Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Imam-a-Rama


A couple of days ago, I mentioned the fact that I look at music the way I look at politics: if the same number of people from each side of the aisle holds your opinion in equal disdain, then you must be doing something right (Shut Up. Listen. Learn./11.19.06). I bring this up, because it's dawned on me that yesterday's little treatise on Michael Richards probably sounded to many like I was trying to let him off the hook for what was more than likely obvious racist behavior. Granted, my fears about the chilling effect of allowing the masses to use the ubiquitous "Offense-o-Meter" to dictate what is and isn't acceptable art may have pushed me slightly left of center -- a position I'd imagine people have become used to seeing me stake out -- but I still was seemingly willing to give intolerance a pass, and most true liberals will tell you that intolerance of any kind simply cannot be tolerated.

So, allow me to inflame the typically good company on the left just a little more by making a statement which leaves no room whatsoever for protean interpretations:

I have no -- as in zero -- problem with the idea of profiling at America's airports.

A couple of days ago, six Muslim imams were pulled off of a flight as it sat on the ground in Minneapolis. This happened because another passenger expressed concern about what he deemed to be their suspicious behavior -- an assessment which admittedly may or may not have been trustworthy. The clerics were briefly taken into custody and searched with K9 units before being cut loose and sent on their merry way to serve Allah in the fashion of their choosing. Needless to say, 24 hours later they were back at the ticket counter of U.S. Airways -- this time, armed ironically with America's own weapons of mass distraction: TV news crews. The imams screamed to the heavens that they had been discriminated against; that they were the victims of obvious religious profiling and persecution; that this is America, and anyone in a position of authority who succumbs to prejudice and the stereotyping of Islam should be called before a series of suggested congressional hearings into the matter.

One word of advice for the Democrats controlling the incoming 110th U.S. Congress: don't even think about it.

If you're looking for delicate prose from me on this one, you won't get it; by all means scroll down and read some of the more articulate material I've cranked out over the past several days. This is simply too much of a no-brainer to merit a flowery analytical argument, and any belief to the contrary is just wrong.

We have a limited amount of resources to secure our nation's airports and hopefully keep killers out of the skies, which even someone as tired of hearing the 9/11 argument as myself concedes is the last place you want those killers to be. There are people out there who still want to murder Americans, and not only are they determined as hell, but as our sweeping, knee-jerk reaction to the "epiphany" that liquid explosives pose a threat to passenger safety proves -- they're at least one step ahead of us at all times. Fortunately, we have one advantage over these terrorists; Unfortunately, we're content to pretend that this advantage doesn't exist, for fear that someone's feelings might get hurt.

The people who want us dead are all Muslim.

A vast majority of Arabs are Muslim.

Not all Muslims want to blow up planes.

However, anyone willing to blow up a plane with him or herself still onboard, is almost certainly Muslim.

Do the math, and the logical conclusion is irrefutable.

One of the most gargantuan lies we've been told since 9/11 is that this isn't a war of cultures; on the contrary, that's exactly what it is. It is a fundamentalist religious culture which considers us heretical enemies of the one true God, and therefore dangerous and unworthy to exist upon his Earth. It considers us not only an abomination, but one which has humiliated and subjugated it simply by virtue of the fact that it has become the dominant way of life on the planet. As a good friend of mine once put it so beautifully, as far as Muslim fundamentalists are concerned, this is not World War III; it's World War I. It is the same war that's been going on since the dawn of time, between a theocracy bent on never moving past the first century and enslaving or destroying those who oppose it, and the forces of modernism and enlightenment. All one has to do to understand this fact is to look at the reaction to a harmless set of cartoons in Denmark, or a beauty pageant in Nigeria, or an absurd comment from a silly little man in the Vatican.

To appease this kind of thinking is not only ridiculous, it's reprehensible; and yet that's exactly what we do. For all of his swaggering anti-terrorist bluster, our president has never been willing to acknowledge the simple truth that is at the root of almost all anti-American terrorism at the beginning of the 21st century: Islam is dangerous.

Instead of admitting the obvious and acting accordingly -- with at the very least the slightest hint of vigilance -- we give a sheepish smile and pretend that there are a whole host of other factors at play in deciding who does and doesn't become a vehemently anti-American mass murderer: economic, psychological, social, etc. Once again though, we ignore the one common denominator that we know beyond a shadow of a doubt links these killers: their belief in Allah and the glory of martyrdom, as preached in the Koran.

These six imams not only represent that belief -- they are its arbiters. Whether they subscribe openly to the idea that the west should be put asunder doesn't matter in the least when it comes time to walk through an airport metal detector and board a plane with 220 other people. It's just good police-work to give them a second look.

In a perfect utopian society, this kind of suspicion wouldn't be necessary; then again, in a perfect utopian society, one would hope that a group of people wouldn't exist that is willing to kill and destroy in this life in favor of a supposed reward in an unseen and unproven afterlife.

It comes down to this: whether it's political-correctness or simple self-deception, our willingness to ignore the incredibly obvious is a luxury that no one can afford.

And my right to continue breathing trumps your right to be slightly inconvenienced and have your feelings hurt.

40 comments:

Kevin said...

