Aziz Ansari the New Spokesperson for Muslims in America? It’s Worth a Shot
An Op-ed piece from the Okra
Yes he’s an atheist. He probably couldn’t quote you any verse from the Quran or how to get to the local mosque in his neighborhood. He’s not going to be an honorary member of CAIR anytime soon. The only fasting he may have done for the last 10 years is a 24-hour cleanse most likely to get in shape for some blockbuster movie he’ll be co-starring. And The Hajj for him might be some quaint bar in Santa Barbara. But God, come on! If there is one person out there who could possibly pacify most Americans completely clueless about Muslims or filled with the fury of Islamaphobia, it’s this guy. Aziz Ansari—born and bred in South Carolina. For the small minority that don’t bother plugging into any form of social media, Aziz is a comedian by trade, but also a big actor, known for playing the sly and sarcastic government official on NBC’s Parks and Recreations. He’s one of Judd Apatow’s boys. He might be a feminist too but that’s not important here. What we do know of him is the 31 year-old, who was raised as a Muslim, in a Muslim family, is famous; far more famous than any American Muslim albeit he’s not technically a Muslim. But does it matter?
Last month Ansari took on Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch when the latter tweeted all Muslims should be held responsible for the actions of extremists. Not surprisingly, in Murdoch’s demented and senile world, the entire Muslim population is liable for the antics of say, ISIS. Ansari’s response was brilliant: “Rups can we get a step by step guide? How many 60 year old parents in NC help destroy terrorist groups? Plz advise.” But it didn’t stop there. Ansari went on the verbal tirade following that up by two more tweets which said: “rupertmurdoch you are Catholic, why are you not hunting pedophiles?” and “rupertmurdoch is responsible for all pedophilia committed by anyone Catholic. @rupertmurdoch why are you pro-pedophile :(“ Touché. Plenty of responses and retweets.
The irony is something did happen in North Carolina this past Tuesday—and it had nothing to with the Jihadists but more with a hateful American who decided to put a bullet in the heads of three young promising Muslims because he allegedly got into a dispute over a parking spot. Yeah right. We’re not stupid. And neither is Aziz. He obviously is a smart dude; the kind you can hang with and laugh, but not in a stoner way. His strongest weapon is his wit. It’s cunning if it was ever evil. But thankfully he uses it to generate applause throughout the country. There is a lack of those qualities in most Muslims as by default our nature tends to become more consciously aware of our non-Muslim surroundings transforming us into introverts. Even some of our best and brightest shine only in front of Muslim faces. Isolation among the common folk creates safety and confidence. But it doesn’t do anything to the scared and unaware.
Some might argue that even if Ansari was Muslim, his shtick is too provocative to be accepted as an accurate representation of Muslim etiquette. Justifiably, if one has watched his comedy, the vulgarity is forthright, demeaning in some ways. He’s no Richard Pryor or Katt Williams. But Aziz can catch the conservative off guard with some scathing monologue sure to create some anger. Well, so what? Would we be happier with stoic solemn gentlemen who discuss Muslim problems with Americans on television through comprehensive religious opinions conveyed through a lukewarm monotone voice? Or do we want someone zany who understands the communicative nuances of people and can provide remediation, calm, logic and most importantly laughter to a nation that is filled with Islamaphobic paranoia? Our gut relies on scholars to bail us out when things go sour. But scholars are meant to preach, not work the room. They don’t live in the perplexing and dangerous media vacuum. One could refute handing the reigns to a celebrity as a desperate move to appease and that a Muslim convert perhaps could do a better job. It’s possible. Yet, in a society filled with 24X7 infatuation of big names and the far too exaggerated assumptions in which mediums such as Instagram and Twitter can make them much more intimate with their fans, a celebrity status is more than just the pre-requisite. It’s a condition in which Pavlov would be proud of ringing the bell.
Based on what we know of Aziz Ansari, the last thing he wants is to wear the crown of appointed spokesmen for a religion which he gave back to his parents. He’s got no legitimate ties to Islam and probably would want to avoid any affiliation to faith-based patriotism which tends to drown you in deep waters especially in Hollywood. But his sardonic remarks to Murdoch demonstrated he’s not willing to look the other way when blatant insults are hurled at people who tend to be the scapegoat on anything which explodes. For Aziz to accept such responsibility would be hard although he’s more than aware of how Islam operates and could probably do simple arithmetic in front of Muslim bashers to convince them the two assailants in the Charlie Hebdo attack couldn’t have gotten their orders from one billion followers much less sympathy for their stupidity.
