Friday, November 19, 2010

The price of discomfort

What price will people pay for safety? Anything, it seems, as long as they are not personally discomfited by it—especially when it involves someone else’s hands or Superman-like X-ray vision. More and more people are objecting to the new airport scanners that allegedly undress a person before a stranger’s eyes, and the pat downs that some find intrusive in the sensitive places. It seems to me that people who find this kind of thing most objectionable are white people (particularly women) with inflated perceptions of themselves, and perhaps we may also include Muslim men who object to their wives being “molested” by a stranger’s hands. But what is this really about? The right raves daily about the need to be protected from “terrorists,” but the question is who are the terrorists? Extreme-right maniac Michael (Weiner) Savage? The British government apparently thought enough of Savage to put him on their “no-fly” list. That’s just not “right.”

Michelle Malkin is one of many who actively promote the idea of racial profiling; Malkin is Filipino herself, and she could possibly pass for one of those Muslim separatist rebels in the Philippines, so I’m sure she wouldn’t object to being patted-down herself. I’ve heard at least one left-wing commentator (the son of one of our former right-wing presidents), find disconcerting and amusing that anyone would think a blond, blue-eyed person could be a terrorist; I responded via e-mail that Timothy McVeigh was also a blue-eyed blond, as are many of the neo-Nazi stripe whose stated purpose is to destroy the federal government and kill as many “colored” people as they can to make America safe for white people. And then there is Joe Stack, who flew his plane into an IRS building in Austin, Texas. Maybe they are only “terrorists” to non-whites.

It has to be admitted, nonetheless, that Muslims who wish to blame the U.S. for their problems have demonstrated a greater antagonism toward Americans. Aged Imams and Ayatollahs have shown a propensity to send young men without prospects or hope to their “glorious” deaths like so much cattle feed. If these people actually believe that the Koran instructs believers to kill “unbelievers,” then there is something either very seriously wrong with the book or those who interpret it. Of course there have been conflicts and wars between the Christian religions, but these were usually more about political identification than Biblical interpretation; today, Christians in general (and especially right-wing millionaire televangelists and megachurchists) have too much interest in material things to be personally involved in engaging in violent conflict. Another reality is that the vast majority of Muslims just want us to leave them alone instead of sticking our noses where they do not belong. We don’t need to make their problems our problems.

The question remains, however, is just because one group is more or less likely to commit a terrorist act, is that sufficient reason to profile one group and not the other, and focus on discomfiting them? Why should the tender sensitivities and racial attitudes of some white people justify targeting other groups? Why should only non-whites feel the discomfort of white people’s paranoia and fear—especially when non-whites are often the target of, yes, domestic white terrorists.

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