All I can say is that I believe in the American people. I really do. I really believe that they have the right spirit and the right attitude about tolerance, as a society, as individuals, and as a culture. It’s said over and over, not to be a cliché, but America is a country of immigrants and the stories of successful immigrants bridging the gap are tremendous, from every culture and every walk of life in the United States. And I think that over the past ten years, because of what has happened since 9/11, and America’s involvement in the Arab world and the broader Islamic world, the time is right for Arab Americans, Muslim Americans, and people from that background—who’ve been for decades integrated in the United States—to become more vocal and to become not just observers of American life, but to be participants of mainstream American life. And nothing can be more mainstream in America than reporting for an American network like NBC.

That’s why this decision weighed heavily on me, not just as a journalist, but as an Arab American. I knew that in some ways I would be paving the way. I’m not the first Arab American to work for an American network, but I’d like to think that it is breaking new ground for a lot of young reporters from all different kinds of backgrounds who may think that, you know what?—American media is generally of a certain type, out of a certain background, reporting to a certain audience, and we’re certainly going to try to push the envelope with that a little bit and see what the reaction is going to be like.

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Dave Marash is an award-winning broadcast journalist who has taught and reported on global issues for much of the past two decades. He now blogs at davemarashsez.blogspot.com/.