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"Pace is all. Rhythm is master. Consistency is your friend."

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Hysteria Wins Out Again

Image from the New York Times website - November 22, 2006

I heard this story first on the radio, then again on the evening news last night and went to the New York Times this morning to try and get some more information - but no matter how many sources I heard the story from it was all the same - Racial profiling and public hysteria have won out again. Or has it? Were the actions taken by US Airways justified?

Apparently six Muslim Imams were removed from a US Airways flight Monday night in Minneapolis because of "suspicious behavior" observed by both US Airways staff and passengers. The men were handcuffed and led off the plane by police, then were detained for five hours of questioning before being released. As you can see by the note passed to a US Airways flight attendant by a passenger on the plane these men were acting "very suspicious."

First of all, what's with them not all sitting together? They are all after all Muslims, or "suspicious arabic men," as the not above states. Why wouldn't they want to sit together? They must all be close personal friends and we all know how easy it is to get six seats together on an airplane is, right?

Then of course there is the whole praying issue. I mean, who do you know that prays before or during a flight? (I know a few people, but I wouldn't categorize them as "suspicious" or, come to think of it, maybe they are . . .) It was reported by witnesses that the six men, who had attended a conference of the North American Imams Federation in Minneapolis and were on their way home when the incident occurred, were chanting "Allah ... Allah ... Allah," in the waiting area before boarding the plane and were also heard uttering "Anti-American" sentiments regarding U.S. involvement with Saddam Hussein.

And are you ready for this? Some of the men actually requested seat belt extensions as well, although one flight attendant did not believe they really needed them.

Of course, the gentlemen had explanations for their "suspicious" behavior - the prayers in the waiting area were nightly evening prayers and the three who were praying "had not meant to be disruptive and indeed had taken pains not to disturb other passengers." The seatbelt extensions? Dr. Omar Ahmad Shahin, one of the suspicious men, said they had been requested because of their "big bodies." Sounds plausible, right?

But at the same time the flight attendants and passengers could have prevented a terrorist plot from coming to fruition, right? Probably not.

What kills me about this whole thing is that we are ALL more likely to be killed in our automobiles everyday than we are to be killed in a terrorist attack in the United States. It it nothing but hysterics and ignorance to assume that a few men, who have dark skin and appear to be of Middle Eastern descent, traveling together might be terrorists. I mean, where was all this hysteria when Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, two white, American citizens killed 168 people with a Ryder truck full of explosives that blew a gaping hole out of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City? Does that mean when we see a young, white man driving a Ryder truck in a downtown area that we should assume there's potential there for terrorist activity?

Absolutely not. It's ludicrous. And it doesn't happen because McVeigh and Nichols aren't seen as "bad" by nature, but two sick, evil abnormalities among a generally peaceful population. Well, there are an estimated 1.3 billion Muslims, the second largest religious group in the world behind Christians at an estimated 2.1 billion people. So I guess it makes sense to assume that the actions of a handful of terrorist groups who also claim to be Muslims are a telling representation of 1.3 billion people.


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