’t think so. Just this week, Congressman Bart Stupak wrote that he had received so many death threats (that’s actual phoned-in threats, not just one passive-aggressive blog post) that he was advised to beef up his security. It’s safe to assume that most of those death threats were fueled by religious fervor, but since the religion in question isn’t Islam, it gets a pass.
Maybe it is to show all Muslims that attacks on free speech won’t be tolerated. But the fact is that over the course of 10 years, millions of Muslims respected the free speech of South Park and didn’t even lodge a polite complaint with Comedy Central. What exactly are we being punished for? Our inability to enforce a zero-tolerance policy and prevent a blogger from hitting the Enter key?
If free speech advocates want to target someone, why not target Comedy Central, who exhibited self-censorship in the face of a mere web post? Or better yet, why not target the Revolution Muslim group, who issued the warnings that brought this whole crisis to bear? (I know plenty of Muslims who would join in this effort.)
In other words, target the people responsible for sullying free speech, not those who respected it.
Imagine for a moment if an African-American blogger complained about an unfair stereotype in a cartoon in the same crass manner as the Revolution Islam folks. Would free speech advocates respond by hosting a contest to draw as many vile stereotypes of blacks as they could? I can’t imagine that anyone would even propose such an idea. So why, then, are millions of Muslim-Americans who said nothing about South Park in the past decade being subject to this mass insult? To prove a point? What point would that be?
To be clear, the folks behind Draw Muhammad Day have every right to organize and participate in such an endeavor without threat of violence or coercion from Muslims (as I have written previously in an op-ed published all over the Muslim world).
But the participants shouldn’t claim any sort of moral high ground in doing so. In fact, unless they are willing to push the same limits of free speech with respect to other minorities, they are nothing but hypocrites that apply collective punishment to a vast majority that did them no harm and wished no ill on South Park, and are letting their thinly-veiled hatred show in the process.
Unfortunately, the right of free speech means that sometimes we have to tolerate hearing things we don’t like. Nearly every Muslim-American (with the exception of the few previously mentioned) has proven that they respect that, and I’m confident that they will continue to do so.
But it doesn’t absolve people from being assholes. And with Draw Muhammad Day, the participating artists are proving themselves to be just that.
Posted on 10 May 2010 by Garibaldi
You might be reading the title, Bill Maher Sounds Like Jerry Falwell and thinking to yourself, “What?! Bill Maher hates religion, and if I recall he blasted Jerry Falwell at the time of his death for being an intolerant, huckster con-man.” It is true that Maher has made a lot of money out of mocking religion, all religion, he made a movie about it called Religulous. In fact, Maher is constantly seen with his anti-religion crew promoting atheism and agnosticism.
So how could he possibly sound like a Christian fundamentalist such as Jerry Falwell? An analysis of Maher’s work and comments about Islam reveal he has a special and unique bias against Islam that goes well beyond his condemnation or mocking of other religions, which is unfortunate because he has a lot of hilarious and witty things to say about various topics.
Maher’s bias leads to moments where he loses his rationality and rather than comment with his usual sardonic logic, he falls into emotion and repeats worn out stereotypes and caricatures of Islam and Muslims. If that weren’t egregious enough, he also makes statements that are flat out empirically false.
So how does an atheist who prizes rationality and empirical evidence fall so hard off of the beaten path? Some might say it’s the weed but let’s look at the evidence for a second.
The first piece that I want to draw to your attention is a five minute section of the New Rules portion of Bill Maher’s Real Time.
Maher is on the wrong foot from the very beginning. He starts his monologue by creating an exclusive frame that depicts Islam as the “other,” something that is “outside” and does not belong to the West. This might have something to do with Maher’s ignorance of history since Islam has been a part of the West for over a millennium now. There is no need for me to go into detail about the historical interplay and exchange of commerce, goods and ideas between the Muslim world and the West, nor of the presence of Muslim communities, but if the construct of the “West” is to mean anything it has to include Islam and Muslims.
Omar Baddar makes just such a point and a further rebuttal in his excellent article in the Huffington Post on Maher’s recent confusion,
The implied premise that Judaism and Christianity belong to a cohesive unit called “the West” which stands in distinction from another cohesive unit called “the Muslim world” is absurd. But even if one accepted this false dichotomy, why did Maher’s example of “the craziest religious wackos we have here in America” stick to nonviolent fanatics? Why not abortion clinic bombers?
And what about Jewish extremists in the Palestinian territories? I haven’t heard an argument for why their brutal attacks on western human rights activists accompanying children to school, routine vandalism, and other violent acts coupled with chants of “we killed Jesus we’ll kill you too” are any less wacko.
Structural constraints are another obvious factor to consider. You see, the Taliban can act like they do because they live in a lawless state, and extremist settlers can act like they do because of a culture of impunity provided by the structure of Israeli apartheid. So while Pat Robertson may seem harmless, by comparison, when he issues a death fatwa on Hugo Chavez, or when he blames a hurricane or an earthquake on gay sex or a pact with the devil or something, a useful question to contemplate is whether he and his followers would be as benign (if one could describe them as such) if they could get away with worse behavior. Thankfully, we live in a system that can enforce law and order; and our wackos have the alternative outlet of lobbying the government for wars against Iraq and Iran, and they send over 100,000 emails to the White House for the perpetuation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, so direct violence from them is somewhat less likely.
I would just add one more comment to the prescient points raised by Baddar above. Our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan did and do have an active religious component in them. How else can we characterize the war briefings read by Donald Rumsfeld that were always headlined with quotes from the Bible? The Daily Times reported at the time,
The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was sold as a fight for freedom against the tyranny of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction.
But for former U.S. defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his elite Pentagon strategists, it was more like a religious crusade.
The daily briefings about the progress of the war that Mr Rumsfeld gave to President George W Bush were illustrated with victorious quotes from the Bible and gung-ho photographs of U.S. troops, it has emerged.
One of the top-secret ‘worldwide intelligence updates’, which were hand-delivered to Mr Bush by Mr Rumsfeld, includes an image of an F-18 Hornet fighter jet roaring off from the deck of an aircraft carrier.
On it were the words of Psalm 139-9-10: ‘If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast, O Lord.’
The cover of another featured pictures of U.S. soldiers at prayer with a quote from Isaiah: ‘Whom shall I send and who will go for us? Here I am Lord, Send me.’
A photograph of Saddam Hussein included a quotation from the First Epistle of Peter: ‘It is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.’
The religious theme for briefings prepared for the president and his war cabinet was the brainchild of Major General Glen Shaffer, a committed Christian and director for intelligence serving Mr Rumsfeld and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
In the days before the six-week invasion, Major General Shaffer’s staff had created humorous covers for the briefings to alleviate the stress of preparing for battle.
But as the body count rose, he decided to introduce biblical quotes.
Mr Bush, a born-again Christian, believed the invasion was a ‘mission from God’.
Another of his briefings included the words ‘Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed’ alongside a photo of a U.S. marine with a machine gun.
And on an image of U.S. tanks rumbling through the Victory Arch monument in Baghdad was a quote from Isaiah: ‘Open the gates the righteous nation may enter, the nation that keeps the faith.’
A photograph of U.S. tanks in Iraq used a further passage from Isaiah: ‘Their arrows are sharp, all their bows are strung, their horses’ hoofs seem like flint, their chariot wheels are like a whirlwind.’
These are wars that have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and were instigated and supported in large part by right-wing Christians and Zionists. It is also salient to mention the involvement of Erik Prince the leader and founder of Blackwater, a security service hired by the State Department and who many consider to be nothing more than a squad of mercenaries. Prince himself is a Christian supremacist and in an affidavit from a former employee is accused of viewing “‘himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,’ and that Prince’s companies ‘encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life.’”
There are many more examples that we can give, the Lord’s Resistance Army, Christian witch-hunts, American Evangelical collusion in the Uganda gay death bill and the war on Gaza in which Israeli soldiers were told by Rabbis in pamphlets to be “cruel” and not to “spare” the Gazan population, even “innocent civilians.”
So the claim that Muslim “wackos” are somehow uniquely more dangerous or wacky than extremists in other faiths is not only false, it is disingenuous.
However, Maher’s bigoted rant didn’t stop there, it also included his preaching about how “our culture” is better than their “culture.” I thought Maher would have realized by now that NOT ALL MUSLIMS are alike. Not all Muslims speak Arabic, live in caves, beat their wives 24-7, etc. It’s a point that As’ad Abu Khalil made painfully obvious to Maher and his guests ten years ago when Maher hosted Politically Incorrect (video at bottom). Did Maher just forget that convenient fact or is he just fulfilling the buffoonish American caricature he so often loves to lampoon?
Omar Baddar commented on Maher’s incoherence quite succinctly,
I described Maher’s tirade as incoherent because the “them” in Maher’s equation shifted from “the developing world” at one point, to people whose culture “makes death threats to cartoonists,” to “the Taliban,” and eventually to “Muslims” (not exactly interchangeable terms). None of these categories can be lumped into a “Muslim culture” because the Muslim world is simply too vast to collapse into a cultural category. From Eastern Europe to Africa, from Lebanon to Pakistan, and from Iran to Indonesia, we are talking about completely and fundamentally different cultures. In all five Arab/Muslim countries where I grew up (and went to school with girls in all of them), women are an integral part of public life, and many of them dress like Western women do. So I can assure Maher that many of these societies are not waiting for “the West” to lecture them on whether women can work.
The incoherent ramble got even more incoherent, after making a mealy mouthed and half-hearted disclaimer that “in speaking of Moslems we realize that the vast majority are law abiding, loving people who just want to be left alone to subjugate their women in peace” Maher went on to preach to Moslems saying,
“but I got to tell ya, civilized people don’t threaten each other…threatening, that’s some old school desert s***, and I am sorry, you can’t bring that to the big city. I am very glad that Obama is reaching out the Moslem world, and I know Moslems living in America and Europe want their way of life assimilated more, but the Western world has to make some things clear, somethings about our culture are non-negotiable and can’t change and one of them is Freedom of Speech, seperation of Church and State is another, women are allowed to work here and you can’t beat them, not negotiable, this is how we roll, and this is why our system is better, and if you don’t get that and you still want to kill someone over a stupid cartoon, please make it Garfield.”
The fact is Muslims didn’t react to the South Park cartoon. This was a controversy completely whipped up by the media that gave a group of four-nobody-morons far more attention than they deserved. If Bill Maher and his staff had done a little research, instead of focusing on Revolution Muslim, they would have asked the far more penetrating and relevant question of why so much attention was given to an unknown group that has zero credibility or support amongst American Muslims. Of course this would not fit into the preset narrative that the “Godzilla of crazy religions” (as Maher would put it) “must be offended and threatening.”
Bill Maher also should be put on notice, about how people who don’t believe in his “us vs. them” mentality roll. He should be put on notice about what democracy really is about. It isn’t about high voltage diatribes, and self-congratulatory head nodding, or putting down “the other”. There is also a duty to uphold justice and equality. Muslims don’t want to “assimilate more,” (last I checked that isn’t a condition for being Western) they are already here, they are integrated and they are contributing, and he should know the highest incidences of domestic violence occur here in America, where 2 to 4 million women are the victims of domestic violence every year and in which a quarter of the population will have been victims of domestic violence in their lifetimes.
After this show Bill Maher was on Anderson Cooper 360, and in my opinion it was one of the worst interviews I have seen in a long time. It was so bad that I wished I was watching Bill O’ Reilly or Glenn Beck. On the show Bill Maher repeated many of things he said on Real Time, but one thing was exceptionally noteworthy:
“I haven’t read the Quran in its original, when you read the translation there are many, many, many passages that are not peaceful at all, that are about killing the infidel and so forth, there are many passages like that in the Bible too, not as many.”
Is he serious? The Quran itself is about the size of the Psalms, and only a few hundred of the 6,000 verses relate to fighting and all of them have a context and explanation. None of them command a Muslim to just “slay the infidel.” However, the Bible is filled with exhortations to violence, wiping out whole nations, slaying pagans, enemies and non-Jews who live in Israel. This is one of the reasons that the Israel-Palestine conflict is so intractable, the view by religious Jews that not one centimeter of historic Israel should be owned by a non-Jew.
