City of Brass

City of Brass


a muslim Cosby Show?

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Happy new year, everyone – be it 2011, or 1432 :)

My resolutions for this year are to be a better muslim, a better husband, a better father, a better son, a better brother, and a better friend. I feel like performing Hajj gave me resolve, and the closing of the first decade of the 21st century has given me an opportunity.

Unfortunately, the decade past was a dark one, especially for muslims abroad and here at home in the US. The ridiculous controversy over the “ground zero mosque” project was just a symptom, but the real cause for depression was the way in which American foreign policy seemed to play right into the hands of the extremists who benefit personally from interpreting Islam in the most misogynistic and violent manner possible – extremists like Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Somali’s Al Shabab, and their ideological comrades in the United States who peddle Islamophobia for personal profit. The success of the latter has transformed one of our two great political parties into a vehicle for hatred against not just Islam but muslims as well.

Case in point: the incoming freshman class of Republicans elected to Congress owe their electoral victory to Islam bashing. And they intend to play to their base – take NY Representative Peter King, who has vowed to hold hearings on the radicalization of muslim Americans:

The incoming chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security said Sunday that he will hold hearings on the “radicalization of the American Muslim community.”

In an op-ed piece in Newsday, Rep. Peter King said such hearings are critical because al-Qaida “is recruiting Muslims living legally in the United States – homegrown terrorists who have managed to stay under the anti-terror radar screen.”

The Long Island Republican said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press that the Muslim community “does not cooperate with law enforcement to anywhere near the extent that they should.”

The America muslim community doesn’t cooperate? Not according to the FBI:

Maybe Congressman King should first check with FBI Director Robert Mueller, who testified to the Muslim community’s patriotism, cooperation and support before House and Senate committees in 2008 and 2009. Mueller told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the Muslim community “has been tremendously supportive and worked very closely with [the FBI] in a number of instances around the country.”

This is the same story – we condemn, we cooperate, yet suspicion remains, and increases. The string of terror attack attempts by muslim Americans in the last couple years – all of which were foiled with muslim American help and cooperation – are what defines us in the public eye. Arguably, it is because of the muslim American commitment to fighting terrorists that has helped keep America safe this past decade from a repeat of 9-11. American imams have engaged in ideological battle online and abroad, and American mosques are actually a mainline deterrent against extremism (the nonsensical scene in My Name is Khan aside).

Truth be told, if our increasing alienation is the price to pay for helping keep our ocuntry safe, then that’s the price we will pay – until such time as we are persecuted beyond our ability to counter the jihadists’ rhetoric about America’s war on Islam.

But it would be nice if the image of muslims here in the US were to be a bit more balanced. Katie Couric actually had a suggestion along those lines:

I also think sort of the chasm, between, or the bigotry expressed against Muslims in this country has been one of the most disturbing stories to surface this year. Of course, a lot of noise was made about the Islamic Center, mosque, down near the World Trade Center, but I think there wasn’t enough sort of careful analysis and evaluation of where this bigotry toward 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide, and how this seething hatred many people feel for all Muslims, which I think is so misdirected, and so wrong — and so disappointing.

[...]

Maybe we need a Muslim version of The Cosby Show … I know that sounds crazy, I know that sounds crazy. But The Cosby Show did so much to change attitudes about African-Americans in this country, and I think sometimes people are afraid of what they don’t understand.

It’s not a bad idea at all, and in fact it’s already been done to some extent – Little Mosque on the Prairie, and more recently The Domestic Crusaders. But these don’t have the impact that a prime-time show on a major network would have. I almost think that a muslim Simpsons or even King of the Hill would be more effective – animation is easier to write, cast, and produce.

The increased market for halal food suggests that there’s an audience out there. It just remains for the muslim community to step up and make the pitch. Maybe we can get Katie Couric to read the script.

Related: Think Progress also refutes Rep King, with video and good links on muslim community cooperation and anti-extremism efforts.



  • freda

    We DO need a Muslim sitcom in the US. In the 70s, the Jeffersons became the first show about an African American family. In those days, there was still an awful lot of racism and the television show helped people to get past their prejudice. It has been proven that tv shows can help people overcome discrimination. IE- when Will and Grace aired and gay characters were part of the show, it helped homophobia lessen.f

  • nnmns

    The tv show is a good idea. As you say, it’s a way Americans have come to identify with out groups, including certainly blacks and gays. Of course it would be easiest with secular Muslims (I notice you didn’t capitalize the “m”; why?) who secular Americans should easily identify with. Possibly religious Christians could identify with religious Muslims; surely there a lot of common experiences.
    There are issues, I think, like someone leaving Islam and the attitude toward gays which, as I understand them, would need to be handled very carefully if at all.
    Then there’s the problem of getting such a show on a network with the Israeli lobby, well aware of the effect it might possibly have, fighting tooth and nail to keep it off the air. But maybe some of the Saudi wealth could be used to get it on. I understand there’s Saudi wealth invested in Fox and no one complains about that.
    Find some really talented writers.

  • arman khan

    I DO think that the sitcom idea is great and it will improve acceptance. But like previously said, sensitive issues would have to be handled delicately.

  • See-ellen2001

    There IS a tv show…Little Mosque on the Prairie. Just bcd it is produced in Canada and not the US does not mean it is not out there. Maybe people should tap into what is beyond US borders.
    And yes, I am Canadian.

