NBA Hall-of-Famer Dave Cowens responds to recent controversies concerning Muslims in America, including the ‘Ground Zero Mosque,’ Juan Williams’ statements on Fox News, and Bill O’Reilly’s appearance on ‘The View.’
[NBA Hall-of-Famer Dave Cowens is a big fan of the Good Men Project Magazine. Recently, we asked Cowens to give us his take on the Juan Williams controversy. Here’s what he wrote.]
Mr. Juan Williams’ comments on “The O’Reilly Factor” make him no less of a good man, but he should have anticipated his firing.
I have been in the public eye for all of my adult life; I understand the way public figures are treated by the press and by society at large. Once you are a deemed a public figure, you are held to a different standard. Insignificant statements are blown up and used by others to justify their agendas. Hence, the ridiculous circumstances involving Juan Williams. My guess is that NPR had a notion to separate themselves from Mr. Williams long before he made those statements about his trepidation when traveling. Indeed, Williams echoed the sentiments of many Americans, including myself. When I get on a plane, I am very attentive to the appearance and behavior of the other passengers.
Similarly ridiculous was how Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg walked off the set of “The View,” reacting with righteous indignation to Bill O’Reilly’s generalized words about Muslims and terrorism. (Is it just me, or do ratings and hype prevail over substantive content these days?) It would have been far more logical to ask for clarification, and continue to engage in debate, instead of taking umbrage so quickly.
Today, we want to win at all costs, berate our rivals, and shout out our opinions that, most times, are not wholly supported by the facts. I realize that it is naïve to want everyone to “just get along,” but we ought to be civil and honest. Shutting down discussion and declaring your opponent’s ideas irredeemably evil is no way to advance a debate.
Even the English and the Irish are more civil toward one another than we are here in America!
I happen to agree with O’Reilly’s sentiments. The building of the Ground Zero Mosque—while technically within the rights of the owners—is inappropriate and a needless affront and insult to the families of those killed by Muslim terrorists on 9/11, as well as most proud and patriotic Americans. As O’Reilly said, simply, “It shouldn’t be there.”
Why? Because it is too hurtful to too many people. My suggestion is that we build an all-denominational place of worship on that site—one that gives every religious person a place to worship and pray for unity, peace, and forgiveness.
O’Reilly is understandably outraged that Obama refuses to address the concerns that a majority of Americans have about the mosque. Obama had a televised parlay with the professor and policeman (the “Beer Summit”), but he won’t publicly negotiate on this issue, that has so many Americans incensed. That strikes me as political expediency—not the action of a true leader.
To protect our country from internal threats and terrorism, I do not feel it is out of bounds to put Muslims—or anyone else suspected of disloyalty—to the test. We should ask that they declare their loyalty to America, and proclaim their willingness to defend and stand up for the country they live in, which is financially supported by the majority of their neighbors.
Obviously, giving one’s word is not proof of allegiance; but it is a good and fair demand, and a way to hold them accountable in the future. Public voices should always be held to closer scrutiny—it comes with the territory. (I suppose declarations of this kind have been minimized by our own political leaders who have—consistently and in great numbers—violated their oath of office to protect and serve the American people.) It is important in this time of deep mistrust to ask some straightforward questions.
Why do so many Americans try to minimize and condemn those who are proffering a negotiated positive change—like the Tea Party—yet give carpetbaggers and potential threats—like foreign-born Muslims and the builders of the Ground Zero mosque—the benefit of the doubt?
The Tea Party movement is working within the system to invoke political change, yet many claim they are racist. Meanwhile, these same people want to bend over backward for Muslim activists and illegal squatters.
When it comes to demonstrating Muslims, the first question from the media ought to be, “are you a citizen of this country and have you pledged your allegiance to this great country?” If you cannot answer those two questions in the affirmative, then you are an enemy of the state and you should go live in a country that you can embrace.
This country’s existence depends on the volunteering and charitable acts of many—we will give you the shirt off our back if we know you are on our side.
But, if you can’t pledge your allegiance to this great country, we don’t need you around here stirring up trouble. We have enough on our plates already. As a public and private citizen, I will tell you: if you want to destroy or take over this country, you will lose. As generous and accepting as Americans are, all that charitable energy can be instantly turned into a force that cannot be defeated—because you are now in the public eye.
Watch Tom Matlack’s Man-to-Man interview with Dave Cowens here.