Since 2000, the theme-park chain Six Flags has held an annual "Muslim Family Day" at its Chicago park. The event, co-sponsored with the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), includes halal food and modestly dressed entertainment for local Islamic families. This year, it falls on September 12. The timing, along with the ongoing controversy over the proposed Islamic cultural center planned for lower Manhattan, has made this year's Muslim Family Day a cause célèbre for a handful of Tea Party members and certain Fox News pundits. Here's what they have to say and how observers are reacting.
- Fox News Frets Over 'Scheduling Concerns' Fox News' Alisyn Camerota raised concerns (without any apparent evidence) that the ICNA "financed the September 11 terrorist attacks." Fox and Friends co-host Steve Doocy worried about "scheduling concerns," introducing a segment where guest Joe Kaufman declared, "The fact that they're having it on September 12, I believe they are actually spitting in the face of Americans. ... The agenda behind this organization has nothing to do with anything that's kind or good." Doocy spoke with a representative of ICNA. Doocy questioned the timing, asking, "Why couldn't they do it September 14, September 15, September 10th." She explains that the date coincides with the end of Ramadan.
- Beck: Let's Have 'Militia Day' In Response On his radio show, Glenn Beck said, "What we're arguing here is maybe Muslim Day with all of the kiddies and the, you know, the dragon, you know, floaties around them going to the water park might be in bad taste on 9/12." In a long and rambling segment, Beck compares "Muslim Family Day" to a day celebrating Pearl Harbor or Timothy McVeigh. He calls for a "militia day" in response and suggests he will open an amusement park in Saudi Arabia. "Come to our yak park. The rides are so wild, your kids will be yacking at our yak park, the Yemeni yak! Don't talk back! That would be great! We'll have a jingle: Yemeni yak, don't talk back. I'm opening it in the sands of Saudi Arabia." Audio here.
- A Made-Up Controversy Mother Jones' Stephanie Mencimer sighs, "None of the tea party commentaries mention that one of the men who first established the Muslim Family Day event in 2000 was himself killed in the attack on the World Trade Center. Nor do they seem to understand that the scheduling issue has far more to do with the Muslim calendar than any intentional desire to link the event to 9/11. The event is designed to celebrate the end of Ramadan, which ends on Sept. 10 this year. ICNA obviously didn't want to have its festivities on 9/11, so scheduled it for the next day. (Some tea partiers, meanwhile, have actually scheduled a big political rally on the National Mall for the anniversary of 9/11, but they don't see a big problem with that.)"
- Tea Partiers Protest Online Tea Party blogger Pamela Geller calls this "Another stab in the eye of America." Official Tea Party Patriots blogger Annie Hamilton fumes, "Muslim Day at Six Flags is inappropriate for a multitude of reasons and I'm saddened and shocked by the ignorance of the Corporate folks and by the action that now must be taken by the rest of us. ... STOP THE MUSLIM DAY - THEY ARE NOT AMERICANS. THEY DO NOT ABIDE BY OUR CONSTITUTION - THEY ARE NOT ONE OF US." Six Flags' Facebook page has received 500 comments on "Muslim Family Day," many by self-described Tea Partiers protesting the event.
Tea partiers: Pro-family -- except for Muslim families http://bit.ly/bUZxCW