It’s not this Muslim comedian’s job to open your mind

Zahra Noorbakhsh writes: In November, a few days after the election, I got a call from a television producer, inviting me to be on her popular variety show.

Her pitch: “As a feminist, Muslim, Iranian-American comedian, you could be exactly what this country needs right now.” She explained that she wanted me to come up with a set with the potential to make millions of Trump supporters laugh and think: “Wow, she’s Muslim, but she’s funny! And she’s just like us!”

I replied, “Absolutely!” After all, as Joan Rivers advised, you should never turn down a gig.

But I was deeply conflicted about the opportunity and ultimately backed out. This ambivalence has followed me as I’ve fielded similar requests during a time when the Trump administration has attempted to defend its “Muslim ban” campaign promise in the courts, Islamophobic attacks have been reported throughout the country, and fears of a “Muslim registry” still swirl throughout my community.

The idea that jokes will stop the tide of fear, hate and misunderstanding about people who practice Islam is seductive. As a comedian, though, I’m not convinced. We have tried this before. [Continue reading…]

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