All posts by Jenny Forro

Nuclear Gaze extended upon Muslim Youth

In my RBA I plan on exploring the extent that Nadal’s “Nuclear Gaze Theory” has been reimagined in society today as policing of Muslim-Americans. Within this, I am going to hone in specifically on the implications of growing up under surveillance and the effects its going to bring for Muslim youth. I am going to draw comparisons of society’s stereotypes today, as personified through Donald Trump’s proposed legislation focused on Islamic society, to the Nuclear Gaze during the Civil Rights Movement, Japanese Internment Camps, and perhaps even Nazi Germany. I hope to explore the question of if we are more likely to adapt the roles that society places upon us or if we would rather fight against them.


Parallels between racism and xenophobia

My topic is going to explore the paradox of racism during the Cold War Era and how it parallels to xenophobia after the attacks on 9/11, thus emphasizing the facade of false unity being portrayed by America. Both of these cases were paradoxical because as society repressed both African Americans and Muslim Americans ,respectively, the unity of those repressed grew therefore leading to more powerful movements surrounding their cause.

Research around racism towards African Americans tends to point toward the idea that society associated African Americans so strongly with communism and the sense of “other” because of the similarities within the movements. This thought was even furthered because some African American organizations were led by communist sympathizers such as the National Negro Congress and the Civil Rights Congress. However, Scholars studying the feelings of African Americans at the time argue that Civil Rights movements were fueled by a nationalistic unity that extended to both equality and the American agenda. One Civil Rights leader in Detroit was quoted saying “I fought in the last war and I would unhesitatingly take up arms against anybody that attacks this country. In the same manner I am not in the process of fighting discrimination against my people. I am fighting against un-American activities such as lynchings and the denial of vote”. This best puts the sentiment that rather than uniting for the “common person” with the Communist party, African Americans had pledged allegiance to American ideals, which under perfect circumstances meant equality in the opportunity for success for all. This idea is very much mirrored in those affected by Islamophobia, although scholarly research around it tends to differ on the structure. Some research conveys the idea that African Americans have already had their Civil Rights Movement and now it’s Muslim Americans turn. While that might not be completely accurate in being so final, it addresses the similarities of the formation of the movements and how they progressed based off the reaction of the public.

Allegories within Science Fiction

Star Trek creators recognized the power they held with the public through having a popular tv show and the ability to alter media. They decided to utilize this power by making political statements in the episodes of Star Trek. In the Episode “Patterns of Force” first aired 16 February, 1968, the creators allude to Nazi Germany and the totalitarian regime of Hitler. In this episode the starship Enterprise travels to the planet of Ekos whilst in search of a missing member of the Federation, Gill. Upon Arrival, Kirk and Spock find an identical Nazi movement that has taken control of the planet and learn that it was put in place to unify the country. The writers of Star Trek initially had the idea to have the characters acknowledge that in some places and in some times, fascism could be a successful form of government, however they decided against it. Ultimately, the goal of the episode was to emphasize the mistake of intervention in other countries, or in this case planets, governments. Sarantakes’ conveys, “Regardless of motivation, attempts to intervene will have repercussions for which Americans will be responsible”. This is likely in reference to the Vietnam War and how American intervention did pretty much nothing at all to help stop Communism, but rather ended in the loss of more lives and the destruction of the country. The other allegory within the episode is more pro-America and its the idea the democracy was ultimately the best form of government. In the episode the faults of a Nazi regime are discussed, “What he’s saying Spock is a man that holds that much power, even with the best intentions, just can’t resist the urge to play god”. Overall the episode emphasizes that democracy, and limited government power is the way to go.

Science Fiction as a genre lends itself to the ability to sneak allegories in, because it has practically no ties to reality. The structures of life may be completely the same but because Science Fiction tends to be set in a place or time in which we can’t comprehend, we don’t allow ourselves to consciously see the similarities within societies. It is because of this that Science Fiction becomes perfect to alluding to a problem of our culture. People have a tendency to shut down and ignore any ideas that are in opposition to their beliefs, so by subtly placing them into popular media, our perceptions are swayed within being confronted. Additionally, media and popular culture tend to be open to interpretation so it would be easier to publish a controversial topic. An allegory in popular culture (kind of science fiction) that I always go back to is in Disney’s Wall-E. What I appreciate about Disney’s attack on consumerism and dependency on technology in Wall-E, is that it is ironically produced and marketed through that dependency. Also, by being a cartoon it is lighthearted to the older generations and therefore not an as abrupt challenge to their way of life, but also targets the younger generation who will be growing up and facing the outcomes of this issue.

