8.14.2013

Big, Bad Muslims: Part Seven—24: Season Six

Yes, I am the bad guy. Cue the creepy
Middle Eastern flute music.
The most important Muslim character of this season in terms of plot is its antagonist, Abu Fayed. Keeping with tradition, 24 casts an American of Greek ancestry, Adoni Maropis, who does what he can with a role that devolves into one-dimensional villainy.
Fayed is physically and vocally imposing, and yet, as with Ahmed, his motivations are muddled and underwritten compared with the depth of season five’s Western villains. Additionally, unlike season four’s Habib Marwan, he is never given a chance to explain himself or allow the viewer time to examine his reasoning. While those other villains had episodes centered on their character’s development, Fayed becomes clouded with conservative sound bites meant to instill hatred, fear, and misunderstanding of Islam.
Fayed is presented in the first episode with typical Middle Eastern music. He is lean, muscular, and moves with authority. He and his men are smart, threatening, and after revealing he is behind the attacks, he is quite terrifying. When CTU discovers Fayed’s betrayal, Nadia asks him in Arabic, “Where is your honor?” As 24’s main villain, he, by default, has none.
When Jack escapes Fayed, Fayed plans to stop his attacks and find Bauer, but one of his men reminds him, “We’re not here to kill one American. We’re here to kill thousands.” The man never says why. Later that episode while outfitting a suicide subway bomber with an explosive vest (as typical Middle Eastern music plays), Fayed tells him, “When the time comes even the most devout experience fear. By overcoming your fear, you prove your worth. I am proud to have known you in this life.” His words have religious overtones, but 24 has yet to state what they mean to Fayed or his men. Because of this hesitation, unfound in Habib Marwan who declared his motives from the outset, Entertainment Weekly ravaged these lines “[24’s villains are] extremists with suitcase nukes and bad dialogue, like ‘Once again the streets are flowing with blood!’” (Flynn). As episodes continue, Fayed increasingly becomes a caricature. Eventually even his dialogue is limited to grunts, growls, and one-word responses.
Not even four angry Muslims can hold Jack Bauer for long.
            24 goes to great lengths to depict Fayed’s inherent violence and disregard for human life. After detonating the nuclear bomb, he plans to detonate more, but his explosives expert is killed in first the blast (not that he cares). Needing someone to reprogram the triggers on the remaining nukes, he has Morris O’Brian, one of the show’s newest and most popular characters, kidnapped. Of course, Morris refuses to reprogram these triggers. What results are two episodes of what the Parents’ Television Council branded as the worst hours on TV in those weeks. Fayed tortures Morris with pistol-whips, baseball bats, drowning, and, most disgustingly, a power drill.
When Morris gives in, Fayed arms a bomb and leaves with orders for his men to execute Morris and follow him. Of course, CTU saves Morris, but Fayed escapes.
Morris gets Fayed's point drilled home...
Dum-dum-tish!
Fayed meets the Russian, Dmitri Gredenko, in the Nevada desert, and like Assad and the Ambassador, wilts before Caucasian authority. Before Fayed arrives, one of Gredenko’s men asks the former general, “You still think you can trust the Arabs?”
 Gredenko shrugs. “They serve their purpose.” He claims the USSR lost the Cold War because of their fear to use nuclear weapons. “Today we will correct that mistake and the Arabs will take all the blame.”
Fayed further loses his villainous power by becoming Gredenko’s pawn. Although he still believes he has control, Fayed’s threat to viewers continues to unravel. He appears stupid and naïve, the ‘animal’ Curtis Manning called Assad earlier in the season.
            Fayed and Gredenko argue over who is helping whom. Gredenko claims he is responsible for Fayed’s success as he possesses technological know-how. Later, Gredenko tells his men, “I’ll be glad when we no longer have to deal with these people. They’re living in the dark ages and they act like they own the world.”
Yes, this drunken Russian knows how to operate nuclear
equipment. It's all in the slicked back hair and the beard.
Though spoken by a villain, this line maintains the Orientalist myth that Muslims are a desert people, conjuring images of camels, tents, dancing girls, and foolish, arrogant brutes.
After the first nuclear drone fails, Fayed tries to kill Gredenko, but the Russian reminds him that he is the only one who can detonate the remaining bombs. Fayed, who watched Gredenko set up the first drone, apparently cannot clip a few wires together, push a button, and fly the drone with a video game joystick. Either the writers forgot Fayed’s knowledge of nuclear bombs, trigger devices, and, in a short scene after his escape from Bauer, aeronautics (he flew a helicopter), or they purposefully maintained his ‘backwardness’. He and his people are ‘analogs’ in a digital world.
            Jack, with the help of Gredenko, captures Fayed. Gredenko’s betrayal serves only to get Fayed in Jack’s hands, to allow the viewer a release as Jack viciously tortures him with the help of CTU agent Mike Doyle. Here is the scene where Fayed’s motivations are revealed. Fayed, after Jack tortures him, remains silent. Doyle offers to help. “No,” Jack says, “he wants us to martyr him.” While Jack talks to CTU on the phone, Doyle gives Fayed a speech:
You really think you’re going to be remembered as some great
martyr for your people, Fayed? Yeah, you blew up a little city
today and you killed a lot of people, but let’s face it: it’s going
to be of no real political significance. Let me tell you what’s going
to happen. Your number two guy, once he realizes you’re out of the
picture, he’s gonna take the remaining suitcase nukes and blow up a
substantial target, something that’s really gonna hurt this country, and
if by some chance he succeeds, he’s gonna be the hero of your jihad
and you will be forgotten. Is that what you want?
Fayed looks up at Doyle and replies: “Do you honestly believe you can manipulate me by playing on my vanity? I serve the will of God!” Aha! If Fayed believes he serves God, then so do all 24’s villainous Muslims. They fight the same ‘war’ with the West using their bastard faith.
"Oh, boy, guys! Now, can I say my typical Muslim
terrorist bad guy speech?"
            In the climax, Fayed escapes Bauer and Doyle, meets with his men, and orders they ready the last nuclear bomb as typical Middle Eastern music flares. “We’re going to finish this! We’re going to take out downtown Los Angeles!”
Unbeknownst to Fayed, Bauer had ridden below the garbage truck Fayed used for his escape. Jack shoots Fayed’s men (who cannot hit a target in a white shirt less than ten yards from them). After missing Bauer with every bullet, Fayed runs out as well. The two men tackle each other and enact one of the best fights in 24 history. As much as he tries, however, Fayed cannot defeat Jack, who wraps a chain around his neck and hangs him from the ceiling, telling him: “Say hello to your brother.” Fayed’s death is a perfect representation of 24’s Muslims: choked, unable to speak, silenced by a Western authority that demands the last word.
In the end, Fayed feels all chained up. I'll be here all week, folks!
            Here is the dichotomy. If Jack represents American values, then Fayed must represent his opposite, everything and anything America will not tolerate. As the season unfolds, it is revealed Fayed has teenage soldiers in American suburbs (Ahmed), the Islamic citizenry’s backing (Salhib), and the support of some and maybe all members of his native country, especially its government (the Ambassador). Though Fayed is radical, 24 condemns all Muslims, both in the United States and abroad, as guilty by association. When it finally allows Fayed to state his motivations, it lays terrorism at the feet of his people and a faith that does not profess it.
            In Part 8, I’ll examine one of the show’s secondary characters, Nadia Yassir.

