National Public Radio is strongly urging America to get over its apparently rabid case of Islamophobia. On Sunday night's All Things Considered newscast, anchor Guy Raz played audio clips of Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin opposing the Ground Zero Mosque, and then launched into how much this resembles historic anti-Semitism:
In his column today, New York Times writer Nicholas Kristof points out that in 1940, 17 percent of the population considered Jews to be a menace to America. Almost every ethnic group in this country has gone through a period of transition when they had to fight to prove that, indeed, they were Americans.
Rabiah Ahmed and a group of Muslim leaders thought their community had to do the same today. So this week, they launched an online video campaign called "My Faith, My Voice."
What Raz does not point out is that Rabiah Ahmed is a former publicist and prominent national spokesperson for the Council for Islamic-American Relations (CAIR), a group named as an un-indicted co-conspirator in a terrorist funding case. Raz didn't so much conduct a news interview with Rabiah Ahmed as much as he joined her in condemning the sad and bigoted state of America today:
RAZ: Rabiah, how did it get to this point, you know, where, in a sense, you're stating what should be painfully obvious, that people who practice the Muslim faith in America are Americans just like anyone else?
Ms. AHMED: You know, it is sad that it has to be said, but it's necessary nonetheless because this rhetoric, these anti-Muslim feelings, they're not just coming from the usual right-wing or agenda-driven circles.
Polls indicate that these fears are widespread. They're in the hearts of average Americans, moderate Americans. And that's what's so concerning about this.
In the post-9/11 climate, there was anti-Muslim backlash, but it wasn't so open. It wasn't so hostile, and it wasn't so widespread. And whatever the Muslim community has been doing in the past 10 years, it's been a good effort, but for some reason, it's not achieving its goal.
RAZ: Do you think, as a society, we're in the midst of maybe a passing storm, you know, something that we will look back on in 10 or 20 years from now and wonder how it ever came to this?
Ms. AHMED: I hope so. I hope it is a passing storm. I hope that it's just a matter of time where Muslims are seen as part and parcel of the society. You know, if we look back at our history, other communities have faced this kind of discrimination or these kinds of feelings, and they've been able to overcome. But it's not going to happen by itself.
The Muslim community is going to really have to reach out in different ways, you know, through interfaith relations, through public service announcements, through whatever way that people can contribute and try to address these issues because if it's not done, then there's a potential of it just getting worse.
RAZ: That's Rabiah Ahmed. She's one of the people behind a new online video campaign called "My Faith, My Voice." Rabiah Ahmed, thank you so much.
Ms. AHMED: Thank you for having me.
The "My Faith, My Voice" organizers claimed they are absolutely unaffiliated. But is Ahmed or her Mirza Public Relations firm being paid, and if so, by whom? NPR's anchor didn't care enough to ask, at least not for the public.
Before this sympathetic exchange, Raz explained "In a few moments, we'll find out why Muslims in one grassroots movement have decided to remind their fellow Americans that, well, they're Americans too." But first, he found some American Muslims who found the current rhetorical environment is endangering their safety:
HUSSEIN NAGAMEA(ph): My name is Hussein Nagamea. I have no time since my immigration to the United States felt that I was unsafe in this country until now, recently.
BARBARA KHANDAKAR: I am careful about who I talk to in public, not so much just talking to them, but other Muslims that I greet, I don't automatically go say, hi, assalamu alaikum, because I don't want to draw attention to myself that I'm Muslim or that they're Muslim, just in case someone out there might be crazy.
ZIYA NASIR: You kind of feel afraid that everyone thinks that way, you know, everyone who's not Muslim believes that. That is probably the most frightening out of everything.
So this is how it works at taxpayer-supported radio. If you're non-Muslim and think Muslims are endangering your safety, you're a bigot. If you're Muslim and you think non-Muslims are endangering your safety, you're handed a microphone and a pat on the back.