I would challenge Bill Maher to find one verse in the Quran equal or even a quarter equal to this odious commandment in the Bible,
“How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones against the rock.” Psalm: 137:9
He will be unable to as there are no verses that come close to advocating such horrendous behavior in the Quran. As far as his retort that Jews and Christians don’t follow such things, a simple search on the internet will disabuse him of that and reinforce the fact that there are people who take the Bible literally and are willing to exact Biblical commandments such as the one above (see Sabbath breakers getting stoned, and license to murder babies).
Part of me believes all of this is for attention. It seems that Maher desperately wants a fatwa on his head. He wants the status it would give him: the fame and the soaring ratings. He’ll have ensured himself a position next to Salman Rushdie as one of the victimized on the pantheon of atheist stardom. Maybe it will give him some meaning in an utterly purposeless life?
This whole episode reminds me of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, a story in which the pigs lead the other animals in a coup overthrowing the human beings who rule the farm. Once the pigs come to power, they take on the same odious traits of the human beings that had led to the revolt in the first place. The pigs became intolerant, manipulative, chauvinistic, and shallow. Orwell meant it to be a story about the failures and potential flaws of communism but the analogy could be applied equally to many of the new atheists, of whom Bill Maher is one, who rant and rave about the intolerance, shallowness, and wide sweeping claims of the religious but like the pigs are taking on those very same traits.
Please check out this very instructional episode of Politically Incorrect a few months after 9/11. It is very interesting and highlights the psychology of Islamophobia that languishes deep even in self professed liberals. As’ad Abukhalil really lays it into them,
Posted on 05 May 2010 by Danios
Following the failed Times Square bombing and the arrest of a Pakistani-American suspect named Faisal Shahzad, questions remain about his possible motivations. Some have suggested that the recent South Park controversy could have something to do with it: perhaps Mr. Shahzad was retaliating against Viacom, which owns Comedy Central. According to this theory, the grievance was over a depiction of the Prophet Muhammad by the satirical cartoon show South Park, which runs on Comedy Central. The Viacom building is in close proximity to the intended blast site.
The police have not ruled out this South Park angle (and I do not think they should), although officials have conceded that it is one out of a hundred possibilities. However, certain extreme right-wingers and anti-Islam ideologues (such as Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller) have invested a lot in this South Park-Times Square connection, and pray that it turns out to be true. It would certainly allow them to paint the Muslim community in the worst possible light: “Those crazy Moozlems bomb and kill innocent civilians simply for drawing a cartoon of their prophet!”
Proponents of the South Park-Times Square connection argue that both the (1) location and (2) timing fit. As for the location, it is said that the the parked SUV was in close proximity to the Viacom headquarters. This is true, but it is unlikely that the blast would have significantly damaged the Viacom building. Instead, it seems more likely that the intended target was the Marriott Hotel, which is right next to the blast site. Most importantly, the reaction of the emergency response teams gives us a strong indication of what the terrorists’ target was. It seems to have been the Marriott Hotel, which was evacuated and shut down. USA Today reports:
NYC’s Marriott Marquis partly evacuated due to car bomb scare Saturday
Update, 12:13 pm: Earlier this morning, I learned more about what Marriott Marquis guests experienced last night from Kathy Duffy, who handles public relations for Marriott’s New York hotels. Since the suspicious vehicle was parked on the 45th Street side of the Marquis, NYPD told the hotel to evacuate that side of the building. Since the hotel was sold out, that meant evacuating several hundred people who had rooms between floor 10 and 45, she said. The Marquis provided the guests with temporary cots and blankets in the banquet room (see CNN iReport photo link below), where they stayed until around 2 to 3 a.m., when they were allowed back to their rooms, Duffy told me.
Because the Marriott Hotel–and not the Viacom building–was evacuated, it seems pretty safe to say that the former was the target and not the latter. Furthermore, the attack was on Saturday night–after hours. The Viacom building would likely have been virtually empty. Wouldn’t a bloodthirsty terrorist have struck during peak office hours in order to kill as many Viacom employees as possible? The New York Times commented:
Times Square on a Saturday night is one of the busiest and most populated locations in the city, and has long been seen as a likely target for some kind of attack.
