Monday, 18 March 2019

Merely Questioning a Follower of Islam Gets One in Hot Water

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Janine Pirro is a former prosecutor who has been using her talents to host a Fox Network show entitled Justice With Judge Jeanine. In a recent airing of her weekend show, she chose to focus on Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), one of three elected members of the U.S. Congress who is a professed Muslim.

Omar had previously created some controversy with comments she made at a bookstore event in Washington. She told that gathering that some of her critics were already labeling her an anti-Semite and added: “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” That remark was immediately taken as criticism of the pro-Israel attitude not only of some members of Congress but also of a sizeable number of Americans — many of whom aren’t Jews but are fundamentalist Christians.

The key phrase inviting Pirro’s questions about Omar used the term “allegiance to a foreign country.” Weeks earlier, the Minnesota representative had stated that support for Israel among Americans in and out of Congress was “all about Benjamins baby.” (A “Benjamin” refers to a $100.00 U.S. currency note and its depiction of Benjamin Franklin.) In context, Omar’s criticism clearly referred to U.S. aid to Israel, and it generated more charges. Anti-Defamation League’s CEO Jonathan Greenblat certainly felt the freshman member of Congress was exhibiting anti-Semitism.

Numerous members of Congress immediately agreed and called for the Democratic Party to discipline Omar. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi intervened and led in the production of a watered-down disciplinary resolution that didn’t name Omar and included a condemnation of any form of “hate.” The result? Omar got a pass. But then Janine Pirro found herself in the crosshairs of those who have decided that questioning anything about Islam is punishable.

What was Pirro’s crime? In a recent edition of her show, she termed Omar’s statement about Israel anti-Semitic. She followed that by addressing additional comments to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “This is not who your party is. Your party is not anti-Israel. Omar is. Think about this. She is not getting this anti-Israel sentiment doctrine from the Democratic Party. So if it’s not rooted in the party, where is she getting it from?”

Pirro then answered her own question. “Omar wears a hijab which according to the Quran 33.59 tells women to cover so they won’t get molested.” She added: “Is her adherence to this Islamic doctrine indicative of her adherence to Sharia Law, which in itself is antithetical to the U.S. Constitution?” That seriously bothered the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and led one of its officials to call on Fox to fire her. What she said also irked Fox News producer Hufsa Kamala, a Muslim. Fox News quickly issued a statement saying, “We strongly condemn Judge Janine Pirro’s comments about Rep. Ilhan Omar. They do not reflect those of the network and we have addressed the matter with her directly.” Advertisers of the Pirro show then began pulling their ads.

Defending herself from charges that she is anti-Semitic, Pirro insisted, “I did not call Rep. Omar un-American. My intention was to ask a question and start a debate. Of course, because one is a Muslim does not mean you don’t support the Constitution. I invite Rep. Omar to come on my show any time to discuss all of the important issues facing America today.” But CAIR and Fox News never apologized for misinterpreting what Pirro had intended and carefully stated. It is also possible that Pirro’s question about Sharia Law is what generated the criticism aimed her way.

On March 16, viewers expecting to watch Pirro’s regularly scheduled Saturday evening show discovered that Fox News had cancelled it. As of this writing, Pirro has been suspended, not fired. When President Trump learned about these developments, he tweeted:

Bring back Judge Janine Pirro. The Radical Left Democrats, working closely with their beloved partner, the Fake News Media, is using every trick in the book to SILENCE a majority of our country. They have all out campaigns against Fox News hosts who are doing too well.

Throughout the United States, dozens of state legislatures have considered banning the use of Sharia Law in their courts and elsewhere. In 2012, Kansas passed a measure designed to keep it from being the basis of any state activity. Other states have passed similar measures. But merely mentioning any condemnation of the Muslim legal system invites resistance, especially from CAIR.

Political correctness has reached a point where anything even hinting negatively about some controversial topics invites condemnation. In a message about a completely separate matter, a friend of this writer noted:

There was a time in America when we used to declare proudly ...

“I disapprove of what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

The new dispensation today is ...

“I disapprove of what you say, therefore you may not say it.”

Let’s all hope that free speech and the right to disagree continue to prevail in America.


John F. McManus is president emeritus of The John Birch Society.

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