Confessions of a Terrorist Profiler

October 22nd, 2010 at 6:05 pm | 48 Comments |

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Juan Williams’ firing over remarks about Muslim airline passengers may have the perverse effect of worsening airline security if travelers and airport personnel become self-conscious about reporting suspicious behavior.

It was, after all, this kind of fear of being branded discriminatory that led a Portland airline agent to clear two 9/11 bombers — including Mohammed Atta — through to their fateful destination in Boston: Four years after the attacks, former US Airlines employee Michael Tuohey said he was still haunted by guilt that he did not act on his suspicions.

“I said to myself, ‘If this guy doesn’t look like an Arab terrorist, then nothing does.’ Then I gave myself a mental slap, because in this day and age, it’s not nice to say things like this,” Tuohey told the Maine Sunday Telegram. “You’ve checked in hundreds of Arabs and Hindus and Sikhs, and you’ve never done that. I felt kind of embarrassed.”

And yet it was exactly that kind of instinct by fellow passengers that initially kept shoebomber Richard Reid off his first attempt to board a Paris-Miami flight on December 21, 2001.  The world was still jittery in the months following 9/11, and travelers were more concerned about their safety than political correctness.  Reid’s disheveled appearance attracted notice; ditto the fact he did not check any luggage for the transatlantic flight.

Reid was cleared to fly, by French security, however, the next day—on American Airlines flight 63—and were he more competent,  and the passengers less alert to his appearance, that flight number would also go down into the annals of successful Islamic terrorist attacks against passenger aircraft.

Three years after the shoe-bombing incident, I experienced my own episode of terrorist profiling (and maybe that’s what we should call it: not “racial” profiling but “terrorist” profiling, because the two are completely different.  The latter does not arise out of irrational prejudice).

Here’s what happened:  In January and February, 2004, there was a flurry of terrorist threats against international flights between London and Paris and Washington; some flights were cancelled; aircraft were grounded and searched; in one instance, F-16 fighter jets escorted a British Airways flight from Heathrow to Dulles.

In March, my husband and I took our three children on a holiday in Europe: our return flight, aboard Air France, connected through Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport.  We had a three-hour layover before we could board our homebound jet to Washington-Dulles.  After clearing international security and poking around the terminal for a bit, the five of us settled into benches in the empty departure lounge—empty, that was, except for two suspicious-looking men in a bench opposite ours.

I say suspicious because they matched every profile of a terrorist I’d ever read: Both looked to be about 25 or 26, of Arab descent, beards, dressed in the modern Atta traveling fashion of jeans and t-shirts.  Neither had any carry-on bags for an eight-hour flight. One of the men was reading an Arabic newspaper while the other seemed twitchy—he kept looking around, and repeatedly kept pulling out his documents from a small bag to check them over again.  I became fixated on them for the next two hours: I had books and magazines but my eyes kept straying to watch what they were up to.  After a little bit, both men took to pacing nervously—when they weren’t looking over their documents again. I was trying to think of what purpose they would have to travel to Washington:  They were not with family members.  They were obviously not businessmen—and yet they were too old to be students.

I leaned over to my husband, who was absorbed in a book: “Have you been watching these guys?” I asked my husband quietly, keen that the children not overhear me.

“No why?”

I explained what I’d been seeing, and he took to occasionally glancing up from his reading to keep an eye on them as well.  Gradually more passengers began filtering into the lounge as the flight departure grew closer.  Then, promptly at three o’clock, the two men went over to a large window, fell to their knees and began elaborately praying to Mecca.

“That’s it,” I told him. “I’m not getting on this plane.”

“I’m sure it’s okay,” he murmured back. “They would have been pretty thoroughly checked by security.”

“The shoebomber was checked by security.”

“Let me go speak to the people at the Air France desk.”

There was a very French-looking security man: white bushy hair, a big white moustache, and a girth that suggested he enjoyed his duck confit and lunchtime Bordeaux as much as his other fellow citizens of the Republic.

He listened to my husband, nodded, glanced over at the two men, then came over to speak to me.  I stepped away from the children, who were all pre-occupied with their electronic playthings. I reported everything I’d watched and he listened gravely—I could not tell whether he thought he was dealing with a hysterical mother or not.

“Madame, I can assure you that no aspect of security has been overlooked on this flight.”

“Why are you so certain.”

He smiled slightly.  “Because I am privy to security measures that I cannot discuss with you.  French security is not so—ahh—let me say it is different from American security. Let me repeat: this is a very safe flight.”

Over his shoulder I watched the two men join the boarding queue: they looked actively jumpy by this point.

“And what happens if we don’t want to get on.  Can we change to another flight?”

The security guard excused himself for a moment, spoke briefly with the gate crew, and returned to us.  “There is a flight tomorrow morning.  It would be our pleasure to change you to that flight if that is your preference.  No charge of course.  But you will have to wait for us to remove your bags from the plane.”

My husband and I discussed it between us.  He was prepared to go ahead but equally okay to cancel out of the flight if I was that nervous; I felt a little embarrassed by my fears.  Then I looked at the bent line of the heads of my children, fighting imaginary enemies on their toys.  Was I going to trust their fates to the assurances of an airline security guard?

