Radio host Michael Berry criticized the decision to remove the Confederate battle flag from South Carolina's Statehouse grounds by positing that if the gunman were Muslim, no one would be calling to "outlaw the Koran" or mosques in response.
On his June 23 show, Berry, who is an outspoken proponent of the Confederate battle flag, criticized the calls to remove the flag from the South Carolina Statehouse grounds in response to the fatal shootings of nine black church members on June 17. Dylann Storm Roof, who has been charged with the attack, told law enforcement officials he was influenced by white supremacists, who see the Confederate flag as a symbol of their beliefs. Berry said taking down the flag made no sense because when a Muslim commits a terrorist attack -- something he falsely claimed is more likely than an attack by a non-Muslim -- there aren't any calls to "outlaw the Koran" or to "outlaw mosques."
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, attacks on Muslims after 9/11 "skyrocketed some 1,600%," and as recently as 2010, some 160 anti-Muslim hate crimes were committed. North Carolina and Florida have passed "anti-sharia" laws, and as The New York Times reported, towns in Tennessee, California, and Wisconsin have tried to stop the construction or expansion of mosques.
After South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R-SC) announced that she supported the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the state Capitol, right-wing media figures responded by attacking the flag's possible removal as "cultural cleansing" and asking whether the American flag would be next.
Texas-based radio host Michael Berry criticized a Twitter user who, in the wake of the June 17 killing of nine black worshippers at an historic black church in Charlestown, South Carolina, tweeted that the state's governor had defended the Confederate "Stars and Bars" flag over the state capitol last October. Berry claimed the flag merely represents "the heritage of the state" and accused critics of wanting to "revise the history."
Berry spent a large portion of his June 18 morning show downplaying the racist motivations behind Dylann Storm Roof's attack on a prayer group at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. While condemning those he said have rushed to judgement about the white shooter's motivations, Berry responded to a tweet by a former official at the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development that pointed out that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) had defended flying the Confederate flag outside the statehouse in October 2014. Berry said it was silly to blame the capitol's display of the "Stars and Bars" flag of the former Confederate States for encouraging the attack because it merely "represents the heritage of the state." He added that opponents want to "revise the history and take the flag away." Listen:
Berry, who called black teens at a pool party in McKinney, Texas "jungle animals" and told black UCLA students who were trying to improve diversity on campus to "get the F over themselves," has caused more than a few controversies with his racially insensitive remarks. His defense of the Confederate flag epitomizes what Philip Klein, managing editor of the conservative Washington Examiner, criticized in a recent column that said, "Conservatives who try to defend the flag (or who are afraid to criticize it) are only reinforcing the perception that supporters of limited government don't really care about the historical or modern day struggles of black Americans." But considering the fact that Berry's promotional material for his show features a picture of him wearing a Confederate flag hat, (see above), it seems unlikely he cares.
From the June 11 edition of iHeartRadio's The Michael Berry Show:
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From the June 8 edition of iHeartRadio's Michael Berry Show:
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Cheered on by Fox News and the rest of the right-wing media, conservative activists spent the past year engaged in an anti-Muslim campaign that included efforts to block the planned Islamic center in lower Manhattan and demonize the imam spearheading the project. The bigotry has culminated in a Florida pastor's now-"suspended" plans to burn Qurans on September 11 -- plans that the pastor has explicitly linked to the controversy over the Islamic center.
Who says conservative media personalities don't traffic in violent rhetoric?
While discussing the recently announced plans of the American Society for Muslim Advancement and Cordoba Initiative "to build a community center two blocks away from Ground Zero in New York City that would include 'a mosque, performance art center, gym, swimming pool and other public spaces,'" right-wing Houston radio host Michael Berry said, "I'll tell you this: If you do build a mosque, I hope somebody blows it up."
ThinkProgress.org's Amanda Terkel writes:
On Wednesday, a man named "Tony" called into the KTRH-AM (Houston, TX) radio show of right-wing radio host Michael Berry in support of the Muslim center. First, Berry asked the caller whether "Tony" was his real name, because with his accent, he didn't "sound like a 'Tony.'" He repeatedly tried to link to the mosque to terrorists, eventually saying that if the mosque is built, he hopes someone blows it up:
BERRY: No, Tony, you can't build a mosque at the site of 9/11.
TONY: Why not? Why not?
BERRY: No, you can't. And I'll tell you this: If you do build a mosque, I hope somebody blows it up. … I hope the mosque isn't built, and if it is, I hope it's blown up. And I mean that. … It's right-wing radicals like me that are going to keep this country safe for you and everyone else from the people who are flying the planes from the country you fled from. If you want to identify with those people, go live with them.
You can contact KTRH AM 740's program director Bryan Erickson with your thoughts about Berry's comments by clicking here.