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Monday , 13 May 2013
You are here: Home > Featured > Michael Berry is why we can’t have nice things

Michael Berry is why we can’t have nice things

By Alan Smithee

Leon casino, Conservative talk show host, former Houston City Councilman and Mayor Pro-Tem Michael Berry opened his mouth and, once again, hurt the image of the City of Houston. On his show last week Berry was answering a caller that he described as “belligerent” who asked about a planned Islamic Cultural Center that was recently approved for construction near ground zero.

Instead of responding that he feels that opening a Cultural Center so close to the site of the World Trade Centers might allow for dialogue on Islam, the perceptions of Islam in the west as well as extremism and fundamentalism in faith; Berry, in his continued attempt to elevate American discourse, responded to the caller by saying,“I’ll tell you this — if you do build a mosque, I hope somebody blows it up.”

He went on to contribute to the ongoing debate about where this country is headed and what it means to be an American by adding, “I hope the mosque isn’t built, and if it is, I hope it’s blown up, and I mean that.”   Berry’s comments have, of course, generated heat from the progressive community. However,  Geoff Berg, host of KPFT’s Partisan Gridlock, has taken a different approach.

Berg is stating that Berry is only cynically portraying a bigot in order to boost ratings. I’ll leave whether or not Berry is portraying an ignorant racist simply to increase listeners alone, I will remind readers that this isn’t the first time that Berry’s big mouth has gotten him home water. In March 2007, when he was still a sitting City Councilman, Berry decided to wade in on the rights of Native Americans.

With his trademark nuance, Berry decided to resolve the vexing problem of what should our role and responsibility to the Native Americans be by saying, “We need to stop wasting all this time and energy apologizing to the American Indian, which we continue to do…we give them casinos, we give them special licenses, we give them special scholarships and why I don’t understand.”

He went on to make his case as an indigenous rights reformer by adding, ” we conquered them, that’s history - Hello ?  You got to be against giving welfare to the American Indians because of the fact , that 200 years ago they were whipped in a war. Lets just call it what it is, they lost a war.” The scary part of Berg’s theory that Berry isn’t a racist and that he only makes racist comments to attract an audience is that Berry is rewarded for this and that people actually agree with him.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is in favor of the construction of the Cultural Center. New York Magazine even found the idea of Berry advocating for the destruction of the cultural center to be humorous its idiocy. All I can offer is this: Mr. Berry please keep your mouth shut from now on. You are making the rest of us look bad. Here we are trying to make Houston a place that people want to come to, a place where people from all over the world and from every faith will feel welcome and want to spend money.We’re trying to make this city a place where cool people will be able to do cool things with other cool people without getting any shit for the way they look, who they want to go to bed with or who they voted for. And then you go and say something like this. Something that makes us all look bad and now the cool kids in NYC or LA or Portland will go on thinking we’re a bunch of rednecks.

Thanks Mike, no really. I mean that. We’ve worked so hard to be taken seriously as a civilized city. We have our own indie rock stars with Indian Jewelry, we gave hip-hop the idea to chop and screw the music,  we got a music festival that doesn’t feature Clint Black, hell we even have a lesbian mayor.  All of which will mean nothing if people like you keep shooting their mouths off about things you know nothing about and have no business commenting on. If the people in New York want an Islamic Cultural Center next to ground zero that’s their business.

Hell, if they want to build a 20-foot-tall, red, white and blue dong in the middle of ground zero and cover it wit a banner that reads: “NYC home to more sodomites than the rest of the country put together” that’s their business too. Stick to talking about Houston so the rest of the country can stick to ignoring you and we can stick to improving this city’s image.

Casinos Clint Black Islamic Cultural Center Native Americans NYC


  1. One paragraph would have gotten your point across. As is this column is just a whining diatribe by another, I am better than you, snob. Berry was wrong to have said something in the heat of the moment.I am sure that somebody who is as wonderful and all knowing as Alan Smithee has never said or done something that he would later regret.