  • FilmAlicia

    Here is a link to a really interesting article in Salon about Peter King’s history of fervent support for the IRA:
    http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2011/01/07/peter_king_ira_bombing_survivor/index.html
    Given his past support for a terrorist organization, I would say King lacks the moral authority to be Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security. Perhaps he should investigate himself.

  • Gustaf Nordenskiold, swe

    Destroy heterosexual values, politics, religions, trading. Make queertheory the dominant rule of the world, we the gay brotherhod are your leaders – tell that to your kids. Force heteros to tell their kids about us – have sex in front of them. There is no gods only the queer-theory, help the homosexuals to reach power within the religions and to put down religious dominans. Jesus and the prophet is gay and sodomistic – they like dogs ;-). Buy services and products from the gay brotherhod only. Concentrate the money (power) to the gay network, drain heterosexual economy – never buy from a heterosexual man. Eradicate heterosexuals economicaly an socialy – have no contacts and business with them. If someone ask about this, say no in thousends different ways – we dont want to inform the heterosexual enemy. Spred this word to political correct individs an other gays. Dont feel sad, you see, there is no gods only supreme gay power. Never feel love to others than gay. If you are gay study journalism – work with media, by controlling media we can indoctrinate the big mass of people. They who talk well about us should have benefits (for now) from the gay brotherhod, we bribe them! (if you ask me, I say – no, it wasnt me, its my enemy). If you are gay you know what this is otherwise its probably a spam to forget next minute. Act like a coward – act like a homosexual, be proud of it. Attack one guy in group herast him over and over, feel strong and powerful. Never admit our secret methods. Dont try to track me Ive got several IP`s.

  • Carol Kaplan

    This is a very enlightening article. We here in the little community of Auburn Hills MI are fighting Islamophobia and having great results. I am a cancer patient and when it looked hopeless I wanted to do something that counted, or at least give it one more try before my life ended. I have always been an activist against injustice and I was hurt and furious about the growing Islamophobia which actually began earlier than 9/11. It began to raise its ugly head around 1980! Of course 9/11 made it possible to bring hatred and bigotry to a new level. Nearly a genre. And so I decided to build a place where all people could gather and get to know each other. I invented the most fabulous halal/kosher (now certified) gourmet marshmallows we call Pillowmellows® and found a partner to invest as cancer left me broke.
    We built a cafe which actually has a place for ablution before prayer, a prayer area for Muslims and we have call to prayer played 5 times each day. We then set out to bring in Muslims and Jews and Christians… all people to sit together and enjoy
    our clear educational message of love, compassion and trust. It is working! Our staff is a rainbow of people, some wearing hijab and I have had Christians cry in my arms because they had feared muslims and now feel right at home. We have a library with information about all faiths. We hosted two Eid celebrations. We celebrate all holidays of all faiths (keeps us pretty busy). Who would think that the simple but elegantly crafted marshmallow could bring such care and understanding? But it is the ultimate comfort food isn’t it. Nana’s Gourmet Comfort World Cafe is an amazing place… none like it I think. I hope this idea spreads. We are raising money to build a school in North Pakistan and have many helping hands. Israelis and Palestinians have met and talked. We even declare we could write the “peoples peace agreement” at what is simply called Nana’s and present it to the world “leaders.”
    We the people in this community will be heard! we dream big! I always say if you don’t dream big dreams it is a waste of your brain. Peace, compassion, education and love will save the planet. Together we can crush hatred. We also made sure to post and name what happened in Tucson as a terrorist act.
    Terrorists come in all shades of skin and I think pale faced terrorists right now have the microphone.
    We have to stand up for each other as true brothers and sisters, as children of Abraham. Perhaps a reality show at Nana’s is the place to start. Love is so much stronger than hate.

  • Russian

    Apparently the minions of Muhammad have again perpetrated mass murder against innocents. A homicide bomber detonated himself in Russia’s largest airport, killing 31+ people and injuring around 130.
    Why did the bombhead do it? Why not? It’s what Muslims do. Kill people. Perpetrate mass murder and unspeakable cruelty, just like the Prophet of Mayhem, Muhammad. Again, let us review the Five Pillars of Islam:
    Murder
    Misery
    Malice
    Mayhem
    Madness
    Of course, not all Muslims are monsters. Actually, only about 97% of Muslims support mass murder, and yet they make a bad name for the whole religion.

  • Fa’izah

    As salaamu alaikum
    Television shows such as “Julia” from the ’60s, “Good Times”, “What’s Happening” and “The Jeffersons” pf the ’70s offered a glimpse into the many different facets of African-American life – single motherhood, project life, middle class and wealthy – which helped people to understand more and certainly laid the foundation for the shows made popular in the ’80s and ’90s.
    When I first heard about “Little Mosque on the Prairie” I was hooked just based on the description and summation someone offered (couldn’t view it in the US except on YouTube but bought the series on DVD). There was talk of a US version, but it has yet to come to fruition. I enjoyed it because it showed the diversity of Muslims (race/ethnicity, born and revert, secular and devout) but also showed how they were interwoven into their chosen community, and how they dealt with the day-to-day issues and sometimes conflicts from non-Muslims and sometimes amongst themselves.
    So absolutely, we need to see more shows like that and not just things like “Sleeper Cell” or “24″ that always reflected a dark image of Islam and Muslims that doesn’t represent the whole of the ummah, but rather the misperception that some people have.

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