[Photo Credit: Screenshot via Comedy Central]
The self-proclaimed ‘best f#@king news team’ of “The Daily Show,” a daily news-comedy on Comedy Central, is well known for bringing up socio-political issues in its unique and funny yet informative way. Many of its reports have created public support for numerous timely causes. Jon Stewart, the show’s former celebrated host, captured the attention of the world media by exposing the filibuster of the then Republican senators to pass the Zadroga Act- the 9/11 first responders’ Health and Compensation act back in 2010.
Another well-done bit was released earlier this week—featuring Hasan Minhaj—in collaboration with The Sikh Coalition, which focuses on Sikh-Americans and they’re impacted by Islamaphobia. Besides Muslims, Sikhs are the worst victims of it.
Reports on Sikh Americans being victimized and profiled post 9/11 is a reoccurring problem within the community at large. Balbir Singh Sodhi, a gas station owner in Arizona, became the first victim of such hate crimes when he was shot and killed on September 15, n 2001. The legacy of hatred continued; many more Sikhs were brutally murdered, they were accused of being terrorists-sometimes of being Osama Bin Laden, Sikh temples were burned, and Sikhs were being beaten up out in the open by Islamophobes.
With the upcoming U.S. presidential election and the mass televised bigotry of some presidential candidates, Islamophobia is rising again, and so is the fear of xenophobic violence against the Sikhs. Naturally, “The Daily Show” did not miss to notice this issue. Last Monday their correspondent Minhaj, who happens to be a Muslim, did a field report on the identity-confusion by Islamophobes when it comes to American Sikhs.
The piece was enriched with trademark humor of the show. At the same time it kind of introduced the Sikh values to the mainstream Americans, most of whom, sadly enough, do not know even the existence of Sikhism as an independent religion. For example, when Minhaj asked the prime interviewee of the report, designer and actor Waris Ahluwalia, to use ‘I am not a Muslim’ phrase to defend himself against the confused Islamophobes, Ahluwalia’s answer was, “I cannot throw another community under the bus.”
He said that is the Sikh value he was raised with. Ahluwalia said he wears the turban to remind himself of this and many other such amazing values taught by this religion. Hence, he would not take it off, even if it means to risk his safety in his own country.
Ahluwalia also pointed out the ignorance of maximum Americans of his faith. Minhaj proved him right by asking random people on streets whether they knew what a ‘Sikh’ is. This lack of knowledge about the existence of Sikhism as a separate religion also insinuates the reason behind the hate crimes committed against the Sikhs in America in the name of Islamophobia.
It might be too harsh to claim there is racism in Hollywood and in America based on this skit but logic points in that way as well. Hasan Minhaj asked Ahluwalia to star in Hollywood movies to educate the Americans about Sikhs, pretending he did not know about this actor/writer. Ahluwalia has starred in blockbuster movies like “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (2014), “The Darjeeling Limited”(2007), and “The Inside Man” (2006). This pretentious ignorance of Minhaj either indicates the stereotypical and almost unnoticeable portrayal of minorities in Hollywood movies or the lack of appreciation of these characters among the audiences.
But the main theme of the skit was loud and clear. Sikhism is a religion of peace and is filled with humane values which are heartily followed by its devotees. Nothing can justify any kind of violence against these peace loving, turban-wrapped, kind hearted people.