Even now, as I write this article, do you know what I should be doing? I should be listening to Michael Graham on WMAL 630 Talk Radio here in the Nation’s Capital. Instead, I am writing to tell you that WMAL has fired Michael Graham and have you heard why? Let me tell you why. And just in case you weren’t aware, America is not the Land of Freedom and Ideas that it once was.
A few weeks ago, Radio Personality Michael Graham, after the second London bombings and the reaction of the Muslim leaders in Britain, devoted a part of his show to the idea that Islam is a terrorist organization. His premise (just as it is President Bush’s) was that if you support terrorism, then you are a terrorist. It was a fascinating program. Michael made a compelling argument and callers were calling in to the show from all walks of life. Muslims who disagreed with him as well as Muslims who agreed with him. Christians who agreed and those who disagreed. Listeners from the same frame of reference disagreed with each other. The entire show was incredibly thought provoking. Even in our home, we were split—my husband thought Michael had a great point, but I thought he shouldn’t label an entire religion based on the voice of the few.
I know I was thinking hard. What is the difference, if any, between a country that supports terrorism and an organization that supports terrorism? And, as Michael Graham asked what, if any, is the difference between a secular organization that supports terrorism (e.g., CAIR—Council for American-Islamic Relations) and a religious organization that supports terrorism (e.g., Islam)? And the bigger question—is it accurate to say that an entire religion supports terrorism if its leaders support terrorism? (And in my mind, failure to condemn terror is equivalent to supporting terror, such as the Islamic leaders in Great Britain refusing to condemn the terrorist acts on London’s Underground.) Is a religion defined by its leadership and its interpretation of the holy writ or by the followers with no power to determine the course or the voice of the religion, except the expression of every-day living? Interesting isn’t it?
Michael Graham put forth the premise that a religion’s attitude and agenda was determined by those with the power to influence that agenda. For the most part, the followers of a religion do not shape the policy or the beliefs of that religion. For example, the Catholic Church is against birth control, but how many Catholics do you know who use birth control? Tons. But the policy and beliefs of the Catholic Church are still not determined by the "little people." The same is true for every religion, including Islam. The major spokespeople for Islam decline opportunities to condemn terrorism and some even go so far as to condone it. True that not every Muslim agrees with this agenda, but it is the agenda of Islam and its Koran all the same, or so Michael Graham espoused.
But the topic is really beside the point. Words and Ideas are just that. So why was he fired? Well, so you might ask. I am ashamed to say that the Muslim organization CAIR objected to his comments, and pressured the radio station to suspend him, and I am very sad to say that the spineless management at WMAL bowed to the pressure instead of standing behind their best radio personality. But it gets worse. Apparently heady with power, CAIR then demanded that Michael Graham be fired. Despite an uproar and rebellion from listeners (I and my husband being two of them), I returned from vacation last week to find out that the President and General Manager of WMAL, Chris Berry, had actually fired Michael Graham!!!! For exercising freedom of speech!!! Not freedom of violence or hatred or bigotry (I listened to the entire show in question)—for exercising freedom of ideas and speech!!!
People were calling in left and right to disagree with Michael and he and his producer put them on the air. It was a great show!! And that is the other point—-it was a radio show. Controversy and edginess make me think, whether it be to justify my position or to defend it or to decide upon it.
It sort of makes you wonder what CAIR is afraid of…or what there is to hide from a discussion about the issue? It was just words and one man’s opinion, after all.
And WMAL…? Apparently, they are going to run their radio station like a Taliban regime—silencing those who put forward the American dream. It would seem that America’s values of free speech and exploratory thinking and challenging ideas can be lost to the pressure of Islam. Terrorism or not? You decide.
You know the thing is this effects Americans everywhere, not just in the Nation’s Capital. If Presidents and General Managers, who are given the responsibility of protecting free speech on the air waves, are weak and cowardly enough to bow to pressure from special interest groups, then our Constitutional rights as American citizens are threatened on every level. Apparently, we are not free in America to espouse our thoughts. Apparently, special interest groups can limit our Constitutional rights. Not to mention having our job security decided on the whim and agenda of a special interest group.
So what is there to do? What can I do to protect my rights? I am a small WMAL radio listener and Michael Graham was a voice for me. They crushed my voice when they fired him.
Ummm…this is America, right?