Ask Matt Labash

Ask Matt Labash, Vol. XII: Muslim Mad Men, boastful gluttons and treating the runs

Matt Labash Columnist
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I have asked a number of people this question, but I still do not have a clear answer. Janet Napolitano and Obama appointed Arif Alikhan, a devout Muslim, as Assistant Secretary for Policy Development at the Department of Homeland Security. Janet Napolitano swore in Kareem Shora, a devout Muslim, who was born in Damascus, Syria, as a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council. Now doesn’t this make us all feel safe? Do they remove their shoes, are they given time for prayer call? Oh! I almost forgot – does Obama join them? — Helen Thrasher

Why stop there? I’ve read that Obama has also exchanged emails with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Were they talking basketball? Or plotting the next terrorist attack on American soil? Makes you wonder… Look Helen, you know I love you. You know I’m no good without your touch. So don’t take this the wrong way. But get a hold of yourself. Ease up on the paranoia serum. Clearly you didn’t get the Council on American-Islamic Relations memo that Islam is a religion of peace, so please quit picking on our Muslim brothers and sisters. Yes, their practitioners blow up hotels and embassies. Yes, they fly planes into skyscrapers. Yes, they kill cartoonists, shoot up military bases, threaten South Park creators, park truck bombs in Times Square, and have carried out over 15,000 deadly attacks since 9/11, all in the name of their peace-loving religion. But put yourself in their place.

The Western world is largely a Judeo-Christian one. So how’s a Muslim brother supposed to break through the din of money-grubbing televangelists, pushy Jews who control Hollywood and the media, and the unwashed tea-bagging, militia-joining hordes? By passing out tracts? How boring. How ineffectual. How yesterday. If you want to belong to a sad religion in decline by doing those things, then stay Baptist. Islam is a growth religion, getting its message out to as many people as quickly as possible. And how does it do that? Free advertising. You want the greatest amount of people to hear what Islam is really about? What better way than to command the stage by showing them what it’s not about? It’s like the kids in my madrassa used to say: If you want to make an omelet, you’ve got to blow up a few chickens.

Still, for you to sit there and imply that the very presence of Muslims in the administration somehow jeopardizes our safety is unfair. At the risk of stating the obvious, all Muslims are not terrorists. And do not counter with, “Yes, but all terrorists are Muslims.” Because I see you coming, Helen. And I’m faster than that. No they are not. Let me give you a few examples: Mayor Bloomberg terrorizes innocent smokers, and he’s Jewish. Michelle Obama terrorizes innocent obese children, and she’s United Church of Christ. Sarah Palin terrorizes innocent syntax, and she’s non-denominational Protestant. So Muslims don’t have the market cornered on terrorizing innocents.

Maybe it’s time to stop considering the mote in your brother’s eye, and start considering the beam in thine own eye. That’s in the Bible, Helen. I suggest reading it, before Obama, Alikhan, Shora, and Abdul-Jabbar put their heads together, and outlaw it in favor of the Koran.

Why do people in Washington only brag about their stupid drinking and not their eating? I don’t get why some people still talk about drinking like they’re 16 or 17 years old. Yes, people drink. So what? — Betsy R.

Do you have someone specific in mind, Betsy? It sounds like you do. I hope to God you’re not talking about my dear friend and treasured colleague Jim Treacher. Because I’d like to see what kind of shape you’d be in if you, like him, were senselessly mown down in a crosswalk at 26th and M (22nd and M, if you believe Treacher—who didn’t have the luxury of documenting street signs as he was getting dragged behind a truck, Jasper, Texas style, by a State Department hit squad). I’d like to see what you’d do if you had to perform hours a day of grueling physical therapy and had to urinate in a bucket at your desk (the latter having nothing do with his injury, that’s just Daily Caller policy). Yes, Uncle Jim needs his “medicine.” But if he mentions it on occasion, he does not drink to show off or to be one of the boys. He drinks for the right reasons, i.e. to make the hurting stop. Not the hurting in his leg. That can be addressed with prayer, support from his readers and friends, and through masturbating so furiously that he loses all sensation below his ribcage. No, this medicine is for the hurting in his heart, at being betrayed by his country.

That said, you raise a fair point—especially of Washington drinkers. For instance, I’ve attended any number of White House Correspondents Dinners where in the days following, everybody brags about how plotzed they got. It’s a little sad, actually. It says, “I’m a grown person who’s performed the extraordinary physical feat of lifting a glass to my lips, and I have no self control when I do. Now celebrate me!” I find this is mainly done by lightweight drinkers. Heavyweights have little time for boasts, as talking about drinking takes away from valuable drinking time (See Jim).

But you’re absolutely right, what you don’t hear is people ever bragging about how much they ate. I have never once heard someone say, “First I combed the hospitality suites, and built a strong carb foundation by putting a brioche between two scones to make a starch sandwich. Then at dinner, after eating my lobster risotto and tenderloin, I went up to Dana Delaney’s table and asked her if she was going to eat her discarded shrimp shells because I wanted to suck the tail meat out of them, plus, I needed something to scrape the raspberry residue off my chocolate torte plate. Then, for second dessert, I went back to the kitchen and asked the chef what else was cooking and if I could lick the beaters.” That would take real courage. I have not met anyone at a Washington soiree who possesses that sort of bravery. When I do, I will congratulate them, take them to the bar, and we will drink until we can’t feel our legs.

Matt, I am a medical student at a second tier Southern medical school. Every morning, I wake up and go “I have to deal with plebes, (expletive expletive expletive)” then I snooze my alarm and light up a cigarette then slowly get up, play the Clash on my stereo, get in the shower, put out my cigarette, lather myself up in imported musk body wash and head and shoulders, quickly jump out to light up a second cigarette, come out, pour coffee, shave, brush teeth, light up a third cigarette, crack open a diet coke, walk to slaughterhouse-5 that people call “Pennylane” University School of Medicine and wonder if I am Billy Pilgrim stuck in a timeless, dimensionless purgatory that is being surrounded by people who deserve to be picked on and are just full of themselves and just one dimensional beta male/females who can’t tell me the difference between Sunni and Shiite yet rag on Bush and Republicans all the time, not to mention the fact that my school mandates “Cultural Competency,” “Why abortion is needed,”  “Healthcare = a Right” and “How to treat transgender patients” lectures. Is this a healthy lifestyle in trying to become a doctor? Is it worth it? Please tell me. My soul is rotting and I have 1165 days of medical school left. — RB
PS: Sorry about the run-on sentence and poor grammar. I’ve had a few
glasses of bottom-shelf scotch.

I’m not going to lie. This is a tough one, R. Why are you asking me? I’m not a real advice columnist. I just play one in my phony advice column. I’m not sure I can answer this question. Not because there’s no answer to be given, but because I started zoning out around your second cigarette. It’s me, not you. I have a thing about run-on sentences. I prefer periods. They help me organize my thoughts. You might want to look into them.

Still, I’d rather light a candle than curse your darkness. So tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to write you a referral to Jeffrey Goldberg over at The Atlantic magazine, who writes the “What’s Your Problem?” column. He’s very wise, and has been doing this a little longer than I have. Also, unlike me, he can give you meds, which you clearly need. Not because he’s a doctor or can prescribe them or anything. He just knows a guy who knows a guy, and so he sells them out of the back of his car. We are, after all, print journalists. It helps to have a sideline. I cut lawns. If you have any landscaping needs, you already have my e-mail.

Matt Labash is a senior writer with the Weekly Standard magazine. His book, “Fly Fishing With Darth Vader: And Other Adventures with Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys,” is just published from Simon and Schuster. Have a question for Matt Labash? Submit it here.