Whitewashed

Overview

The Middle Eastern question lies at the heart of the most pressing issues of our time: the war in Iraq and on terrorism, the growing tension between preservation of our national security and protection of our civil rights, and the debate over immigration, assimilation, and our national identity. Yet paradoxically, little attention is focused on our domestic Middle Eastern population and its place in American society. Unlike many other racial minorities in our country, Middle Eastern Americans have faced rising, ...
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Whitewashed: America's Invisible Middle Eastern Minority

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Overview

The Middle Eastern question lies at the heart of the most pressing issues of our time: the war in Iraq and on terrorism, the growing tension between preservation of our national security and protection of our civil rights, and the debate over immigration, assimilation, and our national identity. Yet paradoxically, little attention is focused on our domestic Middle Eastern population and its place in American society. Unlike many other racial minorities in our country, Middle Eastern Americans have faced rising, rather than diminishing, degrees of discrimination over time; a fact highlighted by recent targeted immigration policies, racial profiling, a war on terrorism with a decided racialist bent, and growing rates of job discrimination and hate crime. Oddly enough, however, Middle Eastern Americans are not even considered a minority in official government data. Instead, they are deemed white by law.

In Whitewashed, John Tehranian combines his own personal experiences as an Iranian American with an expert's analysis of current events, legal trends, and critical theory to analyze this bizarre Catch-22 of Middle Eastern racial classification. He explains how American constructions of Middle Eastern racial identity have changed over the last two centuries, paying particular attention to the shift in perceptions of the Middle Easterner from friendly foreigner to enemy alien, a trend accelerated by the tragic events of 9/11. Focusing on the contemporary immigration debate, the war on terrorism, media portrayals of Middle Easterners, and the processes of creating racial stereotypes, Tehranian argues that, despite its many successes, the modern civil rights movement has not done enough to protect the liberties of Middle Eastern Americans.

By following how concepts of whiteness have transformed over time, Whitewashed forces readers to rethink and question some of their most deeply held assumptions about race in American society.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Whitewashed is an indispensible contribution to the effort to make visible the struggles of Middle Eastern community in the U.S. Activists and educators alike will benefit enormously from Tehranian's thorough research and highly accessible, often entertaining prose."-Loren D. Lybarger,Journal of American Ethnic History

“He provides an important contribution to the dynamic study of the legal and political status of racial and ethnic minorities in the United States.”
-The Law and Politics Book Review

,

“Tehranian's book covers fresh legal and social territory . . . consistently informative and casts off the cloak of invisibility.”
-Publishers Weekly

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“Tehranian has written a compelling account of discrimination against those of Middle Eastern descent. His book is an important addition to the literature on race in America and could not be more timely.”
-Erwin Chemerinsky,Founding Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law, University of California, Irvine, School of Law

“A refreshing analysis and accessible account of the contradictory classification of Middle Eastern Americans as whites in the early 1900s and as non-whites a century later.”
-Mehdi Bozorgmehr,co-author of Backlash 9/11: Middle Eastern and Muslim Americans Respond

Publishers Weekly

With a pastiche of personal experience, media analysis and legal theory, law professor Tehranian makes a case for "government recognition of Middle Eastern descent as a distinct racial category." He argues that Middle Eastern whiteness is a "bizarre racial fiction," for citizens of Middle Eastern descent "do not enjoy the benefits of white privilege," but "are denied the fruits of remedial action." Tehranian traces the acquisition of whiteness by successive waves of immigrants (Irish, Italian, Greek, Slavs, Armenians) through litigation where "assimilatory behavior" or "white performance" provides entry. But Middle Easterners hit a bump in the road, amplified in post-9/11 America: "selective racialization"-the famous or successful are perceived as white, while the infamous "are racialized as Middle Eastern." Tehranian addresses the impact of the "war on terror" on the lives and liberties of Middle Eastern Americans as their "public image transitioned from (possibly white) assimilable ethnics to the quintessential Other." His proposals for reform range from the ameliorative ("reform media portrayals") to the legislative (outlaw racial profiling). Tehranian's book covers fresh legal and social territory; while occasionally repetitious, it is consistently informative and casts off the cloak of invisibility. (Dec.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814783061
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/2008
  • Pages: 388
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

John Tehranian is currently Professor at Chapman University School of Law in Orange County, California.

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Table of Contents

Introduction The price of the ticket 1

1 Constructing Caucasians : a brief history of whiteness 13

2 Performing whiteness : law, dramaturgy, and the paradox of Middle Eastern racial classification 35

3 From friendly foreigner to enemy race : selective racialization, covering, and the negotiation of Middle Eastern American identity 64

4 The last minstrel show? : Middle Easterners in media 90

5 Threat level orange : the war on terrorism and the assault on Middle Eastern civil rights 114

6 Lifting the veil : thinking about reform 165

Conclusion 183

Notes 185

Index 227

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