Unmentioned by Amanpour or her guests: A report presented Friday by former 9/11 Commission Co-Chairs Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton about, according to Reuters, a needed “wake-up call about the radicalization of Muslims in the United States.” The report warned: “The U.S. is arguably now little different from Europe in terms of having a domestic terrorist problem involving immigrant and indigenous Muslims as well as converts to Islam.”
At the top of Sunday’s show, Amanpour noted the 9/11 anniversary and used it to frame her agenda: “Nine years later, the growing hostility towards American Muslims.” In a lengthy set-up piece leading into Rauf, Amanpour fretted that “the plans to build an Islamic center close to Ground Zero have whipped up anti-Muslim sentiment” and insisted: “Not since 9/11 has the country seen such anti-Muslim fervor.” She asserted “Muslim-Americans are feeling vulnerable, with attacks on mosques in California, Wisconsin, and Tennessee. And the latest fuel poured on the fire, a threat to burn Korans...” And “these tumultuous events have created a global backlash. From Washington, to the Vatican, to Afghanistan.”
Amanpour proceeded to tout that he's now back from an overseas trip “all about interfaith dialogue and trying to reach the moderates,” and he warned, as he did on Wednesday's Larry King Live, that if he doesn't get his way Muslims will murder Americans. Amanpour, however, didn't describe that as a protection racket or suggest he's employing blackmail. Instead, she just paraphrased his spin that his warning -- about his vanity – is “a matter of vital national security” to the U.S.:
He says that this has become a huge international issue, the issue over the Islamic center in Manhattan and also the threatened Koran burning. And so everybody, all over the world, not just here in the United States, is watching. And he felt, and he said to me, that he thought it was a matter of vital national security not to give in or to move that Islamic center.
But what I found amusing is how network journalists decided Sarah Palin, the Pope – and even Pat Robertson – are now sources of wisdom worth publicizing. Over aerial video of the Vatican (screen capture below), Katie Couric teased the CBS Evening News: “Tonight, despite condemnation from the Vatican and a personal plea from Muslims, that Christian minister in Florida is going ahead with plans to burn copies of the Qur'an.”
“This is the news,” an excited Diane Sawyer announced on ABC, “not only is Billy Graham's son Franklin trying to reach out to him, so is Sarah Palin.” Terry Moran relayed how “late today, Sarah Palin tweeted her opposition, writing: ‘Please stand down.’ And long-time televangelist Pat Robertson blasted Pastor Jones this morning.”
Anchor Kiran Chetry and substitute anchor Ali Velshi introduced the correspondent's report just before the bottom of the 7 am Eastern hour. Chetry stated that "attempted terror attacks aimed at the U.S. have come mostly from Muslim extremists born outside of America" and then claimed that "America's Muslim community though has been quick to warn law enforcement about these potential threats." Velshi added that "the question is, why does it appear that more and more that all Muslims are being portrayed as potential terrorists or as targets of hate."
Feyerick began by citing unnamed "experts will tell you that there's a great deal of misunderstanding when it comes to what Islam is all about. Add on politicians spreading rumors that Sharia law- Islamic law- is coming to the United States simply because a group of Americans wants to build a mosque. It's time to ask, what's really going on?" She then noted that the "Islamic center and mosque to be built near Ground Zero is not the only mosque drawing fire. About a dozen others across the country are also under attack, from angry protests and suspected arson in Murfreesboro, Tennessee to Temecula, California. American mosques, in some cases, [are] being portrayed as monuments to terror or terror training centers."
"Protesters use 'sharia' as a slur and rallying cry against Islam," reads the dismissive print edition headline for Michelle Boorstein's page A5 August 27 story. The Washington Post's online edition used different wording: "For critics of Islam, 'sharia' a loaded word."
Boorstein cited "controversial" conservative scholar Daniel Pipes warning that pro-sharia Muslims "want to implement sharia in every detail on everyone in a stringest way." For an opposing view, the Post religion writer also cited Imam Yahya Hendi, a Muslim chaplain for Georgetown University and "spokesman of the Islamic Jurisprudence Council of North America," who argued that more moderate Muslims see sharia as more like a set of guidelines to guide personal and family life than a rigid code of law which must supplant secular governance.
Fair enough, yet Boorstein put her thumb on the scale by lamenting that "the word has become akin to a slur in some camps... an alarming development to many religious and political leaders."
Time magazine's Joe Klein yesterday did what he does best: take one paragraph from a neoconservative's column and blow it out of proportion and out of context in order to go on an extended screed bashing conservatives in general and neocons in particular.
Writing for his magazine's Swampland blog yesterday, Klein addressed Bill Kristol's editorial for the August 30 Weekly Standard print edition entitled, "He's No Muslim, He's a Progressive."
Klein started off with a backhanded compliment:
Well, it's good to learn that there are limits to Bill Kristol's tactical skeevery. He clearly states here that Barack Obama is not a Muslim. No winks, no nods, no gratuitous McConnellesque "If he says he's not, that's okay with me."
