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Andrea Austria / Media Matters

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Right-wing media are pushing bigoted rhetoric toward Muslims — including Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar — after recent Hamas attacks

Right-wing media have used the recent attacks on Israel by Hamas to fearmonger about Muslims, referring to them as “murderous” and “barbarian pigs” and saying Palestinians are “addicted to violence.” Right-wing media figures have also targeted the two Muslim American women members of Congress with bigoted rhetoric. They’ve criticized Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), who is a Palestinian American, for having a Palestinian flag outside her congressional office and conflated her support for Palestinians with approval of Hamas’ attack. Others have attacked Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), calling her a “Jew hater extraordinaire" and an “active threat” to the U.S.

  • Hamas launched a deadly cross-border attack over the weekend, which Israel has responded to with brutal force

    • On October 7, Hamas launched a large-scale attack on Israel. After the attacks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared war on Hamas. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant ordered a “total siege” on Gaza. [Vox, 10/10/23, 10/11/23]
    • Hamas, an “Islamist militant movement,” is one of two major political parties in Palestine and has been in power in the Gaza Strip since the last time Palestinians “voted for a legislature” in 2006. Hamas’ rival party, Fatah, controls the West Bank. [PBS NewsHour, 10/10/23]
    • Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) responded to the attacks in a statement condemning the “heartbreaking cycle of violence” that has claimed both Palestinian and Israeli lives. Tlaib, a Palestinian American, has had a Palestinian flag outside her office for several months. The day after Hamas’ attacks, Tlaib said that she “grieve[s] the Palestinian and Israeli lives lost yesterday, today, and every day” and condemned the “heartbreaking cycle of violence.” She also issued a follow-up statement reaffirming her condemnation of violence and stating that any suggestion otherwise is “rooted in bigoted assumptions” regarding her “faith and ethnicity.” [The Intercept, 10/11/23; Michigan Advance, 10/11/23]
    • Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) posted, “Just as we honor the humanity of the hundreds of innocent Israeli civilians and 9 Americans who were killed this weekend, we must honor the humanity of the innocent Palestinian civilians who have been killed and whose lives are upended.” Omar, who came to the United States after fleeing violence in Somalia, also stated that “targeting an entire civilian population will only sow more discord and perpetuate the cycle of violence. The solution to this horror, as ever, is a negotiated peace—with Israelis and Palestinians enjoying equal rights and security guarantees.” [Newsweek, 10/12/23]
  • Right-wing media are targeting all Muslims, including Palestinians, because of Hamas’ actions

    • Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk described Islam as “barbarism” and “people that still live in the 1300s.” He claimed, “This is civilization, aka Western values, versus barbarism, also known as medieval worldview.” [Salem Media Group, The Charlie Kirk Show, 10/11/23]
    • Alex Jones claimed on his Infowars show that suicide bombers are “rockstars in the Muslim world.” Jones argued that if “you give the Palestinian families, grandmas who you give it to, ‘Here’s a half million bucks, sweetheart,’ her first born son, guaranteed, and his little brother, will go blow themselves up at an Israeli checkpoint tomorrow.” [Infowars, The Alex Jones Show, 10/8/23]
    • Right-wing streamer Stephen Crowder twisted the results of a poll to claim that “too many” Muslims support “terrorism, or the ideology, or the extermination of all Christians and Jews.” He also said that “Muhammad’s dying words were calling for the deaths of all Christians and Jews” and that “roughly 198 million Muslims support the use of violence.” [YouTube, Louder with Crowder, 10/10/23]
    • Fox News opinion editor Dan Gainor called Palestinians and Arabs “barbarian pigs” who “tried to genocide Israel.” His full post read, “Palestinians and their murderous Arab buddies have repeatedly tried to genocide Israel and failed. They lost and resort to repeated terror Iike the barbarian pigs they are.” [Twitter/X, 10/8/23]
    • Kirk asked on his show, “What's to prevent one of these Muslims that came across the border … from getting their hands on a firearm and going and shooting up a public place in the name of Allah?” [Salem Media Group, The Charlie Kirk Show, 10/10/23]
    • Conservative radio host Dennis Prager claimed that there’s an “element in the Islamic world that worships cruelty” in reference to recent Hamas attacks. [Salem Media Group,The Dennis Prager Show, 10/9/23]
    • Newsmax host Eric Bolling said that Palestinians are “addicted to violence” like an “addict is addicted to drugs.” Bolling also claimed that Palestinians are “addicted to eradicating Israel from existence. It’s ingrained in their culture.” [Newsmax, Eric Bolling The Balance, 10/12/23]
    • Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich blamed Palestinian civilians for not leaving Gaza, claiming on Hannity that those who “refuse to leave” are “in effect siding with Hamas” and will “suffer the consequence.” He stated that “what they have to do” is “build places in the desert as refugee centers long enough to clean out Gaza” and “track down every single Hamas member.” [Fox News, Hannity, 10/12/23]
  • Right-wing media are attacking Tlaib and Omar, conflating their support for Palestine with support for Hamas

