Under normal circumstances, making fun of conservative blowhard and former Seattle Times columnist Michelle Malkin is a healthy and enriching activity. But when she's agonizing over the disappearance of Marizela Perez, her cousin and a freshman at the University of Washington, it's a good idea to pull a few punches.
Here's how the comedy bit went down:
Sagal: Everyone has faced that moment of existential doubt and asked: Who am I? Where do I come from? Well, this week, we read about someone who sought answers to those questions and was shocked at what they found. Our panelists are going to tell you three stories about people uncovering a secret about their identity, only one of which was in this week's news. Choose that true story; you'll win Carl's voice on your home answering machine or voicemail. Ready to play?
Patrick: I am.
Sagal: First, let's hear from Maz Jobrani.
Maz Jobrani [comedian, Muslim, hilarious guy]: Conservative commentator and Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin has expressed her fear that there are Muslims amongst us who are hiding their true identity. The most prominent, she claims, being Barack Obama. However, when she set out to find proof of these undercover Muslims, she found more than she bargained for.
It turns out that there are, indeed, some Muslims hiding their identity to fly under the radar. The most pertinent one for Malkin being her own grandfather.
Yes, Grandpa Malkin, who is from the Philippines but lives with Michelle's parents, had not told the family about his religion for fear of being ostracized and thrown out. "Do you know how hard it is to pray five times a day when your family doesn't know? I had to excuse myself to the bathroom every time I wanted to pray. And the ham dinners, don't get me started on the ham dinners."
Malkin was in shock when her grandfather revealed his true identity to her. He explained that he had been a closeted Muslim for too long, and it was time for him to live his life and be happy with himself. Malkin used the revelation to confirm her argument that Muslims are taking over. First they wanted the youth, and now they're going after my grandfather? My 90-year-old grandfather? This is sick.
Sagal: Conservative activist Michelle Malkin finds a Muslim in her very home.
Here's the clip:
Afterward, Malkin predictably flipped out in a post on the Conservatives for America blog headlined "Hey, NPR: Fund your own lame liberal humor--and leave my family alone."
Marizela Perez, UW freshman, missing since March 5.
And NPR, as is customary for the station, hastily sent out an apology for the segment, saying, among other things:
"After some discussion, we decided a direct personal apology was the best response," said Danforth. "Our panelist Maz Jobrani, who read the fake story using her name, has reached out with a personal response to Ms. Malkin."
How long is long enough to wait to safely lampoon a public person going through a family tragedy is still a matter of debate.