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Decolonizing Homeland: Narratives, Power and Imbedded Racism

Haris Ali2140

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Decolonizing Homeland: Narratives, Power and Imbedded Racism


by HUSSAIN NADIM

May 8, 2020 in Controversial

The US war in Afghanistan is coming to an end. It does not matter who won the war, what matters more now is whose story will win. Critical times like these are important for discourse setting and claiming the higher ground to adjust the historical record straight.
Movies and TV series like Homeland may appear benign entertainment on the surface but they are important discourse setting tools that shape stories and public narratives at a time of war. So much so that they are essential in laying down the groundwork for the government and deep state to influence and rally the public behind sensitive and controversial policies.

For a non-observant eye, many of the narratives and discourse setting techniques applied by the media and entertainment industry may not even be visible. However, even a basic level familiarity with discourse and post-colonial studies can help identify how different words, images, characters, and scenes in a TV series like Homeland are able to create and reinforce the American hegemony and Western racial bias.


The season finale of Homeland, therefore, comes at a time of American war finale in Afghanistan and hence is all about shaping and reshaping the narratives to set the stage for the American withdrawal from the region. Within these subtle and not so subtle narratives, one can extract two things. First, is the shift in American foreign policy posturing, and second is the deep racism that runs in the US foreign policy and media outlets in its portrayal of non-Western countries and people.
For instance, at the macro level Homeland season finale pushes forth the following narratives.

First, in a complete twist from the earlier seasons where Taliban, especially the Haqqani Network was shown as barbaric and war-mongering terrorists, the season finale now depicts the Haqqanis as peace-loving and rational actors who have been misunderstood. In fact, Saul Berenson, the National Security Advisor, in one of the scenes goes on to suggest, “Faisal to the Saudis, Kemal to the Turks…” in reference to what he believes Haqqani is to the Afghans. This level of positive messaging on Taliban is unprecedented in American media, entertainment or academic world and is indicative of changing US perception of Taliban.

Similar soft depiction is that of Taliban insurgents that in one of the scenes are shown to give ice cream to supposedly liberal women without burqas on the streets. These and other seemingly minor scenes are subtle tactics to change the perception of Taliban and make them digestible to the American public. The goal, of course, is to change the 19 years of narrative on Taliban to now make a case to the American people that Taliban, who the US government is signing a peace deal with, is not entirely a terrorist group.


Second, and interestingly, however, when it comes to the narrative on Pakistan it is almost ironic. In earlier seasons, Pakistan was depicted as the most toxic and double-faced American ally that supported Haqqani Network against the US. In the current season, however, while Haqqanis are demonstrated as peace-loving, the story on Pakistan has been twisted to argue that Haqqani wanted peace but Pakistan was really the obstacle not a facilitator.


In reality though, it is well known that Pakistan pleaded the US after 9/11 to go for a political solution that was snubbed by the Americans. In fact, it was Pakistan’s continuous calls for peace with Taliban that got it labeled globally as a state backing terror. Even in the current peace deal, all parties involved have lauded Pakistan’s role – yet in the Homeland series finale, Pakistan is depicted as a sore loser in the peace-deal that reluctantly helped the Americans only under pressure.


This narrative on Pakistan to be a ‘difficult ally’ that only serves its national interest is somehow painted in a negative tone despite the fact that nations are supposed to pursue their self-interest and protect their sovereignty. Moreover, through Homeland, Pakistan is not afforded any credit or moral high ground for its two decades long support to the US in the war and also during the peace process. This gross neglect and negative portrayal of Pakistan’s role in the peace process is essentially a way to rob Pakistan off any positive image in the historical records or global discourse on the subject.


Third, and most troubling narrative, however, being set through Homeland is that over the current Afghan government. In the previous seasons, the Afghan government was shown in a positive light as a US partner. In a complete twist again, because the purpose was to legitimize Taliban, the current Afghan government has been thrown under the bus through its dark portrayal as corrupt, barbaric, power-hungry and anti-peace. In fact, the Afghan government is depicted as the source of most of Afghanistan’s problems – in a way delegitimizing it. This is represented through the entire character of Afghanistan’s Vice-President. His corruption scandal and hunger for power in the show negates America’s decade long narrative that legitimized Afghan civilian government and democracy.


Fourth and as expected, the narrative on the US is always overtly neutral but very positive at a subtle level. For instance, the Americans could do whatever wrong in the world, and mess up other countries, but at the heart of it, their intentions are always good. American’s are generally depicted as naïve and gullible but a source of good in the world. For instance, in Homeland season finale it is completely fine for the US special forces to operate illegally inside of Pakistan at convenience, but Pakistani forces arresting them to protect their sovereignty is depicted as inhumane. This is in part because the non-Americans are characterized as inherently evil and lesser humans with no sovereignty, therefore, reducing their need to protect themselves as sinister.



