July 24, 2004

Anne Jacobsen article from WomansWallStreet about her experience on a flight with a groups of suspicious acting "Arabs." Personally, I think it's xenophobia, meant to keep us is fear; but hey, you read it and tell me what you think. Oh here's the followup.
  • From MeFi:
    Air Marshals Say Passenger Overreacted. "The source said the air marshals on the flight were partially concerned (Annie)Jacobsen’s ctions could have been an effort by terrorists or attackers to create a disturbance on the plane to force the agents to identify themselves." (Second story down, via atrios)
    posted by solistrato at 6:32 PM AST - 36 comments
  • Read it. Annie Jacobs using the fear of "terra-ists" to cover up some lurking racism, methinks. Which is not to say she might not be right, but it sounds like the marshals had it covered.
  • . . .
  • Argh, it makes me so mad. She sounds like one over-paranoid person trying her damndest to spread her fear into the community. And judging by her follow-up, she's succeeding.
  • Read more carefully, tracicle: she is not an abnormal American, which is more scary. America is full of racists, as is most of the west. I can honestly admit to personal "Arab Fear" in the last six months. He did look dangerous... Mohammed Atta was a wicked looking man. At least in his passport photo. This happens on many American (airlines) flights every day, I am sure. I'd hate to be dis-coloured in America these days.
  • Well, gee! The clothes some of them wore with arabic writing embroidered on should have been really good camo for someone who was doing a dry run, or whatever, on putting a bomb together on a plane.
  • You can always tell which one is a bomber because he's carrying one of those giant cannonballs with a fuse in it.
  • I recently drove into the US from Canada. Next to us in another line was an Arab family in traditional dress in a minivan. I made a bet to my copilot that they were going to be investigated. I won. I had to go inside as well, to get a Visa, since I still carry an european passport. The Arab guy was standing next to me while I got my Visa and was asked all sorts of stupid questions. Then he had to open a suitcase and the customs officer went through it in plain sight of me. There was a hairdryer that was tested in a outlet to see if it wasn't a fake. That seemed so stupid to me. If it was a fake we would all be blown to pieces. If there was really a fear that that blower was going to blow up instead of hars they would have called the bomsquad. So in my opinion it was just to show us, the bystanders that they were really doing all they could to make the US safe. I didn't feel much safer though and was really glad I wasn't an Arab. On a side note: does anyone know what those new scanners that are installed at the Canada/US border crossings are scanning? They consist of two pillars, one on each side of the cars and they are probably expensive because there are lot's of metal poles around them to protect them. It can't be X-rays, because the amount of radiation to X-ray through a car would not be very good for our health. Explosives? Can those be detected with a scanner like that through the metals of a car? I thought they used cloth for that?
  • She's a bigot, and a fool.
  • So - these men were suspicious because they boarded as a group, and because some of them boarded individually, and because some of them spoke in Arabic and had things written in Arabic and because some of them spoke English and didn't, and the only thing that was more suspicious than the ones who kept on moving about and drawing attention to themselves was the ones who - chillingly - didn't. Oh, and the fact that the air stewards repeatedly mentioned that they'd noticed what was going on and that there were Air Marshals aboard and they were keeping track of the men's every movement and they'd alerted every single authority they could think of only goes to show how powerless they'd be to stop an attack. Almost any behaviour can look suspicious if you've conditioned yourself to already suspect a certain person or group of people. If these were terrorists, they were the most incompetent terrorists imaginable - they might as well have been wearing t-shirts with "I conducted Jihad and all I got was this lousy T-Shirt" on them. Other than disallowing any group of muslim men from travelling together (or, hey, seperately), without having their entire backgrounds checked out, and the condition that they remain in their seats at all times, I'm not exactly sure what Ms. Jacobsen is advocating. Except none of the above would have stopped, say, Richard Reid, the shoe-bombing dude. Today's lesson: Preventing terrorism is difficult, which is why terrorists do it that way. Tomorrow's lesson: Why we don't make bridges out of sugar.
  • Mohammed Atta was a wicked looking man. He looked like a former landlord of mine, who IS an evil man. And Armenian.
  • I am saddened to know that Anne Jacobsen is not alone. This letter was circulated over e-mail from the partners to some of the associates at my firm this past week. It's not as panicky as Anne Jacobson's piece; instead, it uses a thin veneer of grandfatherly concern to veil an argument for persecuting a major world religion and its followers. As an antidote, here are some words from a different time.
  • ambrosia, that was awful, thanks for posting it. At least he establishes himself as a total idiot right in the first paragraph: I have without exception, supported our presidents on all matters of international conflict. This would include just naming a few in addition to President Roosevelt - WWII: President Truman - Korean War 1950; President Kennedy - Bay of Pigs (1961); President Kennedy - Vietnam (1961); [1] eight presidents (5 Republican & 4 Democrat) during the cold war (1945 - 1991); President Clinton's strikes on Bosnia (1995) and on Iraq (1998). Bay of Pigs was unlawful and the antithesis of what this country is supposed to stand for. Support for a president's illegal actions gives future precedent to greater crimes. But then, I think this guy would've supported William Walker's takeover of Nicaragua, so...
  • Ah, yes, FDR's inaugural speech. I was about 5 when he died, but I heard so many recording and sound bites from him while I was growing up that I could listen to him saying it while I was reading. Thanks, ambrosia! For a little contrast, here's GWB's inaugural. And, Jefferson's.
  • Are you guys serious? Do you really think that concern about terrorism is motivated by racism and bigotry? Christ almighty, has the thought never occurred that it might be motivated by the fact that nineteen young Arab hijacked some planes and killed a whole bunch of people a few years back? It was all over the news. You folks might remember hearing about it. If we were talking about fourteen guys who acted perfectly innocent and didn't do anything at all out of the ordinary and who drew attention to themselves simply by being Arab, that would be bad and wrong. But that's not what happened. There was a specific threat which led to an alert, these guys were being watched anyway—discreetly, from a distance—and Annie Jacobsen noticed when they started acting strangely. That's not racism or bigotry. That's just not having your head up your ass. Oh, and while we're on the subject: as far as I'm concerned the jury is out on Islam. If Islam is a peaceful religion that as a whole does nothing in particular to propagate hatred and violence, then that's fine. Other religions are sources of hope and comfort to lots of people, and there's no reason why Islam can't be too. But if it turns out that hatred and violence are fundamental tenets of Islam and are taught by Islamic men of the cloth and in Islamic schools, then Islam is gonna have to evolve or vanish. The world is too small to tolerate a billion people who were taught from childhood that it's God's will that you should murder people who have different beliefs. It's not like that's an unprecedented situation. We've had horrible ideas before, ideas that have been wiped out in war or that simply went away on their own. Ideas like slavery, like the divinity of kings, like totalitarianism, like communism, like segregation, like racial supremacy. If Islam turns out to be another one of those ideas, then so be it. If you've made up your minds on the question, fine. Lots of other folks haven't, though. I think it would just be minimally polite, you know, to refrain from calling them racists and bigots while they try to sort things out for themselves.
  • Interesting contrast, path! Bush's speech looks like a "Reader's Digest" version when compared to Jefferson's.
  • I think it would just be minimally polite, you know, to refrain from calling them racists and bigots while they try to sort things out for themselves. So should we stop calling a spade a spade until the spade has realized that they are a spade? But if it turns out that hatred and violence are fundamental tenets of Islam and are taught by Islamic men of the cloth and in Islamic schools, then Islam is gonna have to evolve or vanish. Here, I've done the work for you. Go learn. Violent Islamics come from no different a place than Violent Christians. It all comes out of a inflated sense of entitlement and/or feelings of oppression. It has nothing to do with their religion, in so much as the teachings are concerned. It's when the power mad or "oppressed" people start to wave religion around for power grabs that it's used as a convenient scapegoat. That's just not having your head up your ass. Not quite. Little miss security mom had her head so far up her ass it came out her neck.
  • Christ almighty, has the thought never occurred that it might be motivated by the fact that nineteen young Arab hijacked some planes and killed a whole bunch of people a few years back? Has the thought never occurred to you that it has not been proven what group was responsible for the hijackings, since the FBI admitted that the perps were probably using faked identities, and that several of those alleged to be hijackers are *still alive*? Has it never occurred to you that not only radical Islamics commit terrorist atrocities? Never heard of the IRA? Has it never occurred to you that if the security services and the administration had actually been efficient, doing their jobs on 9-11, then these perps would never have been able to commit the atrocities in the first place? Has it never occurred to you that mohammed atta, the alleged ringleader was a visa violator & had an outstanding arrest warrant in Florida which even the most cursory security screening should have revealed? Has it never occurred to you that while Payne Stewart (the golfer) had his errant jet intercepted by the Air Force within 15 minutes, that NORAD paused for well over an hour in intercepting any of the hijacked planes on 9-11? Has it never occurred to you that out of the billions of Muslims in the world, only a tiny fraction commit murder? Has it never occurred to you to actually read the Koran or learn anything about their cultures? Has it never occurred to you that paranoia of foreigners and giving 'darkies' a suspicious time is NOT what it will take to prevent a further atrocity of this order? Has it never occurred to you that you are a fucking asshole who doesn't know what they're talking about? Because it has to me, dipshit. Oh, and go fuck yourself.
  • for those of you who need to stop and take a deep breath (or two) before hitting that "post new comment" button... puppy!
  • But. Jeff, these were guys who didn't hide their Arabic roots, some had Arabic mottos on their clothing. They were band members going to play at a concert. Their instrument were looked at, their backgrounds were checked and they were allowed to board. Does that really sound like a bunch of jihadists who to were going to blow up a plane? I think that the Islam fundamentists are a lot smarter than that. If I'd been on that plane, I would have tried to sit next to one of the band memebers and ask him to tell me a joke. Or to see if he and his cohorts could get their instruments and play me a song. We have nothing to fear but fear itself.
  • It's nice to see all these keyboard warriors, sitting safely at home, villify and denegrate Annie Jacobsen. Speculate and call people names but the facts are: Upon arrival of Northwest Airlines flight 327 into LAX, agents of the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) and Immigration Customs Enforcements (ICE) pulled all 14 of these musicians off the flight and interrogated them. Law enforcement did this, not Mrs. Jacobsen, and her fears, bigotry or xenophobia. On June 29, the date of this flight, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued an alert to U.S. customs officers at six American airports to watch for travelers of Pakistani descent who show physical signs of preparing for terror attacks against the U.S. Two of these airports were Detroit and Los Angeles, the cities of origin and terminus for NWA flight 327. It is reported that these musicians were actually in this country illegally, since their visas had expired three weeks before the June 29 flight. Because of the unusual behavior onboard NWA flight 327, the U.S. Transportation and Security Administration issued a new directive which requires pilots to make a pre-flight announcement banning passengers from congregating in aisles and outside the plane's toilets. Various law enforcement agencies took flight 327 seriously, interrogating people and changing procedures for all domestic flights. But all some here want to do is cry "bigotry" and xenophobia".
  • Has the thought never occurred to you that it has not been proven what group was responsible for the hijackings, since the FBI admitted that the perps were probably using faked identities, and that several of those alleged to be hijackers are *still alive*? Has it never occurred to you that not only radical Islamics commit terrorist atrocities? Never heard of the IRA? Has it never occurred to you that if the security services and the administration had actually been efficient, doing their jobs on 9-11, then these perps would never have been able to commit the atrocities in the first place? Has it never occurred to you that mohammed atta, the alleged ringleader was a visa violator & had an outstanding arrest warrant in Florida which even the most cursory security screening should have revealed? Has it never occurred to you that while Payne Stewart (the golfer) had his errant jet intercepted by the Air Force within 15 minutes, that NORAD paused for well over an hour in intercepting any of the hijacked planes on 9-11? Has it never occurred to you that out of the billions of Muslims in the world, only a tiny fraction commit murder? Has it never occurred to you to actually read the Koran or learn anything about their cultures? Has it never occurred to you that paranoia of foreigners and giving 'darkies' a suspicious time is NOT what it will take to prevent a further atrocity of this order? Has it never occurred to you that you are a fucking asshole who doesn't know what they're talking about? Because it has to me, dipshit. Oh, and go fuck yourself. He asked for polite responses and you decided to come back with hostility, condescension and snark, with some personal attacks for good measure. I'm starting to think these 'filters become echo chambers because of people like you. Keep shouting people down like that, and you'll be left with no one else except those who are nodding their heads along with you. Or is that what you want? How rude, especially to a new member. What a nice, warm MoFi welcome for Jeff Harrell, huh? Hi, Jeff!
  • No offense intended de Carabas, but Nost doesn't speak for all of us. And Jeff's first post wasn't exactly hearts and flowers either. It's fine that he hasn't made up his mind, but to single out Islam (or any individual religion) as the sole source of extremist violence is a tad, well, disingenuous. I welcome you Jeff, nonetheless. As far as your comments go, dt118. Yes, that's all well and good that various law enforcement agencies, the JTTF, ICE and HS also looked into it. That still doesn't mean that Mrs. Jacobsen isn't shouting about the sky falling when it actually isn't. Alerts go out almost daily lately, correlation is not causation. Especially around July 4th. And lastly, please tell me Scarborough Country isn't your sole source of news. Was it a probe? perhaps, but if it was, it was a sloppy and ill thought out one. What Mrs. Jacobsen right? She could have been, but her reactions still smell of xenophobia. All we do these days is jump at shadows while the true threat sits and watches us. When the next attack happens, it's going to be something we don't expect. We give these people too little credit and too much fuel for their cause at the same time.
  • The official word from the FAM service is apparently the largest problem with the flight was that Jacobsen overreacted:
    Undercover federal air marshals on board a June 29 Northwest airlines flight from Detroit to LAX identified themselves after a passenger, "overreacted," to a group of middle-eastern men on board, federal officials and sources have told KFI NEWS. The passenger, later identified as Annie Jacobsen, was in danger of panicking other passengers and creating a larger problem on the plane, according to a source close to the secretive federal protective service. Jacobsen, a self-described freelance writer, has published two stories about her experience at womenswallstreet.com, a business advice web site designed for women. "The lady was overreacting," said the source. "A flight attendant was told to tell the passenger to calm down; that there were air marshals on the plane." The middle eastern men were identified by federal agents as a group of touring musicians travelling to a concert date at a casino, said Air Marshals spokesman Dave Adams. . . The source said the air marshals on the flight were partially concerned Jacobsen’s actions could have been an effort by terrorists or attackers to create a disturbance on the plane to force the agents to identify themselves. Air marshals’ only tactical advantage on a flight is their anonymity, the source said, and Jacobsen could have put the entire flight in danger. “They have to be very cognizant of their surroundings,” spokesman Adams confirmed, “to make sure it isn’t a ruse to try and pull them out of their cover.”
    The KFI site does not have permalinks to individual stories. The date to scroll to is 22 July.
  • Er, would that not be the same link as the very first one posted in the thread?
  • It would be, and I hope everyone here read it before commenting. I still believe Annie Jacobsen overreacted because of pre-existing paranoia to what was really quite normal behaviour amongst a group of people who travel together while unable to sit together, and happen to be in a band, so would presumably get on well enough to want to hang around and chat. Put another way: would 14 white Americans wearing tracksuits with "Adidas" all over them and carrying Mcdonalds bags have been as much of a threat to Ms Jacobsen if they behaved the exact same way? I doubt it.
  • Do you know what I find interesting? From the start of the first article:
    A WWS Exclusive Article Note from the E-ditors: You are about to read an account of what happened during a domestic flight that one of our writers, Annie Jacobsen, took from Detroit to Los Angeles. The WWS Editorial Team debated long and hard about how to handle this information and ultimately we decided it was something that should be shared. What does it have to do with finances? Nothing, and everything. Here is Annie's story.
    From the end of the second article:
    The above article is based on the opinions of the author and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of womenswallstreet.com To receive any follow-up articles about Annie's experience, click HERE to register for www.WomensWallStreet.com. You will receive an e-mail notifying you of any subsequent articles on this subject. End of Story
    The disclaimer was located right at the end on a page of its very own. There was no such disclaimer that I could find on the first article. I don't know why, but I found it interesting.
  • And Jerry - that story by the student photographer is... I'm lost for words... :o(
  • " He asked for polite responses and you decided to come back with hostility, condescension and snark, with some personal attacks for good measure." Yep. And for good reason. His post wasn't polite, he said stupid things without basis in research or logic, and he was on the attack. I won't stand around mumbling polite nothings while others start blaming *groups* of people for the actions of a few, particularly when the truth of the matter isn't even clear. We have to stand against bigots, right-wing wingnuts and warmongers, because if we don't, we're all fucked. Knee-jerk reactions won't get us anywhere but back to 19th century when pogroms and racial hatred were all the rage. Clear facts are that Islam as a whole is not to blame for 9-11, nor are middle-eastern people as a whole. Anyone who suggests that this is so, or who justifies the crazy hysterics of others who bolster that outlook, should be stamped on quick sharp. I make no apologies, I'm a nasty guy when I detect racism or bigotry. And I won't change any time soon. As for jeff & this place.. the internet is tough. If you come out swinging, expect someone to swing back. Monkeys are not all cute and fluffy. Some bite. /bares teeth
  • I think we have to stand against left-wing fanatics too, in my cowardly way. Lot of incendiary word-bombs thrown around on this thread. Who wants to up the ante? Eh?
  • I think we have to stand against left-wing fanatics too Sure, as soon as someone calls for the overthrow of the bourjeoisie I'll be right there to stand against it, but it hasn't happened yet.
  • What gets me most about Jacobsen’s article is that she uses the behavior of a group of people as a curtain to promote bigotry. This article is clearly written to remind U.S. citizens that people of Middle Eastern decent should always be held suspect. The truth is these men were just a group of musicians flying to a gig. I cannot comment on their behavior because I was not on the plane, but the fact is there was no attempt at a terrorist attack. While there were authorities waiting for the musicians after the flight, these musicians were cleared (I'm not going to hold their expired visas against them) and sent on their way. Jacobsen’s article poses her as a “real American hero” who aborted a terrorist attack – this women’s story is based completely outside of reality. As far as Jeff’s post goes, generally it’s a good idea to have some background on a theology before you state a religion should vanish. One of the best lessons I learned in college was when during a seminar discussion my professor told me I was full of shit. She was right; I had no idea what I was talking about and should have either done more research or kept quiet on the topic. Nonetheless, welcome to MonkeyFilter!
  • to single out Islam (or any individual religion) as the sole source of extremist violence is a tad, well, disingenuous Who singled it out as the sole source of anything? I'm troubled by the fact that violence against non-Muslims (particularly and especially Jews) is taught in mosques and madrassas as part of Islamic doctrine. You're not? That still doesn't mean that Mrs. Jacobsen isn't shouting about the sky falling when it actually isn't. She didn't shout that the sky was falling. She said, "Hey, that's weird, and in light of recent events, I'm concerned." And you know what? It was weird, and others were concerned too. The official word from the FAM service is apparently the largest problem with the flight was that Jacobsen overreacted. That's not really accurate. First of all, the "she overreacted" quote wasn't an official statement. It came from a blind source, if I remember correctly. Secondly, there have been lots of instances of FAM, TSA, and HomeSec folks going on the record about this incident since the story broke, and "she overreacted" isn't what they said. Michelle Malkin did most of the reporting, I think. Oh, and Nostrildamus, I'm going out on a limb here, but I imagine you'd find a warmer audience for your tin-foil-hat conspiracy theories and accusations of racism over at the Democratic Underground or Metafilter. Don't get mad, just go find an audience that will swallow your bullshit. I tell you what. Go do some research. Go compile a list of all the terrorist acts carried out during the past, oh, let's say four years, and tell me how many of them were perpetrated by somebody who wasn't shouting "Allahu ackbar!" as he did it. Then tell me how Islam and terrorism aren't related at all. Oh, by the way. This was unintentionally hilarious: Has it never occurred to you that if the security services and the administration had actually been efficient, doing their jobs on 9-11, then these perps would never have been able to commit the atrocities in the first place? Has it never occurred to you that mohammed atta, the alleged ringleader was a visa violator & had an outstanding arrest warrant in Florida which even the most cursory security screening should have revealed? ... Has it never occurred to you that paranoia of foreigners and giving 'darkies' a suspicious time is NOT what it will take to prevent a further atrocity of this order? Good one. If we'd been more vigilant 9/11 never would have happened, but for Christ's sake don't single out the young Arab men!
