They are part of the national fabric that holds our country together. They contribute to America in many ways, and deserve the same respect as any of us. I pledge to spread this message, and affirm our country’s principles of liberty and justice for all.
Posted by Anni on Friday, March 23rd, 2012
If I were asked to identify one entity that I felt, if changed, would dramatically improve the image and lives of Muslims in America, it would be Fox News. This is thoroughly unsurprising. Fox has a longstanding reputation for vitriol. Even Fox’s fans recognize the polarization—for Fox vs. against—that splits our popular culture like a knife through butter. But they may not recognize the fabricated stories, the lack of fact checking, or the rampant opinion masquerading as real news. And can we really blame them? Every program on the network is designed to entertain, to shock, to terrorize, and to rally, and each of those things is compelling.
While I may despise many of the things people say, I am a fierce proponent of free speech. I believe it is one of the things that makes America the right place for me to live. I often fantasize about moving to France, but then I read about how Sarkozy wants to criminalize denial of the Armenian genocide and I remember: free speech should never be subjective. Most of the time I see the world through shades of gray. Nothing is ever truly polarized. Everything is a continuum. But when it comes to free speech, I believe everyone, no matter what they say or where they say it, should have the freedom to speak. Partly this conviction comes from a deep fear of being silenced. I am not good at keeping my mouth shut, especially when I’m told what not to say. I believe the human mind should not be restrained. Words may hurt but the listener always has the option of not listening.
My conviction is heartily tested by the pundits on Fox News. I am glad that we live in a place where people with such offensive opinions can voice them. I am not glad, however, that we don’t do more to put them in context. Part of me wishes we could use dirty politics to cut their funding or hackers to scramble their signal. But that’s not American, and it’s illegal.
Sometimes I wonder what would happen if everyone truly believed what they heard on Fox. They would live in a bunker. They would constantly fear the threat of a gang of zombie Muslim extremists in their back yard. They would stockpile guns. They would become the terrorists they fear. I don’t pretend to know what can be done about Fox News. Perhaps the more we rant and rave about it the more people will listen. I’m not sure that’s true—sometimes the more you rant and rave the more people stop listening—but I see no alternative. If Fox can use free speech to shape the hearts and minds of Americans, then so can I.