Maybe one day, the chosen one, our very own Jedi will come—the complete package of an American Muslim who engages with this country both from a newsworthy and entertainment perspective, ala Jon Stewart (RIP from The Daily Show). He or she can shower the country with remarkable control and virtuosity, charming them with truth while dismantling the lies and prejudice. Aziz Ansari, as comical and cartoonish as he may look and sound, is the perfect blend of representation without the bravado and stuffiness which stereotype many Islamic figureheads. Yes, we know. He’s an atheist! But he’s tolerant and presumably has a soft spot for Islam. So give him the badge of honor with a microphone and let him speak. The next Muslim hate crime is right around the corner and we need to be ready with some star power. And if Aziz doesn’t work out, we can always ask Jon Stewart. He needs a job anyways.
Police in Several States Make Amends with Minorities: Commemorating January as Reverse Profiling Month
By Hasan Mahfouz
Los Angeles (CA)—not to be lumped with the CIA and the latest torture scandal plaguing the organization in recent weeks, police officers in six states will be honoring January as “White Ain’t Right Month”. The campaign created and endorsed by the Law Enforcement and Protection Agency of America will provide Caucasian males between the ages of 16 and 55 the same harassment and physical abuse many African, Latino and Muslim-Americans receive on a daily basis.
“We understand there has been a lot of unexpected racial tension and violence,” said Deputy Commissioner Jamie Dirks of the Los Angeles Police Department at a press conference held Thursday morning. But we’re here to tell everyone we want to be recognized as an equal opportunity service when it comes to getting your head bashed in.” Dirks, who provided no comment to the November decision of no-indictment to Officer Darren Wilson, accused of killing 18 year-old Michael Brown which led to demonstrations throughout the word, said while he is beamingly confident more “spooks, wetbacks and ragheads will get their fair share of jail time,” he wanted to provide assurance for ethnicities that there would be an increase in white harassment. “Please know we are doing what we can to avoid the race card, by giving empathy when we unleash on one of our own for kicks. It is our good faith gesture to you.”
2014 has been a difficult year for African-Americans and minorities with police in the United States. Asides from the Ferguson unrest that had gripped the country for much of the summer and fall, the death of Staten Island resident Eric Garner made headlines due to an alleged choke-hold by New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo, who also was later not indicted took national attention. In addition, more outrage commenced in Cleveland this past month when further information was disclosed on the killing of 12 year-old Tamir Rice who also was shot by a police officer. Likewise, former Chicago Police Commander John Burge who was convicted of perjury for allegedly torturing 100 African-Americans is reportedly being released from jail after serving only 4 years in prison. With an exorbitant amount of pressure and appearing desperate, law enforcement agencies are trying to demonstrate fairness by scrutinizing the largest demographic.
A pilot launch of White Ain’t Right had already been initiated as a warm-up to next month’s commemoration. In suburban Houston, 6 men, all Caucasian were arrested last Sunday night for drunken and disorderly conduct at a bar after the Dallas Cowboys game. Typically they would be patted on the back and sent home by taxi, but officers on call allegedly tazed four of the offenders while hog-tying the other two and placing them in the back of their squad car. In Detroit, Arabs and African-Americans looked on while local police pulled over several college students from the University of Michigan, requested for the driver to show proof of insurance, then ripped up the documents and hauled them in for attempted assault and battery. “We are trying to show everyone you don’t have to be black, brown or yellow to get the shit beaten of out of them. A level playing field for everyone, especially during the Holliday season, is our way of giving back to the community.”
The White Aint Right program has not only been supported by police departments. Right-Wing coalitions like the Heritage House have championed the cause and are looking to raise money for next year’s campaign with donations that would expand the program in more than 30 states. The heavily watched and racially biased television show Cops will be airing new Caucasian-only incidents and arrests for the remainder of the month including a 12 hour serial-killers marathon on New Year’s Eve. Coincidentally, just about all serial killers in the United States have historically been Caucasian. However, not everyone is happy with the outcome. Muslim groups such as the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) have denounced the reverse harassment program stating the campaign objectives are nothing more than enforcing and recognizing police gestapo tactics but not addressing the issues which have plagued minorities. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) sent out a press release Thursday condemning such harsh tactics and discrediting any notion of police equality among all Americans.
“This is basically a plan concocted by several high level officials who were drunk in a bar one night,” said Teresa Sampson, Vice-President of Communications and Public Relations for the NAACP. “How on Earth does this help Black America, much less any other minority group in this country?”
Surprisingly, according to a Global Research report, much of the recent police enforcement training which have raised the level of intensity in crime-fighting and counter-terrorism has been conducted through privately funded seminars in Israel where combat-ready tactics have become fiercer and deadlier.
