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March 31, 2007

Comments

Shari'a law in taxicabs??

As an indication that we have not all fallen for this, I remember about a year ago being at the airport (in the US) at sunset, seeing (some of) the cabbies on the sidewalk praying towards Mecca--and nobody took any notice.

Eric Rudolph is not a terrorist, but an anti-terrorist fighter. Those who have killed babykilling abortionists have done so to protect the innocent. People use force everyday to protect the innocent and no one has a problem with it, except when it comes to protecting unborn human beings, then they go ballistic. It's very simple, the unborn deserve the same protection as the born. Born people are protected with force quite often. Force that you would be glad if it was to protect your children against a murderer. Force that you yourself might use to protect your own children from being murdered. The unborn deserve the same protection.
SAY THIS PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I am a sinner and am headed to eternal hell because of my sins. I believe you died on the cross to take away my sins and to take me to heaven. Jesus, I ask you now to come into my heart and take away my sins and give me eternal life.

Rev. Don Spitz: If you don't like the laws, work to get them changed. Demonstrate peacefully outside clinics. Start killing doctors and you become a murderer. Put bombs in the middle of the Olympics and you become a terrorist.

How many abortionists, exactly, were at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta? What makes that anything other than an act of terrorism?

Ew. I really wish I hadn't Googled the very, um, prolific Rev. Spitz (Army of God website is NSFW).

If anyone deserves the title 'terrorist appeaser'...

'Or, to quote Chris Kelly: "It's like Pat Benatar wrote Braveheart."'

Can someone explain this to me?

Dear Rev. Don Spitz:

I am John Doe.

I am reading your posts on the Internet.

I know where your website is.

I am traveling on your plane. I am riding on your train. I am at your bus stop. I am on your street. I am in your subway car. I am on your lift.

I am your neighbor. I am your customer. I am your classmate. I am your boss.

I will protest your extremist Christian ravings.

I will petition against your hate-mongering leaders.

I will raise my voice against your subjugation of women and religious minorities.

I will challenge your attempts to indoctrinate my children in our schools.

I will combat your violent propaganda on the Internet.

I am John Doe.

I will support law enforcement initiatives to spy on your operatives, cut off your funding, and disrupt your murderous conspiracies.

I will resist the imposition of extremist Christian principle in my taxi cab, my restaurant, my community pool, the halls of Congress, our national monuments, the radio and television airwaves, and all public spaces.

I will not be censored in the name of tolerance.

I will not be cowed by your Beltway lobbying groups in moderate clothing. I will not cringe when you shriek about "religious intolerance" or “the war against Christ.”

I will put my family’s safety and my country above your religious dogmatism.

I will not submit to your will. I will not be intimidated.

I am John Doe."

Good post, Hilzoy. When I read this Malkin manifesto, I thought, great, we'll improve security by completely alienating and irritating a lot of people in a position to help. There are people at the masjid who might be keen on al qaeda, and there are people at the masjid who think that's completely stupid, and I'm pretty sure they look exactly alike to the angry dude wearing a "John Doe" button.

Can we waterboard him? After all, it's an approved method; I'm sure that he'd have no complaints. And if he did, I'd volunteer to be the complaint dept. Since I'd also volunteer to be his, um, 'waterpark' ride operator, so to speak, we'd have a very tight process improvement cycle.

I'd like to know how the poster 'john doe' feels about this. >grin<

'Or, to quote Chris Kelly: "It's like Pat Benatar wrote Braveheart."'

Can someone explain this to me?

I laughed out loud when I read this, but it is a bit difficult to explain why I did. I'm thinking of the 'Love is a Battlefield' video, in which Benatar, getting kicked out of the house, turns to walking the streets in order to get back at her father, which really shows him. Here is the vid and here is an excellent good write up

I personally am looking forward to the coming mudpit fight between Coulter and Malkin as Malkin has struggled to get the upper hand by invoking the fact that she is a parent and doesn't countenance the dirty mouth of Coulter. Coulter has a number of rhetorical moves she can go to, so this is a fight that could go the distance.

For one thing, most terrorists in this country are not Muslim, and it's a mystery to me why Malkin assumes that they are, or why she doesn't seem nearly as interested in spotting the next Tim McVeigh or Eric Rudolph.

