Racism at Ground Zero, and the role of FOX

There was apparently a big protest yesterday, around the corner from the site of the former World Trade Center. Crazed, middle-aged, white people, emboldened by the likes of FOX News and Sarah Palin, had taken to the streets to show their displeasure over plans to build a 13-story Muslim community center in Lower Manhattan. And, as some are pointing out, their frothy-mouthed antics are likely playing right into the hands of al Qaeda. Here, on that subject, is a clip from today’s New York Times:

Some counterterrorism experts say the anti-Muslim sentiment that has saturated the airwaves and blogs in the debate over plans for an Islamic center near ground zero in Lower Manhattan is playing into the hands of extremists by bolstering their claims that the United States is hostile to Islam.

Opposition to the center by prominent politicians and other public figures in the United States has been covered extensively by the news media in Muslim countries. At a time of concern about radicalization of young Muslims in the West, it risks adding new fuel to Al Qaeda’s claim that Islam is under attack by the West and must be defended with violence, some specialists on Islamic militancy say.

“I know people in this debate don’t intend it, but there are consequences for these kinds of remarks,” said Brian Fishman, who studies terrorism for the New America Foundation here.

He said that Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born cleric hiding in Yemen who has been linked to several terrorist plots, has been arguing for months in Web speeches and in a new Qaeda magazine that American Muslims face a dark future of ever-worsening discrimination and vilification…

Pardon the interruption, but there’s a fucking al Qaeda magazine? Can someone please verify this? Or, better yet, send me a copy? I’m curious as hell as to who the advertisers are… OK, back to the article:

…“When the rhetoric is so inflammatory that it serves the interests of a jihadi recruiter like Awlaki, politicians need to be called on it,” Mr. Fishman said.

Evan F. Kohlmann, who tracks militant Web sites at the security consulting firm Flashpoint Global Partners, said supporters of Al Qaeda have seized on the controversy “with glee.” On radical Web forums, he said, the dispute over the Islamic center, which would include space for worship, is lumped together with fringe developments like a Florida pastor’s call for making Sept. 11 “Burn a Koran Day”…

Oh, speaking of that Florida pastor, his name is Terry Jones, and he was just arrested for possession of child pornography. Of course, that’s not to say that he’s not totally credible when he preaches of our moral superiority.

Back to this weekend’s protest in Manhattan, from the video I’ve seen, it looks like a real good time… at least as long as you’re white. Here, to illustrate that fact, is a short video clip that shows a back man, who is thought by the crowd to be Muslim, due to his unfortunate choice of headwear, having to be escorted out for his own safety.

And, here, by way a background, is an explanation of the video shared by someone calling herself Jane Austentatious, at the online community Reddit:

Taken by a friend of mine live-blogging the conservative Anti-Mosque rally held at Ground Zero today in NYC. You can hear chants of “NO MOSQUE HERE” over and over. Here is what my friend had to say:

“The crowd turns on Kenny. At the end of the rally a black man named Kenny walked through the crowd, and was immediately mistaken for being Muslim. They mistook the Under-Armour head cap he was wearing as the Muslim skull cap, and as he walked through the crowd several people confronted him. Ultimately he was asked to leave by security.

After this I caught up with him and had a long conversation about how scary that was for him. He works at Ground Zero as a union carpenter. The hate at this rally was palpable. This is what scares me about the direction America is taking. I really got a good taste of the mob mentality at work.”

And, why do you think it is that anti-Muslim sentiment, especially as it concerns this one particular mosque, is running so high these days? It couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the “Fair and Balanced” network, could it? Here, on that subject, is a clip from today’s column by Frank Rich:

…At the Islamophobia command center, Murdoch’s News Corporation, the hypocrisy is, if anything, thicker. A recent Wall Street Journal editorial darkly cited unspecified “reports” that Park51 has “money coming from Saudi charities or Gulf princes that also fund Wahabi madrassas.” As Jon Stewart observed, this brand of innuendo could also be applied to News Corp., whose second largest shareholder after the Murdoch family is a member of the Saudi royal family. Perhaps last week’s revelation that News Corp. has poured $1 million into G.O.P. campaign coffers was a fiendishly clever smokescreen to deflect anyone from following the far greater sum of Saudi money (a $3 billion stake) that has flowed into Murdoch enterprises, or the News Corp. money (at least $70 million) recently invested in a Saudi media company…

And, here, if you haven’t seen it yet, is that Jon Stewart segment that Rich refers to:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Extremist Makeover – Homeland Edition
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

So, have you got all that?

