Aasif Mandvi is an American Muslim of many talents. He is an actor that you probably know the face of if you don’t know the name. He’s been in many movies (Spider Man 2, The Internship, Million Dollar Arm, The Siege). He’s also done plenty of TV as a once regular on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and with his sitcom Halal In The Family. He has also authored the book No Land’s Man.
Aasif has said plenty of things over the years about Islam, things such as: “I think Islam has been hijacked by the idea that all Muslims are terrorists; that Islam is about hate, about war, about jihad. I think that hijacks the spirituality and beauty that exists within Islam. I believe in allowing Islam to be seen in context and in its entirety and being judged on what it really is, not what you think it is.”
Well said indeed. Adding to this, earlier this year in March Mandvi did a brilliant 22 minute speech at the 2015 Congressional Radio and Television Correspondents’ Dinner, where he made some rather clever and funny points about Islam and how it is misrepresented in the media. I have blogged about this speech previously, that’s how good it is.
Anyways, the whole speech is well worth a listen, and below are some transcribed highlights. Enjoy!
Aasif Mandvi, speaking at the 2015 Congressional Radio and Television Correspondents’ Dinner (C-SPAN), March 2015
The most exciting thing that happened recently was when the Prime Minister of Israel came to speak to congress, right? So that was exciting. I mean say what you will about President Obama, but it took a black president to make Republicans finally wish for a Jewish one. You know, however, I wonder if Netanyahu is aware that there is only one Republican Jewish congressman. Only one. The Republicans loooove Israel, but the Jews, eeehhh not so much. We’ll give them our money, but our votes? That’s going too far!
Listen, I don’t care how this goes tonight, because tomorrow it’s going to say ‘Muslim Bombs’ or ‘Muslim Kills’. It’s bad for me either way.
I am also honoured to be representing the American Muslim community tonight. (Small applause) Thank you, to the two Muslims allowed in here. There’s not a lot of Muslims in the media or the government. Fareed Zakaria, Keith Ellison, Wolf Blitzer ate a falafel once…I’m just saying that besides those guys, myself, and the President, there are not a lot of Muslims in the public eye. (Laughter) We know he’s a Muslim. You don’t, we do! Oh you think he’s black? He’s not black, he’s a Muslim. Wait till two years from now, full beard, four wives, lamb cologne, the whole thing. He’s not here. Like he’d be in the back? I don’t know. He can’t be here, too many Muslims in one room and you don’t know what happens. We might start doing the terrorist fist bump, the handshake, and then pretty soon we’ve passed shariah law. God knows where it could end. Although it would prove to congress that it is possible to pass a law. I don’t think Obama is a Muslim. You know why? He’s a terrible haggler. If he was a Muslim he would have haggled that budget, he would have haggled the closing of Guantanamo. I’m telling you, every congressman would have gotten a suit from his cousin Mustafa at 50% off.
We could never pass shariah law in this country because of the constitution, and also because they cut off your handing for stealing, they stone you for adultery, they cut out your tongue for lying. Washington DC would come to a stand-still. Without those perks no one was going to run for public office.
As a Muslim American, I also want you to know that I denounce terrorism, okay? Can we get that off of the table now? I denounce it. It’s done. I denounce it. We’re always denouncing things. Whenever a Muslim does anything that’s bad, all of the other Muslims have to come out and denounce everything that’s bad. I mean I’m used to it. As a comedian I denounce Carrot Top. As a New Yorker I denounce winter. As an Indian American I denounce the Washington Red Skins, even though they’re not the same kind of Indian. But I’ll denounce them. Whatever. I’m used to it, I’m used to denouncing.
White people never have to denounce anything, right? I mean I’ll make it easy on you. We can start with khaki pants and barber shop quartets, before we work our way up to the big stuff like crystal meth, and depleting the world’s natural resources.
You know when Muslims or people in the Middle East commit violence, it is immediately “Islam!…Islam!…it’s bad!” A white person can write a Christian manifesto, shoot hundreds of people with a sub machine gun, have a bomb in his car, and it is bad parenting! “He’s mentally unstable. He went off his meds.” Why can’t I be mentally unstable? Why can’t Muslims ever be mentally unstable? I want to be mentally unstable. I would love to be mentally unstable.
Sure, I get it, I get it. Look, having little understanding of other cultures, being giving an AK-47 at 11 years old and told that God is on your side is part of what it means to be American. But there are people in Afghanistan and Iraq who feel the same way. All I’m saying, white people, is stop hoarding the crazy! And it affects the way even I think about it, you know? A white person ran out of a building the other day in New York city, stole my cab. I thought that guy’s a jerk. If a Muslim person ran out of a building and stole my cab I’d think that building’s going to blow. I see a white person with a beard I want to buy his artisinal honey. (Laughter) I see a Muslim person with a beard I’m hoping he’s getting pulled out of line at JFK. I see three white guys walking into a strip club, I think bachelor party. I see three Muslim guys walking into a strip club, I’m getting the hell out of town!
There is a lot of Islamophobia right now, you know. But I try to be positive about it, right. I try to see a silver lining. For example I know that there are a lot of Americans who are burning Qur’ans. But I look at it this way, at least they are BUYING Qur’ans. And that’s gotta be good. I know there are many Americans who are protesting the building of mosques. But at least for the first time those same Americans now know that that building with minarets is not a Mexican restaurant. And that’s good.
I have fun with the whole thing. I mean, you know when I get on a plane I know I don’t HAVE to look both ways suspiciously before I put my luggage in the overhead compartment, but I do! It’s fun! I know I don’t HAVE to count my steps from my seat to the bathroom in an Arabic accent… (Mimic Arabic accent) “One-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, three-one-thousand”… (Laughter) But i do it! It scares whitey! Look, I figure if people don’t want to make the distinction between a Muslim and a terrorist, then why should I make a distinction between good, scared white people and racists. Why?
I got the most interesting e-mail from the vice president Joe Biden, who wanted to know about the 72 virgins. EVERYONE wants to know about the 72 virgins! Well, this is something that I can actually answer because it’s an interesting point. As some of you may not know 72 virgins are promised in heaven if you die as a martyr. However recently Muslim scholars have discovered that it’s not virgins at all, it’s actually raisins. This is true. There was a translation mishap in the old Arabic, and raisins were very rare at that time, and so it’s 72 raisins. Imagine Achmed the terrorist showing up after he’s died, “I am here, I am here for my virgins, all the sex I am going to have now, let’s go!” “Ah, Achmed, we are very sorry, there was a little mistranslation problem. There are no virgins, but we have a lovely fruit plate for you. Cheese and Crackers…” It’s not the same. Also, why would you incentivize terrorists with 72 virgins? It’s the worst sex on earth, times 72. 72 strippers and a Lamborghini, now I’m joining Hamas!
But you know I’m always trying to think of ways to bring our country together, to overcome prejudice and racism, and I think it is time for Muslims in this country to come together and do what African-Americans did a number of years ago, when they did the Million Man March. I think it is time for the Million Muslim March. Am I right? Imagine that, a million Muslims marching down Broadway in New York city, with the beards and the hijabs and the whole thing. But here’s the best part, we don’t tell anyone we’re going to do it. We just do it! “The jihad is coming! Cover your babies in pork fat. Wrap yourself in bacon. They can’t touch you…” We march down, surround Fox News, just to watch Bill O’Reilly pee his pants.