Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf Speaks Out And AC360 Makes Me Ponder Whether Or Not We're Devolving As A Nation

Duuuudes. What was THAT?! Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. I watched the interview with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and thought it was quite good. Soledad O'Brien was appropriately tough and Rauf explained himself well. It was thought-provoking television. So I was feeling pretty good news-wise when it came time to hang with the 360 kids. Sure, it gave me pause to learn from Anderson Cooper that they would be spending the whole hour on the topic (which can often be translated as "this will not end well"), but I didn't let it get me down.

I wasn't even too bothered when I saw Andy Sullivan there. Again. After all, we had Fareed Zakaria, and he's like a bottomless bucket of reasonable awesomesauce. So I remained in "this is all good" mode. And initially, it seemed like maybe it was all good. Yeah, we were smacked with some Crazy right off the bat (a "veiled threat"? WTF?), but it was countered with rationality, and my God the patience of Bruce Feiler (someone give that man a medal!).

But then it just kept going on and on, and suddenly we were like in this wurlitzer of sadness and irrationality, and there was show-pimping, and loudness, and Jesus Christ did Cliff May suggest we tier religions by floor?!! By the time it was all over, even the mere thought of bullet-pointing out this hot mess left me wanting to alternately curl into the fetal position and flail in front of my TV saying, "I can't even! I can't even!"


So. That's where I am about now. How are you kids doing? Obviously, our friends at 360 can't be blamed for other people's craziness, but much of this hour probably could have been better. First of all, hey, you know how this whole thing is about moderate practicing Muslims? Maybe we could have heard from some of them. Or even, you know, one. Best I can tell, Fareed is pretty secular.

With polls indicating so many people opposed to Cordoba House, you would think that our teevee friends could find some individuals who, you know, aren't so nutty. Anderson indicated that Andy Sullivan and Rosaleen Tallon didn't strike him as extremist. In regards to Rosaleen, I don't know enough about her to make any kind of judgment. I'm very sorry she lost her brother and I do feel she has the absolute right to speak out against this center on sensitivity grounds. I don't, however, think her grief gives her a license to be irrational. Some of the things she said tonight just did not make sense.

Andy is another story. If he doesn't strike Anderson as extremist it's because our anchor didn't read his blog. I did. I'm a glutton for punishment I guess. But I also really did want to understand where this guy is coming from. Well, now I know. And I wish I didn't. He's actually not unique at all. We know the drill: tea-partier, Glenn Beck rallier, extremely anti-Obama (we're talking POTUS-photoshopped-as-a-terrorist territory here, people), anti-Muslim, grumblings about immigration, affiliations with far right-wingers like Pam Geller, posts signifying birtherism, all the bases are covered. I especially love the fact that his blog gets a CNN shout out when I'm pretty sure some of his posts are literally copy-and-pastes of those fact-averse email forwards you might receive from your crazy uncle Joe.

As for Kathleen Parker and Elliot Spitzer, yeah, I know they pretty much had to have them on, so this isn't really the 360 kids fault, but it felt so forced and tacky. Look how the new hosts tackle this important issue together! Aren't you excited to watch their show?! Yeah. The answer to that would be a no. Hell, even the Silver Fox had to work for like a year to win my love. I'm thinking flop, but hey, never say never.

Anyhoo! Thank God for Isha Sesay, whose appearance at the end there cleaned a little bit of the preceding mess out of my brain. Mercy!

Oh, I almost forgot, Tom Foreman did do a brief fact-check on some of the stuff floating around the interwebs (and apparently Andy's head) about Rauf, so good for that.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I saw Andy Sullivan ranting at the anti-Islamic Center protest, one of my first thoughts was that he is a Tea Party member, his hatred of President Obama was clearly on display. My next thought was that he better not turn up on AC360 anytime soon, but I should've known better and so should THEY. The only time I wasn't fuming during the panel discussion was when Fareed or Bruce were talking. I also agree with your point about that woman, Rosaleen, it is tragic what happened to her brother, but it is also clear that she wasn't very intelligent or thoughtful and Fareed and Bruce could not make headway with her or Sullivan. I could've slapped AC upside his silvery head when he said Sullivan didn't look like an extremist. As you've pointed out, his website makes him look like one. Why would 360 give this person such a prominent platform? He's nothing but Joe the Plumber all over again, but probably a lot nastier. Who vets 360's guests, Sullivan is not someone who should be seen as a "reasonable patriot". He is a bigot, pure and simple.

Thank you for expressing much better than I ever could why last night show was such a nightmare for those of us who see this country slipping into crazyland and intolerance.

7:02 PM  
Anonymous Lauren--NY said...

I read the past several entries to Blue Collar Blog in addition to this, and I agree with everything said about Andy Sullivan. I didn't know who he was or anything about him before 360 gave him a platform and I'm sorry I do now.