Here are the main points as I see them… A few weeks ago, the folks at FOX thought that the 51 Park project was a good idea. Then, for what would appear to be strictly political reasons, they reversed course. It would seem that they smelled blood in the water, and knew that they could use this to beat up on Democrats, who would be seen as soft on terror if they were were to defend the progressive Muslim group seeking to build the community center. (Murdock and company know damned well that their audience’s love of the Constitution only goes so far.) So, FOX knew that they could make political hay, and, at the same time, draw some big ratings, which would, in turn, earn them more advertising revenue. So, they started the drumbeat about the “Ground Zero Mosque,” and how future terrorist attacks may be planned there. But, in the process, they not only fed this xenophobic monster that’s welling up within the American populous, but they also helped confirm to the Muslim world that we hate them, thereby making their recruitment of young American jihadists even easier. That couldn’t possibly matter to Rupert Murdoch, though. All he cares about it pushing ratings, and getting his Republican candidates into office – the hell with journalist ethics, the Constitution, and the future of our nation.

update: It’s too early to say for sure, but one wonders if FOX might now have blood on their hands. It’s being reported that a cab driver in New York was just stabbed in the throat by a passenger who, right before the attack, asked “Are you Muslim?

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  1. Stan
    Posted August 23, 2010 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    Crowds lashing out at a dark skinner carpenter. Where have I heard that story before?

  2. Robert
    Posted August 23, 2010 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    There is no legit news source reporting the Terry Jones porn story and I don’t see any reference to the arresting agency. I wouldn’t be surprised if Terry Jones himself put out the fake story in order to claim he’s been terribly wronged by the left.

  3. Dirtgrain
    Posted August 23, 2010 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Nice piece, Mark. That mob is a bad sign.

    The following is a nice overview of the events surrounding the “mosque” in New York controversy: Hurt Feelings and the Ground Zero Mosque.

  4. Edward
    Posted August 23, 2010 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    I’d love to listen in on a conversation between Murdoch and Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who, as it’s been pointed out, owns 7% of News Corp. I’m sure the Prince loves the fact that ratings are good, as it means higher dividends, but, as he’s also donated money to the construction of this Muslim center in NYC, he’s got to be kind of pissed. And, on top of it all, the Saudi’s are very much in bed with our Republican party and the oil industry that supports it, so they’re probably happy that this could impact the mid-term elections in their favor. I find it fascinating.

  5. Red Rider
    Posted August 23, 2010 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    For good coverage of the issue, check out Al Jazeera:


    Al-Qaeda is to Islam as the Ku Klux Klan is to Christian Protestantism.” – The West Wing

  6. Meta
    Posted August 23, 2010 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    To further make the case, here’s video of Glenn Beck in 2006 calling Imam Rauf a “good Muslim”:


    Their turn around is completely disingenuous.

  7. Edward
    Posted August 23, 2010 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    From Ron Paul:

    Left and the Right Demagogue Mosque, Islam

    Is the controversy over building a mosque near ground zero a grand distraction or a grand opportunity? Or is it, once again, grandiose demagoguery?

    It has been said, “Nero fiddled while Rome burned.” Are we not overly preoccupied with this controversy, now being used in various ways by grandstanding politicians? It looks to me like the politicians are “fiddling while the economy burns.”

    The debate should have provided the conservative defenders of property rights with a perfect example of how the right to own property also protects the 1st Amendment rights of assembly and religion by supporting the building of the mosque.

    Instead, we hear lip service given to the property rights position while demanding that the need to be “sensitive” requires an all-out assault on the building of a mosque, several blocks from “ground zero.”

    Just think of what might (not) have happened if the whole issue had been ignored and the national debate stuck with war, peace, and prosperity. There certainly would have been a lot less emotionalism on both sides. The fact that so much attention has been given the mosque debate, raises the question of just why and driven by whom?