Bibliography
“Day 4.” “Day 6.” 24. Fox, 2005, 2007.
“24 Under Fire from Muslim Groups.” BBC News. BBC News, 19 January 2007.
Armstrong, Stephen. "Rough Justice." New Statesman 136.4836 (2007): 36-38. 
Bauder, David. “TV Torture Influencing Real Life.” USA Today. 11 February 2007.
Dougherty, Michael Brendan. "What Would Jack Bauer Do?" American Conservative 6.5
(2007): 8-10. 
Flynn, Gillian. “24: TV Review.” Entertainment Weekly. 11 January 2007.
Halliday, Fred. 100 Myths About the Middle East. Los Angeles: University of California Press,
2005.
Irwin, Robert. Dangerous Knowledge: Orientalism and its Discontents. New York: Overlook
Press, 2006.
Lewis, Bernard. From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East. Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 2004.
McCormick, Patrick. "The Torture Show." U.S. Catholic 73.5 (2008): 17. 
McDermont, Jim. “A Trojan Horse.” America 196.7 (2007): 23-24.
Rossi, Melissa. What Every American Should Know About the Middle East. New York: Plume
Books, 2008.
Said, Edward. Orientalism. New York: Vintage, 1978.

Yuan, Jada. “The White-Castle Ceiling.” New York Magazine. 4 March 2007.




8.06.2013

Big, Bad Muslims: Part Six—24: Season Six

The Ambassador...you can tell by his hair, this guy is slick.
And not to be confused with the Fiber One guy.
At this point in the season, when Assad and President Palmer negotiate for peace, the Ambassador from Assad and Fayed’s unnamed native country comes on scene, expressing ‘shock’ and ‘regret’ over the nuclear attack, and informs Palmer not to trust Assad as he has carried out repeated attacks against his own countrymen. Assad shouts, “Your policies precipitated those actions!”
“That’s your justification for killing innocent people?” the Ambassador asks.
“You and I define innocent in different ways,” Assad mutters.
The Ambassador steps toward him. “My own deputy lost his seven year old son in one of your bombings! That is how I define innocent!”
Before the two Muslims can fight, Palmer makes a proposal. If Assad does not appear on TV with the Ambassador’s country’s support, Palmer will move a Navy carrier group closer to its shores (boy, what a deal!). Assad and the Ambassador quickly agree.
            As Palmer and Assad prepare their press conference, one of Palmer’s staff members, with the support of those who believe Palmer is too soft on the Muslim threat, plants a bomb in the speaker’s podium. Assad agrees to speak first. Before he does, he reveals his fear that Fayed’s men will not listen. Palmer shares a similar feeling. “The people we’re trying to reach out to abandoned the political progress a long time ago.”
Assad nods, but tells him, “All we need is a foundation to build on. The rest will follow.”
One that note, Assad steps behind the podium and it explodes.
Assad, seconds before the Big Bang.
            President Palmer is incapacitated by the blast (and gives us a reprieve from his wooden acting). Assad is killed, and what began as a strong, complicated character turned into a push-over before the American President. Then, just when the show takes steps toward examining political realities, it uses Assad’s death to shift viewer sympathy to the seriously injured Palmer. Like Ahmed and Sahlib, Assad is violent at heart—on 24, violence deserves violent ends. Like Walid, the end of his character’s story arc serves only to push an American’s character further, and in doing so, the show loses its most interesting Muslim in the process.
Okay, so, the Ambassador—
            He’s a key secondary character in the last half of the season.  Once again, 24 casts an Indian as a Middle Easterner. Ajay Mehta plays this thankless role with appropriate exasperation.
After his exciting exchange with Assad, we next see the Ambassador (who remains unnamed, therefore enabling us to see him only as an abstraction of ethnicity) when Vice President Daniels takes office. At 6pm, Daniels informs the Ambassador that Assad planted the podium bomb with the support of his country (Daniels, the bastard, knows this is untrue). The Ambassador balks. “Assad was not working at the behest of our government. He was as much a wanted man in our country as in yours.”
Daniels sneers, “Not as much,” and implies Fayed, too, has governmental support. Taking the same tact as Palmer, he threatens to ‘unleash the full power of his military’ on the Ambassador’s country if he does not help stop Fayed.
            During that hour, CTU informs Daniels that Fayed and Gredenko have acquired nuclear drones, small, plane-like bombers that operate under remote control. Daniels, craving military action against Fayed’s country, breaks the news to his cabinet. Secretary of State Ethan Kanin is confused. “We were of the notion that these terrorists are essentially stateless.”
Daniels growls, “That’s the fiction they hide behind! Everyone in this room knows that elements within Fayed’s country train and fund terrorist organizations like his. It is time to hold them responsible!”
VP Noah Daniels, another asshole in an asshole-filled season.
These lines mimic Bush’s ‘Axis’ of Evil’ speech: “Our…goal is to prevent regimes that sponsor terror from threatening America. States like these and the terrorist allies constitute an axis of evil, aiming to threaten the peace of the world.”
While this may be an arguable reality, as there is certainly evidence for it, 24 makes no serious effort to repeat that the people of the Ambassador’s country do not sponsor terrorism. Rabiah Ahmed, a spokeswoman for CAIR, shared a similar reaction. “I’m concerned about the image it ingrains in the minds of the American public and the American government, particularly when you have anti-Muslim statements spewing from the mouths of government officials” (BBC News). When Fayed threatens to kill innocent Americans for an unjust cause, the audience should despise him, but when the Vice President threatens to kill innocent Muslims based on known lies, it is acceptable self-defense (counter-terrorism, if you will).
The Ambassador, like Ahmed and Sahlib, is a liar with hidden agendas. This proves true in the next few episodes after Palmer miraculously recovers and becomes President once more.
Yes, the bomb victim recovery process naturally goes from this...
...to this...
...to this in the matter of hours.
At 11pm, with his intuition telling him the Ambassador is hiding something; Palmer launches a nuclear attack on his country. Immediately, the Ambassador enters with surprising information: Fayed is supported by a high-ranking general named Habib (what an original name, right?). His country has arrested Habib and is interrogating him. He pleads with Palmer to abort the attack. Palmer chuckles. “Your government has known about this man for quite some time haven’t they?”
The Ambassador denies it.
“Stop lying to me!” Palmer shouts.
The Ambassador asks for compassion. “You must understand the fragile political climate of our country. General Habib is a high-ranking military commander.”
Palmer nods. “I hope protecting this man was worth pushing us to the brink of World War III.” He aborts the missile launch. “The difference [between us] is I wasn’t about it take innocent lives to prove my point.”
Palmer urges the Ambassador to have Habib call Fayed to set up his capture. The Ambassador shakes his head. “That may be difficult. Habib has been resistant.”
Karen Hayes, who always deplores torture, loses her moral compass in such close contact with a Muslim, crying, “Maybe you should be more persuasive!”
The Ambassador, showing the fire he possessed in only one scene, replies, “I resent your tone. I don’t need to be told how dire the situation is!”
Hayes shouts back, “It’s not the time for your indignation as it’s your country’s inactions that have brought us to this point!”
"Listen, listen, you must torture General Habib...Yes, I know it is a stupid
name, but what can I do? Yes, torture him, or else the mean American man
will nuke our country! Yes, he's staring at me right now!"
Fayed is not an isolated product, an American anomaly like Jack Bauer, but rather a product of his region and its people. It is the country and its atmosphere, not misleading radical leadership and skewed ideology that is to blame.
Palmer then suggests the Ambassador’s country threaten to kill Habib’s family.
The Ambassador is shocked. “But what you’re suggesting is barbaric!”
Palmer almost screams, “I’m fully aware of how your country treats political dissidents, so don’t you dare speak to me of barbarism!” Remember, Palmer and America only mistreat to prisoners when necessary, while the Middle East revels in violence almost as a sacred tradition.
As a character, the Ambassador is consistently Muslim, at least for 24: a liar, a cheat, unsure of himself and willing to back down to forceful Americans. Like Assad, the fiery spark he once possessed that supposed he was a character, not a stereotype, is snuffed out in exchange for reminding the audience to be afraid of the Middle East. As Michael Dougherty wrote, ‘24’s writers are willing to sacrifice human compassion and fair treatment for a conservative branding of omnipresent guilt.’
In Part 7, I’ll continue to analyze this season by looking at its main villain, Abu Fayed (oh, and he’s a good one).

