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Rich Lowry: Prejudice Against Muslims Is Rational

Reported by Ellen - December 22, 2006 -

Rev. Douglas Smith was a guest on Hannity & Colmes last night, 12/21/06, to discuss a recent project of the Virginia Interfaith Center to overcome anti-Arab discrimination. Rich Lowry, subbing for Sean Hannity, quickly distorted the mission and argued on behalf of prejudice against Muslims. With video.

As Alan Colmes explained in the introduction, Smith’s group has posted Arabic signs around Richmond with English translation in small letters. The signs say something innocuously American such as “paper or plastic” or “rock, paper, scissors.” The purpose is to grab people’s attention and, if they become suspicious about the purpose of the sign, make them aware of their anti-Arab bias once they discover the banal meaning.

Smith said, “These signs really aren't about terrorism but unfortunately that's what immediately goes to people's minds when they see Arabic."

Colmes said he hopes this will help lessen the fear of Muslims and impel people to "realize that this is a culture that by and large is also peaceful."

“No one should be concerned when they see Arabic,” Smith said. “They should be concerned when they hear about terrorists. And they’re not one and the same.”

Lowry allowed as how he didn't mind "making people more familiar with Arabic script." But, he added, "At a certain level, isn't it rational for people to have some suspicion when every time they hear about some horrific suicide bombing or the kind of hijackings we experienced in this country on September 11, it's Muslims doing it?"

Smith answered, "Let's be clear: It's terrorists doing it. Terrorists commit terrorism, not Muslims."

Lowry asked Smith to name "really significant instances of terrorism recently, not committed by Muslims." What about Timothy McVeigh? The IRA? The Army of God? Lowry conveniently forgot about them.

Smith didn’t go there. But he responded that we can't make a connection between Muslims and terrorism "any more than we can make a connection between Timothy McVeigh and Christians."

Lowry made an effort at sounding generous of spirit. “Obviously, obviously we all agree not all Muslims are terrorists,” he said. “Muslims in this country, ALMOST entirely all of them are patriotic Americans."

Then Lowry slyly changed the subject to “What’s wrong with Muslims” and away from the issue of bias. It amounted to a backdoor effort at justifying prejudice. Lowry said, “But the fact is, the Islamic religion has a problem right now because there are extremists within that religion who are pretty prominent and have more support than they should within the Muslim community who are committing horrific acts of terror – not just against the so-called infidels but against fellow Muslims. And I think it's just as important for organizations such as yours to speak out strongly against that and to prod Muslims, themselves, to denounce those kinds of attacks."

Smith is a man with a kind face and a sympathetic affect. He gently told Lowry that the sign campaign is about bias (i.e. not prodding Muslims). "And even the way you ask that question, it really points out that there's bias not only in our media but in our communities."

Lowry, who had just argued that it’s rational to be suspicious of Muslims, insisted he wasn’t biased. “Just explain to me what's biased about saying there's a problem within Islam because there is a segment of extremists within that religion who are killing infidels and fellow Muslims.”

Smith said "If, in fact, we are gonna be Americans and continue to weave this fabric of America, we have to make sure that we don't make connections between people's skin color and maybe what a few minor…"

Colmes interrupted to end the segment. "I admire what you're doing," he added emphatically. It seemed a deliberate effort at distancing himself from Lowry.