We can further reasonably assume that a bloodthirsty terrorist would want to kill as many people as possible, and therefore a “sold out” Marriott and a heavily “populated” Times Square were the more likely targets than the unoccupied Viacom building. If it was truly the Pakistani Taliban involved in the attack, the chosen target (the Marriott) would fit their M.O. This is not the first time the Marriott would have been targeted. In 2006, Islamic extremists detonated a bomb outside the Marriott in Karachi, the same city where Faisal Shahzad allegedly met with radicals. In 2008, the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad was bombed, as well as another Marriott in Jakarta. In 2003, the Marriott in South Jakarta was bombed. In addition to the Marriott, several other hotels have been bombed in Pakistan. In fact, two of the prime targets chosen by terrorists in Pakistan are consulates and hotels.
As for the timing of the attack, proponents of the South Park-Times Square connection argue that the bombing attempt occurred almost immediately following death threats made by Revolution Muslim. They argue: how can this just be a coincidence? However, it is in fact the incredibly short time duration–between when the South Park controversy took place and the attempted Times Square bombing–that works most against the South Park-Times Square theory. It is unlikely that the terrorists could have planned the attack so quickly. Furthermore, and most importantly, numerous reports have come out saying that Faisal Shahzad went to Pakistan to receive terrorist training. This happened long before the South Park controversy. Hence, something else radicalized him and convinced him to bomb his adopted country. If we assume that the Pakistani Taliban trained him (and instructed him to bomb NYC), then all this preceded the South Park affair. Mr. Shahzad, and his Taliban teachers, had intended to bomb us long time ago.
It is highly unlikely that Revolution Muslim has anything to do with the bombing, as they are under constant scrutiny by the FBI. They are known for their antics and tall talk, not for their actions and walk. And surely they would have bombed the place first, before announcing to the world their intention to do that and placing themselves under the watchful eye of the government.
It could be argued that Revolution Muslim issued the call and other extremists hearkened to it. However, as I discussed above, the bombing took place too soon afterward. Furthermore, the Pakistani Taliban–who claimed responsibility for the bombing–have not (to my knowledge) ever expressed outrage over the South Park cartoons. The South Park controversy seemed to be a decidedly North American affair, and it is unlikely that the Taliban took notice of it. If they had, where were their bellicose condemnations and flamboyant threats?
Lastly, there seems to be no motive to attack Viacom. Comedy Central had, to the dismay of the South Park creators, cowed to the threats from the Islamic extremists, and refused to show the Prophet Muhammad on their channel. Faisal Shahzad is a highly educated man; certainly, he would have known that it would makes no sense to attack Viacom or Comedy Central, considering they met the extremists’ demands. Had this recent bombing had anything to do with South Park, it would have been the creators of the show–not Viacom–whom would have been targeted.
In conclusion, it seems unlikely that the failed Times Square bombing had anything to do with the South Park controversy. This is so because neither the location, timing, or motive fits. Rather, the intended target seems to have been the Marriott Hotel and Times Square, both of which would have resulted in the greatest number of deaths. As such, it is extremely unlikely that the Times Square bombing had anything to do with a cartoon’s depiction of the Prophet Muhammad. I believe that the extreme right wing and anti-Islam camp wish to pin it on the South Park affair only to exploit the Times Square bombing to further their hate-filled agenda.
There is a concerted effort to hide the fact that our country’s horrific foreign policy–the interventionist policy in the Islamic world in general and the predator drone attacks in Pakistan in specific (which have killed hundreds of Pakistani civilians)–could be (and most likely is) what motivated the Times Square bombing. (I argue this here, and more convincingly here.) Instead, it is easier to blame it on a heathen religion.
Posted on 27 April 2010 by Danios
By Arsalan Iftikhar, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer, founder of TheMuslimGuy.com and legal fellow for the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding in Washington.
(CNN) — Free speech issues and portrayals of Islam needlessly stirred a hornet’s nest recently when “South Park” depicted the Prophet Mohammed disguised in a bear suit in the 200th episode of the popular Comedy Central TV show.
But what many people don’t realize is that the show’s creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, already used an image of Mohammed on “South Park” without any strife whatsoever in a July 2001 episode called “Super Best Friends.”
Of course, that episode, which depicted Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed and other religious leaders as the “Super Best Friends” superhero crew, was aired before the September 11 attacks and the 2005 controversy over a Danish cartoon with drawings of the prophet.