“If we stayed, we could get a room at one of the airport hotels, take the train in to Paris for dinner, and return here tomorrow morning,” I proposed.  “That wouldn’t be so bad—”

“No.”

“The alternative,” I continued, “would be for you to have me digging my nails into your forearm for eight hours…”

We waited for our bags to be removed from the plane.  The children were delighted at this turn of events.  They had never seen Paris.

The next day we had a pleasant flight home.  And the flight we had rejected landed without incident. So, did we do the right thing?

Certainly every one of us acts self-protectively, weighing the risks of any given situation. I have never since refused to get on a plane for fears of another passenger—but then, I’ve never been confronted again with such suspiciously acting travelers on a flight that had recently been under terrorist threat.

Now, nearly seven years later, and in the wake of the Juan Williams incident, I ask myself: Would I make that same decision again?

Without question. And I hope I would still have the guts to report a troubling passenger to an airline clerk without fear that I might be branded racist.

Recent Posts by Danielle Crittenden



48 Comments so far ↓

  • Carney

    It was, after all, this kind of fear of being branded discriminatory that led a Portland airline agent to clear two 9/11 bombers — including Mohammed Atta — through to their fateful destination in Boston: Four years after the attacks, former US Airlines employee Michael Tuohey said he was still haunted by guilt that he did not act on his suspicions.

    “I said to myself, ‘If this guy doesn’t look like an Arab terrorist, then nothing does.’ Then I gave myself a mental slap, because in this day and age, it’s not nice to say things like this,” Tuohey told the Maine Sunday Telegram.

    ——

    You know who was responsible, in some part, for this? George W. Bush. In 2000, in a pandering effort to win in Michigan, and to help save the Senate seat of floundering GOP Sen. Spencer Abraham, he campaigned AGAINST terrorist profiling in airports and the use of secret evidence in terrorist trials.

    Typically, with his jumbled syntax, he mashed the two issues together into a single reference during one of his debates with Gore.

    But to airline security personnel, the message was clear. Even the election of a “conservative” Republican was not going to save you if a touchy or litigious passenger got offended and accused you of bigotry, or sued you. Your superiors would not rally to your defense, but rather leave you twisting in the wind, or cut you loose to save themselves. The vast resources of the federal government might even come after you for discrimination.

    So even if your instincts and training were screaming that you were looking at a possible hijack gang, you think of your mortgage, your kids’ tuition and college fund, your retirement, and wave them through, hoping you were wrong.

  • sinz54

    In the days after 9-11, security officials from El Al, the Israeli airline, told their counterparts in the U.S. that their most effective airline security measure is ethnic profiling:
    Staff scrutinize the passengers’ names, dividing them into low-risk (Israeli or foreign Jews), medium-risk (non-Jewish foreigners) and extremely high-risk travelers (anyone with an Arabic name). These people automatically are taken into a room for body and baggage checks and lengthy interrogation. Single women also are considered high-risk, for fear they might be used by Palestinian lovers to carry bombs.

    To sift out who is who, screeners usually begin by asking passengers whether they understand any Hebrew, which most Jews do. Officials argue that such blatant discrimination is necessary.

    “We don’t ask the same questions to everyone; there’s a surprise element so people can’t prepare their answers,” says El Al spokesman Nachman Klieman, adding that they don’t reveal many of their security secrets publicly.
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/sept11/2001/10/01/elal-usat.htm#more

    El Al has never had a successful hijacking since 1968, before this new security system went into effect.

    Now the American Government has chosen to eschew such measures.

    But that doesn’t mean that each individual passenger and citizen can’t use a similar system: When I travel by air, I also divide the passengers up mentally into levels of safety. A blonde Irish-American mom traveling with her toddler won’t make me nervous. A guy of any ethnicity getting steadily more drunk will make me a little nervous. And four swarthy Middle Eastern Muslims will make me even more nervous.

  • pampl

    “Three years after the shoe-bombing incident, I experienced my own episode of terrorist profiling (and maybe that’s what we should call it: not ‘racial’ profiling but “terrorist” profiling, because the two are completely different. The latter does not arise out of irrational prejudice).”

    Ahaha. I didn’t realize you could just define away criticism like this. I guess I’ll start saying my Klan rallies are actually cross pyrotechnic displays and therefore can’t be bigoted.

    At any rate, I think it’s great the author is willing to confront her demons, even if she doesn’t yet realize that’s what they are. In a decade we’ll look back on this period as embarrassed as we look at former white fears about blacks.

  • PestiEsti

    First, there is a significant difference between what Williams said and the situations described here. In all these situations, people were concerned because someone was acting suspicious. They were nervous, didn’t have luggage, etc. Compare this to what Williams said:
    But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.
    Ignore for a moment that neither the 9/11 hijackers, nor the men who concerned the author, were dressed in “Muslim garb;” as the author notes, jeans and a t-shirt seem to be the hijacker uniform of choice. The characteristic that causes Williams to be concerned is that the person is Muslim, not that he or she is doing anything unusual. Williams was branded as a racist because, frankly, he was being a little racist. I see no reason for this to concern someone reporting legitimately unsettling behavior.

