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William Fisher: At Our Beck and Gall

At Our Beck and Gall

By William Fisher
t r u t h o u t | Columnist

Wednesday 31 January 2007

Champions of our Constitution's First Amendment should be resting easier now. ABC's hiring of Glenn Beck to appear as a regular on its "Good Morning America" show surely proves that, despite the Bush administration's efforts, freedom of speech is still alive and well in the United States.

No matter how outrageously uninformed and bigoted that speech may be.

Doubtless, Beck's arrival will catapult the show's ratings exponentially. And his former home, at CNN Headline News, will sink further into irrelevance.

Beck, you will recall, is the esteemed Middle East scholar who interviewed Keith Ellison, our first Muslim congressman, back in November and asked him to "prove to me that you are not working with our enemies."

Surely a question worthy of Bill O'Reilly or Rush Limbaugh.

Beck's anti-Arab and anti-Muslim rants should be producing apoplexy in Ted Turner, who founded CNN to broadcast news. Just the facts, ma'am.

Here are some of Beck's recently broadcast facts:

Muslims "who have sat on [their] hands the whole time rather than 'lining up to shoot the bad Muslims in the head' will face dire consequences. One of those consequences being that Muslims will be 'looking through a razor wire fence at the West.'"

Before joining CNN, Beck hosted a radio talk show, distributed by that star player in the vast left-wing media conspiracy, Clear Channel's Premiere Radio Networks. There, he told his audience that "The world is on the brink of World War III," and then warned:

"All you Muslims who have sat on your frickin' hands the whole time and have not been marching in the streets and have not been saying, 'Hey, you know what? There are good Muslims and bad Muslims. We need to be the first ones in the recruitment office lining up to shoot the bad Muslims in the head.' I'm telling you, with God as my witness, human beings are not strong enough, unfortunately, to restrain themselves from putting up razor wire and putting you on one side of it. When things - when people become hungry, when people see that their way of life is on the edge of being over, they will put razor wire up and, just based on the way you look or just based on your religion, they will round you up. Is that wrong? Oh my gosh, it is Nazi, World War II wrong, but society has proved it time and time again: It will happen."

On September 5, Beck broadcast the same message to his CNN Headline News audience, declaring, "In 10 years, Muslims and Arabs will be looking through a razor wire fence at the West." The "razor wire" is a reference to the internment of tens of thousands of Japanese-Americans during World War Two - about which Beck warned, "The razor wire will be coming. "

He explained: "Since 9/11, Americans have gotten so fed up with the 'yes, but' Muslims. The 'yes, but' Muslims are the ones who show up on talk shows and in the media and say, 'Yes, terrorism is bad, but' - and then they go through a list of reasons why we should try to sympathize with people who fly planes into buildings. If, God forbid, there's another attack, we won't have any more patience for the 'yes, buts.' The Muslim community better find a spokesman who isn't a 'yes, but' Muslim. They shouldn't even understand the word 'but,' because if they don't, when things heat up, the profiling will only get worse, and the razor wire will be coming."

"You want the profiling to stop?" he asked Muslims. His answer: "Here's an idea. Stop murdering innocent people. Stop excusing the people who do. You do that for a while, and I guarantee you won't have any more problems at the airports. Stop blowing stuff up and the world just might be your oyster. Otherwise, it's going to be like that movie, 'The Siege.' You remember that movie? The Muslims will see the West through razor wire if things don't change."

He went on. "Look, I'm not saying all Arabs and Muslims are anti-American. Far from it. We should get to know these people and embrace the good Muslims and eliminate the bad ones. Here's what I don't know. I don't know if the Muslim community will ever step to the plate like the Japanese-American community did during World War II. You know, it was absolutely disgraceful how we rounded innocent people up then, and, sadly, history has a way of repeating itself, no matter how grotesque that history might be. The Muslim community can prevent this if they act now."

In an exercise of obvious futility, the three leading Arab-American and Muslim-American advocacy groups dashed off a letter to ABC/Disney, expressing dismay and requesting a meeting to discuss their concerns.

They wrote: "During his tenure at CNN Headline News and as a talk-radio host, Beck has demonstrated an obvious anti-Arab and anti-Muslim prejudice in his broadcasts through threats and blatantly inaccurate statements. [Beck's] addition to 'Good Morning America' would disseminate his prejudiced, openly hostile and ignorant commentary to an even broader national audience, and diminish the credibility of your reputable and highly rated news show," the letter said, adding, "To provide a platform for his hateful speech is dangerous and irresponsible, and we strongly and urgently implore you to reconsider this move."

The response from ABC News expressed its willingness to discuss the organizations' concerns, but added that it intends to hire Beck.

Of course it does. It knows the formula:

Rantings + Ravings = Ratings.


William Fisher has managed economic development programs in the Middle East and in many other parts of the world for the US State Department and USAID for the past thirty years. He began his work life as a journalist for newspapers and for the Associated Press in Florida. Go to The World According to Bill Fisher for more.

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