Michigan made a splash in mainstream media on Monday. First the New York Times
and now Gawke
r (by way of CNN).
Attention from both stems from two facts. One: Metro Detroit has a large Arab-American population, and many Muslims live here. Two: Right now, following the attacks in Paris, a wave of Islamaphobia is spreading across the nation.These two facts together basically boils down the uptick in national media attention.
So let's talk about the latter media spotlight.
On Monday CNN's Carol Costello invited Hamtramck Mayor Karen Majewski onto the show to talk about "what's it's like to run America's first majority Muslim city." The thing is, however, Hamtramck is not in fact America's first majority Muslim city — it just happens to have the first majority Muslim city council.
Anyway the interview was crazy awkward. First Costello mispronounced Majewski's last name. She was corrected. After, which Costello asked this wildly pointed question. "You govern a majority Muslim city, are you afraid?"
To this Majewski responded that she was not afraid, but also corrected Costello's statement.
"No, I’m not afraid. And actually, I’d like to make another correction," she said. "We have, as of our last election, which was a couple weeks ago, we elected a Muslim-majority council. Whether the demographics of the city would say we’re a Muslim majority city, I don’t think that we’re there yet. I think we’re probably somewhere in the 40 percent Muslim for the city overall. But our city council that will take office in January will be a majority-Muslim council."
While the question was pretty offensive — not to mention ridiculous — it's not Costello being criticized by Gawker but rather Majewski. " This is a deeply insane and outrageous question, to which there would only be one decent reply: 'No, because there’s nothing to be afraid of. If anything I am afraid for
them because of people like you asking questions like that,'" wrote Gawker's Sam Biddle. "And Marjewski did take issue with Costello’s query — not because it was awful, but because it was inaccurate: Her city is NOT full of scary Muslims, thank you. Also, her name was mispronounced."
While Biddle is correct, Majewski probably could have handled the questions a bit more gracefully — ya know spending more time explaining why the question was wrong because of its assumptions about muslims in America and spending less time breaking down the factual errors — we do want to point out that the rest of the interview was sort better. Majewski got to explain that her constituents were more concerned with issues like streetlights and roads than terrorists, which did sort of put the nutty question into context.
Anyway, Media Matters captured the whole affair. You can watch it here. And then tell us, what you think of Majewski's response?
Also! Random question, but what do you think they told Majewski she was going to be on the show for? Like wouldn't the fact of whether or not she ran a majority Muslim city have come up earlier? IDK, just thinking out loud here. What do you think?