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MSNBC host Joy Reid on Tuesday faced accusations of Islamophobia over remarks she made during her Monday evening broadcast comparing radicalized Trump supporters to “the way Muslims act.”
Reid, who recently took over the 7 p.m. weeknight slot vacated by anchor Chris Matthews’ sudden departure, devoted one segment’s panel discussion to President Donald Trump’s unwillingness to denounce his supporters’ violence in protests in Kenosha and Portland. After noting how Trump liked a tweet praising vigilante kid Kyle Rittenhouse and cheered on pro-Trump demonstrators in Portland shooting protesters with paintball guns and mace, Reid—a former columnist for The Daily Beast—attempted to make a point about the president radicalizing his base.
“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’ these people, particularly when they’re radicalizing young people,” the ReidOut host began.
“That’s how we talk about the way Muslims act,” she added. “When you see what Donald Trump is doing, is that any different from what we describe as radicalizing people?”
While receiving little attention following its airing, the liberal host’s remarks eventually sparked outrage when a video clip of the segment was widely shared Tuesday on social media by journalists and activists. The “how Muslims act” remark specifically drew complaints that she trafficked in “dangerous” anti-Islamic tropes, stereotypes, and generalizations.
MSNBC and Reid did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Zakir Khan, board chair of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oregon, said the MSNBC star’s remarks were “so unbelievably Islamophobic it’s ridiculous,” asking whether she planned to apologize for the way she “stereotype[d] an entire group of Muslims.”
Civil rights organization Muslim Advocates, meanwhile, called on Reid to apologize on air Tuesday night for “spreading the false, dangerous myth that Muslims are inherently radical and violent.” The group also said the network also “needs to take action to ensure anti-Muslim bigotry has no place on its network.”
“Whoa. Joy Ann Reid says that ‘Muslim leaders... talk a lot of violent talk & encourage their supporters... to commit violence’ and goes on to compare ‘the way Muslims act’ to Trump and his supporters,” tweeted HuffPost reporter Rowaida Abdelaziz, who covers Islamophobia and social-justice issues. “What a terrible, dangerous, & completely inaccurate analogy to make.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders’ former campaign press secretary Briahna Joy Gray, meanwhile, questioned the way Reid generalized about how “nearly 1/4 of the world population acts.”
AJ+ producer and host Sana Saeed called Reid’s remarks “appalling,” adding that the host “just throws out ‘Muslim leaders’ encouraging ‘their followers’ to ‘use their bodies to inflict violence’ (which leaders?)” before comparing “‘how Muslims act’ to American white nationalist radicalization.” And Jacobin staff writer Luke Savage described Reid’s remarks as “racism plain and simple,” saying the “subtext is more or less that Trump is ‘radicalizing’ his supporters, just like the barbarians do.”
This isn’t the first time that Reid has been accused of making inflammatory comments about Muslims. After the MSNBC host came under fire in 2018 when homophobic posts from her old blog were unearthed—something she initially blamed on an alleged hacker—additional entries were found that trafficked in ugly, Islamophobic stereotypes.
In one particular blog post from 2006, Reid suggested that Islam was unable to co-exist with Western democracy, writing that “current iterations of Islam are largely incompatible with Western notions of free speech and expression, and thus, I’d say, with the Bushian dream of Western style democracy for all.”
One of Reid's guests on that panel, Newsweek editor-at-large Naveed Jamali, rallied to Reid's defense, claiming her remarks were being distorted for political purposes.
“I’ve learned this clip is being used by the extreme left and right to try and paint this panel discussion as ‘islamophobic,’ however, nobody is asking ME the Brown guy on the panel what I think," he tweeted. “Bc why would you ask the brown guy about islamophobia when white guys can chime in!”
Honestly, this kinda of casual Islamophobia is hurtful and dangerous.
We deserve better and an apology for the painful moment for so many Muslims around our country should be forthcoming. https://t.co/megnZyL9dd
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) September 1, 2020
After Muslim-American Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) both called for Reid to apologize, and following the broadcast of her Tuesday night show—which did not feature her addressing the controversy—Reid broke her silence on the issue via Twitter.
"There’s been some thoughtful commentary but also some willful distortion of the points I tried to make yesterday," she wrote, quote-tweeting Jamali. “We’ll discuss in more depth tomorrow on the show!”