Bibliography
“Day 4.” “Day 6.” 24. Fox, 2005, 2007.
“24 Under Fire from Muslim Groups.” BBC News. BBC News, 19 January 2007.
Armstrong, Stephen. "Rough Justice." New Statesman 136.4836 (2007): 36-38. 
Bauder, David. “TV Torture Influencing Real Life.” USA Today. 11 February 2007.
Dougherty, Michael Brendan. "What Would Jack Bauer Do?" American Conservative 6.5
(2007): 8-10. 
Flynn, Gillian. “24: TV Review.” Entertainment Weekly. 11 January 2007.
Halliday, Fred. 100 Myths About the Middle East. Los Angeles: University of California Press,
2005.
Irwin, Robert. Dangerous Knowledge: Orientalism and its Discontents. New York: Overlook
Press, 2006.
Lewis, Bernard. From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East. Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 2004.
McCormick, Patrick. "The Torture Show." U.S. Catholic 73.5 (2008): 17. 
McDermont, Jim. “A Trojan Horse.” America 196.7 (2007): 23-24.
Rossi, Melissa. What Every American Should Know About the Middle East. New York: Plume
Books, 2008.
Said, Edward. Orientalism. New York: Vintage, 1978.

Yuan, Jada. “The White-Castle Ceiling.” New York Magazine. 4 March 2007.





