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Rantz: Seattle media completely ignores anti-Semitic imam

MAPS hosts high profile local politicians, including Jay Inslee. Imam Mohamad Joban is seen seated behind the speaker. (Jay Inslee on Twitter)

A Seattle-area imam laughed while comparing Jews to apes and pigs, and Seattle media didn’t say a thing. Why? The victims are Jews and the bigot is a Muslim.

Last week, KTTH and exclusively reported the story of Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS) Imam Mohamad Joban laughing and smiling while retelling a story of how Allah punished Jews by turning them into apes and pigs. And it’s a story of anti-Semitism at a time of high profile attacks against Jews, including a mass stabbing right before the New Year.

This local angle on a national story is the exact kind of story that would be picked up. Especially since MAPS issued three apologies for their well-connected imam who has done events with high profile local politicians, including Governor Jay Inslee. And there’s actual video of the anti-Semitic lecture.

Yet, there continues to be media silence.

KOMO, Q13, KING 5 and KIRO 7 completely ignored the controversy. Seattle Times? Nothing. Crosscut? They usually get mad at Jews speaking out against anti-Semitism. The story was only covered in a few Friday news updates on our sister station, KIRO Radio, but kudos to Dori Monson and Todd Herman for covering it more in-depth on their respective shows.

So why was it ignored? Surely the media love tackling a story of bigotry.

They rush to cover some someone posting 12 white supremacy flyers on a college campus for the 100th time, pretending it’s breaking. A transgender woman is beat up near a bus, after pepper spraying teens, and the media breathlessly portray it as an anti-trans hate crime, with an activist blaming President Trump for it! Only, it wasn’t a hate crime and the woman was the aggressor. And this weekend, some Iranians and Iranian-Americans were subject to extra scrutiny at the border after a weekend of Iranian threats of retaliation for the military strike that killed one of the country’s leading terrorists. The media went into overdrive.

All of these stories should have been covered. But why wasn’t the anti-Semitic imam story tackled?

The answer is simple: Jews are not good victims unless you can connect our plight to white supremacy. That way, it can be pathetically tied to President Donald Trump as media outlets and politicians lamely claim he’s the one who is actually anti-Semitic.

Much of this is also driven by a progressive worldview of reporters and other journalists, a bias that isn’t always conscious on their part. Progressives believe in intersectionalism, which offers a theoretical, social justice framework to view certain types of discrimination or underlying problems facing oppressed groups.

Intersectionalism doesn’t view Jews as minorities. Under this worldview, we’re seen as privileged white oppressors so we can’t really be victims when we’re targeted by commonly oppressed groups.

Intersectionalism in action

How this skewed worldview impacts coverage of anti-Semitism was in full display in Monsey, New York as an anti-Semite tried to murder a number of orthodox Jews celebrating Hanukkah at a rabbi’s house. It was one in a long string of anti-Semitic attacks. And much like many of the previous anti-Semitic attacks, the perpetrator was black.

To many Progressivess in (and out of) the media, all these cases were seen as black individuals justified in their anger towards Jews. After all, Jews had been moving into these traditionally black neighborhoods, making anger towards them officially “complex.” That’s the word or idea you’d find over and over again in coverage of the attacks. Not succinct condemnation but long winded, strained analysis saying the crimes were despicable, but framed in a way to better understand how Jews were bringing the anti-Semitism on ourselves.

The Atlantic found the motivation of black anti-Semites beyond a simple despicable act of hatred: “While recent deadly synagogue attacks in Pittsburgh and Poway, California, were allegedly perpetrated by white supremacists, at least some of the recent anti-Semitic violence in New York has been exacerbated by long-standing and complex racial tensions, especially in certain neighborhoods of Brooklyn.”

NBC News, in a now-deleted tweet, declared: “With the expansion of Orthodox communities outside NYC has come civic sparring, and some fear the recent violence may be an outgrowth of that conflict.”

NBC New York would then claim: “The expansion of Hasidic communities in New York’s Hudson Valley, the Catskills and northern New Jersey has led to predictable sparring over new housing development and local political control. It has also led to flare-ups of rhetoric seen by some as anti-Semitic.”

The examples go on and on.

Here in Seattle, a similar issue explains the media silence. It’s complex to simply criticize a Muslim when you’re supposed to support and highlight the community exclusively.

Back in November, Crosscut’s Lilly Ann Fowler reported on Varisha Khan, a Muslim candidate for Redmond City Council who would go on to become one of the first elected Muslim women to statewide office. Khan falsely accused me of islamophobia because I said her endorsement by Linda Sarsour is problematic to me as a Jew. Sarsour had just been booted from the board of the Women’s March for her anti-Semitism. Not offering any quote of what I said, Fowler let the candidate smear me knowing it was false. When I criticized Fowler for the shoddy reporting, she said she was just trying to give a Muslim woman space to tell her story. She’s such a hero, isn’t she?

That wasn’t reporting. It’s also not responsible. It’s a woke activist masquerading as a journalist in order to offer up an intersectional worldview: a Muslim woman was the victim of bigotry by a white dude, discounting my Jewishness because we don’t fit the social justice framework. We’re not just white people with power to Fowler.

Many Progressive media members believe Muslims were unfairly portrayed in the media from 9/11 until now. I think that’s partially correct. They believe their coverage — even though it wasn’t their intent — contributed to anger towards the Muslim community. They became oppressed, officially, in the eyes of the media. And now, I believe the media (generally) doesn’t want to contribute to that oppression by highlighting bigotry from their community. They’re scared it would be used to paint a broad brush against that community? That gives you no credit. I don’t think Muslims are anti-Semitic. I think this one imam happens to hold a despicable view of Jews.

It’s certainly possible that some outlets cover the story in their own time. It’s true this isn’t breaking in the traditional sense. But that’s a weird lack of urgency, particularly from Seattle media which goes out of their way to show their tolerance and humanity.

Do you think if the story was about Muslims (or any minority community) being called apes and pigs by a well-connected, MAGA hat-wearing Rabbi or Priest, the media would take their time covering the story or would they race to get it on air or in print? No? Then ask why the media is silent on this story.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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