by Racialicious special correspondent Fatemeh Fakhraie, originally published at Muslimah Media Watch
Giuliani’s new campaign advertisement has started running in Florida. It’s full of clips of angry brown people pumping fists, wielding guns, and shouting angrily. But these brown people aren’t identified by race, nationality, or history. They’re supposedly defined by Islam and their hatred for America.
But looking at these clips, I find that what most of them have in common is their ambiguity more than Islam. For example, the first clip is of a group of dark-haired men pumping their fists in the air. We don’t know where they are, what religion they are, what nationality they are, or why they’ve gathered and are pumping their fists in the first place. These men could easily be at a political rally in India or even Venezuela. Lumping them in with images of Osama bin Laden plays on Islamophobic and racist assumptions that all brown (hypothetically Muslim) men do when they gather together is make trouble.
Another clip is of a group of women with white headscarves, who look to be chanting. Or singing. Or demonstrating. Again, we’re given no national, racial, or religious context and we have no idea why these women are gathered together. Maybe they’re protesting against a centuries-old vendetta between ethnic groups, and are wearing white for peace. Or maybe they’re at a funeral (in many Asian cultures, white is a sign of mourning). But, since they’re brown and wear headscarves, we’re supposed to assume that they are Muslim women who hate the U.S.! The assumption that they are Muslim is another false one: headscarves are not limited to Muslim women. For example, many non-Muslim Indian women wear scarves over their hair.
Speaking of women in headscarves, there is a clip showing the late Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister of Pakistan. She’s been dead less than a month and Giuliani is already using her image for his own gain. Classy.
As if equating brown men and women with terrorism isn’t bad enough, the commercial makes sure we know that brown children are dangerous, too! There is a shot of a group of children in fatigues, with one child cheering while the voiceover reminds us that “the next crisis is a moment away.” So, despite the fact that this child might actually be cheering for a soccer match, the commercial leads us to believe that he’s really cheering for the destruction of America and freedom.
If you think the visuals are bad, listen to the voiceover: the announcer refers to these angry brown people as “A people perverted.” The viewer is supposed to believe either that these people are abnormally bloodthirsty (which implies that they are innately barbaric) or that they are misguided (which implies that they’re not smart enough to make decisions for themselves). Either way, not very flattering.
Besides all this, the commercial is insulting to the viewer, whatever ethnicity or religion. Phrases like “An enemy without borders / hate without boundaries…Democracy attacked” are designed to make the viewer feel unsafe so they will look to Giuliani for guidance. This tries to cajole a vote out of the viewer by fear-mongering and playing on the paranoia of the current political climate. Racism, Islamophobia, and the exploitation of the dead are low enough, but Giuliani takes it one step further by treating the viewers as brainless cattle.