Saturday, January 2, 2010

The slippery slope

Eyes Let me say right off the bat that I'm very glad the Underpants Bomber failed in his attempt to blow up a plane. I also believe that we need to do as much as we can to prevent such attempts.

However, the rightwingers immediately began clamoring for profiling based on ethnicity and religion...and sometimes even because of names. Radio host Mike Gallagher (ugh...wingtard) said, “There should be a separate line to scrutinize anybody with the name Abdul or Ahmed or Mohammed.” New York Congressman Peter King said, “100 percent of the Islamic terrorists are Muslim, and that is our main enemy today. So why we should not be profiling people because of their religion?” [italics mine] My personal favorite comes from Newt Gingrich, who called for ethnic profiling and wrote:

Today, because our elites fear politically incorrect honesty, they believe that it is better to harass the innocent, delay the harmless, and risk the lives of every American than to do the obvious, the effective, and the necessary.

I just love how they toss the word "elite" around as an epithet. It's so cute.

Such profiling only serves to alienate an entire group of people, it's dangerous, and it's stupid. It's stupid because then you'd be leaving out people like Timothy McVeigh and Ted Kaczynski. Those guys blew shit up and killed people and amazingly enough, they were white (and although I don't know if they identified themselves as Christians, I'm certain they didn't consider themselves Muslim).

Japanese Why is it dangerous? Do we really want to walk down that pathway? The one where we target a specific group and create enmity and distrust against all who belong to it? The one that creates hatred because of someone's skin color, religion, or what we perceive as a "funny name?" I'm talking about the pathway that led to Japanese internment camps during World War II, right here in our own country. At the risk of Godwinning myself, it is also the pathway that led to the Final Solution and six million dead Jews.

I was discussing this with a friend online the other day, and while I agree that we need to do what we can in order to stop such terrorist attempts, there is a very fine line between safety and respect for other cultures and religions. You can't just target someone because of their religion! That goes against everything we stand for as a country. I speculated above as to whether or not Timothy McVeigh called himself a Christian. If he did, how do you think it would have gone over to have people calling for the heightened scrutiny of anyone who designates themselves as Christian, based on the actions of one disenfranchised lunatic? If you call yourself a Christian, how would you appreciate going into any federal building in your city and being directed to a different line for special screening?

District 9I'm guessing you wouldn't care for it too much, and would probably start raising holy hell (so to speak) about being persecuted for your religious beliefs. That is exactly what these fucktards are wanting to do to an entire group of people. If you don't speak out against it, there may come a time when someone really tries to do it to you, and you can believe that I would speak out against that, too. The internment of Japanese-Americans in the 40's is roundly condemned now. My friend noted that there were probably one or two saboteurs among those who were rounded up. I agreed, said I wouldn't doubt it...but that is no justification for removing an entire ethnic group (or religious group) from their homes and confining them to a camp. We must learn from the mistakes of our past and not repeat them. (By the way, I think we mostly agreed on this issue. It was just a matter of playing devil's advocate.)

On a related note, I watched "District 9" last night, and found it very pertinent to this discussion. I won't give anything away, but it involved a spaceship full of aliens basically stalling out over Johannesburg, and their subsequent treatment at the hands of humans. It was a classic science fiction theme, in which the aliens are immediately distrusted and despised because of their "otherness." (Also a very interesting take on the theme, because of the Johannesburg Gortsetting. I recommend the movie highly. Some cool Brundlefly moments, too.) I keep hoping that someday the xenophobia will fade, but we seem to have a penchant for hating anyone and anything that is different from us. Klaatu barada nikto, my ass. I'm guessing most people would want to shoot first and ask questions later.

Different is not bad. It's just different. Sometimes you can manage to learn a few things if you can get past your fear and distrust. My cousin was married to a Japanese woman for several years. His father (my uncle, a member of the WWII generation) hated her because the Japanese were still the enemy, even years later. I spent time with them, had a wonderful time learning about her culture, was pen pals with her niece in Japan for a while, and learned to love Sukiyaki, even dipping the meat and vegetables into raw egg yolk. For a small town junior high girl, it was eye-opening, fascinating, and made me want to learn more about other people and cultures in the world.

Crotch-sniffing dog Our planet is not Americacentric, you know. I believe we do important things (at least when we're led by someone other than a low-wattage bulb), but there are a lot more non-Christians than Christians, non-whites than Caucasians, and I question the self-righteous superiority of those who would call for profiling based on the fact that there are people who look or believe differently from some of us. I don't question the need to track terrorist activity or to screen more thoroughly at airports. Hey, bring it on. Screen everybody. I'll stand in front of one of those full-body scanners and show you my hoo-ha. I'll let Bruno the Bombsniffing Dog have a sniff at my crotch. But don't target a group because of the way they look, how they believe, or because you don't care for their name.

