Friday, October 22, 2010
My own 'frisson of apprehension' about flying with Muslims
I'll be glad to tell him mine. The first time was right after 9/11.
On the morning of 9/11 itself, I was upstairs packing for my trip from Boston's Logan airport back to San Francisco. My sister yelled for everyone to hurry into our parent's living room to see what was happening in New York. An airplane had hit one of the Trade Towers, but was it an accident, or an attack? No one knew for sure. A few minutes later we saw a second airliner fly into the second tower, eliminating the possibility of an accident. It was Pearl Harbor all over again. The country was at war.
I saw the South Tower buckle and start to collapse before the announcer saw it. I watched the air blow out of each collapsing story as it pancaked under the falling weight of the stories above (what the idiot "truthers" still think was a sequence of timed explosive charges). I saw thousands of my fellow countrymen murdered by what we already suspected were Islamic terrorists. Then came the news that a plane from Logan had crashed in western Pennsylvania, a plane I would have been on except that I didn't want my mom to have to get me to the airport that early.
Five days later I finally got a flight to San Fran out of Logan. I scanned everyone in the boarding area looking for two things: hidden Muslim terrorists, and alert possible allies. As I boarded the plane, I scanned the face of every prime-age male, Muslim-looking and non-Muslim looking alike, for any sign of either fellow-spirit or hostility.
I noted where the three or four Arab or Indian looking men were seated. None had a hostile look. Half of the other men returned my own quietly inquiring gaze, looking long enough to let me know that they were asking the same thing I was: was I ready to act, should allies be needed?
No nods were necessary, as each of us received what we were looking for. All of us understood that this was now a national duty. It was up to the passengers to be vigilant, and be ready to work together to defend each other and the nation.
Now NPR has fired Juan Williams for expressing that exact same vigilance: a watchfulness towards Muslim passengers. Embrace your duty to your countrymen, and the moral trash at NPR will brand you a moral criminal.
I let my guard down
I am ashamed to admit that last month I let my watchfulness lapse, possibly putting my flight at risk. This time I was flying from SF to Logan. When I sat down in the boarding area there was a middle-age Arab-looking man standing across from me, his back to the wall, with a carry-on bag at his side. A minute later a college-age Arab or Indian youth came and placed his carry-on in front of the older man's bag, then sat on the floor and leaned back against both bags.
After a minute the young man looked up over his shoulder at the older man and pressed his lips together in brief acknowledgement, so I figured they must be traveling companions, which seemed likely enough. The older man was not so much lighter skinned that he couldn't have been the young man's father. In any case, they certainly weren't trying to hide being together, so I put my alert level down to yellow and got caught up in the book I was reading for the 45 minute wait until boarding.
Only as I straggled into the boarding line did I notice that the older Arab-looking fellow, half-way to the gate, was no longer with the younger man, who was no where in sight. If they weren't together then the young man leaning on the older man's bag was explicitly disallowed behavior. But if they were up to something untoward that involved boarding separately, why let on to an observer like me that they knew each other?
Probably they were traveling together but just booked their flights and their seats separately, so I let it go. I shouldn't have, not when the people involved were Muslim-looking men. Why not check? Why not tell airline personnel what I saw and let THEM decide if there was anything to be concerned about? If the men had an innocent explanation, asking would not harm them in any way, and it was reckless of me to assume the best.
To make up for it I spent the next 3 hours trying to keep at least a half an eye out to see if the older man, seated a few rows in front of me, got out of his seat. Once we got past Chicago I figured they couldn't be trying to use the plane as a weapon—it was too low on fuel—so I went back to my reading.
I never was able to spot the younger man or see whether they paired up at the other end. Since nothing happened, it would at worst have been a test run, perhaps to see how complacent American passengers have become. If so, I flunked, and should be demoted from any order of merit, all of which makes NPR an order of demerit.
Fail to learn the lesson of 9/11—that we are war with hidden Islamic jihadists who pretend to be trustworthy friends while plotting acts of war—and you'll get an "A" from National Politically-correct Radio. Embrace the lesson of Flight 93—that citizen alertness to Islamic terrorism is our last line of defense—and they'll cast you beyond the pale.
