Letter to the Producer: Demonization is not a game

Dear Producer,

CAIR-Chicago received a communication between you and a concerned community member about a segment produced on your Missouri radio station title, “Beat the Terrorist.”

After feeling as if it was hopeless communicating concerns with you, the community member sent the communication to us. Just as the concerned community member found your responses, and actions overall, repulsive, aloof, and offensive, we do as well.

The reason that your show is so offensive is because it is a one-sided stereotypical view of the Muslim community that perpetuates this idea that all Muslims are terrorists.

As a radio producer, you should not only know how easily influenced listeners can be when streaming broadcasts, but how hard it is to make distinctions over the radio. When you use a traditional Arabic name, Ahmad (pronounced like Ack-mad or Ach-mad), and you link this with terrorist actions and call it a “game,” it creates a mental stamp on the listeners; then a large number of people will never be able to sever Muslim and terrorist as two extremely different things.

It is important, as it is imperative, to understand the clear problem when you connect those who attacked the U.S. on 9/11 and the Muslim majority, which is over one-and-a-half-billion people all over the world. Adding these nuanced impersonations of a terrorist who is Muslim and to not have disclaimer for the listeners to know that terrorists are not all Muslims is just irresponsible for a radio show producer.

As a civil rights organization, we understand the free speech rights that individuals have, but we simply want you to understand how problematic the segment is. It is not only insulting the Muslim community for the sake of your viewers, but by continuing this type of insult is turning an American tragedy into an issue of mockery; 9/11 and the events that followed are no laughing matter. There were people who attacked this country on 9/11, and killed and injured many people, and they did call themselves Muslims, but were very misguided Muslims. They do not represent the one-and-a-half billion Muslims in the world. It would be unheard of to think of an impersonation segment with James Holmes, Timothy McVeigh, the Unabomber (Ted Kaczynski), Joseph Stack, Jared Lee Loughner, or Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and carelessly link them to all Christians or White Americans and imitate what their voices would sound like, although they were, by definition, terrorists.

Your viewers are smarter than you give them credit for. Therefore, by continuing this show segment now and anytime in the future only makes you, and the show, culpable perpetuators of this type of issue that has plagued our society.

It is time for people, and yourself, to notice that prejudice and hate in America is a played-out record. It is time to notice that although we can spread messages quickly, we need to be aware of the content of those messages. Not being aware allows the messages to be up for interpretation, which is dangerous because people could make illogical connections. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion and free speech, but when did ignorance become an acceptable point of view?

We are not asking you to undermine your first amendment rights or your show’s production, but to understand this by continuing this segment of the show, and calling it a “game,” injures and insults an entire community of Muslims and Americans as a whole. A mosque was burned down in Joplin, Missouri, so it is important to understand that there is hate and distrust against the Muslim community in America, in your community, and now on your show. Be on the right side of history and do not continue perpetuating this misunderstanding of the Muslim community.