No comedy show, no matter how clever or winning, is going to eradicate the suspicion that many Americans have of Muslims. This is because Americans are concerned about Islam not because of the work of greasy Islamophobes, but because of Naser Abdo, the would-be second Fort Hood jihad mass murderer; and Khalid Aldawsari, the would-be jihad mass murderer in Lubbock, Texas; and Muhammad Hussain, the would-be jihad bomber in Baltimore; and Mohamed Mohamud, the would-be jihad bomber in Portland; and Faisal Shahzad, the would-be Times Square jihad mass-murderer; and Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, the Arkansas military recruiting station jihad murderer; and Naveed Haq, the jihad mass murderer at the Jewish Community Center in Seattle; and Mohammed Reza Taheri-Azar, the would-be jihad mass murderer in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Ahmed Ferhani and Mohamed Mamdouh, who hatched a jihad plot to blow up a Manhattan synagogue; and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the would-be Christmas airplane jihad bomber; and many others like them who have plotted and/or committed mass murder in the name of Islam and motivated by its texts and teachings — all in the U.S. in the last couple of years.
The fact that there are other Muslims not fighting jihad is just great, but it doesn’t mean that the jihad isn’t happening. This comedy show simply doesn’t address the problem of jihad terrorism and Islamic supremacism.
Now here’s a point you might deeply consider: The neologism “Islamophobia” did not simply emerge exnihilo. It was invented, deliberately, by a Muslim Brotherhood front organization, the International Institute for Islamic Thought, which is based in Northern Virginia. If that name dimly rings a bell, it should: I’ve mentioned it before, and it’s particularly important because it was co-founded by Anwar Ibrahim–the hero of Moderate Islam who is now trotting around the globe comparing his plight to that of Aung San Suu Kyi.Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, a former member of the IIIT who has renounced the group in disgust, was an eyewitness to the creation of the word. “This loathsome term,” he writes,
is nothing more than a thought-terminating cliche conceived in the bowels of Muslim think tanks for the purpose of beating down critics.
The Muslim Brotherhood is dedicated in its own words to “eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within.” One easy way to do that would be to guilt-trip non-Muslims into being ashamed of resisting jihad activity and Islamic supremacism, for fear of being accused of “Islamophobia.” I doubt these comics are aware of this program, but they’re useful tools for it.
“Muslim American comics’ tour and documentary,” by Tara Bahrampour in theWashington Post, December 27 (thanks to James)
Beware, America. The Muslims are coming, and they look and act suspiciously like you.
Sheesh. No one says they aren’t. This is just a straw man designed to demonize opponents of jihad.
Negin Farsad, an Iranian American stand-up comic from California, wears eye-catching mini dresses, curses liberally and has awkward sex talks with her mother (though hers sound more like alien encounters. Actual quote: “You had intergender flesh relations without the security of external safety product?”).
Then she has more to worry about from observant Muslims than she does from “Islamophobes.”
Such conversations, painfully private in traditional Muslim societies, are public fodder for Farsad and three other Gen X and Gen Y Muslim comics with whom she traveled to the deep South this past summer. The tour, which later extended to Western states and included other Muslim comics, will form the backbone of “The Muslims Are Coming!,” a documentary film about Islamophobia in America that Farsad is working on with Palestinian Italian American comedian Dean Obeidallah.
This is going to be the usual victimhood-mongering and deflecting of attention from the real causes of suspicion of Muslims in the U.S. Obeidallah contacted me and asked me to be interviewed for the piece, and assured me he would give me a fair hearing. But then he went on Twitter and called Pamela Geller a “Muslim-hater” — echoing the deceptive Islamic supremacist claim that fighting for free speech and equality of rights for all people is “hate.” His true agenda thus revealed, I bowed out of the interview.
The documentary, which includes interviews with comics such as Jon Stewart and Louis Black and commentators including CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, explores freedom of religion and what it means to be a minority in America.
Note the implication: that minorities have it so tough in America. No mention will be made, no doubt, of the far more precarious position of non-Muslim minorities in Muslim societies.
