Last week on Tuesday, I conducted my first-ever AMA, or Ask Me Anything live interview on the popular website, Reddit.com.
Let me just start by saying I had no idea what an AMA was until about three months ago when a friend pinged me about doing one on Reddit.com. My first question was, “What’s an AMA?” AMA stands for “Ask Me Anything” and it is a popular form of conducting a live interview with and expert or celebrity. The questions are crowdsourced through a social media platform, like Facebook Live, Twitter, or Reddit. Reddit is a social media aggregation site where users share content from across the web, vote it up or down based on the content’s popularity. I was invited to do an AMA on the Reddit US Politics page, called a subreddit. The US Politics subreddit has about four million subscribers and tens of thousands of live users at any given minute of the day. Needless to say, there were no shortage of questions.
Given the rowdy nature of the internet, I was something between terrified and mortified to be doing an AMA at all. Several celebrities, politicians and experts who have recently done AMA’s have lived to regret it. CNN’s politics editor at large didn’t have a fun time. Nor did former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. I was a little worried that given my fairly long career as a political activist and Democratic politician, things might go awry. Thankfully, that was far from the case.
You can check out and read my AMA on Reddit at this link: https://www.reddit.com/r/politics/comments/aseejc/im_hamza_khan_a_progressive_political_activist/
So why do AMA’s and Reddit matter? Well, they’ve become a popular medium for political bases to interact with rising stars on the Left. The Washington Post wrote the following about them:
“Arguably, the site (and its signature AMAs) went from obscurity to mainstream prominence after President Obama’s 2012 AMA drew record-breaking traffic. And it shouldn’t surprise anyone that politicians have a hard time straying from talking points, even on a platform intended to be candid and casual.”
As someone who really hates talking points and the stiff, sheer lack of humanity that is establishment politics, I really enjoyed my AMA experience in the end.
One question in particular stuck out to me: what were my thoughts about the rise of antisemitism in the United States. Below is a portion of my answer:
The rise of anti-semitism in the United States horrifies me. No community should be subject to the pains and terror of being hated merely for existing. No people in history have suffered as chronically or as brutally for merely breathing fresh air as the Jewish people have. 2,000 years and beyond of being targeted, maligned, discriminated against time and time again merely for their commitment to their faith, their culture, their way of life. Indeed, as the Jewish sages tell us, there is always an "Amaleik" in every generation. Amaleik was a tribe that tried to exterminate the Children of Israel as they wandered the desert for 40 years.
The rise of antisemitism in America is the product of jingoism and chauvinism being peddled as politically viable movements to achieve some strange idea of an America devoid of "foreign" influences. It is being tolerated by the Republican Party which had more than a few neo-Nazis run to be their standard bearers in Congress this past election. It is sick. It is wrong. And I swear by all things holy, I will fight antisemitism to my dying breath as a matter of honor, duty and principle.
One of the reasons I was invited to do an AMA is because of the many times I’ve been on national TV in the past year or so, debating some of the most feared spokespeople on the political right. You can watch a mashup of some of my clips in the video to the left.
Questions focused on diversity in politics, identity questions, ranked choice voting (RCV), the future of the Democratic Party, and a very enjoyable exchange about how to make the best Turkish coffee ever.
Much to my surprise, my AMA turned out to be more popular (in UpVotes) than the one done by CNN’s Chris Cillizza—a huge surprise to me personally. Even conservative political activists seemed to enjoy the conversation. One of them wrote:
As a conservative that frequently visits this sub, I was fully expecting to be enraged by some of your answers but I found answers that encouraged a true discussion. Although I don't agree with some of what you said I do respect how you said it. Thank you for doing this.
I was touched by that.
All in all, my AMA experience was a good one.