On Friday's New Day, during a debate between liberal Daily Beast contributor Dean Obeidallah and conservative CNN political commentator Ben Ferguson about whether incoming Donald Trump administration members are anti-Islam, CNN co-anchor Chris Cuomo suggested at one point that many whites, feeling like they have been "victimized" by Islam, supported Trump because they think "now it's our turn" to do so back against Muslims.
Cuomo's comment came as Obeidallah had just been blaming Trump's election victory on a recent reports of increased attacks against Muslims. Ferguson countered that there have been many crimes perpetrated by Muslims as well, as he tried to put into perspective that there have been indefensible actions committed in both directions, causing Cuomo to jump in and suggest that Trump's election to the presidency was motivated by a desire for revenge against Muslims. Cuomo:
But Ben is making an interesting point that you need to hear. which is, he is countering what you are saying is being done to Muslims by saying what's being done to white people in this country, and that's part of the resolve of this election, which is, white people feel that they're being victimized by Islam, and part of the justification, unless I'm getting you wrong, Ben, is now it's our turn.
Earlier in the debate, Obeidallah complained that Trump is "building a dream team of anti-Muslim hate" in his cabinet, and repeated a distortion recently pushed by CNN that incoming National Security Advisor, retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn has claimed that Islam is not a religion, but instead a political ideology, even though in the context of his speeches, he was discussing radical Islam. Obeidallah began:
Objectively speaking, we've never had an administration that's spewed this kind of open anti-Muslim rhetoric, starting at the top with Donald Trump. He said that Islam hates us. he's said thousands of Muslims cheered on 9/11 in New Jersey. Even Giuliani said that wasn't true.
Oh, he's building a dream team of anti-Muslim hate there. You've got Michael Flynn, National Security Advisor, who said Islam is not a religion. I just watched the tape again last night. The idea that one of the Abrahamic faiths is not a religion, it's a political ideology, a faith practiced by thousands of Muslim-Americans serving bravely in our military now. It's stunning and shocking.
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Friday, December 9, New Day on CNN:
6:50 a.m. ET
ALISYN CAMEROTA: President-elect Donald Trump's cabinet picks raising concerns. Many people asking why he's assembling a team that seems critical of the very agencies they are tasked with overseeing, and there are other fears as well. So here to discuss this is comedian and contributor to the Daily Beast, Dean Obeidallah, and CNN political commentator Ben Ferguson. Let's just start with your article that you've written, Dean, about how what your big fear is, is that you see this as the most anti-Muslim administration ever. What is your evidence?
DEAN OBEIDALLAH, DAILY BEAST CONTRIBUTOR: Objectively speaking, we've never had an administration that's spewed this kind of open anti-Muslim rhetoric, starting at the top with Donald Trump. He said that Islam hates us. he's said thousands of Muslims cheered on 9/11 in New Jersey. Even Giuliani said that wasn't true.
CAMEROTA: Right, but he won. I mean, he said all that, and we knew that during the campaign, but now we see people who are saying things still.
OBEIDALLAH: Oh, he's building a dream team of anti-Muslim hate there. You've got Michael Flynn, National Security Advisor, who said Islam is not a religion. I just watched the tape again last night. The idea that one of the Abrahamic faiths is not a religion, it's a political ideology, a faith practiced by thousands of Muslim-Americans serving bravely in our military now. It's stunning and shocking.
You've got Steve Bannon from Breitbart, who gave a platform on his radio show and Breitbart.com to the most anti-Muslim bigots out there, people who are the equivalent of the Klan to our community, from Pam Geller to Frank Gaffney. They demonize us, saying Muslims shouldn't be in the government. So it's a very concerning topic. And then Ben Carson, the newest one, who said a Muslim should not be President because Islam is inconsistent with the Constitution.
You have this. And my fear is they turn this into policy and that -- in any event, it's ginning up fear. We have a spike in hate crimes the last two months against Muslim-Americans. Just two Muslims in New York, an MTA officer and a police officer. So that's my fear, that we go beyond this rhetoric and it does more than spike in hate crimes, turns into policy.
