The Kansas City Star is to be commended for its recent front-page story “Hate-Crime Count Rises.”
However, there is much more that The Star can, and should, do to focus on factors in our own community that contribute to this ugly phenomenon. Hate crimes do not spring out of a vacuum, they germinate and grow out of hate speech and ignorance.
A recent example of hate speech and ignorance occurred on Oct. 29 through the airing of a radio show on KCMO 710 AM. On the syndicated “Michael Savage Show,” Savage said, “I’m not gonna put my wife in a hijab. And I’m not gonna put my daughter in a burqa. And I’m not getting on my all fours and praying to Mecca. And you could drop dead if you don’t like it.… I don’t wanna hear any more about Islam. I don’t wanna hear one more word about Islam. ”
Savage continued, “I’m sick of you. What kind of religion is this? What kind of world are you living in when you let them in here with that throwback document in their hand, which is a book of hate. Don’t tell me I need re-education. They need deportation.”
These words of rabid bigotry and hate reflect the same venom that Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels spewed out against the Jews in Nazi Germany. At that time Germany was a Christian nation with a respected historical and social heritage. Allowing such hate speech to flourish, millions of Jews and other disrespected persons were systematically killed.
In 2004, Savage said over the air, “I think (Muslims) need to be forcibly converted to Christianity … It’s the only thing that can probably turn them into human beings.”
In 2006 he called for a ban on Muslim immigration and recommended making “the construction of mosques illegal in America.” He attacks other ethnic groups with similar hateful messages.
When Savage’s stupid, outrageous and bigoted inflammatory remarks were brought to the attention of the radio station, there was no apology, just a feeble response saying they run a disclaimer prior to airing the show. Their disclaimer only warns about adult language. The Federal Communications Commission told me that everything Savage said was covered by the right of free speech. (MORE)
James A. Everett is the former executive director of the Kansas City Interfaith Peace Alliance. He lives in Independence.