Posted by on June 30, 2010 in Blog

A Washington Post Style Section feature on Florida Democratic Senate Candidate Jeff Greene has garnered a lot of attention because of the many remarks attributed to him, including one insulting Islam and Muslims. Mr. Greene’s campaign responded quickly saying he was quoted out of context when he stated that the Quran contains, “…all kinds of this crazy stuff. I think, unfortunately, that’s motivating extremists.”

However, Greene’s highlighting of his complete remarks has only put his ignorance on further display, particularly when one considers the question posed by the voter.


“I don’t know what’s going on in the Muslim world. They are scaring me very much. Over in Europe, there are Muslims taking over the population. Here in America, they talk about building a mosque at the scene of the Twin Towers. What is your take on what’s going on, really, and what can be done if there is a bigger problem?”

Greene’s answer:

“I’m not an expert on Muslims. It is my understanding that there are 1.2 billion Muslims, and that about 200 million of them are pretty devout followers of parts of the Quran. Parts of it that say something like, everyone has a chance to accept Allah and Muhammad’s teachings and if they don’t the infidels must be killed, there’s all kinds of this crazy stuff. I think, unfortunately, that’s motivating extremists. Most Muslims are like everyone else in the world, they want peace. But there are people that follow some of those crazy teachings, you know, the suicide bombers.”

The only part that is correct is Greene’s acknowledgement that “I’m not an expert on Muslims.” The rest is gross caricature of the Quran and the faith of over a billion people – and a missed opportunity to educate when such a prejudicial question is posed to a candidate.

AAI President James Zogby stated, “With America engaged in two wars in the Muslim world and with critical national security interests at stake, the last thing we need is for candidates like Jeff Greene to deepen the divide and put us all at greater risk by displays of ignorance.” He added, “Greene just had his McCain moment. When a voter accused President Obama of being an “Arab” during a campaign rally in the 2008 presidential race, McCain responded by saying ‘No, ma’am. He is a decent family man.’ McCain failed to respond to the bigotry of the question then and Greene did the same now. That is truly unfortunate for all Florida voters, especially those that are Muslim.”

Dr James Zogby is president of the Arab American Institute, senior advisor to Zogby International (which conducts polling across the Arab world) and author of the forthcoming book Arab Voices: What They Are Saying to Us And Why It Matters (Palgrave-Macmillan, October 2010)