Archive for Apology

All-American Muslim: Kayak Executive Robert Birge Issues World’s Worst “Apology” Ever

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2011 by loonwatch

Lowes has been at the center of the All-American Muslim controversy for having caved to anti-Muslim bigotry and pulling its advertisements from the show.  But there is another company that is also just as guilty: Kayak.

So far, Kayak has been flying under the radar, with Lowes absorbing much of the heat.  That may change after Kayak’s Chief Marketing Officer Robert Birge issued what can only be called the world’s worst “apology” ever.  It was not only dishonest and rude, but it was also simply a “non-apology,” shifting most of the blame to TLC and the show itself!

The “apology” begins with this gem:

Our team includes people who are descended from early Europeans who came here escaping religious intolerance, and newer Americans who include many religions. We get what America is about.

So basically, his team consists mostly of white people.  Oh, it also has some non-white people, who Robert Birge considers “newer Americans.”  Does his “150-person team” not have a single black, American Indian, or Hispanic person?  Apparently, Mr. Birge does not realize that black people are as old as this country (they were brought here in chains and the country was built on their backs), that American Indians were here long before Birge’s ancestors were, or that Mexicans lived on the land long before Europeans invaded their country.  Does his company not have any Japanese-Americans, who have been in this country for generations?  Even many Arab-Americans in Dearborn itself have been in the U.S. for three generations.  To Robert Birge, I suppose these are all “newer Americans.”

Then, Mr. Birge issues his non-apology:

When we decided to give our money to TLC for this program, we deemed the show a worthy topic. When we received angry emails regarding our decision to advertise, I looked into the show more thoroughly.

The first thing I discovered was that TLC was not upfront with us about the nature of this show. As I said, it’s a worthy topic, but any reasonable person would know that this topic is a particular lightning rod. We believe TLC went out of their way to pick a fight on this, and they didn’t let us know their intentions. That’s not a business practice that generally gets repeat business from us. I also believe that it did this subject a grave disservice. Sadly, TLC is now enjoying the attention from this controversy.

What exactly didn’t TLC disclose “about the nature of this show”?  A New York Times article counters this lame excuse:

A reporter who received an e-mail from Kayak with Mr. Birge’s blog post was puzzled because there was considerable publicity about “All-American Muslim” before its debut. Articles outlined the contents of the show and its focus on the Muslim-American community of Dearborn, Mich., a Detroit suburb.

Exactly.  Contrary to what Mr. Birge insinuates, there was nothing mysterious about the show or its intent: it was clear to everyone, even the Islamophobic bigots themselves, that it was about showing how American Muslims are regular people just like you and me: they have jobs, mortgages, children, dreams, etc.  What was unclear about this?

Read between the lines and it is clear what Robert Birge is saying: he is arguing, just like the anti-Muslim bigots, that this show about American Muslims had an ulterior motive and a secret agenda.  You know those swarthy and stealthy Muslims always have some secret Islamic agenda and can’t be trusted!

The NYT article goes on (bold is mine):

The reporter e-mailed Kayak to ask why Mr. Birge believed TLC kept information from the company. In an e-mail response, Mr. Birge replied: “When TLC pitched ‘All-American Muslim’ to advertisers, it was characterized as a fair-and-balanced look at the life of an American Muslim.”

“However,” he continued, “what was not disclosed was the pre-existing controversy surrounding race, religion and specifically the divide between the Muslim and Christian communities in Dearborn, Mich.”

Dearborn “has been a center of controversy for right or wrong,” he added. “However, that was omitted by TLC when it pitched the show.”

Here, the Kayak executive regurgitates the arguments raised by the Islamophobes.  For example, Florida Family Association argued that the show did not depict “a fair-and-balanced look at the life of an American Muslim” since it didn’t deal with certain issues, such as how Muslims (supposedly) want to impose Sharia on non-Muslims.  Mr. Birge says almost the exact same thing, arguing that the show fails to depict “a fair-and-balanced look at the life of an American Muslim” because “what was not discussed was the pre-existing controversy surrounding race, religion and specifically the divide between the Muslim and Christian communities in Dearborn, Mich.”  He stops just short of saying that the Muslims of Dearborn are subjecting the Christians of the city to Islamic values.  (Only Christians are allowed to impose their views on others in this country.)

Instead of denouncing the FFA, Robert Birge focuses his wrath on FFA’s target, TLC and the show.

Can you imagine if Kayak had pulled ads for a black reality show because of a controversy (created by Neo-Nazis) that it failed to depict “a fair-and-balanced look at the life of” black people–you know, all those “pre-existing controvers[ie]s surrounding” crime, drugs, and violence.

Just imagine if Kayak had treated Jewish-Americans this way.  What kind of apology do you think Kayak would be issuing then?

