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Time Editor Richard Stengel Frets About America's 'Islamophobia,' 'Ignorance'

Time magazine editor Richard Stengel on Thursday appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe to bemoan the United States' "ignorance" towards Muslims and to wonder, "Is America Islamophobic?" That particular question is also on the front cover of the current issue of Time.

Leaving only two options, Stengel lectured host Joe Scarborough, "I mean, the extent of the ignorance- where you parse Islamophobia versus ignorance of Islam, I'm not exactly sure. But there is tremendous ignorance of Islam as a religion." Declaring that Christianity Judaism and Islam have great similarities, he derided, "And I think, you know, the American misconception about Islam is amazing."

Scarborough, at times, seemed to go along with the contention that America is Islamophobic. He complained, "As a country, this sort of hatred was visited upon the Irish...the Germans, Jews."

He did, however, offer one contrarian perspective during the segment, pointing out, "I've just got to say, though, too, also, because everybody likes jumping up and down on this. About 33 percent of Americans believe that George W. Bush was behind the 9/11 attack."

A transcript of the August 18 segment, which aired at 7:45am EDT, follows:

JOE SCARBOROUGH: So, anyway, what's on the cover of Time magazine this week?

RICHARD STENGEL: Well, what is on the cover of Time magazine this week is the subject we're all talking about, but that we broadened out into a larger topic. And, basically, it's a very provocative question: Is America Islamophobic? Is the crisis and the furor of what's going on down at 9/11 [sic] with building the mosque, how does that represent and play across the rest of the country?

SCARBOROUGH: Are we?

STENGEL: Because there are new mosques being built than ever and ever across the country. There has been increasing examples of intolerance and hatred towards Muslims around America.

SCARBOROUGH: So, are we?

STENGEL: Well, you be the judge, okay? So, we did a poll, you know, 28 percent of Americans think that Muslims should not be allowed to serve on the Supreme Court. About a similar number believe Muslims should not be allowed to be president. The- A majority of people who are against the building of the mosque downtown. At the same time, 55 percent of Americans say they would like to have mosques built in their own community. The poll is kind of beautiful reflection of American diversity. Because people like Muslims in particular but think Muslims- They have lots of misperceptions about the religion. And, in fact, we have an extraordinary quote from Franklin Thomas [sic]- I'm sorry. From Franklin Graham basically saying that Islam is a religion of hatred and you shouldn't build mosques anywhere and they believe in the violent domination of other religions. This is Frank Graham, the son of Billy Graham. I mean-

SCARBOROUGH: Is that a recent quote? Quote for you guys?

STENGEL: That was a quote in today's Time magazine from yesterday.

SCARBOROUGH: Franklin Graham saying that mosques shouldn't be allowed to be built in America?

STENGEL: No. He didn't say that. But, he said- he said it's a religion of hatred. He said they seek global domination and the violent domination of other religions. I mean, the extent of the ignorance- where you parse Islamophobia versus ignorance of Islam, I'm not exactly sure. But there is tremendous ignorance of Islam as a religion. And, again, to talk about, about Frank, you know, you know Islam is one of three great Abrahamic religions based on teaching of Abraham. You know, Judaism, Christianity, Islam. I mean, the similarities far outweigh their differences. And I think, you know, the American misconception about Islam is amazing. Plus we have stats in the story, which was written by Bobby Ghosh, our former Baghdad correspondent- Terrific, terrific story- about the perception of Obama's religion. I mean, 47, only 47 percent of Americans think he is Christian and more than 40 percent of Republicans think that he is Muslim. It's kind of amazing.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: There it is in the Post, Norah.

NORAH O'DONNELL: I mean, it's the Pew study also says one in five think Obama is Muslim. You've got it at 24 percent of Americans think that he is Muslim.

SCARBOROUGH: I've got to say, too- I've just got to say, though, too, also, because everybody likes jumping up and down on this. About 33 percent of Americans believe that George W. Bush was behind the 9/11 attack. So, we have a healthy one third-

BRZEZINSKI: Healthy dose of ignorance.

SCARBOROUGH: Healthy dose of ignorance on both sides.

STENGEL: By the way, this morning, speaking about George Bush 43 one of the things that we write about in our story. And this is talking about how incredibly stalwart he was about saying that Islam was not a religion of hate, it was a religion of peace. He visited mosques on many occasions. President Obama has yet to go to a mosque as president. I mean, one of the hallmarks of Bush's presidency in this regard was the fact that he really did draw the line on that.

SCARBOROUGH: Isn't that an irony? Maureen Dowd, we read the column yesterday. Maureen Dowd, Norah, said how fascinating it was that Bush showed mere leadership in this area than a progressive president And she also cited Chris Christie and Michael Bloomberg and basically said get on board.

O'DONNELL: George W. Bush was the first president to use the word mosque in an inaugural address.

STENGEL: Wow.

O'DONNELL: I mean, significance outreach to Muslim Americans and so that's why there are a number Americans where Ed Gillespie or David Winston who is a poll sister saying Republicans watch where you go on this discussion about a mosque, of painting all Muslims as extremists.

SCARBOROUGH: As a country, Rick, let's talk about this. As a country, this sort of hatred was visited upon the Irish-

STENGEL: Right.

SCARBOROUGH: -the Germans, Jews.

STENGEL: Right. Right.

SCARBOROUGH: I mean, you can go through it. And don't we know how this story ends? Don't we know that Muslims are like- America is this huge- it is a melting pot.

STENGEL: Right.

-Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.