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The U.S. Elite's Favorite Television Show: Showtime's 'Homeland' Demonizes Arabs and Prepares Americans For Bombing Iran

The award winning TV show reinforces myths and misconceptions about Arabs and Muslims.

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Here one wonders what Obama must be thinking while watching the show as he himself had ordered the murder of the 16-year-old  US-born teenager Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki by a drone attack two weeks after having ordered the murder of his American father who had not been charged with any crime. 

American Fantasies of Race and Sex

The time of the show seems to be the ongoing present with some discrepancies from actual American life. On the one hand, the CIA team is outflanked by the American Vice-President who seems to be a Dick Cheney figure (though he is named Walden, which sounds suspiciously closer to Biden than Cheney!), while the US President is fully absent from the show, neither named nor shown. In some ways, the African-American Estes, seems to be the stand-in for Obama, at least as far as racial semiotics are concerned. Indeed, as we saw, Obama is not absent at all from the extra-screen hype about the show.

The racist representation of Arabs is so exponential, even for American television (and this is clearly the manifest effect of the Israeli Jewish identity of the show) that one does not know where to begin. It seems all Arab men have multiple wives so much so that a Washington-based Saudi diplomat and Al-Qaida contact (Mansour al-Zahrani) who is married to three wives and has ten children is declared by the Jewish Berenson to be “gay” on account of his frequenting a gay bath house in DC “every Thursday” (Al-Zahrani is shown to be making out with a black man at the bath house in CIA-obtained video footage). Just like American whiteness, which is always completely pure that only one drop of black blood makes an American black, American heterosexuality is equally pure, so much so that a once-a-week homosexual experience renders a man married to three women (and presumably has heterosexual sex with them for the rest of the week) “gay”!  Clearly Arab society is so horrific that it forces gay men not only to marry one woman, but three! 

The Saudi diplomat who was threatened by Carrie of being outed to his government, parents, wives, and children, was unrelenting and dared Carrie to expose him, even on CNN. He refused to cooperate until Carrie threatened to pull his favourite daughter out of Yale University and deport her, making sure she would not be able to go to any American or European university and that she would be forced “to go back to Saudi Arabia and get fat and wear a burkah for the rest of her miserable life.” This Oedipal dynamic seems important for the scriptwriters as we will see. 

Representations of Arab women are also noteworthy. In the second season an Arab woman is presented as a CIA operative and is identified as the abused “second wife” of a Hezbollah leader. Aside from the colonial white feminist Carrie who recruited (and of course saved) the abused Hezbollah woman, we were introduced in the first season to the wife of a local DC imam who also collaborates with Carrie, but this time out of love for her husband who seems to be surprisingly unabusive. Another secular-looking and -acting, highly-educated, and British-accented woman, who is Brody’s secret DC contact with Al-Qa’ida, turns out to be a Palestinian named Roya Hammad. A major journalist, Hammad seems relentless in her pursuit of Al-Qaida’s goals. We are even told that her family and Abu Nazir’s “have been close since 1947. They were refugees from Palestine together!” 

Concern about what Arab and Muslim men do to “their” women is paramount on the show’s scriptwriters’ minds. When Brody’s wife finds out he had converted to Islam, she throws the English translation of the Quran on the floor (very astutely done by the show’s producers who seem to think that only the Arabic Qur’an should not be desecrated) and asks in horror how he could have converted to a religion whose adherents would “stone” his daughter “to death in a soccer stadium” if they found out she was having sex with her boyfriend. 

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