    Second, “I was once needlessly afraid of boarding a plane, will this deter me from being needlessly afraid again?” is not the strongest foundation to build an argument on.

  • pampl

    I may disagree with sinz about the justness of racial profiling, but he at least has the courage of his convictions and can call a spade a spade. Trying to relabel racial profiling as “terrorist profiling” is unbelievably gutless and cowardly.

  • MSheridan

    I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

    –Bene Gesserit Litany [fragment]Fear is natural, sometimes even valuable. There is nothing wrong with feeling fear. Allowing fear to absolutely control you, however, that is a mistake.

  • easton

    It must be nice that you are had the chance to throw your schedule up in arms and that the airline was willing to accomodate your paranoia (which is what it ended up being, being that nothing happened). However, most of us don’t have that luxury.

    I fly often, most anxieties are far more pedestrian, will I miss the flight, will I miss my connection, will my luggage get lost (I even have irrational fears, like will someone plant drugs in my checked in luggage and I will get busted for it because they don’t steal my luggage first)
    Sizing up all the passengers, no, I don’t have the energy for that. There is no way in hell any of them will ever commander a plane again, and if they blow up the plane there ain’t much I can do about it since I am not able to follow every ethnic guy into the bathroom (and why these morons haven’t figured blowing themselves up in the bathroom is beyond me)

    And I love this line by Sinz: And four swarthy Middle Eastern Muslims will make me even more nervous.

    Man up you pussy. It only takes one to blow themselves up. And, what, you won’t be nervous if they are all clean shaven? You know what would make me nervous in such a situation where people try to hijack a plane? whiny pasty faced weak white men who are intimidated hopelessly by other men. Myself, I would gouge anyones eyes out who tried to commander a plane and I daresay 90% of the rest of the men would join me while poor Sinz hides in the bathroom.

    I truly don’t understand how some men can willingly admit to being weak and scared as some kind of badge of truth telling.

    And for Chrissakes, lay off airline personnel. As far as I am concerned they go overboard as it is. Yes, I would rather die then they drag out my flight time as every ethnic person, from Italian to Indian, gets strip searched just to allay the fears of a bunch of Republipussies.

  • Nanotek

    “However, most of us don’t have that luxury. ”

    if she had been an economy class passenger on an American airline she might have been tasered

  • MSheridan

    Testify, easton! I was never a huge fan of John Wayne movies or John Wayne attitudes, but geez, it’s pathetic how many freedoms Americans have proven willing to throw by the wayside for the illusion of a little more safety.

    Here in Sacramento, just the other day a young man with mental health issues (a professing Christian, btw) set a fire which did an estimated half-billion (with a B) dollars worth of damage to a local mall. No fatalities, thankfully, but all the security measures in the world won’t keep you safe from the world, unless you want to emulate the characters in the movie Blast from the Past and live in a bomb shelter out of touch with the rest of humanity.

  • rbottoms

    Without question. And I hope I would still have the guts to report a troubling passenger to an airline clerk without fear that I might be branded racist.

    Yes, you are a racist.

    But as long as you can live with it, what does it matter what I think.

  • LauraNo

    Wow. Well, first off, where do you get the idea that the airport screener had a fear of being accused of ‘being branded discriminatory’? From what you wrote, I get the idea, because you said so, that he was worried ABOUT HIS OWN OPINION OF HIMSELF.

    “…because the two are completely different”. Says you. Says I: they are more alike than they are different and your stating something different does not make it so. As all the not-at-ground-zero, not-a-mosque controversy shows, certain types of people DO profile racially using the excuse of fear of terrorism. Requiring papers of people in Arizona also comes to mind as an example.

    I can fully understand your concern over the way you perceived their behavior but there is so much to be concerned about in your post that I have to question your judgement as concerns them. When you say the last straw was seeing someone PRAY, for goodness’ sake, I wonder.

    “…dressed in the modern Atta traveling fashion of jeans and t-shirts”. I don’t know what this means. What does this mean? Anyway, I travel in jeans and a t-shirt. So does my husband and son. Are you saying we dress like Mohammad Atta? And we are suspicious for this? What?

    I am glad all worked out well but I wouldn’t repeat the story if I were you. You are not who you think you are, I think.

  • rbottoms

    I truly don’t understand how some men can willingly admit to being weak and scared as some kind of badge of truth telling.

    True dat.

    When did the GOP become the party of wetting your pants every time someone wearing a scarf shows up?

  • SpartacusIsNotDead

    Easton to Sinz: “Man up you pussy.”

    He can’t man up. He’s been a traumatized racist ever since the 14-year old daughter of a black hippie took his lunch money in junior high school.

  • nwahs

    “Man up you pussy. It only takes one to blow themselves up. And, what, you won’t be nervous if they are all clean shaven?”

    Watch your mouth you little moron. Search “thesaurus.” Why don’t you take your internet tough guy shtick back to WoW.

  • drdredel

    LauraNo,

    I’m not sure why the praying as a last straw strikes you as so absurd. Forgetting the racial profiling nature of the story, if you are going to be “on the lookout” for Muslim extremists, then certainly actively praying just before getting on the plane and just after being really jittery and nervous for 3 hours would make an entirely rational “last straw”, no?