  • I don't think anybody is suggesting that the actions of the air marshals and the agencies who questioned the men on the ground were racist. That's their job, they did it well and they established that there was nothing wrong with the Syrian men. And, hey, it's Annie Jacobsen's priviledge to become irrationally scared as well. I mean, we've all done it, be it about terrorists, serial killers, muggers, or clowns. But she was the one who has been criticised by the air marshals themselves for making the situation much worse, and she's the one who wrote a scaremongering article in the face of all the evidence. So yeah, there's nothing wrong with discussing what it might have been about her that prompted her irrational actions. And some form of prejudice, subconscious or whatever, against a specific racial group shouldn't be ruled out of that conversation. The point here is that this isn't about concern over terrorism. This is about spreading fear of an entire group of people, and of seeing every action they take as being sinister. If they don't talk to you, it's sinister. If they do, it's even more sinister. If they acknowledge each other, it's worrying, if they don't... Another example - dt118, what exactly does an alert about 6 Pakistanis have to do with 14 Syrians? I know you were trying to make a point about how there is still a a genuine terrorist threat, but what on earth is the connection? It seems symptomatic of the "they're all the same, all of them" mindset. They're not even from the same continent, dude. On Preview: Jeff, I'm sure you're aware that Arab and Muslim aren't the same thing. Research on terrorist activities (let's exclude Iraq from that, too many other variables) over the past few years would pretty much reveal that it's people of Phillipino, Indonesian, Malaysian and Thai origin we should be most scared of. Except, obviously, we shouldn't. And aren't. Which is the point.
  • Go compile a list of all the terrorist acts carried out during the past, oh, let's say four years These groups aren't Islamic: ETA Nepalese Maoist rebels The IRA (and its offshoots) FARC And not forgetting the American anthrax attacks, either.
  • Or the American would-be cyanide bombers, either, as has been mentioned here and there.
  • And you know what? It was weird, Umm.. unless you want middle-easterners to not fly, then no, it wasn't "weird". Middle-Easterners exist, and sometimes, like, say, when their band gets hired to do a gig, they need to travel. but I imagine you'd find a warmer audience for your tin-foil-hat conspiracy theories and accusations of racism over at the Democratic Underground or Metafilter. The tin-foil-hat conspiracy theorists in this case are the ones who think that people with brown skin flying planes is worth writing two lengthy articles about. The ones who say "you know, if that's all you have to go by then you're being a tad racist" are most definitly not the ones on the fringe. Again, if all you have to go by is race, you're not going to stop any terrorists, what you will do is create a society of scared and hate-filled white people who will be more easily convinced to send their kids to die in a war. Oh. .wait. Also, nicely done, dng.
  • This was in one of Jerry Garcia's links, but in case you missed it, it's the best shredding of this whole hysteria: She survived a flight with 14 harmless Syrian musicians -- then spread 3,000 bigoted and paranoid words across the Internet. As a pilot and an American, I'm appalled. (ad-free reprint of salon story)
  • There has to be an explanation for the men all getting up at once. Possibly, just maybe, it had been a time of prayer (the long tubes) and the only place on the plane where that could have been done was in the bathroom. Oh and... It is reported that these musicians were actually in this country illegally, since their visas had expired three weeks before the June 29 flight. Kind of. They overstayed their visas, and left the country after their performance. Shock and horror, I know. Those dudes should have been sent to Gitmo, eh?
  • I went to the theatre last night. They rang the bell to indicate the show would start in two minutes, at which point in unison three of our group of five stood up and congregated around the toilet area. This was despite the fact that we had pints of beer in front of us which we hadn't completely finished. I found this very sinister. :-)
  • dng, don't forget the: LTTE, ELN, Sendero Luminoso, The Lord's Resistance Army, UNITA, and numerous others.
  • Snopes has the scoop as well.
  • Snopes has the scoop as well: http://www.snopes.com/politics/crime/skyterror.asp
  • But she was the one who has been criticised by the air marshals themselves for making the situation much worse Again, if I remember correctly, that's one blind quote that contradicts numerous on-the-record statements. It doesn't hold water. The point here is that this isn't about concern over terrorism. This is about spreading fear of an entire group of people, and of seeing every action they take as being sinister. No, it's about concern over terrorism. Some folks here are trying to make it about racism. Jeff, I'm sure you're aware that Arab and Muslim aren't the same thing. The sets intersect. The most devastating terrorist attack in history was perpetrated by Arab Muslims backed by a group dedicated to the establishment of an Arab Islamist state on the Arabian peninsula. Yes, other terrorist attacks have been carried out by non-Arab Muslims, but not as yet against American targets like our embassies or our cities. And yes, other terrorist attacks have been carried out by non-Muslims, but by all respects those attacks have been completely overshadowed. The common thread here is Islam. As I said before, I'm concerned about Islam. I'm happy to give the benefit of the doubt, but only provisonally, until I figure out whether Islam as it exists today is compatible with civilization. And yes, there are Muslims all over the world, of all different ethnicities and nationalities. But based on everything we've seen since the mid-1990's, it appears that the greatest threat to the United States comes from Arab Muslims, particularly young men. To ignore this information would be absurd. To accuse people who refuse to ignore this information of being bigoted racists would be laughable if some people didn't take it so seriously. Research on terrorist activities (let's exclude Iraq from that, too many other variables) over the past few years would pretty much reveal that it's people of Phillipino, Indonesian, Malaysian and Thai origin we should be most scared of. Really? I must have missed the devastating surprise terrorist attacks on American soil from the Filipino, Indonesian, Malaysian, and Thai cells. And as for the thing about ETA, the IRA, FARC, etc., you missed the second part of my challenge. How many attacks have those groups executed in the past four years, and how devastating have those attacks been? Compare and contrast to groups made up predominately of Arabs. Note the drastic difference in, among other things, body count. Umm.. unless you want middle-easterners to not fly, then no, it wasn't "weird". Read the reports. The behavior of the men on that plane was definitely weird. There was no one thing that any of them did that sounds damning, but the pattern was definitely weird. If Annie Jacobsen was mistaken, at least it was an honest mistake. Accusing her of racism is just low.
  • She said that there were people on board "higher up than you and me watching the men." WWJD?
  • If this is one of the musicians (check out the video for Noor Mhanan), I can understand the woman's terror. Wayne Newton does that for me too. *shudder*
  • Jeff Harrell, why the limit on the last four years? The reason I ask is because that would exclude the Oklahoma City bombing, which was a devastating surprise attack on American soil, and it was entirely homegrown. It would also exclude the Olympic Park bombings in Atlanta at the '96 games. Neither of those attacks were committed by Arabs or Muslims, but by white American men, Timothy McVeigh and Eric Rudolph. It didn't stop people from leaping to wrong conclusions, however.
  • As for jeff & this place.. the internet is tough. If you come out swinging, expect someone to swing back. Monkeys are not all cute and fluffy. Some bite. I'm not defending what he said, but that still doesn't justify "go fuck yourself" and "you're a fucking asshole." As we like to say here, this is not Fark, right?
  • Jeff Harrell, why the limit on the last four years? I pulled it out of my ear. We're talking about the post-9/11 period here, so it seemed like a reasonable span. If you've got a better suggestion without being silly, let's hear it. ("During the siege of Londinium, the Picts launched the corpses of diseased cows into the Thames to poison the water supply! Terrorism!" That's the sort of thing that constitutes "silly" in my mind. It's also entirely made up by me to serve as an example, so don't bother laying into me about how wrong I am about the history of the Romans in Britain. Not the point.) The reason I ask is because that would exclude the Oklahoma City bombing, which was a devastating surprise attack on American soil, and it was entirely homegrown. Let's review. Did I ever say that Arab Muslim men are the source of all terrorism? No. I said that Arab Muslim men are the most significant source of terrorism now. Which goes to why it's reasonable to be extra-cautious when Arab Muslim men behave in a suspicious and, arguably, concerning manner.
  • Re: what exactly does an alert about 6 Pakistanis have to do with 14 Syrians? I know you were trying to make a point about how there is still a a genuine terrorist threat, but what on earth is the connection? It seems symptomatic of the "they're all the same, all of them" mindset. They're not even from the same continent, dude. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, it appears that some people like to respond in this thread by twisting words. I am well aware of geography and can still count from 1 to 14. I never wrote "6 Pakistanis". Read it and think what you will, but don't twist words. I wrote that an alert was issued on the date of this flight "to U.S. customs officers at six American airports to watch for travelers of Pakistani descent...." It was six airports, not six Pakastanis. And two of those airports were the origin and terminus of this flight, on this day. The flight crew, passengers or U.S. air marshals had no way of knowing the citizenship of passengers without asking to see passports on the plane. They may have been from Pakistan. They may have been from Lansing. Sitting in the cabin, during the flight, those air marshals had no way of knowing if they were observing American citizens with dark skin, or European citizens with white skin, or Syrians or Pakistanis. My point was simple: say what you want to about Annie Jacobsen, and dismiss it all as racism, bigotry and xenophobia. This makes you feel better and superior. Fine. But it does not change the facts in and since this article: there was an alert issued on that day; law enforcement took those 14 men off the plane, not someone's bigotry; a procedure for domestic airlines was implemented after this event, perhaps because of observed behavior on this flight; and it is alleged that these 14 men were in this country illegally because their passports had expired at the time of this flight. My dad grew up in Egypt. We have dozens of dear Muslim friends in this country. One of my sons is in Turkey now, visiting friends. All of the ones I have talked to since September 11th expected to be scrutinized, and even harassed. Almost all of them has expressed astonishment at the lack of hatred they have encountered. Nearly three years later this still impresses a few of them, mostly the older ones. In our conversations the past week or so, none of them responded to this story by Annie Jacobsen the way some have here. That impresses me.
  • OK, let's look at this from a different stance. From the article it seems that the author was not the only one concerned. Fair enough. However, she was told that there were air marshals on board. She was told that it was being taken care of. The current system is working. Now, she and her husband and son were not the only people on the flight who were concerned. However, to the best of my knowledge, she was the only one on the flight concerned enough to write and article about it, call and write the airline and government offices, and volunteer to talk to federal officials about it. Doesn't all of that seem a bit excessive? Frankly, as long as we have all become so paranoid that we have average citizens going to such extremes, then we donnn't need the government to enforce a police state because we are doing it ourselves. What good does writing this article do? Had the story been about how she tried to get people on teh flight concerned and no one cared, it would be different, but it was being taken care of. So why did she feel like she had to go to such lengths? In my mind there seem to be few answers and none of them justifiable.
  • However, she was told that there were air marshals on board. She was told that it was being taken care of. The current system is working. Given what we've all seen, can you blame her for being scared anyway? "Don't worry, lady. If it turns out that these guys are terrorists, rest assured that Congress will appoint a commission that will hold some hearings, and there'll be a strongly worded report released about this in the next three to four years. Just go back to your seat and be quiet." What good does writing this article do? It got us all talking about transportation security, didn't it? It got us all to take a long, hard look at what went right and what went wrong without having to do it while cleaning up a still-smoking pile of rubble. It got us to think about where the line is between reasonable concern and unfounded paranoia. And it gave a few of the more loony of our company the opportunity to fly completely off the handle, making it much easier for us to recognize them as fools in the future. I'd say a lot of good came from this article.
  • Arab Muslim men are the most significant source of terrorism now. Jeff Harrell, crazy violent nutjobs come in every stripe of humanity. In 1984, the IRA came within two minutes of killing Margaret Thatcher. How many people, in total, have the IRA killed? What about ETA? Here's a list of terrorist incidents. Take a peek and see how many there are that had nothing to do with Arabs or Muslims. If you object to criticisms of Anne Jacobsen's writing as xenophobic or bigoted, consider this: if we focus all of our security concerns on people from other countries who look and pray differently than we do, the next Unabomber or Timothy McVeigh is going to come along and bite us in the ass.
  • Given what we've all seen, can you blame her for being scared anyway? To what are you referring? If I were told that there were air marshals on board already watching them, then what would I have to worry about after I was safely on the ground? I fail to see what more anyone could have asked the air marshalls to do. Yes they were acting strange. They kept their eye on them. It got us all to take a long, hard look at what went right and what went wrong without having to do it while cleaning up a still-smoking pile of rubble. What went wrong in this situation?
  • The common thread here is Islam. As I said before, I'm concerned about Islam. I'm happy to give the benefit of the doubt, Awfully big of you. but only provisonally, until I figure out whether Islam as it exists today is compatible with civilization. Um, has it occurred to you that Islam has been around for 1400 years?
  • The man in the yellow T-shirt got out of his seat and went to the lavatory at the front of coach -- taking his full McDonald's bag with him.  When he came out of the lavatory he still had the McDonald's bag, but it was now almost empty. How did she know it was full when he left and empty when he came back? I thought McDonald's bags were opaque (but I don't eat at McDonald's so I could be wrong) Small, probably irrelevant detail. Sorry.
  • if we focus all of our security concerns on people from other countries who look and pray differently than we do, the next Unabomber or Timothy McVeigh is going to come along and bite us in the ass. Versus refusing to focus our concern anywhere, and the next whomever biting us in the ass? Maybe it's just me here, but I'd rather we make a concerted effort to prevent some attacks against us rather than not bothering to prevent any out of fear that some idiot with a Monkeyfilter account will call us bigoted. What went wrong in this situation? Well, for starters, those 14 foreign men were allowed to hang out inside the United States on expired visas, visas which weren't checked even after the men were questioned in LA. Then there's the part where Nostrildamus up there took this as an opportunity to spread vile 9/11 conspiracy theories and then told me to go fuck myself. But I can see where you might not consider that to be fair game. Point conceded, let's move on. Um, has it occurred to you that Islam has been around for 1400 years? Meaning... what, exactly? Are you trying to say that Islam is not a dangerous mis-meme because it's withstood the test of time? Explain to me, please, how the fact that Islam has been around for centuries mitigates the fact that impressionable young men from Karachi to Kuala Lumpur are being sent to religious schools where they are being taught that Jews are sub-human and that they should consider it an honor to give their lives in the act of killing Jews or the allies of the Jews, and that these lessons are being taught in the name of God. Explain to me how a pedigree mitigates that. Judaism and Christianity both went through periods of, for lack of a better word, barbarity. The Jews and the Christians, as a whole, got over it. But it took centuries. Islam hasn't gone through this evolution yet. Some Muslims have gotten infected with the "crusade" bug, and feel like it'd be a good idea to launch a holy war. It remains to be seen whether the mainstream of Islam will reject that idea and marginalize the Islamists or whether Islam is destined to go through a period of change similar to what happened in the Catholic church during the first half of the second millennium. Is Islam, in the form in which it exists today, compatible with civilization? Nobody knows yet. It depends on how the followers of Islam react to the present crisis.
  • She has psychic powers, Wolfgang. Strong enough to detect that these guys were terrorists trying to make an explosive out of french fries and ketchup pakcets.
  • these lessons are being taught in the name of God. Seriously, have you considered that they aren't alone? Terrorism originates from nearly every country and religion Maybe if I bold this it'll sink in. Terrorism is not a byproduct of religion. It is a byproduct of people who have an inflated sense of entitlement or a feeling of oppression. When people use these feelings to recruit and push their own agenda, that's when terrorism happens. Not when someone reads the Bible, Quran, or Torah.
  • It remains to be seen whether the mainstream of Islam will reject that idea and marginalize the Islamists or whether Islam is destined to go through a period of change similar to what happened in the Catholic church during the first half of the second millennium. The main problem with your argument is that you are asserting that Islam is one entity, which is most surely is not
  • The Syrian Wayne Newton. No wonder why she was so terrified.
  • Jeff: In general, where we seem to diverge is that you think how these men were behaving was "weird", whereas I (we) think that once you look beyond the somewhat florid prose style, they were actually behaving in a manner that could be described as "perfectly normal". Debates about how sensible it is for a party of Syrians to behave in a normal way, as opposed to an extra-cautious way, on a US domestic flight can carry on if you wish. I've never taken an internal US flight, nevermind one since 9/11, and as such I have little opinion on it. To assert now, if it wasn't already made clear: I don't think anybody is accusing Ms. Jacobsen of being the overt, cross-burning, lynch-mob kind of racist. I think we all agree that whatever racial prejudice she has is entirely subconscious, involuntary. And I believe I did say, as did somebody else, that subconscious racial fear is something that many people experience, and it's not something that much can be done about. The difference is, when I get frightened that the black guy walking down the street behind me is going to mug me (even though every rational part of my brain knows that I've got more to fear from beered-up white guys), I don't then write an article about how he probably was a mugger, even though he didn't mug me. It's the post-facto justification of that subconscious prejudice, indeed the demand that policy be changed because of it, that is the big bad thing here. Hey ho. Anyway, to address some specific points: The most devastating terrorist attack in history was perpetrated by Arab Muslims backed by a group dedicated to the establishment of an Arab Islamist state on the Arabian peninsula. Point of debate, actually (the last part of the sentence, that is). In the sense that they desire a complete withdrawl of foreign troops from Saudi Arabia (and, post 9/11 and its aftermath, from Afghanistan and Iraq), which is certainly a pre-requisite for the establishment of such a state, then maybe. But I'm not sure I've ever read any authoritative source, or a statement from them, which puts the establishment of such a state as one of their goals. Al Qa'ida are, and always have been, primarily a force of (as they see it) Islamic resistance, not Islamic propagation. But, if you have sources to correct me, I'd welcome seeing them. Really? I must have missed the devastating surprise terrorist attacks on American soil from the Filipino, Indonesian, Malaysian, and Thai cells. True. I must have missed the bit where you specified "on American soil". You have, perhaps, forgotten about that whole Bali thing. And possibly - I don't know you - you may not be aware of the spreading Islamist insurgent violence in Thailand, which has killed many hundreds in a couple of months, with specific warnings to western tourists to stay away from western tourist hotspots such as Phuket. Or the continued and constant violence on the parts of Laskar Jihad, Abu Sayaaf and (to a lesser extent) Kumpulan Mujahideen Malaysia. Or the fact that Jemaah Islamiyah, the umbrella organisation trying to connect all of these groups, is actually the only Islamist terrorist group with genuine, fully-stated ambitions for a pan-national Islamic state. Unlike, say, al Qa'ida, as far as I know. I apologise for any mis-spellings there. No time to Google, just going on general knowledge. On preview: Jeff, by the way, when you used the word "crusade" just now... why did you use that word? Just wondering, not snarking. It just seemed an odd choice.
  • Subsidiary - dt118: I do apologise - I didn't mean to twist your words, if that's what you felt I did. I just didn't see the link - and, to be fair, still don't see much of one. Syrians and Pakistanis don't look that much alike, and you'd hope that trained individuals such as air marshals wouldn't get confused by the stereotypical "but they had brown skin, your honour" thing that some people have been mentioning. But anyway. I think my attempts at being moderately lighthearted, in an attempt to back away from flamewar hell, I just came across as patronising. *sighs, kicks internet*
  • stirfry & shawnj - I do love middle eastern music, and this guy's was pretty good. I truly didn't see much of a parallel with Newton. Well, yeah, the Syrian is a little portly, but apart from that? (sorry for the derail. creeping off into the night.)
  • My point was simple: say what you want to about Annie Jacobsen, and dismiss it all as racism, bigotry and xenophobia. This makes you feel better and superior. Fine. Why would anyone feel better or superior by dismissing someone's reactions as racism, bigotry and xenophobia? Or are you projecting? But it does not change the facts in and since this article: there was an alert issued on that day; law enforcement took those 14 men off the plane, not someone's bigotry; Partially because a certain passenger overreacted and partially because we've become a reactionary, paranoid society. Did they act suspiciously? Sure. But who hasn't? a procedure for domestic airlines was implemented after this event, perhaps because of observed behavior on this flight; Not even. The procedure was implemented for several other reasons, seemingly more pressing than the behavior of a bunch of musicians. That pesky correlation/=causation thing again. and it is alleged that these 14 men were in this country illegally because their passports had expired at the time of this flight. They were, but by about three days and they went back home immediately afterward. Spoooky... Judaism and Christianity both went through periods of, for lack of a better word, barbarity. The Jews and the Christians, as a whole, got over it. But it took centuries. Really now? Howsabout the "devout christians" that shoot doctors and patients at abortion clinics? Oh, wait, those were completely reasonable acts of a mature religion. Point? Religion with the wrong agenda, regardless of type is dangerous. Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Shinto Bhuddism, doesn't matter. They're all bad if the right idiot's pushing the right buttons.
  • de Carbas: Perhaps the new member would get a warmer welcome without the likes of:
    Oh, and Nostrildamus, I'm going out on a limb here, but I imagine you'd find a warmer audience for your tin-foil-hat conspiracy theories and accusations of racism over at the Democratic Underground or Metafilter. Don't get mad, just go find an audience that will swallow your bullshit.
