I recently responded to a comment made by Chief Mate Shane Murphy of the Maersk Alabama, which was taken hostage by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden on April 8th, 2009. Mr. Murphy dropped by Maggie's Notebook and left a reply to my blog post.
Once back to the homeland, Murphy made some comments critical of Rush Limbaugh's coverage of the hijacking, and the emotional hours that ensued as Maersk Alabama Captain Richard Phillips was held hostage in a lifeboat with four pirates.
As background, Chief Mate Shane Murphy accused Rush of "trying to make this [hijacking] into a race issue."
Here are Mr. Murphy's comments:
"It feels great to be home," said Murphy in an interview with WCBV in Boston. "It feels like everyone around here has my back, with the exception of Rush Limbaugh, who is trying to make this into a race issue...that's disgusting."I responded with a blog post, defending Rush's statement that included the words "Black Muslim teenagers." You can read it here.
"You gotta get with us or against us here, Rush," Murphy said. "The president did the right thing...It's a war.... It's about good versus evil. And what you said is evil. It's hate speech. I won't tolerate it."
Mr. Murphy responded back to me, with the following comment on my blog post:
This is Shane Murphy the Chief Mate from the Alabama. I know the four men that came into my home with automatic weapons were black, I don't' know what their religion is. I don't' care really. Assumptions about people are dangerous. Don't assume I'm a liberal. I love and Respect George Bush and am one of his die hard supports. I'd like to think if he gave the order to save Captain Phillips he' be viewed as a hero as well. Mr. Bush is not a racist, he's proven that throughout his life. I probably do need to grow up politically, I sail half the year and the other half I watch movies sports or play with my boys. I don't listen to Limbaugh's program. I know he has a lot of loyal followers, many of whom I consider close friends. Don't assume anything about me and where I"m from, nobody knows my soul and what I've lived or experienced. What can I say you caught me on a bad day, I just got home after being HIJACKED by PIRATES yes thats not a story that really happened to me. I just want the other hostages to be set free, and to come up with a long term solution to the problem. I'm willing to help, sign me up, but aint' it great to live in a country where I can have my opinion, and the people that really know me, know that regardless of what was said, I detected race baiting. Baiting is something I know a thing or two about, and when you're trying to catch a fish, it's all in the bait. I'm just not falling for that one. Rush needs to be more carefull with his words, he has a powerfull voice and he can sway opinion one way or another, I don't mind an open discussion but lets stick to issues, this is not about race, it's about changing the culture of fear. I could easily close my door and tell people to read the news, but thats not being reported correctly, I'll tell the world what happened, and I'll tell it my way. I'm no politician, I'm a seaman and I can walk the street anywhere in the world and find a friend. We are ambassadors of America and I'm telling as someone who spends some time outside the country our image could use a makeover. This is a good story lets keep it out of the gutter, and honor the families that lived it and be greatfull that the support and will of the American people brought this to a quick ending. God Bless America.Mr. Murphy got it right...this is a war, and it is about good versus evil. The Huffington Post report on Murphy's comments to WCBV said Murphy was responding to this comment from Rush:
"He was worried about the order he had given to wipe out three teenagers on the high seas," Limbaugh said. "Black Muslim teenagers."One of my points Mr. Murphy, was that President Obama DOES NOT see Somali pirate hijackings as a war - so the President would disagree with you on that. A second point was that these men were teenagers, they were Black and the chances that they are Muslim are much greater than that they are not Muslim. The CIA Factbook doesn't even bother delineating religion in Somalia by percentages. It just says that Somali's "Religions" are Sunni Muslim" - there are no other religions there, and it is interesting to note that with the failure of a central government, the Somali's may be governed by "traditional Somali customary law, or Sharia (Islamic) law."
Mr. Murphy, you stated that you do not care about the religion of the pirates, and you make the point that "assumptions about people are dangerous." I think what you are missing, Mr. Murphy, and I say this with the greatest respect, is that we can and should make assumptions about criminals and terrorists, Muslims or not, who invade your sanctity or mine. If the likelihood is that the pirates are Muslim, and we know that radical Islam is behind many piracy's, then we should identify them as Muslim. If they are Black or Caucasian or Asian or Hispanic, it is reasonable to identify them as such. The politically correct stance is that these are starving young men who only want to eat, and feed their families. While it may be that simple, it probably isn't.
Chief Mate Murphy took exception to Limbaugh's assertion that had President Bush shot these teenage Black men in the open seas,
"I guarantee there would be hell to pay and war crime trials."Mr. Murphy, you have said you would
"like to think "if he [President Bush] gave the order to save Captain Phillips he'd be viewed as a hero as well."That's just not reality. The Obama administration is considering hauling Bush and his administration's officials into court for supposed "torture" techniques that didn't even come close to killing those being interrogated. Does it matter that terror plots were interrupted because of the intelligence gained? No, it doesn't matter. What does matter to this administration is that America "shape up," because this is a country to be apologized for. What matters is that we respect the terrorists and take the interrogators to court. That's just one more way to make apologies to the world. Each and everyone of those interrogated enemies are Muslim - radical Islamics. They are out to destroy our way of life. They hate us. They were heeding the call of their holy book.
In August 2008, Jihad Watch reported on "monetary jihad" and Somali pirates. EVEN the always-liberal Reuters reported on an "explosion" of piracy to funneling "hefty ransom payments to Islamic rebels...." That quote came a "maritime official." There is a lot of information about jihadist ties to Somali piracy. A google search yields some 268,000 results.