    Again, I think there’s a very odd reluctance on the part of most of the posters here to acknowledge that there is a very specific source for the vast majority of modern day terrorism, and yes, racial profiling is bad at job interviews and the DMV, but it’s entirely warranted (so long as it’s done rationally, even handedly, and in conjunction with the other prevailing evidence) in the case of airport security.

    The larger argument to be made is that airport security is entirely unnecessary. It’s a waste of time and money and serves no purpose as clearly evidenced by the total lack of anything resembling it in the other modes of travel available to us, and the total lack of any substantial rate of terrorist incidents on said travel modes.

    People who wear their religion on their sleeves are assholes and should be treated as such.

    But if you ARE going to do security, being on the lookout for jittery 25ish looking guys that are traveling without luggage and are doing a lot of praying , is a pretty good place to start.

    I think that to pretend that religion isn’t evil, and that Islam isn’t particularly evil (in today’s day and age) is to be willfully self deceptive in the name of totally unwarranted tolerance.

    People who wear their religion on their sleeves are assholes (at best) and should be treated as such.

  • LauraNo

    drdredel, I took the line ‘promptly at 3:00′ to mean that is the normal, required time for Muslims to pray, facing Mecca. As such I didn’t think it was reason for concern. Muslims in the military do it all the time I believe. If that isn’t true then I was wrong. I agree 100%, profiling for terrorists is necessary, I’m not too sure scared, white, upper middle class women who seem to live narrow lives are up to the task, not that that fact would stop them. See Danielle, I can jump to huge conclusions about someone with very limited information too. I agree too drdredel that most security measures are useless, they are also expensive and waste a lot of time and cause a lot of angst. I will probably outrage people here when I say, I did not agree with George Bush’s DHS, making it a separate entity, and giving them carte blanche to invade our privacy. Countries are attacked by terrorists all the time, you don’t see them going batchit about it and rewriting the rules. It is just another fact of life, like cancer. We do what we can to avoid it, WITHIN REASON.

  • armstp

    How are we going to profile for all those right-wing terrorist attacks which have occured in the U.S.? In just the last two years alone there have been 15 right-wing terrorist attacks done by white primarily Christian men.

    And in the last 15 years there have been more than 80 right-wing terrorist attacks in the U.S. White right-wing largely Christian terrorism is the biggest threat in the U.S., so much so that two years ago Homeland Security put out a report about it. How many terrorist attacks have we had in the U.S. by people who believe in Islam in the last two years? just one (Ft. Hood) and two attemps (Times Square and Detroit flight).

    I bet most of the commentators and featured bloggers would fit within the profile of those that are responsible for most of these attacks; white (check), male (check), have conservative views (check), christian (check), etc.

    Here is a list of 15 of the white largely christian terrorist attacks or attempted attacks in the U.S. in the last two years:

    – October 2008: Two neo-Nazis are arrested in Tennessee in a plot to murder dozens of African-Americans, culminating in the assassination of President Obama.

    – December 2008: In Belfast, Maine, police discover the makings of a nuclear “dirty bomb” in the basement of a white supremacist shot dead by his wife. The man, who was independently wealthy, reportedly was agitated about the election of President Obama and was crafting a plan to set off the bomb.

    – January 2009: A white supremacist named Keith Luke embarks on a killing rampage in Brockton, Mass., raping and wounding a black woman and killing her sister, then killing a homeless man before being captured by police as he is en route to a Jewish community center.

    – February 2009: A Marine named Kody Brittingham is arrested and charged with plotting to assassinate President Obama. Brittingham also collected white-supremacist material.

    – April 2009: A white supremacist named Richard Poplawski opens fire on three Pittsburgh police officers who come to his house on a domestic-violence call and kills all three, because he believed President Obama intended to take away the guns of white citizens like himself. Poplawski is currently awaiting trial.

    – April 2009: Another gunman in Okaloosa County, Florida, similarly fearful of Obama’s purported gun-grabbing plans, kills two deputies when they come to arrest him in a domestic-violence matter, then is killed himself in a shootout with police.

    – May 2009: A “sovereign citizen” named Scott Roeder walks into a church in Topeka, Kansas, and assassinates abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.

    – June 2009: James Von Brunn opens fire at the Holocaust Museum, killing a security guard.

    – February 2010: An angry tax protester named Joseph Ray Stack flies an airplane into the building housing IRS offices in Austin, Texas. (Media are reluctant to label this one “domestic terrorism” too.)

    – March 2010: Seven militiamen from the Hutaree Militia in Michigan and Ohio are arrested and charged with plotting to assassinate local police officers with the intent of sparking a new civil war.

    – March 2010: An anti-government extremist named John Patrick Bedell walks into the Pentagon and opens fire, wounding two officers before he is himself shot dead.

    – May 2010: A “sovereign citizen” from Georgia is arrested in Tennessee and charged with plotting the violent takeover of a local county courthouse.

    – May 2010: A still-unidentified white man walks into a Jacksonville, Fla., mosque and sets it afire, simultaneously setting off a pipe bomb.

