Fox & Friends attempted to smear an anti-bullying effort at a San Diego school district and falsely claimed that anti-Muslim bullying is “really not that big to justify use of this policy.” The district is being sued for creating a program similar to one protecting LGBTQ students and those of Latino and Native American descent in an attempt to decrease bullying of Muslim students. While co-host Pete Hegseth questioned whether there was “evidence” that bullying is happening, studies show that Muslim students report bullying at twice the rate of their non-Muslim peers, are bullied even by their teachers, and attend school amid an atmosphere of increasing violence against members of their religion.
Hegseth also claimed the school district was attempting to “insert Islam” into public schools in an attempt to “gam[e] the field” and later co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed that “we have to really address this” because “by 2050, they say Islam will be the number one religion in America.” One on-screen banner flashed during the segment wondered if this anti-bulling measure is “Islamic indoctrination?” Fox News has a history of anti-Muslim rhetoric, including Hegseth himself who has previously attacked the Minneapolis mayor for giving her state of the city address in a mosque and has called a Muslim congressman “radical.” From the May 30 edition of Fox News' Fox and Friends:
PETE HEGSETH (CO-HOST): The Bible and Christianity was long ago stripped from our public schools -- rightly or wrongly -- but to insert Islam seems like they are gaming the field here.
BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): By the way, we have to really address this because, by 2050, they say Islam will be the number one religion in America
HEGSETH: Not in America. In the world by 2050, but it will double in America by 2050. I mean, this is going be something we're going to face more and more. And a secular purpose, it was a great point. Bullying is always the gateway for inserting these type of things. Give me evidence that mass bullying is occurring in these schools.
JESSE WEBER: Well, here's the problem. They say that there's rampant Islamophobia in this school district, but there are reports that it's really not that big to justify use of this policy.