Friday, January 05, 2007

Muslims in the Mainstream

A couple of things that really got my interest in politics / pop-culture this week:

  • Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to U.S. Congress started work this week, by using a Quran that used to belong to Thomas Jefferson at his swearing-in. This makes me very, very happy, on so many levels. First, it's great that there's a Muslim in Congress, participating in the political process on a daily basis, making his voice known, and proving that Muslims can be active partners in running a county like the U.S., whose history and culture is so often incorrectly seen as clashing with Muslim values and culture, that this clash is too big to overcome, etc, etc.. Second, the fact that he used a Quran for his swearing-in is a beautiful symbolic gesture of his identity as an American AND a Muslim, and the fact that that Quran at one point belonged in Thomas Jefferson's personal library shows that a founding father of the States was not afraid of other, different religions. (A neat quote from Jefferson to prove this point: "It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.") I find it laughable but sad that Virgil Goode, a Congressman, tried to tie this to stricter immigration laws, so because you know, otherwise the Muslims will take over the U.S. and they'll ALL want to be sworn in with Qurans instead of Bibles! Oh Horrors! The funniest part of this is that Ellison was born Catholic and converted to Islam in college. For further reading, here's a great article point out Goode's excruciatingly flawed logic, better written than anything I can come up with...
  • The other neat thing, north of the border, is the upcoming premiere of a
  • comedy called Little Mosque on the Prairie. This is a CBC television show about a small fictional Canadian town with a growing Muslim population and the ensuing hilarity of conflicts of understanding and culture that take place between them and the rest of the population. All I've seen thus far are teaser clips on the website and on TV, but right now, I've got a good feeling about this. I don't mind laughing at ourselves at all (see Allah Made Me Funny), and I encourage a more prominent Muslim presence in the mainstream media, after all, how do we expect people to relate to us if they don't have the first clue what we're actually like? I'm just hoping the show is fair, and doesn't go for too many low blows. There's enough negativity out there about Muslims in the mainstream media as it is... For more on the Little Mosque hype, see this.

Oh, yes, and on a totally unrelated note, I should point out that I'm feeling quite a bit better today in terms of the cold. I'm still not totally out of the woods, but my head's no longer in a complete fog, and by around 2 pm today, I was able to breath through my nose again. But the improvement sadly took place only after my sister caught it from me :(

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