Note: This article contains spoilers for the Arrival DLC.
Ah, the batarians.
No species save humanity seems exempt from being a “racial spokesman” in the Mass Effect franchise, a problem when each species tends to get painted with a broad brush and rarely permitted to overcome that characterization. The asari are defined by their sexuality. The krogan are savages. The quarians are gypsies. The volus are Jews. But onto the batarians Mass Effect‘s writers have granted the special distinction of space Arabs, whose narrative role seems to consist almost entirely on their depiction as religious and/or political extremists who hate humanity and the American-dominated Alliance Navy in particular with bombastic fervor.
This has been evident in the games since their introduction in the Bring Down the Sky DLC, in which their codex entry first appears alongside a mission that has Shepard recapture a hijacked
a human-colonized planet. In doing so, we’re repeatedly waylaid by the caveat, “not all batarians are like this.” But all the ones we see are.