Taking a classic blame-the-victim posture on his May 4 Hardball program, host Chris Matthews joined terrorism expert Evan Kohlmann in blaming The American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) for the would-be terror attack at the Garland, Texas, event on Sunday.
"Talk about causing trouble," Matthews whined in a tease for the segment. "An anti-Islamic event caused, well, it caused this probably."
Kicking off his interview with Kohlmann, Matthews repeated the "caused" language, even as he attempted to hedge his statement to guard against criticism that he was in any way condoning terroristic violence:
This is problematic to me, because I wonder whether this group that health this event to basically disparage and to make fun of the Prophet Muhammad does it in some way cause these events, without the word causing, how about provoking provoking, how about taunting, how about daring? How do you see the causality factor here?
Kohlmann then launched into the boiler-plate "I love freedom of speech but" spiels that the Left is fond of these days when it comes to Islamist radicals going ape and attacking cartoonists:
Look. I don't want to be insulting the freedom of speech. Everyone has the right to the freedom of speech and it's good to stand by that principle. But these people are not standing by that principle, they're standing by the principle of hatred for other people. That's their guiding light. That's what they do. They are intentionally trying to provoke a response from the Muslim community and unfortunately, this was predictable. And you know that because the police told them in order to hold this event, they would have to have $10,000 worth of security on hand. They had a SWAT Team outfitted like it was Baghdad. So obviously someone knew that there was a likelihood that some some stupid person would do this.
And again, I don't think it's any great revelation if you shout fire in a crowded theater and you incite people and you say nasty invective about people's ancestors and their religious symbols, that there are a couple of crazy nutcases that are going to come out of the woodwork and are going to try to take action over that. But that has nothing to do with Islam. There are Christians, there are Jews, there are plenty of other people from other faiths who have done the exact same thing.
So we have to be very careful here. When you provoke people and incite people, that doesn't make violent actions right but don't be surprised that it happens. And these people are not only putting Americans here at home at risk, they're putting American servicemen abroad at risk, and that's what they don't seem to understand. The same thing with the guy down in Florida who wanted to burn a bunch of Korans. The people who pay the price for this are American servicemen in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere who are targeted by extremists, and that is simply not far.
You'll notice Kohlmann used adjectives like "stupid" and "crazy nutcases" to describe the terrorists who tried to shoot up the Muhammad cartoon event but it is critics of radical Islam like Pam Gellar who are hateful and whose actions border on criminal -- why else would Kohlmann invoke the famous "fire in a crowded theater" language to describe speech which may not be protected by the First Amendment?
And, of course, for all Kohlmann's insistence that this is NOT a Muslim-specific problem, he failed to provide examples from say the past 40 or 50 years of Americans at home or abroad who were targets of religious violence by radical Jews or Christians or Hindus by virtue of an American individual or institution that was disparaging religious symbols of those faiths. If mocking Muhammad puts soldiers in danger, but that danger is not a Muslim issue per se, why didn't the Piss Christ crucifix-in-a-jar-of-urine display of two decades ago put Americans around the world in danger of radical Catholic terror attacks? Of course, everyone, even I'm sure Kohlmann, instinctively knows the answer to that question.
Moments later, Kohlmann editorialized by saying that "thankfully" mocking Muhammad with cartoon contests like the AFDI event is very rare but that "unfortunately they get a lot of press" when they do happen because the groups which host them "put it in people's faces."
Kohlmann offered that the problem with Gellar's group is that it was "selective" by focusing on radical Islamists and the danger they pose rather than say also exposing the dangers of the political far-right in France, the National Front, whose founding member is a Holocaust denier.
Again, Kohlmann failed to provide any evidence of National Front-inspired terroristic violence, either in France or abroad which might make his comparison make any semblence of sense. Instead, he doubled down. "As a result, Muslims feel alienated, and this is exactly what leads to terrorist recruitment," Kohlmann harumphed. "Yes, it's their [constitutional] right to do this. Is it [morally] right to do this? No, it is NOT right to do this!"
Concluding the segment, Matthews brought up how the Southern Poverty Law Center designated Gellar's group "a hate group" and this time he didn't hedge his assignment of blame:
I think she caused this trouble. And whether this trouble came yesterday or it came two weeks from now, it's going to be in the air as long as you taunt.