Average, law-abiding, peaceful Muslims in the Western world–which is to say basically every single Muslim in the Western world–are put in a tough position when there has been a terrorist event that is (or is even perceived to be) connected to Islamic fundamentalists.
Yes, of course, they decry these acts of senseless violence. Of course, they are horrified. And, of course, they don’t believe extremists represent their ideals. But the very fact that they feel pressure to make public statements distancing themselves from terrorism underlies the discrimination they face. If they don’t loudly denounce these violent acts, then–by default–they may be perceived to be part of the threat.
In these tense political times, sometimes comedy can go a long way to clearing the air, says to Negin Farsad, who calls herself a “social justice comedian” whose job is it is to convert “the haters.”
With her new site the “Daily Denouncer,” she offers a playful take on this state of affairs. The site plans to post frequent comics that “not only denounce terrorism but everything from bad hair days to selfie sticks to hazardous waste dumps.” But it will save its denounciest denouncements for terrorism.
Farsad is best known for winning a lawsuit against the New York City MTA, which said she and her fellow comedian Dean Obeidallah could not run their humorous anti-Islamophobia ad campaign: “The Muslims Are Coming!” The agency has said the ads were too political. More recently, she made a video with MoveOn.org, which she asks passersby in Washington Square Park to take the “bacon test” to prove they are not Muslim, parodying the right-wing politicians who would like to create a registry of Muslims in the United States.
“On a scale of comedy to brochure, the average American prefers comedy,” said Farsad, describing her philosophy in a TED talk on Monday. “When you’re laughing you enter into a state of openness.”