Following National Review senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru's distorted interpretation of author and former Labor secretary Robert B. Reich's recent column, ABC Radio Networks host Paul Harvey stated during his July 8 News and Comment broadcast, "Robert Reich says today that God is a more significant threat than terrorists." Harvey's broadcast is heard by 22 million listeners each week.
In his column, which appeared in the July edition of The American Prospect (column available in full by subscription only), magazine founder and national editor Reich wrote:
The great conflict of the 21st century will not be between the West and terrorism. Terrorism is a tactic, not a belief. The true battle will be between modern civilization and anti-modernists; between those who believe in the primacy of the individual and those who believe that human beings owe their allegiance and identity to a higher authority; between those who give priority to life in this world and those who believe that human life is mere preparation for an existence beyond life; between those who believe in science, reason, and logic and those who believe that truth is revealed through Scripture and religious dogma. Terrorism will disrupt and destroy lives. But terrorism itself is not the greatest danger we face.
In a July 6 National Review commentary titled "Robert Reich's Religion Problem: Witless rhetorical oppositions," Ponnuru interpreted the excerpt as follows:
It [Reich's conclusion] is a denunciation -- as a graver threat than terrorists -- of people who believe that the world to come is more important than this world, or that all human beings owe their allegiance to God.
Subsequently, during the July 8 noon edition of his 15-minute daily newscast, News and Comment, Harvey stated:
And sit down for this. Robert Reich was Labor secretary under President Clinton. Our nation's Labor secretary. Robert Reich says today that God is a more significant threat than terrorists. He says terrorism may disrupt and destroy lives but he says the greatest danger we face is people who follow God. He clearly means this as an indictment of President Bush but his bold assertion labels as our country's greatest danger all who believe.
Paul Harvey News is billed as "the largest one-man network in the world, consisting of over 1200 radio stations, 400 Armed Forces Network stations that broadcast around the world, and 300 newspapers." On December 4, 2003, Harvey became embroiled in controversy when he commented on air that Islam "encourages killing." Five days later -- after the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) demanded an on-air apology -- Harvey said that Islam is a "religion of peace." [U.S. Newswire, 12/9/03]