The spike in attacks at sea has coincided with a rise in assaults on land by radical al-Shabaab insurgents, including the capture on Friday of Somalia's strategic southern port Kismayu.
The article goes on to explain that many of the pirates are considered "local celebrities," and their new-found avenue to wealth had allowed them to live lavishly, which includes "marrying extra wives," and driving "flashy cars." The Koran explains that all of this is okay when you are abusing an infidel. In otherwords, they are heeding the call of their holy book.
The United States say al-Shabaab is a terrorist group with close ties to al Qaeda. Experts say some of the businessmen and warlords who command the pirates are also funding the rebels.
"The entire Somali coastline is now under control of the Islamists," Andrew Mwangura, head of the East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme, told Reuters in an interview.
"According to our information, the money they make from piracy and ransoms goes to support al-Shabaab activities onshore."
You have cautioned me to not assume anything about you because I do not know your "soul" or the experiences you have lived. To be fair, I assumed little, except that you were probably liberal. I knew you were young, so that was not an assumption. I think it fair, however, to assume that you meant what you said - Limbaugh was racist and disgusting and participated in hate speech.
Rush Limbaugh can say the same back to you - don't assume that he doesn't recognize good versus evil, and certainly do not assume that he uses hate speech or is a racist. There's such a thing as "context." You've said you do not listen to him. If you did, you would know that he is among the staunchest champions of human rights you'll find, regardless of race, color or creed. Without putting words in Rush's mouth, I see him as believing each of us must be responsible, do the most that we can do, and do it the best that we can. That is the way we pursue happiness, as guaranteed in our founding documents. We are not guaranteed that we will each achieve equal success. I heard Rush pummel many, but never based solely on color or ethnicity. If you listen to him long enough, you realize that he really does want everyone to be the best they can be, and you also learn that he is not tolerant of parasites.
Rush wasn't "baiting" anyone [my opinion]. I heard his comments. He is just brave enough, and serious enough about what he is doing, to say what absolutely none of the mainstream media will say...radical Islam is coddled by the politically correct. Rush will say it because radical Islam is an enormous threat to the entire world. It is critically important that America understand the threat. We cannot get around the many Islamic terrorist attacks attacks that were practically ignored before September 11, 2001.
That's what this is about, Mr. Murphy, and from your vantage point, I understand why you can't see it. You were, as you say, in your home and you were invaded. It was criminal - and you don't care the color of their skin or their religion. I really do understand that, but from the vantage point of those of us who are out here watching, every day - intently watching, just as you intently watch the open ocean ahead of you, or the port you are pulling into - we see the pattern, over and over and over. IF your hijacking was not connected to radical Islam, that is as improbable as it is probable - and no one will ever know the complete truth. You have the right to see it how you want to see it, as do I. This was an international event. It happened to you but it affected everyone who cares about violence against the West.
I do believe that you are a mighty ambassador for America. I am not of the mind, though, that America's image needs repair. You may see hate for America, but the truth is, America is the most benevolent country in the world. We are heads and shoulders above any other country. In Africa alone, our HIV/AIDS funds have had a tremendous affect in saving lives, although not slowing down the transmission of the disease. We needn't even mention the massive food and agricultural aid we provide, the healthcare we provide, the education we support. I do believe America is a force for good in this world. Just look at the cargo you were carrying. Someone bought and paid for it - either the taxpayers through the government or private enterprise, which is also funded by the taxpayer. The best way for all of us to raise the image of America, when among American haters, is to hold our heads high and testify to her greatness by defending her - just knowing a few facts gives us plenty to testify with. The truth is, everyone in these disadvantage lands would be here if they could. The want what you have.
You've asked that we honor the families involved. America grieved for these families, and most importantly, we prayed for these families. We thought about the many hidden somewhere on the Somali coast - hijacked individuals with families of their own. As you said, your captivity was short but many are kept for months, maybe years, against their will. It is time to end that scenario once and for all. That may not happen though because it isn't politically correct, so people in your industry will have to find a way to protect yourselves.
You've asked that we stick to the issues because this is not about race. The issue is, the Maersk Alabama was hijacked, and because you and your brave crew took action, you are not hidden away in the bowels of Somalia somewhere, wondering if and when you will be ransomed-out or rescued in some unbelievable act of bravery. Many Americans are fed-up with the terrorist motivations behind the attacks on the West and our culture. Many of us want to fight back against terrorism in all of it's forms and natures. Somali pirates are one of those forms. In Somalia, Islam rules - and that's one of the natures of the terrorism behind Somali piracy.
When you made your comments, the press loved it, and they hate Rush Limbaugh. It was a gleeful moment for them. Your comments about Rush were harsh. I believe exactly as Rush does and I'm not alone, so I take it personally when one of the few among us has the courage to tell the hard truth, and then is accused of evil hate speech. I intend to do my small part in standing up for Lady Liberty's warriors.
I thank you for coming by to clarify your position. I do understand that you had many more bad days than good ones for awhile. I do understand that you were a very busy man while we were close by the radio and television to catch every bit of information available. I am grateful that you and the crew of the Maersk Alabama lived through this terrible event. I am grateful that you are free to speak out. You have every right to do so. May God bless you and your family, Shane, and keep you safe in your journeys, and may God bless America.