That's just silly to name two people, McVeigh and Rudolph, and imply that their ilk are more like terrorists than Muslim terrorists and would-be terrorists. The perpetrators of 9/11, a single incident outnumbered McVeigh and Rudolph. Don't deny simple facts.

That said, McQ gave a better explanation of the situation than Malkin.

That's just silly to name two people, McVeigh and Rudolph, and imply that their ilk are more like terrorists than Muslim terrorists and would-be terrorists.

McVeigh killed 293 men, women and children in his crusade against the US government. He didn't care. THAT'S TERRORISM, by any definition.

Don't deny simple facts.

Don't project, dear.

Good post, Hilzoy. When I read this Malkin manifesto, I thought, great, we'll improve security by completely alienating and irritating a lot of people in a position to help. There are people at the masjid who might be keen on al qaeda, and there are people at the masjid who think that's completely stupid, and I'm pretty sure they look exactly alike to the angry dude wearing a "John Doe" button.

You know, this happened in WWII, with the Japanese American concentration camps. Pissed off thousands of no-no boys who would have run through walls and rooted out the Japanese sabateours (who were nearly all non-Japanese Americans). Idiotic use of manpower, fueled explicitly by racism.

That's just silly to name two people, McVeigh and Rudolph, and imply that their ilk are more like terrorists than Muslim terrorists and would-be terrorists.

Oops, meant more likely.

Er...I have a question.

Is this a reversed version of some jihadist pledge that everyone is supposed to know of? Or is it original?

I'm curious because of the use of the word "lift." I assume she means "elevator" rather than "ski lift," but wtf? Malkin is from New Jersey, not Europe, and I find it hard to believe that *anyone* born and raised in the U.S. would choose that word.

What I'm getting at is: Is there any chance Malkin borrowed some other xenophobe's rant without credit?

Now you can all tell me the common usage of "lift" in popular culture that I'm too superannuated to be aware of.

Ooops. One other thing: I wonder what Universal/MCA would make of the use of that Spartacus footage in this manner, which I'd assume is unauthorized. In general, I support the use of iconic images for parody+ (and that + would include this video), so it would be hypocritical of me to rail against it on those grounds.

But I *can* say with some assurance that Stanley Kubrick, Howard Fast, and Dalton Trumbo are spinning in their graves. Kirk Douglas would be too, if he weren't still kicking and, at ninety, out promoting a new book. He produced Spartacus himself, and I wonder if he still owns a piece of it and the control that might include.

That's just silly to name two people, McVeigh and Rudolph, and imply that their ilk are more like terrorists than Muslim terrorists and would-be terrorists.

DaveC,

American muslims have either repudiated the 9/11 hijackers or demonstrated zero support for them. In contrast, people who lived near places where Eric Rudolph was hiding actually had pro-Rudolph bumper stickers on their cars. This terrorist was actively supported by Americans as he evaded capture.

When you can show me an America where Eric Rudolph is not lauded as a hero, I'll take your comments more seriously.

That's just silly to name two people, McVeigh and Rudolph, and imply that their ilk are more like[ly] terrorists than Muslim terrorists and would-be terrorists. The perpetrators of 9/11, a single incident outnumbered McVeigh and Rudolph. Don't deny simple facts.

The threat was--and is--not just limited to McVeigh and Rudolph.

DaveC, I like you, really, but sometimes
(ok, quite often) your drive-bys come across as unnecessarily confrontational and puerile. And I find it harder and harder to take your contributions here seriously. YMMV, etc.

The parody writes itself, and it is titled "I am John Dough".

And honestly, god love you Hilzoy, but I does an apologia for domestic terrorism even deserve a level-headed rebuttal and not just a concise "Get the f*ck off my blog you lunatic?" (I'm referring to Rev. Spitz here, of course, lest there be any confusion.)

At the risk of derailing the conversation, if you believe the government is sanctioning murder by individuals is violent resistance never a moral option? The best argument I can think of is that nonviolent resistance is probably more effective, but what if it isn't? I should say that I'm pro-choice, but I'm just curious how one can draw lines between militant anti-abortion actions and, say, violence waged against genocidal regimes.

