WaPo Promotes Muslim Comedians Fighting America's 'Fringe' of 'Extreme Haters'

On the front of Wednesday’s Style section is another one of those anti-“Islamophobia” articles starring comedians. The Post’s Tara Bahrampour began: “Beware, America. The Muslims are coming, and they look and act suspiciously like you.” If “you” were a profane secularist, apparently.

Bahrampour is promoting a documentary film on a tour Muslim comedians made through Southern states called “The Muslims Are Coming!” It “includes interviews with comics such as Jon Stewart and Louis [sic] Black and commentators including CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, explores freedom of religion and what it means to be a minority in America.” CNN can always be found fighting American “phobias” about minorities – well, not so much about the Catholics. Those, they promote.

In a 9-minute promotional video the Post produced to accompany its press release (or, um, "feature"), comedian Negin Farsad, who often dresses provocatively, insisted “I’m super-duper secular. I think Islam contains someone like me. Just like I feel like the average American who doesn’t celebrate, like, every holiday on the Christian calendar, they will call themselves a Christian and I think they have a right to call themselves a Christian.” Another female comedian describes how much she likes the F-bomb.

It's not hard to see Bahrampour would feel for an Iranian-American comic like Farsad, since she wrote a book on how she "spent the first eleven years of her life in Iran, the daughter of an American mother and Iranian father." 

Bahrampour asserts why this old story is still newsworthy:

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 [Dean] 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.”

The Muslim comics are so much more American in their values than the “Islamophobic” conservatives. The Post clearly believes this, because there are no critical voices anywhere in this article. But a look at Obeidallah’s Wikipedia page shows just how this article’s theme is so old and overdone it’s growing green fuzzies in the back of the refrigerator:

In 2005, Obeidallah received the first “Spirit of Bill Hicks” award, named in honor of comedian Bill Hicks for “thought provoking comedy”...

Obeidallah has also appeared on Comedy Central on the critically acclaimed "Axis of Evil" Comedy special [2006]...

Dean can also be seen in the bonus feature of the DVD version of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" [2004]  in the section entitled: Arab-American comedians....

Like African-American comedians in the 1960s and 70s, Obeidallah and other Arab-American comics have been compared to the groundbreaking comedians who have used comedy to raise political and social issues in an effort to change them as noted by The Baltimore Sun's David Zurawik [in 2007]...

He can also be seen on the upcoming PBS' documentary, "Stand Up: Muslim American Comics Come of Age" which aired nationally in May 2008 and on BBC World News.

NPR and Newsweek also profiled Obeidallah in 2007. But the Post wants to tell you this is a “relatively new phenomenon” – apparently, compared to comedians who have died of old age.

The Post article concluded with how the Muslim jokesters were greeted with kindness throughout the South, but then, perhaps that was because they performed at joints where the progressives were coming out to support them against the haters:

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.’ ”

The Post hasn’t exactly put itself in the “persuadables” when it comes to seeing the conservatives with doubts about Islamic radicalism in America as “extreme haters.”

Earlier: Bahrampour vs. 'swelling hostility' to Muslims

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis