More Fox News Fear Mongering: Sharia Law Has Invaded the U.S.!
Reported by Ellen - June 25, 2010 -
Less than a week after Sean Hannity teamed up with a GOP state representative to declare that the U.S. Constitution and out judicial systems are being threatened by Sharia law, Fox News hyped a news story about Christian missionaries arrested for disorderly conduct at a Muslim festival in Michigan. Rather than offer any investigation for the “we report, you decide” network’s audience, the incident was relayed from the point of view of the missionaries, only, and then framed with the inflammatory “question,” are the police enforcing Sharia law in the U.S.? This incident was discussed on Hannity’s Great American Panel last night (6/24/10), and in the same shallow, one-sided and inflammatory way on Fox & Friends this morning.
This morning, Fox & Friends hosted one of the missionaries and his lawyer to get their side of the story, only. Host Brian Kilmeade gave no evidence that Sharia law played any part in the arrest. He played a brief video from one of the missionaries showing them peacefully handing out leaflets before being approached by the cops. Had there been an incident earlier? Kilmeade didn’t even think to ask. Nor did Kilmeade seem to feel the need to find out why the police found the leafleteers had been disorderly and had “caused a stir.”
Instead, Kilmeade opined by way of asking, “Were they (the police) adhering to Sharia law in their arrests because it doesn’t seem to be going by our Constitution?”
In concert, Fox News producers posted a banner on the screen reading, “Police Enforcement of Sharia Law?”
Apropos of nothing except demonizing Muslims, one of the guests said, it was “probably not a coincidence that in a city where you have the largest Muslim population in the United States that you have police who are persecuting Christians.”
On Hannity, the night before, this same story was a topic on The Great American Panel. As usual, it was lopsided with two conservative views plus Hannity. Hannity played the same videotape and similarly made no attempt to find out any further information beyond the missionaries’ view.
Also like Kilmeade, Hannity asked, “Why would they be arrested for this… Is Sharia law taking over in Dearborn?” and made no further attempt to find out whether that inflammatory accusation might be true.
Guest Kirsten Haglund, a former Miss America from Michigan said, “This has been happening for a very long time… They emigrate over… and they don’t assimilate with culture and then they demand that Sharia law be implemented… They wouldn’t arrest Muslims if they were doing the same thing.” Haglund indicated having done no research on this case and having no knowledge of the facts. But her off-the-cuff attack on Muslims seemed A-OK to Hannity. He not only failed to challenge her baseless accusation, he followed it up by tying the incident to one of his pet hate-mongering causes, the mosque at Ground Zero. Coincidentally, this has also been a target on Fox & Friends.
Democrat Alicia Menendez usually does a decent job of advocating for Democrats but she failed to confront, much less challenge, the propagandistic hate mongering that was obviously at play here. In fact, she enabled it by saying, “I agree with you,” as Hannity celebrated his “win” over her. She did add that we should be careful “not to paint this with too broad a brush stroke.”
“We know there are Muslims in this country that want America to be Sharia compliant,” Hannity added, still without offering any connection of that incendiary charge to the arrest of the missionaries.
Menendez answered, “Yes, we do. We also know that there are millions of American Muslims who feel very differently and value freedom of religion… It’s important to acknowledge that they exist.”
Maybe so. But it’s at least as important to acknowledge that Fox News was engaging in blatant fear mongering and hate mongering disguised as a debate. It's also important to acknowledge that the so-called "fair and balanced" network indicated no interest in a fair representation of Muslims, Christians or even the likelihood of Sharia law gaining a foothold in the U.S. Menendez either didn’t notice or chose to ignore it.