CHRIS CUOMO: Ben, you laughed off this critic as Dean was giving it. Why?
BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, it's a lot of fearmongering going on here with no policies that have been implemented or even advocated for that would give us any indication of any of this terrible, terrifying news that he just said is going to become anything close to reality...
CAMEROTA: But statements -- but hold on, Ben -- the statements don't bother you?
FERGUSON: The statements that he's talking about, some of them have been taken out of context. When Flynn was talking about Islam, he's talking about radical Islam. He sees it through the perspective-
FERGUSON: -of being in charge -- let me at least finish -- with the military with actually dealing with real Islamic extremism. And I think what you have here is you have an all-star team that's been put together to fight radical Islam extremist, ISIS, al-Qaeda, etc. There's a dream team here. It's a dream team that many Americans said, "Look, for eight years we tried the other idea, let's go around the world an apologize, let's close down Gitmo and then people, extremists will somehow not hate us as much, let's pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and then somehow Muslim extremists will stop attacking us." It did no work for eight years. You had the rise of ISIS, and even Obama said this week, "Yes, because they didn't want to deal with the reality." There are extremists out there. They are doing horrible, God awful things around the world, and so, yes, you do have a dream team of people who hate radical Islam extremists, and they're going to do a great job of going after them, and that's what the American voters said they wanted.
OBEIDALLAH: Ben, there's no place to be an apologist for hate. There's no place to laugh when people are suffering.
FERGUSON: I'm not apologizing for hate.
OBEIDALLAH: You clearly are because you saying they're talking about radical Islam. Ben Carson didn't say "radical Islam." He said a Muslim-American should not be President because Islam is inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States. Michael Flynn, I watched the speech last night in its totality. He said Islam is not a religion -- not radical Islam -- Islam is not a religion.
FERGUSON: Let's deal with Ben Carson. Let's deal with Ben Carson for a second. Ben Carson, if you look at Shariah law, it does not coexist, it cannot coexist with our Constitution.
OBEIDALLAH: Ben, you can quantify it -- I don't want Sharia law in America. I don't want Christian law in America either. I don't want the Bible or the Koran the basis of U.S. law. I hope you agree with that, the Bible shouldn't be the basis of U.S. law either. That's a different discussion. The reality is, Ben, people are suffering in this country. We had an off-duty New York police officer this week, a hate crime against her, a person was arrested, calling her a terrorist. An MTA officer, worker pushed down the stairs, a woman wearing a hijab, by guys saying, "Get out of this country."
FERGUSON: And let's be clear, I condemn that the same way you do, but you also have not mentioned any of the crimes that have been committed in this country, whether it was a "draw Mohammed" event, whether it was the Fort Hood multiple shootings there, when it was other Muslim extremists who decided to do things out in San Bernardino, etc. You haven't mentioned those, so it's on both sides.
CAMEROTA: Ben, we're talking about the cabinet.
OBEIDALLAH: Right, Ben, we are talking about the cabinet. There's been over 800 hate incidents -- not all hate crimes -- documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center-
CUOMO: But Ben is making an interesting point that you need to hear. which is, he is countering what you are saying is being done to Muslims by saying what's being done to white people in this country, and that's part of the resolve of this election, which is, white people feel that they're being victimized by Islam, and part of the justification, unless I'm getting you wrong, Ben, is now it's our turn.
FERGUSON: Well, not just white people, everybody. I mean, you look a the people that have been shot- (inaudible)
CUOMO: Nobody more than Muslims, Ben, nobody more than Muslims.
FERGUSON: But Muslims that have done this, they've attacked all people. They've attacked old, young, African-American, white, Hispanic, they don't care who their targets are. That's why this cabinet to me is not scary or the voters that voted for Donald Trump.
CUOMO: All right, hold on, but let's also be clear. There are no policies, Ben. The administration is not in office, so that's a little clever. And Dean's point goes to, you're going to design policy based on what you believe, and there's a lot of concern and fear about Islam and Islamophobia in some of these picks, but you're right, we'll have to see what they do. But it's not wrong to discuss the possibility of what they might do, based on what they seem to believe.