  • Okay here are the latest odds that Jeff Harrell is the real name of a MeFi member: hama7 - 4 to 1 111 - 5 to 1 ParisParasmus - 7 to 1 Seth - 10 to 1 quonsar (you've been punk'd!) - 250 to 1
  • Terrorism is not a byproduct of religion. The link between Islam, Islamism, and Islamist (hello?) terrorism isn't something that we really need to dispute, is it? Short synopsis. Muslim charities are collecting funds in the name of peace and religion, using those funds to establish madrassas in places like the Comoros Islands and using those madrassas to teach violence and hatred. The students who attend those madrassas regularly go on to join terrorist training camps in places like Afghanistan. Then, after a time, they blow themselves and lots of innocent people to smithereens. Think I'm exaggerating? I'm not. That's the story in a nutshell of Haroun Fazul who, in 1998, detonated himself outside the gates of the US embassy in Nairobi. Muslims are using charitable donations to recruit and train terrorists. How many Muslims? Don't know. What fraction of charitable donations? Don't know. How many madrassas, how many recruits, how many terrorists? Don't know. That's why I say that the jury is still out. But to just wave your hands and say "all religions are the same" is something I can't comprehend. The main problem with your argument is that you are asserting that Islam is one entity Until Muslims start disavowing, en masse, the barbarous acts perpetrated in the name of Islam, they're a part of the problem. But I'm not sure I've ever read any authoritative source, or a statement from them, which puts the establishment of such a state as one of their goals.... But, if you have sources to correct me, I'd welcome seeing them. Get thee to the PBS site and read the 1996 fatwa in which Osama bin Laden announced his intentions. The unification of the Ummah under shari'a is #1 on his list of fevered fantasies. The expulsion of the Zionist entity and its allies from the Land of the Holy Places is just step one. At the risk of going all Godwin, it's his Anschluss, if you will: the first step on a long and winding road. Jeff, by the way, when you used the word "crusade" just now... why did you use that word? Historical allusion. Urban II, the re-taking of Jerusalem, all that. A very dark time. They were, but by about three days and they went back home immediately afterward. It wasn't three days; it was more than two weeks. Source: Saturday's Dallas Morning News. And did they actually leave the country? Nobody seems to know for sure. Howsabout the "devout christians" that shoot doctors and patients at abortion clinics? What I think you're trying to say here is that we should not ascribe to an entire religion the acts of a few of its adherents. And that's certainly true, and an important point to remember. However, how the membership of that religion responds to the acts of its adherents tells us volumes, and is something we should pay close attention to. So far, I'm not impressed. Last thing for the night, I promise: Can somebody please tell me what the heck Wendell is talking about? I'm new around here, and I don't understand the code or whatever.
  • Thanks for the fatwa link, Jeff. Turns out, therefore, that our points were not mutually exclusive - al Qa'ida is a resistance movement, not an expansionist one ("Clearly after Belief (Imaan) there is no more important duty than pushing the American enemy out of the holy land"). What I hadn't fully appreciated was that, as an element of that goal, there is the belief that the "land of the two Holy Places" is currently divided. OK. "Anschluss" was pretty unnecessary, though - and more than a tad inaccurate as well, methinks. State expanding its borders vs. reunification of historically linked (in their view) lands from within their populations, if you see what I mean. Ireland might be a better parallel for that specific element? Not a great one, but if you're looking for something to compare it to... What struck me most about this fatwa, and other statements I've read from bin Laden and others, is that the often-thrown accusations of blind fanaticism are off base. Fanaticism, goodness yes, but not blind - there are several long lists of very specific greivances in here, many of which are perfectly simple and reasonable from a western perspective ("The miserable situation of the social services and infra-structure especially the water service and supply, the basic requirement of life"). The suggestion that the motivating force for such groups is a pathological hatred of democracy and freedom, or somesuch, is clearly just dumb. Historical allusion. Urban II, the re-taking of Jerusalem, all that. A very dark time. Right'o. Just checking. Agreed about the dark time bit. See what you're getting at, don't really agree, not sure if an example of Christian genocide of Muslims is the best way to describe it. But hey. The other stuff you said, I'm sure there's plenty of other people here who'll delight in tearing you to pieces because of it, which is useful because I'm tired and going to bed.
  • Short synopsis. Muslim charities[...]
    Irish Catholic charities in America collect money and send it to the IRA, who murder English civilians (and buy arms off Libya, who use the proceeds to fund terrorist attacks on Americans). Gee, look, turns out they are the same, after all.
    Until Muslims start disavowing, en masse, the barbarous acts perpetrated in the name of Islam, they're a part of the problem.
    Kind of like Catholics and the IRA?
  • Oh dear, it looks like I was right to trust my instincts. Jeff definitely is the sort of rightwing crazy who can't distinguish wood from trees. My money would be on ParisParasmus, wendell. Looks like he agrees with Coulter that all Muslims should be locked up until they disavow their nasty, evil ways. Loony.
  • I don't understand. According to the article a bunch of the syrian guys got up and went to the bathroom. That's it. Sure, I guess that could seem sort of suspicious but if the author was so unnerved why didn't she get up and go stand in line for the restroom. She could have checked the place out, looked in the toliet for a bomb, checked the razor slot for anthrax, maybe unrolled the toliet paper to look for hidden razor blades. She could have even gotten up, walked up to the gents and said, "you guys are really creeping me out with this synchronized potty dance, what gives?". I mean she was going to tell the whole internet about her suspicions anyway, why not go ahead and get them out while the shady characters in question had a chance to explain their actions Really, it's jsut piss poor journalism if you ask me.
  • Can we get off the MeFi fixation?
  • oh as a sidenote: When she wrote, "Then another man from the group stood up and took something from his carry-on in the overhead bin. It was about a foot long and was rolled in cloth. He headed toward the back of the cabin with the object. Five minutes later, several more of the Middle Eastern men began using the forward lavatory consecutively. In the back, several of the men stood up and used the back lavatory consecutively as well.", all I could think was "Shit! He's got a prayer rug everybody get down!" It reminded me of when I was shopping at a local megamart shortly after 9/11. I saw two of the local rent-a-cops rush by with very intent looks on their faces. Being the curious type I followed them back to the remote corner of the store, near the snack aisle actually, where the busted up two scared shitless (but apparently highly devout) muslims who had stopped to pray.
  • A small exercise, using the output of the brain of Jeff for example: Jews are using charitable donations to recruit and train terrorists. How many Jews? Don't know. What fraction of charitable donations? Don't know. How many enclaves, how many recruits, how many terrorists? Don't know. That's why I say that the jury is still out. But to just wave your hands and say "all religions are the same" is something I can't comprehend... Until Jews start disavowing, en masse, the barbarous acts perpetrated in the name of Judaism, they're a part of the problem. Now, monkeys, I don't know about you, but this enlightens me a great deal about Jeff, and people like him, and their thinking processes. But for a changed word here or there, his rants sound remarkably like the rants of a certain other group from the 20th century that caused quite a deal of problems. The logical fallacies and inherent errors of their thinking have been pointed out before. This sort of thinking will not solve anything. What Jeff asks us to do, what Jeff asks us to begin to think like, is not going to work. We know this already. So we better start looking for some rather more constructive attitudes.
  • Extra points for someone who can quote Henry Gibson's bullhorn-rant from The Blues Brothers, and replace reference to 'Jew' with 'Muslim'. Betcha it will fit in just right. I'm too tired right now.
  • Houston, we have a Godwin...
  • The overall tone of the piece and some of the alarmist responses I've seen elsewhere remind me of something that happened where I worked on 9/11. When I got to work, the building manager where my company leased their office space had hired a security guard. His job was to stand outside the building and take down names of people entering. The reason he was given to repeat to anyone who asked was that they'd know how many people were in the building, in case it should be a focus of an attack like the ones on the WTC and Pentagon. What he met with was massive amounts of hostility. You see, he was a Sikh. And almost everyone in the building just saw dark skin and a turban. Obviously, one of those Middle Eastern terrorists, sent to tally the people there for some unknown reason before bombing the place, or something. At least, that was the attitude that he was being met with. Now, I'll admit that, as sensitized as I was in the wake of everything I'd heard and seen that morning, I had one brief moment of panic at seeing a dark-skinned stranger hanging around outside the building. But then reality asserted itself and I got over it. I gave him my name, company, and floor, and smiled at him. Mine may have been the only friendly face he saw all day. It was quite obvious he felt the air of hostility. He had a scared-but-determined look in his eyes as I approached, and great relief when I didn't turn out to be hostile. When I got up to the office, people were in a panic over the "Ay-rab" out front. They were getting whipped into a frenzy by three people in particular, one of them my boss. The only other person who took the time to examine the thing rationally and I tried to talk sense into them. We pointed out that he was a Sikh. That he was from India. And what did they think, that anyone with dark skin was now a threat? There are bad apples in any bunch. That doesn't mean that the whole bushel has to be thrown away. Etc, etc, etc. The three fearmongers and newly-created bigots resented that we were trying to calm the panic. A couple of them made thinly-veiled comments about how we must be sympathizers with the terrorists at the least, or possibly traitors. We had to be, obviously, since we weren't buying the line that dark skin equals evil. One of them even greeted my comments about the security guard being a Sikh, an Indian man, with a "what the hell does it matter, they're all the same" reaction. Anne Jacobsen reminds me of those fearmongers and bigots that day. Not only panicking over something that turned out to be nothing, but trying to inspire everyone else to do the same. Sure, I might have wondered, were I in her place, what exactly was going on. But, if reality had not set back in during the flight with the realization that these men all had to go through the same screening process that I have had to every time I fly since 9/11, I would have gotten a clue once on the ground. The plane landed safely. The men were taken aside by authorities, investigated, questioned, sure. But the investigation obviously turned up nothing, because they were all then released. Yet Jacobsen wrote those articles, implying constantly and heavily that those men had to have been terrorists. She has forgotten the a basic tenet of our country, that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Of course, maybe this woman is just one of those who absolutely needs some kind of huge drama to feel alive. I've known a few of those. They always have to involve as many people as possible in it. When that crap gets flung, the flingers try to splash everyone in sight. Fearmonger, yes. Bigotry, that too. But one other thing, also. Anne, I believe that I hereby crown you Queen of Needless Drama. Here's your Golden Stapler.
  • That's not a proper godwin.
  • Read the Jacobsen pieces; then the Metafilter thread; then Michelle Miliken comments; then needing to leave the computer for a minute. Now, where was I... right: I am terrified of flying. Has nothing to do with 9/11 or terrorism, hijacking, or brown skin. I just don't actually trust the Bernoulli effect to continue effecting. My own little personal issue. However, it manifests itself in a look of struck terror on my face, and white knuckles, and darting glances around the cabin at the slightest noise or otherwise imperceptible turbulence. For 14 hours straight. Fun times! My point is, I look very disturbed when in the air, and were I a 25-year old man with dark skin, I suspect I'd be a hell of a lot worse off. As it is, at least 4 people ask me what's wrong on every flight I'm on. So, to me, the behaviour of the 14 Syrians seemed rather normal: get up, walk around, talk to my friends, watch everyone to see if they look scared (like I feel), go to the bathroom 18x, look very nervous and shifty because dammit that's how I FEEL. I'm sure it doesn't help if every person you look at is shaking, glaring back at you, or muttering to their seatmates about Air Marshals. Their behaviour didn't sound at ALL strange to me - but I wasn't there. So who knows? But I have to agree with the others who've said why not talk to them? Ask them what they're doing in LA? Chat, make pointless small talk...it helps distract me when I'm flying, and it may have helped Annie Jacobsen AND the 14 nervous Syrians calm down too. If they had been terrorists, what further harm could have resulted? Second (then I'll wrap this ramble up), is a serious question for Jeff, and anyone else really. What does it look like for The Islamic World (a diverse global religious community in numerous countries, with different languages, beliefs, etc.) to overwhelmingly reject the actions of Islamic fundamentalist terrorists? By what benchmark can we reasonably gauge that? Bill O'Reilly doesn't speak for me, but he's the one with the soapbox, so maybe what I think gets lost. How can we make sure, when judging whether Islam is fit for participation in the civilised world, that we aren't just getting the equivalent of O'Reilly, or the Al Franken/Moore side? [this questions presumes the validity of the underlying premise, to wit that "we" (the West? Judeo-Christians?) are in some way judiciously placed to assess the worth of Islam; a premise I reject emphatically but I ask my question in earnest sincerity regardless]
  • [sorry also for the super long comment. I'm procrastinating, can you tell?]
  • I have just been thinking about terrorism in the late twentieth century. These are the incidents I think of as having the most impact on my life: When my boyfriend was a child, his local Shopping Centre (Manchester) was bombed. That was the IRA - funded heavily from the US. (Americans also funded the last invasion of Canada by the Fenians, Irish separatists, but that in 1840 and we've forgiven them now). In the 1970's, a politician was kidnapped and murdered in Quebec by the FLQ (Quebec Seperatists, leading to the invoking of War Measures Act and many immoral arrests of innocent French Canadians. When I was a teenager, the Unabomber was sending packages through the mail, and then Timothy McVeigh blew up the Oklahoma Federal Building. Even now, Christian Fundamentalists stockpile weapons in the backwoods of the United States, and probably Canada as well. Other acts I hear about on the news: The Air India bombing, killing 200-300 Canadians (versus 35 or so in the WTC), committed by Sikh separatists. ETA bombings in Spain. Ulster loyalists in Northern Ireland. In Sri Lanka, the Tamil Tigers use both guerrilla and terrorist techniques against the Sinhala majority and Muslim minority. And the worst massacre of the late 20th century was committed in Rwanda over racial, not religious tensions. I see one common thread in all of these things: fundamentalism and intolerance. Fundamentalists of any religious persuasion are dangerous - as are racial fundamentalists, or political fundamentalists. These are what we should be on guard against.
  • Islam "shocked and saddened" after rebuke by Civilization Tehran, July 26, Reuters -- Islam was "shocked and saddened" by its rejection by Civilization, said sources close to the great middle-east faith on Monday. Civilization made the comments on the popular weblog "Monkeyfilter", through its spokesperson Jeff Harrell, saying that Islam was "not so hot" and that "the jury was out" on whether it wanted to hang with Islam any more. "I just don't know about Islam anymore", explained Civilization. "I know we used to hang out and shit in the 14th century, but now he's just gone all weird. Plus, I don't like his beard". Islam, a major world faith with some 300 million adherents, was "very upset" upon hearing the comments, but reluctantly, has decided to respect Civilization's wishes - by immediately banning all forms of building, agriculture, fishing, cities, use of language, art in all its forms, the making and wearing of clothes, and all collaborative social projects apart from grooming family members for nits. "It'll be tough", said Islam at a final press conference this morning. "If you're not 'down' with Civilization, I guess you just have to sit in a tree all day publicly masturbating, eating fruit and emitting meaningless high-pitched squeals. Still - shit happens, yo." Civilization did not return calls about the break-up.
  • Damn you civilization, for not letting me behind your silky red velvet rope, either. However, how the membership of that religion responds to the acts of its adherents tells us volumes, and is something we should pay close attention to. Me, I'm still waiting for sweeping, official rebukes from the Southern Baptist Convention, Assemblies of God, Church of Christ, et al. for abortion clinic terrorists (instead of bitching about how their free speech rights are being taken away near said clinics), "Christian" survivalist groups like Covenant, Sword and Arm of the Lord, the KKK... Mebbe I missed 'em, but I ain't heard 'em yet.
  • Jeff: Welcome to MonkeyFilter. Don't be dissuaded by the personal attacks...hopefully they won't keep you from sticking around here and contributing. IMO you've done nothing to deserve this kind of treatment. You've presented your opinion and, while it's obviously not a popular one, backed it up with some interesting links and facts. Most of all, you've demonstrated an ability to not get sucked into a nasty flame war with lesser minds. You'll be a valued monkey here if your skin is thick enough to weather the childish assaults. As for your question...Wendell is basically calling you a troll without actually coming out and saying it (The names he listed are well-known trolls on MetaFilter). It's uncharacteristic of him, but it fits with the tone that's been set in this thread.
  • You wish to claim Jeff for yourself, rocket88. But I say unto you: get your filthy hands off my man, you cheap whore.
  • I'm far from cheap, quid.
  • To translate for the lesser minds in the building: Most of all, you've demonstrated an ability to not get sucked into a nasty flame war with lesser minds. Most of all, you've demonstrated the ability that I value dear, the ability to ignore contrary facts and logic when they don't support your argument. You'll be a valued monkey here if your skin is thick enough to weather the childish assaults. I'd love to have another parrot on my side of the argument. Please continue ignoring those mean terrorist sympathizers so that you can back me up when I talk myself into a corner.
  • I'm far from cheap, quid. True - but you're worth every penny, you saucy little minx!
  • I'd love to have another parrot on my side of the argument. To translate for the lesser minds in the buildings: Fuck you, you bigot, you fool, you sick cocksucker. /Nostril-style Seriously, this thread would stink less if Nostril would only relieve himself /before/ posting. That way there'd be fewer oily floaters in the pool.
  • shawnj: I post in English. If I want a translation into bullshit, I'll ask for one. I'd love to have another parrot on my side of the argument. Just what is *my* side of the argument shawnj? I never once agreed with Jeff's opinion (which I don't) or with yours (which I don't).
  • shawnj: I post in English. If I want a translation into bullshit, I'll ask for one. Could have fooled me. Wait, you did fool me. Just what is *my* side of the argument shawnj? The "translation" had nothing to do with this specific argument. I was merely referring to trend of posters who, when faced with evidence that they are full of shit, ignore it under the guise of "not getting sucked into a nasty flame war with lesser minds."
  • TO try to take the conversation in a different direction, it seems that some people, like the author of this article, are really REALLY worried about terrorism. I, however, am not. Of course 9/11 was horrible and terrifying but today in july of 2004, I find lots of other things that happen on the nightly news to be a lot more concerning and more likely to effect (or is it affect? I can never keep it straight) my life a lot more directly than something that I really cannot prevent. As I have tried to say before, there were professionals on that flight and they were aware of the situation. If a terrorist organization really wanted to, they could have a different suicide bombing in a different American city every day for a month and there is no way that we could prevent such a thing from occuring. I'm a lot more worried that there is an American citizen that has been held in custody with very little access to a lawyer for more than 2 years without being charged. That scares the hell out of me. There are a million things that are being done in America on a daily basis that makes me angry (and there have been things going on since before 2000 that scare me before anyone conjectures that I am simply opposed to the current administration). So my question is, "Why are some people still so scared about terrorism?"
  • Much for the same reasons why people were so afraid of shark attacks a few summers ago - because it's out of the ordinary and "they" tell them to be scared.
  • To clarify: Has it never occurred to you that you are a fucking asshole who doesn't know what they're talking about? Because it has to me, dipshit. Oh, and go fuck yourself. This is what I was referring to when i said "not getting sucked into a nasty flame war with lesser minds". But, more to your point...while I don't completely agree with Jeff's remarks, he makes some valid points and I've yet to see anyone post facts, logic, or any evidence that he is full of shit.
  • anyone post facts, logic, or any evidence that he is full of shit. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
  • rocket, I saw a lot of people, including myself, trying to discuss both the subject of the post and Jeff's (you'll admit, somewhat inflammatory) comments about Islam and civilization. Yes, I also saw some people going overboard (Nostril mainly) and being to keen to dismiss Jeff as an unthinking, ignorant racist (which he clearly is not). But I thought it was still a decent enough thread, and we were having a good discussion. In any case, I didn't think it warranted a "just ignore them"...
  • Jeff's comments were his opinion. It was the responses that were inflamatory. I don't entirely agree with Jeff, but I do question the post-9/11 trend of some people to proclaim Islam a "religion of peace". It is a religion just as capable of being used for evil as any other, and recently it *has* been used for evil more than any other. The reaction to Jeff's comment was one that I've seen too often lately over on the blue 'filter, and I don't like seeing it here. It was way out of line and I think Nostrildamus owes everyone here an apology for it. I'll also mention how hypocritical it was of Nostril to jump to the defence of Islam when he's been such an outspoken critic of Christianity, and indeed all religion, in the past. And my comment to Jeff was not "Just ignore them". It was "don't let them drive you away from Monkeyfilter".
  • "Want to help fight terrorism? Want to be able to stop and detain suspicious characters? Or do you just want to ride your horse on ten miles of trails normally closed to the public? Then you might want to join the George Bush Intercontinental (IAH) Airport Rangers program. That's right. Just fill out a form and undergo a background check, and you too can become a front-line fighter as Houston's airport tries to keep our nation safe and secure. No experience necessary. You don't even have to be a US citizen."
  • Oh, and go fuck yourself. Ah yes, the Cheney doctrine.
  • Please, explain how that is hypocritical. 'cause I don't see it.
  • if I were in that air-plane, with MY CHILD, and MY HUSBAND, I would be as protective as she was. I mean, HELLO?! did 9/11 not happen? That's the problem with a lot of people. That you're too lax when it comes to this. If it were up to me, every person taking a flight would be screened down to their undies. we're trying to protect America aren't we? Then leave the idea that everyone is good behind and start getting a little suspiscious. IT SAVES LIVES.
