Beware: Spoilers below!
Once again, the Muslim community is up in arms regarding " 24 ", the Fox TV series which began airing its nail-biting 6th season last week. It stars Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer, a CTU (Counter Terrorist Unit) agent who battles, you guessed it: terrorists.
Several years ago, various Muslim groups (including CAIR) registered complaints with FOX TV, which resulted in a Public Service Announcement being made by Sutherland, for those unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality, as a reminder that this was indeed merely a television programme and nothing more. Granted there are some people who can't make that distinction and actually send birthday greetings and gifts to the characters on Soaps, but I would venture to say that we, as Americans, for the most part can tell the difference between what is real and what isn't.
Of course, there were no complaints last season when the 'bad guy' terrorists were Russian separatists, however, this season, they are even more incensed. The villains in Season 6 are, once more, Islamic extremists who manage to set off a nuclear device in Valencia, CA, with 4 other bombs waiting to be detonated. What they seem to forget is that Hollywood frequently rips stories straight from the headlines, and considering that the most prolific perpetrators of global terrorism today happen to be...hmmm... let's see..... Islamists, of course that's who they are going to use as their terrorist prototypes. Are they going to use Basque (ETA) separatists? Or the IRA? I think not.
And Muslims have NOT, by any means, been singled out as the only antagonists on "24". FOX, in all fairness, has portrayed the evildoers in past seasons as Bosnians, Russians, Chinese, an American President and other government officials, white opportunists, and the list goes on. There have been many different, equal-opportunity, terrorist storylines, not just Islamic in nature. And although the idea of a nuclear attack is not out of the realm of possibility, in today's world, "24" is just a thrilling TV show depicting terrorism in all its potential horror.
The major complaint of Muslim-Americans is that they believe "24" will create further enmity between Muslims and non-Muslims through its negative portrayals, however, "24" (a fictional TV show) isn't the problem. The problem is the reality of the situation: that there are fundamentalist Islamists out there preaching Jihad against all 'non-believers' and even against other Muslims. We are bombarded, on a daily basis, with news of violence being perpetrated by Islamic radicals all over the world, so yes, we are going to feel threatened by that. And yes, there are some courageous Muslims who are becoming more vocal in their opposition to violence, in the name of Islam, but it's not large enough in scope to make that much of a difference; yet. And as I have said before, if the Muslims want to be accepted without prejudice, then they are going to have to make a concerted effort to reach out and accept, unconditionally, those of other religions.
In the meantime, I'm going to continue enjoying the thrill-ride that "24" is, and no, I'm not going to go burn down a Mosque when I'm done.