Radio hosts in New Jersey are getting a taste of justice after referring to their state's attorney general, Gurbir Grewal, as the “Turban Man.”
Grewal is the first and only Sikh-American to serve as attorney general in the United States. Despite being part of history, WKXW hosts Dennis Malloy and Judi Franco had no issue calling him “Turban Man” during their Wednesday “The Dennis & Judi Show.”
The hosts were talking about Grewal’s decision to suspend marijuana prosecutions in the state when Malloy told Franco he couldn’t remember the attorney general’s name.
“I'm just going to say the guy with the turban," he said.
From then on, they referred to him as “Turban Man.”
Malloy is a New Jersey Broadcasters Hall of Fame inductee who’s hosted the show for over 20 years. Yet he had no regrets and ended up doubling down.
“If that offends you, then don’t wear the turban and maybe I’ll remember your name,” Malloy later said.
After the incident, Grewal tweeted about the comments, saying that he told his daughters to turn off the radio.
.@nj1015: My name, for the record, is Gurbir Grewal. I’m the 61st Attorney General of NJ. I’m a Sikh American. I have 3 daughters. And yesterday, I told them to turn off the radio.— Gurbir S. Grewal (@GurbirGrewalNJ) July 26, 2018
On Twitter, many users showed support for Grewal.
Such hateful rhetoric doesn’t reduce Gurbir, such hateful rhetoric reduces and disgraces the one who uses it.— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) July 26, 2018
We are New Jersey; bigotry has no place, religious intolerance no harbor.
We all should denounce this ignorant and outrageous attack.https://t.co/8HrcjAEl5K
"Listen, & if that offends you then don't wear the Turban & maybe I'll remember your name”— Harjinder Singh Kukreja (@SinghLions) July 26, 2018
Radio hosts in hot water for repeatedly referring to the 1st Sikh-American Attorney General in US, @NewJerseyOAG as “TURBAN MAN” live on NJ 101.5 https://t.co/IJvHgTFSqt via @northjersey
Say it with us: Ger-beer Gray-wall. If you google "Gurbir Grewal pronunciation" this is the 1st result: https://t.co/OdU4qFzInK "Phil Murphy" is probably less phonetic.— ACLU of New Jersey (@ACLUNJ) July 26, 2018
"Turban man? Is that offensive?" Yep. (If you have to ask...)
Racism isn't cute. It's just racist. https://t.co/KYycUuvVgc
More than 100k Sikhs call NJ home because it is one of the most diverse states in the nation, where religious intolerance is not welcome. Those kind of comments feed bigots, and cause real damage. I stand w/ @NewJerseyOAG @GurbirGrewalNJ https://t.co/DyTUrpgq1u— Senator Bob Menendez (@SenatorMenendez) July 26, 2018
Hateful rhetoric like this should have no place in our country. We should all be outraged by these abhorrent comments. https://t.co/ZyPdP1UHEw— Sabrina Singh (@sabrinasingh24) July 26, 2018
“[We have] taken immediate action and have taken [the hosts] off the air until further notice," WKXW announced following the backlash.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy was also concerned about the incident. He issued a statement saying he was “outraged by the abhorrent and xenophobic comments."
"Hate speech has no place in New Jersey, and it does not belong on our airwaves," he said. "Station management must now hold the hosts accountable for these intolerant and racist comments.”
It’s good to know that prestige and a long career in the radio business will not insulate hosts like Malloy from being reprimanded for making racist or inappropriate comments. Hopefully, other media figures will think twice before attacking Grewal over his religion.
Banner and thumbnail Flickr user Phil Murphy