  • Nostrildamus on religion/Christianity: Grow up and realise that it is an ancient mythology that failed, the teachings of its founder have been usurped not once, but many times, and that none of its promises will be vouchsafed to you. Belief in the bible created a dark age for humanity that lasted well over a thousand years. ... I'm saying the Bible is a mish-mash of palpable bullshit. Anyone with a brain in their head, a half-reasonable grasp of history, and the ability to parse the language can see it for themselves. I'm tired of arguing with crazy-ass xtians on this matter; in my experience they are usually blockheads. Their foolishness has allowed tyrants and bastards to rule over the rest of us for far too long. ... Religious addicts are as incurable as alcoholics. They can't and won't accept their own problem. They just can't see it. Why do I keep arguing with them? Take a look at the world. This is what religion has created. It's a mental virus. ... I have problems with people who have literal belief in some mumbo jumbo words written in an old book somewhere, particularly when they contradict themselves, make no sense, or are provably wrong Nostrildamus on Jeff's cooments about Islam: I won't stand around mumbling polite nothings while others start blaming *groups* of people for the actions of a few, particularly when the truth of the matter isn't even clear. We have to stand against bigots, right-wing wingnuts and warmongers, because if we don't, we're all fucked. Knee-jerk reactions won't get us anywhere but back to 19th century when pogroms and racial hatred were all the rage. Clear facts are that Islam as a whole is not to blame for 9-11, nor are middle-eastern people as a whole. Anyone who suggests that this is so, or who justifies the crazy hysterics of others who bolster that outlook, should be stamped on quick sharp. I make no apologies, I'm a nasty guy when I detect racism or bigotry. And I won't change any time soon. Nostrildamus is a bigot when it comes to Christians, but a valiant defender of justice when someone speaks ill of a "mi-no-ri-tee". He's also a hypocrite.
  • rocket, can you take your hard-on for Nostril somewhere private?
  • Then leave the idea that everyone is good behind and start getting a little suspiscious. IT SAVES LIVES. Keep taking that Soma, citizen! And don't worry, this chip implant will only itch for a day or two. It's time for work now. Be back by sundown. You don't want to be caught out after the curfew.
  • rogerd: I was responding to a request. But I'll drop it. I've said all I want to say about his comment, although I'm surprised nobody else had a problem with it. I don't want Monkeyfilter to become what he's trying to make it. As for the topic of the post: If Anne Jacobsen's account of the flight is accurate, (I suspect it's embellished, myself) I don't blame her for being paranoid, or even terrified. I would be too. The fact is that almost 3 years ago a group of (mostly) Arab men hijacked some airliners and killed thousands. The group they belonged to is promising more attacks. If I saw a group of Arabic-looking and -sounding men acting strangely on an airplane, I'd be sacred shitless. If I saw the same actions with a group of white American men, I wouldn't give it a second thought. If that makes me a bigot in your eyes, so be it. I hate the idea of racial profiling, but rest assured that Al Qaida will exploit your political correctness if they attempt another hijacking.
  • Then leave the idea that everyone is good behind and start getting a little suspiscious. IT SAVES LIVES. Sure it does... And from here on out, I'm asking for a monkey moratorium on anybody invoking 9/11 unless they know or were related to someone lost on that day. I'm getting tired of people using 9/11 when there was no personal loss for them other than their sense of safety.
  • if I were in that air-plane, with MY CHILD, and MY HUSBAND, I would be as protective as she was So panicking was being protective? She was informed of the presence of armed air marshals, who I'd be willing to bet are a little better at surveying their environment and assessing the situation (not to mention dealing with it). I think the point has gotten buried here in the thread, what with all the drama: The main criticism of her, it seems to me, is not that she got a little (or even a lot) scared. It's not even that she freaked out over some brown people standing around, talking and laughing and praying/whatever in the bathroom. It's the fact that she felt it necessary to write an alarmist article about it after the fact. It could have prompted her to write something about the climate of fear and suspicion that the war on terror has created in this country, but (as noted in the Salon article), it seems the only lesson she took from it is that nothing happened, but (cue ominous music)...SOMETHING COULD HAVE! Thereby adding to the fear-frenzy over terrorism.
  • I hate the idea of racial profiling, but rest assured that Al Qaida will exploit your political correctness if they attempt another hijacking. Then again, if we start profiling, they're just work around that, too.
  • Coalition forces already caught and or killed Albanian and Bosnian jihadists in Afghanistan and in Iraq and the Russians have killed and captured (and then killed) Bosnians, Albanians and German converts in Chechnya. Holy Bad Editing, Batman!
  • Seven "and"s and one "or". You need a Karnaugh map to follow that sentence!
  • Sorry, didn't mean to trivialize the issue. In fact it's so serious that these jihadists have to be killed twice. dammit, I did it again. I really do find this to be serious, and do take your arguments seriously. After all, I *did* read the entire thread, and *did* change my mind several times based on some very convincing arguments in here. rocket88, that made my brain hurt.
  • I *did* read the entire thread, and *did* change my mind several times based on some very convincing arguments Woo! Somebody impartial! Brilliant... So come on, we're dying to know - who's winning so far? :-)
  • 6779 - 6781: Appalling Muslim Courtesy. Ooops, sorry, wrong thread.
  • I really like how this has turned into a "Who's a jackass and who isn't" thread. Thanks to those who managed to avoid personal insults and stick to the topic. It's a beautiful thing.
  • Me! Me! I'm a jackass!!!
  • nostrildamus-wendell-rodgerd all see through jeff like a pane of glass.
  • WAAAAAH! Surlyboi always gets to be the jackass!
  • Well, wait a minute. These guys had to show their passports when they checked in for the flight. I've had to show ID when I checked in for a flight for at least 10 years, and these guys didn't have green cards or US drivers' licenses. And, I'd bet they were profiled, at least to some extent, and checked out before they were allowed to board, especially since there were some alerts floating around. And, acting "weirdly"? It wasn't all that long ago that standing in the aisles and lining up at the toilets wasn't considered problematical in the US. One might suppose that those are still allowed on the airlines they were used to using. I remember one flight on a 747, not that long ago, when there was huge bathroom line which went by Hasidic Jews who were fulfilling their prayer requirements, dovening in the small space between the line and the skin of the plane. And, they gave me some "weird" looks, but I think it was because I was intruding on their rites, not because they were my enemy. Since serious Muslims are required to pray 5 times a day, at specific hours, I'd guess that's exactly what they were doing when they hit the bathrooms. I mean, in today's overcrowded planes, where else would you be able to do it? But the nitty-gritty here is that Jacobsen does strike me as a drama queen. The perceived crisis was over, the band had been identified, no evidence was found that they were assembling a bomb or threatening us in any way. And, yet, she posted 2 articles about her experience after it was all over, as if her fear was more important than the outcome. And. Jeff. get to know Nosrildomus a bit more before you accuse him of tinfoil hat stuff. Apart from the fact that tin foil doesn't exist anymore I'm absolutely entranced by him and will not stand for character attacks on my sweetie.
  • And, I'd bet they were profiled, at least to some extent, and checked out before they were allowed to board, especially since there were some alerts floating around. They weren't. The airlines aren't allowed to. Read the article. It's TSA policy that any airline that pulls aside more than two members of the same race for a secondary security check will be fined for it. So even if all 14 of these guys had been completely suspicious before boarding the plane, at most two of them could have been checked. That's one of the problems, and one of the benefits of this story. We're (collectively, I mean) taking a closer look at our security procedures on the ground and discussing whether they're reasonable, excessive, or laughable. It wasn't all that long ago that standing in the aisles and lining up at the toilets wasn't considered problematical in the US. It wasn't all that long ago that the idea of using a hijacked, passenger-bearing, commercial jet liner as a guided cruise missile was unheard of. Times change, and we have to change with them. Because what one monster has done, another monster will attempt to duplicate. The fact that we can take measures to prevent another 9/11-style attack means that we must do so. Anything else would be, to use the legal jargon, depraved indifference. I mean, in today's overcrowded planes, where else would you be able to do it? In any aisle, in front of any exit, or in the galleys. In fact, it would have been quite impossible for them to pray in a restroom, because Muslim prayer includes prostration: literally, kneeling and putting one's forehead on the ground. Airplane restrooms barely have enough room to kneel, and if you try to prostrate yourself your head is going to be in the toilet. The "they went to the restroom to pray" idea doesn't hold water. get to know Nosrildomus a bit more before you accuse him of tinfoil hat stuff. Respectfully, no. That crap about "it has not been proven what group was responsible" and "NORAD paused for well over an hour" he said up-thread... these are lies, plain and simple. They're the stuff of urban legends and, yes, tin-foil-hat conspiracy theories. And Nostrildamus should be ashamed of himself for spreading them. I'm new around here, but surely this isn't the kind of web forum where malicious and hateful lies are permitted? There are places where that kind of thing goes on; is this one of those places?
  • I'm new around here, but surely this isn't the kind of web forum where malicious and hateful lies are permitted? There are places where that kind of thing goes on; is this one of those places? I think maybe you're being a little facetious here, Jeff. What goes on in MonkeyFilter is no different than on any other similar site. Monkeys are as enlightened (or unenlightened, depending on your viewpoint) as anyone else on that there intarweb. Accusing someone of being malicious and hateful is a little harsh also, and I concede that there has been a lot of pointless namecalling in this thread, so I'd be quite happy if it could stop right here. How about we all take a break from this thread? There's a nice one just over there about puppies, I believe.
  • How about we all take a break from this thread? I'm sick and tired of you n00bies telling us enlightened greater minds of MoFi what to do I mean what idiots like you don't understand tracicle is that we are simply your intellectual superiors and wait a minute tracicle tracicle hmm i've heard that name before somewhere Oh shit now I'm gonna get my ass kicked wait I can hide under the table here and no one will find me ha ha ha take that losers hang on what's this button do
  • *hits quidnunc with 100-Ton Hammer™* We now return you to your scheduled puppy programme.
  • ow you squished me
  • How did your date go?
  • Oh really well, thanks Wolof. Spent most of the weekend with her.
  • Accusing someone of being malicious and hateful is a little harsh also Yeah, you forgot ugly, lazy and disrespectful! Good deal on the date, quid
  • Yeah qk, congrats!
  • I sorta "skipped" to the end on this one because my eyes were getting sleepy. Jeff, you seem to be somewhat right-leaning, which I'm glad for--it's hard being one of the "chosen few" here on MoFi. One thing I've learned is that tone of voice (or writing) can help immensely to defuse a potential fire. I encourage you to be respectful, even when baited by folks like Nostril (that's kind of his schtick, though I think he'd probably deny it), and if all else fails, don't be afraid to back down and simply agree to disagree. 99.73% of the monkeys here are ultra respectful of opposing views, and won't/don't begrudge you your say. Just a bit of encouragement. Hope you stick around--this is an awful fun place when you let it be.
  • I know I should just let this go, but I can't manage to do it. I just simply fail to see how the story used in this news article can be used as an example for why we should practice racial profiling. It seems to me that -- besides the things that I've already written about this being an example of fear and overreacting -- if anything this story serves as an example of why racial profiling is unnecessary. This is, if one ignores the emotionality of the writing, an example that the current system works. As I've already said, I fail to see what else could have been done. Nothing bad happened. There WERE being watched. The system in place is working. Aside from the issues of why the story was written and what the story may or may not represent, I am really trying to understand what the issue is. This story says to me that if anyone does anything "unusual" on a plane, people will be watching and ready to act.
  • well said f8x :-)
  • I just simply fail to see how the story used in this news article can be used as an example for why we should practice racial profiling. I don't think we need examples of why we should "practice racial profiling." Using race in a factor when choosing how to apply our security procedures is just common sense. Instead, those who oppose "racial profiling" have the burden of presenting arguments for why we should take some facts into account but not others. The point here is that this plane did not go down in flames, which means we have the opportunity to look at what happened and evaluate our security processes. When all we have left is the cockpit voice recorder and some pieces of twisted metal, it's a little harder to evaluate how we're doing. Ann Jacobsen did not overreact. She simply reacted. Whether there was an actual terrorist threat or not—and we will probably never know whether there was—it was entirely reasonable for her to respond the way she did.
  • -it was entirely reasonable for her to respond the way she did. You mean by jeopardizing the identity of federal air marshalls, nearly causing panic on the plane during the flight, accusing 14 musicians of being terrorists, wasting government resources when she was proven to be false in her accusations, and then making not one, but two paranoid, fear-driven rants for a newspaper while quoting Ms. "Kick one of them for me" and striking fear into the women entrepeneurs who read said newspaper? Cause if that was what you were referring to, yeah, that's entirely reasonable if you're from another planet.
  • From the article: As "aware" Americans, my husband and I exchanged glances, and then continued to get comfortable. That just says so much, doesn't it? There's an entire master's thesis in there somewhere.
  • Of course, she ruins it by saying how she was getting nervous when they were looking at each other. Oh no!
  • I don't think we need examples of why we should "practice racial profiling." Using race in a factor when choosing how to apply our security procedures is just common sense. Instead, those who oppose "racial profiling" have the burden of presenting arguments for why we should take some facts into account but not others. Yeah and a black guy in a Porsche probably stole it, so any time we see one we should call the police immediately and have him pulled over and given the third degree. The point here is that this plane did not go down in flames, which means we have the opportunity to look at what happened and evaluate our security processes. When all we have left is the cockpit voice recorder and some pieces of twisted metal, it's a little harder to evaluate how we're doing. Wow, I was on a plane that didn't crash last week too, I slept through most of the flight, so by your logic, as long as I sleep on a plane, it keeps the terrorists at bay! I'm a freakin' national treasure! Ann Jacobsen did not overreact. She simply reacted. Whether there was an actual terrorist threat or not—and we will probably never know whether there was—it was entirely reasonable for her to respond the way she did. I was really willing to give you the benefit of the doubt that you weren't a troll and let you slide in honor of Tracicle's call for truce, but that last little screed's pretty damn amazing.
  • Shawnj, you rattled off a list of stuff that simply didn't happen. Jeopardizing the identity of air marshalls? Never happened. Nearly causing panic? Never happened. And so on. I wonder if you've bothered to read any of the tens of thousands of words that have been written about this incident so far. Yeah and a black guy in a Porsche probably stole it, so any time we see one we should call the police immediately Are you somehow unclear on the whole concept, Surlyboi? At one extreme, there's using race as the sole determinant. That's what you're talking about. At the other, there's being prohibited from taking action by considerations of race. That's where the TSA regulations are now. Are you somehow unclear on the notion that there's an in-between? Security personnel must be allowed to take race into account when making on-the-spot decisions. They simply must be. Taking that discretion away from them makes them worse than useless. There's already a civil recourse for people who believe themselves to be victims of discrimination. We don't need to shackle the hands of our security personnel by telling them what they can and cannot consider. so by your logic, as long as I sleep on a plane, it keeps the terrorists at bay! Sigh. I'm starting to think you're purposefully being difficult here. Can you really be so thick that you just don't understand the topic of conversation? Seriously. I'm not kidding around here. Do either of you have the foggiest idea what we're actually talking about? Or are you both just posting on autopilot?
  • I agree with him. Can I be a troll too??? I will say, however, that Jacobsen's after-the-fact articles were a bit over-dramatic...no, scratch that...they were pure crap. But she sounds like a neurotic, maybe a nervous flyer, and rected appropriately *for her*. I can't fault her reaction...just her writing. Can anyone give me a logical reason why there is a 2-person-per-race limit on security checks at airports? Who benefits from this rule, other than potential hijackers?
  • Are you somehow unclear on the whole concept, Surlyboi? At one extreme, there's using race as the sole determinant. That's what you're talking about. At the other, there's being prohibited from taking action by considerations of race. That's where the TSA regulations are now. Are you somehow unclear on the notion that there's an in-between? Not at all, but you and Ms. Jacobsen both seem to be missing that line in between. She wigged because there were brown people on a plane congregating and doing things that used to be considered normal. Had they been white, she wouldn't have thought twice about it. That is where my problem lies. That "line" slips any time it's convenient. I've been on the wrong side of that line, have you? Security personnel must be allowed to take race into account when making on-the-spot decisions. They simply must be. Taking that discretion away from them makes them worse than useless. No, security personnel must take any and all "suspicious activity" into account, regardless of the race of the potential perpetrator. But jumoing at shadows makes them worse than useless, it makes them dangerous. Not only to the potentially wronged individual but to everyone involved. A jump at the wrong shadow tips your hand and gives the people who really wish to do us harm an insight into your ways. What part of that do you not understand? There's already a civil recourse for people who believe themselves to be victims of discrimination. We don't need to shackle the hands of our security personnel by telling them what they can and cannot consider. And the air marshalls did their job. Jacobsen was a potential hinderance to that. Sigh. I'm starting to think you're purposefully being difficult here. Can you really be so thick that you just don't understand the topic of conversation? No, I understand it more than you know. The question is, do you understand it from all sides? Seriously. I'm not kidding around here. Do either of you have the foggiest idea what we're actually talking about? Or are you both just posting on autopilot? We could ask you the same question. All I've heard from you thus far have been the fairly standard, fear-mongering soundbites of the "but we're at war" crowd. And in answer to your question 88, there shouldn't be. I think everyone should be subject to scrutiny. Everyone.
  • Jeff, you've made your case for racial profiling - I myself don't accept it, and I think there's been several good arguments made in this thread as to why it's fallacious and counterproductive. But let's assume I accept it for now. What action would like to have seen taken in this case, that was not taken in this case? Obviously (I hope), I'm specifically interested in action you think should have applied to these Syrian individuals that would not have applied to all other racial groups.
  • Do either of you have the foggiest idea what we're actually talking about? Perhaps you can make it clearer? What is it, exactly, are we talking about here? The neccessity of racial profiling? Jacobsen's reaction? What constitutes as suspicious behaviour on a plane? Frankly, I am somewhat confused by the arguments going on here. What are you advocating to replace the current TSA regulations? Where would you draw that middle line?
  • The necessity of racial profiling? I think racial profiling already exists. Why do you think air marshals were placed on that particular flight? Could it have been because a group of Muslim men had purchased tickets? And according to Jacobsen's account, both the crew and the air marshals were aware of the men's behavior and were watching carefully. Jacobsen's reaction? Although there have been claims that she almost caused a panic and endangered the marshals, I think she was just a jittery, paranoid air traveler. She told her concerns to the flight attendant privately and discreetly, and pretty much stayed in her seat the whole time. Is she a racist? I'm not going to call her that. She's just a woman who's afraid of terrorists blowing up her plane, and she gets paranoid when a group of "brown" men act strangely (to her). Would she have reacted the same way if they were white? No...but as I've said before, a group of "brown" men hijacked some planes in the past, and others have threatened to do it again. Her reaction is understandable. What constitutes as suspicious behavior on a plane? Obviously, what these guys did. At least the air marshals seemed to think so, since they were watching them intently. What she did wrong, was not let it go when it turned out to be a false alarm. The articles she wrote criticize the authorities for not doing enough, when it seemed to me they did do enough. I wouldn't argue if someone suggests there may be racist overtones to that aspect of the story.
  • " I wonder if you've bothered to read any of the tens of thousands of words that have been written about this incident so far." I've been wondering, too.
  • Not all Muslims are Arabs and not all Arabs are Muslims; just like not all Christians are white. Not a huge deal, but make an effort already.
  • That's beyond bizarre. I posted something lengthy here last night, and this morning it's gone. I don't want to sound paranoid, but I think that seems pretty weird given the reception that my remarks here have received. Oh well. I guess discourse was fun while it lasted. (I can't resist a parting shot, though. Wedge, take a look at the geography of the region. Practically all Arabs are required to be Muslim by the governments of the countries where they live. They aren't given a choice. Maybe you wanna rethink that analogy comparing Arab Muslims to white Christians, huh?)
  • Oh really, now? Article 26 Everyone has a guaranteed right to freedom of belief, thought and opinion. Article 27 Adherents of every religion have the right to practise their religious observances and to manifest their views through expression. practice or teaching, without prejudice to the rights of others. No restrictions shall be imposed on the exercise of freedom of belief, thought and opinion except as provided by law.
  • I don't want to sound paranoid, but I think that seems pretty weird given the reception that my remarks here have received. There have been a few comments gone ping! in the past, Jeffy-me-lad, for weird compooter reasons methinks. But the hot and sassy chick what is in charge of this place is not the kind to gag mouths. You dig?
  • Jeff: comments disappear (or appear twice) frequently. Unless what you posted was offensive in a breathtaking way, I'd suspect computer error rather than conscious censorship. I think tracicle would mention it to you if she'd deleted. (People like to argue, and unless someone's around to disagree, it gets boring. So, unlikely to muzzle you, though occassionally harass yes, alas).
  • meaning: what he said (and curse him, said better).
  • Estimated number of muslims worldwide: 1.2 billion Estimated number of muslims in US: 5-8 million Estimated number of Al-Qaeda operatives: Somewhere around several hundred to a few thousand. Ladies and Gentlemen, commence profiling!
  • Britain used to do a nice line of racial profiling - if you were Irish, we'd fit you up and through you in jail for 30 years. Didn't seem to help...
  • shawnj, not to sound snarky, but just because the Arab states have a piece of paper guaranteeing the right of religion doesn't mean it actually exists. Try going into Syria, Iran, or even Jordan and express your Christianity. Adherents of every religion have the right to practise their religious observances and to manifest their views through expression. practice or teaching, without prejudice to the rights of others. No restrictions shall be imposed on the exercise of freedom of belief, thought and opinion except as provided by law. That's the kicker. Or as Johnny Cochran might have put it, "If it ain't in the Koran, you all must ban!"
  • f8x: Iran is not an Arab country. Suha Arafat, wife of Yasser, was born Christian, and when she met the Pope in 2000 expressed concerns about the mass exodus of Christian Palestinians. links here. Boutros Boutros-Ghali former Secretary General of the UN, Egyptian, and a Coptic Christian. Not all Arabs are Muslims. The argument isn't about religious freedom in Arab states, it's about using correct terminology. The terms are not interchangeable.
  • Jordan - Not prefect, but not as you describe Syria - Much the same Iran - as ambrosia points out, not an Arab country.
  • Even Lebanon doesn't fit your stereotype!
  • On the disappearing comment, I never seriously meant to imply that I thought it had been deleted on purpose. I wrote that while I was sleepy and didn't proof carefully enough. As to the other stuff, I cannot believe you people are actually defending the Arab states on the grounds of religious liberty. States where religious police are allowed to walk the streets. States where apostasy is punished by public execution. Those Arab states. Linda Ronstadt gets fired for making an ass of herself on somebody else's nickel and it's first amendment this and first amendment that. The subject turns to the Arab states and suddenly it's, "But they're not technically required to be Muslims!" The disconnect between what's going on in the real world and the position you guys are coming from is... big. (My figurative language failed me.)
  • These posts are not defending religious police. (Though I would ask which countries, other than Iran which, as previously stated, is not an Arab country, have religious police? I don't know myself). They are trying to correct the incorrect assumption that Muslim=Arab and vice versa, particularly for the purposes of racial profiling. At my previous university, you often saw East Asian women in hijabs - they were from China and they were Muslim. Iranians speak Persian, an Indo-European language, and though some look Middle-Eastern, many look European. I myself (of English and Scottish genetic heritage)have been asked seriously if I was Turkish (another non Arabic, but majority Muslim state, though it is stridently secular). There are 100 million Pakistanis, most of whom are Muslim, but who are more likely to be mistaken for Indian than Arabic. And within Arabic-Muslim countries, there are minority religions, particularly Christians (as noted above). (Under the Ottoman empire, and by traditional Islamic teaching, Judaism and Christianity were respected as precursors to the true religion, and the adherants allowed more freedoms than Jews or Muslims were granted in Christian countries (mainly the freedom from pogroms) - but 20th century tensions have changed things.) The point is that you cannot tell that there are Muslims who do not look the least way Arabic, and there are Arabs who are not Muslims. All of this profiling is so messed up. I laugh (in a dry, bitter way) when I hear about Iranian Bahais (most of whom fled Iran after 1978 due to religious persecution - Christianity is respected in Iran, but not Bahai) being registered and profiled as possible Islamist terrorists. In Ontario, a Hindu temple was vandalised after Sept. 11. It's not just that it was a despicable act, which of course it was, but that the person who did it didn't even know that there is a difference between Hindus and Muslims (a difference which has caused much death and suffering from extremist violence on both sides). To the people who did that, they were all brown people, all having the same beliefs, the same allegiances. But more than that, I know people who study security and intelligence policy who tell me that racial profiling may even be counter-productive when working against terrorist organisations. In John Keegan's latest book, Intelligence and War, he is very clear that what is needed most to work against non traditional combatants (like terrorists or guerillas) is human intelligence. But racial profiling, particularly in the United States, is alienating the emmigre communities who are essential to this effort. If you treat most of the people who speak Arabic terribly, who will be your translators? If you arrest half of the men in the New York Pakistani community without good reason, causing them and their families great hardship, (see previous thread), why should they ever inform the CIA of rumours in their community? There are many very serious strategic mistakes that are currently being made in the current "War on Terror", as well as diplomatic mistakes, which are likely going to cause much much more trouble in the future.
  • I'm with you, Jeff. Sorry about including Iran in the Arab states list. It's a hodge podge of ethnicity, with only about 3% Arabs. Nonetheless, it's still one of the worst human rights offenders in that region, and a violent theocracy which suppresses/oppresses opposing religious views. From shawnj's first link: ...those who are members of religions not recognized by Shari’a law (members of religions other than Judaism, Christianity and Islam) and those who convert from Islam may face legal discrimination and bureaucratic difficulties in personal status cases. Well, hey, at least they allow 3 religions! Meanwhile, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and (until very recently) Iraq have strong histories of religious persecution. Lebanon is basically run by Syria, and the factional religious fighting between the Muslims and Christians makes any kind of religious freedoms over there a joke.
  • jb, good thoughts there. I myself am not necessarily in favour of racial profiling, however, to a certain extent, to me it makes sense, and it doesn't have to denote a persecution or oppression of the subjects.
  • Ah, just forget it. I mean, why listen to logic and evidence when you can fall back on prejudice and ignorance? /takes ball and goes home.
  • The disconnect between what's going on in the real world and the position you guys are coming from is... big. Ah...yes, there it is. The "Real World" the conservatives live in as opposed to the unreal one everyone who doesn't share their views lives in. I was wondering when that one was gonna rear its ugly head. Honestly, what makes you so sure you're living in the real world and the rest of us aren't?
  • Though I would ask which countries, other than Iran which, as previously stated, is not an Arab country, have religious police? Saudi Arabia for one. (I got that by typing "Saudi Arabia religious police" into Google and clicking the first link that came up.) I believe Jordan, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt either have them now or had them in the recent past. Not sure about the other Gulf states. They are trying to correct the incorrect assumption that Muslim=Arab and vice versa Okay, let's talk about that. The assumption that a young Arab man is a Muslim may or may not be incorrect depending on the circumstances. You're not talking about an assumption; you're talking about a generalization. Guess what? The generalization is true. Most Arabs are Muslim. Every one? No. But that does not invalidate the generalization. If you pull an Arab man out of a crowd at random, there's about an 8-out-of-10 chance that he's Muslim. (Source: CIA World Fact Book and some basic arithmetic.) (Are most Muslims Arabs? No, the ratio is about one in five. But nobody has said anything about that, so I'm not sure how that came up. Did I misspeak and not correct myself? If so, here's my correction. Sorry.) The point is that you cannot tell that there are Muslims who do not look the least way Arabic, and there are Arabs who are not Muslims. But—and I'm repeating myself here—it was Arab Muslims who attacked us in 1993. It was Arab Muslims who declared war on us in 1997. It was Arab Muslims who destroyed our embassies in Africa, who blew up the Khobar Towers, who tried to sink the USS Cole and who killed nearly 3,000 people on 9/11. And something like 80% of Arabs are Muslim. So looking at the Arabs who enter our country more closely is not unreasonable. Prohibiting our security personnel from taking race into account when screening air passengers is absurd. All of this profiling is so messed up. See? Right there. Look more closely. Do you see what you did? You put taking race into account when screening airline passengers on the same level as vandalizing churches, and then painted them both with the same broad brush. You have thus far been unwilling to acknowledge that there is a difference between noticing somebody's race at a security checkpoint and what I think could reasonably be called a hate crime. Is there any way I can talk you down off of that rhetorical ledge? Is there any way I can convince you to consider the merits of security procedures in a more circumspect fashion? I know people who study security and intelligence policy who tell me that racial profiling may even be counter-productive when working against terrorist organisations. Remember, we're talking about airport checkpoints here, not the CIA. The best practices of our intelligence-gathering agencies will not necessarily apply to uniformed agents checking ID's and waving the metal-detector wand. If you treat most of the people who speak Arabic terribly, who will be your translators? Been to an airport lately? Been through secondary screening? It ain't exactly Auschwitz. We're not talking about a World War II-style internment here. We're talking about taking an extra couple of minutes to look through the bags of airline passengers. This obviously does no harm. I mean, seriously: it's obvious that it does nobody any harm. If it interdicts, deters, or even slightly hinders terrorist activity, isn't it a good idea?
  • This obviously does no harm. I mean, seriously: it's obvious that it does nobody any harm. If it interdicts, deters, or even slightly hinders terrorist activity, isn't it a good idea? Sure. just do it to everyone.
  • Actually, I travelled recently on Air India, and they do give everyone an extra screening just before boarding the plane. Even the little kids - who then get handed their complimentary colouring books and crayons. No one minded, and I felt quite safe. They also have very nice flight attendants. I did not mean to say that racial profiling is a hate crime (though it is a form of systematic discrimination, which is against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms) - but that it is a very blunt weapon which often goes awry. How did the woman on the plane (the woman that the post is about) even know that the men were Muslim? She knew only that they were brown, and had arabic clothing. My friend is Arabic looking, and carries Arabic books on planes (he studies middle eastern history); he is also Canadian and his religion is Bahai. Perhaps he should not be allowed to do his class readings on a plane for fear of scaring someone; maybe my book on the English Agricultural Revolution should be taken away too for fear of disturbing any one (I know I am very disturbed by it). My point was that racial profiling is inefficient - and in the hands of " uniformed agents checking ID's and waving the metal-detector wand" it easily extends to all people of a certain colour, regardless of religion. I brought up the Hindu temple to express my frustration at people who will hate without even understanding the situation, an example where race was used to group people - and a mistake easily made in airports across the US. It would not have been right if it had been a Mosque, but at least it wouldn't have been both evil and deeply stupid. My second point was that security professionals have found that it makes their work more difficult. It does not hinder terrorist activity, even in the slightest - they can just use agents who do not fit the profiles, as mentioned above. But it does greatly hinders the ability of those who are trying to combat terrorism to do their job. The people they rely on to pass on information are being systematically alienated by even the best profiling. This may even be the reason that the TWA has banned racial profiling.
  • just do it to everyone. So you'd like to see the grandmother and the seven-year-old screened in the same way as the 21-year-old Yemeni man with the crazed look in his eye, the one-way ticket, the expired visa, and the "Ask me about my 72 virgins" tee shirt? The idea here is to come up with a good policy, not to alternate between comparably stupid ones. I did not mean to say that racial profiling is a hate crime (though it is a form of systematic discrimination, which is against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms) That's completely false. We covered this before, somewhere in that vast expanse of text up-thread. If someone were singled out for secondary screening solely because of his race and for no other reason, that would be discrimination. Using race or national original as a contributing factor, however, is not. How did the woman on the plane (the woman that the post is about) even know that the men were Muslim? She knew only that they were brown, and had arabic clothing. Please read her article. She never said they were Muslim. She said they were "Middle Eastern." She described them as looking Arab, carrying blue passports with Arabic writing and wearing clothing displaying Arabic writing. Furthermore, it wasn't the men's race or appearance that bothered her. It was their behavior. Seriously, there's too much detail in her account to go cutting and pasting. Please read it. My point was that racial profiling is inefficient So you're alleging that removing the two-passengers-of-each-race limit would make us less secure in our airports instead of more secure? I'm not buying it. We're talking about allowing security personnel to screen anyone on the flight regardless of how many people of that person's race they've screened already. I don't see how that could have a negative effect. My second point was that security professionals have found that it makes their work more difficult. That's not what you cited, though. You cited Keegan, who was talking about intelligence gathering, not airport or facility security. And since the set of people who fly on domestic airlines and the set of people from whom we're trying to gather foreign intelligence are almost completely disjoint, your point just doesn't persuade me. It does not hinder terrorist activity, even in the slightest - they can just use agents who do not fit the profiles, as mentioned above. The groups who have attacked us in the recent past are made up almost entirely of young Arab men. Forcing them to recruit and train non-Arab men is, in and of itself, a hinderance. Especially considering that we've got the 82nd Airborne bunking in their training camps. Furthermore, what evidence do you have to support your assertion that secondary screening alienates anybody? Is it possible that you're just projecting here?
  • So you'd like to see the grandmother and the seven-year-old screened in the same way as the 21-year-old Yemeni man with the crazed look in his eye, the one-way ticket, the expired visa, and the "Ask me about my 72 virgins" tee shirt? Wow, nice rhetoric. The conservative pundits would be proud. Here's the thing, the terrorists aren't as stupid as you'd like to believe. They're not gonna make themselves too obvious. The guys on the planes on 9/11 weren't wearing "I'm with Osama" t-shirts, they had no crazed looks in their eyes, they looked like any other flier. Timothy McVeigh looked like any cornfed Midwestern boy. So yes, everyone should be screened, within reason. If that seven-year-old is someone's mule, she's gonna get stuff through if you're not paying attention. Same with the grandmother. There are more elements to the equation than the obvious ones. The groups who have attacked us in the recent past are made up almost entirely of young Arab men. Forcing them to recruit and train non-Arab men is, in and of itself, a hinderance. Especially considering that we've got the 82nd Airborne bunking in their training camps. You really believe that? I suggest you get out of your "Real World" and join the rest of us in this one, where the threats and soluttions to them aren't obvious and the reasons for things happening aren't black and white.
  • You are right, she did not say Muslim, but "middle-eastern." I guess that means she suspects Isrealis of terrorism against the United States. But surlyboi is right - you should watch the 72 year old woman and the seven year old child. Both the Palistinians and the Tamil Tigers (notably not Muslim) have used women and children as suicide bombers. They did that because they were more likely to pass the screeners. And I have just described how Air India gives everyone a second screening, which was also very polite and efficient - and bothered no one, because no one felt targetted. By security, I don't mean simply airport security, though of course they are included. "Security and intelligence" is the professional jargon for people who are trying to stop terrorism, including military and non-military intelligence gathering. Actually, most of the points I made are not my own, but those of my friend who just reviewed Keegan's book for an international relations journal. And the communities that intelligence needs to be gotten from are not necessarily foreign - they also need the cooperation of emigre communities, aka immigrants (Emigre should have an accent, but that's my poor ASCII skills, as well as spelling). Those people are being alienated - unless you think that being arrested and held without charge is a fun experience (please read the article previously cited on Monkeyfilter about Pakistani men). I know I shouldn't project, but I just have this awful habit of assuming that other people are people as well, who are more like me than not, and who deserve the same civil rights.
  • Wow, nice rhetoric. The conservative pundits would be proud. Flatterer. You make me blush. Here's the thing, the terrorists aren't as stupid as you'd like to believe. Sometimes they are. Remember the "shoe bomber?" He was a wild-eyed Arab man who checked no bags and paid for his one-way ticket in cash. And he had a shoe packed full of explosives which would have been detected easily if he'd be taken aside for secondary screening. What should have been an easily thwarted attack became a near-miss saved only by the swift actions of both passengers and attendants sitting near him. It's important that we don't underestimate the cleverness of our enemies. But it's equally important that we don't overestimate it and open up the door to an unsophisticated attack. I suggest you get out of your "Real World" and join the rest of us in this one, where the threats and soluttions to them aren't obvious and the reasons for things happening aren't black and white. Not to be rude, but that was pretty content-free, you know? You are right, she did not say Muslim, but "middle-eastern." I guess that means she suspects Isrealis of terrorism against the United States. Talk about missing the point. Remember all the stuff about how it was their actions plus their ethnicity that raised concern? Try as you might to make this a question of race discrimination, it just isn't happening. And I have just described how Air India gives everyone a second screening, which was also very polite and efficient - and bothered no one, because no one felt targetted. Okay. That sounds reasonable to me. But doesn't that approach just raise the bar of both primary and secondary screenings? If you look at everybody more closely, are you just going to stop there? Aren't you still going to have to make decisions about which passengers should be considered more carefully. Going back to the "shoe bomber" again, the first time he tried to carry out his plan he was taken aside by security personnel in Paris and questioned for so long that his missed his flight and had to try again the next day. Even if we make the primary screening more rigorous, we're still going to have to make decisions at the checkpoints, which brings us right back to this discussion. Actually, most of the points I made are not my own, but those of my friend who just reviewed Keegan's book for an international relations journal. I'm a little confused. Have you read the book, or were you citing a review of the book? Those people are being alienated - unless you think that being arrested and held without charge is a fun experience If we were talking about arresting people, you might have a point. We're not. We're talking about swabbing people's shoes to look for explosives residue. We're talking about opening people's carry-on bags. We're talking about asking a few questions before letting them on the plane. We're also talking about airport security, not global intelligence gathering. I ask again: do you have anything to back up your assertion that airport screening is a significant impediment to our intelligence-gathering services? I'm not demanding a bibliography or anything like that; thoughtful reasoning will do. It just seems to me that somebody who gets pissed off that there are three Arabs in line for secondary screening on the Boston-to-Washington shuttle isn't a prime candidate for agency recruitment in the first place. I'm talking about tangible benefits; you're talking about speculative harms. You see?
  • I read the post 1945 chapters of Keegan's book, and the conclusions (which summarise his points for the c1780-1945 parts). (It's actually not that good - my friend thinks he is right when he says that in the current conflicts human intelligence (rather than signals or other kinds of intelligence) is the most important, but other things he says betrays the fact that he is essentially a very traditional military historian and strategist, and he has little experience with intelligence studies, or with strategy in non-tradition forms of conflict.) The reason I cited the person who wrote the review is that a) he knows much more than I do about this sort of thing, and b) we often discuss public policy, and he brings up these concerns from a purely security and intelligence point of view (rather than human rights, which is its own issue). We're not just talking about people being recruited to agencies, though notably enough, there was an Arab secret service member who was denied permission to fly back to his duty. Perhaps you don't understand how human intelligence works. You also need the cooperation of civilians, and in the case of international terrorism, that often means civilians in emigre communities. They are the ones who hear rumours, who hear about people hiding, or passing money or supplies. No, racial profiling in screening is not as serious as arrests. But it continues to foster the same attitude of suspicion and distrust that most of the posters have seen in the author of this article. Ask people who are pulled over for "driving while black." Nothing bad has happened to them, right? Just a few questions, just a little inconvenience. So why is it bad? Because it tells them that they are always being watched, that they, unlike any other American, are not presumed innocent until proven guilty. But I am afraid that you have not presented tangible benefits, while someone who knows more about these things than you or me tells me that there already has been tangible harm.
  • Flatterer. You make me blush. You wouldn't blush if you truly knew what I thought of most conservative pundits. Not to be rude, but that was pretty content-free, you know? As content free as your ramblings about "The Real World" you supposedly inhabit and us "liberals" don't. Pray, enlighten us, oh master, so that we may grow in your wisdom. I'm talking about tangible benefits; you're talking about speculative harms. You see? Your tangible benefits only marginalize a segment of the population and give the ringleaders further cause to whip the more susceptable candidates into a frenzy of America hatred.
  • Oh - I do have something new to add to the conversation. In discussing this thread with my friend (the intelligence scholar), he mentioned that one of the strengths of Isreali screening is that they do screen everyone, asking questions like where they are going, what they are going to do. They are apparently very well trained, and are able to pick out terrorists through their reactions to these questions. Though this does remind me of a story I once heard from a North American who flew an Isreali airline - because her name was Jewish, they wanted her to sing some traditional Jewish songs, and she blanked on them. That was a very scary moment for her, her travel resting on the creaky memory of some nursery rhymes. But she got it in the end. :)
  • AH! I'm so sorry. Just as I hit post I saw that I had misspelled Israeli all through the post. So so sorry.
  • Nice work, Jeff. Banana for keeping the tone high.
  • Perhaps you don't understand how human intelligence works. We're getting pretty far out there, I think. I'm happy to concede that it's possible an Arab American or foreign national of Arab extraction might get annoyed by being screened at the airport if you're willing to concede that we can't draw a straight line between that and our intelligence-gathering agencies. Ask people who are pulled over for "driving while black." Nothing bad has happened to them, right? I can't think of any who subsequently signed up with al-Tawhid. But maybe that's just my ignorance. But I am afraid that you have not presented tangible benefits Impeding terrorist activity is a tangible benefit. You wouldn't blush if you truly knew what I thought of most conservative pundits. You aren't exactly keeping those cards close to your vest, Surly. Pray, enlighten us, oh master, so that we may grow in your wisdom. Honest to God, I can't even tell what you're talking about any more through all the sarcasm. Your tangible benefits only marginalize a segment of the population and give the ringleaders further cause to whip the more susceptable candidates into a frenzy of America hatred. If it's a frenzy of hatred you're looking for, I can suggest you start with a few web sites. You're not seriously suggesting that airport security is going to inspire terrorism, are you? Did you know that that idea was absurd when you typed it the first time, or has it only occurred to you in retrospect? I don't mean to be rude, but come on. Isn't that your thesis here? That airport security that takes race into account is bad because it might annoy somebody who might, possibly, potentially decide to throw his lot in with the terrorists. Two problems with that. First of all, that's way too many "maybes" in a row. Secondly, you're ascribing a rational thought process to people who are demonstrably irrational. A terrorist is as likely to get mad at America because we cancelled "Baywatch." But that doesn't mean that Hasselhoff's stock is on the rise. In discussing this thread with my friend (the intelligence scholar), he mentioned that one of the strengths of Isreali screening is that they do screen everyone, asking questions like where they are going, what they are going to do. Yes, I've heard that too. The way I heard it, the screeners can ask you any question they want, and if they don't like your answer, or even the way you answer, you don't get to fly that day. I don't think I would object to that, as long as we could do it efficiently. If it took two hours to get through security because of all the questioning, that'd just be a waste of a lot of people's time, I think. But on its face, I think it's a good idea.
  • Honest to God, I can't even tell what you're talking about any more through all the sarcasm. You're not that dense. But here it is, no sarcasm, nothing but the question: How is your world any more real than mine? You brought up the concept of the "real world" and you've yet to define it. Please do so now. If it's a frenzy of hatred you're looking for, I can suggest you start with a few web sites. Yeah, I saw your screed about Carter. Nice. You're not seriously suggesting that airport security is going to inspire terrorism, are you? Yes I am. Did you know that that idea was absurd when you typed it the first time, or has it only occurred to you in retrospect? And it's not as absurd as you'd like it to be. Just as people of all stripes latch on to kernels of ideas here fostered by the publicity machines of the right and left, so too do potential terrorists in and out of the US latch on to the messages thrown out by Bin Ladin and others of his ilk. Never underestimate the power of suggestion especially on those under duress. Why did Timothy McVeigh blow up that building in Oklahoma? I don't mean to be rude, but come on. Isn't that your thesis here? That airport security that takes race into account is bad because it might annoy somebody who might, possibly, potentially decide to throw his lot in with the terrorists. No, I'm saying, as I said above, racial profiling can be used against us as yet another piece of propaganda. ("Look how they treat anyone that even looks like you, my brothers. This is yet another reason the great satan must be defeated") Much along the lines of the way the word "liberal" has become a bad thing in this country. The power of words is remarkable sometimes. Two problems with that. First of all, that's way too many "maybes" in a row. Secondly, you're ascribing a rational thought process to people who are demonstrably irrational. A terrorist is as likely to get mad at America because we cancelled "Baywatch." But that doesn't mean that Hasselhoff's stock is on the rise. Wow, nice pop psychological diagnosis there. And where, praytell, did you gain your insight into the terrorist mind? Or are you being facetious? These people have some true grievances and most of them are far from irrational.
  • Yes, but a true grievance shouldn't arise from getting screened at an airport. If someone decides to go all "Osama" on us just because he got a little extra screening at security, well, in my opinion, that's irrational. And surly, I'm curious where you've gained your insight into the terrorist mind? /Genuinely curious, not snarky
  • I'm a member of the IRA
  • Yes, but a true grievance shouldn't arise from getting screened at an airport. If someone decides to go all "Osama" on us just because he got a little extra screening at security, well, in my opinion, that's irrational. If it were simply that, I'd agree with you. But it's not that clear cut. It never is. It never will be. And surly, I'm curious where you've gained your insight into the terrorist mind? /Genuinely curious, not snarky Interpol case studies, among other things. I've got a few connections in a few agencies who would prefer to remain unnamed. I've also spoken to people in and from the Middle East. And f8x, you never have to throw in the non-snarky disclaimer. I may not agree with you most of the time, but there's a certain level of respect there... =)
  • This is besides the point somewhat and might spark a whole 'nother argument, but I saw this and couldn't resist: Ask people who are pulled over for "driving while black." Nothing bad has happened to them, right? LA riots? You treat people differently, unfairly, based on race and you're asking for trouble. Seems like a good exmaple of why racial profiling is bad. Screening everyone would be a) fairer, b) safer, and c) an inconvenience that, in theory, most people could appreciate.
  • Yeah, I saw your screed about Carter. The "screed" in which I was asked why conservatives hate President Carter and replied that we don't hate him but then explained at length what our issues are? Yeah. I'm a real bastard. (I won't turn down free publicity. The "screed" in question is right here. Y'all should all go read it so you can see how I drip with hatred and bile.) No, I'm saying, as I said above, racial profiling can be used against us as yet another piece of propaganda. So can the fact that we cancelled "Baywatch." Should we put it back on so we don't piss off any psychopaths? These people have some true grievances and most of them are far from irrational. Hear this now, and remember it later: I do not care. Okay? I don't care if an American ran over Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's puppy when he was a kid. Whatever your complaint is, no matter how legitimate it might be, not matter how right you are, you cannot blow people up to make your point. Conversely, there is no grievance, no matter how serious, that can drive a sane person to commit an act of terrorism. It just can't happen. If you're sane, then you're not going to detonate yourself in a pizza parlor, period. The minute a partisan becomes a terrorist, the legitimacy of his bitch goes right out the window. It's not relevant. It's not mitigating. It's not something anyone can give a moment's thought to. Let me repeat myself because apparently you're not on board with the whole thing that's going on here: we are fighting a war to eliminate terrorism as an ideology and as a tactic. Every time you say, "these people have grievances," you make that job just a little bit harder. Why? Because the next time some psychopath with a Semtex vest wants to have his grievances heard, he's going to head for the nearest bus stop. While you're certainly free to say whatever you want, you should try to remember that words have consequences, and you should take a moment to think about whether your words are improving the situation or making it worse. The idea here is that we want to live in a world where people with grievances use peaceful, or at least non-violent, means for getting them addressed. Crashing a plane into a building is not an acceptable way of lodging a complaint. You treat people differently, unfairly, based on race and you're asking for trouble. How many times do I have to say it? Seriously, how many times will I have to repeat this before everybody hears it? Nobody has advocated basing security policy on race. Rather, I (and apparently nobody else, but that's okay) am advocating taking the shackles off the hands of our security personnel and letting them screen whomever they want regardless of race.
  • Whatever your complaint is, no matter how legitimate it might be, not matter how right you are, you cannot blow people up to make your point. I agree. I wish all Americans had been as appalled by terrorism as a tactic as you are, Jeff, for the thirty years before 2001.
  • Hear this now, and remember it later: I do not care. Okay?
    We already knew that, but thanks for clarifying.
    I don't care if an American ran over Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's puppy when he was a kid.
    What about the American bomb that blew up his mother?
    Whatever your complaint is, no matter how legitimate it might be, not matter how right you are, you cannot blow people up to make your point.
    You may want to take that argument up with the president and the 9000+ civvies killed in Iraq since last March. Tell that to the Irish Americans that supported the IRA for 30 years. Tell it to the CIA agents that propped up the Sandinistas during Reagan's watch. I could give you more examples, but I think you get my drift.
    Conversely, there is no grievance, no matter how serious, that can drive a sane person to commit an act of terrorism. It just can't happen. If you're sane, then you're not going to detonate yourself in a pizza parlor, period.
    Eh, that's debatable. I've thought for the last 12 years or so that sane people wouldn't vote Republican. Go figure.
    The minute a partisan becomes a terrorist, the legitimacy of his bitch goes right out the window. It's not relevant. It's not mitigating. It's not something anyone can give a moment's thought to.
    And who's the final arbiter of the difference between a partisan and a terrorist? You? And if so, why? What experience do you have that gives you the ability to make that decision?
    Let me repeat myself because apparently you're not on board with the whole thing that's going on here: we are fighting a war to eliminate terrorism as an ideology and as a tactic.
    No, we are not fighting a war to eliminate terrorism. Our soldiers are. What have you done personally to combat terrorism in the last three years? Back during World War II, people made sacrifices to help the war effort, this administration's admonition to America? Keep shopping.
    Every time you say, "these people have grievances," you make that job just a little bit harder. Why? Because the next time some psychopath with a Semtex vest wants to have his grievances heard, he's going to head for the nearest bus stop.
    Oh, please. If, according to your reasoning, these people are insane, they don't need a reason to go blow up the nearest bus stop. They'll do it for shits and giggles.
    While you're certainly free to say whatever you want, you should try to remember that words have consequences, and you should take a moment to think about whether your words are improving the situation or making it worse.
    Wow, a point I've been trying to make for the last day or so. And you came to it on your own. Words do have consequences, as do actions. I've said as much repeatedly through the last few posts. You've seemed to ignore it, but maybe I did get through. So you think about this just as hard. Our actions have consequences worldwide. We must consider what we do carefully, moreso than any other nation because we are the only remaining superpower. We live under a microscope and every word, every action can have dire consequences. Consider whether your words and actions are making the situation better or worse.
  • I've thought for the last 12 years or so that sane people wouldn't vote Republican. In case you're wondering, that's where I stopped reading. I've tried my damnedest to keep this discussion civil and positive. Some folks have let me know that they appreciate that, and I'm glad of it. But you, as near as I can tell, don't give a tinker's dam about being civil or positive. If you wanna play nice, by all means let me know.
  • In case you're wondering, that's where I stopped reading. Fine, rebut the argument up 'til there.
  • Actually, on second thought, don't bother. Because if that's your idea of being uncivil, and you're not actually turtling, I'm pretty sure you're not equipped to continue this discussion.
  • What I was saying about the problems for intellugence gathering of alienating emigre communities does NOT mean that that I was saying they would be so alienated as to become terrorists. (Well, some have, but that is a much more complex issue, and I think perhaps primarily a UK rather than a US issue). I meant that if you alienate the community through racial profiling, at airports as well as elsewhere in life, they will not be so willing to cooperate with information. I am not an intelligence expert (though I do know one), so this example may not be fully accurate. I ask that no one waste everyone's time by taking it apart bit by bit, but to please understand the overall point (one which I feel I have made several times without it being understood). So let's say I am someone with connections in any of the several Muslim emigre communities in the US, and I hear about suspicious activity. Would I go to the police or FBI with my knowledge? What if I have been subject to frequent searches and harassment when flying? This wouldn't make me a terrorist - but it might make me wary of approaching authoritym for fear that it would implicate me as well. What my friend spoke of was this king of loss of good will - good will that might not seem very important to the average citizen, but which is essential if any progress in human intelligence against terrorism is to succeed. Whereas there are too many questions about whether profiling does increase security, since organisations will move away from the obvious. Shoe bombers aside (we might point out that as a measure of competency this may be a poor measure, as he was unable even to light his shoe), when other organisations have been faced with profiling, they just change their mode. Drug dealers use children as mules; women appear as suicide bombers in Israel. tracicle - That was actually the kind of point I was making, though you did so more pointedly :) That kind of relatively minor but constant harassment and discrimination wears away at people and creates great resentment.
  • Thank you, jb. For breaking it down much more simply than I've been able to thus far.
  • I'm pretty sure you're not equipped to continue this discussion. As far as your contributions go, Surly, it ceased to be a discussion a long time ago. Which is fine, I guess, but when you comport yourself like an ass you shouldn't be surprised when folks just walk away. Well, some have, but that is a much more complex issue, and I think perhaps primarily a UK rather than a US issue. This is entirely news to me. Can you tell me more? Somebody in the UK got so annoyed with airport security that he became a terrorist? I meant that if you alienate the community through racial profiling, at airports as well as elsewhere in life, they will not be so willing to cooperate with information. I understand your point. I really think that I do. I'm just saying that you're expressing a hypothetical here. Taking the race-based limits off of our security screeners might annoy somebody enough to actively support terrorism, but I'm pretty sure that anybody who's that tightly wound is going to find some excuse sooner or later anyway. Net result: nil. Let's get back around to the point: are you saying that you think letting security personnel screen passengers regardless of their race would "alienate" Arab Americans? I'm not expressing incredulity; I'm asking for clarification. (If you affirm that that is, in fact, what you're saying, then I'll express incredulity. ;-) ) So let's say I am someone with connections in any of the several Muslim emigre communities in the US, and I hear about suspicious activity. Would I go to the police or FBI with my knowledge? The thing to consider, in your example, is the question of what kind of information do you have? Do you know about a terrorist plot in the works? If so, are you seriously going to withhold that information from the authorities, knowing full well that innocent people will almost certainly die if you do nothing, just because you counted three Arabs in line for screening at the TWA terminal last Christmas? It's all well and good to talk in absolute terms about this will alienate that and whatever. But when I consider the context, it seems to me that anybody who would withhold vital information because of something so trivial probably wouldn't help the authorities under even the best of circumstances. So the net benefit of lifting the race-based restrictions is positive, while the net harm is, to me, slim to none. we might point out that as a measure of competency this may be a poor measure, as he was unable even to light his shoe On the other side of the coin, he was able to get a weapon onto a US-bound commercial flight, a feat that no other terrorist has been able to accomplish since 9/11. when other organisations have been faced with profiling, they just change their mode. Drug dealers use children as mules; women appear as suicide bombers in Israel. That's an excellent argument. I buy that argument, completely, 100%. Except we're not talking about profiling in this place or at this time. We're talking about removing a race-based restriction from the regulations governing airport security procedures.
  • As far as your contributions go, Surly, it ceased to be a discussion a long time ago. Which is fine, I guess, but when you comport yourself like an ass you shouldn't be surprised when folks just walk away You're the first to ever walk away. People like f8x, fes and goetter have stuck it out. Why can't you? And please, show me exactly where I've comported myself like an ass. Not to make this tit-for-tat, but I bet I can find just as many examples of your bad behavior in this thread. Care to compare?
  • Care to not? ...said with nothing but love, of course. jb, I realised what your point was - after I reacted a bit too quickly. You're much more eloquent than me/I. :)
  • Actually, Surly, I'm pretty checked out except for the occasional snippy and non-productive one-liner. I will say that your nym fits, and it's a mode which is most tiring to read. To my eyes, Jeff writes without those snarky fuckyous between every line. You may call this turtling, if you wish. One point: Tell it to the CIA agents that propped up the Sandinistas during Reagan's watch. Propped up the Sandinistas? You mean all those Reagan-hating CISPES types in the 80s had it wrong?
  • Actually, Surly, I'm pretty checked out except for the occasional snippy and non-productive one-liner. I will say that your nym fits, and it's a mode which is most tiring to read. To my eyes, Jeff writes without those snarky fuckyous between every line.
    In all fairness, the snarky fuckyous were between every three lines and came only after he danced around repeated requests for a definition of the "real world"
    You may call this turtling, if you wish.
    Actually, I don't. At least, not in your case. And you caught me on the sandinistas, in my haste to respond I threw them in instead of the contras. Apologies there. Apologies also to Trac. I will recuse myself from further bickering.
  • Ah, jb, everything you've said here has been so rational. I think your reason and calmness will take you far. And, surlyboi yes! They should check everyone, maybe from the time the tickets are purchased. I've not flown often since 9/11, but I've always arrived hours early on the theory that they were going to. And, I'm a very anglo, grandmotherly type. And Jeff, I have to agree with so many of the commenters. The problem with Jacobson is that she wrote those articles after the situation had been defused. Her, "Oh, my! I got scared and want everyone to get scanred because of my panic, even though there was no actual threat" is drama queen stuff.Continued
  • Jeff, you chose to take this into a broader discussion. And your statement that you hadn't decided whether Islam was allowed to be a part of civilization means nothing. It's not you who gets to decide. They are a part of civilization and have been for centuries. Some of them are peace loving and and the some of them aren't, just like the rest of the sects that make up our world. There have been many citations of other sects which practice terrorism, but you haven't responded to those. There are a bunch of middle eastern blogs out there. Go find and read them. You'll encouter wildly different opinions. Read the ones you don't agee with for a while to get a sense of the emotions that those differing opinions are based on, and think about how you would feel if you were Muslim rather than Christian or even secular western - when the opinions of people like you were directed at your faith or geografy. Yes, some Muslims have directed their frustration and anger at our faith and/or geography, but how does that make tham any different from you? I'm not comparing you with folks like3 Bin Ladin, but there are as many differing opinion as we have here on Moneyfilter. How do you know you're the one with the right opinion? Sidhartha said "opinions are meaningless" a lot of years ago, and I believe he was right. What we're doing here is trying to sort those opiions out, and to decide whether there is any hard evidence that we should change our opinions, since that's how most of us operate. So far, you've failed to convince me that your opinion is right. So far, you haven't convinced me that I should change mine. Go do some (non-I love this link because it agrees with me) research. but you haven't found the roots of Islam, or realized that not all Mulsims are cut from the same cloth. And, again, this is not the subject of this post. If you want to do a screed on way all Muslims are evil, why don't you do another FFP where we can really take you to task?
  • Fear leads to Anger, Anger leads to Hate, Hate...leads to Suffering.
  • And Suffering leads to Relief, which is spelled R-O-L-A-I-D-E-S.
  • I dunno, I'm a pepto fan myself. I guess you could say I'm a pinko...
  • And your statement that you hadn't decided whether Islam was allowed to be a part of civilization means nothing. It's not you who gets to decide. Well, that's a mischaracterization of what I said, first of all. I said that I haven't decided whether Islam is compatible with civilization. That is, it may be that a global conflict between Western civilization and Islam is coming, and that the only way to avoid it is for Islam to evolve into a religion and a culture that eschews terrorism and xenophobia and that embraces, or at the very least tolerates, pluralism. But beyond that, of course I get to decide. Everybody gets to decide. Everybody gets to have an opinion. There have been many citations of other sects which practice terrorism, but you haven't responded to those. I don't know what kind of response you want. No, terrorism is not unique to Islam, or to Islamists. (Islam plus totalitarian theocracy equals Islamism, more or less.) But that doesn't change the fact that Islam, as a religion and as a culture, embraces and encourages violence against and even war with non-Muslims. Let's take the IRA, an example which so many people here have brought up. The IRA embraced terrorism despite the teachings of both Catholic and Protestant churches that it was a terrible offense against the will of God. Islamist terrorism is just the opposite: Islamists embrace terrorism because they believe that it is the will of God. Yes, some Muslims have directed their frustration and anger at our faith and/or geography, but how does that make tham any different from you? I've never blown anybody up, for starters. (Did I misunderstand your question? It seems like I must have, because as I'm reading it, the question is absurd. Please clarify for me?) How do you know you're the one with the right opinion? That's what it all comes down to, and I think it's a fair question. I believe I'm right on this because I believe that terrorism is an absolute evil. The only thing I can think of to compare it to is slavery. The practice of slavery—of taking other human beings as property—is an absolute evil. There's no set of circumstances that mitigates or justifies slavery. Whether it's racial, as in early America, or not, as in ancient Greece and Rome, slavery is an absolute wrong. So is terrorism. I don't care how badly you've been oppressed, I don't care how wrongly you've been treated, I don't care how desperate you are. Terrorism is never justified, ever. Violence can be justified. Even cold-blooded murder can be justified. But terrorism can never be justified. That's why I think I'm the one who has the right opinion. If you want to do a screed on way all Muslims are evil, why don't you do another FFP where we can really take you to task? FFP? Sorry, help me out on the jargon. I'm new around here. And finally: is anybody else noticing the irony here? There are some folks who love to hop up and down on the word "nuance" and accuse conservatives of lacking it. They love to accuse conservatives of seeing the world in terms of black and white. But in this case, I, a conservative, am expressing what I think to be a fairly clear position that happens to be neither black nor white, and all I'm hearing from my respected opponents on the issue is that (1) I'm arguing for racial profiling, and (2) I think all Muslims are evil. I guess what goes around comes around.
  • ffp (which should be fpp)=front page post - posting a link to something interesting to the front page (And I think we should discourage tit for tat political postings to the front page, really. That way madness lies...)
