Yesterday I was on the Jeff Katz Show on WBT in Charlotte, North Carolina, a show on which I have appeared before, and this morning I wake up to see myself in the center of some controversy. Imagine that.
“Muslims boycott Charlotte talk show: Less sarcasm, more balance?” by Tim Funk in the Charlotte Observer, with thanks to Morgaan Sinclair:
Some local Muslims are urging people to boycott advertisers of WBT’s “Jeff Katz Show,” saying the conservative radio talker insults their religion with “hate-filled” comments on the air.
Here again, for “‘hate-filled’ comments,” read “comments exploring the elements of Islam that many Muslims are using around the world today to justify their acts of violence.” One would think that Muslims who profess to abhor the violence perpetrated in the name of their religion would welcome honest and respectful discussion of what needs reforming within Islam. Instead, we get learned analysts telling us that speaking about the elements of Islam that give rise to violence will lead Muslims who reject that violence to take it up, and protestors in Charlotte calling such investigations “hate-filled.”
At a Wednesday news conference, Jibril Hough of the Charlotte-based Islamic Political Party of America charged that Katz speaks mockingly about Muslims and showcases only critics of Islam on his 3-6 p.m. show at 1110 AM.
I don’t have the chance to listen to his show regularly, but I can say that Katz has never spoken mockingly about Muslims while I have been on his show.
“His agenda has been one of inciting fear, hatred and ignorance against Muslims,” said Hough, who is also spokesman for the Islamic Center of Charlotte. “His type of rhetoric would not be allowed against any other minority community …”
Asked for specifics, Hough said Katz sarcastically refers to Islam as “the religion of peace”; distorts passages in the Koran, the Muslims’ sacred book; calls Muslims who disagree with him “apologists for terrorists”; and refuses to let Hough and other Muslims speak on his show.
The sarcastic reference to the Religion of Peace is understandable, given the large number of terrorist attacks committed by Muslims in the name of their religion and the irony that this is the religion that has been designated the Religion of Peace by George Bush, Tony Blair, and others.
Distorts passages in the Qur’an? I don’t know what this is referring to, but since I have been accused by the truth-challenged Khaleel Mohammed and other Islamic apologists of “misquoting” the Qur’an when I rely scrupulously on translations made by Muslims for Muslims (and they couldn’t produce any examples of this misquoting when asked), I suspect all that Hough means here is that Katz actually quotes the Qur’an.
And are some Muslims “apologists for terrorists”? Unfortunately, when we have the specter of peaceful Muslims doing little or nothing about the jihadists and then holding this up as a virtue, that is a reasonable characterization.
Katz, who is among the leading ratings performers in afternoon drive, rejected the group’s characterization of his comments as bigoted. The Philadelphia native said he has merely expressed his frustration that too few Muslims have spoken out against terrorism.
“I’ve been looking for the reasonable, moderate, sensible voice of Islam that says, `Stop killing in our name,’ ” said Katz, who came to Charlotte in August from San Francisco radio. “There are one billion Muslims in the world. I don’t for a second think there are one billion terrorists … But (radical Islamic) groups have cowed people — including practicing Muslims — into not speaking out.”
Katz added that he’s become more hopeful this week, after a so-called “Secular Islam Summit” in St. Petersburg, Fla., was held to “stand (up) against radical Islam,” according to promotional literature for the summit.
“It reminded me of the Founding Fathers,” said Katz, who discussed the summit on his Wednesday show with guest Robert Spencer — the source of another complaint from local Muslims. Spencer is creator of www.jihadwatch.org and author of several books that have been criticized by Muslims, including “The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion.”
Criticized, yes. Refuted? Hardly. No one has even tried to refute my book. Is anything I say in the book inaccurate? As the Qur’an says, “Bring your proof, if you be truthful” (2:111; 27:64). Good advice.
Also, if anyone cares actually to open the book, he or she will see that there is nothing abusive, hateful, or disrespectful about it. It examines Muhammad’s life and teachings, as they are set forth in Muslim texts, and discusses the implications of those teachings. If Muslims criticize that, they should also criticize Ibn Ishaq, Bukhari, and my other Muslim sources.
Katz’s positive take on the “secular Islam summit” was not shared by some: A Georgetown University professor who teaches about Islam and Christianity told The St. Petersburg Times that the summit was a collection of extremists.
“Legitimate scholars are horrified by the lineup,” said Yvonne Haddad. “Basically, it’s everyone known for damning Islam.”
Extremists, eh? Name-calling is easy. Now as to substance, let me ask Yvonne Haddad something: which point or points of the St. Petersburg Declaration does she reject? Which does she think are “extremist”? The document calls on Muslims to affirm the freedom of conscience and peaceful coexistence as equals with non-Muslims. Oh, the extremism!
Hough said he and other moderate Muslims have spoken out against radical Islamic terrorists since the attacks of Sept. 11. He urged Katz to tone down his comments about Muslims at a time when reports of attacks on Muslims are on the rise.
What programs has Hough instituted in his mosque to teach his people not to be susceptible to the jihadist ideology of Islamic supremacism?
In January, five members of the Guilford College football team in Greensboro were charged with beating a group of Palestinian students. The students told authorities the players hit and kicked them while calling them “terrorists.”
As of Wednesday, 129 people had signed Hough’s petition (at www.PetitionOnline.com/jeffkatz/petition.html) to boycott the advertisers.
WBT general manager Rick Jackson stood by Katz, saying he’s never heard the host say anything hateful or bigoted.
And Jackson defended the show’s one-sided view: “Talk radio is not about balance, it’s about opinions.”
Attacks by idiots on Muslim passersby are always deplorable, but they should not be used to intimidate people away from speaking honestly about the elements of Islam that are inciting violence today. And it should be noted that CAIR and other Islamic advocacy groups know well the political capital such attacks give them.