    – May 2010: Two “sovereign citizens” named Jerry and Joe Kane gun down two police officers who pull them over for a traffic violation, and then wound two more officers in a shootout in which both of them are eventually killed.

    – July 2010: An agitated right-winger and convict named Byron Williams loads up on weapons and drives to the Bay Area intent on attacking the offices of the Tides Foundation and the ACLU, but is intercepted by state patrolmen and engages them in a shootout and armed standoff in which two officers and Williams are wounded.

    http://crooksandliars.com/david-neiwert/assessing-threat-despite-rise-right-

    The Southern Poverty League has also catalogued 75 terrorist attacks in the U.S. by right-wing groups since 1995. Most of those attackers were done by white Christians.

    http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/publications/terror-from-the-right

  • drdredel

    @LauraNo,

    Right… “within reason” is the key thing. Americans are absolutely obsessed with the (almost completely fantasy based) notion of safety. If the actual dollar cost of these security measures were put through any rational actuarial table, it would be immediately obvious how wasteful they are. But of course, people are not rational and so we continue to go through the dog and pony show.

    As for the two men in question praying, I will admit that people praying in public makes me uneasy. I’m not going to go on yet another rant, as I’ve already said this, but people who pray in this manner (meaning, not silently in their own minds, but on their knees in the middle of an airport) clearly have no ability to discern fact from fiction, and I have no reason to trust that they have eschewed the parts of their god’s instructions that focus on how important it is that people like me be killed by people like them.

  • MSheridan

    I have a younger friend who works for TSA inspecting luggage. He is conscientious about his job and has found quite a bit of contraband (including a gun, once), but he does it for the money. He doesn’t have a great deal of faith in the procedures stopping a determined terrorist. Has everyone seen this? Just the barest tip of the iceberg.

  • drdredel

    @ armstp
    I suppose we should probably outlaw the teaching of any religion to children. Much like alcohol, if parents want to practice religion, they can do so, but if they talk about it with their kids… BAM off to jail, and the kids go straight into child protective custody. I mean… if forcing Christianity on your kids isn’t child abuse, I don’t know what is.

    However, seeing as how we’re still nowhere near the above going into practice, how about we racially profile for youthful (and devout) looking Arabs in airports, since the Muslim terrorists seem to prefer that mode of aggressive act and profile people who go to church for the other kinds of terrorists threats?

  • easton

    drdredel, not too long ago a Hasidic Jew started in with his prayers wearing a traditional headpiece (I can’t remember what it is called but it looks like a tiny top hat) and the flight attendant freaked, thinking he was a terrorist, I would have recognized him as being Hasidic since I lived in Jersey and went camping in the poconos so I got quite used to seeing Hasidim, but even so I would have had no problem with a Muslim saying his prayers.

    Nwahs, so you would do nothing if someone tried to commander a plan? I said 90% of the rest of the passengers would do the same so I am not saying I am THE tough guy, (though my having lived in a number of 3rd world countries has helped me to develop a thicker skin than most, I don’t only talk the talk, but I walk the walk, I continued to live in Oaxaca when there was gunfire in the streets during the teachers strike as the military put down the strike, I am a teacher by the way, I didn’t leave) There is a limit to my tolerance for sniveling weakness masked as courageous truth telling. And years ago, right before I got married, I applied to do some work in Iraq but my (future) wife said she would leave me if I did. If I were 15 years younger I promise you I would be working in Kurdistan right now as I get off on living a little on the edge. Hell, the town I live in here in Mexico is a conduit for drug smuggling from Central America and we got problems with the Zacotecas. So again, I walk the walk. I have freakin’ earned the right to label pussiness when I see it and I will put up my biography against yours anyday. And labelling weakness doesn’t make me a moron.
    And yeah, tell a University Professor of English to use a thesaurus. Good lord, I have forgotten more words than you have even learned (and this is no exaggeration, I went to University in Salzburg to study German, and speak Spanish and Mandarin Chinese, so yes, I have doubtless forgotten more words than you have ever learned, so moron I most assuredly am not, arrogant jackass is fine though as I readily admit to that)

    And how is it ok for Susan Angle and Sarah Palin to say “man up” to Democrats and that is something Republicans freaking swoon over, but I say it to a guy who shits his pants at the sight of a couple of (likely) Italians on the way to vacation in Miami Beach and I am a moron.

  • easton

    drdredel, racial profiling would not be necessary if we had a sensible visa policy. If you are a young Muslim from Saudi Arabia you get none, hence no need to profile. US Visas are not a right but an honor and it annoys me that I can’t get my in laws a visa to the states but some Arab can even though he has no ties to the states at all.

  • TerryF98

    I vote we intern all white right wing christian men to stop these RW terror attacks. Are those camps we interned the Japs in after WW2 still around FEMA could organize it. See Bachmans dream has come true

  • drdredel

    easton,

    I’m in total agreement with you on the subject of Visas, but that’s a whole other conversation.

