Tony Dungy, Israel and the Media's Selective Religion Bigots

July 26th, 2014 5:37 PM

Who’da thunk it? A winning Super Bowl coach and Israel combine to teach Americans a lesson in how the media’s religion bigots operate.

The coach, of course, is Tony Dungy, the now retired coach of the Indianapolis Colts, the team he led to the 2007 Super Bowl win over the Chicago Bears.  And Israel? Israel is, thank God, still Israel.  (Oops! Can I still say “God”?)

The two are in the news this week for two seemingly very different reasons. Dungy is in the media dock for saying as follows about the St. Louis Rams choosing linebacker Michael Sam in the NFL draft: "I wouldn't have taken him. Not because I don't believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn't want to deal with all of it. It's not going to be totally smooth ... things will happen."

Sam, in case you’ve been hiding under a rock, is gay. What that has to do with playing football is a mystery, but be that as it may, Sam’s private sex life has become a media circus -- a circus the veteran coach frankly said he would have chosen to avoid were he still coaching and Sam were under consideration to play on Dungy’s team. The world of liberal sports media promptly set out to prove Dungy’s point, making a three ring circus out of Dungy’s remarks.

Israel is in the news, of course, because yet again Hamas - formally listed by the U.S. State Department  as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” - has taken up its terrorist ways by launching more than 2,000 rockets into Israel from Gaza. Israel, quite naturally, has defended itself, launching air strikes and ground operations into Gaza. And the American media? Yes indeed, they raced to the defense of all those Palestinians launching the rockets and, per the terrorist norm, using their own kids for what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls “telegenically dead Palestinians.”

Hmmm. There is something curious in all of this. A couple somethings curious.

On the one hand, the liberal media is enraged at Dungy for simply saying -- and as the media quickly demonstrated, accurately -- that all the fuss and muss over Sam’s gay private life would distract from the job at hand, playing football. Simultaneous to this, the media is out there pounding away at Israel for defending itself from…..from….a population that has a horrific reputation when it comes to gays in Palestine. The word irony comes to mind, but a better one is hypocrite. Better still is the term “religion bigot.” or “selective religion bigot.” As in: those who are bigoted when it comes to religion. Make that quite selectively specific religions.

Let’s name some media names, shall we?

Here’s ESPN’s Michael Wilbon (as noted here by Rush Limbaugh): “I think there is a component, a subculture of the religious right that…is very influential in football.”

At USA Today, Christine Brennan is so enraged she takes the time to throw in the hoopla over the decision by owner Dan Snyder to keep the Washington Redskins name. Writes Brennan: “Each of these events, taken separately, is an example of a leader of some standing, whether in the board room or the locker room, exhibiting the kind of behavior or using the kind of language that is increasingly, and nobly, considered unacceptable in our country.” Brennan not only writes on sports for USA Today, she is a commentator at ABC News, the PBS NewsHour and National Public Radio.

At the Chicago Tribune, here is a very angry Steve Rosenbloom, who answered Dungy’s additional comment that he wasn’t trying to “downgrade anyone” by saying this: “But of course you were trying to downgrade someone else. Banning two people from getting married simply because they’re of the same sex is downgrading them, plain and simple. Your religious beliefs demand it. Your religious beliefs presumably continue to demand that to this day you downgrade men who love men and women who love women.” Rosenbloom was particularly incensed because in 2007 Dungy had accepted - Rosenbloom’s words here - “the ‘Friend of Family’’ award from the conservative Indiana Family Institute,” where “Dungy declared his support for legislation banning gay marriage.”

Are we getting the picture here? The liberal media is a ferocious defender of gay rights! And they want everybody out there to know it. Got it? Ferocious! Don’t mess with them. And that means you Tony Dungy! You and your Christian buddies in the NFL’s of the “sub-culture of the Religious Right”!!!!!

Unless. Unless.

Unless of course the subject is….Israel and the Palestinians. Here is the liberal media on this latest Palestinian attack.

In New York magazine,  Benjamin Wallace-Wells, in a piece titled ‘Telegenically Dead Palestinians’: Why Israel Is Losing the American Media War, Wallace -Wells demands of Israel’s prime minister: “If Netanyahu is so bothered by how dead Palestinians look on television then he should stop killing so many of them.”

NBC has been tagged for notoriously anti-Israel reporting, going so far as to remove reporter Ayman Mohyeldin  for comments made on his Facebook page. Mohyeldin, as noted here, had earlier worked for al-Jazeera and CNN and was noted as repeating the Hamas propaganda that the infamous terrorist group didn’t use civilians as shields. But there was a social media campaign to reinstate Mohyeldin and he was soon back on the job.

Then there was the dust-up at MSNBC when Italian-Palestinian journalist Rula Jebreal accused the network of having a pro-Israel bias. Said Ms. Jebreal (who, let the record note, has a Jewish husband) as reported here:

“We are disgustingly biased when it comes to this issue," said Jebreal, an Italian-Palestinian journalist with dual Italian and Israeli citizenship. "Look how [much] air time Netanyahu and his folks have on air on a daily basis — Andrea Mitchell and others. I never see one Palestinian being interviewed on these same issues —"

“I’m going to push back a little on that," Farrow interjected. "We’ve had Palestinian voices on our air.”

“Maybe for 30 seconds, and then you have twenty-five minutes for Bibi Netanyahu, and half an hour for Naftali Bennett," Jebreal countered, referring to Israel's prime minister and minister of the economy, respectively.”

Not long after this was said on Ronan Farrow’s show, Jebreal complained that her forthcoming appearances on the network had been scrubbed. Then as with Mohyeldin, the decision was reversed and there she was pressing the case of anti-Palestinian/pro-Israel bias with the network’s Chris Hayes.

