America’s enemies have many faces: Mexicans in the U.S. illegally, Syrian refugees, Native Americans trying to block a needed pipeline and other bad hombres. And it’s the solemn duty of each and every citizen to help authorities round them up. But national security experts say that before you pick up the phone to the DHS or ICE, it’s important to recognize what each ethnic group actually looks like.
“Every one of us has to be on the lookout for suspicious individuals and be ready to report them,” explained John Chushank, of the U.S. National Security WatchGroup, a Washington think tank. “But it’s vital to be able to tell the difference between a ‘feather’ Indian and a ‘dot’ Indian. A man in a turban lurking at the local bus station may look like a terrorist, but he could be a Sikh not an Arab at all. If you overhear two men speaking Spanish outside the Home Depot, that may seem to warrant a call to immigration authorities, but they might be from Puerto Rico, which is actually part of the United States.”
The group has put out a photo array including 300 pictures of celebrities and non-celebrities to help ordinary Americans distinguish between friends and foes.
“It may be difficult at first to pick up on the subtle differences in facial features, but a patriotic and vigilant citizen must commit them to memory,” Chushank said. “You don’t want to drop a dime on some ‘funny-sounding,’ swarthy neighbors, only to endure their dirty looks in the supermarket if all turns out to be a misunderstanding and they were just Greek.”
Here are some samples from the photo array:
MEXICAN: TV Wonder Woman Lynda Carter’s mother Juana Cordova hailed from Mexico.
JEWISH: Eli Wallach played a Mexican in “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” but was born in Brooklyn.
SYRIAN: Teri Hatcher of “Desperate Housewives” fame.
MUSLIM: Dave Chapelle converted to Islam in 1998.
MEXICAN: Conservative black “Clueless”star Stacey Dash has roots below the border.
MEXICAN: James Roday of TV’s “Psych” changed his name from Rodriguez.
SYRIAN: Jerry Seinfeld, on his mother’s side.
AFRICAN AMERICAN: Johnny Depp may have been convincing as Tonto, but he has African ancestry.
MEXICAN: Baseball legend Ted Williams kept his ethnicity a secret.
CHILEAN: “Jersey Shore” guidette Snooki Polozzi was born in Chile and adopted by Italian-Americans.
Bolivian: Raquel Welch, born Jo-Raquel Tejeda, had a Bolivian father.
SCOTTISH: Sean Connery played an Arab in “The Wind and the Lion.”
SYRIAN: Paula Abdul’s dad came from now-war-torn Aleppo.
ARAB: Consumer advocate Ralph Nader is the son of Lebanese immigrants.
Lebanese-Mexican: Salma Hayek is double trouble.
NATIVE AMERICAN: Val Kilmer has Cherokee blood and played an Indian in the movie “Thunderheart.”
MUSLIM: Basketball great Shaquille O’Neal rarely speaks about his religion.
PUERTO RICAN: Vanna White’s dad was from Puerto Rico.
SWEDISH: Despite his role in “The Prince of Persia,” Jake Gyllenhaal is not Iranian. He descends from Swedish noblity.
ARAB: Music giant Frank Zappa had both Greek and Arab ancestry.
JEWISH: Judd Hirsch of “Taxi” fame.
ARAB: Columbian cutie Shakira’s paternal grandparents were Lebanese.
MUSLIM: Rapper/actor Ice Cube.
NATIVE AMERICAN: Unlike Elizabeth Warren, Pocahontas is a bona fide Indian.
CATHOLIC: Jamie Farr, who played Sgt. Klinger on “M*A*S*H,” is a Lebanese Christian.
GAY: Neil Patrick Harris stars on TV’s “How I Met Your Mother.”
SPANIARD: Antonio Banderas, star of “Zorro” and “Puss in Boots,” was born in Spain.
WHITE: English actress Tilda Swinton played a Tibetan mystic in “Dr. Strange.
ARAB: Vince Vaughn’s paternal grandmother was Lebanese. He also has forebears from Italy, Holland and Germany.
NATIVE AMERICAN: Wes Studi, a Cherokee, has appeared in such films as “Last of the Mohicans.”
TRANGSGENDER: Laverne Cox stars in “Orange is the New Black.”
INDIAN: Aziz Ansari of “Parks and Recreation” comes from a Tamil Muslim family in India.
INDIAN: British actress Gabrielle Anwar of “Burn Notice” has an Indian paternal grandfather.
IRANIAN: Tennis great Andre Agassi’s father represented Iran in the Olympics.
INDIAN: Sir Ben Kingsley, who starred in “Gandhi,” was born Krishna Bhanji, to a British mother and Kenyan-born doctor of Indian descent.
MUSLIM: Mahershala Ali of “Luke Cage” and “Hidden Figures.”
INDIAN: Kal Penn stars in the “Harold and Kumar” comedies.
MEXICAN: Comedian George Lopez is Mexican-American.
SPANISH ANCESTRY: British actress Helena Bonham Carter is a descendent of a Spanish diplomat, Eduardo Propper de Callejon.
ARMENIAN: Reality star Kim Kardashian.
ALL-AMERICAN: Cindy Crawford is of English and Scots ancestry.
ARAB: Danny Thomas, star of “Make Room for Daddy,” was a Lebanese immigrant born Amos Muzyad Yakhoob Kairouz.
Like her dad, 1960s TV icon Marlo Thomas is Arabic. So, when you see someone who looks just like her fleeing a raid, you might find yourself pointing her out to troopers and yelling “That girl!”
Copyright C. Michael Forsyth
Hopefully, you recognized that this article was satire. No one has put out a how-to-recognize-ethnic-groups guide, at least not since 1945. (The facts about the celebrities are accurate, though, to the best of my knowledge. If you enjoyed this article, check out C. Michael Forsyth’s collection of news satire, available on Kindle and in other eBook formats.