Book review: Al’ America

Jonathan Curiel travels through America’s Arab and Islamic roots.

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The Jerome Corsis of this world see a Muslim behind every bush, and according to Al’ America, they’re right! In the fine tradition of The Irish in America, Jonathan Curiel, a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, puts the usa through a sieve and sorts out Muslim influences on American culture.

Much of the colonization of America was made possible by Arab scholarship and innovation; Christopher Columbus relied heavily on the work of Arab astronomers and geographers. The Doors’ keyboardist Ray Manzarek tips his hat to “the Arabic, minor harmonic sense” that influenced his signature sound, and surf-rock legend Dick Dale tells Curiel that his megahit “Misirlou,” best known as the Pulp Fiction theme song, was “actually an Arabic song.” In his most engaging chapter, Curiel analyzes Elvis Presley’s near obsession with Lebanese-American poet Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet—the King sought to produce a film version of the book, and a copy was found on his nightstand after his death.

Ultimately, Curiel predicts Arab culture will transcend even the post-9/11 climate of racism and stereotyping. “From its beginning, America intersected with Arab and Muslim culture, borrowing from it, admonishing it, fearing it, coexisting with it,” he writes. “The foundation of that legacy was undisturbed by 9/11.”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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