The Negative Images of Arabs in US Media: The Role Literature Can Play

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Kent State University
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One can state unequivocally that the images of Arabs that are presented in US media have been negatively portrayed making them an outcast ethnicity in the minds of the American people and even of the rest of the world. The vision most Americans hold of Arabs has been totally damaged by their presentation in US media especially in the aftermath of the attacks of 9/11. These negative images are ascribed to the lack of knowledge and proper education about this stigmatized group, needless to say that they exclusively define all the twenty-two countries that constitute the Arab world. Moreover, these images come as a result of the fact that contemporary Arabic literature has no solid status in world literature, which has unfortunately led people to limit their perception of Arabs––that is media-based and being mostly negative and all-encompassing.
This article attempts first to explore how Arabs are negatively viewed in US media. Then it points to some Arabic narratives that encompass a wide range of different cultures, behaviors, and beliefs. Finally, it shows how literature can contribute to reduce the negative stereotypical images of Arabs. In particular, it examines how teaching Ghazi Qusaybi's An Apartment Called Freedom can effectively offer conceptual tools that help to eventually understand Arabs.