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Dean Obeidallah Headshot

The Muslim Double Standard

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"Muslims Killed us on 9/11!" Fox News's Bill O'Reilly made this hateful statement on ABC's The View last week. This sparked instant criticism by The View co-hosts to the point where Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar walked off the show as a statement of protest -- just as US officials walk out of the UN when Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spews anti-Semitic comments.

On Friday, Fox News anchor and radio host Brian Kilmeade continued the campaign of demonizing Muslims by making the ridiculous and factually inaccurate comment: "All terrorists are Muslims." (Obviously, he is unaware of Timothy McVeigh, The Unabomber, numerous serial killers, and people attacking abortion doctors and clinics.)

What were the consequences for these two after making these hate filled comments? Were they suspended or fired by their employers? Did they suffer a backlash in the media? Did advertisers drop their shows? Nope. Nothing happened to them.

Yet, just a few weeks ago when former CNN anchor Rick Sanchez made an anti-Semitic comment, he was fired the next day. Yes, the next day! When Don Imus made his infamous racist comments about the Rutgers basketball team in 2007, advertisers immediately responded by dropping the show and ultimately Don Imus was fired.

But what happens when you make comments against Muslims or Arabs in America that incite hatred? You get more ratings. You sell more books. You are defended by people who say that you are brave and courageous for standing up to political correctness.

Those who make hate filled anti-Muslim comments should be held to the same standard as those who make racist and anti-Semitic comments and suffer the same consequences.

Instead, at this point, demonizing Muslims in the US has become a boutique industry. In a recession when jobs are scarce, there is one place that will guarantee you money: Demonize Muslims. Write a book, start a website, increase your ratings, raise more money for political campaign -- all you have to do is attack Muslims. I imagine in the future, "Demonizing Muslims" will be offered as a major in college. I can see college students saying: "I'm going to major in English literature, but to make sure I have a fall back to pay my bills, I'm going to minor in "Demonizing Muslims."

And let me briefly respond to Bill O'Reilly's assertions: Islam did not attack us on 9/11 -- 19 followers of Osama Bin Laden attacked us in the name of Osama Bin Laden, a man with a political agenda who very much hoped to tear us apart from within. It is baffling to me that those who profess the greatest love for American ideals would engage in the very conduct that Bin Laden hoped for.

O'Reilly also said: "The Muslim moderates need to stop the terrorists." Does anyone have the address of these terrorists? Because if you did, I'd be the first to go stop them!

"We don't hear Muslims and Arabs condemning the terrorists enough." We condemn them every chance we have -- I'm doing it right now. If we had a TV show in America (subtle pitch) we would be saying that daily if need be.

One day we may have our version of The Cosby Show such as Everybody Loves Ramadan showing Americans a positive side to us, but until we have a large visible presence in the media to counter the hate, we need your help. We need the same people who stand against racism and anti-Semitism to join with us. We must preserve what makes this country special -- the principle that all minorities, regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation, be treated fairly and justly. By standing together -- people of all different backgrounds -- we can lessen the hate and increase the peace -- something that is so desperately needed right now in angry America.