7.26.2013

Big, Bad Muslims: Part Five—24: Season Six

Hey, I'm an actual human being,
not a one-dimensional character.
Hamri Al-Assad is 24’s most interesting Muslim character, and the only one played by someone from the region. Alexander Siddig, from Sudan, gives Assad an intelligent authority and spontaneity missing from 24’s other Muslims.
After Jack Bauer learns Fayed’s misinformation has sent the government to kill Assad, Bauer tracks him down and tells him one of his men is a traitor. Assad finds the traitor and condemns him: “You betrayed us.”
The traitor responds, “No, you are the one who betrayed his people.”
24’s Muslims often identify themselves as ‘us’ or ‘our people’, but have of yet to state what makes them a unique group beyond their religion. 24’s American characters, however, never proclaim group identity. They may say ‘our country’, but never ‘our people.’
Soon, it is revealed that Assad came to America to stop Fayed and begin peace talks. “I’ve gotten most of my people and the governments that support us to agree to a cease fire with the West,” he says. Of course, the government has no idea. So, Jack, Assad, and the traitor narrowly escape being killed by US troops.
After breaking into an empty home, Jack and Assad interrogate the traitor, demanding Fayed’s location. Jack is convinced the man knows nothing, but Assad continues the torture and, in one of the season’s grisliest scenes, stabs him through his kneecap. The man tells Assad where the next attack will occur. Assad, before stabbing him to death, whispers, “I understand you thought you were doing the right thing. I admire your conviction, but you’ve taken the wrong path. I’m sorry.” Assad, who claims commitment to peace, is as violent as Ahmed Amar and Salhib’s men. Jack and the government are violent out of necessity, while it appears Muslims are naturally violent. To say the continuation of violence in the Middle East comes from a society that has historically promoted violence is a symbolic usage, not historical fact. Nevertheless, 24’s Muslims, as is their nature, habitually use violence as a method to excel in conflict situations.
Hurrying to save Scott from Ahmed, Jack encourages Assad to help CTU catch Fayed. Assad refuses. “I will not work with my enemies.”
Jack reminds him the government’s attack on his location was Fayed’s ruse, and replies, “You’re working with one now. You might hate this country. You might hate its values, but if you were serious about disarming…then you know you have to compromise. That is your political reality.”
Unfairly hated by the Middle East, the West, apparently, is innocent. Yet, as Said would point out, this hatred for the West is spurned by the West itself and, as Bernard Lewis contends, Orientalist intrusion and Western control of the Middle East gave its peoples the ability to question Western power. “Once these subjects had mastered a Western European language…they found a new world open to them, full of new and dangerous ideas such as political freedom and national sovereignty” (129). Lewis also believes that Middle East ‘Western scorn’ is not as vehement as the American media’s portrayal. Since Western methods of government, economics, and policy have failed in the region, “to many [Middle Easterners] the West again appears as something alien, pagan, and noxious, still hostile, but no longer terrifying” (216). Fred Halliday supports Lewis, stating “the resistance by Muslims to rule by non-Muslims is…of the rise of the dominant Western secular ideology of modern times, nationalism, with its core ideological claim that peoples are entitled to sovereignty and independence” (166). 24 shuns this actuality by ignoring America’s history in the region. America, as embodied by Bauer, remains an innocent superpower under siege from a band of misguided, violent insurgents like Ahmed, Sahlib, Fayed, and formerly, Assad.
"Alright, we'll kill terrorists together."
            Jack’s partner, Curtis Manning, refuses to work with Assad and places him under arrest. Assad protests. Jack calls President Palmer. Palmer offers Assad immunity if he continues to track Fayed and facilitates the peace process. Assad agrees and receives a full legal pardon. After Jack saves Scott from Ahmed, he tells Curtis of Assad’s deal.
Curtis, gritting his teeth, eyes bulging, whispers, “In other words, he walks.” Jack says that is the way it has to be. Curtis assures him Assad will arrive safely at CTU.
A minute later, CTU informs Jack that in the first Gulf War Assad’s men ambushed Curtis’ squad, killed five of his men, and left him badly wounded. Assad took hostages and beheaded them the next day.
Jack sprints outside to find Curtis holding Assad at gunpoint. Jack pleads with his partner to lower his weapon, but Curtis refuses. “I can’t let this animal live!”
Jack shoots Curtis in the neck, killing him.
"Curtis, don't kill him. You've been around for three seasons already. Don't let that end here!"
"I have to! Right now, while we're trying to stop a nuclear explosion! I have to take the time to have my revenge
while millions of innocent lives hang in the balance! This is totally consistent with my character!"
            24 drew heavy criticism for this scene. Curtis Manning had been one of its most beloved, level-headed characters, a welcome counter to 24’s occasional overbearing melodrama. Viewers deemed his attempted execution of Assad out of character. Yet, for this season, the scene maintains its theme: contact with Muslims will invariably cause rational Americans to lose their reason. Ray did it, and now, overshadowing Ahmed Amar’s fate in the previous scene, Curtis’ interaction with Assad results in his death.
            Afterward—it’s no shock—Assad receives a cold reception at CTU. Director Bill Buchanan refuses to shake his hand.
“I know you see me as your enemy, but today I assure you I am not,” Assad tells him. “I came to the United States to stop Fayed. I knew he intended to inflict damage, but not to kill millions.”
Still, no one believes him until he discovers Fayed is working with a disgraced Soviet general, Dmitri Gredenko. CTU apologizes for its behavior and puts Assad on a plane to the White House. Before he leaves, Buchanan offers Assad his hand. Assad, with gratitude, respectfully shakes it, saying, “I hope the worst is over here in Los Angeles.” And he means it.
            Yet, President Palmer treats Assad as another Muslim who needs to atone for his ‘nature’ by complying with American demands.   
When the two meet, Palmer greets Assad with ‘understandable skepticism,’ chastises him for his dealings with Fayed, and demands he appear on television to “appeal to the members of the Islamic communities everywhere to come forward with any information regarding Fayed.”
Assad shakes his head. “You flatter me if you think I hold sway over all Islam.”
Curling his lip, Palmer replies, “No, sir, not all--just the extremists who share your hatred of the West.”
Later in their conversation, Assad tells Palmer, “Many of the people you wish me to sway have been swayed to believe that our cause is a holy one. I’m not innocent of this manipulation.”
Palmer: "How do you get your hair so wavy?"
Assad: "Now is not the time, Mr. President."
An exploration of true political realities would not only explain/comment upon terrorist motivations, but of American government’s policies, such as those embodied by Tom Lennox, or more topically, George Bush. Both sides, and both worlds (fictional and real) could be examined, but 24 only allows Islam that painful admission. Through silence, America maintains innocence.
            In Part 6, I’ll discuss how these depictions only worsen in the show’s introduction and usage of a Middle Eastern “Ambassador.”          

Bibliography
“Day 4.” “Day 6.” 24. Fox, 2005, 2007.
“24 Under Fire from Muslim Groups.” BBC News. BBC News, 19 January 2007.
Armstrong, Stephen. "Rough Justice." New Statesman 136.4836 (2007): 36-38. 
Bauder, David. “TV Torture Influencing Real Life.” USA Today. 11 February 2007.
Dougherty, Michael Brendan. "What Would Jack Bauer Do?" American Conservative 6.5
(2007): 8-10. 
Flynn, Gillian. “24: TV Review.” Entertainment Weekly. 11 January 2007.
Halliday, Fred. 100 Myths About the Middle East. Los Angeles: University of California Press,
2005.
Irwin, Robert. Dangerous Knowledge: Orientalism and its Discontents. New York: Overlook
Press, 2006.
Lewis, Bernard. From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East. Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 2004.
McCormick, Patrick. "The Torture Show." U.S. Catholic 73.5 (2008): 17. 
McDermont, Jim. “A Trojan Horse.” America 196.7 (2007): 23-24.
Rossi, Melissa. What Every American Should Know About the Middle East. New York: Plume
Books, 2008.
Said, Edward. Orientalism. New York: Vintage, 1978.

Yuan, Jada. “The White-Castle Ceiling.” New York Magazine. 4 March 2007.



