It's so cute that so many people are hyperventilating over the fact that Wafa Sultan, a secular Muslim based in America, appeared on al-Jazeera and gave a dressing down to an Islamist. On al-Jazeera, of all places!
Just the other day, I had exactly the same kind of experience. I was watching TV, and I couldn't believe my eyes, and I said "wow, did you just see Lebron James dunk? A dunk! In the NBA! Can you believe it? No, really - here's a video: he dunked!! Maybe this will totally change the NBA's culture, now that they've finally seen someone dunk!"
In other words, this sort of thing is exactly what al-Jazeera has been doing for the last decade. Indeed, this wasn't even Wafa Sultan's first appearance - she was on an al-Jazeera show just last July.
The best line yet was "I'll bet al-Jazeera regrets booking that woman." Um, no. Controversy? Check. Contention? Check. High ratings? Check. I think Faisal al-Qassem is pretty happy about it, since those are his favorite kinds of shows.
As it happens, I'm happy that people who don't ordinarily know much about the actual content of al-Jazeera are paying so much attention to the show. Maybe the next step will be to realize that her appearance wasn't particularly extraordinary, and to maybe rethink their preconceptions about al-Jazeera.
UPDATE: A couple of hours ago, I wrote "I think Faisal al-Qassem is pretty happy about it, since those are his favorite kinds of shows." Just now, email from Faisal al-Qassem: "The program really created a hell of a hullabaloo in the Arab world and I am very happy with it as you rightly guessed." With any luck, lengthier comments to follow.