Thursday, March 02, 2006

Is this like not knowing he was on comedy central satire news show....

Posted Thursday, March 02, 2006
SPRINGFIELD - As tempers flared at the state Capitol, Gov. Rod Blagojevich said Wednesday he didn't know he had appointed a Nation of Islam official to serve on a hate crimes commission until learning it from news reports.
Claudette Marie Muhammad was named to the commission last summer, but Blagojevich said he learned about it only in the last week or two after criticism of her appointment was discussed in news stories.
He nodded vigorously when asked if he wished his staff had discussed the appointment with him, but he would say little more.
"I don't know all the ins and outs and all the details of that appointment," he said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Meanwhile, one group of lawmakers demanded Muhammad repudiate racist and anti-Semitic remarks by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
Another member of the Governor's Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes, Lonnie Nasatir, said Blagojevich should ask for her resignation.
But black lawmakers said it was unfair to demand Muhammad speak out against her religious leader if other commission members aren't held responsible for the decisions and comments of their religious leaders. Catholic members, for instance, have not been asked to condemn their church's handling of child abuse cases, they said.
In an indication of the tense atmosphere, neither group of lawmakers would answer questions at their dueling news conferences.
Muhammad, who is the Nation of Islam's director of community outreach and Farrakhan's chief of protocol, issued a statement Wednesday saying she wants to "break down the barriers of hate and discrimination."
"I believe in fairness to all people regardless of race, creed, color, national origin or religious beliefs," she said.
Farrakhan often has attacked whites, Jews and gays over the years. At a speech over the weekend, he accused "Hollywood Jews" of "promoting lesbianism, homosexuality" and other "filth." He also said Zionists and conservatives manipulated President Bush into attacking Iraq.
Blagojevich condemned Farrakhan's comments. "They're wrong and hateful and they're harmful," he said.
But Blagojevich said he doesn't believe in "guilt by association" and wouldn't hold Muhammad responsible for her boss's comments, so long as she opposes discrimination and hate crimes.
"In a way, this is actually an opportunity to keep bridging differences and misunderstandings," he said.
His office did not immediately return calls Wednesday afternoon seeking comment on whether Muhammad's statement satisfies Blagojevich's concerns.
But in a statement of his own, Blagojevich said Muhammad had reaffirmed "her commitment to promoting tolerance and acceptance."
Rep. Sidney Mathias, a Buffalo Grove Republican and former member of the commission, said Muhammad should resign unless she condemns Farrakhan's comments.
Commission member Nasatir, a regional director for the Anti-Defamation League, said Muhammad should be removed because her leader is "promoting hate."
But others said she has served for months without showing any sign of being unfit for the commission.
Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago, said he was stunned that his colleagues "would take such a narrow-minded view and essentially attack a woman's integrity and character and her objectivity because she belongs to a group that they personally do not like and have never liked. To me it sort of hints to a little hypocrisy."