  • No, you do not get to decide if Islam is a part of civilization or not. As quidnunc's extremely funny post (well above) and path's very thoughtful post (just above) make clear, Islam is and always has been a part of Western Civilization. Much of the ancient heritage of that Western Civilization only exists because it was preserved in the Arabic and Islamic world when the rest of Europe was imploding into chaos and violence. Let's take the IRA, an example which so many people here have brought up. The IRA embraced terrorism despite the teachings of both Catholic and Protestant churches that it was a terrible offense against the will of God. Islamist terrorism is just the opposite: Islamists embrace terrorism because they believe that it is the will of God. Or perhaps we should take the Crusaders as an example, who embraced invasion because they believed it was the will of God, or the centuries of pogroms against Jews, which only ended with after the Holocaust (At Lincoln cathedral, you can read about massacres of the local Jewish people in the middle ages - they were accused of murdering a little boy. There was no evidence, but that did not matter - only their religion did). Perhaps these are too far back in time for most people, but I am always aware of how very short human time is. Perhaps Timothy McVeigh would be a better example, or David Koresh. Or those who murder women and doctors at abortion clinics - because they believe that it is the will of God. How much of the domestic terror cause by the KKK is justified by their religion? Sure, some mainstream churches, as with many of the Muslim congregations around the world, have repudiated such violence - but until every single Christian church in the world denounces it, your logic would suggest that we should question whether Christianity is incompatible with civilization. Nor is this violence always against the teaching of their religion - I don't know about the IRA, but I do know that Protestant preachers happily stirred up violence against Catholics in eighteenth century England, and Christian ministers in the US continue to do so against gays and doctors who perform abortions. I happen to think it is against the true meaning of the religion, but that is my interpretation of Christianity. Apparently they pay more attention to the Old Testament than I do. There are some people who may feel that any religion who holds its own absolute correctness (and the falsness of others) as a major tenant may not be compatible with a world civilization. That is probably for another debate, and would make a good one if we all stayed reasonable and polite. But no religion has a patent on violence. Hindus and Muslims alike perpetrate violence in Gujarat - can you read this and honestly find one side worse than the other? Just figuring out who started the pattern of violence is impossible. Sikhism is a beautiful religion that promotes honour and peace, but that didn't stop some militants from perpetuating the terrorist act which has killed the most people in Canadian history. Even Buddhist monks, against stereotype, can perpetuate violence in the name of religion. Earlier I made a point about fundamentalism, which I would like to repeat. I don't know if fundamemtalism is quite the right word - I don't mean returning to the fundamentals of a religion. Maybe fanaticism is the better word. Fanaticism is the root of this kind of violence - whether for religion, politics (Nepalese Marxists) or race (Rwandan genocide) - it is fanaticism, this inability to negotiate, which is incompatible with civilization.
  • I do have something to add about terrorism though. I don't think we should fixate on "terrorism" as something inherantly different from other forms of egregious violence against civilians. Terrorism is a technique adopted in assymmetric warfare - and there are acts called terrorism which would not be called it if the person doing them was a powerful state. Its justification or lack thereof often depends on the exact nature, the reasons, the targets (blowing up an empty shopping mall is vey different from blowing up a full one), and who the victor is. The French resistence committed acts that could have been labelled terrorist; many governments around the world commit acts designed to create terror among their own citizens, but they are not labelled as terrorism. This itself should tell us what a difficult and slippery topic the idea of "terrorism" as an absolutely unique and uniquely evil form of warfare is. I think these are separate issues from the relationship between religion and violence, and the justification of violence by religion (which the thread had morphed into from racial profiling.)
  • Mr. Harrell, I must correct you on a point of fact. Richard Ried was not a 'wild-eyed Arab man'. He was, in fact, not an arab at all, but the British-born son of a Jamacan immigrant and an Englishwoman. Racial profiling would have completely missed this bomber, which is probably one of the reasons he was selected to carry out the attack. Having said that, he was a 'wild eyed' young man. I say this for a very specific reason: studies carried out by the Israelis show that some 90% of would-be hijackers can be identified by security personel who simply look them in the eye and ask them their destination. While not, in and of itself, sufficient to prevent terroism, spotting highly stressed or aroused passengers is a proven and effective strategy, unlike racial profiling. Racial profiling, or indeed demographic profiling of any kind, does not work in the context of Islamic Extremist Terroism. It is a very crude strategy easily defeated by selecting bombers who will not trigger demographic alarms. For example, terrorist groups in Israel/Palistine have successfuly avaided Israeli security by changing the demographic profile of their bombers (ie. by using women and young boys). Another example: Canadian intelligence services had no difficulty tracking the known terrorist sympethiser Ahmed Rasam. But nobody was watching out for him when he became the Quebec-born Catholic 'Benni Norris'. The so-called millenium bomber was only caught by a vigilant American boarder guard when she noticed he was nervous, profusely sweating and, yes, wild-eyed.
  • "The Census Bureau has provided specially tabulated population statistics on Arab-Americans to the Department of Homeland Security, including detailed information on how many people of Arab backgrounds live in certain ZIP codes. "The assistance is legal, but civil liberties groups and Arab-American advocacy organizations say it is a dangerous breach of public trust and liken it to the Census Bureau's compilation of similar information about Japanese-Americans during World War II."
  • But that was then, Homunculus! This is 2004. We'd never round up muslims and intern them. We're more mature than that now. We're keeping tabs on them for their own good! Why do you hate America?
  • It's only two gov't agencies sharing information. No harm in that. Save the indignation for *actual* rights violations. And it's disingenuous for anyone to compare it to treatment of Japanese Americans in WWII, because it was the *internment* of Japanese that was the problem then, not the data collection.
  • NPR on Terror in the Skies, Again? According to this report, their visas were extended and they were fully investigated.
  • With all due respect, r88. We're not indignant yet. (at least I'm not) Just wary.
  • Fair enough, surlyboi. It's hard to discern tone from a written message.
  • No worries r88. And for future reference, I'm rarely indignant. Always sarcastic though. =)
  • No, you do not get to decide if Islam is a part of civilization or not. Sigh. Setting aside the fact that that's explicitly not what I said, please explain in small words and simple sentences why I am not entitled to form my own opinion. Much of the ancient heritage of that Western Civilization only exists because it was preserved in the Arabic and Islamic world when the rest of Europe was imploding into chaos and violence. That's fine and good. But six hundred years have passed, and the Western world has gotten over it. How come Islam still embraces violence and bloodshed against non-believers? Or perhaps we should take the Crusaders as an example, who embraced invasion because they believed it was the will of God Yes, 'cause there's nothin' quite so topical as something that happened a thousand years ago. Besides, you're arguing my side of the point here. I'm saying that Islam as a culture is comparable to Christian culture of 1000 AD. That doesn't necessarily mean it's broken, but it needs to evolve in order to co-exist with Western ("post-Christian," if you like) liberal culture. Perhaps Timothy McVeigh would be a better example, or David Koresh. Or those who murder women and doctors at abortion clinics - because they believe that it is the will of God. You're still missing the point: Islamic culture embraces violence, while Western culture abhores it. You know the names of Timothy McVeigh and David Koresh because they're anomalies, not because they're representative. Fanaticism is the root of this kind of violence Agreed, 100%. But the way the enclosing society reacts to fanaticism is something we have to take into account. An abomination that arises despite cultural norms and values to the contrary is one kind of thing. An abomination that is sanctioned, supported, or even held up as a standard of behavior is something entirely different, and much more dangerous. Richard Ried was not a 'wild-eyed Arab man'. He was, in fact, not an arab at all, but the British-born son of a Jamacan immigrant and an Englishwoman. I stand corrected and apologize, but please check out this picture and tell me whether my mistake was a reasonable one. The point is that if there were two other men who looked like Reid—not unlike Arabs, that is—who were also suspicious enough to warrant screening, the TSA personnel in our airports today would not be allowed to screen Reid. They'd have no choice but to let him through without a baggage search or, more troubling, a swabbing his shoes for explosives residue.
  • while Western culture abhores it I said I was going to stay out of this thread, but seriously, man. What the fuck? Have you turned on a TV or watched a movie in say the last century? We're a culture surrounded by violence and entertained by violence, which uses violence as an outlet. Maybe in your WASPy opaque box violence is abhored. Violence is everywhere. In our sports, news, literature, music, hobbies, and folklore.
  • Pfft. They all look alike to me.
  • What Jeff might have said instead of "while Western culture abhors it", is this: While humanity in general tends toward violence, Western culture has learned to contain it, to sequester it into managable, even healthy chunks. Islam has made inroads in that direction, but is not nearly as prohibitive." Which leads to his ultimate conclusion, which is that Islam as a whole (this includes containing the whackos) has a ways to go before it will have caught up with Western culture.
  • Islamic culture embraces violence After all, with the billion Muslims in the world, a dozen or so highjackers are so clearly representative of their entire culture. While there are militant Muslim clergy counseling violence, that is like taking the opinions of Westboro Baptist Church as representative of the Christian world, which thankfully, they are not. In Canada, the Muslim congregations universally denounced the attacks and extended their condolences to the people of America. About the length of time since the Crusades, I did say that I think human history is shorter than most think - most people are very shortsighted about history. The Crusades were actually less than 1000 years ago, and still had a huge impact on the world. It wasn't even 500 years ago that Christians slaughtered each other for religion - the Wars of Religion, the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) slaughtered thousands just for being on the wrong side of the same religion - more died in one siege in the 30 years war than in the whole of the witch craft burnings. Christianity has also been used as the justification for many evils perpetuated by colonialism, including residential schools run by churches that kidnapped and abused aboriginal children in Canada and Australia until very a few years ago. No, it didn't kill them - it just tried to kill their way of life. As for Western Culture as a whole, if it abhors violence, how do you explain the fact that the most devastating weapons in human history have been all invented in Europe or the United States? Or that the bloodiest wars (the first and second World Wars) in human history have been fought by European powers? Interestingly, my friend just found this: Lewis Fry Richardson, a statistician who famously compared the magnitude of wars from in the last few hundred years, notes that "Christian nations participated in a disproportionate number of conflicts". Of course, one could debate his sample biases, and he did say that "these effects are not large". But certainly it shows that western cultures have no qualms about committing violence.
  • f8x: I think that what you are saying doesn't have the right cause and effect relationships. Yes, many places in the Middle East are currently not as well organised or as peaceful as western Europe or North America. But that is not caused by Islamic culture. The fact is that the Islamic Middle East was more sucessful than the West at containing violence for over a millenia (similarly, they were more technologically advanced until the nineteenth century). If we want to understand the dictatorships and chaos in the Middle East today, we should talk about what has happened in the region in the last century. Like many other regions in the world which have experienced chaos, violence and despotic governments, like south-east Asia, this period was proceeded by a disruption of the existing governance, in the case the fall of the Ottoman empire and the scramble by the rest of Europe for colonies. Power vaccuums were created, societies and economies were disrupted, and strong men moved in. Culture is not the determiner here - had Europe gone through such changes (and it has in the past), it would have reacted the same way. It may be that the changing political/economic/social situation in the Middle East is itself changing the local Islamic culture, but that is a debate which I would have to know more about Islam and the culture to have.
  • While humanity in general tends toward violence, Western culture has learned to contain it, to sequester it into managable, even healthy chunks. f8xmulder: would that it were so. The Western way of war has, in the last century, been characterised by vast, sprawling, barely (sometimes completely) uncontroled or controlable conflicts, characterised by extremely rapid escalation, extremely high death tolls, extremely high risk, and extremely terrible attrocities. Note, I think we should count Japan in this as an honourary Western nation in this respect. We in the West have a long, long way to go before we can start trumpeting our self-control to the Middle-East.
  • We're a culture surrounded by violence and entertained by violence, which uses violence as an outlet. You're talking about depictions of violence, simulations of violence. Actual violence is not accepted in our culture. (No, I'm not talking about bar fights or boxing matches. I'm talking about killing, maiming, murdering kinds of violence. If you want to chastise me for being insufficiently specific, go ahead.) What does our society do to murderers, no matter who the victims are? We demonize them, punish them, sometimes even kill them (though I wish we didn't). What does Muslim society do to murderers of non-Muslims, or even to male Muslims who murder their wives or sisters? It absolves them. Sometimes it even venerates them. While there are militant Muslim clergy counseling violence And the hundreds of millions of Muslims vocally denouncing violence are... where? You want to see the fundamental difference between Muslim culture and Western culture? The United States of America was the victim of a brutal, cowardly, and terrifying attack on 9/11, an attack perpetrated by Muslims in the name of Islam. The very next week, protesters were marching in the streets demanding that the United States not go to war over it. Please post all the links you can find to reports of Muslims in the Muslim world marching by the thousands in the streets to protest against the war, or against terrorism. If you can find more than ten, I'll eat my shoe. In Canada, the Muslim congregations universally denounced the attacks and extended their condolences to the people of America. Great! Now help me figure out how to get all the world's Muslims to think like Canadian Muslims. The Crusades were actually less than 1000 years ago The beginning or the end? Urban II issued his proclamation in 1092, didn't he? It wasn't even 500 years ago that Christians slaughtered each other for religion I will happily concede the point that Islamic culture may be as little as 500 years behind Western culture in their attitudes toward holy war and pluralism. As for Western Culture as a whole, if it abhors violence, how do you explain the fact that the most devastating weapons in human history have been all invented in Europe or the United States? Technology. Our culture is technologically more advanced, and with technology comes more advanced weapons. How about this: given all of our devastating weapons, our fission and fusion and cobalt and neutron bombs, how do you explain a nearly fifty-year run of restraint from using them? (Western society also invented the germ theory of medicine, the printing press, electricity, flight, the computer, and the Wonderbra, too, but you don't see me holding them up as evidence of the West's superiority, do you?) Or that the bloodiest wars (the first and second World Wars) in human history have been fought by European powers? During World War II, I'm pretty sure there were some small skirmishes in Asia, too. I think I remember reading that somewhere.
  • I think your blithe dismissals of jbs arguments are unnecessary, or at least misguided, Jeff Harrell. History has a lot to teach us, and it must be remembered that less than 60 years ago, a large proportion of Europe was still committed to carrying out the worst crimes humanity has ever committed. Middle Eastern dictatorships are certainly evil, but European nations (both Christian and not) have still been responsible for crimes above and beyond anything ever achieved (or even contemplated, possibly) by anyone else, pretty much. 60 years - less than a lifetime - is negligible in terms of human history.
  • How about this: given all of our devastating weapons, our fission and fusion and cobalt and neutron bombs, how do you explain a nearly fifty-year run of restraint from using them? Ah, well this is where I get more authorotative, because this is, I guess, the big macro question driving my doctoral research... Why weren't we all nuked by the Cold War? disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer but... Dumb luck. We simply got lucky, again and again and again. I'm afraid that might sound incredible -- particularly to the current generation growing up with all sorts of apauling and ahistorical myths about how Reaganomics 'won' the Cold War -- but there is a growing mountain of evidence to the effect that we almost blew ourselves up many, many times. Not only that, but many of the institutions and practices that were supposed to have protected us turn out, in retrospect, to have been alarmingly fragile. Very often inexperienced and hotheaded young officers were put in charge of weapons systems that could have triggered nuclear war. The Soviets, especially, constructed beurocratic systems that isolated officialdom from blame, but also from control over nuclear arms. The Americans built impressive sounding safeguards into their weapons, but all to frequently turned them off to save the inconveinece of operating them. Both sides took apauling risks and engaged in deliberate provocations and, while neither side actually used a nuclear weapon, the whole concept of building enough bombs to cover every inch of the globe several times over, then putting them on a hair trigger and hoping for the best, hardly speaks of 'restraint'. Mr Harrell, I don't want to be accused of dismissing your comments out of hand, but I urge you to reread some of the comments in this thread before you respond. Simply pointing out that some Muslim crackpots want to use violence does not mean that all Muslims are violent. Pointing out that some Muslims use violence does not mean that non-Muslims are especially peaceful by comparison. If you want to understand what is going on in the world right now you will have to try and understand the complexities of another culture and religion. As of the moment your stated views are, to be frank, crass and innacurate steriotypes.
  • I will happily concede the point that Islamic culture may be as little as 500 years behind Western culture in their attitudes toward holy war and pluralism. History does not work that way; societies do not progress in a linear fashion. 500 years ago, Islamic culture was ahead of western European culture in its attitude towards pluralism. (Tang China was also very cosmopolitan). Though it has been recently defied, the Koran includes the principle that certain other religions (specifically Judaism and Christianity) are to be respected as worshiping the same god as Islam, though they may not have the up to date prophet.
  • Middle Eastern dictatorships are certainly evil, but European nations (both Christian and not) have still been responsible for crimes above and beyond anything ever achieved (or even contemplated, possibly) by anyone else, pretty much. Which means what? That we're no better than the Islamists? That we have no right to judge because our ancestors were not perfect? Sorry, I don't buy it. We look at the cultures as they exist today and we see a relationship between Islamism and Western liberalism that is very similar to the relationship between modern Western liberalism and Western culture of a thousand years ago. We simply got lucky, again and again and again. Oh, dear Lord in Heaven. You can't possibly be serious. I swear upon all that's holy, reductionism is the quickest way to conclusions that are concise, reasonable, and utterly wrong. Simply pointing out that some Muslim crackpots want to use violence does not mean that all Muslims are violent. Now who needs to re-read? Did I ever say, or even imply, that that was the case? Is my position really so baffling that you can't wrap your thoroughly educated head around it? As of the moment your stated views are, to be frank, crass and innacurate steriotypes. I'm crass because I'm telling you that Islamist culture is medieval in comparison to Western culture when it comes to their attitude toward civil rights, holy war, and violence against non-believers. While you are not crass because you have chosen to wipe sixty years of foreign policy away with a wave of the hand and the assertion that it was all just dumb luck. History does not work that way; societies do not progress in a linear fashion. Sure they do. We have an idea of societal perfection—though the details of that idea will vary from person to person—and we have a grasp of the natural state. We can draw a line from the natural state to the ideal society and place different cultures in relation to one another on that axis. This is a perfectly valid method of interpretation. If you're unhappy with the conclusions that arise from that analysis, that's fine. But don't dismiss the analysis by crossing your arms and saying that things just don't work that way when, in fact, they clearly do. 500 years ago, Islamic culture was ahead of western European culture in its attitude towards pluralism. Fantastic. Explain, please, what happened? When did Islamism as an expansionist, totalitarian, intolerant ideology emerge? And what can we do to get rid of it? Because, as I've been saying all along, it increasingly appears to be fundamentally incompatible with Western liberalism. the Koran includes the principle that certain other religions (specifically Judaism and Christianity) are to be respected as worshiping the same god as Islam, though they may not have the up to date prophet. Which jives perfectly with the notion of wiping out the Jewish state and sawing the heads off of Christians and Jews along with other infidels. At some point you're going to have to address the discontinuity between what the Koran says and what today's Islamist culture actually embraces.
  • Sure they do. We have an idea of societal perfection—though the details of that idea will vary from person to person—and we have a grasp of the natural state. We can draw a line from the natural state to the ideal society and place different cultures in relation to one another on that axis. This is a perfectly valid method of interpretation. No, I'm afraid it isn't. It is a form of interpretation, but it isn't particularly valid. It is a form of historical theory called Whiggism, and was very fashionable for many years (mostly in the 19th century), but it doesn't fit the historical facts. Marx, for example, was a kind of whiggist. Philosophers can dabble with ideas like "natural state" which are unsupported by any facts, but historians, and the analysis of history, must stick to facts, or it is useless.
  • At some point you're going to have to address the discontinuity between what the Koran says and what today's Islamist culture actually embraces. I originally brought it up to show how, if societies progressed linearly (which they don't), the Koran included the principles of religious tolerance over a millenia ago, when the Christian world could not even handle diversity within itself, and the Ottoman empire allowed other religions to live within it in peace. If it is not so today, that is clearly an example of how societies do not develop linearly. (Of course, one could argue that this part of the Koran only ever represented an ideal, though one at the founding of the religion. Then it would be much like the Christian 'turn the other cheek', which itself gets very little airplay these days.) But I also have to ask, are we talking about "Islamic culture" or "Islamist culture"? The common thread here is Islam. As I said before, I'm concerned about Islam. I'm happy to give the benefit of the doubt, but only provisonally, until I figure out whether Islam as it exists today is compatible with civilization. You've been talking alternately about both. But they are not the same; the word "Islamist" was created recently to differentiate. Islamic is the culture that every Muslim in the world shares, to one extent or another, through their religion. Islamist is a word like "environmentalist", indicating a shared political ideology; like environmentalists, the most extreme Islamists will turn to violence to achieve their ends. Islamic culture includes those Canadian Muslims (whom you may dismiss, but are an important part of my country), it includes the secular country of Turkey, and it includes the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, with representatives of 55 nations, who in 2001 condemned "the September 11 terrorist attacks against the US, describing them as "barbaric and criminal"." The fact that the government of the Muslim nation of Pakistan allowed the US and other Allies to base a large number of troops there to attack Afghanistan shows that they did not support that actions of Al-Qaeda. No one is questioning your concerns about extreme Islamists. Myself, I worry most about extreme nationalism, since that has been the greatest source of evil in the twentieth century - one could see Islamism as form of religious nationalism. But what we object to is your tarring of an entire religion which has great diversity the world over based on the actions of a few. It would be like declaring all adherants of the Jewish faith to be Zionists, something which I am sure you would see to be false.