7.17.2013

Holy Wars: "god is not Great"

317 frustrating pages. Yes, that includes the index.
When I first read Christopher Hitchens’ God is Not Great, I was captivated. His prose and conviction sucked me into his black-and-white battleground of faith vs. reason. I remember reading chapter eleven of Great, about Joseph Smith and the rise of the Mormon Church, aloud to my wife just days before we were to attend a wedding reception for a Mormon friend. “Listen! This is what they believe!” That was my enthusiasm. Eventually, I searched the internet for more of his writing. Soon I found Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, and many more New/Old Atheists, and devoured their work with as much gusto. I watched God debate after God debate on YouTube, read Hitch’s Missionary Position (his take on Mother Teresa), and bought The Portable Atheist, his 400-page tome of atheist readings. Because of Hitch, I almost, almost (emphasis on the al) considered myself an atheist, too.
Then I didn’t.
            At first, the problem was The Portable Atheist. As I read, and was enjoying what other atheist writers had put to paper, I discovered I was repeating the same phrase: “Wait, Hitch said the same thing.” Halfway through the book, I realized, duh—all I found in Great had been said years before. Sadly, in Hitch, there was nothing new.
            I felt cheated. After all, atheists, at least those I hang with, worship Hitch. So, I decided to read God is Not Great once again.
            Jesus. What a disappointment.
            DISCLAIMER: I’m not arguing the merits of atheism, absurdities of religion, or how one should conduct their life, etc. I’m talking about the writing. I’m talking thesis, ethos, logos, etc. I’m talking sustained argument, ample/accurate research, and the true insight of an open mind.
            Okay. Go. 
This would have been infinitely more enjoyable.
            Sure, Hitch can string together sentences and turn clever phrases (Catholic priests molesting children = No Child’s Behind Left—hil-ar-ious!). Yet, mostly I felt like throwing the book across the room. What I found in this reading of Great was consistent historical errors and theological misinterpretations, logical fallacies galore, and an overall intellectual dishonesty with the targets of his mean-spirited accusations. Many times I wondered if any of it should be taken seriously. I even considered it might parody the New Atheist movement. But Hitch’s tiresome crusade in the years leading to his passing proves otherwise. The man was dead serious. Har-har.
#1 – Historical errors and theological misinterpretations – Toss aside the whole “some Jews still have sex through a sheet” thing. After complaints that this has always been untrue, Hitch withdrew the claim and apologized. In the afterword, he says it was a research oversight.
      Okay.
    But one glaring example is Hitch’s claim that Pope John Paul II “blessed” Tariq Aziz, Saddam Hussein’s Deputy Prime Minister and supposed hider of the country’s there-and-gone WMDs. Aziz was a Chaldean Catholic, and requested an audience with John Paul II in order to profess his country’s willingness to cooperate with international forces. John Paul responded by urging Aziz to follow the UN’s requests so that violence could be avoided. In a sense, he told Aziz to cut the shit. His “blessing” was, if anything, ceremonial. In no way was the Iraqi government, Aziz, or the crimes against humanity perpetrated by Hussein’s administration given the A-okay by JPII. It was not a seal of approval. Yet, Hitch sure makes it seem that way in the half-assed manner he tosses in this assertion that is of course meant to defame the Vatican as a religious institution and show how out of touch such institutions are wont to be.
Research oversight? Come on, Hitch. You’re better than that.
Or how about Dietrich Bonheoffer “not dying for Christian principles,” but humanism? I agree with Hitch’s point that atheists can do as much “good” as any believer. But Bonheoffer? Really? The guy who said as the Nazis were leading him to the gallows that his life “was just beginning?” Why not give historical examples of atheists doing “good” instead?
Because this is what all religions believe...yawn...
And Hitch, Justinian didn’t close the Old Academy because of Christian bias. He opened his own school that taught the same things—it was competition. He might have been a religious nut, but his nuttiness didn’t cause him to close down a center for philosophy (oh, the knee-jerk vocab—“philosophy”—that must mean science and reason!).
Or how about Tertullian, one of the Church fathers, condemning all unbelievers to Hell? Well, he only meant the Roman hierarchy who persecuted Christians, and given the bloodshed, who can blame him? Sure, the guy said some stupid shit in his lifetime, but at least get your theological context straight, Hitch.
Or how about firefighters “don’t eat pork” because it smells like human flesh? What?! Where is your scientific data Mr. Reason? I have several firefighters in my family that won’t turn down a tasty pork chop. Yes, yes, this claim connects to his chapter about religious prohibitions on swine and that one is a doozy, too. According to Hitch, pork was probably banned from dinner tables because it’s so closely related to us that the ancients couldn’t bear the experience of killing an animal that shares so many of our genes. Thing is, they didn’t know why this appalled them. It was an unconscious thing, you understand. Or something like that. You could skip the chapter if you wanted. It doesn’t add much.
And neither does the chapter titled “The Metaphysical Claims of Religion Are False.” Here, he presents no real arguments, and instead merely says miracles or promises of an afterlife are bogus since A) he doesn’t believe them, and B) such claims come from primeval history when people didn’t know “science.” I wish Hitch would’ve taken the time to explain what he thinks metaphysics is or would’ve taken the time, as David Bentley Hart aptly points out, to better understand Nietzsche’s “God is Dead” metaphor. But such scholarship would break his rhetoric. After all, Hitch is supposed to be arguing why religion poisons everything. Or that there is no god. Or that god sucks.
Here is the major problem with the book. What the hell is Hitch trying to say? It can’t be the rhetorical exaggeration that religion poisons everything. Never mind this unscientific claim, so abstract as to encompass nothing. Religion poisons art? Writing? The African fur trade? Yes, religion gets people to do fucked up things, but so does politics, social standing, consumerism, family. Etc, etc, etc. Who doesn’t know this? So, what’s your solution, Hitch? Do you have anything new to say? And please, for the love of all things holy, stop with the series of spotlight arguments. I get it—fundamentalist Hindus blaming the 2004 Indonesian tsunami on Christian missionaries is stupid, and so is Tim Dwight arguing against smallpox vaccinations, and so are Muslim extremists flying planes into buildings. I agree already. But in the words of George Costanza, “Give me something I can use!”
Again and again and again, Hitch refuses to gnaw the bone, to get to the marrow of the argument. Instead, he blah blahs.
The best example of his laziness is his use of Ockham’s razor. Does he know Ockham was a monk? I guess that doesn’t matter. Anyway, in Hitch’s world the Razor declares that the simplest theory is best, the one that makes the least assumptions. Still, this begs the question, why is there existence, natural laws, consciousness, etc.? Why is the key, not how. The simplest explanation isn’t best, but rather the simplest explanation that best explains phenomena and is justified by the complexity of the phenomena itself. Otherwise, we’ll end up asking the same question. It’s a metaphysical question!
I have no reason for including this other
than I thought it was cool. That atheist
druid is so freakin' ripped!
Yet, Hitch avoids this. Why? Well, then he’d have to say something new.
I could go on (don’t get me started on his New Testament chapter), but what would be the point? You get it. Yeah, sometimes religious people do things for stupid, backasswards religious reasons. Okay, in that I’m a believer. What then can/should we do? Well, we don’t solve it with pure vitriol, that’s for sure, ’cause where’s the reason in that?

