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]