    In my opinion it has come from the neo-conservatives who demand continual war in the Middle East and Central Asia and are compelled to constantly justify it.

    They never miss a chance to use hatred toward Muslims to rally support for the ill conceived preventative wars. A select quote from soldiers from in Afghanistan and Iraq expressing concern over the mosque is pure propaganda and an affront to their bravery and sacrifice.

    The claim is that we are in the Middle East to protect our liberties is misleading. To continue this charade, millions of Muslims are indicted and we are obligated to rescue them from their religious and political leaders. And, we’re supposed to believe that abusing our liberties here at home and pursuing unconstitutional wars overseas will solve our problems.

    The nineteen suicide bombers didn’t come from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan or Iran. Fifteen came from our ally Saudi Arabia, a country that harbors strong American resentment, yet we invade and occupy Iraq where no al Qaeda existed prior to 9/11.

    Many fellow conservatives say they understand the property rights and 1st Amendment issues and don’t want a legal ban on building the mosque. They just want everybody to be “sensitive” and force, through public pressure, cancellation of the mosque construction.

    This sentiment seems to confirm that Islam itself is to be made the issue, and radical religious Islamic views were the only reasons for 9/11. If it became known that 9/11 resulted in part from a desire to retaliate against what many Muslims saw as American aggression and occupation, the need to demonize Islam would be difficult if not impossible.

    There is no doubt that a small portion of radical, angry Islamists do want to kill us but the question remains, what exactly motivates this hatred?

    If Islam is further discredited by making the building of the mosque the issue, then the false justification for our wars in the Middle East will continue to be acceptable.

    The justification to ban the mosque is no more rational than banning a soccer field in the same place because all the suicide bombers loved to play soccer.

    Conservatives are once again, unfortunately, failing to defend private property rights, a policy we claim to cherish. In addition conservatives missed a chance to challenge the hypocrisy of the left which now claims they defend property rights of Muslims, yet rarely if ever, the property rights of American private businesses.

    Defending the controversial use of property should be no more difficult than defending the 1st Amendment principle of defending controversial speech. But many conservatives and liberals do not want to diminish the hatred for Islam — the driving emotion that keeps us in the wars in the Middle East and Central Asia.

    It is repeatedly said that 64% of the people, after listening to the political demagogues, don’t want the mosque to be built. What would we do if 75% of the people insist that no more Catholic churches be built in New York City? The point being is that majorities can become oppressors of minority rights as well as individual dictators. Statistics of support is irrelevant when it comes to the purpose of government in a free society — protecting liberty.

    The outcry over the building of the mosque, near ground zero, implies that Islam alone was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. According to those who are condemning the building of the mosque, the nineteen suicide terrorists on 9/11 spoke for all Muslims. This is like blaming all Christians for the wars of aggression and occupation because some Christians supported the neo-conservatives’ aggressive wars.

    The House Speaker is now treading on a slippery slope by demanding an investigation to find out just who is funding the mosque — a bold rejection of property rights, 1st Amendment rights, and the Rule of Law — in order to look tough against Islam.

    This is all about hate and Islamaphobia.

    We now have an epidemic of “sunshine patriots” on both the right and the left who are all for freedom, as long as there’s no controversy and nobody is offended.

    Political demagoguery rules when truth and liberty are ignored.

  8. EOS
    Posted August 23, 2010 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    That was a great post. Thanks Edward.

  9. Brackinald Achery
    Posted August 23, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Right on.

  10. Steph's Dad
    Posted August 24, 2010 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Fox News viewers help fund the “Terror Mosque” they oppose… LOL

    Our country jumps the shark on a daily basis.

    What a great time to be alive.

  11. Kimbo
    Posted August 24, 2010 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Here’s video of Jon Stewart talking about that very thing, Steph’s Dad.


  12. Kim
    Posted September 3, 2010 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    From a flier at ground zero.

    “The answer to the Ground Zero Mosque is to know the life transforming love of Jesus Christ!”


    Meanwhile, this Muslim woman, whose son died during the 911 attacks, is receiving hate mail, no doubt from good Christians.


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