I learned my lesson the stupid way, so that you can learn it the easy way. Don't try to decide for yourself whether suspicious activity, especially by Muslim-looking people, is innocuous. Alert authorities and let them verify whether the activity is in fact innocuous.
The republican (small "r") guarantee
Thanks to Juan Williams, we also have lesson number 2: that it's time for NPR, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, to go away.
Public funding of propaganda violates the Article IV section 4 guarantee to the states that they shall have a republican form of government. The states are under the federal government, so this constitutional provision also constrains the federal government to abide by the fundamental principle of republicanism: that it is the people who are sovereign. WE are the master, and government is the slave. It is WE who tell the government what principles to enact into law. The government does not instruct US as to what constitutes right thinking.
It's not just a philosophy. It's a constitutional requirement.
UPDATE Hooper responds to William's firing (via Ace of Spades HQ):
"You have a sizeable minority of Americans who think it is legitimate to single out Muslims for special scrutiny and deny them rights all other Americans hold dear," said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "That viewpoint expresses intolerance and bigotry."No, dirtbag, singling out Muslims for special scrutiny does NOT deny them any rights. Profiling, be it racial, religious, ethnic, by height, weight, sex, hair-color, eye-color, or whatever is a fundamental law enforcement tool. We look closer at those who we have reason to suspect of what we are trying to interdict, and what we are trying to interdict now is MUSLIM terrorism.
Innocent Muslims are not harmed by this scrutiny. They are protected by it, just as the rest of us are, from Islamic terrorism.
CAIR, for anyone who doesn't know, is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is also the parent organization of al Qaeda. That's why I call Hooper a dirtbag. He is a close al Qaeda relative and ally.
Why does our Democrat-controlled media treat Hooper as a legitimate spokesman for American Muslims? That's something we actually CAN blame Bush for. Our stout terror-fighting ex-president was only so bold as to name the enemy "Islamic militants" one time, before he retreated under our politically correct media's storm of protest. If only he had been willing to oratorically fight our domestic liberty haters with one hundredth the vigor he fought our Islamic enemies on the battlefield. Instead, he dodged the battle for AMERICAN hearts and minds, and so lost the country to the liberty-hating Democrats, guaranteeing retreat from whatever gains our military secures.
MORE: My January 2002 Stanford Review article on the legitimacy of racial, ethnic, religious and other profiling, and its necessity for combating Islamic terrorism.
Profiling is criticized for directing suspicion at many innocent Muslims, but it ought to be obvious to everyone that the intent and effect is to alleviate suspicion. If the authorities could be counted on to make sure that Muslims in America are not bad actors, then the rest of us would not have to be suspicious of individual Muslims. To minimize harms to the innocent, separate the guilty from the innocent. Then containment can be properly limited to the guilty.
Links to my other writings on profiling and our WWII internment of Japanese Americans here.
UPDATE II Arizona is right now providing a perfect example of how failure to distinguish the guilty from the innocent creates bothersome suspicion of all members of the larger group from which the guilty spring. The background is massive voter registration fraud by the pro-illegal-immigrant group Mi Familia Vota. Then there is the recent federal appeals court ruling that Arizona cannot require voters to show proof of citizenship.
In response to this legal open-door to known and ongoing vote fraud, private anti-vote-fraud groups are asking for volunteer election monitors. Mi Familia Vota complains that this is intimidation of "anyone who has the appearance of a foreign person, i.e. being a Latino." Indeed, but the anti-vote-fraud medicine is no where near as harmful as the vote-fraud disease, and who is responsible for the disease? As one of the watchers put it:
We hope that those who seem so shocked and outraged that Americans are concerned about stopping voter fraud will own up to their actions and stop committing vote fraud.There is a much more effective and much less intrusive remedy for vote fraud. Just check whether voters--all voters--are actually citizens, as Arizona tried to do, before the pro-vote-fraud federal judge overturned. If proof of citizenship was required, there would be no reason for anyone to suspect anybody of anything. It is failure to check the facts that lumps the guilty with the innocent, causing innocent people to be suspected of guilt. That the guilty people themselves in this example (Mi Familia Vota) are the ones complaining about innocent people being suspected of guilt is just an added perverse twist.
oh yeah and there are white, black, and east asian muslims too... so focusing on the "brown" ones only gives you a superficial sense of security.