In 1991, I wrote a piece for the my college paper’s April Fool’s edition. The fake commentary on the state of affairs in the Middle East offended so many Arabs on the Albuquerque campus of the University of New Mexico that I had to write another column explaining the joke.
My April Fool’s piece (I have the clip somewhere in my junk boxes, but too lazy to look) said something to the effect that Israel should just take over the entire Middle East and civilize savage Arabs and Muslims. Of course, my dear readers, what I meant was that this is how Muslims and Arabs are treated: as if they are mere ants in a wild jungle.
The joke did not go over too well. I was, understandably but wrongly, yelled at in my face by local Arabs at a special campus “recociliation” meeting. A local TV channel did a special report for its evening news. And I lost my bid to become the paper’s editor because the governing board met that very night and saw the mess I had casued.
Angry readers kept calling the paper’s office, calling me all sorts of names. One of them was particulalrly interesting. “You are just like Salman Rushdie!”, he said. A few days later, at the end-of-the-year party for the paper’s staff, I was given the “The Salman Rushdie Award” for journalistic excellence. Very funny!
Even funnier was that I was the person who gave Salman Rushdie the bad news; that a fatwa had been issued for his head. >>> Part 2