By Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune, January 20, 2011
Will a Muslim version of ‘The Cosby Show’ change attitudes in America about Muslims?
Such are the recent news items that led Couric in a recent year-in-review discussion to suggest a sitcom response to the “seething hatred” against Muslims.
“Maybe we need a Muslim version of ‘The Cosby Show,'” she said. “I know that sounds crazy. But ‘The Cosby Show’ did so much to change attitudes about African-Americans in this country, and I think sometimes people are afraid of things they don’t understand.”
She’s right. A black TV family like Bill Cosby‘s Huxtables — or a Hispanic-American family like, say, George Lopez‘s show — might not seem like such a big deal anymore, now that a real-life black family occupies the White House. But back in the 1980s, “The Cosby Show” was the decade’s biggest TV hit and is even credited with changing the way a lot of us black Americans viewed ourselves and our perceptions of opportunity in America’s mainstream.
Some critics still complain that “The Cosby Show” was too good, that it’s well-off family headed by a doctor and a lawyer was too far removed from the lives that most black people lived. But, more important in my view was the larger message: The American Dream is not for whites only.
But could that heartwarming success work today, when many of us actually find ourselves debating the value of civility? No way, say some cynics. “Earth to Katie,” wrote columnist Andrea Peyser in the New York Post: “African-Americans, Eskimos, or imbecilic white ladies didn’t fly planes into the World Trade Center. Try again, genius.”
OK, let’s clear the air on that one: A group of Muslim degenerates did kill Americans on 9/11. They have allies who are out to kill more of us. These louts are our enemy. But that does not make all Muslim-Americans our enemies. Our nation’s diversity needs to be an asset to our national security, not a nuisance.
Unfortunately, Couric’s comment expresses something my own cynical side has noticed ever since the terrorist attacks: Muslims have become the new “Negroes,” the new occupants of the bottom-rung scary-minority status long occupied by us African-Americans.
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