We can't operate that way. It's wrong. It's just...wrong.


  1. The knee-jerk, fear-mongering bluster of American conservatives on this matter has been utterly hyperbolic and comical. Picture for a moment if a single one of these idiots were elected President. Their wishes for profiling and what-have-you would never amount to a single thing. And, if they did miraculously manage to enact or legislate such thumb-sucking cowardice, the global backlash would be horrendous and incalculable and utterly destructive to the economy and worth of a nation that already produces next to nothing and excels only at ignorance and noise.

  2. To me it's no different than segregation. I've been closed off in a room because of my disability and having a hearing dog. I know the feeling of being alienated for something you can't help (my deafness). Why should someone have to suffer for a name or skin color.

    I hope the hell this country comes to it's senses and keeps moving forward - back would only end up destroying the foundation of what made this country, piece by piece. (Hugs)Indigo

  3. Well said. This has always been the cry of the Right Wingnut group. WASPS only, everyone else is not invited or included. And the real shame is that they don't even see it. They call people like us, who want equality and justice for ALL (uppercase mine), unAmerican, bleeding hearts, or downright fascist. They disgust me, really. And since they don't get it and never will (because they don't want to), they should just disappear.

  4. America has more Christians than any other country, and I think that has clouded our perspective. With 76% of the population claiming to be Christian, that provides a definite tilt. What I find interesting is that the actions that are being suggested are so un-Christian, how do people reconcile this disparity of position in their own minds?

  5. You know - most tax cheats are rich white men. Maybe all those right-wing idiots should be audited by the I.R.S.

    What's good for the goose...


  6. living where we do, there is a HUGE and rightfully so outcry against any form of segregating people based on their association with the muslim religion/ culture.

    we watched district 9 on new' year's eve- it was one of the most depressing movies i have ever seen and i also found the south african connection ironic.


  7. Hi Beth,
    I've heard those quotes about stopping anyone named "Mohammed" and etc. and it makes me sick. I wonder what they'd do with someone who's middle name is Hussein? Oh, forget I said that ... they'd probably want to tar and feather him.

  8. Beautifully said and so on target, it's as if the profiling contingency refuses to acknowledge that such policies only promote separatism and discrimination. I can't decide if they are just ignorant or mean, or perhaps both. I don't know about McVeigh's religious beliefs either, but the people who bomb clinics that provide legal abortions and kill the doctors who perform legal abortions profess to be doing it in the name of Christianity. If we follow the profiling advocates logic we should start monitoring church goers.

  9. I say at the start that I am a christian and it hurts and shames me and I am sure God to the deepest core when I read what some supposed Christians come out with such idiotic statemenets.. I only wish all peole who would classify themsleves as christians would remember the second law that we love one mention there of colour, other religions, or any such one another....everyone...And like you Beth I coudn't care less about standing..or in my case sitting in front of the machines showing all my "dangly bits" !!
    do love your way of writing x
    Love Sybil x

  10. Nothing to add here. You said it well, and previous commenters affirm and round out your words.

  11. Brilliant post and comments. For once, I am speechless. You hit the proverbial nail directly on the head.

    Happy New Year to you and Ken!

  12. I watched a news program a few days ago showing how the airport in Tel Aviv operates and its safety rating. They do search and check everyone. There is no way this country would do that.

  13. Beth what a great post. I don't think anyone should be judged on how they look or what their name is. Hell, a drag queen could get on a plane with explosives under her damn wig! You can't always judge a book by it's cover. I think that everyone should be checked equally. Hell, I'd welcome a good pat down!!! Your right on target girl!

  14. Indeed, I am often stunned how the high profile Conservative Christians tend to toss out some of the most simple tenants of their faith in order to promote an agenda of fear. I remember being taught to 'do unto others as you would have others do unto you.' Nowhere did my early teaching say anything about there being exceptions for people who disagree with me, who are different from me. It makes me wonder if they are afraid their faith isn't strong enough to get a pass at the pearly gaits, or if their fear is just larger because insecurity about their intelligence. Either way, it ain't good.

  15. Go Beth! Brilliant post. I'm not surprised conservative wingnuts are saying this, however I am surprised at how quickly others outside their movement are joining the call for profiling. The promise of better security and convenience, via profiling, is clouding our collective consciousness.


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