There is also an additional narrative present for the first time in Homeland that depicts how the new Republican President is naïve and insecure – driven by right-wing nut heads while the voice of reason in the US is deep state including the CIA and Pentagon. This is very interesting given the current reality of American political system with Trump as the President and chaos all over the country.


Digging deeper into subtle narratives, Homeland reflects disturbing racial prejudices as well.
Homeland is a remarkable depiction of shifting American foreign policy narratives and deeply imbedded racism within Western media and the entertainment industry.

For instance, through Carrie Matthison’s character, CIA and America as a whole is shown to be humane and bastion of righteousness. Carrie may be mentally unstable and applies all sorts of wrong methods, destabilize countries, and kills children under drone strikes but she is depicted as doing it for the greater good at the end of the day. Not only that, but she is also inherently good at heart who cares about people, and her human assets in the field. For instance, in one of the scenes, Carry is shown to have gone to the graveyard in a village where the children died under drone strike are buried. Her reaction and guilt is a classic portrayal of humane angle in the character that is a constant theme when showing the American characters that could do any wrong for the greater good because they are humans. Meanwhile, the portrayal of a lead female ISI agent of Pakistan is that of a senseless and jealous individual that just wants bloodshed and plays games with the US without a reason – unless the Americans apply pressure or educate her to see things differently.


This is a classic orientalist theme in American discourse that skillfully creates a binary relation, with Americans depicted as full of empathy and humanity, while non-Americans especially in regions like Middle East and Afghanistan-Pakistan are treated as insignificant and irrational actors with no morals or humanity. This de-humanization of the non-American characters in the Homeland series and Western media industry in general is one of the most thriving forms of racial prejudice that breeds hate in the society.


Homeland is a remarkable depiction of shifting American foreign policy narratives and deeply imbedded racism within Western media and the entertainment industry. It is important, for developing countries to have the ability to understand and deconstruct these narratives because this knowledge is an aspect of power. Otherwise, people in the developing world will continue to see themselves through the lens of the hegemonic western powers that depict all things non-West as inferior, unruly and inherently treacherous.


For more information, visit Blackbox.

Hussain Nadim
Hussain Nadim is the Head of the Nerve Center. He specializes in security and development studies. He has a PhD from University of Sydney, MPhil from Cambridge and BA from the George Washington University.

https://blackbox.nervecenter.live/decolonizing-homeland-narratives-and-imbedded-racism/
 

Pakistani Fighter

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Meanwhile, the portrayal of a lead female ISI agent of Pakistan is that of a senseless and jealous individual that just wants bloodshed and plays games with the US without a reason – unless the Americans apply pressure or educate her to see things differently.
Why are Westerners so desperate for our women? I remember I was watching Homeland maybe years before and there was an ISI female agent too. I don't ISI use women every now and then
 

PakFactor

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Why are Westerners so desperate for our women? I remember I was watching Homeland maybe years before and there was an ISI female agent too. I don't ISI used women every now and then
Narrative building similar to Bollywood, and when things don't go according to the script they then cry, "Why they hate us in the US, is it due to our freedom?". Half the world is left scratching its head.
 

Mad Scientist 2.0

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I used to watch it a lot but a few inconsistency made me not watch it after a few season and one of which is Iran and Al Qaida working together to fight USA and Israel.
 

PradoTLC

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people are taking homeland too seriously...

but having said that homeland is the opposite of reality. The sore loser is shown as Pakistan but in reality US or more accurately it is the Pentagon that is deeply upset.

Trillons later and in the end it was always Pakistan's game... we won they lost.

and india lost big time too.

Narrative building similar to Bollywood, and when things don't go according to the script they then cry, "Why they hate us in the US, is it due to our freedom?". Half the world is left scratching its head

true much of US society is ignorant and brain washed.
 

Jackdaws

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Is this a joke?
The entire final series has been misrepresented.

1. The Afghan Prez wants peace with Taliban but it is his deputy who doesn't.

2. The American Prez also wants peace and his VP is shown as being stupid.

3. It's the Russians who are engaged in a powerplay here.

4. At one point, Haqqani is even told "How has he all of a sudden become Gandhi?"

5. Talib are still shown as mostly trigger happy idiots including Haqqani's son.

6. Pakistan's depiction is actually that of a state which is acting in its self interest and they come across as pretty rational and accomodating. At one point a daft American says "They will never use nukes. They haven't used them against India" to which Berenson says "That's because the Indians are not stupid enough to mount a full scale invasion."
 

Dalit

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The relationship between the US and Pakistan is extremely complicated. Apart from what is depicted on a TV show this relationship is highly transactional and temporary in nature.

