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.
About the Author
John Tehranian is currently Professor at Chapman University School of Law in Orange County, California.
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
About the Author 247
What People are Saying About This
“This book is a compelling study of one of the critical issues of our time: the debate regarding issues of assimilation, immigration, and national identity. . .a well-written and extremely readable book suited to general readers as well as faculty and researchers.”
“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
“A learned, witty, and analytically biting analysis of race politics and race jurisprudence. A brilliant case that race is understood through performance and is hostage to the politics of fear. Tehranian’s legal and intellectual thriller is hard to put down.”
-James C. Scott,Sterling Professor of Political Science and Anthropology, Yale University
“Tehranian chronicles how American law constructed Whiteness, how Middle Eastern immigrants struggled to assimilate, and documents how this officially White population does not share in the bounty of White privilege.”