Zahir Janmohamed in McSweeney's:
President Trump announced another Muslim ban this past weekend and your editor wants a piece on the subject by 2 pm. She already rejected your pitch about why Riz Ahmed was your favorite character in Rogue One and now she wants you to talk to “everyday Muslims.”
It sucks, I know. And it’s confusing. Sunnis? Shias? And what’s that? There are Ahmadis, too? Of course, it doesn’t help matters that Kumail Nanjiani is being so damn unhelpful by not responding to the questions you tweeted at him about Islam.
That’s why I, a Muslim American, am here to help. I have written tons of profiles of Muslims and I have even been profiled (Hi, TSA!). With my template, you can write a compelling piece about Muslim Americans in just six easy paragraphs.
Start with a character and an image. Since you like to give feminist literature to the women in your life (as your Instagram followers well know, #FeminismIsForMeToo), double down on that by making her a woman. Be sure to humanize your character by describing her many quirks. For example: “Fatima loves line dancing. In fact, she knows she should spend her money on GRE classes but prefers to buy cowboy boots instead.”
Hit readers with a curveball. “But Fatima is a hijab wearing 21-year-old Somali woman whose family fled to the US when she was five. She doesn’t drink, eat pork, or date, but she feels much more at ease at a Blake Shelton concert than in a mosque.”
Now that you have hooked your audience, go in on the Islamophobia stats and the latest news on Trump’s Muslim ban. Don’t go too deep because you need to zoom out quickly and talk about Fatima’s collection of bedazzled hijabs.