Smiley terrorism comments prompt letters to PBS ombudsman

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PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler takes on comments on Tavis Smiley’s show that have created a bit of a buzz in the conservative blogosphere. In his May 25 program Smiley interviewed Avaan Hirsi Ali, a former member of the Dutch parliament. Ali said that radicalized Islamist terrorists “got into their minds that to kill other people is a great thing to do and that they would be rewarded in the hereafter.” Smiley replied, “But Christians do that every single day in this country.” Ali: “Do they blow people up?” Smiley: “Yes. Oh, Christians, every day, people walk into post offices, they walk into schools, that’s what Columbine is — I could do this all day long.” But as Getler points out, the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado had nothing to do with Christianity. Smiley issued a statement saying in part that he and Ali “agreed that people have always found ways to use religion to justify heinous acts. Where we disagreed was that followers of any one religion are predisposed to violence. Unfortunately, history has shown us that believers of all stripes have been misguided. As a follower of that first-century Palestinian Jew named Jesus, I abhor violence in the name of religion. It is intolerable under any circumstances.”

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