Valentino's Ghost exposes the way in which the U.S. Government's foreign policy agenda in the Middle East drives the U.S. media's portrayals of Arabs and Muslims.
In 1920s Hollywood, the Arab was a hero, as played by the iconic Rudolph Valentino in his hugely successful "Sheik" movies. By the 1970s, Arabs and Muslims were depicted solely as embodiments of evil, not only in Hollywood films, but in children's cartoons, in the news media, on TV, and even on radio.
What happened to the hero image? What social and political and religious forces shifted that image to a socially acceptable negative sterotype? Why do supremely talented artists and intellectuals in America consider it perfectly "realistic" to depict Arabs and Muslims in a fashion that would be described as bigoted, if the same image were applied to blacks, Jews, gays, Native Americans, et al?
What about Evangelical Christian bonds with Israel, and "The Israel Lobby" AIPAC? How did we sink into Abu Ghraib? What about the Arab spring and Twitter?