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.