I want to know when Linda Sarsour started wearing a hijab. Probably by design, it’s impossible to find pictures of her before she hit the big time. Try Googling “images” for her. You’ll get an endless scroll of pictures showing Sarsour, as an adult, in every imaginable venue, decked out – always — in the latest Muslim-chic outfits. Like the Tickle Me Elmo in the 90s, Linda Sarsour is everywhere: on stages, on CNN, on twitter, in parades, leading protests and posing with (other) celebrities.
Where you won’t find her is anywhere near Palestinians, mixing it up with the people she claims to be fighting for. And who can blame her? Gaza can be a rough place for an American woman, especially one with a designer hijab and a net worth of millions.
I’m not suggesting that Sarsour is a self-serving prima donna who’s demonizing Israel to promote herself as something she’s not, which is a pioneering Muslim woman, busting hijab-first through the mosque ceiling. That’s just her brand — you know, a real-life wonder woman, not like the Jewish one in the movie.
All I’m saying is, maybe it’s time for Sarsour to check in with her flock. Maybe they’re better off than they were four years ago. We know she is.
But was she ever really that bad off – or, for that matter, that Muslim?
Sarsour learned about the plight of her fellow Muslims the hard way: while growing up in Brooklyn’s middle-class community of Sunset Park, a remarkably harmonious mix of whites, Hispanics, Asians, Indians and Norwegians… everything but Muslims. Sunset Park is the epitome of modern-day America, with its picturesque view of New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty and, of course, the airspace where the Twin Towers used to be.
If I were Sarsour’s image agent – you know she has one – I’d bury that cozy past and concoct something less… well, less American. I’d send her to Pallywood for a photo shoot with Sarsour in a full burqa, heroically protesting a stoning or gay hanging.
I’d hype up the side of her that’s supposed to be promoting peace instead of calling for a jihad and sharia law. How about an innovative, good faith initiative, like a weapons exchange program where young Palestinians surrender their throwing stones and Carotid Artery knives for a free night course at a community college? I mean, if there weren’t so many rocks and so many disadvantaged Palestinian men – which, along with everything else, is Israel’s fault – Jews wouldn’t need an Iron Dome over every baby stroller.
Then again, Sarsour doesn’t really need a publicity agent because she has the New York Times, which has long-since abandoned the concept of objectivity on all issues pertaining to Israel. Sarsour, not surprisingly, is their manna from heaven, and today they enjoy a relationship so close you’d need a crowbar and a Supreme Court ruling to separate them.
Wise-assery aside, it’s too bad — and it’s opportunists like Sarsour who make it bad – that the people who profit from the victim industry are never the victims – although, in this case, there are no victims.
Sarsour is nothing more than a vanity-champion — no different than a volunteer fireman who starts a fire so he can look like a hero while he’s putting it out. She has never lifted a finger to shine the light on anything other than herself. That, too, is by design. She sure as hell doesn’t want the light shining on Palestinians – at least, not when they’re slaughtering rabbis or plowing cars into Jewish school children.
At least for a while, the rest of the world is just going to have to deal with it. Until the cameras stopping rolling, Sarsour’s not going anywhere. Why would she? She’s got the sweetest gig going since Al Sharpton scored the Tawana Brawly deal. And look what that did for the esteemed reverend’s career. Ching Ching!
Yep. Foaming at the mouth about Israeli apartheid: That’s where the glory is. The problem for both Sarsour and the New York Times is that she is the exact opposite of their fantasies. For starters, she has the shelf life of a Kathy Griffith. She’s a fad that’s bound to self-destruct, like a Fidget Spinner with a blasting cap. Her “brand” can only evolve by getting less and less palatable until finally her foaming becomes too boring or too much of a liability and no one wants to be around her anymore.
Until then, she’ll continue to be the modern-day ugly American, coopting the adversity of others and exploiting it for selfish purposes. In military circles, they call that stolen valor, and no one has stolen more of it than Linda Sarsour.
John C. Wolfe is the former Chief Speechwriter to New York Gov. George E. Pataki and author of “You Can’t Die: A Day of Clarity” on Amazon/Kindle.