    As you already saw, I’m generally opposed to security of any kind. I lived most of my life in NYC and witnessed millions of people riding the subways without anyone ever going through a metal detector or being asked to take off their shoes. Somehow no one ever blew up. But if they had my reaction would NOT be to suddenly see how many irrational and idiotic ways we can conjure up to give people the (entirely false) sense of security that comes with the removal of shoes and the mandatory purchasing of water and toothpaste marked up 600%.

    However, if and I stress IF, we’re going to go through all this song and dance, why not apply common sense to the practice and screen for things like nervousness and baglessness and a predilection to prayer? I’m not saying single those people out and let everyone else stroll by. Just keep your wits about you and allow your “spider sense” to tingle, if it’s going to tingle. Sure, most of the time it will be nothing, but we have these really good powers of natural deduction and discrimination when it comes to things that make us nervous. Why not use them?

    I understand what you mean with a Hassid on the plane, but I just take the view that prayer is just another thing that is going to make people nervous if they aren’t familiar with it. What if I came up with a practice where I jump up and down and wave my hands in the air and waggle my tongue around. Should I get up and do that on the plane? Is it ok for people to find that jarring? I’m not saying I should be prevented form doing it… but it’s perfectly ok for someone to ask me “what are you doing?” and equally ok for them to say “your actions are unnerving and bizarre given the circumstances. Have you considered cutting them the fuck out?”
    I might get offended cause the whole exercise is SO precious to me. But so what? There is a proper decorum in every situation and praying at the bathroom door like you’re at the wailing wall is not in line with the decorum expected of people on an airplane.
    By the way I’m also an arrogant jackass.

  • anniemargret

    easton: “…And how is it ok for Susan Angle and Sarah Palin to say “man up” to Democrats and that is something Republicans freaking swoon over…

    Yeah, what’s with that? can anyone imagine any male candidate taking a swipe against their ‘femininity’ and get away with it? What’s with these Republican female candidates doing their level best to humiliate their male opponents?

    And what’s with the Republican men thinking it’s OK for them to do that and get away with it? It’s crass and cheap.

  • LauraNo

    anniemargret, I have an awful feeling that we’re going to be hearing ‘man up’ left, right and center and all over the internets. Talk about reverse racism, this is reverse sexism. Which of course is AOK with the right. Along the lines you’re thinking, what if Harry Reid said “act like a lady’ to Sharron Angel? Or better yet, to Sarah Palin?

  • Carney

    armstp, I’m sure I could also compile a list of muggings by elderly Japanese females. Counter-trend examples do not make trends go away. The reality is that Muslims are drastically more likely to be hijackers and terrorists than any other group.

    And easton, sinz wasn’t talking about being “weak”, just being much more nervous around combat age Muslim males on a plane than far more harmless groups. That doesn’t make him “weak”, just sane, and with common sense.

    It’s astounding how acknowledging obvious reality leads to shrieks of outrage.

    pampl, what fears about blacks are “irrational”? The FACT is they are radically more likely to be criminals. They are only one eighth of the population. Black males are one sixteenth. Combat age black males are an even smaller portion. And yet they commit the majority of murders in America.

    And before you make the laughable claim that this is because of “racism”, think for once.

    Men of all races commit the crushing majority of murders and other violent crimes. Is the criminal justice system “sexist”? Is there a matching number of murders and muggings and shootings by females that is systematically ignored by our criminal justice system because of “sexism”? Absurd.

    People age 15-35 commit the vast majority of violent crimes. Are the police “ageist”? Are there just as many non-reported crimes committed by the middle-aged, the doddering elderly, and little kids, that cops ignore because of a bizarre deeply ingrained hatred of a specific age group, with no connection to reality?

    It’s hysterical egalitarian ideology that insists that all demographic groups commit precisely the same portion of attacks, and that no group is any more dangerous than any other, that is deeply irrational.

  • chriscurrey

    Let’s assume for a second that Juan Williams was a white and rich and he said the following, “When i am walking in the street and i see a group of blacks, wearing baggy pants, i get nervous.” Well, everyone from the east to the west coast would be screaming racism. Well, if we accept what he said as normal, then we are engaged on racist trend where the Muslims are the new “n…rs”

  • armstp

    Sorry Carney, the numbers do not support your conclusion that; “The reality is that Muslims are drastically more likely to be hijackers and terrorists than any other group.” particularly in America.

    There are far more white Christian terrorist attacks in the U.S. in recent years than there have been attacks from people of the muslim faith. Plain and simple. In the last two years alone there were 3 terrorist attacks or attempts (not even sure you can call Ft. Hood a terrorist attack, but lets assume it is) by muslims and more than 15 from white right-wing Christians in America.

    The terrorism problem is so bad regarding white right-wing Christian terrorism in this country that Homeland Security released a report in 2009 about it, warning: “law enforcement to watch out for individuals with “radical” ideologies based on Christian views, such as opposing illegal immigration, abortion and federal taxes.” “The report also mentions “‘end times’ prophecies could motivate extremist individuals and groups to stockpile food, ammunition and weapons. These teachings also have been linked with the radicalization of domestic extremist individuals and groups in the past, such as the violent Christian Identity organizations and extremist members of the militia movement.”

    As for how you define terrorism here is the definition:

    Terrorism: the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear.

