Karl Frisch, 7/28/2011 [Archive]

Norway and the Stateside Islamophobia of Fox News

Norway and the Stateside Islamophobia of Fox News

By Karl Frisch

Remember the collective sense of loss and outrage we all felt in 1999 after the Columbine High School shootings that claimed the lives of twelve students and two teachers?

Those same emotions have settled upon the people of Norway.

Just hours after a bomb blast tore through a government building in Oslo last week, Anders Behring Breivik, who has since been linked to the bombing, opened fire on a Labor Party youth camp. Between the two attacks, at least 76 have lost their lives, all but eight during the youth camp shooting spree.

Breivik's mission was to take out the Labor Party government and its next generation of leaders. He was a right-wing Christian extremist motivated by his hatred of Muslims.

Cut to America and the right-wing media response to the tragedy.

When we last saw Glenn Beck he was leaving his Fox News program in shame having cost the network more than 300 sponsors and more than 40 million dollars after calling the President, whose mother was white, a "racist" with a "deep-seated hatred for white people."

By now, you may have assumed that Beck would be standing on a street corner screaming at passers by with other crazies, but alas, he still has his daily radio program from which to bark conspiracies and hateful rhetoric.

Following the Norwegian massacre, Beck took to his radio program and said of the youth camp where so many died, "sounds a little like the Hitler youth." See, to Beck, it was somehow strange that teenagers would attend a camp to learn about politics and government. It mattered little that youth summer camps tied to Beck's 9/12 movement are taking place this very summer.

I take personal umbrage with Beck's characterization. As a high school student in Los Angeles, I was first introduced to the idea of becoming politically involved as a student in the YMCA Youth and Government program -- a program that pre-dates our war with Nazi Germany and exists in nearly every state.

It should go without saying that young people taking a stake in their government should be applauded, not compared to the Hitler youth. But when you're Glenn Beck, nothing goes without saying.

He may no longer have his Fox News program to spew such vitriol, but that doesn't mean Rupert Murdoch's network hasn't been out front with absolutely insane commentary when it comes to the tragedy in Norway.

For years, the right-wing network has made controversial assertions about Muslims -- often by baselessly branding them as "terrorists" or "terrorist sympathizers" -- calling for profiling, or equating Islam and all of its adherents with radical extremists who claim to act in its name.

In Fox News' eyes, to be Muslim is to be closely aligned with terror spreading Muslim extremism.

Bill O'Reilly, Murdoch's marquee talent, was seething as he sat behind the desk of his highly rated nightly program and tore into the legitimate media for characterizing Breivik as a "Christian extremist" because Christians are "nonviolent."

For the likes of O'Reilly and much of his Fox News family, a terrorist who professes the Islamic faith is still a Muslim but a terrorist who professes the Christian faith? Not so much.

It is understandable that such talk would make O'Reilly uncomfortable. In 2009, a Christian extremist anti-choice activist shot and killed George Tiller while the Kansas abortion provider was attending church. This after O'Reilly repeatedly name-checked Tiller on his programs, calling him "Tiller the baby killer" and saying that Tiller would get what he deserves on "Judgment Day."

Many say that it is thoughtless, even reckless to blame an entire political movement for the actions of men like Breivik or Dr. Tiller's killer. I am inclined to agree. But it is just as reckless to dismiss these men as simply crazed.

Fox News has mainstreamed hate-filled fanatics like Pamela Geller -- a woman cited no less than 12 times in Breivik's anti-Muslim manifesto. I refuse to reprint even a word of Geller's long history of Islamophobic hysteria because it deserves no more oxygen, but suffice it to say, she is so absolutely bonkers, that she literally sees an Islamic conspiracy afoot in her SpaghettiO's. L-i-t-e-r-a-l-l-y.

There is a high bar between a run-of-the-mill religious extremist and a religious extremist capable of killing someone... or 76 someones as is the case with Breivik. But O'Reilly, Beck and their allies lower that bar when they paint the Islamic faith with a broad brush and give anti-Muslim bigotry an audience of millions.

——

Copyright©2011 KarlFrisch.com, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Karl Frisch is Democratic political strategist at Bullfight Strategies based in Washington, DC. He can be reached at KarlFrisch.com.

This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.




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