Fox News and right-wing blogs have attacked New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for saying at a Ramadan dinner that "we in New York are Jews and Christians and Muslims, and we always have been." Bloomberg was actually echoing a statement in support of interfaith understanding that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf made during a memorial service for Daniel Pearl.
From Bloomberg's speech:
"At an interfaith memorial service for the martyred journalist Daniel Pearl, Imam Rauf said, quote, 'If to be a Jew means to say with all one's heart, mind, and soul: Shma` Yisrael, Adonai Elohenu Adonai Ehad; Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One, not only today I am a Jew, I have always been one.'
"He then continued to say, 'If to be a Christian is to love the Lord our God with all of my heart, mind and soul, and to love for my fellow human being what I love for myself, then not only am I a Christian, but I have always been one.'
"In that spirit, let me declare that we in New York are Jews and Christians and Muslims, and we always have been. And above all of that, we are Americans, each with an equal right to worship and pray where we choose. There is nowhere in the five boroughs of New York City that is off limits to any religion." [emphasis added]
You would think that Bloomberg's statement would be applauded or at least be seen as non-controversial. Instead, right-wing websites used the remarks to continue to stir up anti-Muslim rage.
After a CNN.com opinion piece lauded Bloomberg's comments under the headline: "New York's Bloomberg: We are all Muslims," the conservative websites pounced.
For instance, Fox News' website Fox Nation featured the headline: "Bloomberg: We Are All Muslims" and accompanied the headline with an image of Bloomberg in Arabic headwear:
The Fox Nation link goes to an August 26 post on the Weasel Zippers blog that accuses Bloomberg of "embracing this dhimmitude thing." Right-wing bloggers often use the term "dhimmitude" whenever they want to attack Westerners for allegedly getting too close to Muslims or making too many concessions to them.
Gateway Pundit's Jim Hoft actually put quotes around the phrase "We are all Muslim" in an attack on Bloomberg for the comments, even though that phrase does not actually appear in Bloomberg's speech. In an August 26 blog post, Hoft lambasted Bloomberg for "sham[ing] those who oppose the Ground Zero Mosque," and for telling "a Ramadan audience this week, 'We are all Muslims.' "
Rather than having an honest discussion about Bloomberg's remarks, right-wing sites have chosen to distort his language to propagate anti-Muslim rhetoric and stoke fear of Islam. Not only is this disingenuous, but it does nothing to support their claim that "Islamophobia" in America does not exist.