    All those white ring-wing Christian attacks that I list above were clearly either politically or ideologically driven. They were politically-driven attacks against minorities or the government in order to make a statement. They were not simply “muggings” or crime as you say. But, it is typical for someone like you to discount the severity of the epidemic of violence occuring in this country today by the far-right. If you replaced the Chrisitian white right-wing person doing these acts with a muslim it is dame sure that you would be calling these acts terrorism. Without question. You are basically saying it is okay when my people do this stuff, but not okay when those other people do it. Always the double standard and hypocracy from conservatives.

  • Madeline

    Danielle,

    If you ever have to go to Detroit, do yourself a favor and drive. You’ll be sitting in the airport for days waiting for a flight free of Arab men in t-shirts and jeans.

    Oddly, hundreds of such flights go into and out of Detroit all day every day…

  • gmatt

    The “Mohammed Atta look”, had you bothered to check, was a blue business shirt and dark slacks, as were the others. They looked just like every white collar professional on their way to visit a client. Do you really think that serious terrorists will dress in a way that “identifies them first and foremost as a Muslim” (Mr. Williams’ words)? Paranoia is not a good basis for intelligence policy.

  • Don Draper

    armstp: “The Southern Poverty League has also catalogued 75 terrorist attacks in the U.S. by right-wing groups since 1995. Most of those attackers were done by white Christians.”

    That long list of crimes are not examples of terrorism unless you want to use a definition of terrorism so broad the idea of terrorism becomes meaningless.

    By your logic, American urban Blacks are the most dangerous terrorist threat because they commit the most violent crime.

    It’s also really dishonest to link Neo-Nazi activity with Christianity when just about all Neo-Nazis hate Christians according to the SPLC.

    It’s amazing the lengths some people will go through to defend the obvious terrorist threat which is Muslims while attacking Christianity.

  • LauraNo

    Violent crime is defined as violent crime. It is not and never has been considered a version of terrorism, for one thing the motives and desired outcomes are diametrically different. It’s amazing the lengths some will go to try to justify their irrational fear.

  • rbottoms

    It’s amazing the lengths some people will go through to defend the obvious terrorist threat which is Muslims while attacking Christianity

    I’ll pass that along to the late Timothy McVeigh, author of the largest domestic terror attack in US history, and Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph.

    Then there’s the thwarted cyanide bombers caught about 50 miles from GW’s home, the Aryan Republic bank robbers, the dozens of other Neo-Nazi groups who fund themselves via stickup & meth, and the yearly standoff with some End Times wacko most recently at a North Hollywood Synagogue by, surprise not a Muslim.

    Sorry, there’s plenty to be worried about from disgruntled white men who have spent the last two years buying out gun stores, their rage fueled by Glenn Beck inspired panic and paranoia.

    I am much more likely to cross paths with one of these dimwits than Mohammed Atta.

  • easton

    Carney, maybe I overreact to Sinz because I fly as much as I do and since I do I simply don’t have the energy to visually inspect the passengers like I am some kind of Hercule Poirot. What makes me far more nervous is seeing a women with a baby making her way to where my seat it. I know if she sits next to me the baby is likely to be fussy (and of course the baby will be, the airline pressure altitude changes reek havoc on the poor kids) and I won’t be able to sleep, what with all the crying and squirming. This attitude makes me a selfish jerk and I admit it but as I am not rich like Williams I can’t afford to fly first class everywhere so my concerns become more pedestrian.

    I wonder how long it will be until they have a separate entrance entirely for first class passengers so that they need not look at the riff raff in the back and therefore can feel more at ease.

  • rbottoms

    WASHINGTON – Republican congressional candidate Stephen Broden stunned his party Thursday, saying he would not rule out violent overthrow of the government if elections did not produce a change in leadership.

    In a rambling exchange during a TV interview, Broden, a South Dallas pastor, said a violent uprising “is not the first option,” but it is “on the table.” That drew a quick denunciation from the head of the Dallas County GOP, who called the remarks “inappropriate.”

    Broden, a first-time candidate, is challenging veteran incumbent Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson in Dallas’ heavily Democratic 30th Congressional District. Johnson’s campaign declined to comment on Broden.

    Speaking of domestic terrorists.

    Guess the GOP wants their own version of the Taliban running things.

  • pampl

    Carney: I didn’t write “irrational” so I’m not sure why you’re using quotation marks. Anyway, I meant the way decent society looks at former white fears over blacks, so you don’t have to feel included in that category if you don’t want to be.

    Your attempt to justify racism uses the same logic as saying ‘most Klansmen are Republicans, therefore it’s rational to assume Republicans are Klansmen’.

  • armstp

    Don Draper,

    Are you reading the thread?

    Let me spell it out for you once again. Here is the definition of terrorism.

    Terrorism: the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear.

    That means if someone is inflicting terror either through violence or other means and if they are doing it for political, ideological or religious reasons they are committing an act of terrorism. The violence I have listed above is considered terrorism by the FBI, Homeland Security and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Those acts of violence were committed for political and ideological reasons. They were focused on sending a message to the government and minorities. They are terrorist acts and not common crime. Do you understand the difference? The difference is INTENT!!! Does this go over you head? If the crime is committed for political or ideological reasons it is considered terrorism.

