By Sharona Schwartz
Al Jazeera’s digital media platform AJ+ posted a Fourth of July-themed video mocking Americans as fat, cheese-eating, gun-toting, pill-popping, racist porn watchers.
While some on social media applauded the creation, others slammed the Qatar-owned network for using the holiday “to dump” on America.
Social media users got particularly riled up by the criticism coming from the channel owned by Qatar — a country where stoning is a legal punishment under Shariah law, women have second class legal status, writers can be imprisoned for criticizing the emir and abuse of foreign laborers has been repeatedly criticized by human rights groups.
The video is sarcastically titled “Americans Show Why USA Is The #1 Country In The World.”
After lauding the U.S. as world leader in Olympic medals, Nobel laureates and billionaires, young actors then go on to mock the U.S. for “the most incarcerated people in the world. God-bless the prison industrial complex.”
“When it comes to obesity … a third of us can’t even see our own toes,” said a man waving an American flag.
Another assertion left the impression that nine out of 10 Americans have guns.
“Pew Pew, we’ve got 90 guns per 100 persons. Sorry, Yemen, we beat you in drones and guns!” said one of the actors.
“Americans consume 80 percent of the world’s painkillers. Makes sense though, right? I mean racism in this country is a big pain in the ass,” said a female actor.
Al Jazeera also credited the U.S. with having the “most number of teen pregnancies per capita,” leading the world in credit card debt and “the most deaths by lawnmower.”
“This sort of seems mean spirited to be honest,” Benjamin Buzbee wrote on YouTube. “It’s important to keep perspective and some of these are important issues, but the spirit of this video is to dump on the US the day before independence day – seems more sensationalistic than journalistic. Can’t say I approve.”
Christoffer Johnsen said on Facebook, “Yea because the middle east is a so great place to live in?! Come on Aj+ you gotta stop bashing only America.”
YouTube user Truths Corner wrote, “Criticism of a country is not a bad thing, why did AJ+ not compare the us to the s*** whole countries it wants us to be like. Like Turkey, where the best selling book is MEIN KAMPF. Or pakistan where 80% favor killing apostates, o wait AJ+ biased as f***.”
“I don’t think we compare. But we definitely take shots at other countries,” AJ+ executive producer David Cohn said in response on YouTube. He then pointed viewers to other videos, such as one beheadings in Saudi Arabia and another on a women’s protest in Turkey.
However, none of the videos to which he linked had the same mocking tone of the Fourth of July video.
Someone should ask Al Jazeera America what it's like to be the #1 US channel sued by its own executives for misogyny https://t.co/Z12Nolmgfe
— Yair Rosenberg (@Yair_Rosenberg) July 3, 2015
Al Jazeera America is facing two lawsuits from former employees.
Former Al Jazeera America senior vice president Shannon High-Bassalik in June filed suit accusing the company of discriminating against female and non-Arab employees.
In April, a former staffer filed a lawsuit alleging that he was subjected to “anti-American” and “anti-Semitic” remarks in the workplace and that executives were biased against women.