I have to respectfully disagree with Anon 7:02 that Rosaleen Tallon is unintelligent. She's been an advocate for 9/11 victims' families for nine years and has been a very intelligent and articulate voice in New York during that time. I disagree strongly with her position on this issue, however I am grateful to her for exposing Rudy Giuliani's failures in preparing our first responders and volunteers to respond to the attacks. Sean Tallon, Ms. Tallon's brother, may be alive today if he didn't have a dud radio, and had been able to hear the evac order that was given to firefighters who had entered the second tower after the first collapse. He was only 26 and was a probationary firefighter and this was his first big fire. During the Republican primaries leading up to the 2008 presidential election, Ms. Tallon helped uncover that the former mayor knew that the radios were defective since the WTC attacks in 1993, but there was a no-bid $33 million contract between Mr. Giuliani and the Motorola Corporation to provide the EXACT SAME model of radios to the FDNY when it was known that this model was designed for intelligence gathering rather than emergency rescue response. That model was also rejected by the NYPD, and the cops and firefighters had trouble communicating with each other on that day because their communication systems were not compatible.

Because of this (and another controversy involving his order to stop searching for remains), my cousin's union, the International Association of Firefighters, refused to endorse him and he was the only major candidate, Republican or Democrat, who was not invited to their presidential debate forum back in 2007. I fully admit to having been hoodwinked for YEARS by Rudy Giuliani and considered him to be heroic and a good candidate, and somebody who filled in the gaps the Bush administration left. Ms. Tallon was one of the people who helped me snap out of it.

Ms. Tallon helped to expose this and she also was one of the first to call him out for standing with Bush administration drone Christie Todd Whitman when she said that air was safe. My uncle is a Vietnam vet and was a volunteer responder and that air was NOT safe. I am grateful to Ms. Tallon for her advocacy.

She slept in front of her brother's firehouse for 17 nights four years ago in freezing temperatures to protest a model for the memorial that will have the engraved names underground, instead of up where they belong--posing a new danger to visitors of the memorial because they could potentially be trapped underground at subway level in the event of another attack.

Rosaleen Tallon is not political. She did attend anti-abortion vigils because she's a devout Catholic, so she and I don't square on politics, but she's a solid New Yorker and I stand by her even when we disagree, and I'm sorry she allowed herself to be aligned with Andy Sullivan, because she would never start a blog like his. She doesn't operate like he does. I don't know anything about their connection, but my instinct tells me that they were just booked to appear together on 360 and bonded in the green room, and he took advantage of her.

She's not a partisan. She's a victim.

8:46 PM  
Anonymous Lauren--NY said...

Um. My comment posted twice, because I got an error message and hit it again. Feel free to delete one. Sorry, Eliza. :-/

8:48 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

@Anonymous: I'm not so much bothered that Andy Sullivan was allowed to appear at all as I am that he's been presented to us as a reasonable person who simply disagrees. This is not the case. Though there are arguments to be made about giving crazies a platform, I would never advocate for censorship of people just because I don't agree with them. Andy Sullivan is an extremist, and he should have been held accountable for his positions.

@Lauren: Thank you for the information on Rosaleen. It sounds like she has done many great things in the memory of her brother, and I am now even more saddened by her appearance last night.

I agree that calling her unintelligent is unfair, but I do stand by my statement that much of what she said on the show was irrational, and no, I do not believe her grief makes that okay. In my very very limited research of her, I think I remember seeing that she was speaking at some of the same events as Pam Geller. I hope she's not being co-opted and exploited for her status as a 9-11 family member.

No problem about the double comment. ;)

9:21 PM  
Anonymous Lauren--NY said...

Thanks. Sorry about that!

I agree that she said some irrational things and I reiterate that I don't agree with her on everything. I just wanted her to get her due as an advocate.

I should also add that the Tallons, along with some other 9/11 victims' families, bravely sued the city, Mayor Giuliani and Motorola for damages and their case was thrown out by the U.S. Supreme Court because they had accepted money from the victims' compensation fund. *gnashes teeth*

9:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been getting very impatient with Anderson lately. I got the impression that he hadn't done his homework regarding Andy Sullivan and agree with Anonymous's assessment of him.
I don't think Sullivan could be a Tea Party member because he's a union supervisor and we know how TP's feel about unions.

As for Rosaleen, I think that she is going through the same kind of psychological transference that happens to rape victims. Her words say that intellectually she thinks Muslims are good people and should be have the same rights but the traumatized part of her sees all Muslims as the people who committed the 9/11 atrocities. On the one hand she says she loves New York because all religions are represented all over the city and on the other she doesn't want a mosque anywhere in the same air space of the WTC.

10:46 AM  

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