'Hardball' Guest: 'We Libs Are Good at Calling Out Right Wingers When They Operate on Fear - Why the Double Standard?'

A left-leaning guest on MSNBC's "Hardball" got into quite a heated debate with Chris Matthews Friday when she tried to point out some classic liberal hypocrisy.

In a segment dealing with Florida's Koran-burning Pastor's desire to protest a mosque in Dearborn, Michigan, progressive Muslim author Irshad Manji supported Terry Jones's first amendment rights marvelously pointing out, "We liberals are so good at calling out right-wing ideologues when they operate on fear. Why the double standard here?" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Let me go to Irshad on this. It seems to me his game is -- he does have something of a game going on here -- it’s not just to burn to protest -- the Koran and do stuff like that, because he doesn’t like the Koran. He wants to seek -- prove that he can spark violence in the Islamic world, which he certainly proved the other day, when those 20 people were killed, I believe, in Afghanistan, because he wanted to do it.

What do you -- what is this all about, from your perspective as an expert? What is going on? This weird -- you get one crazy Westerner saying, I can tick off the Easterner on the other side of the world, to the point where they will kill some other Westerners, and then I will have proven my point, which is? Go ahead. Your thought.

IRSHAD MANJI, AUTHOR, "THE TROUBLE WITH ISLAM TODAY": Chris, it will take a psychotherapist to figure out what his real point is.

And notice that I insert the word "real," because you’re absolutely right, to suggest that this is a game going on. I said the last time I was on your show talking about this very issue, that this is all about politics and what his end game actually is, we don’t yet know.

But may I just suggest here that I’m with the ACLU in Michigan on this one, that his hate speech ought to be combated not with censorship but with more speech. And let me quickly tell you why. Chris, as the demographics of this country changes, we are going to see more and more situations in which rights conflict. And so, we constantly have to be asking the question, what is the greatest good for the greatest number?

At the end of the day, freedom is the greatest good for the greatest number because even offended Muslims still benefit from freedom of assembly and they are exercising that as we are going live right now in holding a counter-protest to Terry Jones’.

So, I say that they are using freedom, and his freedom cannot be segregated from theirs. It’s an invisible hold.

Really marvelous point. As more and more Muslims move to America, they should be celebrating our freedoms and making them their own rather than those already here having to conform to a new code in order to placate others.

We're seeing this dhimmitude failing miserably in Europe, and we shouldn't make the same mistake here:

MATTHEWS: Your response to that, Mr. Mayor.

MAYOR JACK O’REILLY, DEARBORN, MICHIGAN: Yes. The fact is I wish ACLU and others would actually come and follow the facts in Dearborn.

As mayor, I created permit free zones. These are places where anyone on the spur of the moment without any prior permission can come and have an event, give a voice to their concerns, do anything. We’re so constitutionally friendly, it’s not even funny.

The problem is that the site that he has selected does not allow -- there is absolutely no logistical way, given the property itself that you can carry out the kind of event he planned to carry out. It’s about balancing rights, which is the job of government all the time. We have competing rights and we have to balance them. He’s always had --

MANJI: Mayor O’Reilly, I --

O’REILLY: I’m sorry. He always has had an opportunity to have an event and that’s why we have an event going on right now with over -- when I left, almost 400 to 5500 people were peacefully gathered at an alternative site and they were doing what they do best, exercising their rights.

MANJI: Well, Mayor O’Reilly, that is a very logical argument and I truly embrace your point about wanting to and having to balance rights. But the reality is that we are all humans and, at the end of the day, it’s not just logic that drives us, it’s also emotions.

And therefore, let me just point out that each the police chief of Dearborn has testified in court today that his worries about public safety are based, in part, on his own fears. He has actually said he has no evidence that Terry Jones will take it too far. It’s just fear that the police chief is operating on.

So, Chris, let me say this much more.

O’REILLY: Well, you misconstrue. No, Chris. That is --

MANJI: We liberals are so good at calling out right-wing ideologues when they operate on fear. Why the double standard here?

O’REILLY: There is no double standard.

MATTHEWS: Well, one of the reasons is 20 people died the last time this guy did his number, Irshad.


MANJI: We must also --

MATTHEWS: You don’t have --

MANJI: -- blame Muslim extremists.

MATTHEWS: OK. Mayor, your thoughts. Mayor, first, and then, Irshad.

O’REILLY: Chris, I just want to say. I mean, she’s not on the ground in our community. Yes, the chief was talking but you have to look at the whole context of what he was talking about. But what we know is they did a petition.

Now, we had Westboro Church here three months ago at the same site. We didn’t have to do anything because three people showed up. And even though they were violating the law, we didn’t exercise or hold them accountable because it didn’t present any kind of danger or problem for anyone. But this one was different.

MATTHEWS: Westboro Church being the group that demonstrates against any funeral of a military person because they don’t like gay rights basically. The soldier in that case wasn’t a gay person but they used it as an opportunity for a platform.

O’REILLY: They don’t like Islam either.

MATTHEWS: I generally like the First Amendment. In fact, I do support the First Amendment. And we’re living in the world now that become that sort of a global pinball machine. The lights go on, the bells go off, all over the world the minute they hear that somebody -- the terrible term on the Koran somewhere. And you hear, people will -- they will escalate.
So, what do we know that people that their steps, however gross they are or un-American they are can achieve what they want. This pastor is smart enough to know that what he says or what he says, or burns a Koran, people die and he made his point. So, what do we do with these cases under the First Amendment?

MANJI: Chris, there is no magic bullet to this one. If there was, we wouldn’t be having this discussion, let alone, a debate.

But let me just say, as a faithful Muslim myself, I think that the best response to these sorts of absurdities is, indeed, love. I know that is weird to say on cable television.

MATTHEWS: Well, it didn’t work when he did that.

MANJI: Hold on a second.

MATTHEWS: We didn’t get love. We got murder.

MANJI: Imagine -- imagine Muslim Americans, OK, as they are doing right now, coming to massive counter-rallies with signs that say "Allah loves Terry Jones and so do I." What that does is it takes the bite out of the bigotry and the bigotry not just on the part of Terry Jones and that’s very evident on his part, but also the bite out of the bigotry of Muslim extremists.

MATTHEWS: The trouble is we’ve got stonings going on in Afghanistan. It’s very hard to believe that love is going to conquer it in this situation.

MANJI: I’m talking about America. We’re not talking about Afghanistan right now. We’re talking about America.

MATTHEWS: What we do here, what Terry Jones did in his little patch down in Florida caused 20 people to get killed, U.N. people killed over in Afghanistan. There is a global community and it’s getting very close in.

Actually, Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai should really get more of the blame for the deaths of those U.N. workers as nobody there would have heard about Jones burning the Koran if Karzai hadn't brought it up to score political points with his citizens. But that wouldn't fit Matthews' need to accuse a Muslim-hating American of inciting violence thousands of miles away.

On the other hand, blaming anyone not directly involved in those murders is a bit of a stretch. It's kind of like blaming the Second Amendment for shooting deaths, which liberals like Matthews love to do whenever it's politically expedient.

That said, Manji raised some very interesting points that go against the typical liberal orthodoxy regarding this issue and is to be commended for doing so especially on MSNBC where such views were guaranteed to stoke objection.


Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.