Quotes from The Al Roney show, WGY 810AM : Robert Mirch v. Wafaa Bilal

What follows are some choice quotes from the Al Roney show were Wafaa Bilal and Robert Mirch talked about Wafaa’s art piece and Mirch’s planned protest. I’ve decided not to include caller’s comments at this point. They deserve to be highlighted in an entirely different fashion.

You can get the transcripts, if you like (.doc format).


Al Roney:: Robert Mirch says, he is disgusted that they’re going to host this exhibition that includes a virtual videogame portrayal of a suicide-bomber sent to assassinate President Bush and his quote is, “It’s completely inappropriate for any organization in Troy to stage an exhibit that features a portrayal of a suicide-bomber sent to kill the President. The Sanctuary For Independent Media should cancel this exhibit immediately allowing for the portrayal of the assassination of a President to be staged is wrong, un-American and destructive. I support free speech, but this exhibit goes beyond the bounds of what is decent or acceptable.”


Wafaa Bilal: I don’t know Al, I don’t know if that is true, because whenever I talk about the war in Iraq, it seems [xx] people are very polarized. Either you are {of} the President Bush, either you are with us or you are with the terrorists. And it’s — the issue is not that simple. Let’s disagree with each other, but the disagreement has to go to a second level of a dialogue. We cannot pretend this doesn’t exist. We cannot say we are anti-war, but we like it too. There’s so many conflicting things at play here and I think people need to understand. If the war is wrong, they have to voice their opinion to stop it. It’s not enough to say, “Well, the war is wrong and our government is right, doing the right thing.” There is a contradictory here and hypocrisy and I think people need to understand it is waged in their name and it would never stop because somebody is benefit [xx] and I don’t want it to water down the issue to just one — the war to one or two issues here, but I think what’s at stake here is our democracy in this country and the bigger issue our stand in the world. If we are the world leader, if United States is the world leader, it has to act as a world leader and people have to engage, otherwise, there are so many crimes have been done against other nations in the name of the people here. And I think people are closing their ears and eyes, saying, “We don’t hear this”.


Wafaa Bilal: Well, I think people have the right to protest and they — as much as I have the right to protest, they should give me the right to show my work and come and talk. And I think Robert Mirch is absolutely wrong when labeling art as terrorist or terrorism. He is, I think, he is completely wrong and went out of his way that show me how extreme people could be and unfortunately, people on top, the leadership, supposed to be open-minded and supposed to bring people to their consensus, talk to each other and I think Robert, by labeling art as terrorism is extremely unfortunate and extremely dangerous.


Robert Mirch: Well thanks for having me and good morning and I agree with virtually everything you said and I thank you for your service to our country. And I agree, this is part of the two-way street of freedom of speech, where I disagree, I think this video Mr. — I’m not sure how to pronounce his last name? Bayal?


Robert Mirch: OK, I’m just – it’s hard for me to understand him, I’m sorry. Well, the [xx] is… A), I have not seen the game, B) I only know about you from what I’ve read in the paper and I’ve seen on TV.


Robert Mirch: What I was saying is you’re missing the very center of freedom of speech. If in my view I believe and I do, your video is a piece of terrorism, I’m allowed to say that just as you’re allowed to go out and say the things that you’re saying that you want to open up dialog. Well this is part of the dialog. From my point of view this dialog is that a video showing play a game to assassinate the President of the United States in my view is nothing but terrorism. You can call it art, I can call it terrorism and therein lies our disagreement.


Wafaa Bilal: We’re so bombarded by images and news to the point we become desensitized for it and some people don’t even understand, there is a war is being waged in Iraq. And let’s be realistic when we said, when you said people, nobody likes war in this country, I completely disagree, when we ever did not wage war in the history of this country, always, because I am not talking about the people here, I am talking about leaderships. Leadership who wage war to either get a personal benefit from it or to get more control and I wanted to speak to the people even though the message may irritate them, may educate them, but that is and to my right to speak that is a peaceful process meant to engage and I think you calling the process is greatly unfortunate while what you should do is to call people to support this.


Wafaa Bilal: Yeah, I mean — let me go back a little bit and answer the guy who said this is not art. Well, that’s his opinion and I don’t see he is an expert in that. But that’s I think besides the point and then he is missing the point — I didn’t object to the FBI or the CIA to come and investigate me. That’s their right to protect the citizen of this nation including me. But also I’m outraged by the censorship of RPI, not the censorship of the FBI. Let’s face it. FBI, the CIA, the Homeland Security did not censor me, but what censored me is an educational institution is supposed to give me the right of a peaceful person to put my art out there and to share it with others.


Al Roney: They flipped the game over, you took the game that they did and then inserted yourself as the character, so you’re not the complete originator of the game, you’re the modifier of the game.

Wafaa Bilal: Exactly, and that’s why it’s my way to protest terrorism ….

Robert Mirch: That’s insanity.

Wafaa Bilal: I’m saying because of the war, unfortunately Iraq become safe haven for terrorists group like Al-Qaeda, which I very much don’t support at all. Not their rhetoric, not their message, not their approach as well.


Wafaa Bilal: I’m sorry Bob, I didn’t interrupt you so — I let you talk and now you have to let me talk. This is the second time you provoked and make a parallel between the game and the terrorist attack on 9/11. I completely did not support or agree with the attack. I thought it is and I believe it was an act of terrorism, but let’s be clear, this as a piece of art, does not support terrorism and it’s a protest. So I’m really sorry to see leaders that still provoking the feeling out of September 11, every time we try to speak our mind here. This is very dangerous turn for this country. We become so afraid about talking — talking about any issue that attacks our freedom and democracy and whenever we speak against, whenever we are trying to gain our democracy back, we get back pushed in the corner and 9/11 is provoked.


Wafaa: Bob, you don’t represent America, you don’t represent America the way I know it.

Bob: I represent me.

Wafaa: Yeah, exactly, so, speak of yourself, don’t speak of America, don’t [xx].

Bob: Well, I’ll appreciate if you don’t tell me…

Wafaa: I’m proud to be an American. I was rotting in the desert when United States of America gave me a second chance in life and that’s what I don’t want to lose. I’m proud to be an American and ashamed for what to see people like you putting the wrong rhetoric and instigate and heat [xx].


Wafaa: And I’m saying it goes to a bigger issue, I am saying let United States of America start supporting dictatorships, and that’s where the most anger is coming out from in the Middle-east. You have so many countries dictators are imposed on them in the Middle-east and United States is supporting these dictators and the dictators are doing very good job in directing the anger against United States, not against their regimes.


Al: Well let me ask Bob this question. Bob you’re not planning on going down there and throwing rocks or stones or causing any mayhem, right?

Bob: No we just plan on having some signs, some American flags and giving our point of view to us.

Wafaa: Al, thank you very much for asking this because that was my second question to Bob, I have not heard him saying its going to be a peaceful protest and I would appreciate very much for him to say that on the air because essentially I was a little bit afraid of what’s going to happen tonight and I appreciate of Bob very much if he could tell his supporter to be peaceful.


Wafaa: I greatly appreciate the comment and I need to let the listener know two hours later as the planes hit on 9/11 I was in the hospital in Chicago donating blood. So I am a citizen of this country and as I said I am proud of it.


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