- Who Are Arab Americans?
- Popular Perceptions
- Why The Stereotypes?
- About & Credits
Following the season finale of the TLC show, All-American Muslim, professor and author, Evelyn Alsultany has posted an excellent commentary at the New York University Press's blog, From the Square. Alsultany argues that while the inclusion of a different group in main-stream television programming is a great step forward, their portrayals are still boxed into a narrow scope. Muslim and Arab Americans are now commonly portrayed as either extremely patriotic and actively helping the U.S. Government in some way, or else the victim of domestic hate crimes.
"These representations of 'patriot' and 'victim' are undoubtedly improvements over past representations as terrorists, oil sheiks, belly dancers, and oppressed veiled women—and All-American Muslim conforms to these two new standard representations. However, the show also deviates from them in two fundamental ways: by not representing terrorists and by including and moving beyond these standard Muslim characters. Many shows that portray a patriotic or victimized Arab/Muslim American do so in the context of Muslims as terrorist threats. All-American Muslim is about the everyday lives of five families and has very little to do with terrorists. The events of 9/11 are relevant in so far as they have impacted the lives of the cast members who have to contend with stereotypes of Islam condoning violence."
Alsultany also briefly discusses the controversial actions by Lowe's and other companies that pulled their advertising from the show, concluding that it is clear that many people are not yet comfortable seeing Muslims and Arabs in non-stereotyped roles. Read the rest of Alsultany's commentary here.
In the same vein, the Arab American National Museum collected links to a large number of articles written about the show and the controversy. These links can be browsed through here, but be warned that there may be a lot of hateful or offensive language in the comment sections.