Like many other Americans, I was appalled to learn about Fox News host Eric Bolling’s disgusting joke about United Arab Emirates pilot Major Mariam Al Mansouri. Mansouri was in the news last week, for being the UAE’s first ever female fighter pilot. Having waited 10 years, before finally being permitted to join. Prior to Mansouri, women were not allowed to become fighter pilots in the UAE military.
After the story was brought up on Fox News, Eric Bolling made the comment “Would that be considered boobs on the ground, or no?”. My friend Khaleed Shaheen first told me about the situation, and I was absolutely furious. Couldn’t believe a major news agency like this would actually make a comment that’s so clearly inappropriate and disrespectful.
The joke followed criticism of President Obama for saluting one of his marine guards, while holding a latte in the same hand. Bolling called out Obama for being totally disrespectful to the troops who volunteer to defend their country.
Apparently, disrespect doesn’t matter if the troop happens to be female.
Of course the joke was met with widespread outrage. Justifiably, Bolling was forced to apologize on air for the comment. His apology:
I want to go back to last night, about this time I made a joke. When I got home, I got the look and I realized some people didn’t think it was funny at all. I said sorry to my wife and I apologize to all of you as well, I just want to make that very clear.
But, very predictably, this was not enough, prompting several United States veterans to pen an open letter to Fox News, about Eric Bolling’s comments. The letter read:
Dear Mr. Bolling and Mr. Gutfeld,
We are veterans of the United States armed forces, and we are writing to inform you that your remarks about United Arab Emirates Air Force Major Mariam Al Mansouri were unwarranted, offensive, and fundamentally opposed to what the military taught us to stand for.
First, foremost, and most obvious to everyone other than yourselves, your remarks were immensely inappropriate. Your co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle was so right to call attention to an inspiring story of a woman shattering glass ceilings in a society where doing so is immeasurably difficult. We never heard an answer to her question: why did you feel so compelled to “ruin her thing?”
As it turns out, women have been flying combat aircraft since before either of you were born. Over 1,000 Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) flew during World War II. Seeing as U.S. Army Air Forces Commander “Hap” Arnold said “Now in 1944, it is on the record that women can fly as well as men,” we can probably guess he thought their parking was adequate. The WASP legacy reaches into the present day; on 9/11, then Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney scrambled her F-16. Completely unarmed, she was ready to lay down her own life to prevent further devastating attacks on American soil.
Thus the skill of women as fighter pilots is well established. And before you jump to the standby excuse that you were “just making a joke” or “having a laugh,” let the men amongst our number preemptively respond: You are not funny. You are not clever. And you are not excused. Perhaps the phrase “boys will be boys”—inevitably uttered wherever misogyny is present—is relevant. Men would never insult and demean a fellow servicemember; boys think saying the word ‘boobs’ is funny.
The less obvious implication of your remarks, however, is that by offending an ally and cheapening her contribution, you are actively hurting the mission. We need to send a clear message that anyone, male or female, who will stand up to ISIS and get the job done is worthy of our respect and gratitude.
We issue an apology on your behalf to Major Al Mansouri knowing that anything your producers force you to say will be contrived and insincere. Major, we’re sincerely sorry for the rudeness; clearly, these boys don’t take your service seriously, but we and the rest of the American public do.
U.S. Army: Michael Breen, Richard Wheeler, Aryanna Hunter, Welton Chang, Michael Smith, Matt Runyon, Jon Gensler, Scott Holcomb, Terron Sims II, Josh Weinberg, Daniel Savage, Matt Pelak, LaRue Robinson, Anthony Woods, Dustin Cathcart, Kayla Williams, Dan Espinal, Jonathan Hopkins, Andy Moore, Kevin Johnson, Brett Hunt, Russell Galeti, Mick Crnkovich, Jonathan Freeman, Dan Hartnett, Dan Futrell, Matt Zeller, Jason Cain, Adam Tiffen, Sharmistha Mohpatra, Justin Graf, Lach Litwer.
U.S. Navy: Shawn VanDiver, Andrea Marr, Kristen Kavanaugh, Leo Cruz, Scott Cheney-Peters, Margot Beausey, Tony Johnson, Gail Harris, Alex Cornell du Houx.
U.S. Marine Corps: Geoff Orazem, Gordon Griffin, Timothy Kudo, Jonathan Murray, Richard Weir, Rob Miller, Sonia Fernandez, John Margolick, Katelyn Geary van Dam, Rob Bracknell, Andrew Borene, William Allen.
U.S. Air Force: Kelsey Campbell, Erik Brine, Chris Finan, Robert Mishev, Karen Courington.
U.S. National Guard: Kristen Rouse.
In the end, this is really not okay. Gender specific discrimination, especially from a reporter that was just criticizing Obama for his lack of respect in the face of American soldiers, is totally unacceptable. I expect more from journalists in America.
Especially “journalists” that are regular facets of a major news network like Fox.