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Is Homeland Islamophobic?
by Ben East
Previously, on Homeland: an incredibly satisfying first season in which the rules of prime time US action drama appeared not to apply.
Given that there was a radical Islamic terrorist plot for the CIA to break apart, it seemed remarkable that the person charged with carrying it out was US Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody, appalled by what he witnessed after a US drone strike in Iraq. The audience was invited to empathise with his situation as he found a crutch in Islam, even if Brody's attempts at prayers in his garage were laughably pronounced.
This was genuinely thoughtful stuff, particularly when a key character in the terrorist plot was another white American, Aileen Morgan. There was nuance - at long last a recognition, it seemed, of the complexities of modern-day terrorism and the agendas of the people who fight it. Homeland wasn't telling its broadly western audience that it was wholly "us versus them", "them" being the usual roll call of dastardly Arab characters so brilliantly described in Jack Shaheen's book and documentary Reel Bad Arabs as either "bombers, belly dancers or billionaires".
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