I'd argue that targeting civilians the way Rudolph did is never a moral option.

Fair enough, but what about targeting the doctors who perform abortions, and, to avoid the logical incoherence that plagues most anti-choice proponents, those who get them?

imply that their ilk are more like terrorists than Muslim terrorists and would-be terrorists

USA PATRIOT sec 802 (a), Dave. read it. learn it. watch your step.

Lars, you're doing an excellent job of illustrating why violence/armed struggle is such a wrong approach.

Advocating (or devil's advocating) the murder of men and women who are not breaking any law, on behalf of what only some people believe to be persons. Yeah, that's so like resisting a genocidal dictatorship.

woah. Malkin wrote that? i read a part of that somewhere and assumed it was yet another anonymous wingnut chain email thing. i always thought Malkin must have some kind of writing ability - she's a professional, after all. but this screed sounds like it was written by a high school student.

Michelle Malkin in a giant dink.

Cleek: Malkin's professional qualifications have little to do with ability.

Nell: I'm curious as to how one differentiates the two scenarios beyond a (correct) visceral reaction. Don't most government sanctioned genocides involve people lawfully killing those who only some consider persons? And, to be clear, it's devil's advocating; I'm pro-choice and, in most cases, against armed struggle.

i always thought Malkin must have some kind of writing ability - she's a professional, after all.

Not everyone would agree.

I guess I could recast my question as why do those who are against abortion agree that there is a difference between acceptable responses to the two scenarios. In doing so, do they implicitly acknowlege that there is a distinction between the personhood of fetuses and genocide victims? Or, if they wish to be completely morally coherent, are they compelled to renounce all armed struggle?

DaveC: I never said anything about who was most likely to be a terrorist; just that Malkin was being pretty selective.

Gromit: just put it down to sheer amazement. Especially since the rev. managed to comment within minutes of this post going up. I was sort of dumbfounded.

Understood, hilzoy. I think that maybe the crazed high school kids that might shoot up a school would be closer percentage-wise. And that could be a better analogy about how we need to be aware when there appears to be a problem. I wasn't saying all Muslims are potential terrorists or anything like that, just that the very odd cases like the flying imams or the college kids with hundreds of pre-pay cell phones should not be ignored outright because of political correctness.

Sorry you feel that way, mattt. It's just that using Rudolph and McVeigh, to me is kind of like citing Baruch Goldstein's mosque massacre as Israeli terrorism. There is a disparity in numbers of incidents or something that rubs me the wrong way. After all, the anti abortion murderers in the last 25-30 years you can count on one hand, maybe 2-3 fingers. The World Trade, however was targeted at least twice, with the intent to kill as many people as possible, with partial success once and complete success in 2001. And the perpetrators lived in the US at the time. I may sound bad to you, but somebody has to say these things.
I genuinely do not bear ill will to you or hilzoy or anybody, but sometimes I disagree, indeed sometimes quite passionately.

There is a disparity in numbers of incidents or something that rubs me the wrong way.

We are talking about domestic terrorism here, right? That certainly is the impression I get from Malkin's manifesto (it's all about reporting suspicious behavior to the police and what-not).

DaveC,

I agree with you; cases like the flying imams or college kids with hundreds of pre pay cell phones should not be ignored because of political correctness. They should be ignored because they're complete and total bullshit.


Look, there are some things life that scare you and there are some things in life that are actually dangerous. You need to understand that those two sets are not identical. People get scared of many things that are not actually dangerous (or are not statistically dangerous) and at the same time, ignore lots of very real dangers.

If these people had actually done something suspicious, by all means, investigate, but they haven't done anything particularly suspicious. A bunch of random people got scared, but that doesn't mean the imams/students are actually dangerous.


DaveC, I have a question for you: when was the last time you spoke with a muslim? How many muslims do you speak with on a regular basis that you consider close friends? Have you ever had any?

DaveC: I'd be happy, anytime, to put real money on the table saying that there are more native born Americans ready, willing, and able to murder their fellow countrymen for some fanatic point of view or other, than there are Muslim terrorists at large in this country. My two cents.

Lars: The difference between militant anti-abortion activists and folks who oppose genocidal regimes by force is that the government of the USA is not forcing anyone to have an abortion.