In the end, Hitch and I share many beliefs, but as an author, philosopher and firebrand—and as a receiver of $15,000 checks for debating so-called “delusional people of faith” by pretty much reciting chapter and verse from Great at every venue—man, you’ve got to bring it better than this. Has our outrage at our failed cultural institutions, which is to say a failure in ourselves, grown so maddening that we accept and applaud Great as quality writing? Or are texts like these merely outlets for our frustrations? I wonder how Hitch’s heroes—Voltaire, David Hume, Spinoza, and the like—would react to experiencing his work as a shining example of modern intellectualism. To quote Voltaire: “It is easier to judge the mind of a man by his questions rather than his answers.”

7.09.2013

Big, Bad Muslims: Part Four—24: Season Six

"Yes, I have dark skin...Okay, of course I can play a Muslim."
Another Muslim character suffers a narrative fate similar to Ahmed Amar.
At 7am, we meet Walid Al-Rezani, head of the Washington D.C. Islamic-American Alliance (a thinly-veiled pastiche on the CAIR), and boyfriend of Sandra Palmer, the President’s sister. Harry Lennix, a Chicago-born American of Creole ancestry, plays Walid with sympathetic calm.
The FBI arrives at the IAA to background check its workers. Sandra tells them, “You’re in the wrong place. There’re no terrorists here.”
Walid wants to cooperate. “We can’t pretend we’re not under attack,” he tells her.
Sandra calls her brother, outraged. “I’m not some idealistic flag-burner and I understand you’re going through a very complicated situation, but once you start ethnic profiling it’s a slippery slope.”
            Later, the FBI returns to the IAA with a warrant and Sandra erases the IAA employee computer records. Instead of arresting her, the FBI detains Walid and takes him to one of Tom Lennox’s secret detainee camps.
While being registered, Walid prevents an American soldier from harassing a Muslim who refuses a cavity search. As a result, the soldier beats Walid. Later, as he walks the detainee common area, Walid meets the man he saved, Salhib.
“Have you talked?” Salhib asks.
Walid replies, “I have nothing to tell them.”
Salhib mutters, “I’ll tell you something, brother. Before this day is over they will all pay.”
With Salhib exposed as a potential threat, Walid turns informant.   
"Hey, guys. What's happening? So, hey, are any of you, like, terrorists?"
            Here, 24 misses a crucial opportunity to dissect the mandates once proposed by the Bush regime and expose them as civil rights abuse. Instead, the show justifies the Bush claim that the threat of terrorism exists everywhere. The detainee camp is not a springboard for even-handed political examination, but a paranoid playground populated by seemingly average Muslims like Salhib, who are in fact terrorists.
After joyfully beating Walid to “create his cover,” the FBI forces Walid to wear a wire. Then, Walid joins Salhib’s friends in the camp. When Salhib asks what the FBI wanted, Walid tells him they demanded information about Abu Fayed. Suddenly, Salhib’s group is a militant band of brothers, united and ready to strike the American enemy. When Walid spots one of the men talking suspiciously on his cell phone, it dawns on the FBI, “He must be talking to Fayed!” Walid pickpockets the phone and discovers the man had only been accessing Arabic websites reporting Fayed’s activities. “These men aren’t terrorists,” Sandra tells the FBI. Yet what the show leaves unsaid is that while these men are not physically involved, they ideologically support Fayed. This perpetrates the myth that violence against the West is a Muslim way of life.
Walid, here comes the pain.
Of course, Walid is caught slipping the phone back into the man’s pocket. Salhib hisses, “You’re spying on us? You’re worse than they are!” The group of exposed terrorist supporters pummels Walid until the FBI intervenes and rushes him to the hospital.
Thus ends Walid’s storyline and all hope that 24 would examine Lennox’s detainee camps with any critical insight. The CAIR was especially disturbed by this. Its Los Angeles representative, Sireen Sawaf, told the BBC News, “I do realize it’s a multi-dimensional show that portrays extreme situations…[but] the overwhelming impression you get is fear and hatred for Muslims…Watching that show, I was afraid to go to the grocery store because I wasn’t sure the person next to me would be able to differentiate between fiction and reality.”
24 tried to claim it made Walid sympathetic to Americans. Yet, in his last scene, after being beaten by Salhib and his cohorts, his loyalty to America is broken. “I’m ashamed for spying on those men,” he tells Sandra. This is the last the viewer sees of him. Sandra goes to the White House bunker and never mentions him again. Like Ahmed, Walid is forgotten.
In Part 5, I’ll discuss Hamri Al-Assad, 24’s most interesting Muslim character.
Walid: "I'm ashamed of spying on those men. And this band-aid is real itchy."

Bibliography
“Day 4.” “Day 6.” 24. Fox, 2005, 2007.
“24 Under Fire from Muslim Groups.” BBC News. BBC News, 19 January 2007.
Armstrong, Stephen. "Rough Justice." New Statesman 136.4836 (2007): 36-38. 
Bauder, David. “TV Torture Influencing Real Life.” USA Today. 11 February 2007.
Dougherty, Michael Brendan. "What Would Jack Bauer Do?" American Conservative 6.5
(2007): 8-10. 
Flynn, Gillian. “24: TV Review.” Entertainment Weekly. 11 January 2007.
Halliday, Fred. 100 Myths About the Middle East. Los Angeles: University of California Press,
2005.
Irwin, Robert. Dangerous Knowledge: Orientalism and its Discontents. New York: Overlook
Press, 2006.
Lewis, Bernard. From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East. Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 2004.
McCormick, Patrick. "The Torture Show." U.S. Catholic 73.5 (2008): 17. 
McDermont, Jim. “A Trojan Horse.” America 196.7 (2007): 23-24.
Rossi, Melissa. What Every American Should Know About the Middle East. New York: Plume
Books, 2008.
Said, Edward. Orientalism. New York: Vintage, 1978.

Yuan, Jada. “The White-Castle Ceiling.” New York Magazine. 4 March 2007.


7.02.2013

Rick Deckard: Man or Machine?

