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Anti-Arab Bugs Bunny Cartoons Are Called Out

But that wabbit’s wascally days are behind him

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Bugs Bunny and a bodyguard named Hassan.()

Palestinian-American activist Lamis Deek appeared on Egyptian television last month and accused the United States of fomenting anti-Arab feelings via various media, including, perhaps most insidiously, with a certain gray hare. “In Bugs Bunny, which we used to watch, they would sometimes bring a character pretending to be an Arab Muslim Sultan,” she claimed. “He has a potbelly, and he spends most of his time sitting around and eating, indulging in women day and night, and killing people. This is the general notion, but the use they make of it has become more targeted.”

Thing is, she has a point! 1957′s “Ali Baba Bunny” is a little problematic! So is the one where Yosemite Sam is Arab (“Sahara Hare”). But of course, these were far from the most racist Bugs Bunny cartoons, and they all were created more than a half-century ago. As to Deek’s charge that “the Department of Defense finances such films in order to increase suspicion towards our community in America and abroad,” I hope she wasn’t referring to Merrie Melodies, which has no visible connection to the Pentagon; in fact, its predecessor, the War Department, famously went after Bugs in “Rebel Rabbit.”

Deek muses, “I’m talking about the corporations involved in national security and wars, along with Zionist and Israeli institutions … I’m talking about Zionist Christians.” She should be condemned for paranoid anti-Semitic conspiracy-theorizing, but also urged to leave the Christians out of it: Judging from his Mel Blanc-gifted accent, Bugs hails from a part of Brooklyn not known for its Christians; and you’ll note at the conclusion of “Sahara Hare” that Bugs’ frequent partner-in-crime Daffy Duck emerges in the desert, sees nothing but sand for miles, and assumes, excitedly, that he’s in Miami Beach.

Bugs Bunny Targes Muslims, Says Lawyer on Egyptian TV [Arutz Sheva]
Related: Cartoons of a Racist Past Lurk on YouTube [NYT]
The Voice [Tablet Magazine]

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Given the anti-Semitism of the suggestion that the Israeli/Zionist cabal subsidizes US national security, it is absurd to be debating whether Bugs Bunny is anti-Islam. That said, let me point out that the wascally wabbit’s accent mimicked Brooklyn-ese a la *James Cagney.*  The accent was stereotypical *Irish* Brooklyn (see: “Newsies,”any Warner Brothers gangster movie, etc.). If Blanc had wanted Bugs to be a stereotypically Yiddish speaker, he certainly would/could have made that happen (in fact, Blanc ingeniously incorporated Yiddishisms into Bugs’ diatribes), but Bugs was NOT Jewish – he’s Irish Catholic. So, yeah – Christians also get some critical shout outs here, too. Welcome, friends – you’re in good company!!

Royq says:

Bugs Bunny?  Is he the one who appeared in Space Jam?

Benjamin_Isaac says:

Bugs Bunny may not be a general model of historical accuracy, but did not most sultans spend their time “sitting around and eating, indulging in women day and night, and killing people”? Did not most pre-modern rulers? The inability to criticize the past is just as indicative of Arab cultural dysfunction as the spouting of Zionist conspiracy theories.

yevka says:

 Speaking of ugly racist caricatures. You’ve got to be one of the ugliest clowning caricatures out there in the blogosphere
with actual street credit Benjamin-Isaac.  Revel in your racism much?

yevka says:

More crude racist entertainment is yet to come with the release of Sasha Baron Cohen’s new movie this summer.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/palestinian-terrorist-takes-aim-at-sacha-baron-cohen-1.2623

Benjamin_Isaac says:

I’m not criticizing the Arab “race” but aspects of Arab culture – specifically, the aspects that respond to the challenges of modernity by A) uncritically revering the despotic past, B) blaming the Jews. Part of modernity is the free exchange of ideas, a part you are seemingly uncomfortable with.

julis123 says:

 Whatever appears in the movie won’t be able to match the reality of the rulers in the Arab world.

Attributing any behavior to a religion or ethnicity is racist, regardless of whether you see that identity in biological terms.  Saying that Arabs have a ‘cultural dysfunction’ is a racist remark.  If you can’t scientifically ascertain a fact, it’s not a fact.

And you have to realize, American film has probably denigrated no group more than Arabs.  Watch the documentary ‘Reel Bad Arabs’.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-223210418534585840

(That said, no one should throw around ‘Zionist and Israeli institutions’ as if everyone is supposed to know what they’re talking about.)

Benjamin_Isaac says:

If cultural criticism is racism, you’ve essentially made the word “racism” meaningless, and dialogue impossible. I have the right to critique aspects of Arab culture, just like the activist mentioned (and you) have the right to critique aspects of American culture. I wouldn’t stoop so low as to accuse you of anti-American racism, because I am interested in dialogue, not shutting down conversation; and because I have some respect for the notion that words have meaning.

Uhm, haha, no.  You are not criticizing Arab culture at all.  Notice that above I reject the notion entirely that what you describe has anything to do with Arab culture.   You are criticizing what you imagine to be Arab culture.  That’s where the racism lies.

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Anti-Arab Bugs Bunny Cartoons Are Called Out

But that wabbit’s wascally days are behind him

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