Jehan S. Harney: Kilmeade Apologizes For Saying “All Terrorists Are Muslim.” Is This Enough?
When iconic journalist Helen Thomas said that Jews should leave Palestine and go back to where they came from, she was being forced to retire abruptly after covering eight U.S. presidents. When CNN’s Ric Sanchez said that Jews in America are not an oppressed minority and that they control the media, he was immediately fired. But when Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade says, “all terrorists are Muslim” while defending a worse statement made by Bill O’Reilly that “Muslims killed us on 9/11,” Kilmeade gets to keep his job.
Not only is his statement racist, and offensive but also factually wrong. There are many domestic terrorist groups that are non-Muslim such as the Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations, Jewish Defense League, Death Angels, and Black Liberation Army, as well as international terrorist groups such as IRA, PKK, ETA EOKA, and Tamil Tigers, just to name a few.
Kilmeade’s comments offended all Muslims and other Americans too. In his 23 seconds of TV apology he said, “I am sorry IF I offended or hurt anybody’s feelings.” He’s acting as if his comments may not have offended some people, which in and of itself is offensive. It shows he’s really not sincere, but he had to apologize just to save face and keep his job.
This is a telling example of our media double standard, sanctioning bigoted comments about Muslims which perpetuate their negative stereotyping without serious repercussions. What we all heard and saw is the equivalent of anti-semitism. When Kilmeade keeps his job, we are indirectly sanctioning and endorsing his words that reach the biggest national audience in America, even if he apologizes.
There should be a better media scale that treats all people with the same level of respect. If journalists break this ethical stand, then they should be held accountable. This is not necessarily about Muslims, Jews or a specific minority. This is about all of us Americans who deserve to be treated respectfully in our society. Sending the wrong message through the media about certain people only allows society to further mistreat them without any level of accountability on either side. Such behavior is unAmerican and this a serious media ethics issue that has to be addressed.