Fox’s “24: Legacy,” a reboot of the wildly popular ’24’ with Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer that spent most of its 9 years focusing on Muslim terrorists, has a new superhero, Eric Carter, played by Corey Hawkins. FYI…The New York Times never liked the original ’24’ either, for the same reason.
NY Times But this reboot had seriousness thrust upon it. Running a week after Donald J. Trump’s stringent immigration restrictions on seven predominantly Muslim countries, it could have been scripted straight from the president’s direst imaginings. It was, intentionally or not, a one-hour Super Bowl ad for Islamophobia.
We open on an American home defiled — family pictures, a Purple Heart, blood spatter on the walls. A jihadist kill team has slipped into the United States, slaughtering men, women and children, looking for a database of sleeper cells waiting to be activated.
That kind of supercompetent Islamic terror group is a staple in series like “24.” Not so much in real life, where after 9/11, Islamic terrorists in America have tended to be radicalized individuals or duos.
Series like “24: Legacy” have, for years, provided that kind of raw nightmare material. The terrorists could be anywhere. They could be in your neighborhood. Or they could be in the schools, like Amira, the Chechen immigrant apparently planning an attack with her brother and a teacher she has under her Lolita-like spell. (Though her religion is not specifically mentioned, the subplot has overtones of the Tsarnaev brothers, who carried out the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.)
In the tradition of “24” teen subplots, the story is straight-up ridiculous, but the implication is insidious, especially amid the current demonizing of immigrants and refugees: You let them in, and this is what happens.
Now, if you’ve ever watched “24,” you know that every one of these story lines is subject to change. There will be twists on twists, good guys may turn out bad and vice versa. But that’s a message in itself: You can never be certain. Isn’t it smarter to err on the safe side? It’s not that the show argues all Muslims are bad. It’s that it suggests any Muslim might be bad.
The most obvious example is the show’s popularizing of the “ticking time bomb” justification for torture, dismissed by terrorism experts. (In the “24: Legacy” premiere, it’s the terrorists who torture and coerce information out of their captives.)
Our president, evidently, is a believer. Sean Hannity recently asked him if ABC’s David Muir — who had questioned Mr. Trump about waterboarding — would use the technique if a kidnapper had taken his child. “Or would you want him to talk in 48 hours from now, by being nice to him?” Mr. Trump responded. “And by that time, it’s too late.”
Over the years, “24” was hounded by Muslim pressure groups like CAIR over its anti-Muslim characterizations. In a bow to political correctness, ’24’ introduced sympathetic Muslim characters and spread the villainy around: Serbians, Chinese, and Russians…which quickly led to a steep ratings drop-off and the show’s abrupt cancellation. (Hopefully, ’24 Legacy’ won’t make the same mistake)
In 2017, we are not in the post 9/11 heyday of hysteria, where George W, Bush mistakenly told the world that “Islam is a religion of peace.” President Trump is under the sway of those who see all of Islam as an enemy, advisers like Stephen K. Bannon, who has said, “Islam is not a religion of peace — Islam is a religion of submission,” at war with the “Judeo-Christian West.”