Lest anyone think that the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten has the market cornered on tasteless anti-Muslim provocation, we have to look no farther than Clear Channel Media’s right-wing Los Angeles talk radio station KFI, whose host, Bill Handel, mocked the Muslims killed in a Mecca stampede during Hajj this year:
At least 363 pilgrims were killed and hundreds injured in a stampede Jan. 12 in Mecca, where thousands of people were rushing to carry out a symbolic ritual of stoning the devil.
According to the civil liberties group [CAIR], Handel imitated the people screaming and then joked that the Muslims at the pilgrimage should use a helicopter to monitor pilgrimage traffic, as is done in Los Angeles with the freeways.
The group quoted Handel as saying: “This is Mahmoud Nolan. Hajj in the Sky. There is an accident. … Ali lost his sandal on the on-ramp to the Martin Luther King Jr. freeway.”
After the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil rights group demanded an apology from Handel and KFI, our right-wing friends at Little Green Footballs were up in arms. They urged both to stand fast against the “radical Islamic front group” (whose leader, Ibrahim Hooper, meets with George Bush and is consulted by the White House on matter related to the U.S. Muslim community).
I guess LGF doesn’t carry enough juice though because Clear Channel and Handel “caved to CAIR” as Charles Johnson’s headline whined. Clear Channel took a look at those burning Danish diplomatic buildings in Lebanon and Syria and decided that discretion was the better part of valor. Not to mention, they might’ve been afraid of an FCC license challenge by CAIR when KFI’s license came up for renewal.
If anyone cares to hear a juvenile right-wing bigot eat crow on air, you may listen to Handel’s apology. KFI’s right-wing corporate parent also tasted of the bird:
Clear Channel Communications Regional Vice President Greg Ashlock wrote in part: (Clear Channel is KFI’s parent company.)
“We would like to offer a sincere apology to members of the Muslim Community for recent comments airing on our station related to the unfortunate deaths for those taking part in the Hajj. KFI AM 640 does not condone making light of the deaths of people engaged in religious observances…
“On this particular program, we crossed the line in reporting the Hajj incident in an insensitive manner. We have discussed the content and timing of this ‘bit’ extensively with Mr. Bill Handel and his crew and are confident that everyone now understands the gravity of the situation. Mr. Handel expresses his sincere apology for the insensitive remarks.”
Does anyone want to argue that mimicking the screams of dying Muslims on air exemplifies one of those sacred rights of freedom of speech that our country was founded to uphold?
LGF also denigrates CAIR as a “fringe Islamic group.” One has to wonder whether Johnson has any idea of American-Muslim groups and whether there are any he would find mainstream or acceptable to his way of thinking? And if CAIR is a fringe radical front group does that make the Anti-Defamation League (a comparable American-Jewish group) the same within the Jewish world? You can see by the analogy that LGF’s overheated phrasemongering doesn’t even have a semblance of rhetorical reality.
Hat tip to LGF Watch, those intrepid monitors of Johnson hate.