    • Fox Business correspondent Hillary Vaughn chased Tlaib around Congress, asking her, “Why do you have the Palestinian flag outside your office if you do not condone what Hamas terrorists have done to Israel?” Vaugn also asked how Tlaib felt about Hamas “chopping off babies’ heads” and “burning children alive.” [Mediaite, 10/10/23]
    • Similarly, Fox News host Lawrence Jones went to Congress to ask Democratic members of Congress if they would “condemn” some of Tlaib’s statements and “talk about the Palestinian flag being out there.” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) defended Tlaib to Jones, arguing that it was fine for her to have the flag and that it “doesn’t mean she condones” the actions of Hamas. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/11/23
    • Conservative writer David Strom wrote that he was “struck by how indifferent Tlaib is to the intentional infliction of horrors including rape, murder, burning alive, and other atrocities being committed by her fellow Palestinians.” The Hot Air piece was titled “What makes Rep. Rashida Tlaib cry? Not beheading babies.” [Hot Air, 10/11/23]
    • Turning Point USA influencer Graham Allen claimed that Tlaib “runs away” from a reporter who was asking why “she supports Palestine after the HORRIFIC Hamas terrorist attacks.” Allen reposted the clip of Vaughn chasing Tlaib, speculating about whether Tlaib “still has a Palestinian flag outside of her office.” [Twitter/X, 10/11/23]
    • In reference to Tlaib, lawyer and author Brooke Goldstein complained that there are “terrorist sympathizers at the highest level of government.” Goldstein has previously said that there is “no such thing as a Palestinian person.” [Fox News, Hannity, 10/11/23; YouTube, 6/24/16]
    • Kirk claimed on his show that Tlaib is “justifying” the attacks and that “she certainly acts like a foreigner.” Kirk expressed fear at having to “live in the same country as these people” and blamed Tlaib for being part of a contingent that supports the aforementioned violence. [Salem Media Group, The Charlie Kirk Show, 10/10/23]
    • Spanish-language conservative YouTuber Peter Vivaldi denounced the Palestinian flag as “a flag of terrorism” and referred to Tlaib as “anti-American” and “a shame to the nation.” In English, he said, “You are a shameful person, Tlaib.” [YouTube, Sin Miedo, 10/10/23
    • Kirk described Omar as “an active threat to the United States” who “hates this country.” Kirk went on an Islamophobic rant, saying, “There are secular Muslims, moderate Muslims, but it doesn't make smart immigration policy to import them by the millions. It only takes a minority to blow up your country. Ilhan Omar is an active threat to the United States. She's an active threat. She hates this country. Rashida Tlaib, technically an American, doesn't act like one. ... You cannot import people that hate you and act as if it is sustainable. It is impossible.” [Salem Media Group, The Charlie Kirk Show, 10/12/23]
    • Kirk said Omar did “not assimilate” to American culture and has “Jew hatred” and “soft sympathy to 9/11.” Kirk also claimed that there are “certain groups of people, certain cultures, that come to the country that do not assimilate.”  [Salem Media Group, The Charlie Kirk Show, 10/10/23]
    • Fox News host Kayleigh McEnany attacked Omar for calling for a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, saying that she has “antisemitism in [her] past” and has said “horrific, horrific things.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 10/8/23]
    • The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro: There is a “Hamas caucus” in Congress who “stand for terrorists,” which includes “Jew hater extraordinaire” Omar. [The Daily Wire, The Ben Shapiro Show, 10/10/23]