Two weeks ago ABC announced a new series:
"Alice in Arabia" is a high-stakes drama series about a rebellious American teenage girl who, after tragedy befalls her parents, is unknowingly kidnapped by her extended family, who are Saudi Arabian. Alice finds herself a stranger in a new world but is intrigued by its offerings and people, whom she finds surprisingly diverse in their views on the world and her situation. Now a virtual prisoner in her grandfather's royal compound, Alice must count on her independent spirit and wit to find a way to return home while surviving life behind the veil.
Sounds interesting - and not untrue to life: more than a few children of western-Arab marriages have wound up shanghaied back to Saudi. But then the professional grievance mongers got wind of it:
The greater Los Angeles-area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) announced Wednesday that it has asked ABC Family to meet with Muslim and Arab-American community leaders to discuss concerns about potential stereotyping in the pilot for the network's new series "Alice in Arabia."
And CAIR knows something about stereotyping: It was named by the feds as an unindicted co-conspirator in a terrorist-funding case. Nevertheless, ABC has now folded like a cheap Bedouin tent:
By Friday night, ABC Family apparently had enough: "The current conversation surrounding our pilot was not what we had envisioned and is certainly not conducive to the creative process, so we've decided not to move forward with this project."
Some are ecstatic by this swift cancelation. I'm not. I would've preferred that ABC Family first met with people in the Middle Eastern and Muslim-American communities to try and make the show work. If the premise had been tweaked to eliminate the kidnapping angle, it very well could've become a fair showcase of Arabs and Muslims.
I'm working on a pilot about a talented writer who's kidnapped and must count on her independent spirit and wit to find a way to survive in a politically correct self-clitoridectomizing Hollywood compound.
~CUTTING OUT STEREOTYPES: Further to last week's news of eager dads calling Britain's Female Genital Mutilation Helpline for help with finding someone to mutilate their females' genitals, NBC did a story on the strange new popularity of this procedure in the United States. Not all the clitoridectomies are performed in the Lower 48, of course. There's also "vacation cutting":
...when girls are taken during their school vacations to countries where female mutilation is widely practiced to be cut there.
Most impressively, NBC managed to report on this phenomenon without mentioning the words "Islam" or "Muslim". If you're making an ABC Family pilot on six all-American girls on a "vacation cutting" trip to Somalia, that's the way to do it.
~YOUR MORNING MOHAMMED: Meanwhile, back on the stereotyping front, the FBI released a curious alert entitled "Planned Fort Hood-inspired Jihad against US Soldiers by Army Recruit":
On 20 March 2014, the Kansas City Division FBI became aware of an individual named BOOKER aka Muhammad Abdullah Hassan who had publicly stated his intention to commit jihad, bidding farewell to his friends and making comments indicating his jihad was imminent. BOOKER had been recruited by the US Army in Kansas City, Mo., in February 2014 and was scheduled to report for Basic Training on 7 April 2014. Kansas City Division Agents interviewed BOOKER on 20 March 2014.
Possibly it's all a misunderstanding: You can't judge a Booker by his cover and all that. But, after that FBI meeting, "Booker" was "discharged" from the Army, so he no longer has to report for basic training. Instead, no one knows where he is, so the FBI and the 902nd Military Intelligence Group at Fort Leavenworth are now hunting for him. If the feds knew enough about him to be aware he was "bidding farewell to his friends" and thought it important enough to interview him, it seems a little foolish to have lost track of him. Unless they, too, were anxious not to stereotype.
~MULTI-MARTYR SINGLE SHOT: One of the many areas in which American newspapers underperform is in their coverage of war stories - that's to say, not reporting about quagmires and Abu Ghraib, but tales of individual soldiering. So I'm grateful to Fleet Street for upholding that tradition. The Daily Telegraph reports on a lance corporal in the Coldstream Guards who killed six Taliban with a single bullet:
A British sniper in Afghanistan killed six insurgents with a single bullet after hitting the trigger switch of a suicide bomber whose device then exploded, The Telegraph has learnt.
The 20-year-old marksman, a Lance Corporal in the Coldstream Guards, hit his target from 930 yards (850 metres) away, killing the suicide bomber and five others around him caught in the blast...
"He was identified by the sniper moving down a tree line and coming up over a ditch," said Lt Col Slack. "He had a shawl on. It rose up and the sniper saw he had a machine gun.
"They were in contact and he was moving to a firing position. The sniper engaged him and the guy exploded. There was a pause on the radio and the sniper said, 'I think I've just shot a suicide bomber'. The rest of them were killed in the blast."
There are many stories of skill and daring and heroism in the Afghan war. It makes you wonder what we might have accomplished had the lance corporal's ultimate bosses had any strategic will.