Making his first visit to a U.S. mosque as POTUS, President Obama scolded the TV networks for not doing their part to portray Muslims in series storylines other than ones about national security.
In conversations with young Muslims, Obama said in today’s address at the Islamic Society of Baltimore. “They were pointing out that so often they felt invisible. And part of what we have to do is to lift up the contributions of the Muslim-American community, not when there’s a problem, but all the time.”
That’s where Obama introduced the shame-on-TV-series motif:
“It’s not that hard to do,” Obama said, addressing network execs not in the hall. “There was a time when there were no black people on television. You can tell good stories while still representing a reality of our communities.”
It played well in the room.
The mosque at which Obama is speaking now began as a small Sunday gathering at Johns Hopkins University; now it is one of the largest Muslim communities in the Mid-Atlantic, the Baltimore Sun reports.
In the wake of last year’s terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California that killed 130 and 14 people, respectively, Republican presidential candidates – most dramatically Donald Trump – have urged a ban on all Muslims trying to enter the country. In today’s address, Obama noted questions have been raised since he first ran for the White House as to whether he is Muslim. “Thomas Jefferson’s opponents tried to stir things up by suggesting he was Muslim, so I’m not the first. It’s true! Look it up — I’m in good company,” he said.
And, today’s visit is controversial; Fox News reported “the historic occasion is being overshadowed by criticism that the Baltimore-area center he chose has extremist ties.”
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