Sure, racial profiling might work. But for every potential terrorist it might catch there will be scores that will slip past. Why? for the simple fact - and one that most people who support racial profiling ignore - there is an enormous pool of non-arab Muslims to choose from. So, while airport security spends its time searching folks who clearly appear Muslim to the average eye, they should really be paying attention to all the South Asians, Africans, American converts, Europeans, Indians, etc that are calmly placing their wallets in those little plastic trays. The folks that send these people on their horrible missions aren't stupid, they know the majority of us are looking in the wrong place, and sooner or later they're going to exploit that weakness.

The Muslims thrown off the plane this week were victims of prejudice and ignorance. What did they do to draw suspicion? They made the mistake of saying their prayers in public. That's it. And some American who probably can't tell a Sikh from a Taliban foot soldier freaked out, and in the end cooler heads did not prevail.

I won't argue that we need profiling - but the "racial" portion should be a small piece of the equation. You can trumpet the virtues of racial profiling all you want, but in the end only education and awareness, not blind adherence to the the boundaries of race, will save lives.

Chez said...

I'm going to try to be as articulate as possible and not sound like I've been infected with some sort of red-state virus, but if I hear one more defender of Islam use the words "prejudice" or "ignorance" I may have to wrap duct tape around my head to keep it from exploding.

Sorry Kevin, but ignorance is believing in a god to the point of being willing to martyr yourself and kill others in his name, despite zero proof of his existence. As far as I'm concerned, the beliefs of the imams deserve as much respect and tolerance as someone who professes an allegiance to almighty Zeus. They are the hierarchical peak of an obscenely ridiculous faith which far too many of those beneath them use to justify mass murder.

Since that's the case, it is absolutely logical to at the very least give them a second look as they pass through airport security. You're right that not all Muslims are of Arab descent, and no matter what we do, someone will inevitably find a way around our security -- any security. That's no reason however to give up, toss common sense in the trash (along with your bottled water and hairspray), and ignore the obvious. Any detective who pretended not to notice such a conspicuous link, particularly for fear of offending someone, would be fired on the spot.

I agree that most Americans can't tell a Sikh from a Muslim, and don't care to try -- but it takes almost no effort to train airport security to be able to.

My argument is this: we will never take this or any step until we're willing to admit that, as painfully xenophobic as this may sound, a belief in God which seeks nothing less than ultimate dominion is ultimately dangerous.

VOTAR said...

Kevin I try to hope airport security officers are being trained to eye everyone with a little suspicion; this does not reduce or eliminate the need to spend perhaps just a little extra effort on certain ethnicities that, it's unfortunate to have to admit, are predictably at the root of almost every act of terrorism on the planet in the last 40 years. It is precisely because there are those looking for weaknesses to exploit that we have to have ZERO tolerance. I'm okay with that. When they toss out my bottle of shampoo for being 4 ounces instead of three, I don't call a news conference. I obey and get on the plane.

I don't worship an invisible man who lives in the clouds either. One less contributing source of suspicion.

Chez, I once mentioned Glenn Beck to you, and you left me with the impression you are less than impressed with him. I'm no fanboy by any means, but the reason I do occasionally check out his show, is that he tackles this very issue a bit more often than many of the other primetime shows do, and often in some illuminating depth. Particularly worth watching is the special he did last week, showing examples of mainstream television programming in the middle-east geared specifically toward brainwashing an entire generation of muslim children to not only fear and hate the "west," but to prepare them for an onslaught of murder they are told will soon be necessary against the rest of us.

This is no joke. This is not the manifesto of some secret society, or their version of the Turner Diaries, that you have to look under a rock to find. This is what they watch on t.v. Their version of Sesame Street teaches the children songs that all jews are pigs and apes and must be killed; their cartoons demonstrate how to make a belt out of hand grenades to blow up truck convoys.

Kevin is right we need more education and awareness. We should start paying very serious attention to what future generations of this ENTIRE CULTURE are preparing to unleash on us.

Five years ago, we were figuratively thrown into a pit and set on fire, and we didn't see it coming. A cautiousness about certain situations -- and certain people -- is going to be a part of the post-traumatic healing process the world has to endure now. If these guys were detained without cause, they have a legitimate grievance, and should be accomodated (after as thorough an investigation as possible). They flew the next day without incident, I believe. I don't even have too much of an issue with them making some publicity over it -- it's got us talking about it, at least, and awareness has been raised. In this way can we start to chip away at ignorance and prejudice -- on both sides.

I'm no cheerleader for the neo-cons, but on this one, I will err on the side of intolerance.

SmellyTerror said...

The problem here is public misunderstanding of the purpose of pre-flight checks. If you check 5% of people, you will have (at most) a 5% chance of catching a terrorist. That's pathetic. Even with profiling it's pathetic.

...and it's not what the checks are meant to achieve. They are supposed to make people who try to smuggle stuff through *nervous*.

The idea is that you put in a random chance of failure, an intimidating barrier to pass, and watch the reactions. It might be a small chance of discovery, but it's enough to induce an involuntary response. Well trained staff should spot that response, and focus on the nervous guy.

That puts your chances far above the 5-or-whatever percent that the spot checks would give you. You're not looking for "person type X" - you're looking for anyone - anyone at all - who looks scared.

The moment you provide people with a sense of control over the process, though, the effect is smashed. Even a small amount of control is enough to give people confidence all out of propotion to the protection that control might provide. So if a smuggler sends half-a-dozen of his dodgy-looking imam friends in ahead of him, secure in the knowledge that they will clog up the system (even if imperfectly), he will feel he is playing the system. He will feel much more confident, and staff will miss his lessened nervous-response.

