Bennett on cartoon riots: "Islam is as Islam does"

››› ››› SAM GILL

On CNN's The Situation Room, Bill Bennett claimed that "people" who got "a good, close look" at Muslims rioting over perceived anti-Islamic cartoons would say that "these people ["Islamists"] are unhinged."

During the February 9 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, CNN contributor Bill Bennett claimed that "people" who got "a good, close look" at Muslims rioting over perceived anti-Islamic cartoons would say that "these people are unhinged."

Bennett then changed course to discuss a young Iranian woman sentenced to death for stabbing a man while defending herself during an attempted rape. Bennett claimed the incident "is a peek into the soul of that faith [Islam] when it's run through a government." James Zogby, founder and president of the Arab American Institute, challenged Bennett's blanket characterizations of Islam and contended that "it's not a peek into Islam. It's a peek into the outrages that take place in contemporary Iran, which is not synonymous with Islam." Zogby maintained, for example, that "[t]he policy of Catholics during the Inquisition is not synonymous with my church." Bennett initially conceded, "Fair enough," but then reiterated, "Catholicism is as Catholicism does; Judaism is as Judaism does; and, by God, Islam is as Islam does. And what it's doing right now, I wouldn't want to be associated with." Zogby responded: "Hundreds of millions of believing Muslims do not ... practice these things." Bennett then thrice asked: "Where are they?"

As Media Matters for America has noted, numerous religious leaders and government officials who represent the world's more than one billion Muslims, as well as many Islamic organizations, have condemned the widespread rioting that has followed publication of the cartoons.

Before being hired by CNN, Bennett came under fire in September for the following remarks, which he made during his radio show:

[I]f you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose -- you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down.

From the February 9 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, which featured anchor Wolf Blitzer:

BENNETT: Now, the Islamists have won, in that they have intimidated the major news media from showing these cartoons.

They have lost, however, in the wider world, because people see that this is just totally nutty behavior, that these cartoons are shown and people, as a result, want to kill people, behead people, burn buildings down. And, whatever the argument with the Danes, what is the point of burning the Jewish flag? What is the point of burning the U.S. flag and saying, "death to Israel and death to the United States?"

People get a good, close look at this and say, you know, these people are unhinged.

[...]

BENNETT: I mean, is there --

ZOGBY: No --

BENNETT: -- excuse me. Is there no argument that radical Islam is connection -- connected to violence? Is there no suggestion that, in the name of Islam, in the name of the Quran, in the name of Allah, people are having their heads cut off? These things hit their target.

ZOGBY: This was not about radical Islam --

BENNETT: This is --

ZOGBY: -- this was about the Prophet Muhammad. Let's be fair here.

BENNETT: Well, the Prophet Muhammad is tied into Islam.

[...]

BENNETT: Let's go beyond cartoons. The other story out of Iran is the story of the two young girls who were raped. A girl defended herself and stabbed her attacker. She is now sentenced to be hanged, under Islamic law. This isn't a caricature. This isn't a cartoon. This is a peek into the soul of that faith when it's run through a government.

BLITZER: I'm not familiar with that story. But go ahead.

BENNETT: It's a real story. And it deserves --

ZOGBY: And, frankly --

BENNETT: -- it deserves to be criticized.

ZOGBY: -- I'm familiar with Islam, and it's not a peek into Islam. It's a peek into the outrages that take place in contemporary Iran, which is not synonymous with Islam. And we cannot do that.

BENNETT: Oh, it's run by Islamic -- Islamic people --

ZOGBY: The policy of Israel in the West Bank is not --

BENNETT: -- theology. It is Islamic theology that runs it.

ZOGBY: -- synonymous with Judaism. The policy of Catholics during the Inquisition is not synonymous with my church --

BENNETT: Fair enough. That's --

ZOGBY: -- nor is the policy of the Islamic extremists synonymous with the Prophet Muhammad. Let's be fair and use one standard. I agree we have a double standard.

BENNETT: Here's the standard.

ZOGBY: Frankly, I think that the way this story is cast is the wrong double standard.

BENNETT: Here's the standard: Catholicism is as Catholicism does; Judaism is as Judaism does; and, by God, Islam is as Islam does. And what it's doing right now, I wouldn't want to be associated with.

ZOGBY: Well, as President Bush has said, correctly, hundreds of millions of believing Muslims do not -- do not -- practice these things, did not burn embassies.

BENNETT: Where are they? Where are they?

ZOGBY: Do not behead people.

BENNETT: Where are they?

ZOGBY: They, frankly, are insulted at the outrage committed against their prophet, number one. And, number two, they're watching this situation unfold with great fear, because their agenda is not the same as the agenda of those who are extreme in their own midst.

BENNETT: I wish they would speak out. I wish they would speak out and take to the streets, like these people do, when we see the beheading and beating of people.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Race & Ethnicity, Religion
Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
Bill Bennett
Show/Publication
The Situation Room
Stories/Interests
Religion
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