The lead story on This Week was Islam. In a special townhall-style debate hosted by Christiane Amanpour, a motley crew of panelists discussed "Should Americans be afraid of Islam?" They also debated a related issue: the Islamic Cultural Center near Ground Zero, better known as the Ground Zero Mosque.
The debate went down like a middle school dance, with most boys to one side and most girls to the other.
Answering "yes" to the question of "should Americans fear Islam" were Rev. Franklin Graham, the evangelical son of Rev. Billy Graham; Robert Spencer, the director of Jihad Watch; and Peter Gadiel, whose son was killed on 9/11.
Answering no were: Donna Marsh O'Connor, whose daughter was killed on 9/11; Daisy Khan, who is the wife of the GZM's Feisal Abdul Rauf; and Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran.
On the pro-Islam side, Daisy Khan and the smarmy Reza Aslan (who appeared via satellite) came off as churlish. One particularly unpalatable moment came when Khan implied that the Somali Muslim-turned-atheist author Ayaan Hirsi Ali--also a satellite guest--was a disingenuous coward because she needed a body guard to feel safe (and protect her, Khan failed to mention, against death threats from radical Muslims).
Among that same crowd, Azar Nafisi was the only one who spoke with true authority, experience, and charm--and unlike Aslan and Khan, she did not resort to personal attacks. Here's Nafisi:
I came here to America because I expected that that image which those people had imposed on us would not be imposed on us again. And look at my surprise. From both sides of the aisle, what you hear is that there is one Islam. If we think there is only one Islam, then we have to take sides. Either it's evil or it's good. But there are as many interpretations of Islam as there are Muslims....
Who is a Christian, Reverend Graham? Who is a Christian? The Inquisition claimed to be Christians. The gay Episcopalian bishop is a Christian. The Methodists are Christians. The Baptists are Christians. Sarah Palin and Barack Obama and Bill Clinton are all Christians. Who is to say which one is more Christian than the other?
On the anti-Islam side, Gadiel was the most reasonable, while Spencer and Graham struck me as too extreme in their rhetoric. Gadiel spoke eloquently when he said:
I do not say that Islam is evil. I say there is a lot of evil connected with it. That is a problem for Muslims themselves. They have to cure the problem. We're supposed to believe Ms. Khan here, that she can cure the problems of Islam at the fringes. The problem goes to the core.
As I mentioned, Ayaan Hirsi Ali was also featured on the show, as was Islamist Anjem Choudary. Both of them should make Americans cringe in fear of Islam, but for very different reasons.
Hirsi Ali, for her part, has lived the horrors of radical Islam, as her books Infidel and Nomad explain, and she has devoted her life to defeating Islamism. For that, she receives constant death threats from jihadists around the world. Though she has spoken harshly of Islam, she still has a place for moderate Muslims in her worldview, as she said on This Week:
I think that it is very important that not only Americans, but westerners in general and Muslims, moderate Muslims, the ones who identify themselves as moderate Muslims, take the threat of the agents of political Islam very, very seriously. And every day, they win hearts and minds. They establish Muslim centers. Their movement was very little, but it is growing rapidly, and it's very, very dangerous."
Choudary, by contrast, represented the Islamist "fringe" that Gadiel discussed. On the show today, he accused Daisy Khan of not being a true Muslim: "I mean, this lady in your studio, she should be covering with the hijab. She's obviously not practicing."
He went on:
You know, people want to claim that they're vegetarians and they're eating big beef burgers. You can not be a non-practicing vegetarian. Therefore, similarly, if you're a Muslim, you submit to the Sharia.
He also said, “The East and the West will one day be governed by the Sharia and we believe that one day the flag of Islam will fly over the White House”
In general, the program was poorly directed and unruly. Amanpour was a clear advocate for the Muslim center and was on the attack against “one particular party” that was stirring up hatred toward Muslims in America (guess which party that is!). Read the transcript yourself here and report back on what you think!
Since my report on This Week was so long, I'll make the one about Fox News Sunday short!
The lead story on FNS was the Kentucky Senate showdown. Chris Wallace hosted the Republican candidate Rand Paul and the Democratic candidate Jack Conway. Conway is the state’s Attorney General and an Obama agenda supporter.
A newsworthy exchange occurred between Wallace and Paul when Paul said that if he is elected to the Senate, he would support Mitch McConnell for the Republican leader. Back in May, Paul said that he may not vote for McConnell. Here is the exchange on FNS today.
"Would you support Kentucky's Mitch McConnell for Republican leader if you become a senator?" asked Fox News' Chris Wallace.
"Yes, I think Mitch McConnell will be the leader again and hopefully the Majority Leader this time around," answered Paul.
"And you will support him? You will vote for him?" pressed Wallace.
"Yes. Yes," said Pail.
"Not Jim DeMint, not anyone else?" wondered Wallace.
"Right. What we're having is we will have a caucus meeting and decide but I will vote for whoever comes out of the caucus as the Republican leader," replied Paul.
Another interesting moment on the show came in the discussion with the panel. Chris Wallace asked whether Obama will move to the center after the midterms. The consensus on the panel was that Obama and his new chief of staff Pete Rouse will be less inclined to move to the middle in the same way that Clinton and Morris did after 1994. Does that mean Obama will be a one term president? What do you think?