And he'll shave and drink a coke, sure as hell. Or he'll get a nice white-kid convert to do it for him. He'll work profiling both ways.

Profiling is just too easy to use against the authorities. It's not just useless - it's actually counter productive. The only way to reliably get an involuntary nervous-response is to leave *any* smuggler unsure of himself, no matter his profile, no matter his attempts to play the system.

Oh, and add to this: if "person type X" feels like they're being victimised, they will start to feel nervous no matter what they're carrying. By persecuting (or being seen to pesecute) an entire minority, you actually wipe out your *real* profiling methods with false-positives.

Again, even profiled checks give an unacceptably low chance of catching a bad guy. That's not what they're for.

SmellyTerror said...

PS: and the guys who pulled these Imams off are idiots. First, voluntary actions to bring attention to yourself are not only NOT an indicator of wrong-doing (quite the opposite), it's also an easily exploited method for distraction.

Second, they should have known this would be reported. So now they've just upped the false-positive count throughout the entire target population. If we're worried about scary-Arab-lookin'-folk then we need to make the innocent ones feel *more* relaxed and calm, to make the guilty stand out better.

People should be angry. This is not merely discriminatory, not merely offensive, it's inept. They've just made the entire system that much less effective.

VOTAR said...

You know, being the cynic that I am, my initial reaction to this story was along the lines of what smellyterror is suggesting. "Imams." Yeah, right.

The clever velociraptors are testing each section of the cage, looking for weaknesses.

Remember Schwartzkoff's "hail mary pass?" Kept the Iraqis watching all the loud, posturing troop movements along the southern border and at the eastern shoreline, while the actual invasion snuck in from the west.

Food for thought.

Chez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennifer Sulkin said...

eh... chez... i'm not saying you're wrong. cause i don't think you are, entirely.

and i'm not saying you're right. cause i don't think you are, entirely.

all i want to do is tell y'all a little story.

shortly after 9/11, an ex boyfriend of mine with whom i was still friendly at the time got detained by the feds at an undisclosed detention location (he was taken in with a hood, and released with a hood) for 6 days, with no explained reason, no levying of charges, no lawyer, no ability to call his loved ones to let them know where he was (his mother was FRANTIC. she even called ME to see if i knew where he was, and she doesnt even LIKE me. and i'm in a different STATE.)

do you know what his crime was?

"looking arabic"
(he is half british east indian, half czech. he has deep olive skin, high cheekbones, long curly black hair, dark eyes, and a pronounced nose)

"and taking pictures in a suspicious manner."
(and by suspicious manner, we mean, taking pictures while "looking arabic")

. . . . .

he is an AMERICAN citizen, with proof of being AMERICAN. he was born in this country. he is a manhattan partyboy. he has no religious affiliation whatsoever. his only discernable accent to his speech is 'vaguely snotty upper west side'.

he is a PHOTOGRAPHY STUDENT at SUNY STONYBROOK!!!!!

he was doing an art project, for CLASS, on NEW YORK PRIDE in its remaining architectural achievements in the wake of 9/11, taking pictures of soaring skyscrapers that were a 'testament to the architectural ingenuity and spirit of artistic inventiveness of new york city'.

his piece was MEANT to be an inspirational, post 9/11, rah rah NY, rah rah america thing.

and while taking shots for this noble endeavor, the feds kidnapped him (do you have a better word? oh wait, there was no ransom. perhaps, abducted?), subjected him to malnutrition, sleep deprivation, a cold concrete cell, psychological torture, and in the process terrified the living shit out of his mother, who called all his friends, acquaintances, drinking buddies, teachers, hospitals, morgues, and police stations she could think of. she actually got so far as calling his ex GIRLFRIENDS to see if hed gotten a bug in his ear to go make nice and hadnt told her.

and why?

cause the federal government could not fathom why an "arabic looking male" of "a certain age" would possibly be taking pictures of large shiny buildings, if he weren't up to no good.

and no amount of drivers licenses, student IDs, or non-accented english protestations could talk reason into them.

6 days later, they released him.
no apology, no explanation.
they actually tried to sell him on a party line "thanking him for his time", as if it were voluntary. the implication being, that him submitting to their interrogation and torture was somehow making america safer, and he was therefore a good citizen, and had proven it with tears, panic, and vomit.

not sayin nuthin bout nuthin.... just.... food for thought.

Jennifer

Chez said...

Let me make something clear here. I'm not talking about taking people off the streets and dragging them away to Gitmo where they'll spend the rest of their days contemplating suicide and pleading for a lawyer who never comes.

And do me the service of not giving me the "slippery slope" argument, since it's nonsense. Of course there will always be mistakes and abuses of power, but we have that anyway. No matter how you slice it however, a mistake that ends with one person, or ten, or one-hundred being released after being wrongly detained is better than 300 in the air and 3,000 on the ground dying. Am I willing to sacrifice a certain amount of my freedom to be safe? Yes, I always have been, as have a majority of Americans. And once again, the first person who gives me the "where do you draw the line?" argument gets -- in the words of the Mooninites -- "a pride-obliterating bitch-slap."

I'm talking about the weakest point we have -- admittedly one which may never be used against us again, since I agree with smellyterror (as much as it pains me to use his silly name) that those who wish us harm don't think the way we do, in that they never seem to make the most obvious statements -- I admit that it's just hilarious that we strengthen security every September 11th, as if they give a rat's ass about that date one way or the other.

