I'm an Arab-American myself, born and raised in America as a Muslim. Thanks to cultural perceptions of Arabs and Muslims, I've spent my entire life feeling like an "Other." The September 11 attacks then changed Americans who look like me from "The Other" into "The Enemy." Not a day has gone by since then that I don't feel unsafe in my own home country. To state the obvious, I'm not a terrorist, I've never even seen a terrorist, and I find the 9/11 attacks as tragic and infuriating as any decent human being. Incidentally, if you think you hate terrorism, try living in a country where half the people hate you because you look like someone who killed thousands of innocent people.
Every blog could benefit from a summary of the writer's views, so I'll begin this one that way…
- Let me begin by debunking some stereotypes. I'm not rich. I don't have a big, scraggly beard. I have never ridden a camel in my life. I don't speak Arabic natively. I do not own any oil outside of the stuff that goes in a car and the stuff that goes in food. I think women should wear whatever they want and have all the same opportunities in life as men. I don't support stoning anyone to death… or even sentencing anyone to death. I don't know how to wear a headdress. I don't own any robes. I don't own a scimitar… Actually, I kind of regret that last one.
- I despise every kind of bigotry, and I believe in pacifism, tolerance, and compassion. I hate anti-intellectualism, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, religious intolerance, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and anti-Jewish sentiment.
As for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I don't support any one solution in particular. I simply support whatever solution costs as few lives as possible on any side and allows Israelis and Palestinians to coexist peacefully.
- I'll only use narrative evaluations on this site. If you really want to see numerical ratings for these films and all 1100+ films I've seen, look for me on Criticker as CloseFriend.
- My chief inspiration for this blog came from Dr. Jack Shaheen, whose books Reel Bad Arabs and Guilty: Hollywood's Verdict on Arabs After 9/11 inspired me to give this thing a shot.
Film has the power to help us understand other cultures, to encourage us to love one another more, and—as The Thin Blue Line taught us—even literally exonerate the innocent! So if this blog has a point, it lies in exploring the power of film and film criticism to help us all see each other for what we all are: human beings.