Subway Searches, Racial Smirches

My favorite Dragon Lady (Dorothy Rabinowitz) had a column yesterday that dovetails ever so sweetly with one I found today by Charles Krauthammer. Ms. Rabinowitz notes about the ACLU and bag searching…

Taking affront at government security measures in wartime is, of course, a choice available only to a free people, as is the right to cavil ceaselessly about the alleged erosion of our liberties, the dark night of oppression settling on us daily, as the NYCLU has so conspicuously done these last years–though not without echoing choruses from its parent organization, the ACLU, and various crank outposts of the libertarian movement…
…Mayor Michael Bloomberg has declared an ironclad ban on anything smacking of profiling with an eye to any particular ethnicity or race. If we have learned anything, the mayor recently declared, “it’s that you can’t predict what a terrorist looks like.”
To which Howard Safir, former police commissioner in the Giuliani administration, retorted on a “Hardball” interview, “We know what the 19 hijackers looked like on 9/11″–and also, he went on to note, what the London train bombers looked like, what those who bombed the Cole looked like, and more. The current mayor’s posture on profiling was, he declared, an exercise in public relations that could never work.

Mr. Krauthammer looks back at the repressions visited on the American public during other wartimes:

Civil libertarians go crazy when you make this argument. Beware the slippery slope, they warn. You start with a snoop in a library, and you end up with Big Brother in your living room.
The problem with this argument is that it is refuted by American history. There is no slippery slope, only a shifting line between liberty and security that responds to existential threats.
During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln went so far as to suspend habeas corpus. When the war ended, America returned to its previous openness. During World War II, Franklin Roosevelt interned an entire ethnic group. His policies were soon rescinded (later apologized for) and shortly afterward America embarked on a period of unprecedented expansion of civil rights. Similarly, the Vietnam-era abuses of presidential power were later exposed and undone by Congress.
Our history is clear. We have not slid inexorably toward police power. We have fluctuated between more and less openness depending on need and threat. And after the Sept. 11 mass murders, America awoke to the need for a limited and temporary shrinkage of civil liberties to prevent more such atrocities.

I’m as leery as the next person about a ‘camera in the bathroom’ (My TOWACAs are my business, thank you.), but also an eternal optimist that something as abominable as the Japanese internment could never happen again. We, as a people, would never allow it. (We’re also alot more informed than the folks in the 40’s were ~ there are pens and paper standing at the ready to report anything and everything at any time; hence we’d know now that it was also a convenient land grab of some of the most fertile farmland in California, not just xenophobic security measures.) But the fact of the matter is that the enemy has a pretty distinctive face, and we are conditioned to not upset the hijackers or question evil when we sense it. Rather, we question our senses first.

(Ms. Rabinowitz) Among other lessons of 9/11, we have learned the cost of squeamishness that prevented closer scrutiny of young Arab men entering the country even when their behavior raised suspicions. In an exceptionally powerful series airing on the National Geographic Channel on Aug. 21 and 22, titled “Inside 9/11,” an airline ticket-taker recalls being stunned by the strange look on the face of customer Mohamed Atta–particularly the unsettling fury the man exuded. Still, he could not bring himself to raise any alarm: indeed, when he heard later that the plane Atta was on had been one of those that crashed in the terror attacks, the agent felt terrible. Terrible because he had been suspicious of the passenger and thought he could be a terrorist and now the poor man was dead. It was a while before the ticket agent grasped that the man he suspected was, in fact, hijacker-in-chief and pilot of the plane.

They are here as our guests. Your reaction if someone over for dinner afterward proceeded to savage your family verbally, loud enough for his friends to hear and then spray paint your home? You’d dial 911, beat him soundly (well, at least seriously consider it) and throw him out. But if you knew the kind of person he was before you issued the invitation, shame on you.

