Cultural Competence in Army Wives – or the lack of it

Article first published as Cultural Competence in Army Wives on Technorati.

Global Cultural CompetenceSunday Night, I watched the season finale of Army Wives on the Lifetime channel. Though my husband always made fun of me watching it, I was still a great fan.

My husband objection to the series is that it shows that Generals invite Privates and Sergeants socially to their homes and are sometimes on a first name basis.
But I still loved it: I liked the camaraderie and the friendships developed between the wives even if it was not completely painting a true image of the real Army Wives.

I liked the fact that it has a diverse cast and portrays different ethnic families, races, ages, genders, marital status, backgrounds and even different professions.

What stopped me in my tracks Sunday night, was a scene where the General that is on a mission in Afghanistan visiting some remote tribes gets abducted by some Taliban members. The Taliban is a radical violent extremist group in Afghanistan.

Once captured, the General is brought to a prison; some guards come in, bring him some food, then shout at him. In the beginning, I couldn’t really distinguish the words uttered by the guard, and then I did.

The guard’s beard wasn’t unusually long and unkempt as practiced by Taliban members; he spoke in Arabic with a Palestinian/Lebanese dialect. I know that many didn’t notice or don’t know the difference. But the big mistake is that Afghanistan is not a Middle Eastern country, it stands next to Pakistan in the Asian continent. Afghanis do not speak Arabic, but they speak Dari which is a dialect of the Persian language, or Pashto, depending which part of Afghanistan they come from.

That made me wonder, does Lifetime channel bother to check the validity of the information broadcast nationwide? Or they just don’t care as who will really notice? Are they negligent in doing or not doing a proper research? Or is it pure stereotyping?

If a similar mistake is done by an individual based on their own bias, I wouldn’t condone it as I don’t accept any kind of stereotyping; but I might understand it. But when a cultural mistake of that magnitude is committed by a national network like the Lifetime channel, then it is serious.

Media shape the public’s opinion either consciously or subconsciously. That is why cultural or stereotyping mistakes have to be avoided. It is never correct or right to discriminate against a certain group or category of people, it just fuels hatred, and hatred generates more hatred, and no one wins.

I would like to see Lifetime channel apologize for their negligence; I will write to them so may be and just may be they can avoid such stereotyping in the future and realize that they need to correct a wrong.

Discrimination is discrimination no matter towards whom or why, once we allow it, we open a Pandora box. The beauty of our nation is that it is multi ethnic; colorful flowers make a beautiful garden.

Diversity starts at home,


Sahar Andrade
Executive Director
Sahar Consulting

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