Still, and I'll say this one more time since it seems to be escaping everyone's attention. The idea of profiling -- particularly based on religion (which has a tendency to go hand in hand with race in this case, unfortunately) isn't the main point that I'm making; it's only a by-product -- a consequence. What I'm saying is that we have to acknowledge that the problem is Islam. Period. We pretend that it isn't. I've read the Koran. That little bit about not destroying yourself that its liberal proponents always seem to desperately cling like a life-preserver against the tide of blood? That is one line in a book which screams for conversion by murder on almost every single page. We've been indoctrinated however to never disrespect someone's religious beliefs, no matter how dangerous. Normally, that's just absurd; in this case it can get you killed. Of course the Imams weren't dangerous on that particular day on that particular flight -- in and of themselves as it were. But they are the progenitors of a faith which thousands upon thousands stand under the banner of, just before blowing themselves up. And if you can't see that that's the ONLY reason they're willing to perform that particular act -- you need to go have your fucking head checked.

My argument is more with their reaction -- their screaming of, no pun intended, bloody murder about their treatment at the hands of security. Spend more time rebuking the hell out of anyone who dares to pick up an AK-47, or strap on a bomb packed with ball bearings and rat poision, which acts as an anti-coagulant -- ensuring as much death as possible -- and less time complaining about being discriminated against for a belief for which you absolutely should be discriminated against (could I make that any more clear?) and then you can have a seat at the negotiation table.

Got it?

Now, that's the last I'm going to say about any of this. I think I've made myself clear. I typically love healthy debate, but this time around I'll simply refer you to the point in the column which reads "any belief to the contrary is just goddamned wrong."

And Happy Thanksgiving.

Jennifer Sulkin said...

and a happy thanksgiving to you too.

that being said-

nononononononononono.... wasnt arguing with you, wasnt calling the slippery slope argument, wasnt saying any of that, and didnt at any point, if you'll note.

was simply stating a thought provoking related tale. these people say they were profiled, and my friend actually was. perhaps they were justly profiled, perhaps he wasnt. that is neither here nor there.

was just sayin is all... sheesh! i dont know which is the right path, and did not claim to, nor did i espouse any belief other than "it sucks my friend got arrested for no reason".

go um, eat some turkey and take a nap. =)

sorry if i upset you for any reason.

Jennifer

Chez said...

You could never upset me sweetie.

: )

Anji said...

A technical point. It's not the praying imams you need to worry about. It's the shaven-headed young men with an uncanny lack of bodyhair.

Anonymous said...

also, just so you know - not all Muslims walk around with bombs and shit. most of them are as pacifist as you or I. not all Muslims come from the Middle East, and I confess that I do not know a lot about them. However, there are a lot of Muslims in Bosnia, and as far as i know, christians and muslims are perfectly able to live side by side.
also, Votar - of which ethnicity was the guy who blew up the building in Oklahoma? was he a muslim? no, he was a f***ing redneck white supremacist with 3 guns in every room of his house. was that not an act of terrorism? what about the kids in columbine - was that not a terrorist act of its kind?
maybe you should start condemning extremism as such and stop trying to pinpoint the enemy. white fundamentalist Christians are just as dangerous as the midle-eastern ones. marija

VOTAR said...

I'm not from the Upper West Side, but I've been to parties that took six days to recover from...

Chez said...

Thanks Marija, now I have to step in again.

I've been friends with "Votar" for years and the only thing I can say about our collective opinion on this is that it's not hypocritical. As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing worse than some Fundamentalist Christian idiot who doesn't see the irony in despising the Muslim faith while espousing his or her own brand of ruthless intolerance and doing it under the cloak of a faith which has exactly as much evidence to back up its fantastical claims as Islam does.

If you've read this website for any length of time, you know that I dislike all faith-based religions -- which is the reason that I'll not only say that I'm against religious extremism; I'll do you one better: I'm against even religious liberalism. As far as I'm concerned, a belief in nonsense is a belief in nonsense; those for whom religion is a choice made because it brings a sense of peace and meaning to their lives and for whom the daily indoctrination of others is not part of their routine still deserve criticism for adhering to the same basic crappy belief system as their more vociferous brethren.

SmellyTerror said...

The problem for the poor Muslim folk is that they are just as likely to get deaded by terrorists as anyone else, plus they have to put up with crap from the rest of us.

Giving people crap is a good way to get more of them to hate you. Getting people to hate you is how you make more terrorists. How does that help? HAVE THEY CAUGHT ANYONE WITH THIS CRAP YET? As I said, it's not merely useless, it's counter-productive.

The problem is Islam? What religion was Timothy McVeigh? What about the Unabomber? The Tamil Tigers? ETA? The IRA?

Who would have said "the problem (on American soil) is Islam" before September 11? The sudden obsession with Islamic terrorists came because - out of fairly low-level threat - a great big one got through. So on that day, maybe they were looking for more Timothy McVeighs. Maybe that was their profile, because that was "the problem".

