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« Friedmania - Liberal Sadism At the NYT | Main | No Constant Gardener in Sight »

March 21, 2006

Comments

The Egyptian characterization of Americans as lustful, bullying thugs might indeed be "quite dangerous," but no more so than any number of American films that stereotype all Muslims as terrorists.

I would even argue that to condemn Egyptian filmmakers for stereotyping in this way is to uphold a common double standard: we can build our own nuclear weapons but condemn other countries for doing so; our factories and automobiles continue to pollute the environment, but we wag our fingers when developing nations attempt to industrialize; and so on.

I am certainly no fan of stereotyping, but in this case, I'm inclined to say, if we can do it, why can't they?

I guess blowing off steam with movies and cartoons of stereotypes remains a less dangerous pastime than blowing up towers or attacking another nation using flimsy (non-existent)excuses based on demonization and stereotyping of an enemy.

I agree that the US has little ground to complain when it comes to stereotyping others.

Sudip: I think the point should be that we should not do it, and neither should they. Not that we do it, so therefore it's cool for them to do it too.

Ruchira: I'd be tempted to argue that the Jewish jury thing isn't a stereotype per se, but rather an assessment of Judaism. That is, if Judaism is anything like Catholicism in that respect, the faith itself openly tells its adherents that capital punishment is wrong (the Pope, for example, openly denounces the death penalty). The Jews being good with money stereotype, on the other hand, is in no way a "good stereotype," which does seem to prove your point that there is no such thing as a good stereotype.

And my understanding is that it's a statistical truth that African Americans tend to have weaker-than-normal academic records, and Asian Americans tend to have greater-than-normal academic success. This of course is not a product of genetic factors but rather socioeconomic factors (and in particular on the high end, I would speculate that a big factor is the emphasis placed on what I'd call a "culture of achievement"). That itself isn't a stereotype, but it can be applied in harmful stereotypical fashion.

I had to laugh when I read about the school situations because they are so true to form. It's sometimes so hard to get educators and parents to see the children as individuals and not as racial stereotypes. Children will live up to or down to the expectations of those around them. My 9 year old has a pretty even playing field given that his heritage is Caucasian/American Indian/African American/Romany and we're Jewish. He just tells folks he's a rainbow. :)

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