Fans of Blade Runner have debated the human/synthetic identity of bounty hunter Rick Deckard for years. In some circles, the debate encompasses the novel on which the film is based, Philip K. Dick’s sci-fi masterpiece Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? In Ridley Scott’s 1982 cinematic adaptation, Deckard is a hard-drinking bachelor whose mind seems influenced by his superiors in the L.A.P.D. This is made more evident in the 1992 Director’s Cut and 2007 Final Cut. Deckard, played by Harrison Ford, dreams of unicorns similar to the origami shapes crafted by his partner Inspector Gaff. These scenes combine with cryptic dialogue, like Gaff’s statement at the end of the film that Deckard ‘has done a man’s job,’ to suggest Deckard is synthetic. In various interviews, Scott has stated Deckard is, as per the lingo of the film, a replicant (android in the novel), albeit an unknowing one. Unfortunately, the film’s twist has over-shadowed Philip K. Dick’s one-hundred-percent human protagonist.
            In the 21st century world, androids are physically identical to humans. Although similar models can be made, as Deckard discovers with the Rachael Rosen/Pris Stratton model, facial features and overall atheistic can be altered to change an android’s entire appearance. Even Deckard, a hardened bounty hunter, finds it hard to see the difference. His encounters with Rachel make him aware of how difficult it is to distinguish between man and machine.
            As realistic as androids appear, they lack one human quality: empathy. The Voigt Empathy Test ultimately decides who/what is human. This test registers reaction times to questions of 21st century ethics. While androids can pick up these norms and adapt to the environment, their reaction times to these questions are slow. Their inability to express sympathy for other life forms gives them away. As Deckard puts it, “Empathy, evidently, existed only within the human community, whereas intelligence to some degree could be found throughout every phylum and order.”
Deckard has passed the Voigt Test. Medical checkups confirm he’s a man “who could reproduce within the tolerances set by law.” During Luba Luft’s interrogation, she asks Deckard to test himself. He tells her the police department tested him long ago. She persists, saying they gave him false memories. Phil Relsch, a fellow bounty hunter, tests Deckard to prove that he’s human. Deckard passes.
Yet, what complex human emotions does Deckard display that set him apart from his mechanical quarry?
            First, Deckard feels remorse for the androids he hunts, unlike his prey, who are solely concerned with their own survival. Though empathetic, Deckard is selfish, greedy, confused, and ponderous. Although he performs his joyless job as a bounty hunter with precision, he does not believe in the value of his work. For him, it serves only to fulfill monetary needs. Greed for wealth and prestige is a purely human emotion. If Deckard were an android he would not care about these things. To androids, money is just means of self-preservation (very human, too, you could say).
            In the novel, Deckard wants to replace his electrical sheep with a live one. “He thought, too, about his need for a real animal; within him an actual hatred once more manifested itself toward his electric sheep, which he had to tend, had to care about, as if it lived” (Dick 42). Deckard dislikes his sheep because it has no capacity to love him. He looks for reciprocity, a relationship. Androids, however, are apathetic toward life. This is exemplified at the novel’s end in John Isidore’s apartment where Pris Stratton nonchalantly tears the legs off a spider to the horror of Isidore. The questions that trip up Rachael during Deckard’s administration of the Voigt Empathy Test are ones directed to the care of animal life. A final example of Deckard’s empathy for animals is his sense of wonder when he picks up a toad and his disappointment when he discovers it is a robot.
            Other factors contribute to Deckard’s humanity: his concern for his wife, use of “mood organs,” and sexual attraction to Rachel. Deckard discusses sexual relations with androids with Phil Relsch and is disgusted when Relsch claims he’s used them for physical gratification. “It’s just sex. Wake up and face yourself, Deckard. You wanted to go to bed with a female type android—nothing more, nothing less. Don’t let it get you down.” Deckard tries to justify his feelings for Rachael as being grounded in actual love. He foolishly tells her, “If you weren’t an android, if I could legally marry you, I would.” Rachael, however, takes no joy in their coupling. She simply has sex with him to save the other androids. When Deckard finds out she has also slept with Phil Relsch, he’s jealous. These emotions—lust, love, anger—are emotions androids cannot experience.
            Or can they? 
To be or not to be...human?
This question encompasses the central question of Deckard’s 21st century existence, “Am I human? Or am I programmed to believe I am human?” Although empathy may only be a human characteristic, why does the android Roy Batty cry when his wife is shot? Why is Rachael so hateful when she finds out she is an android? Why does Pris Stratton tear the legs off a spider but spare Isidore? Can empathy be developed (current studies point to yes)? If so, in experiencing human life, can androids become human?

The important thing is Blade Runner takes a minor plot device from the novel, the ability to implant false memories, and alters Deckard’s humanity. Philip K. Dick’s Rick Deckard is definitely human. And that’s Dick’s intent—who is the android? the unfeeling human who already possesses empathy by his very nature? or the “cold” machine who nevertheless strives to identify with the thoughts and feelings of other sentient beings?


