Fox News apologizes for Toronto terror error

[Don't you expect this post to start: "Man hit by flying pig" ? ]

Earlier this month, Fox News reported on the Toronto terrorism arrests with a story shot in front of the Ontario Khalsa Darbar, “the largest and busiest Sikh gurdwara in Canada“.

The broadcast story showed the front of the Ontario Khalsa Darbar – a Sikh Gurdwara … as the house of worship the terrorists frequented and also showed members of the local Sikh congregation. [Link]

That’s right – a story about suspects from “Somali, Pakistani, Indian, Egyptian, and West Indian backgrounds” and what do they do? They choose to shoot using a Gurdwara and Sikhs as a backdrop, misidentifying them in the process. They all look same, massah, here, use the generic other!

To be absolutely clear, I am not saying “beat them up, not us!” I find that kind of talk completely abhorrent. If I was producing the segment, I would have used one of the targets as a backdrop rather than a mosque, precisely because of the fear of hate crimes and vandalism.

To their credit, Fox News responded and apologized when contacted by SALDEF:

In an email to SALDEF, the Fox News Correspondent noted, “I did pull our entire crew into the satellite truck and explained to them the difference between a Gurdwara and a mosque. I can assure you they realized the gravity of this situation. I’m very, very sorry. “

Additionally… John Stack, a FOX NEWS Vice President, … expressed similar regret in the mistake and vowed to make a personal inquiry into the matter to assure that it would not happen again. [Link]

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p>By the way, if you need further evidence as to why “beat them up, not us” is not just morally bankrupt but also tactically ineffective as a response to hate crimes, it turns out that even in multicultural Canada, bigots are ignorant:

Hindu temples, including those where Guyanese worship, were attacked in Toronto last week. The temples were apparently mistaken for mosques and the Hindu worshippers as Muslims. [Link]

All hate crimes are bad, people, all of them (And that includes terrorism). Don’t make Pastor Niemöller return from the dead to kick your kundi.

25 thoughts on “Fox News apologizes for Toronto terror error

  1. They sent an email to SALDEF and that was it? Shouldn’t they be saying on air that they were wrong and perhaps running a segment on hate crimes against South Asian groups where they mention coverage such as theirs as one of the factors?

  2. VP John Stack promised it would never never ever happen again. They only promise fair and balanced. They never said anything about accurate.

  3. Awwwwwwww how sweet, they apologized. I don’t suppose that this means that they’ll be hiring some competent people any time soon.

  4. if you need further evidence as to why “beat them up, not us” is not just morally bankrupt but also tactically ineffective as a response to hate crimes,

    I need evidence as to whether anybody has suggested this as a response to hate crimes. I think you are confusing this with calls to monitor mosques/imams etc (instead of temples/gurudwaras). It’s one thing to suggest to the authorities that some profiling is needed to narrow down suspects. And it’s another for the man on the street to start profiling with half-baked knowledge.

    M. Nam

  5. Moor Nam:

    One of the responses to anti-Sikh hate crimes within the Sikh community has been an effort to educate people about how Sikhs are different from Muslims, and how you can tell them apart visually. Implicitly, this boils down to an appeal to “beat them up, not us”.

  6. Ennis,

    has been an effort to educate people about how Sikhs are different from Muslims

    Which people? If Sikhs were educating police/immigration officers, FBI agents etc as to how they are different, I don’t fault them because they are educating the proper authorities.

    On the other hand, if they are doing this with the common man in community centers, malls etc – then you’re right. It’s definitely a “beat them, not us” message.

    M. Nam

  7. If SALDEF is asking for an apology, arnt they implicity if not explicitly endorsing the “beat them up, not us” stance. If not, SALDEF would ask Fox News not to show any place of worship (including Mosques) with terrorism stories and not try to educate Fox News on the difference between a Mosque and a Guruduwara.

    To their credit, Fox News responded and apologized when contacted by SALDEF:

    I am not sure why Fox News deserves credit. Would Fox News be more credit worthy if they had shown a Mosque?

    P.S. I am actually sympathetic to the Sikhs educating people on the differences between them and Muslims. But lets not pretend that the edmucation on differences is not a tacit aproval of the “beat them up, not us” stance.

  8. Hold on, SALDEF does not approve of “Beat them up, not us.” They’ve been very consistent in this stance since 9/11. For example, they are against all profiling, not “better targetted” profiling. Asking for an apology from Fox doesn’t mean that they wanted Fox to show a Masjid, just that they wanted Fox to acknowledge its error.

  9. I’ve never quite understood the whole confusion around terrorists and Sikhs. The Taliban, who were not terrorists, were famously identified by their black turbans. When was the last time a man with a black turban was spotted on the streets of a North American city? Most Arabs don’t wear turbans, except in cermonial functions, and I have yet to see a news photo of an Iraqi, waving his Kalashnikov while wearing a turban. Oh, yeah, the Iraqis aren’t terrorists. Osama’s famous terrorist training manual advised operatives to wear western dress and shave their body hair (not just off their faces, one assumes). There are a couple of famous pictures of Osama in a white headwrap of some sort, but it doesn’t look like a Sikh turban, since it’s tied differently, and you get the impression that Osama, holed up in Afghanistan, has just gone native to impress Mullah Omar–who did, in fact, sport a turban.

    Just who are the turban-wearing terrorists that we’re supposed to be afraid of?

  10. You’re overthinking it, Preston. From my other post today:

    “The individuals involved look basically like this,” … brandishing a printout of the FBIÂ’s most wanted terrorists – all with Arabic names, most with facial hair, some wearing turbans. “Why should a policeman have to think twice before examining people of a particular group?” Hikind asked. “They all look a certain way.” [Link]

    All they see is the turban and the beard. Osama had a turban and beard. These bigots do not. Therefore, anybody who has a turban and a beard is unlike them and like Osama.

  11. But the first glimpse most Americans ever got of a turban was in “The English Patient,” and everyone loved that movie!

  12. Khomenei. I’ve been dealing with this isht since the hostage crisis. Some of our readers weren’t even born then.

  13. I’m surprised that most Americans don’t associate turbans with the butler dude in Little Orphan Annie, who in turn was blatantly ripped off from A Little Princess.

  14. P.S. I am actually sympathetic to the Sikhs educating people on the differences between them and Muslims. But lets not pretend that the edmucation on differences is not a tacit aproval of the “beat them up, not us” stance.

    It is more like differentiating kafirs on the basis of “people of the book” and “idolators/polytheists” in Quran kind of thing.. Don’t sweat about it.. :-)

  15. Ennis ~ how long did you experience the backlash the first time around during the hostage situation? How does it compare to post-9/11?

  16. Maybe they should be Faux News (sic).

    Taking off from there, I cant find any real reference to this.

    Hindu temples, including those where Guyanese worship, were attacked in Toronto last week.

    that korematsu guy at DNSI you use as reference seems to be in perpetual pain and a little bit unbalanced. Are you sure that body of work isnt delirium induced?

  17. that korematsu guy at DNSI you use as reference seems to be in perpetual pain and a little bit unbalanced.

    Ok… I got the korematsu reference now and looked through the advisory board. looks like a fine bunch of folks. my snark was unnecessary. Anyhow, I’d still do a reference check on the temple attacks.

  18. Ennis ~ how long did you experience the backlash the first time around during the hostage situation? How does it compare to post-9/11?

    Heck, Sonia, I was just a kid myself. All I know is that people used to get angry at the brown skin / turban / beard thing (although I had no beard at the time). They’d yell stuff. It was New York, people are always yelling stuff at somebody, as long as there’s no violence at home it doesn’t mean anything ;)

  19. I’d still do a reference check on the temple attacks.

    yea i live near the toronto area and haven’t heard anything about recent attacks on actual temples. this is the only other mention of recent attacks that i found. sounds to me that the guy making these claims is looking for some attention. there are so many prominent hindu figures in the area who would have definitely brought this issue to at least one major newspaper if it were true.

    the attack on the hamilton temple post sep 11 is definitely true… the temple was burnt to its foundation. and several gurudwaras were attacked at that time as well. but nothing has surfaced in the last month.

    i find that post sept 11, in the GTA (greater toronto area) at least, there has been much greater awareness of different cultural and religious backgrounds. in 2001, a student org i was part of initiated a campus-wide awareness campaign re this issue, but the purpose was to promote tolerance and avoid ignorance, not to “beat them up, not us”. many similar efforts were initiated at the time across campuses, in schools, in the media because GTA is so multicultural.

    there may be a different angle to why showing a gurudwara in the backdrop in particular was such a faux-pas… remember the alleged sikh terrorist air india flight hijacking in 1985? there has been a major terrorist incident involving sikhs in canada in the past. this is probably still in the back the canadian public’s mind, especially since the final court hearings only ended in last year in march. so having a gurudwara in the back drop might have more incidental damage than showing a temple for example.

    hate crimes are bad… no argument of course… but even if people aren’t physically attacked, there will definitely be prejudice against an accused religious/cultural group, which they will surely want to avoid. which is why distinguishing between muslim, sikh, hindu to the general public is important to some. i feel that in canada, they are worried about the prejudice issue more than anything since every other person in the GTA is brown!

  20. the comment regarding the attacks on hindu temples also took me way off guard as my parents are VERY active at a local west indian temple just outside of toronto. i figured that if that mandir wasn’t attacked, they would have atleast been bombarding me with stories about how so-and-so’s mandir was vandalized or damaged.

  21. Sikhs have a moral duty to take a beating and take it with pride. When a Sikh is being attacked he or she should not explain to the attacker that he or she is a Sikh, which is not a sect of Islam because this would be a case of “beat them up, not us”

    When a Sikh child is not being teased about that “thing” on his head he should infact call himself a Muslim voluntarily because he should be able to take the extra teasing since he is already used to it and this mught even prevent an actual Muslim kid from being teased, thus saving that kid from being teased.

    I swear Sikhs can be so selfish.

  22. I swear Sikhs can be so selfish.

    I also have an issue with the “beat them up, not us” argument, but for a different reason. There is obviously a need for Sikhs to educate others about their identity and part of that education is differentiating yourself from other religions and cultures. For too long now people have thought that Sikhism is a sect of Islam or Hinduism and it has been the fight to change this mentality and to establish Sikhism as its own religion that has led to the recent post-9/11 education on Sikhs to be seen as the “beat them up, not us” education that you are all referring to. I don’t think this education is in any way suggesting that because Sikhs are different from Muslims that means they should not be discriminated against, not us. We wouldn’t tolerate that — a tenet of Sikhism is to fight for equality for all. But think about it from a viewpoint that Sikhism has always been combined with another religion whether 300 years ago or post-9/11 and Sikhs are basically continuing a never-ending fight to educate people on this religion as its own entity and not in conjunction with other religions.