(Mr. Krauthammer) Britain is just now waking up, post-7/7. Well, at least its prime minister is. His dramatic announcement that Britain will curtail its pathological openness to those who would destroy it — by outlawing the fostering of hatred and incitement of violence and expelling those engaged in such offenses — was not universally welcomed.
His own wife made a speech a week after the second London attacks loftily warning against restricting civil liberties. “It is all too easy to respond in a way that undermines commitment to our most deeply held values and convictions and cheapens our right to call ourselves a civilized nation,” declared Cherie Blair. You need only read Tony Blair’s 12-point program to appreciate how absurd was his wife’s defense of Britain’s pre-7/7 civil liberties status quo.
For example, point 3: “Anyone who has participated in terrorism, or has anything to do with it anywhere, will be automatically refused asylum in our country.” What sane country grants asylum to terrorists in the first place?

Look in the mirror. The absolute howler is the EU convention that says you can’t send them back if they face persecution, torture, blahblahblah. That’s true and noble in intent for someone fighting for democracy, women’s rights in Iran or Afghanistan, or the Dalai Lama. But for those cheerful Londonstan clerics, there’s a reason they had to leave in the first place. And that reason should have kept them out. And who wouldn’t be happier fomenting hate from a cushy London flat than a cave in Tora Bora?

(Mr. Krauthammer) Blair’s proposals are progress, albeit from a very low baseline — so low a baseline that the mere announcement of his intent to crack down had immediate effect. Within three days, the notorious Sheik Omar Bakri Mohammed, a Syrian-born cleric who has been openly preaching jihad for 19 years, skipped the country and absconded to Beirut.
Not only had Bakri been allowed to run free the whole time, but he had collected more than 300,000 pounds in welfare, plus a 31,000-pound gift from the infidel taxpayers: a Ford Galaxy (because of a childhood leg injury)…

And then there’s just that whole damn inconvenience thing.

(Mr. Krauthammer) Before departing Britain, Bakri complained that it would be unfair to have him deported from the country he reviled: “I have wives, children, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law. It would be hard on my family if I was deported.”
Wives , no less. Point 10 of Blair’s plan would establish a commission to try to get immigrants to adopt more of the local mores.

Hey pal. Lucky you didn’t immigrate here. Even natural born American citizens go to jail for that crap. I see the Kuwaiti and Saudi flight students down here all the time and they piss me off royally, but not why you’d think. It’s because, at 98 degrees and 100% humidity, they’re in their little short sleeves and short shorts while their wives are swathed from head to frickin toe in heavy cloth. I just want to slap those girls and scream

“WAKE the f@ck UP! How can you be at the Winn Dixie, the Wal-Mart and the mall with the rest of us, you’re stewing alive, he’s dressed like David Hasselhoff and you can still be so blind! Watching our life go by you, HOW does that HAPPEN?!”

God, that pisses me off.
Maybe I’ll stop being polite. Maybe I’ll touch her sleeve next time and say “You don’t have to dress like this unless you want to. Here in the United States you don’t have to do anything a certain way unless you want to. Your husband’s living like an American. Why aren’t you worthy of that, too?”
Or maybe not. I don’t want anyone calling the local gendarme. Intervention like that probably qualifies as a hate crime.

11 Responses to “Subway Searches, Racial Smirches”

  1. The Real JeffS says:

    Well said, THS. The screeching of the libertarians and lefties is ironic and annoying, yet it’s the very same thing that protects them…..and they have yet to see that. But the politicians needs to listen to them a little less, I think.
    Oh, and let’s not forget the genuinely concerned citizens who do more than screech and participate in semi-meaningless protests — they work to make sure we retain our liberties.

  2. Ken Summers says:

    [Echoes Jeff]
    My take on civil liberties in wartime: the slippery slope as applied in wartime is nonsense. It simply hasn’t happened and (probably) never will unless the steps taken are sufficiently small.
    What I consider far more dangerous is the incremental losses that happen in peacetime. People get used to small losses and the next one becomes easier.
    Call it my “boiled frog” civil liberties analogy. People will put up with big hassles “for the duration”, then demand cessation after the war. But people will get used to small hassles that don’t seem such a big deal at the time and so on.

