Mistaken For Terrorist


(permanent link) added: 2010-03-19 10:33:26 sponsor: Diddgery (last reply: 2010-03-19 10:34:47)

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A standard post-9/11 plot for American television. A One-Shot Character is introduced who is Middle Eastern and Muslim. The majority of the cast welcomes this new character with open arms, except for one. He's convinced that this new character is a terrorist, and will do whatever it takes to show the rest of the cast that his suspicions are correct. In doing so he invades the new character's privacy, and eventually learns An Aesop about being considerate of other cultures.

Alternately, a character is mistaken for a terrorist while acting suspiciously in an airport or on a plane. Most of the time it's a misunderstanding.

Unfortunately, this is Truth in Television. A number of people on airline flights have been discriminated against, including being forced off the plane, because the other passengers or pilots panicked and thought they were terrorists just based on their appearance or misunderstood actions. Sikhs have to deal with this too.

Examples:

  • The Simpsons episode "Mypods and Boomsticks."
  • South Park episode "The Snuke."
  • Law & Order played with this: a family of Italian Americans considered their son's Muslim girlfriend's family potential terrorists. The girlfriend's family thought of her boyfriend's family as Mafiosos. Both lovers end up being murdered.
  • In Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, we see a POV Shot from a little old lady on the plane and Kumar looks like a terrorist - turban, beard, Evil Laugh. Then he lights up a bong in the restroom and people think he's got a stick of dynamite. He even says "it's only a bong" and people mistake him for saying "bomb."
  • There was a Degrassi: The Next Generation episode where Paige was harrassing a Muslim girl, even going and telling her to her face "Terrorist chic? So not in," in reference to her hijab.
  • 30Rock: Liz Lemon grasses up an Arab man to Homeland Security when she glimpses maps on the wall of his apartment and sees him running through an obstacle course. Turns out he was in training for a TV game show.
  • When Dr. McNinja goes on a plane, people (rightfully) suspect something because he keeps his mask on.
  • Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back; the jewel thieves set Jay and Bob up as animal rights terrorists.
  • My Name is Khan features a main character named Rizwan Khan, a Muslim American with Asperger's Syndrome living in post 9-11 America. He says to another character that he wants to tell the President, and the people, of the United States that his "name is Khan and that [he] is not a terrorist." When he repeats this to himself in a crowd gathered to meet President Bush, he is arrested, imprisoned, and tortured as a terrorist suspect. A "Funny Aneurysm" Moment occurred when Shahrukh Khan, the world famous actor who played Rizwan (seriously, he's probably the most popular actor in the world) was detained by Immigration offers at Newark Airport on August 14, 2009 and questioned for two hours.
  • This short story from rec.humor.funny.
  • An episode of Wings had a few of the guys taking a plane for a trip only to end up landing in the middle of a cornfield. At one point Antonio goes exploring the field to look for help and comes back with the farmer behind him... with his hands raised while a shotgun is pointed at him.
    Antonio: "Joe, would you tell this man I am *not* a Libyan terrorist?"
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