...there's no point in merely defending against the *last* attack. You need to look at the next one. America has a lot of people who would like to see it hurt. There are, for example, a lot of pissed off South Americans around. There are pissed off Timothy McVeighs. Hell, there are pissed off environmentalists. Who the hell knows what the motivation of the next person will be? The last big one was wildly successful, that's got to be a pretty huge inspiration for any nutjob with an axe to grind. Terrorism is *easy*, and it turns you - powerless loser that you may be - into the legendary terror, the demon of modern society, the dreaded terrorist.

And yes, the main problem right now, today, is Islamic terrorism. But remember that they are not the only threat, not by a long way. Terrorism is the Next Big Thing, and anyone can get involved.

...and remember that the perfect recruit feels alienated, humiliated and powerless. Make more alienated, humiliated powerless people, and you are *helping* the terrorists. It's stupid, it's pointless, and it has never achieved a single thing. "Recognising that Islam is the problem" is not merely wrong, not merely useless, it actually helps the very groups you're trying to stop.

Peter L. Winkler said...

"The people who want us dead are all Muslim."

Wrong. Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, for example.
The nut who went off his nut and killed all the girls at the Amish school.

Terrorism and its motive causes goes through phases. In the 60s and 70s, groups like the Red Brigade and other left-wing radicals used terrorist tactics.

19 terrorists on 9/11 were terrorists, out of billions of muslims. Not a good case for presumptvely assuming Islam=potential terrorist.

Peter L. Winkler said...

"I agree that most Americans can't tell a Sikh from a Muslim, and don't care to try -- but it takes almost no effort to train airport security to be able to."

Since both are religious beliefs, not racial characteristics, it is not only difficult but impossible to tell them apart, unless you can suddenly read minds. There are caucasians who are muslims and sikhs, asians, africans, etc.

What you are really asking for is profling based on race or nationality, since we can't instantly know by looking at somone what their religion, if any, is.

So we pull aside anyone who "looks" Arab, right? Meanwhile all the non-arabs who beleive in islam but who are dressed in western garb pass through, and any or none could just as likely be a terrorist.

Profiling is an illogical and inefficient security measure, and that's why I oppose it.

Chez said...

Smellyterror, you are so wrong it's laughable. A terrorist mission on board a plane is almost certainly going to be a suicide mission -- and only someone who is assured of his place with 72 virgins in the afterlife would undertake such a mission in this day and age. You'll notice that McVeigh -- for all of his murderous impulses walked away from the fucking Murrah Building bombing. And if Muslims are just as likely to get "deaded" by terrorists, then for God's sake why don't more of them speak up and condemn these kinds of acts? The reason of course is because when all is said and done, they understand the motivation behind them, and through their silence show tacit approval of this obscene violence.

One more time -- one last time for the cheap seats and the extremely dense: we need to admit that Islam is, if not the problem, then at the very least a problem -- and we aren't willing to do that out of some twisted sense of political correctness.

Peter, you're an extraordinarily bright guy -- but you're wrong on this. I specifically said that not all Muslims are terrorists, but at the moment almost all terrorists who would commandeer a plane and crash it while still on board are Muslim. Period. The facts are irrefutable.

Common goddamned sense kids. Those who practice this faith should be paid extra attention to. How we do that, I'm not entirely sure and that was never the point; my point is that we need to be wiling to admit that this is the problem (is there an echo in here?) and confront it.

We lie to ourselves and make hilarious excuses, blaming everything but this particular religion for creating terrorists. Madrassas teach two things: jihad against the western infidels and the glory of martyrdom.

McVeigh and the Unabomber, no matter their twisted reasoning, were never part of an entire culture whose religion teaches them to hate modernism and convert or kill those who they perceive to be an affront to Allah.

A second look -- and the admission that a second look is necessary.

That's all I suggest.

You can argue all you'd like; you'll be wrong.

Chez said...

By the way, I really do appreciate the push-back on this -- I just happen to feel very strongly about it.

Anonymous said...

wow, i thought that i felt strong about catholicism, but, wow, you really hate Islam. i know why i strongly dislike the catholic church (i was unsuccessfully indoctrinated and that has bread an inordinate amount of intolerance for their beliefs and parctices)but what is it about islam that bugs you so much??
have you actually read the Kuran?
I didn't see any Muslims spreading mohammed's teachings forcefully before 9/11. as i said in the post you chose not to publish, maybe there are other reasons behind the attacks.
yes, all religions are ridiculous and people who buy their crap are too, but i honestly do not think that Islam is more agressive than any other religion (except Budhists and some Hindus who are too serene to eat, let alone wage wars). YES,Muslims did start wars in the name of Islam but that was in the f***ing middle ages. i don't see how it's different from the conquistadors using catholicism to destroy the native population.there it is. Marija

Chez said...

No Marija, I don't hate Islam. I don't like faith-based religion in general and find it all to be silly superstition. The difference with Islam is that right now -- at this moment in time -- it's the one most likely to get me or someone I care about killed.

Right now, there are true believers in this nonsense who are attempting to acquire nuclear weapons. They loathe the west and have no particular concern for remaining here on Earth -- choosing instead to believe that their reward is in heaven with Allah. Tell me how to defend against that, and I promise I'll listen.

Janean said...

I know there is a line we have to draw somewhere; I would never want to be cruel or hurt someone based on their race or religion, but when we know a certain group of people are being trained from childhood to hate us and want to kill us in the name of their religion it is stupid to be so PC we can't even say we are going to use common sense and look at them with more scrutiny in certain situations.

