Racism in the US entertainment industry

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Racism in the US entertainment industry
Saudi Gazette Sunday, October 28, 2012

By Ray Hanania

EVERY day, millions of Americans watch a program called “Homeland” on the cable TV network, Showtime. “Homeland” is a story about a former American POW held by Al-Qaeda who returns as a hero but who some in the US government suspect is a spy. This kind of entertainment is attractive to Americans who most of the time wallow in their fantasies and rely on fiction as their facts.

The truth is Americans prefer fiction to fact. That’s why they swallow all of Israel’s lies when it comes to who really is oppressing and victimizing civilians in the Middle East. That’s why Americans are worried that Iran will build nuclear power plants in order to build nuclear weapons, ignoring that Israel already has more than 250 armed nuclear warheads.

Americans claimed to embrace democracy in their “war against terror” but in fact they engaged in torture, brutality and even war crimes against the Arab world. Fiction is the foundation of much of what Americans believe.

This undeniable fact of American life is fueled by a constant bombardment of “manipulative entertainment” by their media, which includes not only newspapers, radio, and TV, but also print and audio books, and the TV and film industry.

“Homeland” is the latest in an endless assault in the US entertainment industry on Arabs and Muslims to be embraced by Americans. The show is so popular Showtime announced this week it will be renewed for a third season, next year. The storyline in “Homeland” portrays an array of racist fiction that makes Americans comfortable in their uneducated view of the world.

Would it be too harsh to describe it as an ignorant view of the rest of the world? Maybe and maybe not. For example, “Homeland” features a terrorist character who is a leader of Al-Qaeda who, according to the show, is Palestinian.

Americans don’t care that Palestinians have nothing to do with Al-Qaeda.

Palestinians are not anti-American or anti-West. Palestinians are interested in fighting for their rights, rights taken from them by Israel.

They’re not even anti-Israeli or anti-Jewish. But Americans love the premise because they have been conditioned to accept the concept of “Bad Arabs threatening to kill and massacre and murder poor, defenseless, kind and loving Americans” in an endless brainwashing by the entertainment media. So why include something so ridiculous in a TV show? The show could have been just as successful if the producers had just stuck to the facts.

Al-Qaeda is an extremist movement led by violent fanatics who have twisted and distorted the true meaning of Islam. There are more American members of Al-Qaeda than there ever have been Palestinians members — Adam Yahiye Gadahn, Jose Padilla, and John Phillip Walker Lindh. Why? “Homeland” is produced in Israel by Israelis. The core of the racist anti-Arab message is shot on the streets of Jaffa, an Arab city being ethnically cleansed by Zionist politics.

It’s not the Palestinians who hate Jews or Israelis, but Israelis and Jews who hate Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims. Israeli producers inserted the anti-Arab hatred into “Homeland” because they know that when it comes to the Middle East, Americans are feebleminded. That intense media-driven propaganda war that brainwashes American minds explains why so many Americans accept without challenge many of the false myths fabricated by Israel.

The Arab world recognizes the power of the media but is not doing enough.

The Arab world thinks in terms of a narrow definition of the media, but it needs to expand its understanding to include not only the news media but the entertainment media, too.

The entertainment media is the most destructive of truth. TV programs like “Homeland” replace truth and accuracy with more appealing fiction and partisan propaganda. These TV programs do more to influence the American public’s already feeble understanding of the complexities of the Middle East and they are relentless in assaulting American perceptions. So why doesn’t an Arab country produce its own TV show for American audiences to offset the damage being done by the pro-Israeli media industry in America?

First of all the Arab world doesn’t fully understand the “media” at all.

They don’t appreciate the depth of the media’s influence. We know how negative it is but we don’t seem to recognize how easily it can be manipulated, managed, and molded to reflect our values. Second, the mainstream American media is very anti-Arab and anti-Muslim but it is also part of a larger American societal problem in which its bias and one-sided coverage is sheltered by the mainstream American public and the political establishment.

That’s why, for example, the Al-Jazeera satellite news channel has faced such difficulty in being included in the American media network. In contrast while Al-Jazeera is relegated to occasional and hard to find broadcast slots of 30 minutes or maybe one hour in some markets, the pro-Israel media has its own “channel” broadcasting 24-7 to Americans some of the most ugly and vicious anti-Arab propaganda out there.

But why do Arabs have to try and break down the closed door of the mainstream American media? Why not produce our own version of “Homeland,” telling the true story of how Israel has engaged in the assassination of innocent Arabs and Muslims, and expose its war crimes through the powerful medium of entertainment? And why not do it on the Internet? The costs are negligible but the return in educating Americans about the truth of the Middle East conflict would be enormous and beyond expectations. All it takes is someone with money who understands the power of a compelling online TV show. What’s stopping us from breaking down the wall of ignorance? Nothing except our own lack of creative vision. The anti-Arab and anti-Muslim stereotypes being fed by the pro-Israel media in America are effective only because the Arab world is AWOL in the battle.

— Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. He can be reached at www.TheMediaOasis.com

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

Click here to send Ray Hanania and email.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com ArabNews.com/taxonomy/term/10906
Ray Hanania