  • I'm crass because I'm telling you that Islamist culture is medieval in comparison to Western culture when it comes to their attitude toward civil rights, holy war, and violence against non-believers. While you are not crass because you have chosen to wipe sixty years of foreign policy away with a wave of the hand and the assertion that it was all just dumb luck. I'm sorry, please understand me. I didn't say that you were crass, but that the stereotypes of Islamic culture you're putting forward here are crass. I'm sure you're a perfectly lovely person, and I would never think to impute what I think is an incorect idea upon you personally. Why do I think the steriotype you are presenting is crass? Well, first of all, it fails to make key distinctions that are very important. For example, you seem to be using the terms 'Islamic' and 'Islamist' interchangably. They are very differnt words with different meanings, and by conflating them you're tarring an entire religion with the brush of a political movement (or set of movements). Secondly, in all your discussion you've never reffered to key concepts that most people would think essential to the understanding of what is currently happening in the Middle East. The word 'nationalism' has yet to appear in this thread. What, Mr Harrell, do you think is the relationship between Islam as a religion and Arab nationalism? If we're going to have a real discussion about this, we have to adress this question. Finally, your seteriotypes are crass because they impute upon a billion ordinary people the views of a tiny handful of fanatics. By our best estimates, there are between 50 and 300 Al-Qaeda. I dont think I have a single collegue who sees them as anything other than a tiny, isolated fringe group. While many Arab nationalists or Islamist nationalists have a bone to pick with the US and the UK, that does not mean that the vast majority of ordinary people think it's ok to go around cutting off the heads of the unbeleivers. Honesly, it doesn't. And if you think these political extremists within their midst are inexcusably bad, just remember all the bad things that you just called them. I'm afraid that by calling 'Islam' primitive and extremist, you're pretty much talking about them in the same light that the extremist in their culture talk about, well... all of us.
  • But don't take it from a pinko academic like me. Why not listen to President George W Bush, who agrees with me that Islam is a religion of peace and tollerance, cruely distorted by a few isolated fanatics. For example on September 12, 2001, President Bush declaired a national day of mourning and visited, you guessed it, a mosque. He also saw fit to send American sodiers all the way around the world to liberate the god fearing and innocent people of Afghanestan from the terrible yoke of their radically islamist extremist Taliban government. Why would he bother to do this if Islam itself was irredimably backward? Clearly he wouldn't. As to my opinion of the Cold War... no, it would obviously be nonsense to say that 'foreign policy' during the Cold War was 'dumb luck'. I mean, there weren't rooms full of people in the West Wing or the Kremlin sitting there making decisions with a blindfold and a dart board. But that wasn't the question: the question was 'why did we survive'? Ok, I'll admit that I was giving you a summary, because I don't want to get into yet another complex argument, but you have to beleive me that my conclusions about the Cold War are not based on simple reductionism. I really do have a very detailed knowledge of this period, and I've looked at it all sorts of different ways and talked to many, many other people who are also experts. The reason I'm putting it this way is because it's a very clear message to put out to the general public, because we're starting to realise how important public education is if we're ever going to avoid the same problems again. Yes, there are caveats one way or another, but in the end we have to ask ourselves a sort of a counterfactual: given the dangers of the Cold War, and given a detailed knowledge of the systems that were put in place to mittigate those dangers, were the safety systems sufficent to ensure our survival? Simply havning survived fourty years isn't enough, because we all know that it's possible we just got lucky... you have to imagine that we're running the Cold War again and again through some kind of a magical computer. What percentage of 'universes' that experienced the Cold War would have survived? Well I think that most people in my field agree with me that hardly any of them would have. The dangers were too great, the safety systems too faulty. It's a bit like you land in an airoplane and get off and notice that the tail of the plane and all the engines were taped on with duct tape. It isn't at all reductionist to think 'holly crap, we could have been killed at any moment!' Do you get the general sense of this, or should I break out the reading list and assign an essay? :-) Maybe the political and military history of the Cold War could be given its own thread or something, 'cause it's a bit off-topic here. But speaking of reductionism...
  • We have an idea of societal perfection—though the details of that idea will vary from person to person—and we have a grasp of the natural state. We can draw a line from the natural state to the ideal society and place different cultures in relation to one another on that axis. Before I address this, do you see how this is a profoundly reductionist argument? You're not talking about 40 years of foreign policy here, you're talking about the shape of civilisation! But, having said that, I do understand where you're coming from. What you're talking about is a political theory that we call 'whiggism'. It is, frankly, pretty outdated nowadays. Ok, I'm being nice. It's thoroughly discredited. When historians want to insult each other, they call each other whiggists. Now, I understand that you're not a historian, and it's ok that you don't have a university-level knowledge of the subject, so really no skin off your back on this. Good for you for having such a good classical education, however... Ok, so lets talk about why historians don't talk about whiggism any more. You've presented us with a model in which there is a line between the 'natural state' and the 'ideal society'. Lets think about this for a while. a) what is the natural state, and what is the ideal society? I'm sure you can give me an answer to this... now turn to your neighbour and ask him or her... I bet your ideas disagree. If there really was a natural state and an ideal society, it would be pretty easy to figure out what they were. Trouble is, pretty much every whiggist thinker has a different idea, and none of them has ever been able to prove themselves correct. For example, notable whiggists Karl Marx and Ayn Rand pretty much think the opposite to one another, and there are all shades of opinion in between. Now this, on its own, doesn't kill of whiggism, but it does mean that it's impossible to find a consensus, which makes whiggist ideas suspicious to say the least. This 'ambiguity', however, takes on much more meaning when we take into account the next point... b) What is the path of development? You're kind of implying that there is a single path from 'natural state' to 'ideal society'. Well, we've already seen that nobody can agree on where the end points of that path are, but they also can't agree on what the path itself is. Why can't they do this? Because when we look at societies in the real world, we see all kind of 'paths of development' that really have nothing to do with one another. How do you compare, say, Belgium with, say Singapore? They went though completely different 'paths of development' to get where they are today. c) so maybe I'm reading too far into your comments... maybe you're 'line' doesn't mean a single path of development, but rather a kind of measuring stick. Maybe all societies can be assigned a kind of scalar quantity of 'civilisedness' with 0 being the natural state and 100 being the ideal society. I'm afraid this model doesn't work either. To prove this, try ordering these societies along the 'line': modern day Sweden; Augustinian Rome; Tang Dynasty China; Nazi Germany on the night of Kristalnacht; Amazonian tribesmen; traditional Inuit culture; Milton Keynes in mid-1997; New York City on 9/10, 9/11 and 9/15; Kentucky on those same dates... Can you think of a single criteria or set thereof that would put all these societies on a line, in such a way that the vast majority of people will agree? I'm afraid you'll find that such an exercise is impossible. Believe me, people have tried and failed. Pretty much everybody you ask will come up with a different answer, which is the hallmark of a theory that, while perfectly valid, is incorrect. On preview: what jb said NB: my friend has been complaining about my spelling. I apologise for not spell checking, it's because I'm a lazy dyslexic.
  • Hey Dreadnought, if there was something from that reading list online, I'd like to take a gander. Sounds like something I should know more about.
  • Jeff Sez: Please post all the links you can find to reports of Muslims in the Muslim world marching by the thousands in the streets to protest against the war, or against terrorism. If you can find more than ten, I'll eat my shoe. Protests in nearly 800 cities on February 15/16, 2003 drew millions of protesters in total, in the vicinity of ten million people around the world, listed by the 2004 Guinness Book of Records as the largest mass protest movement in history. 1) Baghdad - between x00,000 and 1,000,000 2) Damascus - 200,000 3) Karachi - 100,000 4) Sanaa - 30,000 5) Beirut - 10,000 6) Jakarta - 7,000 7) Istanbul - 5,000 8) Islamabad - 3,000 9) Sfax 3,000; despite being attacked by police... also, some soccer fans(?) 10) Kuala Lumpur - between 1,500-3,000; despite police ban 12) Amman - between 3,000-5,000 "Western" Muslims: - Barcelona - 1,300,000; x0,000 of which were Muslims - London ~1,000,000; x0,000 of which were Muslims - Tel Aviv - 3,000 Jews and Arabs http://tinyurl.com/3va6u [wiki] http://tinyurl.com/55e5j [aljazeerah.info] http://tinyurl.com/5kun2 [Chicago Trib] http://www.cbc.ca/stories/2003/02/15/peace_arabs030215 http://www.punchdown.org/rvb/F15/ http://es.news.yahoo.com/030215/4/2joqi.html http://www.merip.org/mer/mer226/226_press_release.html http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/2767773.stm http://www.guardian.co.uk/gall/0,8542,884828,00.html http://www.swt.org/events/world0203/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_protests_against_war_on_Iraq Before you start again with the uninformed polemics, do us all a favor and go to the nearest used bookstore, pick up a copy of the Qu'ran for maybe $2, and read it. No, really.
  • Before you start again with the uninformed polemics, do us all a favor and go to the nearest used bookstore, pick up a copy of the Qu'ran for maybe $2, and read it. No, really. Let me save Jeff the trouble of repeating what he's already declared about the disconnect between the Qu'ran and current day Islamic practices, and point out that the rulers of the Soviet Union violated a lot of the rules for Socialism put forth in "Das Kapital", and that the self-proclaimed "Bible literalist" Christian Churches in society today still ignore a lot of Biblical directives that they do not wish to deal with. I regret I do not have the time to research examples for the previous statement. I just hope all sides in this discussion will stipulate to its validity. (IANAL)
  • Isn't reading the Koran in English like reading Charlotte's Web in Russian if you only speak Swahili? At least, that's what my Muslim friends tell me.
  • Regrettably, Wedge, I'm not sure that's the war that Jeff was talking about. In fact, I'm not sure why he mentioned the war (Iraq?) at all. Where are the millions marching in solidarity against Hamas suicide bombers, or militant genocidists in the Sudan, or the beheaders we've seen so much of in the past month? Obviously, lots of Muslims protested the war in Iraq because they see it as an encroachment on their land, people, culture, and most importantly, their religion. I believe Jeff's request was for links that featured Muslims amassing against horrors perpetrated by their own. I don't believe you'll find as many links, or as many people.
  • Isn't reading the Koran in English like reading Charlotte's Web in Russian if you only speak Swahili? I don't read Arabic, but have friends who do, and they say this as well. Semitic languages are full of nuance and multiple meanings, but much of this is lost when translated into a business-like language such as English. (where the hell is Languagehat when we need him?)
  • Is it possible for non-Muslims who lack a knowledge of Arabic to fully appreciate the power and impact of the Qu'ran? Probably not. Its content and manner of expression are quite inseparable. Nevertheless, one who reads the text in translation can get some hint of its syntactical force, gripping imagery, moving appeal, and sheer beauty... much like the Tao Te Ching. Most translations preface with some helpful suggestions. As with some NIV and King James versions of the Bible, the footnotes are invaluable. It is usually suggested to start with the shorter suras, such as 'The Resurrection'; 'The Cleaving'; 'The Cloaked One'; 'The Morning Hours'; 'The Evening'; 'The Unbelievers'; and 'Sincerity'. In addition, if you've read the Bible, it is helpful to start with the more biblically themed suras, as well. ('Mary'; 'Joseph', etc). It's important to note that the jihad that you often hear of refers to "stuggle" or "effort" in the path of God... in these instances, it's used to describe a defensive "just war" to protect the interest of Islam; it is does not mean "holy war", as such. The Muslim world, like ours, is still locked in debate over whether, when, and how much violence is ever justified; whether the ends justify the means. *We* don't even agree on those issues. Pacifists here are even mocked as unrealistic idealists. Or sometimes, "pussies". Wendell, I understand exactly what he was getting at. But since, frankly, any more discussion about the intricacies of the topic of would require a lengthy, comprehensive treatise on concepts like actual shari
  • Sorry guys. Part III
  • Oh goodness...won't she just give it up?
  • ...investigate exactly what happened on flight #327, how it was handled or mishandled... I hope that means she'll get a good telling-off. This article is utter rubbish and isn't even decent journalism any more - if it ever was. It's about her getting the last word.
  • First off, thanks to jb and path for their extremely thoughtful and useful comments. Now, as to the provocative Mr. Harrell: Nice work, Jeff. Banana for keeping the tone high. Yes, Mr. Harrell is well spoken and reasonably polite. Kudos. There, I'm afraid, my praise must end. He is sounding off with vigor and conviction about a subject of which he clearly knows next to nothing -- not an uncommon phenomenon on the internet, granted, but he doesn't get a free pass because he refrains from calling people "asshats." He is very reminiscent of thoolou, who posted a screed a couple of months ago with the same basic premise ("OK, I've been researching Islam since the late '70s, and there is no 'Peace' in this religion"). Let's examine some of Mr. Harrell's statements. [Remainder added in another comment because the whole thing appears to break the comment box.]
  • read the 1996 fatwa in which Osama bin Laden announced his intentions Do you know what a fatwa is, or who is authorized to issue one? In the words of the American Heritage Dictionary, it's 'a legal opinion or ruling issued by an Islamic scholar' (specifically, by a mufti). Osama bin Laden is not such a scholar, he's a rich kid from a Yemeni-Saudi family who's taken up terrorism. He has no more authority to issue a fatwa (which, incidentally, is a response to a request for an opinion on a disputed issue from a believer, and is not binding) than you or I. Practically all Arabs are required to be Muslim by the governments of the countries where they live. They aren't given a choice. As has been pointed out, this is absurd. The only countries where there is anything like such a requirement are Saudi Arabia and, I believe, the Comoros. Most Middle Eastern countries have ancient Christian communities, often of greater variety than in some Western countries that are supposedly Christian. In Lebanon, the Christians (Maronite Catholic variety) were actually running the show until quite recently. When I was in Syria I met several members of the large and influential Armenian community of Aleppo (and stayed in the Baron Hotel, still run by its Armenian proprietors). Yes, Christians and other non-Muslims are often discriminated against. I'm sure you wouldn't want to suggest that non-Christians aren't discriminated against in the United States. States where religious police are allowed to walk the streets. States where apostasy is punished by public execution. Those Arab states. Oh, Saudi Arabia. Also known as "our oldest ally in the region." I do not care. Okay? I don't care if an American ran over Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's puppy when he was a kid. Whatever your complaint is, no matter how legitimate it might be, not matter how right you are, you cannot blow people up to make your point. And they don't care about you. You want a medal? Caring is actually considered by many people something of a prerequisite for "civilization." Do you also not care about Qaddafi's small daughter we killed in an attempt to "get" her father, or the hundreds of people we killed shooting down a civilian Iranian airliner? Or is that OK because we're "civilized" and can get away with such things? I said that I haven't decided whether Islam is compatible with civilization. At some point you're going to have to address the discontinuity between what the Koran says and what today's Islamist culture actually embraces. To both of these I say: you don't know what you're talking about. You clearly know nothing about Islam or the Koran beyond what you've read in your smug, equally ignorant right-wing sources. Tell you what, you can take the same quiz I gave thoolou. The answers are further down in that thread, but I trust a civilized gentleman such as yourself not to look them up before admitting defeat. Now, do yourself a favor and go learn something about one of the great world religions (and motive force behind one of the great world civilizations) before you continue spreading your uninformed and... I'll just say "unhelpful" opinions.
  • Thanks.
  • I believe Jeff's request was for links that featured Muslims amassing against horrors perpetrated by their own. I don't believe you'll find as many links, or as many people. You probably won't f8x and that's a good point to bring up. I'm sometimes disheartened by the lack of voices on the Muslim street speaking out against terrorism and even some of the harsh laws of their home countries. But at the same time, there's a lot of these regimes where dissent isn't exactly smiled upon, so perhaps there's less outcry simply because such outcry would single one out for retaliation. And... in a sort of twist on that concept, how many Bush boosters are decrying any of the stuff that we're doing over there? I know the left is bringing it up all the time, but does the right really think the death of all those civilians was inconsequential when compared to the "America is safer" mantra that the White House keeps trying to get everyone to chant?
  • Thank you, languagehat. But most of my ideas are actually from Dreadnought (my friend who studies security intelligence and military history, though he doesn't post as often as I do. Incidently, he greatly admires you and your hats, since he is never without one). I wish I did know more about Islam and the current religious and political situation in the Middle East - thank you to Wedge and you for telling us more.
  • surly, as jb pointed out, there are quite a few Muslims who live in open societies. Even discounting those who live under oppressive regimes (we can count one less of those now, BTW), you'd think you'd hear more Muslims taking to the streets in opposition to terrorists. As for what we're doing over there: anything that remotely comes close to terrorism (raping, slaughtering wholesale, torture, etc) that we're doing over there, I'm heartily against. I denounce anything that does not conform to the rule of law. I don't believe the death of innocents, as tragic as it is, applies; surely down that path lies serious moral difficulties for those who oppose the war...
  • Er, when I said the Comoros I meant the Maldives. These totally unknown nations consisting of strings of tiny islands all kind of blend together, if you know what I mean. The Comoros are run by French mercenaries half the time. f8xmulder: Does everybody have to spend all their time "taking to the streets" to protest every bad thing happening everywhere, to make you feel better about them? Muslims in most countries have quite a few worries more immediate and pressing than terrorists killing people in distant countries, just as you aren't out there protesting the things bothering them. Every Muslim I know personally is horrified at terrorism and suicide bombers. What, they have to take time off to carry signs?
  • lh, by no means. Maybe I'm just looking for more vocal opponents of terrorists in their ranks. I figure if half the Western world can demonstrate against a war that the other half supported, at least half of the world's population of Muslims can make their displeasure of terrorists and suicide bombers known. Or at least better known. I'm by no means implying that most Muslims support terrorists, and I hope I didn't give that impression.
  • Anne Jacobsen: I can't stand it anymore, I've got to get outta here. I've gotta get outta here. Stewardess: Calm down get ahold of yourself. Wedge: Stewardess, please, let me handle this... (grabs her and starts to shake her)
  • I quite liked this quote from shawn's article: "It's a story about paranoia," [Media analyst Dean Nelson] said. "It resonates so well because everybody since 9/11 has been on an airplane and looked at somebody and said, 'Ooh.' " also, this made me laugh [MeFite XQUZYPHYR's webcomic]
  • Ask the pilot: If Annie Jacobsen won't stop her fearmongering about terrorists, then I won't stop exposing the harm she's doing to us all, either (salon.com).
  • Here's a little talk with an Air Marshal who was on board Jacobsen's flight. Executive summary for the time-impaired -- Jacobsen is an idiot.
  • Executive summary for those who actually read the article -- "I understand why the passenger felt some anxiety about activity on Flight 327," he says. "But that kind of activity was unusual but not a security incident. There was never a threat to the plane."
  • Executive summary of what most people were saying in this thread -- We understand why the passenger felt some anxiety about activity on Flight 327. However, that kind of activity was unusual but not a security incident. There was never a threat to the plane. Oh, and Jacobsen is an idiot.
  • Anne beats the dead horse once more, this time with fellow passenger Billie Jo "What happened on flight 327 -- and how it has subsequently been mishandled --- is too scary and too serious to just let go." zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...
  • Part VI: No, seriously! I didn't panic, and I'm not scared of brown people! Swear to God!
  • Somebody please take away that woman's keyboard. Now I just get the feeling she's enjoying the limelight a little too much, and that Women's Wall Street's editor is pushing her to keep putting out articles so they get the traffic.
  • I'm waiting for the made-for-TV movie, myself. (Starring Valerie Bertinelli as Anne Jacobsen) Oh, and Jacobsen is an idiot. (Not for her in-flight reaction, but definitely for the subsequent articles).
  • I'm beginning to suspect Anne Jacobsen was daisy_may. Just suggestin'...
  • On the train today, there was someone I didn't like the look of. Here's 70,000 words about him.
  • Y'all make me feel afraid. You say weird things that make no sense to me. You use the restroom, eat fast food and smell like monkeys, and I just bet that long thing under your arm isn't really a rolled-up keyboard. I'm totally going to freak out and call the feds. Then I'm going to make a fortune on articles, insult the ambassador for Syria, and get on 60 Minutes.
  • *flashes knitting needle and tweezers menacingly at tracicle*
  • ... you use the restroom ... I don't! *pats trusty adult diapers*
  • Wow. I just read this whole darn thread over the course of the past few hours (hey, I'm on break) and wanted to thank everyone for the time they put in discussing everything. It was a great read. Especially once the excrement flinging died down. Next round of bananas is on me!
  • Now, now, stripe, you know bananas just lead to more excrement.
  • Ack cha mal ly, I've found they lead to constipation. Nothing for the peristalsis to grab on to, you see.
  • Part VI! - Anne goes global.
  • Still at it!
  • What a fuckwit.
  • But it has made her world famous, and upped the page views for her paper. Maybe she gets the last laugh.