  2. Native Houstonian since 1955, Let me tell something Alan Smitheeeee, nice name. You can take your opinion the last three paragraghs you wrote on tolit paper, apparently, and flush them and yourself and go back to where ever you came from. This was a good city to live in !! years ago before all these idiots moved here from who knows where. And if your talking about the people moving here to make this a cooool place are you talking about that garbage that was brought over here in buses from La. and dumped by the almighty Bill White then I guess your really proude of that. so my suggestion to you is shut your mouth pack your shi_ up and get the hell out of MY City!!! And that would make one less of you!!!!!!

  3. Please enlighten me, FreePress ! I saw your TV ad promoting the event next weekend tonight. It was accompanied by the national anthem of the former Soviet Union !!!!

    Care to explain why? (this ought to be good)

    By the way, which of our Illustrious president’s hip pockets is Free Press in?

    Honor me with a quick reply.


    Lila Greene

  4. Cassandra Buergel

    well obviously Mr. Berry is a true American. You, sir, are obviously a progressive. Which is a nice term for a Communist and anti-American. And that is why your ridiculous ‘opinion’ does not matter to anyone. If you truly feel the way you do, I suggest you move to China, where you will find people to be as like-minded as yourself. You should be very happy there. If you don’t like America, what it stands for, or respect the hell out of the Constitution, I formally invite you to LEAVE.

  5. Cassandra Buergel

    By the way, it is not racist to take issue with Islam. It is a fact that their religion calls for our extermination. And rewards them for accomplishing any feat that leads to this goal. When dealing with the survival of American citizens, to hell with political correctness. Don’t be weak, stand up for your country. Wait, you do realize you live in America, right???

  6. One associate at the firm I work at put the conservative viewpoint in a good way. She thinks that if they build the mosque, or the Islamic memorial, or whatever they wish to build, in a few decades this event in history will fade from peoples’ memories, and all that will be left is an Islamic memorial. With the passage of time, that action will actually end up triumphing over the memory of those American citizens that fell when radicals decided to try to kill and dishonor the US. She went as far as to say such an action will actually end up honoring terrorism.

    On another note, this progressive philosophy you espouse- to my knowledge- also includes tolerance of other viewpoints. Instead of adopting a polarized opposition to the other, shouldn’t you remain consistent to that philosophy and allow for opinions other than your own to be expressed?

    Berry’s comment might have been ill-explained, but to engage in an ad hominem attack is also dangerous. A more thoughtful approach might have been to give Barry the most charitable reading possible and then critique that.

  7. probably because it sounds rad and in the US you are FREE to do such things.

  8. I believe you should travel to Afghanistan and open a dialogue with muslims there. You’d probably end up bowing down to them, renouncing your faith (if you even have any), and submitting to sharia law just to avoid an argument with them.

    What if muslims built a mosque on the grounds of 9/11 and had a celebration there every 9/11? You’d probably try to explain that away as well.

    I believe that as Americans we have the freedom to do as we please within the confines of the law. So what if a mosque is built near ground zero of 9/11? That’s why this is America! BUT! Don’t uphold a double standard and come up with excuses for why catholics, christians, or jews can’t do the same things. Think about it this way: If a radical christian group blew up the mosque that is built and then some other christians buy the property and build a church on it what would you say about it?

    I’d love to hear what you have to say about the whole “Southpark” “Muhammad” and Comedy Central completely censoring an episode so “Muhammad” wouldn’t be shown or made fun of to appease muslims.

  9. What can I say, Berry is a violent, ass-backwards fucktard. His wannabe tough guy thing is tired and pathetic. And the people who defend him are just about the stupidest and most fucking annoying people around.

  10. Regardless of the point he’s trying to make, he should be making it like an adult. By no means do I agree with anything he’s saying but he’s entitled to his opinion. It’s just a question of why he has to approach the argument like a 3rd grader.

  11. While I do not agree with the belief that the mosque should be “blown up” I certainly agree with the belief that it should not be built in the first place. It is incredibly insensitive to the survivors of those who were murdered on 9-11-01. But that is only an aside to your editorial. The main topic of the piece is to “talk down” Michael Berry. What you don’t realize Mr. Smithee is that if you get outside of your circle, there are far more people who agree with Micheal Berry than there are that agree with you. You attempt to put us down by giving us the label of “Redneck”. Well, Mr. Smithee, I for one wear my “Redneck” title with honor. The term redneck came from the farmers who worked all day in the fields and they ended up with very red necks in process. Those with red necks where looked at as being uneducated and the only thing that they could do was work the fields. Well, I would much rather be a hard working “Redneck” than a welfare recipient any day of the week.