    Let me repeat what I said above. If those violent acts listed above were done by someone who believes in the muslim faith, I am sure you and other conservatives would have no problem calling them a terrorist act. However, you have a problem calling them terrorism, even though they fit the definition of terrorism, simply because they were acts committed far-right white christians or your brotherin.

    Again I will ask, if we are going to start profiling, how are we going to profile for the bigger terrorism epidemic in this country? The terrorism from the far-right white christians.

  • rbottoms

    Your attempt to justify racism uses the same logic as saying ‘most Klansmen are Republicans, therefore it’s rational to assume Republicans are Klansmen’.

    It seems Republicans have a unique ability to read something that has not been written.

    I don’t know what anyone else has to say on the subject, but what I’ve written is that the most active and lethal terrorism in this country outside of the one time attack of 9/11 have been carried out by far right terrorists, Timothy McVeigh having captured the dubious crown.

    Despite all the bed-wetting about Al Queda, right wing Neo-Nazi, Skinhead, Christian Separatists have killed more cops than radical Muslims have over the last twenty years. It goes un-noticed because pipe bombs and back robberies aren’t being hyped by Glenn Beck.

    As your average Federal Marshall will tell you, the tax protester Sovereign Citizen nitwits are more likely to kill their brethren than some donkey riding freedom fighter in Yemen.

  • gmckee1985

    Did I stumble upon the Daily Kooks…er Daily Kos? Some of you would fit right in there.

  • rbottoms

    Did I stumble upon the Daily Kooks…er Daily Kos? Some of you would fit right in there

    Which do you find not to be true?

    Timothy McVeigh didn’t kill 280+ people in a terrorist bombing?
    Eric Rudolph did not launch a terror attack in Atlanta?
    Neo Nazi/Skinhead bikers don’t sell meth to fund their organizations?
    Tax Protester don’t rob banks in record numbers to fund their operations?
    A cyanide bomb and a cache of weapons wasn’t found in Tyler Texas?
    A North Hollywood Synagogue wasn’t attacked by a non-Muslim extremist?

    Which one is not true? Just so I’ll know how to calibrate my bed wetting fear of people who have as yet not staged an attack on US citizens versus these who have and continue to do so?

    Ms. Crittenden has a better chance of getting caught in a shootout at a meth lab stashed in the suburbs, a bank robbery, the next sniper drama than she does of running into some Muslim devotee taking her plane hostage.

  • gmckee1985

    ^Youre kind of a moron. There’s a whole lot of violence that has nothing to do with politics commited in this country. Like all of the murders and crime that go on in the inner cities of America.

    Fact is radical Islam is a major force in terms of violence throughout the world.

  • rbottoms

    Fact is radical Islam is a major force in terms of violence throughout the world.

    I’m sorry, is there some ordinance on the books that says we can’t fight both radical Islamic extremism and radical Christian extremism at the same time?

    It’s the same dumb GOP idea that you can only have one thought in your head at a time and that making a concerted effort to stop Christian Identity bank robbers and pipe bombers means we have to pack up and leave the war against Al Queda because we couldn’t possibly have the resources to do both.

    Of course Obama secretly wants Bin Laden to win anyway.

    And Michael Moore is fat.

    So there.

  • midcon

    armstp,

    That’s carrying it a bit too far to put the SPLC at the same level when it comes to the definition of anything especially terrorism. I can accept the Oxford or Websters defintion, but the Southern Proverty Law Center is not an authoritative source for any definitions because they lack independence and they have an agenda. Perhaps it is adequate to use the FBI and DHS definitions.

  • JosephP

    Ms. Crittenden: The problem with your “confession” is that you seem to believe that your fear had some rational basis, and was not based entirely on bigotry.

    You hope you would still have the guts to report a troubling passenger to an airline clerk without fear that you might be branded racist? Well, if you continue to think like a racist, you are likely to be branded as one. What would take real guts would be to understand your racism and try to work on it.

  • rbottoms

    What would take real guts would be to understand your racism and try to work on it.

    Don’t hold your breath.

    Republicans have convinced themselves they practically wrote Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” and have adopted “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” as their mantra.

    Oh the misery of the downtrodden oppressed white Christian male and his missus pales in comparison to actual slavery and Jim Crow.

    The coloreds actually think they can travel and worship as they please these days. They just don’t know their place anymore.

  • armstp

    Midcon,

    Who is using the SPLC for a definition of terrorism? Mine above comes from Princeton. The SPLC has just compiled a list of terrorist acts, with most of them conforming to the standard academic definition of terrorism. And the fifteen recent white christian far-right terrorist attacks in the U.S. that I list were not even from the SPLC. See the links. By the way the SPLC does a lot of good and important work. Why exactly do you say the SPLC “lack independence and they have an agenda”? Do you have any proof that somehow their work in negative or not good and accurate? Yeah their agenda is to fight for the rights of people and to point out injustice. What is wrong with that?

    Again you conservatives cannot accept calling something an act of terrorism if it is done by a white chrisitan far-right person, but if that same act was done by someone who was of the muslim faith you would call it terrorism.