With that out of the way, Klein dove into his screed:
Those familiar with the Washington Post know that the paper is a staunch defender of a very liberal vision of the separation of church and state. For example, the paper's editorial board was heavily critical of the Supreme Court's Mojave cross ruling.
But when it comes to the supposed dearth of Muslim chaplains at Virginia prisons, Sunday's Metro section went into full hand-wringing mode. "Inadequate Funds for Chaplains," complained a subheader for the page B1 story by staffer Kevin Sieff.
"In Va., most money goes to Protestant clergy," another subheadline for the story "Support limited for Muslims in prison"* lamented.
Of course, it wasn't until paragraph 27 that Sieff noted that "[n]either Catholic nor Jewish chaplains have sought funding from corrections officials." As Sieff explained early in his article, "a 200-year-old interpretation of the state constitution... bars Virginia from doing any faith-based hiring" and "is the only state where prison chaplains are contractors, not state employees." Sure, "Muslim chaplains could visit correctional facilities to minister to Virginia's 32,000 inmates," Sieff explained, "but they received no funds from the state" until a $25,000 grant was given to Muslim Chaplain Services of Virginia last July.
It’s one thing to acknowledge that the Muslim world has had a negative reaction to America's war effort in Afghanistan and Iraq, but, when one starts referring to "the previous eight years" before the Obama administration, it starts to sound like partisan Democratic talking points. As ABC’s Christiane Amanpour appeared on Sunday’s Good Morning America to discuss President Obama’s predicament regarding his speech on the proposed mosque near Ground Zero, Amanpour at one point recounted that relations with the Muslim world had suffered during the "previous eight years" before Obama became President.
After host John Berman queried as to "how is this playing in the Muslim world," Amanpour in her response asserted: "But clearly President Obama from the very beginning went out of his way to try to repair relations with the Islamic world which had been so devastatingly damaged over the previous eight years."
The war in Afghanistan was only seven years old when Obama took office, so her "previous eight years" crack could only be interpreted as a direct reference to the Bush presidency rather than just the war.
At the top of his eponymous program yesterday, CNN's Fareed Zakaria took drastic action to protest the Anti-Defamation League's opposition to the proposed Ground Zero mosque. Zakaria, who was honored by the ADL in 2005 with the Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize, gave back his award because he was "deeply saddened" by the group's respect for the families of 9/11 victims who oppose the construction of a mosque just two blocks from Ground Zero.
"Given the position that they have taken on a core issue of religious freedom in America, I cannot in good conscience keep that award," lamented Zakaria, who hoped that distancing himself from the ADL would compel the organization to realize its "mistake" and reverse its position.
In his lengthy monologue, Zakaria vigorously defended Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's constitutional right to erect the mosque: "If this community center were being built anywhere else in the world, chances are the U.S. government would be funding it."
But reporters Michael Barbaro and Javier Hernandez actually led with NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's weepy speech about religious tolerance, falsely asserting that that denying permission to build a 13-story Islamic center topped by a mosque would somehow be "denying the very constitutional rights" that New York City police and firefighters died protecting.
And the Times again insinuated that opposition to the mosque is coming mostly from outsiders, while New Yorkers have gotten on with their lives and don't oppose it -- a half-truth at best, as shown by results of a poll of New Yorkers.
Times reporters were very impressed with the speech. Both Jodi Kantor and Brian Stelter linked to speech coverage on their Twitter feeds, Kantor calling it a "must-read" and Stelter calling it "worth reading."
Here's the Times's lead:
As New York City removed the final hurdle for a controversial mosque near ground zero, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg forcefully defended the project on Tuesday as a symbol of America's religious tolerance and sought to reframe a fiery national debate over the project.
Feyrick conducted her hardball interview of el-Gamel at his New York City office. The CNN correspondent almost immediately launched into her prayer space question. When the real estate developer initially replied, "There are Jewish community centers all over the country," Feyerick interrupted with a sharp retort: "But the Jews didn't take down two towers." El-Gamel continued that "there are YMCA's all over the country," but she gave a similar reply: "But the Christians didn't take down two towers."
The journalist followed up with the issue of the planned mosque's proximity to the Ground Zero and mentioned the plane wreckage that ended up on the site: "For those who are so- still sensitive and so raw to this, their question- their overriding question is, why here? Why so close? It's two blocks, but it was close enough that landing gear ended up on the roof. Why?"
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation expressed its concern over Graham's involvement with the event in an April 19 letter sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. MRFF's complaint about Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, focused on remarks he made after 9/11 in which he called Islam "wicked" and "evil" and his lack of apology for those words.
Col. Tom Collins, an Army spokesman, told ABC News on April 22, "This Army honors all faiths and tries to inculcate our soldiers and work force with an appreciation of all faiths and his past comments just were not appropriate for this venue."