Wanted: A calm, credible voice to soothe Americans' fear of Islam

Here's a job posting worthy of only the most stellar applicants. In fact, only those rare individuals with near-superhuman powers to untangle the crossed circuitry in the American mindset need apply. The Muslim Public Affairs Council is seeking "high-energy candidates" for a communications coordinator. I’d love to eavesdrop on those interviews."What do you believe would be the best approach for unraveling the misperceptions and outright bigotry toward Muslims that goes virtually unchallenged daily in the U.S.?" Yes, the American HYPERLINK "http://topics.sacbee.com/Muslim+community/"HYPERLINK "http%3A%2F%2Ftopics.sacbee.com%2FMuslim%2Bcommunity%2F"Muslim community needs a HYPERLINK "http://topics.sacbee.com/Walter+Cronkite/"HYPERLINK "http%3A%2F%2Ftopics.sacbee.com%2FWalter%2BCronkite%2F"Walter Cronkite, conceded Haris Tarin, a director in the council’s Washington office. Muslims need a spokesperson with the credibility to soothe and educate their suspicious countrymen. Despite consistently condemning acts of terrorism, HYPERLINK "http://topics.sacbee.com/American+Muslims/"HYPERLINK "http%3A%2F%2Ftopics.sacbee.com%2FAmerican%2BMuslims%2F"American Muslims find that the No. 1 charge against them is that they do not denounce terrorism.As Tarin and others point out, Muslims in the United States do not control their own story telling. And far too often, they leave a vacuum only too readily filled by those who view Muslims as anti-Christian terror suspects first, foremost and sometimes completely.Muslims need to imprint a more positive image in the public mind, and the best way to do that is by pointing out more effectively who they are, rather than taking a defensive posture.What are they up against? Consider this doozy of an advertisement a HYPERLINK "http://topics.sacbee.com/Baptist+church/"HYPERLINK "http%3A%2F%2Ftopics.sacbee.com%2FBaptist%2Bchurch%2F"Baptist church in HYPERLINK "http://topics.sacbee.com/St.+Cloud/"HYPERLINK "http%3A%2F%2Ftopics.sacbee.com%2FSt.%2BCloud%2F"St. Cloud, Minn., recently placed in the local newspaper. The text fit under the heading "Does the Islamic religion represent a threat to HYPERLINK "http://topics.sacbee.com/America/"HYPERLINK "http%3A%2F%2Ftopics.sacbee.com%2FAmerica%2F"America?" Among other idiotic statements, the ad darkly warned that in 30 years the U.S. Muslim population will be 50 million. How will a community that numbers only 2.35 million today achieve that demographic feat? Through "immigration, reproduction, education, the government, illegal drugs and by supporting the gay agenda," said the ad.So why is a nice U.S.-born Christian newspaper columnist concerned that the American Muslim community get a fair hearing? And why should all non-Muslims of good will want the same? It’s simple. Minority groups under attack need allies from the broader majority. And when members of the mainstream help, they strengthen social bonds that help draw these minorities into civic participation. To put it another way, I believe that keeping HYPERLINK "http://topics.sacbee.com/America/"America safe from HYPERLINK "http://topics.sacbee.com/Muslim+extremists/"HYPERLINK "http%3A%2F%2Ftopics.sacbee.com%2FMuslim%2Bextremists%2F"Muslim extremists will require the help and cooperation of patriotic HYPERLINK "http://topics.sacbee.com/American+Muslims/"American Muslims. Why denigrate your best allies? Just what is this HYPERLINK "http://topics.sacbee.com/Muslim+Public+Affairs+Council/"Muslim Public Affairs Council, you may wonder. Among other useful things, it published what may be the most comprehensive explanation I’ve read on how Muslims become radicalized. But I’ll bet few people are aware that the 2009 document discussing the "market for martyrs" exists. "HYPERLINK "http://topics.sacbee.com/Building+Bridges/"HYPERLINK "http%3A%2F%2Ftopics.sacbee.com%2FBuilding%2BBridges%2F"Building Bridges to Strengthen HYPERLINK "http://topics.sacbee.com/America/"America" is available at the council’s Web site, www.mpac.org.Many Americans believe Muslims are unable and unwilling to assimilate – a charge that has been leveled against almost every non-Anglo immigrant group, including the HYPERLINK "http://topics.sacbee.com/Irish/"HYPERLINK "http%3A%2F%2Ftopics.sacbee.com%2FIrish%2F"Irish, the Germans and Jews, at some point in American history.And sure enough, younger Muslims are among the least likely to be registered to vote, a HYPERLINK "http://topics.sacbee.com/Gallup+poll/"HYPERLINK "http%3A%2F%2Ftopics.sacbee.com%2FGallup%2Bpoll%2F"Gallup poll found in 2008.Yet Tarin explains: "We’re still in our infancy for political and civic engagement. We have to do in 30 years what other communities have done in 150 years." Despite being a largely immigrant group (two-thirds of adult Muslims are foreign-born), a Pew Research Center study found most Muslims think they should adopt American customs and do not see a conflict between HYPERLINK "http://topics.sacbee.com/islam/"HYPERLINK "http%3A%2F%2Ftopics.sacbee.com%2Fislam%2F"Islam and living in modern society. HYPERLINK "http://topics.sacbee.com/Muslim+Americans/"HYPERLINK "http%3A%2F%2Ftopics.sacbee.com%2FMuslim%2BAmericans%2F"Muslim Americans are the most racially diverse of any religious group in the country, and Muslim American women are second only to Jewish American women in educational attainment.

I’m pretty well read about issues pertaining to immigrants, yet I’ve never heard any of those statistics. They’re facts worth building an image campaign around. Applications are due April 19.HYPERLINK "http://www.sacbee.com/2010/04/09/2667087/wanted-a-calm-credible-voice-to.html" \l "ixzz0ksd870KD"

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