Ah, the next new disaster to come out of Hollywood.... Underground Muslim terrorist cell operating in LA. Watch out folks, they could be bombing the Rose Bowl Parade or UCLA.
So Showtime is bringing out this newminiseries -- Sleeper Cell -- an action/thriller about an American Muslim who infiltrates an L.A.-based, Islamist terrorist cell. The show depicts the supposed lives of these would-be terrorists as they select targets, perform Islamic rituals, and blend seamlessly into American society -- going to bowling alleys, having birthday parties in parks, coaching kids basketball teams.
The writers of the show argue that they are making the characters likable, sort of like the Sopranos -- you hate them when the kill somebody, but most of the time they're great fellows. And, they argue, since one of the main characters is a Muslim FBI agent who tells his handler that "These guys have nothing to do with my faith!" and since they give air time to a visiting Yemeni scholar who tells them terrorism is not jihad, and there is no place for it in Islam, there isn't any real harm to the American Muslim community. In fact, they say, it plays up the diveristy within the community.
I beg to differ. I can well imagine the next time I take my kids to the playground, the bowling alley, or sign them up for the soccer league they've been playing in the for the past two years, that some folks may view me with a bit of extra suspicion. That's the sort of things those terrorists on tv do. You never know who might be "one of them." Heck, just going to the park can now be a suspicious activity -- you know those tricky terrrorists, they just do these things so they can blend in.
The African American community has been dealing with this for years -- all those images of young, angry black men talking street, dealing drugs, fighting, shooting each other up --now half of America won't drive through certain neighborhoods and get nervous anytime they see a young black male. Sure, there are young black men doing these things, but I'm willing to be they are a minority, a small one.
The American Muslim community has been trying to distance itself from suspicion by association for a long time. Just as there are young black men who are trouble impersonated, there are surely Muslim terrorists living in America. But... even if they number in the tens of thousands, that would make up less than 1% of our population. Globally, the terrorist population has to be even smaller -- 1/100th of a percent or less. (My poem on this, Pipe Dreams
, can be found here
And they certainly don't tell the other 99.9% of us who they are. I mean really, do people honestly believe this fellow who is so good at seamlessly blending in is going to march into the mosque one friday and accounce to all and sundry that he's planning to blow up people? Get a grip, folks!
I would love to see 99% of the Muslim characters on tv and in the movies as just your average joes, trying to live a decent life, raise their kids, and get ahead in life the way everyone else does. Where's the Muslim Sanford and Sons, or Cosby Shows?
I suppose it is the nature of the beast, that Hollywood will always choose sensational stories and don't really care what the impact on a given community may or may not be, so long as the show sells. Kind of like the news media. Bad news sells papers, good news doesn't. Muslim terrorists sell miniseries, average Muslims don't.