Furthermore, as the NYT article points out:

There seems to be nothing from TLC in the way of news releases or other material from the channel that would suggest it wanted to be inflammatory on the issue of Muslims in America or take advantage of the ensuing controversy over the advertising on the show.

Might I ask Mr. Birge: if Kayak had known that anti-Muslim bigots would protest the show for showing American Muslims as normal people, would they simply have not advertised on the show, using “controversy” as an out?  Isn’t that the very definition of “cav[ing] to hatred”?

Robert Birge concludes with this infuriating line:

Lastly, I watched the first two episodes. Mostly, I just thought the show sucked.

Mr. Birge, you are the Chief Marketing Officer of a major company and this is how you issue a formal apology when your company royally screws up?  Is this what you consider professional behavior?  Your company’s choices, which we see as the endorsement of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bigotry, have seriously offended and hurt American Muslims and Arab-Americans.  And this is how you end your “apology”?  If I were in charge of you, sir, I would fire you, because you lack common sense.

Do you think it is wise for you to end your non-apology with your personal opinion that the show–the first reality show about American Muslims (the same group your company sided against along with anti-Muslim bigots)–sucks?  The truth is that you are only so flippant about this matter because the demographic you have insulted is currently the lowest on the social totem pole.  I doubt you’d be so callous about this topic if you had been accused of siding with anti-black racists or Anti-Semites.  You’d be grovelling to keep your job in that case.

More importantly, since when has your company pursued a policy of only advertising on shows that you, Robert Birge, specifically enjoy?

Kayak will hide behind the claim that they pulled their ads because of the “controversy” surrounding All-American Muslim, even though this “controversy” was all manufactured by anti-Muslim bigots.  There is absolutely no evidence that TLC or the show seeks to be controversial.  In fact, they depict the very mundane lives of regular American Muslims to show that they are not all that different from you and I.

The only “controversy” is that created by anti-Muslim bigots.  So by citing this as their reason to pull out, Kayak has sided with them.

As for me, I’m not going to give one cent to Kayak ever in the future and I encourage you all to do the same.  Not until they issue a real apology.  If they wanted to show sincere contrition (instead of an insincere non-apology), Kayak would back it up with action and renew their ad contract with the show.

Admit this much, Mr. Birge: if this controversy had been about a show called Black America or All-American Jews, can you honestly say that you wouldn’t be falling all over yourselves renewing your ad contract with the show?  But because it’s Muslims–the most discriminated segment of society right now–you could care less.

I doubt Kayak will do the right thing, but I can guarantee you this much: in one generation or two, American students will study about this time–just as today’s students study bigotry towards Japanese-Americans during World War II or racism against blacks in the 1950′s–and look back at amazement and utter disgust at those who sided with the forces of hatred.

Shame on you, Robert Birge.  And shame on you, Kayak.

Note to readers: I would recommend sending a strong but courteous email of disapproval to Kayak, which can be done here.  If anyone can find Robert Birge’s email address, please post it and I will update the article with that information.  Also, make sure to hyperlink to this article in your email.  I would also appreciate your help in spreading this article by linking it on your Facebook walls, so that we can let it be known to the world: Kayak, you suck.

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

Church Forces Girl to Apologize After Being Raped, What if they were Muslim?

Posted in Loon Media, Loon Pastors with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2010 by loonwatch
Tina Anderson

We have often heard about horror stories from Saudia Arabia where a woman is raped and along with her attacker is accused of committing fornication and then flogged or at least sentenced to be flogged. Some might think that this sort of thing could never happen anywhere else, but something equally egregious occurred here in the USA.

A Christian church found out that one of its parishioner raped a fellow parishioner twice, impregnating her. What did they do? They sheltered the rapist, made him apologize for raping the girl and made the girl apologize for becoming pregnant.

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Police: Girl raped, then relocated

After being raped and impregnated by a fellow churchgoer more than twice her age, a 15-year-old Concord girl was forced by Trinity Baptist Church leaders to stand before the congregation to apologize before they helped whisk her out of state, according to the police.

While her pastor, Chuck Phelps, reported the alleged rape in 1997 to state youth officials, Concord police detectives were never able to find the victim. The victim said she was sent to another church member’s home in Colorado, where she was home-schooled and not allowed to have contact with others her age. It wasn’t until this past February that the victim, who is now 28, decided to come forward after reading about other similar cases, realizing for the first time it wasn’t her fault that she had been raped, she told the police.

The police arrested Ernest Willis, 51, of Gilford, last week in connection with the case, accusing him of raping the girl twice – once in the back seat of a car he was teaching her to drive in and again after showing up at her Concord home while her parents were away. He was charged with four felonies – two counts of rape and two counts of having sex with a minor, court records show.

