Denver KHOW talk-radio host Peter Boyles told listeners that reports of retaliatory threats around the country against Muslim Americans in the wake of the Fort Hood shootings were a myth — a product of a politically correct culture that aimed to silence hawkish members of the right and that made the U.S. vulnerable to attacks.
Boyles was responding to a Colorado Independent story that quoted Abed Ayoub, legal adviser to the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, who said that in the days after news of the Fort Hood tragedy his organization had been in “crisis mode,” monitoring and responding to tirades by men like Boyles as well as hate speech and threats. Muslim leaders were reporting phone threats in communities across the country, Ayoub said.
“Threats? What threats? Name the threat,” Boyles said on his Nov. 9 show, incredulous.
“There has never been one retaliation in this country. It is like it is myth. Aunt Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security secretary, said she is working to prevent a possible wave of anti-Muslim sentiment. You know what? There has not been one case, one documented case of retaliation against a Muslim person or an Arab person in the United States of America…
You know that there is not one case of retaliation. Not one case. It is like apples and — it is like razor blades in apples. It is a myth. And how these numerous Muslim societies come out and say we must do this, we must do that. And I am telling you that there is no instance of retaliation.
Political correctness is one of the many tools being used against us here in this country to take us down.
Ayoub argued, however, that the charged atmosphere after the killings demanded reliance on facts.
“This radio talk show host doesn’t have his facts straight,” Ayoub said. “We’ve had many email threats since this happened. Prominent community members in the Detroit metro area received messages saying ‘We know where you live.'”
Ayoub said that the FBI is currently investigating some of the more egregious threats and that the only reason “nothing has happened” is because “we alerted the authorities,” something Ayoub recommends to anyone receiving threatening communications.
Ayoub said that since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, there has been a steep increase in hate crimes and what could be considered retaliation against Muslims. He said the first hate crime to come after the attacks was actually perpetrated against a Sikh, who was murdered because he was thought to be Muslim. Since that time Abed said hate crimes have been on the rise.
A report published by the ADC documenting hate crimes (pdf) against Muslims in America put the number at 80-90 incidents in the late 1990s. After a spike in incidents after the Sept. 11 attacks, during the period 2003-2007, acts of violence or credible threats of violence surged to 120-130 per year. Ayoub said the increase is reflected in data maintained as well by the Department of Justice.
“Look at the [U.S. Department of Justice] for hate crimes. Employment discrimination was on the rise. Violent crimes were on the rise. Mosques have been burned. Places of worship defaced. In Maryland, there was a church that was graffitied ‘Go home you [expletive] Arabs.'”
Ayoub said that a Greek orthodox priest was beaten in Florida recently because a Marine reservist thought he was Muslim. Think Progress reported that the priest, Alexios Marakis, got lost in Tampa and, asking for help, was struck over the head with a tire iron by Marine reservist Jasen D. Bruce.
A 2008 press release by the U.S. Department of Justice reported that “since Sept. 11, 2001, the Civil Rights Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Attorneys offices around the country have investigated more than 800 incidents involving violence, threats, vandalism and arson against Arab-Americans, Muslims, Sikhs, South-Asian Americans and other people perceived to be of Middle Eastern origin.” Thirty-seven convictions have resulted.
Catering to Muslims
On the Nov. 9 broadcast, prompted by The Colorado Independent’s story on his Nov. 6 comments, Boyles revisited his discussion of the Fort Hood shootings. He renewed his attacks on political correctness, avoided addressing fact-check concerns raised by the Independent and attacked Islam with guest Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch.
At first Boyles backpedaled on whether he meant to imply that Islam was at war with the United States. He said he was only asking the question, that President Obama, like then-President George W. Bush, refused to acknowledge the threat Islam posed to the U.S.
“[Joseph Boven reports that I said] Islam is at war with America. Actually, Mr. Boven, what I said was ‘America says Islam is not — that we are not at war with Islam.’ ‘But,’ I said, ‘Is Islam at war with the United States?'”
Boyles soon made it clear to listeners how he felt.
“I am convinced that Islam is at war with you. What is it that you want to do? We have a president of this Christian nation, as they say, saying that we are not at war with Islam. I think that Islam is at war with us. I think that smart people know that.”
