Muslim advocacy groups are calling on MSNBC’s Joy Reid to apologize for comments she made Monday during her show “The ReidOut,” in which she appeared to stereotype Muslims as violent extremists.
During a panel discussion, Reid compared “violent talk” from leaders in the “Muslim world” to President Donald Trump’s fear-mongering rhetoric and refusal to condemn some of his violent supporters.
“When leaders ― let’s say in the Muslim world ― talk a lot of violent talk and encourage their supporters to be willing to commit violence, including on their own bodies in order to win against whoever they decide is the enemy, we in the U.S. media describe that as they are radicalizing those people,” Reid said.
“That’s how we talk about the way Muslims act,” she continued. “When you see what Donald Trump is doing, is that any different from what we describe as radicalizing people?”
Several prominent Muslims, including Rep. Ilhan Ohmar (D-Minn.), have condemned Reid’s comments as Islamophobic.
“Honestly, this [kind of] casual Islamophobia is hurtful and dangerous,” Omar tweeted. “We deserve better and an apology for the painful moment for so many Muslims around our country should be forthcoming.”
“Reid’s flippant statements are Islamophobic, and stoke hate by generalizing billions of Muslims as ‘violent,’” Wa’el Alzayat, the CEO of Emgage Action, a Muslim American advocacy group, said in a statement Tuesday. “We are calling upon Reid to apologize and retract her statements, immediately.”
Reid, who made history in July when she became the first Black woman to host a prime-time cable evening news show, acknowledged the backlash in a tweet Tuesday night. She said there had been some “willful distortion” of the points she had attempted to make.
“There’s been some thoughtful commentary but also some willful distortion of the points I tried to make yesterday,” Reid wrote. “We’ll discuss in more depth tomorrow on the show!”
Muslim Advocates, a national civil rights and legal advocacy organization, launched an online petition calling for Reid to apologize and for MSNBC to “ensure anti-Muslim bigotry has no place on its network.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, the petition had over 1,400 signatures.
Madihha Ahussain, Muslim Advocates’ special counsel for anti-Muslim bigotry, criticized Reid for failing to apologize during her show on Tuesday.
“It is deeply disappointing that Joy Reid failed to even dignify the pain of American Muslims tonight,” Ahussain said in a statement. “She spent much of the show discussing racism, however Reid failed to acknowledge the harm she caused, did not apologize for stereotyping Muslims as violent radicals and failed to address her history of anti-Muslim comments.”
She continued: “Deranged white nationalists who believe the same thing that Reid said to her audience of millions have threatened, bombed and gunned down Muslims. By refusing to apologize and disavow her anti-Muslim comments, Reid is continuing to put Muslims in danger.”
Reid has previously been accused of making anti-Muslim statements. In 2006, she wrote on her now-defunct blog “The Reid Report” that “current iterations of Islam are largely incompatible with Western notions of free speech and expression.”
In another post from 2006, she said that poverty is the “only reason” that the vast majority of Muslims aren’t engaging in a “world war between civilizations.”
My feeling is that the only reason that a world war between civilizations has not already broken out is that the vast majority of Muslims living in the world today are so desperately poor that they have the time, energy and resources for only the occasional burst of AK-47 fire into the air from the garbage and sewage laden streets outside of their mud huts. Give them resources and I fear that they will come after us everywhere that they can find us, which is to say everywhere.
In 2018, the blog posts — which also included homophobic rhetoric — were resurfaced by a Twitter user. Reid claimed that she didn’t write the posts in question and that her blog had been hacked.
Despite several media outlets, including HuffPost, determining that her claims were unlikely, Reid said the FBI was investigating the matter. MSNBC stood by Reid, who was then the host of one of the network’s weekend talk shows, “AM Joy.”
MSNBC did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment on the criticism over Reid’s remarks about Muslims or for an update on the FBI investigation into the alleged cyberattack.
Trump on Wednesday weighed in, tweeting that the “very untalented” Reid should be fired and bashing MSNBC for giving “xenophobia and racism” a platform.
“Anyone else would be gone, and fast!!!” the president tweeted.
Trump, of course, has a long history of making xenophobic and anti-Muslim comments, including suggesting in 2015 that the U.S. should have a database to track Muslims and falsely claiming that “thousands and thousands” of Muslims cheered in New Jersey when the World Trade Center collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001.