I’ve posted elsewhere on this blog–here and here–about religious conservatives who identify Obama with the Antichrist. The same basic trope–Obama as the Christian archetype of evil–circulated again this week around a History Channel series, The Bible. Glenn Beck, who has done the “Obama as Antichrist” thing on other occasions, posted a still from the series showing the character of Satan, wanting to know if anyone else thought he looked like Obama. The media synapses sparked from there.
‘The Bible’: Satan Actor Looks Like Obama In History Channel Miniseries (Huffington Post)
Not unexpectedly, the History Channel has denied this reading (“History channel has the highest respect for President Obama . . . It’s unfortunate that anyone made this false connection”). The actor, it turns out, is Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni, who I’m informed is Moroccan. If we’re going to turn the hermeneutic of suspicion on that casting choice, the question that comes to my mind is: Why would the series cast someone from the Arab world in the role of Satan?
I haven’t seen anyone pose that particular question (not that I’ve spent a lot of time on this). However, the Huffington Post article I link to above quotes a black scholar, Wil Gafney, complaining that most of the actors in the series are white. As the Huffington Post‘s reporter sums up the situation: “In particular, it seems as though characters with positive roles are being cast as white, while roles of characters engaging in evil are more likely to be filled by actors with darker skin.”
Incidentally, on the subject of race and the Bible, Gafney refers to Israelites as “Afro-Asiatic.” I had not seen that term before; come to find out, it is used to describe the language family, at least, to which Hebrew belongs. Knowing, however, that Gafney is black, I have a hunch that her preference for that term represents a racial appropriation of biblical history analogous to the racial appropriation that occurs when biblical characters are depicted as white (though with a different political outcome, to be sure).