Zebras on Parade: How a Monday Night Officiating Crew Brought Islam Forever into America’s Greatest Game
By Yunus Ansari
You have to practically be Gandhi-like in order to love an officiating crew. The sport is irrelevant. It could be Ping-Pong. If there is an umpire, official, a judge, odds are someone, if not many, are going to have an underlying animosity towards them. They’re blind as bats we’d like to say. Back in the day when people actually got together for games at homes or bars, there was always bonding over how much a referee blew a call. There was the time when 12-year-old Yankee fan Jeffrey Maier assisted in Derick Jeter’s catchable hit by interfering in Orioles Tony Tarasco’s catch. The kid basically went down low to grab the ball and in front of the right fielder’s glove. Umpires called it a homerun. Maradonna’s Hand of God goal in the 1986 World Cup quarterfinal; he obviously touched the ball. But the ref never called it. England will never forget. And of course there is the 2000 Music City Miracle, when during the playoffs, the Tennessee Titans allegedly threw an illegal forward pass, but was ruled a lateral by the line judge which resulted in (yet another) disaster for the Buffalo Bills. These were huge, once in a lifetime moments. Not all plays have such an impact—but the feeling of an alleged blown call at any level is comparable. The not-so irony is most of the time, the refs are correct. They have to be otherwise they couldn’t do their jobs.
In recent years, Twitter and Instagram have allowed for the vortex of tweets and posts to demonize them. One demographic who surly has no issues demonstrating their passion for sports not to mention scapegoating the officiating crew is the beloved Muslim community. Now comfortably established as a second generation in this country, Muslims are as passionate as anyone when it comes to sports. They live and breathe it. They cheer when they win. They cry when they lose. They don’t like each other. You ever been to a Michigan-Ohio State game? It applies to Muslims too. Only in America—and it’s beautiful. And just like many Americans, they blame the refs rather prematurely and quite often. Scan your Muslim sports enthusiasts on your newsfeed and it’s guaranteed many will complain shamelessly about the officiating. Never mind his team is losing by 50 points in the 4th. You cannot avoid the backlash that is generated from the feeling of frustration. So when Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah intercepted a careless Tom Brady pass, ran it back to the house for a meaningless touchdown and performed a sajadah last Monday night only to be called for unsportsmanlike conduct, two things unfolded: 1. A social media riot; and 2. The new connection with Islam and the NFL.
Like riding a psychotic horse which reverses its course and runs back towards the burning barn, things got crazy. Scores of Muslims were upset by what they saw as a condescending Islamaphobic assault. They derided the call and pointed at former Florida Gator great but NFL bust Tim Tebow who often would kneel and show his gratitude towards the heavens after scoring. They avoided any transparency by declaring Abdullah’s actions as an indictment (though not an attack) on Islam. Once again the zebras were on the hunt—and all because of a mistake.
But when one sits back and takes it all in can the moment be magical. Abdullah’s gesture was not just a celebration. It was a revelation. For perhaps the first time on one of the biggest stages, millions of Americans witnessed a Muslim’s humility by dropping to his knees and paying his respects to God. The act itself showed commonality among many who hold religion and sports sacred. It showed virtue and conviction of a higher power. It even silenced the conservatives, anti-Islamists, Bill Maher and Fox news for a minute. Abdullah prostrating in the end zone echoed a sentiment that an individual cannot be scorned or vindicated for being thankful, only adored. Andy Reid, head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs later obscurely said about Abdullah:
“When you go to Mecca, you should be able to slide wherever you want,” Reid said after the game. “We’ve got two priests in here. They’d probably vouch for me.” We’re not sure exactly what he meant. But a ballpark interpretation would be that Reid supported Abdullah’s right to bow his head to the Almighty after a great play. As far as the far-fetched assumptions, some Muslims were trying to rally around, let’s review them:
- The call was made out of rejection. In reality the refs probably had no idea what a sajadah was up close and personal. They were baffled and deduced Abdullah’s move as breaking an NFL rule which reprimands any player who drops to his knees in an act of celebration.
- The NFL prohibited Abdullah’s prayers. In reality, the NFL allows a spiritual nod or signal. It has for decades. Within hours of the game the NFL overruled the call on the field. No monetary or disciplinary fine was given.
- The NFL demonstrated hypocrisy by allowing certain religious movement to be acceptable while punishing others. In reality, neither the NFL nor the officials were knowledgeable about prostrating to God in Islam. They plead ignorance not vindictiveness. There was no double standard. That can only happen if the league purposely punished Abdullah knowing well his celebration was religious. The Council on American Islamic Relations immediately notified the NFL last Tuesday and insisted the policy on prayer should be clarified. The NFL admitted the error and apologized.
