The Corner

All-American Mess

I’d bet that TLC’s All-American Muslim is a pretty dull show that borders on hagiography. But I still don’t get why anyone would get so mad about it. As I understand it, the show depicts Muslim families as more moderate, more American than some stereotypes. Is that really so horrible? I know that there’s a lot of investment in the idea that there’s no such thing as moderate Muslims. My own view is that’s not true. A better and more accurate criticism — by my lights — is that moderate Muslims are too quiet, too reluctant to become a force for reform within the larger Muslim community. If that’s the case, then shouldn’t we be relatively happy that there’s a show pointing to a better model for Muslims than extremism? Isn’t it a good thing that there’s a show celebrating the fact that you can love America and be a Muslim?

Again, I’ve only watched the promos for it. I’m sure there are things that would annoy me about it. Indeed, I’m sure the critics are right that it’s propaganda of a kind. But propaganda, as originally understood, is not necessarily a negative term. It means to persuade people to a point of view or to propagate an idea or faith. Is it really such a disaster to have a show propagating the idea that you can embrace modernity and American values and still be a Muslim?

Anyway, I guess I’ll have to watch it now. I’ll let you know if I change my mind.

By the way, the boycott organizers should keep in mind they’ve done the show an enormous favor because I think a lot of people will now watch it because — just like me — they now need to know what the fuss is about.


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