Not So Shocking

The Times has a piece today about shock jocks in the post-Don Imus landscape, arguing that talk radio "remains as arguably and insidiously untamed in the days after Mr. Imus’s collapse as it was before." (What "insidiously untamed" means" I'm not quite sure ...) The story's sampling of beyond-the-pale remarks includes a host describing a caller as a "brain-dead fetus” and a “late-term abortion that somehow crawled out of the Dumpster”, and another one asking a professional whistler: "Would it be possible, could you whistle ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ while I rape a girl?” But then there's this:

Mr. Muller ... also suggested on the same broadcast that “radical Muslims” would not stop until they had flattened American religion like a steamroller.

His children, he predicted, “will probably be killed because I’m bringing them up Catholic, and maybe their children will be brainwashed and put into some sort of situation where they’re wearing a burka and they follow Shia law, because that’s what these radicalized Muslims want.”

He also mused about several other matters, including, “I just wonder why we care so much about Virginia Tech kids.” He quickly qualified the remark by saying, “Don’t pull that out of context,” before indicating that soldiers killed in Iraq deserved comparable gestures of mourning.

Um - so what precisely is beyond the pale about this? The last bit is an example of choosing your words poorly while making a completely reasonable point; the material about "radical Muslims," meanwhile, is obviously alarmist and over-the-top in its predictions about the future, but is the Times really arguing - on the day a Zawahiri videotape gets released, no less - that there aren't radical Muslims who would like to flatten America and impose shari'a on the West? Whether we should take their threat all that seriously is an open question, and I'm certainly not a fan of, say, Presidential candidates building their entire foreign-policy agenda around the dangers posed by a new Caliphate; for the most part, I think we should spend more time laughing in the face of radical Islam's dream of overthrowing the U.S. than we spend obsessing about it. But that doesn't mean the Zawahiris of the world aren't dangerous, or that people who call attention to their long-term goals are bigots and/or racists, which I assume is how the Times means for us to regard Mr. Muller.

Now maybe he did say something beyond the pale: Maybe he went on to conflate all Muslims with al Qaeda, or suggested that the entire population of Dearborn should be deported, or argued that Islam ought to be outlawed in the West. (And I'm sure you can find more than a few shock jocks who've made comments along those lines.) But the Times doesn't quote him saying anything like that, and as a result the story leaves you with the impression that anyone who thinks that "radical Muslims" want to take down the U.S. is a ranting bigot and ought to be hounded from the airwaves.