6.21.2013

Big, Bad Muslims: Part Three—24: Season Six

Bus bombing--morning commutes in L.A. are dangerous.
The action begins at 6am. Islamic terrorist groups have ‘victimized’ the United States for eleven weeks. At a Los Angeles bus station, a Middle Eastern man, late for work and distracted by news broadcasts of the latest bombing, chases a bus. The driver refuses to let him on, prompting the man to shout, “I have as much right to be on the bus as you!” Inside the bus, a wild-eyed man fingers an electronic device and the bus explodes.
            Minutes later in the White House Oval Office, President Wayne Palmer meets with his cabinet to dismiss a mandate created by Tom Lennox, his Chief of Staff, which would allow the government to hold Muslims in detention centers for questioning and possible deportation. Lennox says it will increase public safety and reclaim lost faith in the administration. Karen Hayes, the National Security Advisor, endorses the President’s refusal, stating it would destroy civil freedoms, to which Lennox growls, “Security has its price!”
Tom Lennox: this season's perpetual asshole.
            Meanwhile, CTU (Bauer’s Counter-Terrorism Unit) completes a shady deal. Abu Fayed, former partner of Hamri Al-Assad, the notorious Muslim terrorist, will give up Assad’s location if he can kill Jack Bauer and have 25 million dollars. Bauer, who killed Fayed’s brother, has been in a Chinese prison for the last two years, the twist on which season five ended. President Palmer, at his wits end with the attacks, agrees. CTU facilitates the deal with its newest employee, Muslim Nadia Yassir, who acts as translator between Fayed and CTU director Bill Buchanan.
Jack's Jesus phase.
            In another part of Los Angeles, a suburban family watches the morning news. A Culver City mosque has been bombed in retaliation for the bus bombing earlier that hour. Ray, the father, debates with his wife whether they should let their son, Scott, go to school.
Across the street, the FBI arrests Ahmed Amar’s father on suspicion of domestic terrorism. Stan, a neighborhood tough guy, intimidates Ahmed after the FBI leaves. Knowing Ahmed is his son’s best friend, Ray chases away Stan and offers Ahmed his home as shelter until his father returns.
Ray: father of a skater boy son, protector of neighborhood Muslims.
            24’s first stumbling block is Ahmed Amar, played by Kal Penn, the noted young Indian actor (yes, Kumar), and former member of the Obama administration. Popular for his stoner movie roles, his ethnicity is well known, and one cannot help laughing when he appears on screen. To be cast as a Middle Eastern teenage terrorist, Penn admitted in New York Magazine:
I have a huge political problem with the role. It was essentially accepting
a form of racial profiling…it’s repulsive. But it was the first time I had a
chance to blow stuff up and take a family hostage. As an actor, why shouldn’t
I have that opportunity? Because I’m brown and I should be scared about the
connection between media images and people’s thought processes? (Yuan)
Obviously, in accepting the role, Penn did not share the concerns of The Council on American-Islamic Relations. In Ahmed’s character, Muslims, even the quiet ones across the street, cannot be trusted.
At 7am, Abu Fayed reveals to Jack Bauer that he, not Hamri Al-Assad, is behind the attacks. Soon, Fayed calls Ahmed and asks him to deliver a package. Ahmed tells Fayed of his father’s arrest. Fayed replies, “If your father is meant to be sacrificed that is how it will be.” Ahmed nods. Of course, the slaughter of ‘infidels’ is more important than family.
Abu Fayed, this season Big Bad, chats with Kumar....I mean Ahmed.
Fayed continues, “I could have chosen other people. I chose you.” Not only does Fayed think Ahmed specially suited for the job, but he tells him he will kill him should he fail. Forget the idea that Muslims don’t kill Muslims and Arabs don’t kill Arabs.
The show reveals Ahmed’s motivations as ‘Arab Rage.’ “The roots of so-called ‘Arab Rage’ lie not in some purported cultural or religious peculiarity of the Arabs, but in the adherence by peoples of the Arab world to the universal claims of justice and equality which the rest of the world has propagated these two centuries past” (Halliday 22). None of 24’s Americans possess this deep-seeded anger (unless you count the depictions of “others” on this show).
After the phone call with Fayed, Ahmed tells Scott—remember, his neighborhood pal—he must leave. Scott says he is sorry about his father and that “the whole world’s gone crazy.”
Ahmed hisses, “The world’s been crazy for a long time. You just haven’t been paying attention.” He hurries home and tears apart the living room wall with a claw hammer (this begs the question: how did Ahmed’s father not know his son hid something behind the drywall?). As he removes a small box from between the wall studs, Stan, the neighborhood bully, bursts into his home. Ahmed pulls a gun and shoots Stan.
From that point on, Ahmed becomes a volatile, wild-eyed madman.
Hearing the shot, Scott rushes into Ahmed’s house, sees Stan’s body, and Ahmed takes him hostage. Marching him back across the street, Scott asks him why he is doing this; they’re best friends.
“Friends?!” Ahmed shouts. “You can’t even pronounce my name. It’s not Ahmed. It’s AH-Med!”
First, Penn’s overacting is hilarious. Second, Ahmed will kill friends and innocents because they mispronounce his name? Oh, yeah, the irrational Arab!
"Go ahead! Call me 'Ahmed' again!"
            Taking Scott’s family hostage, Ahmed demands Ray, the father, deliver the box to his contact in exchange for another package or else he will shoot his wife and son. Ray, with wonder in his eyes, says to Ahmed, “You were a terrorist all along.” Well, yeah! He’s Muslim!
Ray complies with Ahmed and delivers the box to Ahmed’s contact. The man opens it, says there is not enough money inside, and demandss higher payment. Ray, in a fit of rage and fear, kills the man and takes the package. This scene exemplifies a thread throughout this season: contact with Muslims will inevitably cause rational Americans to lose their senses and harm not only themselves, but each other.
"I'm sorry," says Ray. "A Muslim made me do it!"
            Ray, with the package, demands Ahmed release his family or he will destroy whatever is inside it. Ahmed compromises, and releases the mother. She flees the house, calls Ray, and they decide to call the police, who then call CTU. Soon, fresh from escaping Fayed’s men, Jack Bauer and his partner Curtis Manning are on their way.
            As promised, Ray delivers the package to Fayed (the big bad terrorist) and is soon taken hostage. Fayed calls Ahmed and orders Scott’s death: “He’s seen and heard too much.”
Make your own caption, I guess.
Meanwhile, outside, Jack and Curtis sneak upon Scott and Ahmed. Just as Ahmed is ready kill Scott, Jack bursts in and shoots him. Scott tells Jack of the conversation he overheard between Ahmed and Ray about where his father took the package, but it is too late. The package, a detonator to a nuclear bomb, is used to explode the device. Ray is killed in the blast, leaving a kind, American family fractured by Muslim intrusion.
In Part 4, I’ll continue my dissection of season six’s other Muslim characters.

An actual affecting moment in the show--Fayed bombs Los Angeles.
Bibliography
“Day 4.” “Day 6.” 24. Fox, 2005, 2007.
“24 Under Fire from Muslim Groups.” BBC News. BBC News, 19 January 2007.
Armstrong, Stephen. "Rough Justice." New Statesman 136.4836 (2007): 36-38. 
Bauder, David. “TV Torture Influencing Real Life.” USA Today. 11 February 2007.
Dougherty, Michael Brendan. "What Would Jack Bauer Do?" American Conservative 6.5
(2007): 8-10. 
Flynn, Gillian. “24: TV Review.” Entertainment Weekly. 11 January 2007.
Halliday, Fred. 100 Myths About the Middle East. Los Angeles: University of California Press,
2005.
Irwin, Robert. Dangerous Knowledge: Orientalism and its Discontents. New York: Overlook
Press, 2006.
Lewis, Bernard. From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East. Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 2004.
McCormick, Patrick. "The Torture Show." U.S. Catholic 73.5 (2008): 17. 
McDermont, Jim. “A Trojan Horse.” America 196.7 (2007): 23-24.
Rossi, Melissa. What Every American Should Know About the Middle East. New York: Plume
Books, 2008.
Said, Edward. Orientalism. New York: Vintage, 1978.

Yuan, Jada. “The White-Castle Ceiling.” New York Magazine. 4 March 2007.