Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Muslims/Arabs over-react to Tancredo Comments, July 27, 2005

By Ray Hanania
I'm not as angry with Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo as many other Arabs and Muslims are. Tancredo supposedly said America should nuke Mecca, the Muslim Holy City.

Well, that's not what he said, though he came pretty close. Arab and Muslim American organizations quickly denounced Tancredo, demanding he apologize or resign. Not surprisingly, Tancredo stood by his comments, saying they were taken out of context.

Not only will he not apologize, he won't even admit his remarks were more ignorant than rant. That's because Tancredo's comments, accurate or not, are getting great play with an American public that is more and more concerned about a potential terrorist attack.

And Tancredo's getting a lot of media play, too. Most Americans had never heard of plans he had earlier in the year to run for president until the nuke Mecca controversy erupted. Now, his presidential bid is getting national coverage.

What was it that Tancredo really said?

Tancredo was being interviewed Jul. 15 by Pat Campbell, a talk-show host at WFLA radio in Orlando, Florida. The topic was a column posted on the popular WorldNetDaily internet site hosted by columnist Joseph Farah that asserted Islamic terrorists have already brought nuclear weapons into the United States across the impossible-to-monitor Mexican border. That's pretty scary stuff, especially coming right smack in the middle of two separate terrorist strikes by Muslims terrorists in London.

Here is the transcript of the interview, published by the Denver Post:

Campbell: "Worst-case scenario -- if they do have these nukes inside the
borders and they were to use something like that, what would our response be?"

Tancredo: "What would be the response? (pause) Um, you know, there are
things you could threaten to do before something like that happens and you may
have to do afterwards (unintelligible) draconian."

Campbell: "Such as?"

Tancredo: "Well, what if you said something like, 'If this happens in the
United States and we determine that it is the result of extremist,
fundamentalist Muslims.' You could take out their holy sites."

Campbell: "You're talking about bombing Mecca?"

Tancredo: "Yeah. What if you said, 'We recognize this is the ultimate
threat to the United States, so this is the ultimate response.' I'm just
throwing out some ideas because you would be talking about taking the most
draconian measures you could possibly imagine. Because other than that, all you
could do is, once again, tighten up internally."

I think the Arab and Muslim American organizations are overreacting. They bash anyone who even questions their religion. But when it comes to denouncing Islamic terrorists who have hijacked their religion and killed thousands of Americans, they seem selective.

Rather than publicize Tancredo, Arabs and Muslims should ignore him.

What Tancredo said or didn't say doesn't matter. What does matter is the growing hostility against Arabs and Muslims by many Americans that has nothing to do with Tancredo at all. The fact is, Tancredo's comments are mild compared to the chorus of Americans who are screaming for the United States to drop nuclear weapons on Arab and Muslim countries in response to Sept. 11. Just turn on any radio or TV talk show.

To many Americans, Tancredo probably didn't go far enough. The idea of responding with a larger, worse nuclear counter-strike is built into America's policy of nuclear deterrence. More importantly, though, Americans may be angry, but they are not stupid.

They see how Arab and Muslim Americans organizations are selective in criticizing some acts of terrorism but not all. To some Americans, Arabs and Muslims also look hypocritical in the Tancredo controversy. Isn't it Arabs and Muslims who are always arguing that Americans need to get to the "root causes of the terrorism?"

Maybe Arabs and Muslims should practice what they preach, and understand the "root causes" of the growing anti-Arab and anti-Muslim feelings that make it easy for elected officials like Tancredo and the American public to clamor for a tougher response to Islamic terrorism?

That's not to say that Arabs and Muslims should rally behind Tancredo's presidential candidacy. No. Until now, Tancredo was known to Americans for his history of insensitive comments about all immigrants, not just Arabs and Muslims.

But aren't there more important issues Arabs and Muslims should focus on, avoiding the cheap shots that play into, rather than assuage, the growing fears and anger of Americans?

To find out more about Ray Hanania, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at
Originally Published on Wednesday July 27, 2005

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