My copy of “West Wing: Season 3″ arrived, and I’ve just started watching it. (putting me at something like a 2-3 year lag behind when it was broadcast) One of the season’s recurring themes is “Qumar”. Qumar’s horrific laws regarding women, its corrupt aristocracy, and its terrorist training camps. Qumar is everything that upsets Americans about the Islamic world.
And it doesn’t exist.
Slipped into the discussion with Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Helsinki and other ridiculous sounding yet real places Qumar is a rhetorical device designed to reinforce every negative stereotype Americans (and the West) have been trained to believe about Islam.
Of course the stereotype about Americans is we don’t know geography. Unfortunately this stereotype is true. I wonder how many people at home watching knew Qumar doesn’t exist, and in fact that no one, not the Taliban, not Saudi Arabia not Iraq quite measures up to this platonic ideal.
I think Sorkin knew he could get away with some emotional TV without having to present the same balanced, researched, and nuanced material they usually show because “its over there”, and we’re hicks. Its hateful, and its cynical.
update: wikipedia on Qumar