Those damn, scrappy Pamela Gellers of the world, dagnabbit, ruin it for all the totalitarians who just want their way with us. How'd Walter Duranty work out for ya, gray lady?
Samuel Freedman genuflects on a *SHOCKA*: an "identifiably Muslim person not as a security risk, not as a desert primitive, but as an appealing, everyday American" in a television commercial. Geez Louise. Who cares? The objective of our work is for all people and all the Mr. Abdul-Rashids of the world to live free. Period. We have no issue with peaceful Muslims (though I wish they were more vocal against jihad). Mr. Freedman implies that all Muslims are savages. I do not. Jihadists are savages, which is what my ad said. What a little bigot you are, Mr. Freedman.
The idea that Muslims are depicted negatively in films is a common complaint of groups like Hamas-CAIR, but there is nothing to it. Remember how Fox's 24 depicted terrorists of every imaginable variety, but when they actually got around to showing a Muslim one, Kiefer Sutherland actually filmed a disclaimer apologizing and saying that most Muslims hated terrorism, and this was just a TV show, etc. And before that, there was the novel The Sum of All Fears. The book featured jihadists, but when it was made into a movie, the villains were changed to neo-Nazis to appease Hamas-CAIR.
In a Commercial, a Tacit Acceptance of Islam in America Samuel Freedman, New York Times
What I had just seen was something rare and laudable: what seems to be the first mass-market product commercial featuring an identifiably Muslim person not as a security risk, not as a desert primitive, but as an appealing, everyday American.
As if to underscore the point, the Prudential commercial with Mr. Abdul-Rashid was appearing on television during the same period last fall that saw two widespread commercial campaigns vilifying Muslims. One was the series of ads on New York subways and buses placed by a group led by Pamela Geller, the outspoken blogger and critic of Islam, which depicted a worldwide conflict between the civilized West and Islamic “savages.” The other was the billboard during the presidential campaign that showed President Obama submissively kissing the hand of a sheik.
Then, during last weekend’s Super Bowl, a Coca-Cola commercial trotted out the stereotype of the Arab on camelback. As points of comparison, consider that Frito-Lay retired its “Frito Bandito” caricature more than 40 years ago. And in 1989, Quaker Oats removed Aunt Jemima’s kerchief and gave her pearl earrings so she no longer evoked a house slave.
I was intrigued enough by the Prudential commercial to find Mr. Abdul-Rashid. Like the other nine people in the campaign, he is an actual person, not a hired performer. And as his name implies, he is Muslim, an African-American born in Los Angeles who converted to Islam in 1980.
Mr. Abdul-Rashid, who does some acting on the side, first heard about the Prudential job through a search for recent retirees that was picked up by an e-mail list for actors in the Bay Area, where he lives. He made it through several rounds of interviews to be selected for the series of “Day One Stories,” as the campaign was called. His spot had its debut during CBS News’ “60 Minutes” in November 2011, and has played about 130 times since then on networks like the History Channel and ESPN. Adweek magazine saluted the commercial with one of its “Ad of the Day” designations.
Nobody from Prudential or from Droga5, the agency that created the “Day One Stories,” ever asked Mr. Abdul-Rashid about his religion. Nor does the commercial show him in any religious activity. Still, for any sensate viewer, his name alone attests to his Muslim identity.
“I’d never thought about the ad in those terms,” because the thrust of the commercial had nothing to do with my religion whatsoever,” Mr. Abdul-Rashid, 61, said. “You saw an African-American family interacting and then my name at the end. But one day I went to a mosque in Oakland with my friend, and the imam said, ‘This is good, it lets people know we are the mainstream.'”
Mr. Abdul-Rashid’s first name, given to him by a Saudi Arabian teacher with whom he studied Islam before converting, is the kind of thing the Pamela Gellers of the world could have waved like a flag. Even some of Mr. Abdul-Rashid’s theater colleagues suggested after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that maybe he would be wise to change his name. He refused.
“The name Mujahid means someone who strives to live in the way of God,” he said. “And, yes, it means holy warrior, too. But if you ask me, that means fighting the good fight. If you see a hungry person and feed him, that’s fighting holy war. The greatest holy war is within ourselves.”
Freedman's problem is not that I might wave the name "Mujahid" like a flag. It's all the "mujahids," the mujahedin around the world who are responsible for the over 20,000 jihad attacks that have been committed in the name of Islam since 9/11, each one with the imprimatur of a Muslim cleric. The depiction of a kind, gentle Mujahid in a TV commercial doesn't do anything to change that.
There's more. And don't miss Donald Douglas's takedown of this nonsense here.