With everything done and dusted, the Americans still have unfinished business with Pakistan. The end of the Afghan war won't change the US deep state plan against Pakistan. Since the US deep state has chosen India as a counterbalance against China, Pakistan became disposable, but not entirely. Right now, the US deep state considers Pakistan a major obstacle before it can unleash Modi's Hindustan against China. Pakistan is a classic case where it serves as a buffer for China. The Americans don't hide their frustration regarding China Pakistan cooperation. The Afghan war was meant to break the Pakistan buffer, but it could not. Call it fate or a logical sequence of events. After US India partnership against China, China Pakistan relations were always going to strengthen to higher levels. CPEC or no CPEC.

1. On top of the list is denuclearisation. This has been a major obstable for US deep state. As long as the nukes are there the Americans feel insecure about making their killer moves. After adding tactical nukes to the mix the Americans have logically become more paranoid. As long as the nukes are there, US deep state designs are hampered.

2. The US deep state has an understanding with its ally India regarding territorial distribution. The deep state would ideally want Pakistan to disintegrate along ethnic lines. This is the reason why US/NATO generals have been predicting the fall of Pakistan every other week from their Kabul headquarters. Pakistan is of great geostrategic value to US deep state. It is a buffer state that can facilitate the destabalisation of China.

3. The US has realised and learnt the lesson that breaking Pakistan through brute force won't happen. The US deep state has changed its methods. The focus has shifted to a sustained attack on ethnic and religious faultlines. Invest in anti-state elements such as PTM and other disgruntled elements. Provide positive coverage for anti-state elements and depict Pakistan as a rougue terrorist state that is falsely accused of oppressing its ethnic and minority groups. Build this narrative and highlight fabricated atrocities by Pak army. Provide covert, moral, economic and military support for anti-state elements in order to disintegrate Pakistan. Import high value anti-state elements across Western nations and provide a platform in order to highlight Pakistan as a human rights violater.

We shouldn't be under any illusion. Our war against US deep state has not finished despite a settlement to Afghan war. The deep state won't give up because it wants to defeat China. In order to defeat China, the deep state first has to defeat Pakistan. This makes it imperative for both China and Pakistan to cooperate on NATO level. An attack on one or the other is an attack on both.
 
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PradoTLC

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The relationship between the US and Pakistan is extremely complicated. Apart from what is depicted on a TV show this relationship is highly transactional and temporary in nature.

With everything done and dusted, the Americans still have unfinished business with Pakistan. The end of the Afghan war won't change the US deep state plan against Pakistan. Since the US deep state has chosen India as a counterbalance against China, Pakistan became disposable, but not entirely. Right now, the US deep state considers Pakistan a major obstacle before it can unleash Modi's Hindustan against China. Pakistan is a classic case where it serves as a buffer for China. The Americans don't hide their frustration regarding China Pakistan cooperation. The Afghan war was meant to break the Pakistan buffer, but it could not. Call it fate or a logical sequence of events. After US India partnership against China, China Pakistan relations were always going to strengthen to higher levels. CPEC or no CPEC.

1. On top of the list is denuclearisation. This has been a major obstable for US deep state. As long as the nukes are there the Americans feel insecure about making their killer moves. After adding tactical nukes to the mix the Americans have logically become more paranoid. As long as the nukes are there, US deep state designs are hampered.

2. The US deep state has an understanding with its ally India regarding territorial distribution. The deep state would ideally want Pakistan to disintegrate along ethnic lines. This is the reason why US/NATO generals have been predicting the fall of Pakistan every other week from their Kabul headquarters. Pakistan is of great geostrategic value to US deep state. It is a buffer state that can facilitate the destabalisation of China.

3. The US has realised and learnt the lesson that breaking Pakistan through brute force won't happen. The US deep state has changed its methods. The focus has shifted to a sustained attack on ethnic and religious faultlines. Invest in anti-state elements such as PTM and other disgruntled elements. Provide positive coverage for anti-state elements and depict Pakistan as a rougue terrorist state that is falsely accused of oppressing its ethnic and minority groups. Build this narrative and highlight fabricated atrocities by Pak army. Provide covert, moral, economic and military support for anti-state elements in order to disintegrate Pakistan. Import high value anti-state elements across Western nations and provide a platform in order to highlight Pakistan as a human rights violater.

We shouldn't be under any illusion. Our war against US deep state has not finished despite a settlement to Afghan war. The deep state won't give up because it wants to defeat China. In order to defeat China, the deep state first has to defeat Pakistan. This makes it imperative for both China and Pakistan to cooperate on NATO level. An attack on one or the other is an attack on both.


good analysis...


to make it is simple for our "pals" in PDF Pakistan refuses to roll over and die.... the deep state was successful, in iraq, yemen, libyia, syria and most of the arab world except Pakistan

we have been their greatest failure and now we have a leader who is afraid to show them the finger when needed is even more so frustrating. Pakistan is doing every thing contrary to their interests.

hence expect more homeland type shows and movies to continue.
 

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