Who knows if a Muslim ever gets the chance to celebrate religiously again and if the refs make another “mistake.” Maybe. Odds are it will be a long time before another one scores in football. NBA Muslim players, all two of them, don’t celebrate after points because there is no time to celebrate. And there are no self-acknowledging Muslims in professional baseball. But it doesn’t matter. History was made on Monday Night Football. The NFL and other sports organizations now have an obligation to teach, as laughable as it may sound, religion in their officiating programs. It also means fans and advocacy groups can’t get riled up towards the officials. Give them time to figure it out. The best thing to do is to go back and blame the zebras for all the other botched calls they intentionally plan to make next Sunday—and thank them for bringing Islam to the game.
Muslim Leaders Attend Washington Fundraiser—Brag About Posts and Bowling with Dalai Lama
By Ahmad Muneer
Washington (DC)—Close to 30 American-Muslim leaders, mostly under the age of 45, were present at the Dialogue for Interfaith Council Symposium’s (DICS) 3rd annual fundraising dinner last night to discuss the success of their Facebook posts which ranged from modest brag ado to all-out narcissism.
The event, held at the Four Seasons Hotel, generated more than $85,000 which would go towards the leaders’ Facebook page so they could purchase more ‘likes’ in order to help raise awareness about themselves and the extraordinary things they tend to do every few hours of the day.
“I think its fantastic people came out for the great cause to love me,” said Riyaz Murtaza, a civil-rights attorney from Chicago with a Facebook following of 30,000, mostly from Nigerian sheepherders. “I want my fans to know that they mean everything to me. Last month I dedicated my climb to Machu Pichu with an orangutan strapped to my back for them.” Murtaza, who acknowledges himself as the Muslim Don Draper, also confirmed he taught the monkey Arabic to expand on his Islamic knowledge.
“I’m pretty happy with myself,” smiled Abid Al-Fawdi, a social activist whose credentials include an online self-help book on gardening and two interviews with Fox News on the Muslim swimsuit, the Burqini. “I was actually in Hong Kong earlier this week bowling with the Dali Lama, when I realized I had to be here. If it wasn’t for the business class upgrade I received, I probably would have been too tired to attend this function.” Al-Fawdi, who during a Q&A session, sported a Babushka which allegedly was a recent gift from former Soviet Union’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Andrei Gromyko (Gromyko has been dead since 1989), said he thinks it’s important American Muslim leaders get the attention they deserve because of their knowledge. “Let’s face it—King Kong ain’t got nothin’ on me! Leaders are a rare breed because we know more than most Muslims. Therefore, we need to have the spotlight.” When a reporter asked him what ‘more’ did he know, Al-Fawdi arrogantly responded “well I know I have more Tweets than you.”
American Muslim leaders have been under fire recently for demonstrating an attitude which borders on swagger and cockiness in media blogs and posts, characteristics that were unheard of with their predecessors. Some of the younger ones have been criticized for supporting just about any politically correct organization because its “cool” and blogging ambiguous philosophical quotes like teenagers who’ve smoked weed for the first time.
As a result, many have felt the need for the experts on Islam to minimize the number of updates on their latest and greatest conquests. A handful of protestors demonstrated peacefully outside the hotel lobby with signs expressing their disapproval. “Do people actually consider them as intellects?” said Fareed Shamil of Bethesda, Maryland. “I followed Murtaza on Facebook for a week while the Gaza Flotilla raid was happening in 2010. Instead of some insight to the actual incident, all he kept posting were pictures of his socks that he bought from Target and how uncomfortable they were.” Shamil asserted the new Muslim evangelists have gone overboard with their fame and are actually making it tempting for others to become part of their fraternity. “They’re basking in some demented form of rock stardom and telling us about the fun they are having. If it’s really true—than where do I apply?!”
By far the biggest moment of the evening was when CNN reporter Zayd Hamadullah showed up in a limousine driven by his wife, wearing a leopard-print Nehru jacket, a Fez and Armani sunglasses. Taking a cue from legendary Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders, Hamadullah, a.k.a PrimeTime walked into the gala shaking hands with the throngs of onlookers and flashing peace signs. “That’s right baby—the show is here,” the 27 year-old said.
While discussions among a few leaders did turn serious as there was concern on the possible shortage of new bragging material, most stayed positive and felt confident that their fan base and level of commitment as douchebags on social media sites would only increase in 2014. “This isn’t going to be like The Jersey Shore,” said Mohid Barir, Director of Urban Community Development for the Council of Arab Islamic Relations (CAIR) and a self-described Muslim intellect despite not having a degree in any Islamic subject. “We’re not going away. We’ll be on television more, at speaking events and writing more posts about our escapades of deep sea fishing on a yacht in St. Tropez. This is how we connect to other Muslims and let them know that we are their representatives to the world.”