Watching the analysis of the 20th anniversary of 9/11, I was stuck by how many of the talking heads were Muslims. It looked like 9/11 and Osama bin Laden were the best things that ever happened to American Muslims. Twenty years ago, you seldom saw women wearing head scarfs; now you see them everywhere.
It was a rough few years for Muslims immediately after 9/11 as suspicious minds tended to believe that all Muslims were terrorists. But then the reaction set in. American media and academia defended and supported Muslims as good, ordinary people. As a result Muslims and Islamic ideas have become much more important to American politics and thinking. America has become more Islamic and less Christian.
Islamists not only won the war in Afghanistan, they won the war for minds in America. Osama bin Laden did not “win,” but he should be proud of what he accomplished in terms of promoting Islam.
In 2001, there were no Muslims in the American Congress; today there are three. More and more Muslims are running for office and assuming more important positions around the country. The Los Angeles Times reports that Muslims are becoming more politically active, particularly in Michigan which has a large Muslim community. The PBS NewsHour, under Muslim Amna Nawaz’s leadership, has been particularly active in lobbying for and promoting Muslims and Islam in the US. Before 9/11 the Democratic Party was unified in its support for Israel; today many Democrats sympathize with the Arabs who oppose Israel, rather than with Israel.
The fact that Ken Burns has chosen to do a documentary film about Muhammad Ali illustrates how trendy Islam has become in the US and how strongly PBS is advocating for it.