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Good & Bad Arabs

September 28, 1986

I want to congratulate you on the article concerning the Arab image in the American media.

As a businesswoman I have traveled to the Arab Middle East on several occasions. How different life is over there compared to what we see on TV and learn from movies such as "Delta Force," and "docudramas" such as "Death of a Princess."

This summer I spent a month in the People's Republic of China. Every afternoon I watched Chinese TV. There was always a movie and it generally had to do with China during the occupation of Western, imperialist nations.

Every white male was depicted as being big, hairy, ugly and mean. In one movie there was an Australian slave trader who kidnaped Chinese youths. One rebeled and was picked up by his pigtail and thrown off a ship and into the ocean.

I asked myself, what were Chinese children thinking when they saw the bearded white man laugh as the scalped Chinese boy was eaten by sharks?

We call this xenophobia in the Chinese. Their years of turning inward and rejecting the West have hurt them. What is it called when Americans practice a similar prejudice and exclusion?

Our judgment is in jeopardy when we as a nation allow a group of people to be stereotyped. The media has a powerful effect on how we perceive ourselves and other people. They should be more responsible.


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