Zeitoun Essay

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The book Zeitoun is told from the point of view of both Mr. Zeitoun and his wife, Kathy, an American who converted to Islam, and touches on themes of racism and bias toward Muslims along with sharing the story of a devastated New Orleans. In the true tale of how one tragedy begets another, Zeitoun illuminates the unearthly absurdity of the Bush administration’s two greatest failures: the hypothetical War on Terror and a botched relief effort in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Eggers was not intend to create an overtly political book or an all-encompassing history of Katrina, but rather to show history through one family and to show the impact on their lives, leading to a discussion of the larger issues of racism, cultural insensitivity and the government’s response to the storm. Meanwhile, Eggers’ evasion of a didactic voice or any semblance of propaganda keeps his story alive, unlikely, and inescapable. The cultural mores of anti-Arab racism in the United States following September 11, 2001 appear throughout Egger’s recollection of Zeitoun’s anecdote. He’s labeled a terrorist, denied a phone call and any indication of what his chargers are, and is singled out for mistreatment and isolation. The nuances of exploitation and degradation based on race are reminiscent of so many of the horrific mistakes made in the wake of September 11 by American soldiers in Abu Ghraib, by Blackwater contractors on Baghdad’s Bloody Sunday, by interrogators at Guantanamo Bay. The men and women who arrested and assaulted Zeitoun did so under dangerously brittle assumptions which Eggers portrays with lucid tact. He brings into the forefront of the narrative a deeply imbedded racism that too often goes unimpeded while maintaining an eloquent voice that does not delve into instructions for social responsibility. Eggers begins the novel by introducing audiences to Zeitoun – a

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