I understand that there are many fundamentalist christians that do hateful things, so I make it a point sometimes to keep my religious views to myself to keep from being associated with that kind of thinking. I wouldn't blame anyone for having doubts about me based on the behaviour of so many that claim to believe in Christ, so I think that those that believe in Allah should be able to understand as well if they are peaceful and really don't believe the same way.

I think it is sad that so many people are trapped into living in such terrible places and conditions because leaders in their part of the world want to keep their people so far behind the rest of the world to hang on to their power. They use the religion to do it, just like bigots use christianity to convince its followers to hate differences in others.

I have beliefs that you consider nonsense, but I feel that no one should ever allow any set of beliefs to so color their thinking that they can't even view those that don't adhere to it as human beings. You are right, all faith based religions have militants that do this.

But I also feel that it's not just the religion itself that does this, but it is used by manipulators in positions of power to control people. Their motivations are greed and power, but they have used a religion to make their people puppets.

I think that if there were no faith based religions in the world there would still be hate, fighting, and atrocities.....it's just that something else would be used as propoganda to decieve others into accepting it.

I also think it is sad that our foreign policy only seems to inflame this situation and make it worse.

VOTAR said...

Hi guys. I'm just back from celebrating the annual dinner we Americans have to commemorate the failed 17th-Century attempt at communism here on this continent.

Marija: I just spent the weekend in Central Florida, a bastion of "f***ing redneck white supremacists with 3 guns in every room of their houses." At a gas station, I watched a big fat white woman with two skinny white barefoot kids in tow, singing at the top of her lungs along to a "comedy" tape of christmas carols, re-written to have white-supremacist lyrics. I watched her sing to her children, to the tune of "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer," their new version: "LeRoy the Big-lipped Nigger." (I GOTTA find a copy of that!)

White supremacists are all potential terrorists. They are dangerous, and should be watched very, VERY closely. Lest we all forget "4/19."

I'm very glad you and Peter Winkler agree with me completely on that.

But if you believe there are not, and have not been since the middle-ages, acts of war and terrorism motivated by the teachings of religion, wow, man, I want just a little piece of that blissful ignorance you've been smoking.

VOTAR said...

UPDATE:
Thanks to a surprisingly easy internet search that took me to, of all places, The Vault of Buncheness, I now know that song is a parody by David Allen Coe.

I would like to say that watching that woman sing it at the top of her lungs in public, with her kids in the back seat, was funny. But frankly it was disturbing.

Rule of thumb: if you are ever in Polk County Florida, near the Kissimee River State Park, be white.

Alex said...

I took a flight recently and saw one of those "Sign of the Times" moments (is that copywritten by Nightline?): A one year old boy (with his shoes off) being taken through the metal detector with his mom. Obviously, they aren't profiling at MIA.

Alex Barreto

charly gordon said...

Collective guilt is a very, very dangerous thing, folks.

Penalizing every member of a tribe for the actions of a few can lead to all sorts of monstrous behavior.

We're all adults here, so I'm having a hard time understanding why this simple fact is so difficult for some to grasp.

For example:

Anywhere from two-thirds to three-quarters of all pedophiles are married, white men in their 30s and 40s.

Is it fair to say that anyone who fits that profile -- say, someone like Chez -- deserves extra scrutiny anytime they want to be alone with kids, even, or especially, their own?

Remember, this would be based on nothing other than fitting a racial profile.

Does that make sense to anyone here?

Chez said...

Is there a problem with me being a pedophile?

Jayne said...

Actually, the interesting part about the pedophile comment is that Chez is often afraid to smile at or talk to a young child for that very reason. He realizes that in this day and age, especially in a big city, just smiling at an adorable little child will probably get him rude stares from the adults around. It's sad, but you have to understand that that's the way that it works. For the same reason, if you look like what the majority of people expect a threatening terrorist to look like, you have to be understanding that people may be suspicious.

and FYI: I used to get pulled every time I flew to be searched. EVERY TIME. I bought my tickets at the last minute with a check card, I flew alone and often bought one-way tickets for the price. I understood that although I'm a petite 27-year old all-american city gal, my travel habits looked suspicious. That was completely fine with me. Search away. In the end it makes everyone feel safer, so that's worth it to me. I wish everyone else felt the same way.

Not said...

You know the really sad thing is the Islam is not really that bad of a religion. The Prophet espoused a measure of pascifism. He believed that Muslims should never attack, only defend themselves. He also called Jews and Christians "People of the Book" and said that they all believed in the same God.

Unfortunately, there are a number of people who ignore those portions of the Qaran in favor of their own, violent views. These people are truly a danger.

Chez said...

The self-defense argument is painfully open-ended. A good percentage of Muslims believe that they're being persecuted and humiliated at all times by the big Western bully -- therefore any attack made against the west is self-defense. As far as they're concerned, the people inside the trade center were enemy combatants, guilty of a near-constant affront to Allah.

charly gordon said...

ok, seriously, though...

i understand that Chez is dealing with a death in the family...

but he DID publicly state that he supports racial profiling in airports, which means he is in favor of treating millions of people as criminals, based on nothing other than their ethnicity.

i'm still waiting for him to respond to my point about collective guilt...

if racial profiling is acceptable when it comes to protecting airline passengers from potential terrorist suicide bombers, is it also acceptable when it comes to protecting children from pedophiles?

i'm perfectly willing to wait until his mourning period is over. but i'd like a response that's not as flippant as the one he gave previously.