  3. What I consider far more dangerous is the incremental losses that happen in peacetime.
    Amen to that, my brother.

  4. Kira Zalan says:

    First, we must stop pretending that the terrorists so far, by-and-large, have not been of the same ethnic origin. This will reasonably narrow down the search for potential perpetrators. But, it makes ALMOST as little sense to stop every Arab or North African in NYC today as it does to stop every 5th random person. Therefore, the profiling must be even more exact than race to be effective.
    Israel has been perfecting the art of profiling, and has successfully prevented El Al (national airline) hijackings since 1970. The profilers are trained to look for signs of suspicious behavior (body language), which provides effective clues of whom to question. Barring exceptional con artists, body language is a dead give away of suspicious behavior. In fact, police officers are trained to look for such clues when dealing with everyday criminals.
    The results: plenty of Arabs fly El Al, and yet enough people have been turned away to prevent terrorist attacks since 1970.
    So why not fly some Israelis to NYC to train New York’s finest on such tactics?

  5. I wouldn’t be surprised if there hasn’t been information sharing already. But openly having them come here? Oh my God Kira, have the Jooz train our police forces? Talk about feeding the ‘Americans are Israeli patsies’ frenzy. It would take on a life of it’s own and morph from a simple sharing of information into a Zionist hydra with seven heads.
    And we’d still be ‘racial profiling’, because they’d still be looking for twitchy Arab twentysumthings, however discreetly. It’s a different society there, too ~ they know they can be turned away for only being ‘suspicious’. That won’t wash here.
    I think your first sentence is the true test. And when we acknowledge that and begin to act on that in those very ways, it strips a layer of safety veneer from them. The chances of getting caught increase, resulting (if we’re lucky) in more recognizable twitching. How to handle the twitchee once identified is the next problem.

  6. Nightfly says:

    Kira – it’s a great idea, but why spoil an unbroken record of PC silliness with a momentary lapse into common sense?
    I applaud you, Ms. Sister. Bravissima! :::standing O::: But I can offer an answer to the wives-in-burqas question – Islam is submission above all. It’s not considered proper to dissent from lawful authority, even if you think you’re right and the authority wrong.
    I also think that certain people do not think that any disagreement can be the result of an honest mistake. All errors are lies; there is no different without one thing being right and the others wrong. We have it here in arguments, where sooner or later somebody’s getting accused of bad faith, stupidity, or open wickedness based on a difference of opinion. There it’s combined with the submission thing and liberally seasoned with the right to kill those who are wrong, and you get real problems. “She wants to wear a tube top” quickly runs through “She is disobedient” and “She is wanton” to “I shall teach her a lesson.”
    It wouldn’t work on you, even if you weren’t Semper Fi. But she has no chance.

  7. Ah, Diptera, I know. What would she do in the Winn Dixie if it reached her and made the lights come on? What are her options? Few. Maybe none. And it’s arrogant of me to suppose she doesn’t see the difference and wishes she could…wear shorts. Drink a beer. Go to the pool at the apartment complex. And that awareness and helplessness would be even more horrific.
    I get pissed off. It’s what I want to say, wish I could do and wish could make a difference. But it’s just wishing. (And selfish on a primal level, because the wishful thought of doing so makes me feel better.)

  8. Nightfly says:

    I get pissed off. It’s what I want to say, wish I could do and wish could make a difference. But it’s just wishing. (And selfish on a primal level, because the wishful thought of doing so makes me feel better.)
    Oh, I am SO on board with this. You saw this picture, right? Thank God they don’t hand such things out.

  9. No, I didn’t seeit because it’s access DENIED. Are you trying to get moi arrested? (Oh, and I am so going to hurt you…)

  10. Nightfly says:

    Uh-oh. I saw it when I clicked, no problem. It’s the same one in my “Bugged Fly” post.

  11. Mr. Bingley says:

    I saw the picture.

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