Friday, October 24, 2014


I've never watched this TV series, but here's an odd accusation being made against it:
Are the cast, crew and fans of "Homeland" - Showtime's television series about a brilliant but neurotic CIA agent - Islamophobes?

That's the implication of articles published this month in both The Washington Post and The New York Times. In the Times, Bina Shah, a Pakistani "contributing opinion writer," complains that "Homeland," much of which is set in Pakistan this season, demonstrates yet again that "the world sees us one-dimensionally - as a country of terrorists and extremists, conservatives who enslave women and stone them to death, and tricky scoundrels who hate Americans and lie pathologically to our supposed allies."

The problem is not just "Homeland," she writes, it's not even just Hollywood, but also "biased journalism, originating among mainstream American journalists who care little for depth and accuracy."

She notes that in "Homeland" and various feature films that use Pakistan as a backdrop (e.g., "A Mighty Heart," about the kidnapping and murder of reporter Daniel Pearl, and "Zero Dark Thirty," about the killing of Osama bin Laden) she has "seen India's signature homemade Ambassador cars traveling down Pakistani streets; actors who play tribal Pashtuns, but look Bihari; Western women wearing chadors where they don't have to, or going around bareheaded when they should be covered."

In one scene in "Homeland," set in Pakistan's tribal areas, she hears "everyone speaking Urdu, not the region's Pashto."

That's it? That's the bias? Seriously?

Ms. Shah quotes from a piece in The Washington Post by Laura Durkay, identified as a "filmmaker and activist" whose "writing has appeared in AlterNet, Gay City News, and Socialist Worker, among others." Ms. Durkay charges that "Homeland" is the "most bigoted show on television," and that it "perpetuates racist ideas."

She, too, fails to provide any evidence, instead asserting that the series "has churned out Islamophobic stereotypes as if its writers were getting paid by the cliche." She calls the show's heroine a "blonde, white Red Riding Hood lost in a forest of faceless Muslim wolves."

Full disclosure: I am a "Homeland" fan. The show has a fast-paced, ripped-from-the-headlines plot and intriguing characters. Among them: Fara Sherazi, who is an Iranian-born, observant Muslim - and CIA agent. She's smart and beautiful to boot. This season there also is a young Pakistani survivor of a drone attack that killed innocent celebrants at a wedding. He wants to return to his medical studies and not get involved in the war between the jihadis and Americans.

Does that sound Islamophobic, racist or bigoted to you? Or does it sound like Ms. Shah and Ms. Durkay are attempting to enforce "political correctness" - hurling the usual epithets to suppress views with which they disagree. Ms. Durkay is adamant that "Homeland" presents "a Frankenstein-monster global terrorist threat that simply doesn't exist." Victims of the 41 jihadi terrorist groups now operating in two dozen countries will be relieved to learn that Ms. Durkay, "filmmaker and activist," has arrived at that conclusion.
It sounds to me almost like dissatisfaction and a wish to complain regardless how Islam is portrayed in the series. The funny part is how the first writer cited parrots the complaint made by righties about the very papers she's writing for. In other words, she doesn't care how much the lefties who gave her a soapbox platform side with her positions already, she dislikes them all the same.

In any case, I don't think what I've heard about Homeland having an observant Muslim agent makes me feel encouraged to ever watch it. Certainly not if they won't be open about the Koran's content. But I agree the Pakistani op-ed writer's arguments are laughable.

No comments: