Joy Reid Fails to Defuse ‘Islamophobia’ Controversy; No Apology, As CAIR Expected

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MSNBC host Joy Reid. (Photo by J. Countess/Getty Images)

MSNBC host Joy Reid. (Photo by J. Countess/Getty Images)

( – MSNBC host Joy Reid sparked controversy this week with comments comparing Trump supporters to radicalized Muslims, but although the Council on American-Islamic Relations was expecting an on-air apology on Wednesday night, it was left empty-handed.

“‘I was wrong. I apologize.’ @JoyAnnReid’s refusal to say that tonight was telling & disappointing,” CAIR tweeted after her show. “Don’t deflect. Don’t distract. Just do the right thing.”

Earlier in the day, CAIR made it known that it met with NBC News representatives and stressed its expectation that Reid would apologize.

“Thank you @NBC for meeting to discuss our concerns about @JoyAnnReid inaccurate, offensive remarks. We appreciate your pledge to avoid Islamophobia in all forms,” said CAIR, which calls itself the nation’s biggest Muslim civil rights and advocacy group.

“As we discussed, Ms. Reid must clearly apologize tonight,” it added. “Anti-Muslim bigotry has no place in mainstream society.”

In her provocative remarks Monday, Reid was evidently trying to put across the view that President Trump incites his supporters to commit violence in the same way as radical Islamists incite young Muslim recruits to commit violence.

Rather than refer specifically to Islamist extremists, however, she used all-encompassing phrases like “leaders … in the Muslim world” and “the way Muslims act”:

When leaders – um, let’s say in the Muslim world – talk a lot of violent talk and encourage their supporters to be willing to commit violence, including on their own bodies, in order to win against whoever they decide is the enemy.

We in the U.S. media describe that as, ‘they are radicalizing those people’ – particularly when they’re radicalizing young people. That’s how we talk about the way Muslims act. When you see what Donald Trump is doing, is that any different from what we describe as ‘radicalizing’ people?

The association of Muslims with violent terrorism caused an uproar on Twitter, with criticism and calls for apology coming from, among others, the first Muslim women elected to Congress, Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Palestinian American activist Linda Sarsour, and American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee policy director Abed Ayoub.

“The casual way Reid flattens the entire Muslim world into one broad band of violent rhetoric might be at home on another cable news channel, but she should certainly know better,” opined Slate staff writer Aymann Ismail.

“Reid seems to have been trying to make a point about double standards, but instead, with her declaration of how ‘Muslims act,’ she perpetuated the most tired stereotypes about Muslims.”

Trump himself trolled Reid, saying she should be fired from what he called “MSDNC”.

“Like Fredo at Fake News @CNN, the very untalented Joy Reid should be fired for this horrible use of the words ‘Muslim Terrorists’. Such xenophobia and racism on MSDNC. Anyone else would be gone, and fast!!!”

(Reid did not in fact use the word “terrorists.”)

‘The president is the firestarter’

Reid did address the issue of Muslim stereotyping on her Wednesday show, at some length, discussing it with two Muslim guests, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding director of research Dalia Mogahed and Newsweek editor-at-large Naveed Jamali.

But the closest she came to an apology was saying that she “should have been sensitive” to the feelings of Muslims who have been stereotyped because of their religion.

“If Trump was a Muslim leader, not the leader of the Christian right, how would we in the media describe what he’s doing?” she asked. “I asked that question on Monday, and there was a lot of conversation, particularly online, after the segment aired – some of which was, frankly, not in good faith.”

“But some of the conversation reflected the genuine feelings of people who’ve been subjected to the kind of stereotyping that I just described, and who take matters like this to heart because of it,” she said.

“And we should all be sensitive to that, and I, certainly, should have been sensitive to that.”

During Wednesday’s segment Reid spoke about post-9/11 profiling of Muslims, the stereotyping of Muslims as terrorists on television shows, and media coverage of terror plots.

“To be clear, the vast majority of the more than one billion Muslims on the planet and the millions in this country are decidedly unradical, everyday people just living their lives – when they’re not getting profiled by the NYPD or banned by the Trump administration,” she said.

While the media were quick to call out “those who seek to radicalize the small number of mostly young men who are vulnerable to being coopted by violent people,” Reid said, “when white Christians are radicalized, we don’t react the same way.”

She accused Trump of helping to radicalize his own followers, in a bid to help ensure his re-election.

“We are living at a time when the president is the firestarter.”

Reid’s guest Mogahed said the point Reid was trying to make on Monday was a “fair” one – comparing “the radicalization of Muslim extremists and the radicalization of young white men in this country.”

But the way it was received by many viewers was “saying that Muslims were inherently violent,” she said. “And though that was not your intention, it is important to correct that notion for your millions of viewers.”

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