It is late at night, and I am thousands of miles from my cozy New England home here in Oregon.
I am cooped up in my tiny, yet luxurious, hotel room, frantically making notes for my report to my boss about the (scintillating and a bit intimidating) conference I have just attended.
It has been a couple of hours of passionate writing and figuring out how I want to present my thoughts to my boss.
And until this moment, I was ignoring the fact that I needed to eat dinner (it’s going to be room service), or pack my bag (newsflash to Kenne, the Queen of Manners puppet who is stalking me: “I am not folding my laundry into the suitcase and so what if the baggage reviewers see that!”).
And so there I was, finally ready to take a break and order some food (it’s going to be nane cayi (peppermint tea) and a hummus plate in honor of the dumb cultural question of the day “Oh – your husband is Turkish? Isn’t Turkish food, you know, like, Israeli food really?”) when I made the move to turn on the television for a little bit of balance from the workaholic intellectual over-stimulation that I tend to get waaaayyyy into when alone in a hotel room.
And there it was, a whole lot of yelling about “Allah” and “All-ah” and “Allah u akbar” on a plane – and I realized that the Discovery channel was showing the film entitled The Flight that Fought Back about the famous Flight 93 of “Let’s roll” fame.
It took me about 10 seconds to figure out what I was watching, of course. And I must say, as an interested observer of the portrayal of people from the Middle East in American culture, this gem did not at all disappoint.
Of course, it immediately made me think with a defeated shrug, about tomorrow morning, and the TSA-ness I will likely endure as I did four days ago (you can read that here)
I stood, somewhat mesmerized until my hummus plate arrived, for about 20 minutes of LOLing at both the gender stereotypes and the ethnic stereotypes that were rampant throughout it (e.g. big burly men saving the day while women prayed and sniveled and macho looking Muslim men intoning Allah at every possible turn and generally being violent and angry the whole time).
This kind of pop culture image gets me everytime – or – I should say that it gets my rile-able self. As the wife of an American born in Turkey, I know that for most people, this is one of the major images of people that come from M.’s region of the world. Now, forget the fact that most Turks I know consider themselves European – but that’s a story for another time.
In my intellectual but also gut-level (yet manageable) anxiety, it’s all I can do to stop myself from fantasizing about antagonizing those TSA lovelies once again tomorrow morning by wearing a scarf on my head. In a rare show of stern-ness that I can respect, Kenne calls me out on the need to show respect – versus mockery – of people who wear scarves as part of their religious or spiritual practice. I quickly shut my mouth for all but hummus consumption.
Kenne nods her approval before corralling the little chorus of dancing ladies to come and fold my laundry for me.