Over at CNN, the Israeli Ambassador to the United States had to take anchor Erin Burnett to task for the network leaving the impression that Israel was attacking schools in Gaza for the hell of it. When in fact Hamas had been using schools to store rockets - deliberately making them ammunition dumps. Said Ambassador Ron Dermer:

“Do you not think that it's relevant to report on CNN that the secretary general of the United Nations yesterday warned against the use of UN schools and shelter for rocket missile depots of Hamas?”

And on and on the media merry go-round on Israel and Hamas/Gaza/Palestine.

So. What’s missing here? And what does any of this argument over media coverage of the conflict in Gaza have to do with…Tony Dungy?

Let’s start with this National Review Online article  from back in December of 2013. Written by the always astute Cliff May of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, May quotes Al-Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri and another Al-Qaeda leader as follows:

“Ayman al-Zawahiri, now al-Qaeda’s leader, said in 2005: ‘More than half of this war is taking place on the battlefield of the media.’ More recently, Omar al-Hammami, a member of al-Shabaab, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Somalia, said: ‘The war of narratives has become even more important than the war of navies, napalms, and knives.’”

Catch those phrases? “The war of narratives” on “the battlefield of the media”?

What’s missing in all this Israeli-Palestinian media back and forth is something the liberal media says it cares so passionately about: the treatment of gays.  The “narrative” of the truth about one of the world’s major religions as it is played out in Gaza? It seems - shocker! - to have gone missing.
To understate the case, the Palestinian treatment of gays is, shall we say, a lot different than that alleged of Tony Dungy and that Christian “sub-culture of the Religious Right” in the NFL.  On September 14, 2011, The Weekly Standard’s John McCormack  headlined his story on gays-in-Palestine this way:

Would Gays Be Executed or Imprisoned by a Palestinian State? 

The question was posed to the Palestinian Liberation Organization’ ambassador to the US. The ambassador wouldn’t say. But over in The Jerusalem Post Benjamin Weinthal reported this:

“Palestinian gays and lesbians frequently seek refuge in Israel because of anti-gay persecution in the disputed West Bank territory and the Gaza Strip. The Hamas-controlled Gaza strip has declared lethal homophobia to be its policy. Hamas cofounder Mahmoud Zahar has said, “You in the West do not live like human beings. You do not even live like animals. You accept homosexuality. And now you criticize us?”

In an April broadcast on Hamas’s Al-Aksa TV, which was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Syrian academic Muhammad Rateb al- Nabulsi said, “Homosexuality involves a filthy place, and does not generate offspring. Homosexuality leads to the destruction of the homosexual. That is why, brothers, homosexuality carries the death penalty.”

Got that? There is the co-founder of Hamas - the very organization getting all that sympathy in the American media from the likes of  Rula Jebreal - saying gays are “animals.”  If you are discovered to be gay in Islamic Gaza? You will be executed. Or maybe get lucky and just be thrown in the slammer. The phrase for this being “lethal homophobia.” And its so bad that gays in Gaza - right where all this fighting is on-going - have over the years been fleeing for protection to….Israel. Where are all the media defenders of Palestine discussing this? Where is New York Magazine? MSNBC? NBC? Not to mention the rest of the anti-Israel parade of media? Silencio. Hmmm.

Then there was the recent meeting between the longtime and now outgoing president of Israel with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. In the course of this meeting Peres made a statement laying out the role of Qatar in financing Hamas and its terrorist activities in Gaza. After all, somebody has to pay for all those rockets reigning down on Israel and the building of the tunnels underneath Israel.

And what exactly does Qatar think of gays? According to the US State Department 2010 report on human rights in Qatar: “A man convicted of having sexual relations with another man older than 16 years old is subject to a sentence of seven years in prison under section 285 of the criminal law.” And well aside from the Peres point that Qatar is suppling rockets and tunnel-funding to the homophobic Hamas? In 2022, a mere eight years from now, the World Cup will be held in…yes…gay-arresting Qatar.


So. Back to Tony Dungy. Here is a guy….your basic nice guy, Super Bowl coaching hero, seen until all this furor over his remarks as a fountain of wisdom….and by simply saying he wouldn’t have wanted to deal with all the circus surrounding Michael Sam… he is pilloried. He’s a homophobe shouts the liberal media! He opposes same-sex marriage! And..gasp!…he accepted that award from a bunch of Christians! Christians!!!! But when it comes to pointing out that all those Hamas fighters - those would-be Palestinian Liberators - would execute Michael Sam in a New York minute? Or, when it comes to pointing out that if Michael Sam showed up with his partner in Qatar to watch the 2022 World Cup both men would be arrested and sent to the slammer for seven years?

Not…a…peep. Why?

It is beyond interesting that all these Tony Dungy media critics mentioned above have the “guts” to go after the Christian coach over Michael Sam. But never utter a peep about the Islamic religion and what lies ahead for any gays who show up in Qatar to watch the World Cup. It is beyond interesting that all these media types who angrily demand more air time for supporters of Palestine liberators and Hamas somehow are quiet as church mice about the way gays in Gaza are treated by all those radical Islamists.

The liberal media is hell bent on slamming the Tony Dungys of the world. People who politely, respectfully, well-within bounds, express their opinion on same-sex marriage or the media circus surrounding Michael Sam. But they clam up when it comes to going after Islam for its treatment of gays just like Michael Sam. Why? Maybe they’re frightened? Just plain scared to death of speaking the truth about the real world of Islam and it’s real world effect on everything from gays to Israel to sports?


Then again? Maybe this is just one more case of what can be called “selective religion bigotry.” The quite deliberately selected outrage about certain religions. Christians? Bad. Jews? Worse. Islam? Or in this case Islam and its treatment of gays? Sorry. Just move along. They have nothing to say. It ruins the narrative.

Now back to all those poor Palestinians.