Fox & Enemies (i.e. Muslims)
It is a sad commentary on the state of the American media when a comedian, namely John Oliver on Last Week Tonight, is needed to correct the blatant Islamophobic bias of Fox News, the network that revels in the rhetoric of hate. This is not a slight of Oliver, an astute satirist who is well aware of Horace’s age-old adage that although the satirist laughs, he tells the truth. But it is an indictment of the level of distortion and intentional misinformation that drives the so-called “news” of the Fox entertainment enterprise.
On the September 9 show Fox & Friends (and with friends like these, you do not need enemies), host Kristin Fisher spoke over a video said to be showing Syrian refugees chanting “Allahu Akbar” and thus identified as “potential terrorists”. Here is what she said:
KRISTIN FISHER: At the same time that the White House is reconsidering what to do about this refugee crisis, a new video surfaces online showing why some are worried Europe is opening its doors to potential terrorists. […] Those are reportedly Muslim refugees on a train in Europe chanting “Allahu Akbar” or “God is great.” Now, to be clear, we’re not saying that any of those people are terrorists or in any way affiliated with a terror group, but it does highlight just how many of these refugees, who are fleeing violence in Iraq and Syria, are Muslim. And when they’re flooding into Europe at a rate of thousands a day, it’s impossible to check all of them as they cross the border. The White House has been taking some heat from its European allies for not doing more to help, but yesterday a spokesman said the administration is “actively considering other options.”
The image over which she spoke is “reported” to be a “new video” of Muslim refugees on a train in Europe. In fact, as Oliver and other sources have noted, Fox took a video posted in 2010 by an atheist group on Youtube. These are not refugees, but French citizens on a subway to a Palestinian rally. Even a casual look at the entire video shows quite a bit of laughter at or along with the man who is chanting in a very crowded car. He was not sporting a suicide vest, but citing a litany out of obvious frustration at the way in which Palestinians and Muslims are often seen in France. The key line in the entire video is a wish for Allah to grant victory to Palestinians. If you click on the pdf download, you will receive in French a translation of hadiths, devoid of any context, as though all Muslims follow all hadiths blindly. If you read the extensive list of comments below the video, you will see the worst kind of Islamophobic invective, mostly in French. None of this is mentioned by Fox & Friends in their dis-reporting.
In addition to showing a five-year old clip from a hate site, Ms. Fisher (or more probably the Fox News ghost writer for such airhead celebrities), is disingenuous by making the claim that “to be clear” she is not saying the people in the video are in fact terrorists while the screen shot implies that they are. The message comes across loud and clear that most Syrian refugees are Muslims and thus potential terrorists. This message is raw meat to the Islamophobic crowd, especially those who dabble in apocalyptic scenarios. On American Family Radio, Ann Corcoran claimed that the Syrian refugees are planning to establish an Islamic caliphate in America, as though they had no other reason to flee the brutality in Syria from which most are fleeing a so-called new caliphate by ISIS. Walid Shoebat, an x-Muslim crusader against Islam, warns that “The Antichrist Is Sending A Flood Of Muslim Migrants Into Europe To Destroy Christianity.”
Fox News distortion is hardly a secret and even results in a Wikipedia article devoted to it. When 7th graders received an assignment to write down the five pillars of the Islamic faith, Fox News went viral that learning what Muslims believe is the same as indoctrination. This is the same station that staunchly defends promoting the “Ten Commandments” in public spaces. As sad as the money-driven dynamic of Fox News is, there is good news. While Fox News consistently leads its main American media rivals, over half of its viewers are over age 68. The vast majority consider themselves “conservative” and many are drunk with the tea-party spirit. This is not surprising, since younger generations in the U.S. are less likely to watch cable news and most are not as conservative as their grandparents and parents. But, if an Islamic caliphate were to take root on American soil, I bet that Rupert Murdoch would be the first to convert and we would see the birth of “Tha’lab News,” as fair and balanced as its audience would like it to be.