Laura Ingraham, Bill O’Reilly, and Joy Behar Living on the Planet of the Myopic Bigots
by Sheila Musaji
The last few days have been difficult as every time I turn on the radio or television, or even go online I hear some myopic bigotry. The worst has been the vicious attempts to connect the tragedy at Virginia Tech with Islam (a deja vu experience for Muslims).
On April 20th, on the Laura Ingraham program on the radio I caught the end of a discussion. Laura was outraged that Rosie O’Donnell had made a comment to the effect that if their religion colors their decisions then perhaps Catholics shouldn’t be on the Supreme Court.
I would agree with her that this was a stupid comment for a number of reasons, and I would agree with her that this comment was an inappropriate attack on the entire Catholic Church and all Catholics. But, she just couldn’t stop there, and went on to say such a statement could not be made about any other group in the U.S. except Catholics. This tendency to go just one step too far is a pattern with Laura. On April 10th on her show she was discusing the unfair treatment of women in Saudi Arabia. I would also agree with her on that issue, and as a Muslim who has been in Saudi Arabia for Hajj, I would be the first to admit that I disagree with many of their policies. But then she added “if you even get behind the wheel of a car in Saudi Arabia, they’ll drive you off the road and behead you in front of your family.” No such thing has ever or will ever happen. Why the need to go well beyond the realm of reality to show what barbarians we Muslims are?
If only she could summon the same outrage when all of Islam is attacked, as when she herself talks about Islamo-Fascists. It is interesting that it is possible for some people to see prejudice and bias only when it is directed at their group, but are completely unable to see the same prejudice and bias when it is directed at the “other”.
Laura Ingraham must be living on the same planet as Bill O’Reilly. O’Reilly said, on April 19th on his radio program in response to the concern of an Asian caller about possible backlash against Asian-Americans or Korean-Americans in the wake of the tragedy at Virginia Tech, that he felt the concern was unfounded because “there has been no violence against Mulim-Americans in the wake of 9/11.” Obviously O’Reilly’s crack research team has missed the attacks on and vandalism of American Mosques, and the many incidents against individual Muslims and Muslim communities.
I don’t know what planet they are living on, but it must be a pretty comfortable place to live without messy reality interfering. It is also growing increasingly crowded. A couple of days ago on The View there was a discussion about the riots and effigy burning set off by Richard Gere’s unfortunate faux pax in India. Then, from nowhere, Joy Behar piped up with the comment that the Indians are usually nice people and it asn’t like them to behave in this manner - they aren’t Muslims you know, I think they’re Hindu or something.
And, the saddest part of all of this is that these three comments are relatively benign compared to much of the Islamophobic rhetoric being spewed everywhere.