    Micheal Berry, if you read this, keep fighting the good fight brother. We WILL right the ship.

  12. I thought they buried a pig on that site and it was moot point now. Don’t remember who said that….was a while back. Surprised to see this is still an issue.

  13. So, if I understand this correctly, the name of this publication is Free Press Houston. Does that mean that only this publication has the right to say what they feel and believe and it’s not OK for anyone else to express their opinion? Should Michael start calling himself Free Speach Michael? Seems to me that you, along with everyone else who calls themselves “progressive”, get your panties in a bunch when somebody does or says something you don’t agree with. Y’all want to chastise people who don’t fall in to your line of thinking. Y’all throw out words like “racist” way too freely and way too often. Oh don’t let me forget “violent”(thanks for reminding me of that “local”) at least the other people who commented had the balls to use their real name. In all of your hateful spewings, you seem to forget that in this GREAT COUNTRY it is, and here’s another word y’all love to use, TOLERATED by LAW that we as Americans have the right to say what we feel and believe. If you are so “progressive” in your thinking why do you want to censor someone who doesn’t agree with you. Sounds to me sir, that the people in talk radio now a days are the true definition of the word progressive. They allow people on their shows with differing opinions than theirs and have the guts to speak with them and tell them how they feel as opposed to publishing it in print. Maybe sir you and the rest of the “progressives” you seem to so proudly stand by, need to re-read the definition of that word. In your minds it’s OK for you to say what you feel, or believe how you believe, but God forbid someone disagrees with you or has a different opinion. Those people are just idiots huh? I mean how dare they not agree with everything you say or do? What’s lost in all of that is the hypocrisy you and everyone like you promote. Is it not hypocritical for you to say “non progressives” are wrong because we don’t agree with you, while at the same time, it is not wrong for you not to agree with us?

    If you can actually answer this question for me sir it would be a first because this is not the first time I have asked this question. In the mean time I wish you success in your endeavors, be it in print or the spoken word, because sir that is why this country is the greatest country in the history of this world. You have the right to say and write what you like and feel without repercussion and I have the right to disagree with you. Maybe one day people of your ilk will come to understand this fact and stop the incessant hateful speech that makes you look a lot more ignorant that you probably are.

  14. Ha Ha Ha.

    I’d just like to point out Marty that this was written over a year ago and the rest of the western world has moved on. I’m likely the only person who will read your comment and that’s only because I just happened to be moderating comments. But I’m glad to know someone’s still having fits about this long buried post after all this time.

    Keep the faith bro,


  15. RamonLP4, looks like someone else came and read the article as well. Just so you know, the rest of the western world has not moved on and I am sure if your mother died on 9/11 you wouldn\’t have either. But hey what do I know…

  16. Seems like I touched a bit of a nerve admin or RamonLP4 or whoever you are. I don’t care who else reads this. I was writing it to YOU. This was my first time reading this article and it shouldn’t matter when this was written, just the fact that it was deserved a response. I wanted a question answered from you and you dodged it. That does not surprise me, and neither does your response.

    I’ll keep the faith as long as you still stay classy bro,


  17. Marty and JP,

    I haven’t read the article but from what I could tell it had to do with Michael Berry whose views I could give two shits about one way or the other. Whatever he said that sparked this article (yeah he’s really not worth my reading this article) is something that nobody (and I’ll bet money the author as well) could care about a year later.

    And Marty

    If you are writing TO me, you got the wrong guy. I was just moderating. I could care less about politics - it’s all bollocks. It’s a fucking game that has to do with power and nothing about what is best for the country. So I didn’t write the article, I’m not the editor, nor would I care about your views or the views of the author. So you won’t get an answer out of me for that simple reason.

    My point was simply it’s a year later and the world has moved on from Berry’s comments and the authors reaction. Both of you guys ought to do the same.