VOTAR said...

Wow.

Mother Superior Gordon has you bent over the desk with your pants down, you flippant little Catholic boy. She's got the yardstick out, the one with the little splinters in it that will hurt your ass a little more when she spanks you with it.

She's waiting for your answer.

Tap. Tap. Tap.


I had the occasion on Friday night to have dinner with a group of students from the University of Miami. One female student is married to a Miami Dade vice and narcotics unit cop, who joined his wife with us. He was seated next to me for the meal.

Nice guy, soft-spoken, but in a way that suggests he chooses his words carefully before speaking. Die-hard conservative, an understandable trait in a narc. Anyway, we were treated to a few anecdotes about his patrols and crack cocaine sting operations here in Miami, which for the most part, center around the neighborhoods of OpaLocka, Liberty City, and Northside. It was fascinating to learn just how fluid the cat-and-mouse game is that they play with their suspects. Shut down one buy location, and another house down the block sets up shop. It's a perpetual stalemate between law enforcement and a thriving and resourceful poverty-driven cottage industry.

These neighborhoods are not just predominantly black, they are exclusively black.

Why do the Miami Dade undercover cops set up so many crack buys in these african-american neighborhoods?

Because that's where the fucking crack dealers are.

I think a favorite passage of scripture says it best: "I have to laugh...because I've often asked myself...my foe, my enemy, is an animal. In order to conquer him...I have to think like an animal, and whenever possible... to look like one. I've got to get inside this dude's pelt and crawl around for a few days."

No wait, that's Assistant Greenskeeper Carl Spackler in Caddyshack. No matter...

Somehow the point of this topic has been boiled away to an overly-specific assumption that the author feels that a particular race is presumed guilty upon arrival, and should be "treated as criminals." I don't recall reading that. I understood it to mean that in a situation of potential imminent threat (which is likely to last, it seems in this case, until the end of mankind), it's just SMART to look twice in places where a threat is likely to emerge, based on prior experience.

The airline industry is under seige, collateral targets in a war being waged by a completely irrational, relentless, and resourceful enemy. They have to assume the posture of zero tolerance, or more people die. Do you know that someone can be refused access to a flight just for being too smelly? Can you imagine a protest in an airport terminal orchestrated by the National Organization of Societies Opposed to Antiperspirant Products (N.O.S.O.A.P.)? The imams removed from that plane the other day were eyed with suspicion for their behavior (it is my understanding they kept changing seats, moving around the cabin, asking for unnecessary seatbelt extensions...). Their ethnicity simply fueled the suspicion of fellow passengers, thanks to a spectacular act of mass murder perpetrated several years ago by criminal elements from within the same insane superstitious cult to which they also belong.

Vigilance is simply necessary, and profiling is part of that arsenal. If the WTC had been attacked by Vikings wielding axes, trying to spark the Battle of Asgaard, we'd be wary around Norwegians.

Chez give my best to Jayne and her family. Raoul sends The Healing Spirit of His People to comfort her and asks when is she coming with the Travellers to take him to Seattle. Take all the time you both need, but don't abuse the leave of absence Mother Superior has generously granted you. You know how those dried-up old nuns can get.

As for me, I'm off now to renew my NAMBLA membership and put in my time over at the day-care center. They have such DELICIOUS little children there, I already have my favorite picked out for the dungeon. And thanks to Charly, no one checks up on me any more. I told those cops I was offended by their racial profiling, and now they leave me alone.

Mmmmm, children. I can smell them already....

charly gordon said...

More flippancy, this time from Votar...

Interesting how he, also, avoids answering my question.

And I really don't mean to come across as a Mother Superior-type, but I feel that racial profiling as a tactic of law enforcement is a deadly serious business.

(Just ask the family of Sean Bell in Queens...)

Child sexual abuse is also serious. More lives are ruined each year, many beyond all hope of repair, than were lost on 9/11.

My point is this: ethnic and racial profiling is always acceptable when it's used to target any group other than white, middle-aged, married heterosexual men.

Could anyone here seriously expect to ever hear a sexual crimes unit investigator call for the targeting of an exurban megachurch in the Bible Belt, or a middle American Rotary Club or Chamber of Commerce, or, to state the painfully obvious, the local Catholic diocese because "that's where the fucking pedophiles are?"

Again, I hate to seem like I'm harping on this, but Chez is a producer at one of the largest and influential media organizations in the world. As such, his attitudes and opinions on matters such as this carry some weight.

Given his views on racial profiling of easily-identifiable ethnic minorities, I'd really like to hear his opinion of my point.

That's all.

charly gordon said...

if i may be allowed one last attempt to frame my question in a personal way (and this will be it from me, i promise...)

you say Muslim Arab men should be treated with suspicion, i.e., given "a second look," when passing through an airport and that, given the events of 9/11, they should quietly accept their lot.

i'd like to present you with a hypothetical:

i don't know if you have children, or if you're planning to. but let's say that you do. you take your six-year-old son or daughter out for the afternon every saturday -- to the Museum of Natural History, say, or to the movies, or the zoo.

let's propose that, every time you accompany him or her to the bathroom, it's standard operating procedure for a security guard or even a police officer to follow you in to keep an eye on you, or at least to stop you on your way out to ask your child whether or not daddy touched them in a bad way.

if you dare to protest, you're told to suck it up because, after all, you fit the racial profile.

would that be acceptable to you? and if not, why not?

ok, that's it from me. sorry to take up so much space.