Thank you.

when was the last time you spoke with a muslim?

I've been out of town to a place where there aren't so many Muslims, so it would be about 10 days, give or take.

How many muslims do you speak with on a regular basis that you consider close friends? Have you ever had any?

Hmm, I would say no. I'm taking the definition of "close friends" sort of strictly here. I didn't go to elementary or high school with Muslims. Really first acquainted with any Muslims in college (mainly Iranians, pre-Khomeini), but they weren't my closest buddies, but I partied with them and worked with them. Then well, after I moved away, got married, had kids, the job, I guess I lost the knack of having "close friends". You know, I have many friendly acquaintances and so forth, co-workers, swimming parents, Indian Guides/Princesses Dads, church sort-of, neighbors, etc.

But I'm not really that much of a joiner. I'm not that, like, intimate with people now that I am middle aged and live away from where I grew up.

If you broadened the definition, I have had a couple of Muslim friends come over to the house. One of them really, really didn't like my friendly dogs.
when was the last time you spoke with a muslim?

I've been out of town to a place where there aren't so many Muslims, so it would be about 10 days, give or take.

How many muslims do you speak with on a regular basis that you consider close friends? Have you ever had any?

Hmm, I would say no. I'm taking the definition of "close friends" sort of strictly here. I didn't go to elementary or high school with Muslims. Really first acquainted with any Muslims in college (mainly Iranians, pre-Khomeini), but they weren't my closest buddies, but I partied with them and worked with them. Then well, after I moved away, got married, had kids, the job, I guess I lost the knack of having "close friends". You know, I have many friendly acquaintances and so forth, co-workers, swimming parents, Indian Guides/Princesses Dads, church sort-of, neighbors, etc.

But I'm not really that much of a joiner. I'm not that, like, intimate with people now that I am middle aged and live away from where I grew up.

If you broadened the definition, I have had a couple of Muslim friends come over to the house. One really, really didn't like my friendly dogs.

I think what you are trying to tell me, in so many words, is that you are worldly and I'm ignorant. My answer to you is that, well maybe you are not the better judge of what is dangerous and what is not, I don't know you, you don't know me - I mean we're not "close friends". So who's to say?

But I didn't preview, so that's evidence of a lack of judgement to some extent.

My answer to you is that, well maybe you are not the better judge of what is dangerous and what is not...

Out of curiosity, can you estimate the odds that you're going to die in a Muslim-based terror attack? Can you estimate the actual, concrete danger such people pose to your life in particular, or the health of the American polity as a whole?

And more pointedly: can you compare and contrast the actual, concrete danger posed by Muslims (of whatever stripe) in this country as opposed to Christians (of whatever stripe) to your life in particular, or the health of this country?

And the larger question: wtf is wrong with these people that, as citizens of the most powerful nation in history, they feel compelled to invoke the beleaguered few of Themopylae or the necessary anonymity of a John Doe? It's like they read the part about the massed hordes of Eastasia and didn't realize that it was intended as propaganda...

DaveC: After all, the anti abortion murderers in the last 25-30 years you can count on one hand, maybe 2-3 fingers.

In the past 30 years: 4 kidnappings: 7 people murdered: 17 attempted murders: 100 butyric acid attacks: 157 cases of assault and battery: 385 death threats: 487 stalkings: 655 anthrax threats. (Violence against doctors and clinics by pro-life activists - pdf file) The pro-life movement is one of the US's homegrown terrorist movements, like the KKK. Many people who identify as pro-life may not support any of the activities listed above or in the PDF file I linked to, but they do support the goal of the pro-life movement; to make abortion illegal, and thus send maternal morbidity rates soaring and cause women to die and be made sterile in illegal abortions.

Whereas not only do most Muslims not support any of the activities of terrorist organisations like al-Qaeda, you can't even assume they support its goals.

Anarch: I think it meshes with/derives from the need some American Christians feel to identify themselves as "persecuted" when (for example) they're greeted by "Happy Holidays!" in stores in December, rather than "Merry Christmas!"

I think what you are trying to tell me, in so many words, is that you are worldly and I'm ignorant.