    The is beer to drink and women to drink it with; neither of which has anything to do with what either Amy Goodman or Rush Limbaugh have to say.

    Yours Truly

  18. i will start by stating i am a native american, as by definition I WAS BORN HERE! as for the indians, THERE WERE NO INDIGENOUS PEOPLES IN THE AMERICAS, before the indians migrated here. as to the muslims cultural center, it is no surprise they called it the cordova initiative, look it up, you wishy washy ignorant independents, and progressives. as for the muslim faith,
    • Omar M. Ahmad, founder of CAIR: “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant.” … “The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America , and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.”
    Does Islam, or does it not, force people by the power of the sword to submit to its authority corporeally if not spiritually?
    Yes. according to the quran, there are only three choices in Islam: either willing submission [i.e., conversion]; or payment of the jizya [poll-tax paid by non-Muslims], thereby bodily, though not spiritual, submission to the authority of Islam; or the sword—for it is not right to let him [an infidel] live.
    The matter is summed up for every person alive: either submit, or live under the suzerainty of Islam, or die…. Such, then, is the basis of the relationship between the infidel and the Muslim. Battle, animosity, and hatred—directed from the Muslim to the infidel—is the foundation of their religion.
    • “Allah is our objective; the Prophet is our leader; the Quran is our law; Jihad is our way; dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.” Muslim Brotherhood motto
    • More people are killed by Islamists each year than in all 350 years of the Spanish Inquisition combined
    • Islamic terrorists murder more people every day than the Ku Klux Klan has in the last 50 years
    • Islamists killed more Buddhists in Thailand since 9/11 than the KKK killed in the 100 YEARS from 1865 to 9165.
    • More civilians were killed by Muslim extremists in two hours on September 11th than in the 36 years of sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland
    • The 19 Muslim hijackers killed more innocents in two hours on September 11th than the number of American criminals executed in the last 65 years.
    if they are allowed to build this victory mosque, you yankee weak kneed men should have a pox on your very existence, and your families should be held to everlasting shame! and for those of you who call me an extremist, i have never cut someones head off with a pocketknife like they did to daniel pearl!

  19. (UGH! Man, seriously I have to reconsider moderating comments.)


    Once again, I’m not the editor nor am I the writer of this piece but you really think anyone here if for murder? Be it Muslim killing Muslim, Christian, atheist, Satanist, or whoever killing whoever - it’s just a dick thing to do. I can’t think of one person who doesn’t look and the example you cite of Pearl’s death with a sickening feeling. But once you stop looking at people as individuals and instead as “them”, you’ve made it easier to do exactly what the people who killed Pearl or any violent political group for that matter do which is take away the person’s humanity and reduce them to something inhuman that can be slaughtered for your own ends. I know som muslims and they are pretty chill folk. You have to distinguish between the extreme violent political ones who see violence as a tool to achive their ends and the rest of the muslim world.

    I scanned the article and the line about blowing up the mosque that is what the article appears to be about is pretty dick if you ask me. Leave that kind of BS talk to terrorists. The US has better values than that or do you support such talk?

    Now as for the community center or mosque if you wish to call it that (which is a few blocks away FROM ground zero anyhow).. Really, this is the United States - people can buid a temple to cheese whiz if they want; who gives a rats ass. You really want the state to start telling religions that they can’t build such and such place of worship because it might offend someone? As far as I’m concerned, outside of standard restrictions that would apply to any other person or organization, the state stays out of religion’s business and religion stays out of the state’s business. That’s a pretty good deal if you ask me. If the center ends up being a breeding ground for terrorists, obviously the state should shut it down like they would any other group of criminals but let’s not put the cart before the horse.

    Now take a deep breath and remember that Berry’s comments (which you guys seem to approve of) were said over a year a go when this was written and the world has moved on. Drink a beer, kick back, turn off the news commentators, and enjoy life.


  20. \"I will remind readers that this isn’t the first time that Berry’s big mouth has gotten him home water.?

    What is home water? Does any journalist proof read their articles anymore? This type of dumbing down is WHAT is driving me crazy. Every online newspaper article I read is riddled with typos and poor grammar.

