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Arizona Town Responds to Sacha Baron Cohen Who Is America Show
In a break from exposing the evil nature of notable Republicans, Sacha Baron Cohen traveled to the town of Kingman, Arizona, in the second episode of Who Is America? where he exposed the racist nature of a handful of people from rural United States.
In the segment, Cohen, posing as an uber-liberal, calls a community meeting in Kingman, where he introduces plans to build a massive mosque in the small town.
This didn’t go so well.
The people gathered are outraged, equating building a mosque with welcoming terrorism into Kingman. One man says Muslims aren’t welcome in a town that doesn’t tolerate black people either.
It’s another absolutely sick moment of a show that has successfully revealed the rampant racism, islamophobia, and xenophobia at the heart of this country.
But, in a new Facebook post, city officials are saying that Cohen mischaracterized the town.
Every city has resident voices that challenge respect and dignity for others. They are wrong and unfortunate. That was no exception on Sunday’s Who Is America? show on Showtime in which an actor baited purported residents to vociferously oppose a fictitious, supersized mosque in our city. Another in the audience also stated negative feelings towards African-Americans. No matter the instigation or that numerous ‘focus group’ participants don’t even live in Kingman, the show’s characterization in the words of one member of our Kingman City Council ‘broke her heart.’
According to the Facebook post, Kingman does have a mosque (it does!), it has a diverse community with “African-Americans applying for leadership positions” (key word applying), and welcomes tourists “from Asia fascinated by our Route 66 history” (whatever that means).
The post continues to say—with extremely Trump-ian rhetoric—that “it might be easy to laugh off what took place Sunday night on a show with very low ratings that tries to make everyone look bad.” Kingman Mayor Monica Gates also told The Washington Post that she “didn’t recognize a soul in that video,” which implies that she knows all 30,000 people in Kingman. But, even though city officials insist the town isn’t that racist and was mischaracterized by “residents” that the mayor doesn’t recognize, it’s going to try to be less racist.
The comments in the show, fairly or unfairly, show that we still have more work to do. So here are additional steps we are going to be taking as ours is a community like too many others in America that still encounter such issues. For the first time our City Manager will be bringing to the City Council a resolution in support of National Hispanic Heritage Month, beginning on September 15th, in honor of our significant Latino community. We intend to invite Phoenix Pastor Warren Stewart to help us honor Martin Luther King Junior Day in January. Stewart admirably and courageously led the fight for the State of Arizona to honor the fallen civil rights leader. We also plan to work with our Interfaith Council to develop the community’s first Diversity Commission that will be charged with expanding what our city and community does for people of all types and persuasions that have contributed, and will contribute, to this great country.
Cohen isn’t going to save America. He’s not going to change this country. But in two episodes his actions have made very small strides toward progress. And there’s still five more to go.