Wajahat Ali: A chat with the author of 'The Domestic Crusaders' | TBD.com
"TBD: Katie Couric recently said a Muslim Cosby Show could go a long way in combating Islamophobia, which she cited as a major challenge facing the United States. Do you agree?
Wajahat Ali: I think she’s on the right track. She was unfairly antagonized and decried for offering simplistic solutions. But she tapped into a good point that one of the factors that can help bigotry and misunderstanding is if we hear Muslim-American voices through mainstream venues. A “Muslim Cosby Show” cannot magically erase all of Islamophobia, all of the fear, all the misunderstanding. It’s impossible, but it’s one critical step, one critical tool of cultural diplomacy. All Americans who have gone through what Muslims have gone through, it’s not unique. African-Americans, Jews, Irish, gays, Japanese-Americans have used the media, they’ve used storytelling, they’ve used narrative, they’ve used culture to really influence the narrative to teach people about themselves. Sometimes just to tell a good story. At the end of the day, when people see on the most influential medium, the TV screen, a show about people who just happen to be Muslim they’ll go ‘oh, that’s a show about interesting people who just happen to be Muslim.’ That’s not a terrorist. That’s not a suicide bomber. Every woman who wears a hijab is not a fundamentalist. People don’t know these things because these avatars, these icons, these voices, these images don’t exist in the public sphere. It’s also a mistake of Muslims because we chased doctory, engineering, and business and did not encourage our younger generation to invest in the arts, in culture, in teaching, in civic sectors. It goes both ways."