To generate some press coverage and needless dispute, two extremist buffoons at a radical website called “Revolution Muslim” directed a thinly veiled threat against the show’s creators for depicting Mohammed in the recent episode. Much of the American mainstream media ended up giving a national platform to these unknown knuckleheads, which only helped to tarnish the reputation of Muslims in America further.
Sadly, it seems to be far sexier for the media to report the message of two extremists rather than the tempered and tolerant message of the majority of millions of American Muslims.
This is also important because actual Islamophobia — and other forms of bigotry and racism — badly needs to be combated by our society. That fight certainly does not revolve around a bunch of Comedy Central cartoon characters named Eric Cartman or Mr. Hanky.
Instead of conjuring up fake controversies involving the equal opportunity offenders of “South Park,” we should focus on professional political polemicists, such as Ann Coulter, who has publicly stated that we should “kill their [Muslim] leaders and convert them to Christianity” — or the Rev. Pat Robertson of “The 700 Club,” who once told The Associated Press that neither American Muslims nor Hindus should be allowed to serve as U.S. federal judges.
These right-wing professional fear-mongers have nurtured, facilitated and expanded the growth of Islamophobia after the tragedy of the September 11, 2001, attacks to the point where Muslim is almost a slur in America.
In another recent news story, an under-reported one that was more significant than the whole “South Park” debacle, the U.S. Army rescinded its invitation to the Rev. Franklin Graham — the former spiritual adviser for George W. Bush — to the upcoming National Day of Prayer at the Pentagon over remarks he has repeatedly made about Islam over the years.
“True Islam cannot be practiced in this country,” Graham told CNN’s Campbell Brown in December. “You can’t beat your wife. You cannot murder your children if you think they’ve committed adultery or something like that, which they do practice in these other countries.”
During a November 2001 broadcast of “NBC Nightly News,” Graham told news anchor Tom Brokaw that Islam is “a very wicked and evil religion … not of the same god … [and] I don’t believe this is this wonderful, peaceful religion.”
Even though he has never apologized, it was his father — the Rev. Billy Graham — who finally addressed his son’s remarks about Islam during an August 2006 interview with Jon Meacham of Newsweek magazine.
The elder Graham said, “I would not say Islam is wicked and evil … I have a lot of friends who are Islamic. There are many wonderful people among them. I have a great love for them. … I’m sure there are many things that [my son Franklin] and I are not in total agreement about. …”
Sir Winston Churchill once said that “a fanatic is one who cannot change his mind and will not change the subject.” All of this anti-Muslim rhetoric over the last few years has led to political whisper campaigns and public opinion polls that show 57 percent of Republicans, and 32 percent of Americans overall, believe that President Obama is a Muslim, according to a March Louis Harris poll.
As an American Muslim civil rights lawyer and proud First Amendment freak, I can honestly say that I love both my Prophet Mohammed and “South Park.” In any free democratic society, the concept of free speech can only be combated with more free speech, not censorship. If the creators of “South Park” choose to depict the Prophet Mohammed, that is their First Amendment right, and they should be able to do so freely without any threats of physical violence and retribution.
I also believe that Comedy Central probably went too far when it censored the following episode — 201 — especially since the show had run a depiction of the Prophet Mohammed in season five.
On the issue of the U.S. Army disinviting Franklin Graham, I do think it was perfectly fine to disinvite him to play a prominent role at the National Day of Prayer at the Pentagon. Just as Graham has the First Amendment right to hate and defame Islam, the Army and Pentagon also exercise their own free speech by not giving an anti-Muslim evangelist a platform on their turf.
This is what I mean by saying the best way to counter free speech is with more free speech, not censorship. Because as we all know, the free speech clause of the First Amendment of our beloved U.S. Constitution legally allows racist, xenophobic and bigoted attitudes to be held that could easily be deemed Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, homophobic or anti-black.
Sadly, instead of dealing with the real cases of racism, bigotry and xenophobia regularly injected into our public airwaves by some of our political leaders and opinion makers, we have instead allowed ourselves to get sucked into a faux controversy involving two no-name idiots with a radical website taking on four pre-pubescent, fictitious cartoon characters from South Park, Colorado.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Arsalan Iftikhar.