"The overwhelming impression you get is fear and hatred for Muslims," said Rabiah Ahmed, a spokeswoman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations. She said Thursday she was distressed by this season's premiere. "After 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."
In a written statement issued late Wednesday night, the network said it has not singled out any ethnic or religious group for blame in creating its characters.
"24 is a heightened drama about anti-terrorism," the statement read. "After five seasons, the audience clearly understands this, and realizes that any individual, family, or group (ethnic or otherwise) that engages in violence is not meant to be typical.
They go on to list the different ethnic and/or religious groups who have been bad guys on previous seasons of "24." You know I'm not necessarily one to reflexively jump to the defense of the "24" producers, let alone the Fox network, but in this case I think they are correct. They might also have pointed out past storylines that pretty starkly implied the dangers of scapegoating and racial profiling.
Or that the new season already includes at least two positive (...thus far) Middle Eastern and/or Muslim characters. More if we're counting the currently ambiguous Assad, or Ahmed's father who we were told was innocent of his son's bad intentions.
But at the risk of sounding overly self-referential, I think I said my piece on this about as well as I'm going to on my old blog, last time it cropped up. In part:
Well, that kind of "Of course, I'm smart enough to know the difference...it's the rest of you potato eaters..." thing never flies very far with me. I don't buy it when it's about using Spongebob Squarepants to promote gay marriage, and I don't buy it about this.
ETA: CNN is airing as the debut episode of their new series "CNN: SIU" a documentary called "The War Within." Christiane Amanpour investigates Muslims in the U.K., both extremist and moderate.
It's excellent, and there's no stretch of the imagination required to see how it applies to the States. Keeping an eye out for rebroadcasts (there'll be at least one tomorrow, I imagine more) is highly recommended.