Muslim American stand-up comedy is a relatively new phenomenon, the domain of second-generation immigrants who are American enough to satirize the Muslim American experience, said Obeidallah, who lives in New York City.“We’re confident enough to do this,” he said. “An immigrant would be less confident to use comedy to try to challenge perceptions of who we are. We’re confident enough in being Americans and knowing what that means, that we can push against those who are exhibiting behavior which is less than consistent with the values of this nation.”
Note that in Obeidallah’s world, the people who are “exhibiting behavior which is less than consistent with the values of this nation” are those fighting for freedom and Constitutional rights, not Brotherhood-related groups dedicated to bringing to the U.S. elements of a legal system that denies freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and equality of rights for women and non-Muslims.
A major factor driving Muslim Americans toward comedy was the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. “There were no Middle Eastern comics before 9/11 that anyone knew about,” Obeidallah said. “The phenomenon really grew in the last 10 years, because of the [anti-Muslim] backlash.
There was no backlash, of course. Innocent Muslims are not being victimized in the U.S. Muslims live better here than in many Muslim countries. Obeidallah — clueless or complicit? You be the judge.
I think a lot of people in our community started doing it as a form of political activism.” As they started appearing on national television, he said, “it spurred other Middle Eastern comedians to get involved.” Now, he said, there are about 10 full-time professinals and a growing number of aspiring professionals.Going to the South, where anti-mosque demonstrations and anti-immigrant sentiment has made some Muslims feel unwelcome, the comedians hoped to break through some of the cultural walls that have arisen since Sept. 11.
The point was to see “how would people in the heartland take to us?” Obeidallah said. “Would we encounter angry people going, ‘Get out of here, you Muslims,’ or would they understand?”
Traveling through Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee, they gave free performances in cafes, community centers and theaters. They set up tables in public places, with scripture-related guessing games and the opportunity for people to “Ask a Muslim” anything they wanted.
“I could kind of like Muslims, but why do you guys like terrorism so much?” some asked. “What do you think of 9/11?” was another common question.
How horrible! They got asked uncomfortable questions! Oh, the “Islamophobia”!
On the whole, the public response was encouraging. While a few people drove by and yelled, “Go back to your country!” the one-on-one encounters tended to be positive.
“Most people are more open-minded and not that concerned about Muslims,” Obeidallah said. “It’s really the fringe that’s driving that narrative.”Maysoon Zayid, one of the comics on the tour, said people were surprised to see that “I’m such a Jersey girl, I’m so accessible. . . . I think they are really surprised that I wasn’t this oppressed woman trying to convert people.”
The comedians acknowledged that they were unlikely to win the hearts of the most fervent anti-Muslim types.
“A show called ‘The Muslims Are Coming’ — people self-select to come see it,” Farsad said. “We’re never going to be able to touch the extreme haters. . . . We’re trying to affect the people in the middle, people with questions, the ‘persuadables.’ ”
Do Negin Farsad and Dean Obeidallah really want to eradicate “Islamophobia”? As long as Islamic jihad and supremacism continue, a comedy tour will never do the trick. But here is an easy way. They can call on Muslims in the U.S. to do these things:
1. Focus their indignation on Muslims committing violent acts in the name of Islam, not on non-Muslims reporting on those acts.
2. Renounce definitively, sincerely, honestly, and in deeds, not just in comforting words, not just “terrorism,” but any intention to replace the U.S. Constitution (or the constitutions of any non-Muslim state) with Sharia even by peaceful means. In line with this, clarify what is meant by their condemnations of the killing of innocent people by stating unequivocally that American and Israeli civilians are innocent people, teaching accordingly in mosques and Islamic schools, and behaving in accord with these new teachings.
3. Teach, again sincerely and honestly, in transparent and verifiable ways in mosques and Islamic schools, the imperative of Muslims coexisting peacefully as equals with non-Muslims on an indefinite basis, and act accordingly.
4. Begin comprehensive international programs in mosques all over the world to teach sincerely against the ideas of violent jihad and Islamic supremacism.
5. Actively and honestly work with Western law enforcement officials to identify and apprehend jihadists within Western Muslim communities.
If Muslims do those five things, voila! “Islamophobia” will evanesce!
Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of ten books, eleven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran (Regnery), and he is coauthor (with Pamela Geller) of The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America (Simon and Schuster).