Each issue of The Progessive magazine has a page titled, “No Comment.” They are quotes — progressive but mostly anti-progressive — that speak for themselves. They require no comment. In fact, that’s what my quotations category is all about. But in the vast majority of those cases, I do agree. What’s more, because I have to give them all a title, I usually do get to comment on them. The truth is that I like the idea of “no comment” quotes but there is very little that I have nothing to add to.
When I saw that Don Lemon of CNN asked human rights lawyer Arsalan Iftikhar, who happens to be a Muslim, “Do you support ISIS?” I was initially dumbstruck. I just had to share it. It does speak for itself. I think we all know that Don Lemon is an idiot. After all, he’s a guy who asked one of Bill Cosby’s rape accusers why she didn’t just bite his penis — but in a family friendly way. And if that didn’t get him fired, really, what would? Maybe he’ll get a chance by asking a family member of one of the victims of the Charlie Hebdo massacre why he (there was only one female victim) wasn’t packing heat.
I know if Lemon did that, he would preface it with, “I have to ask…” That’s how he prefaced his rape deterrence question to Joan Tarshis. And that’s how he prefaced his question to Iftikhar. It’s a weird kind of interviewing tick that Lemon has. And it clearly demonstrates that he understands that he is asking offensive questions. I don’t suspect that he would ever say to the president, “I have to ask: what’s in that new college tuition proposal?” No, it’s always something inappropriate. He ought to interview John McCain, “I have to ask: were you ever anally raped when you were a POW?”
And that gets to the heart of the matter. The truth is that Don Lemon does not have to ask these questions. I think we all understand why a woman who’s been drugged and is feeling intimidated would not bite her rapist’s penis. And we know that Arsalan Iftikhar is not a supporter of ISIS. He is a better man and I am. I would have tracked down Lemon and punched him. Iftikhar responded with a shocked, “Wait, did you just ask if I support ISIS?!” It was an amazing thing.
Remember, this is CNN — not Fox News. You would think that the network would learned that this is just as offensive and racist as asking an African American man if he supports police killer Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley. I discussed this issue last month, The Bigoted “Muslims Condemn” Ritual. The issue (which Bill Maher still doesn’t get) is that it is bigoted to treat some individual as just a representative of some group you’ve made up. Don Lemon should know better. But at very least, CNN should know better and get memos out to all its “talent.”
But I understand. From Don Lemon’s position, the question is a good thing. He knew it is an offensive question. But he also knew that Iftikhar does not support ISIS. So he was trying to have a little Kumbaya moment where the two of them shared the solidarity of being against the widely despised terrorist group. It was Lemon’s way of showing all of America that Muslims are not all out to kill us. But what he instead did was cast more suspicion on Muslims.
But I just have to ask this of Don Lemon, “Did you start out this stupid, or is this something you learned in broadcast journalism school?”