Laura Ingraham's December 2009 comments in which she speaks approvingly of the Park51 project are becoming quite the thorn in her side. During tonight's edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Ingraham tried -- again -- to explain her evolving position on the proposed Islamic community center to be built in Lower Manhattan.
Ingraham has previously said that her reversal was due to the "legitimate questions" that had arisen, which, as we pointed out, were nothing but the same smears and falsehoods that conservative pundits have been pushing for weeks. Tonight, Ingraham trotted out those same falsehoods and suggested that back in 2009, she had merely "supported assimilation," not the actual project itself.
However, Ingraham's guest, Manhattan Borough president Scott Stringer, pointed out what Ingraham had said last year. Stringer stated that Ingraham "supported this," saying, "You told Daisy Khan -- you told them, on this show, in December 2009, you said, 'You're doing the right thing. You're doing great work.' ... You actually started this, Laura." Stringer went on to say:
STRINGER: You supported this -- and then you know what you did? You left the studio. ... You then left the studio and said, what did I -- what did I do? I didn't stick to the talking points. I have to now go back and reverse myself 'cause I need ratings. You agreed -- you agreed with them.
During a December 21, 2009, interview on the Factor with Khan, the wife of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who is spearheading the Park51 Islamic cultural center project, Ingraham said: "I know your group takes a moderate approach to Americanizing people, assimilating people, which I applaud. I think that's fantastic." Ingraham concluded the interview by saying, "I like what you're trying to do, and Ms. Kahn, we appreciate it. And come on my radio show sometime."
But on August 4, Ingraham changed her tune, claiming that "the terrorists have won with the way this has gone down." Ingraham continued: "Six hundred feet from where thousands of our fellow Americans were incinerated in the name of political Islam, and we're supposed to be -- we're supposed to be considered intolerant if we're not cheering this?"
Tonight, following Stringer's comments, a visibly frustrated Ingraham said: "Hey, pipe down. You know what I heard? I heard 'blood on our hands' -- I heard 'blood on our hands'; I heard 'Americans are mean and they're Islamophobic and they hate Muslims if they disagree.' " She added, "I absolutely support assimilation. I don't support founders of an organization who actually believe America is the equivalent of Al Qaeda when destroying Muslim lives." Ingraham also called Stringer's interpretation of her earlier approval "weak."
First of all, Rauf's statement that the United States has "more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaida" due to U.S.-led sanctions against Iraq is not out of the mainstream. Secondly, Ingraham completely distorted Khan's statement regarding Islamophobia and Muslim hatred: What Khan actually said was that hatred of Muslims in America is a cause for concern. And as for her last point -- neither Khan nor Imam Rauf have made statements that remotely come close to equating the United States with Al Qaeda.
On the contrary, the larger point Rauf was making regarding sanctions is, as Rauf stated, "the fact that the West has not been cognizant and has not addressed the issues of its own contribution to much of the injustice in the Arab and Muslim world. It is a difficult subject to discuss with Western audience but it is one that must be pointed out and must be raised."
Rather than discussing Rauf's point, Ingraham and other conservative pundits would rather distort the issue and propagate smears and falsehoods about Muslims. And in Ingraham's case, she has to run away from her previous comments in order to do so.