VOTAR said...

What have we here, laddie? Mysterious scribblings? A secret code? No! Poems, no less! Poems, everybody!

The laddie reckons himself a poet!

"Money get back
I'm all right, Jack
Keep your hands off my stack
New car Caviar Four star daydream
Think I'll buy me a football team."


Absolute rubbish, laddie. Get on with your work. If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding! How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat!

Chez said...

Jesus Chuckles, you're just one big ray of sunshine aren't you?

First thing's first: you need to take a very good look at the name of this website, and the subtitle which describes in no uncertain terms what my intentions here are. If you're looking for serious, in-depth analysis and debate -- minus a heavy dose of "flippancy" (a word I haven't heard since the fifth grade incidentally), you've really come to the wrong place. Please feel free to write letters or send e-mails to Jim Lehrer or, better yet, put it in your own damn blog., otherwise, lighten the hell up.

Also keep in mind that this site was never intended to be an ongoing discussion between myself and readers -- despite the fact that I'm occasionally willing to interact with those posting comments. If you think that this is somehow a cop-out and that I should vigilantly be on-call 24/7 to defend the words that I write here and argue with every carbon-based lifeform with whom I might have a difference of opinion then, once again, put it in your own damn blog. The bottom line Charly: feel free to be as bitchy as you'd like; you're still not owed a reponse, explanation or anything else for that matter, and to demand one -- particularly during a time of legitimate mourning -- makes you look like either a petulant child or at the opposite end of the spectrum, as Votar nailed it, a domineering authority figure.

Secondly, from the very beginning -- in the copy itself -- I said that I wasn't willing to argue this column any further than I was already doing. The assertions I made here were crystal clear and the common sense remains irrefutable. I'm stunned at the number of people who are trying to prove that they can "out-smart" me on this, or who believe that they've found a loophole in the logic. They can't and they haven't. I'm as suspicious as anyone of an answer which seems overly simplistic, but it doesn't mean that that answer is wrong.

I refuse to state in detail, yet again for the astonishingly obtuse, why a certain amount of profiling along a vulnerable frontline such as an airport is a wise idea, but -- as Votar once again stated so well -- you have to look where the threat is, and to answer your question Charly, I would apply that across the board. If case history proved overwhelmingly (as is the indisputable situation with terrorists and Islam) that almost every single child molester is a 30-something white male athiest, then if I applied for a job at an elementary school I wouldn't just be expecting a closer look by the authorities; I'd be demanding it. Despite your claim however, not all child molesters are what I've just described. The same can't be said for suicidal anti-American terrorists right now; they are overwhelmingly Muslim.

Any cop in the world would kill for that kind of tell-tale giveaway while investigating a crime -- and here we have it and yet choose to pretend that it's not there.

Finally -- try not to take this as an insult, but you may want to see a shrink about your child molestation issues, as they would appear to be plenty. Just a suggestion.

Oh yeah, and for the record: the decisions I make at my job in no way affect the direction of our overall news coverage, so claiming my alleged ability to influence the hearts and minds of millions as justification for why I'm obligated to promptly defend my opinion to your satisfaction is just horseshit.

Sorry Charly.

charly gordon said...

Whoa.

Name-calling and personal insults.

Maybe I've struck a nerve.

Or maybe I was wrong to assume that your belligerence was just an act.

In either case, please allow me to respond.

First of all, I wasn't "demanding" ANYthing.

I was trying to be respectful, as were the others here who dared to disagree with you (some to the point of timidity, and I think I now know why.)

If you're "stunned" by the number of people who disagree with you, I'd like to suggest that a more mature mind would take that as a sign that your rigidly-held opinion might be worth some closer examination on your part.

My sole intent, which was stated clearly, was to try to get you to imagine yourself as a target of racial profiling, and to think about the damage, on a personal level, that it could cause.

I chose pedophilia as an example because it's the one crime that I came up with, off the top of my head, that is overwhelmingly perpetrated by people who look like you.

(And if you really believe that not to be the case, I invite you to look it up. There are many reputable sources you can try, including the FBI and several victims' advocacy groups.)

So...it's not that I have an "issue" with child molestation. If I have an "issue" here, it's with what I perceived to be your rank hypocrisy.

Also, in response to your statement about how your opinions don't influence the direction of news coverage: while that may be true at this stage of your career, it's not inconceivable that you might be promoted to a position of more responsibility in the future.

(At least you didn't give me the cop-out that you'd never ALLOW your opinions to sway your professional decisions; I've worked in newsrooms for too many years to believe that it never happens, despite our strenuous efforts.)

And lastly ... you say millions of people in this country should accept being treated as potential criminals because they committed the offense of being born into a certain ethnic group.

And YOU call ME authoritarian?

(Pot, meet kettle...)

There is one point, however, on which we are in complete agreement: this is YOUR soapbox.

I predict a bright future for you in your chosen profession; as the decision makers at your network have proven, there's BIG MONEY in pontificating, personal attacks and shouting down opposing viewpoints.

Have fun with your bully pulpit. And, yes, I do mean that in both senses of the word.

Chez said...

Oh you -- you're a clever one alright.

Relax man; you're arguing with a guy on a website.

So am I for that matter.

VOTAR said...

How are things there at FOX these days, Chez?