The anxiety of War

In Matthew Farish’s “American Cities and the Cold War: Disaster and Decentralization”, he addresses how American’s anxiety stemming from the fear of destruction that they saw in Hiroshima and Nagasaki fueled a migration from urban cities to the suburbs in order to provide security for oneself and their family. Farish conveys where this fear came from, “In the United States, a nation with a higher urban to non-urban ration than Cold War rivals like China and the Soviet Union, a city was, as Bernard Bride put it, a made-to-order target, and the degree of urbanization of a country furnishes a rough index of its relative vulnerability to the atomic bomb”. Americans adopted this idea that urban cities like New York, Chicago and L.A, were “made-to-order” targets and therefore left and sought shelter in suburbia.

Farish brings up a really interesting view that Americans had during this time about their fears over Hiroshima. The most chilling part to many about the scenes of the destruction at Hiroshima wasn’t the amount of bodies but rather that Hiroshima was the cultural capital of Japan and was still removed from Western influence. To them, it made it even more tragic that the city represented so much. This extends to the Twin Towers as well because New York City is such a cultural representation of America and the Twin Towers were the epitome of a bustling, American business. So while the deaths that happened in the 9/11 attacks were awful, it was the symbol of America falling and the destruction of us that really fueled the anxiety of Americans.


The question that is raised in the readings that regards what we as a society were really fighting for in the cold war era is really thought provoking. The question raised is, were we fighting for freedom of thought or against it. This question is evident in McDuffie’s article in which he manifests that those who were in support of desegregation were seen by the public as a stepping stone towards communism. He states that this era’s suppression and discrimination towards African Americans and those of lower income created an “ideological vacuum”. This in simple terms means there was only one way of thinking and doing, and if you didn’t fit within that vacuum, then you were wrong. Additionally, the issue of segregation and the civil rights movement stemming from them put America at large in the middle of a divide. How could America be perceived as the free world when a large portion of its population wasn’t really free.




Black-ish (2014-) is a sitcom that follows Andre “Dre” Johnson, a black, upper-middle class man, who is struggling to find a balance between appreciating his culture and assimilating into “white life” in order to improve his successes. Dre receives a promotion at his predominantly white office as senior Vice President, however is surprised and disheartened when he is named as head of the firm’s Urban division. Furthermore, the difficulty to balance the cultures is conveyed through his wife, Rainbow. Rainbow is a doctor who has received criticisms and doubts for being both biracial and female, and therefore incapable.

Dre’s family identity clash is also emphasized by his son Andre who prefers to go by Andy, because “it says I’m edgy but approachable”. Andy also decides to try out for field hockey rather than basketball, much to his dad’s dismay. When his son suggests he wants a bar mitzvah to celebrate his 13th birthday, Dre instead decides to throw him an African manhood initiation ceremony. This idea is quickly forgotten when the grandpa states, “we are not African, we’re black”.

Throughout the show, Dre struggles with the binary thoughts created by containment culture, and the notions of “us against them”. He explains how when sitting in a conference room there is a clear divide against “us”; the diverse lower level executives, and “them”; the upper level white executives, with that divide being manifested in both the snacks they have and the respect they receive. The reality of the tragedy of forced assimilation is conveyed when Dre explains his motivations of how as a kid from the hood he dreamed of providing his family a better life than what he experienced. Acting more white and less black, or “hood”, was the catalyst to society’s acceptance of him as a successful man.

While society has made progress in segregation and racism since the Cold War era, there are still improvements to be made. Gone is the 1940’s inability for African Americans to move to the suburbs, but still prevalent is an underlying tone of suspicion regarding those who are unlike the white, middle- classers; that difference lying in race, religion, or social status. The idea remains that there can be no ambiguity in safety, one is either dangerous or they are not. Most are no longer on the hunt for communists amongst “them” but that overall distrust still remains, and was furthered post 9-11, conveyed by a surge in xenophobia.

The forced assimilation and resurgence of containment culture that is faced by the Johnson family is best summed up by the line, “behold a mythical and majestic black family out of their element in the suburbs”.