Following Fox News contributor Juan Williams' recent termination from NPR after stating he gets nervous when he sees pople on a plane "identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims," he and his Fox colleagues have launched a campaign to defend the remarks while aggressively attacking NPR for letting him go. In the latest such example, Williams stated that "we need moderate Muslims to stand tall, and they haven't been doing it." In fact, moderate Muslims have been standing tall, but Fox has been busily smearing them and calling them radicals.
Williams made his claim on last night's edition of the O'Reilly Factor. Responding to Bill O'Reilly's assertion that "the problem is that the 1.5" billion "moderate, good Muslims haven't banded together to fight the bad Muslims," Williams responded:
Well, that's a -- that's a glaring problem. The glaring problem is that what you have here is a silent group that somehow intimidated -- intimidated by people who threatened violence who would excommunicate them, call them not good Muslims if they dare stand up and say the use of violence and intimidation, putting out, you know, attacks on writers who simply write books, that these words are now sacrilege and you have a right to kill the writer. Much less attack the United States or any other country, kill innocent people.
We need moderate Muslims to stand tall. And they haven't been doing it. That's an issue.
There are no moderate Muslims speaking out against extremist violence? Of course, that's just not the case. Naturally, no one on the Factor corrected Williams, but there are a multitude of examples to which they could have pointed. For example, following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, hundreds of Muslim leaders and scholars issued statements condemning the attacks and expressing both support for the United States and sympathy for the victims and their families. And ever since, the Muslim community in America and abroad have spoken out against terrorism and violence time and time again. Indeed, there are entire organizations devoted to advocating peaceful Islam.
And how about Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who dared propose a Muslim cultural center in downtown Manhattan to promote cultural understanding? He has repeatedly condemned terrorism, "Muslim militants," and violence committed in the name of religion. The State Department, starting in the Bush administration, has repeatedly sent Rauf abroad to promote a "moderate perspective" of being "Muslim in the United States."
Rauf seems a natural choice to point to as moderate Muslim who's stood up against violence. But the very reason he wasn't mentioned gets to the heart of Fox's problem with Muslims. While in 2006 Beck appeared to refer to Rauf as a "good Muslim," and as recently as last December Laura Ingraham told Rauf's wife that the two of them were doing "great work," he's since gotten in the way of Fox's relentless campaign to gin up anti-Muslim outrage and paint Muslims as the dangerous other, so, Fox spent all Summer and Fall smearing this moderate Muslim as a "secret radical." Because on Fox, to be considered a moderate Muslim, you pretty much have to be participating in their campaign to attack Islam.