post911neorace - Post-9/11 Neoracism and 24 In the months...

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Post-9/11 Neoracism and 24 In the months leading up to 24 ’s premiere in November 2001, interest in the show seemed to be hinged on the show’s innovative real-time format. Little attention was paid to the actual plot of the show, focusing on former child actor Kiefer Sutherland acting as federal agent Jack Bauer at the fictional Counter-Terrorist Unit (CTU). However, on the morning of September 11 th , less than a month before the show eventually airs, the United States faced their first major terrorist attack, and the “what-if” scenarios portrayed in the show became a very real and frightening fear for most Americans. In the weeks following, Al-Qaeda put a face on the Anti-American evildoers, and with it came natural prejudice towards the Muslims responsible. Through six seasons of 24 (referred to as “days’), three feature Middle-Eastern antagonists whose reasons for terrorism are jihads against the United States. These “days” are a double-edged sword for 24, as the realism aspect of Muslim Extremists as terrorists feels real, however, it increases bigotry towards all Arab-Americans. Now that America’s enemy has a background, many are prejudiced against that particular ethnic group, as opposed to all of them. This shift in racial hate is too specific to be lumped into the category of general racism, and needs to be classified as a form of Post-9/11 Neoracism. By portraying Arab-Americans as terrorists , 24 is probably the most neoracist show on the air, and their tendency to assimilate other races, as well as the treatment of minor characters such as Debbie Pendleton and Yusuf Auda show how neoracism can be accepted in a mainstream television show. The first trait of post-9/11 neoracism calls for the unity of all races, with the exception of Arab-Americans. Herman Gray defines the three models of representation of race as assimilation, separate-but-equal discourse, and multiculturalism. During the pilot
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episode of 24 , a vague threat is made that calls Bauer into work, and Jack assumes it to be against the life of Senator David Palmer, notable for being the first African-American with a real shot at becoming the next president. When an underling questions Bauer’s rationale for pre-selecting Palmer, Bauer calms replies “it is because he’s black. It makes him the most likely target”. Later, after CTU confirms the threat is against Palmer, they immediately speculate that the group hired to kill Palmer is “a domestic hate group” (“Day 1: 12:00 am – 1:00 am). The show engages in rampant multiculturalism, as a group of predominately white males acknowledge Palmer’s race in an attempt to help save his life.
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