Is Reza Aslan considering a run for political office? This recent TEDx talk sure sounds like it.
Aslan wrote the best-selling ‘No God But God,‘ by far the most readable introduction to the history of Islam, and his recent anthology of 20th-century Middle East literature, ‘Tablet & Pen,’ is a fixture on my bedside table.
Like any good politico, he starts out all rosy-eyed. Bear with him. He draws clear parallels between prejudice in the U.S. against Jews and against Catholics — both groups seen at one time as un-American, foreign, “other” — and the current politically manipulated wave of Islamophobia. And he draws the clear conclusion: anti-Muslim zealots are so angry because they know they’re on the losing side of American history.
As they say in the Middle East, “from your lips to God’s ears.”
See what you think:
Canada has a similar “story” and yet we do not have the extreme anti immigrant attitudes in the mainstream culture. Canada was more like the United States before we became officially bilingual and multicultural. This changed the narative somewhat such that we believe multi-culturalism and multi-linguistic skills are positive values. We are eager to embrace them so they can enrich the Canadian story, Of course, such “stories” are also cultural myths. We know that the newcomers which we accept as adding to the cultural mix will in the end have children that will embrace the Canadian culture more than than their parents culture. They will speak English or French, learn to love hockey and maybe even learn to appreciate the Queen. They will also accept abortion as a necessary medical procedure, same sex marriage as a right, and oppose the death penalty, etc. The wider Canadian culture will come to enjoy the rich variety of ethnic celebrations and even embrace them. Such as this year the Bollywood awards are being held in Toronto and not India. The parliament of Canada allows the carrying of the kirpan in its chambers. Slowly visible minorities appear “normal” on radio and TV news shows They are increasingly becoming members of parliament. Sikhs and Muslims and those of African and Asian origin are achieving positions of influence. There is little or no comment or concern over this. In fact the current Conservative government won a majority because it sought out the “ethnic vote”. They were criticized for being so blatant about it.
Canada is moving quicker and with more grace to be transformed by the current wave of immigrants, which we know we need economically, than the United States. The result is a more liberal culture with less strife.