Dalia Mogahed is an establishment Muslim we have written about previously and one of those we refer to as “professional Muslims” This is a group which includes self-described experts on everything and everybody from Morocco to Indonesia, political and civil rights activists, “interfaith” and community leaders, and even a few comedians. What they all have in common is that they managed to turn the Muslim religion into a profession. By simply being a Muslim (we know of one case in which the person was never a Muslim until he was offered an opportunity to participate in US State Department propaganda campaigns if he claimed to be one) a variety of opportunities that were not otherwise available are suddenly a quick and easy path to a career, business opportunity, or mainstream media attention.
This week Mogahed was invited to appear on MSNBC’s Meet The Press to discuss Islam, “Muslim opinion” and terrorism in the wake of the Paris Attacks and a rise of overt, anti-Muslim bigotry in the US, particularly among Republican Party candidates and their supporters. The invitation was intended to make the silly Chuck Todd appear as that rare cable news host who would invite an actual Muslim to speak. To that extent, the interview served its purpose. Mogahed immediately began the interview by praising George Bush Jr. The first question was about US public reaction today as compared to after 9-11 to which Mogahed answered as follows:
“I think it’s a difference in leadership. Whatever policy differences we might have with George W. Bush he really took a moral stance after 9-11 and made the strong case for the fact that these attacks were carried out by terrorists, by criminals and that an entire faith group should not be blamed for them.”
To hear someone describe Bush’s behavior after 9-11 as encompassing a “moral stance” is an insult to the memories and families of over one million Iraqis that were slaughtered in the criminal Anglo-American invasion. This may have been what Mogahed was referring to when she mentioned potential “policy differences”, but a criminal invasion that results in death and destruction on such a magnitude is not a “policy difference”, it is a monumental crime. Mogahed was actually praising Bush for his pro forma pronouncement that the US is not at war with Islam and for drawing a clear distinction between Muslims and terrorists even while he waged a criminal war that killed over a million of the former in the name of fighting the latter.
There is an obvious lack of perspective on the part of Mogahed. The fact is that overt anti-Muslim bigotry, especially by buffoons in an election season, is really not as troublesome as waging war on an innocent country that had nothing to do with 9-11. This is not unlike Muslims that supported or maybe had offered polite criticism of the war on Iraq but then condemned in the harshest terms possible a Hollywood film glorifying the US war on Iraq.
In all likelihood Mogahed did not intend to insult the victims of Bush’s wars. She also made a couple of good points toward the end of her interview. Her unfortunate comments were clearly driven by a sense of defensiveness and a lack of political acumen and clear understanding of what drives Islamophobia, a topic beyond the subject of this blog post. Others within our community who get excited anytime one of us is invited to speak on a US cable channel were quick to celebrate her appearance. Moghaed and those US Muslims who thought she had a good performance on MSNBC need to rethink their positions, maintain a proper perspective and give more serious thought to their commentary and the logical conclusions, both moral and political, which would inevitably be drawn from it.