Boyles had said the fact that accused Fort Hood shooter, Army Maj. Nidal Hasan had listed his nationality as Palestinian at his mosque, was a warning sign. But, as the ADC’s Ayoud told The Colorado Independent, it is common in mosque culture to list ethnicity as one’s nationality. Hasan listing himself as Palestinian was neither uncommon nor a sign of treason, Ayoub noted.
Nor did Boyles revisit his notion that a non-denominational prayer and meditation center being built at the University of Colorado-Boulder was evidence of politically correct decision-making that favored Mulsims. Boyles claimed Christians would never be similarly catered to. University spokesman Bronson Hilliard told The Colorado Daily that the center will be for students of all faiths and any students seeking to practice religion, meditate, quietly reflect or do yoga.
In his discussion, Boyles lingered on The Colorado Independent referring to his comments as coming during the afternoon of Nov. 6 when his radio show airs in the morning. The Independent corrected and noted the error.
During the Nov. 9 show, Boyles read from an article by Examiner.com anti-immigration firebrand Frosty Wooldridge.
“If you look at Islam in the modern world, its terror tactics began in Munich, Germany, 1972, with the mass killings of Jewish athletes at the Olympics,” Boyles read. “From that point, every major mass murder or killing attempt across the planet stems from Muslim terrorists.”
Boyles again lashed out at political correctness as abetting Muslim terrorists in the U.S. He said military recruiters should view the term “Allahu Akbar” in the same way they view the term “Heil Hitler,” the expression of an enemy combatant.
CALLER: … There is no doubt that the attack on Fort Hood was definitely an act of terrorism. When terrorists are about to do what they are about to do they always yell “Allah Akbar.” That’s–
BOYLES: Yeah, sure.
CALLER: And that is what this guy was doing.
BOYLES: Ask him if somebody with this man’s political and religious beliefs would say that. He walked into the Army recruiter and instead of saying “Allah Akbar” said “Heil Hitler.” Do you think that the military would have said “Come on in”?
CALLER: Hell no they wouldn’t have.
BOYLES: Or “[Japanese Emperor] Hirohito is god” or —
In addition to speaking to Spencer of Jihad Watch, Boyles read from an essay by Wooldridge, who penned a series of postings at News With Views and crossposted at the website of white supremacist David Duke.
Spencer said any talk of retaliation against Muslims was an effort to silence men like Boyles.
“They want us to shut up because we are telling the truth about these things and calling attention to their flagrant manipulative hypocrisy in trying to put up this diversionary smokescreen about backlash, which is designed to divert attention from what is really going on and to prevent there being any kind of genuine steps taken to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”
Special loyalty tests
Spencer also called for instituting additional loyalty tests for Muslim-American military recruits.
“In a sane world you would be right. The Army would be saying the Muslim soldiers need to demonstrate their loyalty in some way. They need to show us that they are not another Nidal Hasan. That there is going to be questioning. There is going to be additional scrutiny, and if they are patriotic Americans they should have no problem with that.”
Qaseem A. Qseh, founder and executive director of American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council, told The Colorado Independent that all recruits to the military take an oath of loyalty. Spencer’s ideas, he said, would take the country in the wrong direction.
“This Jihad Watch wants some sort of litmus test … but as horrific as [the Fort Hood shootings were], you start dividing up this nation and having double standards, then America loses the very thing that so many people have fought for. No litmus test has ever been instituted against Jews, Christians or any other religion, because people will use ideology for their own ends.”
He reminded that black Americans were the target of terrorism and segregation, and often times under the Christian banner carried by the Ku Klux Klan.
“We do not tolerate that [type of terrorism], then or now. This is America, comprised of different people of shapes, beliefs, and colors”
In the wake of Boyles comments following the Fort Hood shootings, Muslim groups in Colorado reacted and responded.
Shoaib Ghori, administrator for the Colorado Muslim Society, told The Colorado Independent that he disagreed with views taken in the media that depict the tragedy as representative of Islam.
“We are sorry like the rest of America over the loss of life,” Ghori said. ” This was an act of an individual who acted crazily…. We don’t believe that he was acting on the behalf of Islam or that he represented Muslims.”
Northeast Islamic Center‘s Imam Ali agreed with Ghori, though was less reserved in his criticism.
“It is ridiculous that some people want to broad-brush Islam,” Ali said. “This was a man with a mental condition who had a break.”
Ali said all Muslim “hearts and prayers go out to those who were hurt or killed and to their families.”
“We are Americans who want the best for our country.” Ali said that the many U.S. Muslim soldiers prove that admirably through their service.