  21. Cindy,

    We here at the Free Press use New Grammar. Take that period followed by the question mark in your quote for example. Under your old fancy pants rules this would be a problem but Declarative and Interrogative is so 20th centrury. Now we’ve combinder them and just call them Derogative Sentences. Get with the times. ;)


  22. Admin, I think that the point that Texasteph was making is that the group resposible for the 9/11 tragedy wants to build a meeting place for that group near the area the tragedy occured. So lets take religion out of this, lets say that it was National Lego Builders of America that we obviosly involved in this event. Then they wanted to build a National Lego Builders of America Monument a block from the site of the death of thousands of Americans at their hands. Would you be okay with that?

    So it does not have anything to do with religion. In addition, if you haven’t noticed the government (state or national) does get into religious affairs, especially when it is a muslim or atheist complaining about Christians or Jews, etc…

    Also, no one asked you to comment in the first place, so if you don’t enjoy the banter with others, don’t… Also, I have never seen a moderator who violated so many of a website’s posting rules, mainly “Keep it clean.”

  23. Admin, I think that the point that Texasteph was making is that the group resposible for the 9/11 tragedy wants to build a meeting place for that group near the area the tragedy occured. So lets take religion out of this, lets say that it was National Lego Builders of America that we obviosly involved in this event. Then they wanted to build a National Lego Builders of America Monument a block from the site of the death of thousands of Americans at their hands. Would you be okay with that?

    So it does not have anything to do with religion. In addition, if you haven\’t noticed the government (state or national) does get into religious affairs, especially when it is a muslim or atheist complaining about Christians or Jews, etc…

    Also, no one asked you to comment in the first place, so if you don\’t enjoy the banter with others, don\’t… Also, I have never seen a moderator who violated so many of a website\’s posting rules, mainly \"Keep it clean.\"

  24. “I think that the point that Texasteph was making is that the group resposible for the 9/11 tragedy wants to build a meeting place for that group near the area the tragedy occured.”

    Wow! Shit man, I though Al-Qaida was behind 9-11 not the Cordova Institute. Well, I’ll be! Man, you really ought to tell George and Barak that they really screwed the pooch these last ten years.

    But all kidding aside, like I said, if it were a meeting place for terroists I would be all for the feds busting them just like I would any group of thugs. So I think we are in agreement on that front. The real difference is that I think you guys are putting the cart before the horse.

    Also, did I say I was in favor of the governement sticking its nose into religious views? No, I, for example, think it’s stupid of the NY Port authority to not move forward with the Greek Orthodox Church that has been trying to rebuild since 9/11 (I don’t get that at all) but when someone tries to take their religion into a government function, I feel the government should push back… all within reason of course and that gray area of “what is reasonable” I think is where we will find some differences of opinion.

    Also, I don’t know how many times I have to repeat this but I’m not the editor; “admin” is just the generic sign in so I’m really not a proper moderator. I do music coverage but I will log in as admin every once in a while just so if there is a comment that I didn’t post, it can be posted faster becasue people like to see their comments posted in a timely fashion. Proper moderation would involve screening and - beyond looking for spam, personal threats, or things like that nature - I don’t so that.

    Once again, I go back to what I found amusing. Michael Berry said something stupid over a year ago and someone posted an article about it (which I have only barely scanned today) over a year ago. What Michael Berry said about blowing up a mosque has been long long long LONG forgotten by the vast majority Houstonians and never even made a dent outside of harris county therefore I posit that it is of no consequence to anyone’s lives on September 02, 2011. So, I find all this sudden explosion of activity on this post comical.

    Also, I interviewed a band called Thunderkunt last month. In case you haven’t figured it out, this isn’t exactly the New York Review of Books here. If I’ve insulted anyone, I apologize but as far as I know all I did was basically accuse you guys of being a little obsessed about this post which I think is a fair cop.

    Oh brother, I would think “you yankee weak kneed men should have a pox on your very existence, and your families should be held to everlasting shame!” is much more offensive that the word “shit” and “ass” only becasue it’s so cornball. A pox. Really? A POX? Who wishes a pox on anyone anymore? Oy Vey! C’mon guys, step it up abit if you are going to put a curse someone.

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