Friday night’s PBS NewsHour awarded a Muslim leftist with a typical essay on “diversity” in Hollywood. It carried the title “Why the world could use a Muslim jedi.”
Anchor Hari Sreenivasan explained: What better way to battle discrimination than with pop culture? Or so thought Haroon Moghul, when he asked J.J. Abrams in an open letter to add an Islamic character to Star Wars. Here’s more of his thoughts on why a Jedi named Mohammad could help fight fear with hope.”
The caption on the website also summarized the argument: "How can we relieve anti-Muslim discrimination? Haroon Moghul says that adding a Muslim character to a certain science fiction franchise might go a long way in changing perceptions and offering a vision of a more united future."
So is Haroon Moghul uniquely poised to preach hope and not hate? His Twitter feed says no. Check out this January 18 tweet mocking Donald Trump and Jerry Falwell Jr. on the day Trump spoke at Falwell’s Liberty University:
Here we go again, the Oasis of Civility falling down on the job. He’s referring to Trump speaking about ISIS: "The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families, when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families.” How we get from that to Jesus and "casting the first stone" is anyone's guess.
Here’s how the Moghul three-minute, eight-second sermon unfolded:
HAROON MOGHUL: With tensions between Muslims and our neighbors worse than I had ever known, I asked Abrams to add a positive Muslim character to one of these franchises, maybe, I mused, a Jedi named Mohammed.
But many readers were dismissive. One wrote simply that Star Wars was set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, where Islam doesn’t exist.
By missing my point, he made my point. We can accept a Ben Kenobi, though Ben’s a Hebrew name. We don’t seem to have any trouble with Luke Skywalker, even though Luke was also one of the 12 apostles. Captain Jim Kirk, great, but a Captain Hussein Kirk, that made some readers think I wanted Sharia law on the bridge, when I had said no such thing.
I only wanted us to confront how we treat Muslims. Islamophobia is real, and it’s ugly. Robert Doggart allegedly planned to attack Muslims in New York with guns, bombs, even a machete.
A former Klan member, Glendon Crawford, tried to build a radioactive weapon to attack mosques. People have been kicked, punched, stabbed, shot, murdered, even pushed in front of trains, targeted for their faith and their faith alone.
Islamophobia is like racism, not because Islam is a race, but because, for anti-Muslim bigots, Islam functions in the exact same way that race does for racists.
Then came the obligatory “sure some Muslims commit terrorism and violence” clause, and claimed “I think judging every single Muslim by the actions of a few, especially when nearly every Muslim institution and organization condemns those actions, is a problem.”
Moghul wrapped up with touting how the Star Trek TV show advanced tolerance in the 1960s with a diverse cast:
The original Star Trek featured an African communications officer, a Russian navigator and a Japanese helmsman, not to mention a half-Vulcan, half-human first officer. That was back in the 1960s, during the civil rights era, at the height of the Cold War, just a few decades from Japanese internment camps. Yet the television show was wildly popular, and it still is, as are the many spinoffs that grew out of it.
It didn’t matter where all those characters came from, but where they were going, where no one had gone before. It gave us a vision for our divided planet, of a united future we could want, not dread. Can we see someone of a Muslim background being part of that future too? I hope so.
People often ask me, how can ordinary folks fight extremism and intolerance? I tell them, by imagining a world that’s not just different, but better. You don’t fight fear with fear. You fight fear with hope.
That essay might be seem inoffensive to many viewers – the ones who had no idea of how Moghul fights a much rougher game in other media venues. But the original essay that drew the attention of PBS came from The Washington Post, and that had more invective against conservatives in it, and a real sense that most Americans are bigoted:
This should be a joyous time for me, with the release of both the new Star Trek Beyond trailer, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Had you asked me about this a few months ago, I would’ve told you so much happiness in so few days should be banned. But that was before Paris, San Bernardino, before leading presidential candidates began actually talking about people like me being banned. The national climate for Muslims is uglier than I can recall. I’m legitimately afraid folks dressed up as Jedis at the premiere might be confused for Muslims, and attacked.
That’s where we are right now.
When it comes to Islam, a fair proportion of Americans seem to go nuts. We’ve had Ben Carson saying Muslims aren’t loyal enough to be president, Jeb Bush claiming Muslim refugees shouldn’t be let in, Donald Trump talking about special IDs, databases, surveillance techniques, killing family members of the San Bernardino shooters, and Klu Klux Klan members are recruiting anew on the fear of Islam.
I think you can see where I’m going with this. Many Americans fear Islam and think our faith is incompatible with U.S. values. We cannot possibly change these narratives on our own....
Hollywood, as usual, is being drafted to educate Flyover Country about its "backward" thinking as they wonder how compatible Islam can be with America's separation of church and state. The Left is paranoid about Christians dominating the state, but not about Muslims, because apparently that would be like "Islamophobia," which is exactly like racism.