In a statement to the police, the victim said Willis came to her home in the summer of 1997 without warning.

“He said he wanted to talk to me about something so I let him in the house,” she wrote. “He locked the door behind him and pushed me over to the couch. I had a dress on and he pulled it off. I pushed my hands against his shoulders and said ‘No,’ but he didn’t stop.”

At the time of the alleged rape, Phelps was in touch with the police, who told him to contact the Division for Children, Youth and Families.

But moving the girl out of state prevented the police from collecting evidence or a statement, the police said yesterday.

“Without a victim, it makes it very difficult to have a case,” said Lt. Keith Mitchell. “That basically made the investigation very difficult.”

At the time, Willis also refused to give a statement, police records show.

So for 13 years, a file on the case sat closed and marked “unresolved” at the Concord police station.

Police records do not show whether detectives asked church leaders to help them get in contact with the victim or if information was withheld.

“If somebody tried to cover this up or not cover this up, that’s a separate issue,” Mitchell said.

Phelps did not return a message seeking comment yesterday. He no longer works at the church.

“The leadership of Trinity Baptist Church reported this alleged crime within 24 hours of hearing the accusations on Oct. 8, 1997,” said spokesman Peter Flint from a prepared statement. “We continue in our commitment to cooperate with authorities so that justice is served.”

‘Completely in shock’

The victim said she came forward after getting in touch with Jocelyn Zichterman, who runs an online group for victims of church abuse.

In a seven-page statement to the police, the victim recounted the moments leading up to her departure from New Hampshire.

At 14, she began babysitting for Willis, a well-known member of the church. She told the police she would often stay the night if he got home late.

Just over a year later, he offered to give her driving lessons. While in the parking lot of a Concord business, Willis asked her to pull over to switch seats, she told the police.

But instead he pulled her into the backseat and raped her, according to a statement to the police.

In the summer of 1997, Willis raped her again, this time while at her home while her mother was out, according to police records.

“I was completely in shock, but too scared to go and tell anyone because I thought I would get blamed for what happened,” she said.

Over the next few months, the girl became suspicious she was pregnant. She called Willis, who brought over a pregnancy test that came up positive, she told the police.

“He asked me if I wanted him to take me to a neighboring state where underage abortions were legal . . . and he would pay for an abortion,” she told the police. “He then asked me if I wanted him to punch me in the stomach as hard as he could because that might cause a miscarriage.”

She declined both.

‘Church discipline’

The victim told her mother about the pregnancy. Soon after, Phelps was also alerted.

The victim said Phelps told her she would be put up for “church discipline,” where parishioners go before the congregation to apologize for their sins.

She asked why. “Pastor Phelps then said that (Willis) may have been 99 percent responsible, but I needed to confess my 1 percent guilt in the situation,” the victim told the police.

“He told me that I should be happy that I didn’t live in Old Testament times because I would have been stoned.”

Fran Earle, the church’s former clerk, witnessed the punishment session.

At a night meeting of the church’s fellowship in 1997, Phelps invited Willis to the front of the room. Willis apologized to the group for not being faithful to his wife, Earle said.

“I can remember saying to my husband, I don’t understand it’s any of our business why this is being brought up,” Earle said.

Phelps then told parishioners a second matter was at hand; he invited the victim to apologize for getting pregnant.

“I can still see the little girl standing up there with this smile on her face trying to get through this,” Earle said.

A day after the session, Earle called the pastor’s wife, who said the victim had decided not to press charges for statutory rape.

“You’ve got to understand, we trusted our pastor and his wife to be telling us the truth,” Earle said. “They told us it had been reported. He reported it as a consensual act between a man and a woman. Well, I didn’t know a 15-year-old was a woman.”

Earle, who left the church in 2001 after 19 years, said it was regular to see young girls who were pregnant called to the front of the congregation to be humiliated.

Rob Sims, another former member, said the discipline sessions were formulaic – Phelps would read Bible verses, give a limited overview of what happened and then each person would read a statement.

“(The) statement agreed that they had done wrong and why they ‘now believed’ that they had sinned,” he said. “Then Pastor Phelps would give a few closing remarks and then a vote would be taken to remove the guilty party from membership or to keep them in membership but under discipline, or something to that effect.”

The police said the victim’s family asked for her to be moved to Colorado.

“I think that she clearly did not want to go to Colorado, and I’m quite sure she expressed that to the church, her mother and the pastor,” said Concord police Detective Chris DeAngelis. “However, she was a juvenile. Her mom requests assistance and that was what they came up with.”

Mitchell said the police are looking at pressing other charges.

Willis was released on $100,000 personal recognizance bail. He faces an arraignment June 16 in Concord District Court.

Trent Spiner can be reached at 369-3306 or tspiner@cmonitor.com