In the face of widespread criticism of Rep. Peter King’s (R-NY) anti-Muslim witch-hunt hearings that began today, Fox News has been acting as King’s main communications arm defending the New York Republican and promoting his hearings. “Peter King has a good point,” Fox and Friends’ Steve Doocy said of King’s erroneous claim that American Muslims are being radicalized in mosques.
But a “report” on Fox last night from O’Reilly Factor ambush specialist Jesse Watters took the entire charade a step further. In advance of King’s hearings, Watters went to Columbia University and asked students if there is “a Muslim problem in the world.” To their credit, most of the students tried to inform Watters of his misguided premise:
STUDENT1: I wouldn’t call it a Muslim problem. I think there are terrorists of all religions.
WATTERS: Are there Christian terrorists?
STUDENT1: Oh, yes. [...]
STUDENT2: It’s not really about Islam. It’s a human occurrence. It’s a human — human aspect that has been going on throughout time.
Talking with O’Reilly after the segment, Watters said, “I think Columbia University is a different type of school. I mean, these people were doing mental acrobats, trying to de-link Islam from terrorism.” Media Matters has the clip:
Fox News, Jesse Watters, and many others on the right have facilitated the damaging argument that Muslim extremists represent Islam. Even President Bush has recognized the fallaciousness of this claim. “[Terrorists] believe that by spreading chaos and violence they can frustrate the desire of Muslims to live in freedom and peace. We say to them, you don’t represent Muslims, you do not represent Islam — and you will not succeed,” Bush said in 2007.
The perception that the U.S., and the West in general, is in a struggle against Islam is exactly what Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda terrorists want to promote. “The people of Islam awakened and realised that they are the main target for the aggression of the Zionist-Crusaders alliance,” bin Laden said in 1996. Peter King and Fox News are helping him realize that false perception.