by Racialicious Special Correspondent Fatemeh Fakhraie
In this clip from YouTube, we see Gitmo the Puppet’s first appearance, as well as a subsequent appearance. In Gitmo’s first appearance, he’s introduced as a bearded (and presumably Muslim) detainee of Guantanamo Bay with a fakey “Middle Eastern” accent. (He is also an obvious relative of Elmo, for those of you who can’t see the video. – Ed.) Gitmo pleads, “Tell Gitmo’s family Gitmo is aliiiive.”
In the subsequent appearance, Gitmo appears, calling for the execution (and therefore, according to Jon Stewart, martyrdom) of Sheikh Khalid Mohammed and other defendants who admit to planning terrorist activities. When Stewart questions him about his intentions, Gitmo says, “You can’t handle the truth” and then ululates. In retaliation, Stewart “waterboards” him and tells him not to complain or he’ll go back to the “untrained puppy room.” Cut to Gitmo being dragged around by a dog and wailing, “I’m just a cab driverrrrrrr…”
In Gitmo’s third appearance (starting at the 4.10 mark), we see him “inside” his Guantanamo Bay cell, protesting that the “crazy motherf*ckers locked up down here” shouldn’t be given habeas corpus. His former identity as a “cab driver from Karachi” is replaced with a menacing promise that, if freed, he’ll become a terrorist: “Gitmo go free. Gitmo go home, Gitmo go home to Damascus, get back in taxi cab, fill it with C-4, and drive it into east entrance of British embassy! (ululating)”
Never mind that Karachi and Damascus are in two different countries with two different languages and racial demographics. Either way, he’s “just a cab driver.”
The bearded, accented portrait that Gitmo paints is one of cultural shorthand for the term “terrorist”. Gitmo also reduces Guantanamo Bay inmates to a stereotypical job associated with Middle Eastern and South Asian immigrants. Hey, these are people, remember? Some of which have been unjustly and unconstitutionally imprisoned? Some of whom have family that doesn’t know there they are, whether they are dead or alive?
Having a beard and an accent (and driving a taxi, perhaps) is enough to get you profiled, searched, arrested, and incarcerated—is Gitmo making light of that or reinforcing it?
Either way, I don’t find it funny.