Actually, I asked because I had hoped that your beliefs were based on ignorance; I was hoping you would reaffirm my faith in humanity. Fear based in ignorance is a lot easier to fix than many alternatives.


My answer to you is that, well maybe you are not the better judge of what is dangerous and what is not, I don't know you, you don't know me - I mean we're not "close friends". So who's to say?

Well, I suppose we can never know anything for certain (by the way, I thought conservatives did not believe in moral relativism?), but there are some objective reasons to believe that my for assessment for islamic terrorism is better than yours:

* I've traveled extensively in the middle east; in fact, my parents immigrated to the US from there.

* I speak some arabic.

* I've studied how to make formal risk assessments for my job.

So, I suppose you might be the better judge in this case, but based on what I've seen, I really think that I am.


Also, consider the fact that you "miscounted" abortion related violence according to Jes' figures and that you can't seem to explain what threat the flying imams and students posed. Were they going to pray excessively hard or perhaps undercut walmart? Those are both bad things certainly, but they pale in comparison to getting acid thrown in your face.

Jesurgislac,
Good link, it made me feel better. The numbers on pro-life violence were a lot lower that I expected, but I've probably got a jundiced view not to mention being stuck in the past. My experiences as a vounteer to escort patients safely through the protesters into women's health clinics all fall in the 77-90 block, in north Florida. The clinic where I volunteered was fire-bombed twice, everyone associated with it received death threats directed both at themselves and their famlies (I wonder about their count, is that one instance?), several workers had shots fired into their homes. My wife and I got concealed weapon permits and started going aboout our daily business armed because of the threats. I know that things have calmed down considerably since the glory days of operation rescue but, DaveC, I hope you can understand why my instinctive reaction when someone says religious terrorism is to think christian extremist not muslim extremist.

Well, we see from the sentence given David Hicks that the US government isn't ntaking the threat from the 'worst of the worst' particularly seriously either. Nine months, mostly in an Aussie jail. But the important thing is that he agreed to a gag order, and denied all allegations of abuse.

So it all comes down to face-saving.

Common Sense, to clarify, butyric acid attacks might make some people sick, but they're really a type of vandalism -- nothing to do with throwing acid in people's faces.

I don't know why everybody's beating up on Malkin. I say thank God for people like her; when we finally admit to ourselves that Iraq is unwinnable and start helo-ing our people out, there're gonna be a lot of jingoistic nutballs out there making plans to exact revenge upon those of us who undermined the troops or tied the president's hands (or whatever the hell we're doing wrong, I never could follow the logic), and I'm sure Malkin'll be on the lookout for their nefarious schemes.

Or is she only concerned with Arab-y types? I might've missed the finer points. It's early and I'm so bleary-eyed I actually thought for a second there that an online writer understood the distinction between "begging the question" and "raising" it, so clearly the lack of coffee's wreaking havoc on my reading comp.

butyric acid attacks might make some people sick, but they're really a type of vandalism -- nothing to do with throwing acid in people's faces.

Thanks for the footnote. I should have added that myself. Butyric acid attacks are (apparently) primarily used to ensure that a clinic has to close down until it can be cleaned, since the smell makes most people vomit uncontrollably, but in my view this counts as a physical assault - the couple of times in my life I've vomited uncontrollably, it's been an exceedingly unpleasant experience. But it's true it's not physical assault to the same degree of harm as acid thrown in the face would be.

Baskaborr: . The numbers on pro-life violence were a lot lower that I expected

The NAF website compiles the statistics based on reports from the news, member clinics, and pro-choice organizations, and says that the numbers are likely higher in most categories due to underreporting.

wtf is wrong with these people that, as citizens of the most powerful nation in history, they feel compelled to invoke the beleaguered few of Themopylae or the necessary anonymity of a John Doe?

they want the tWoT to be a giant existential struggle, on par with England in WWII. so they're playing Churchill - making brave speeches to rouse their countrymen, in this, their country's darkest hour. they sketch-in enemies where there aren't any; they pretend the stakes are higher than they actually are; they encourage actions that are out of sync with reality. they're living in a fantasy world.

On the topic of brave Spartans at Thermopolea: my boyfriend encountered one--well the car of one--at the grocery the other day. The car was festooned with every kind of pro-Bush, pro-war bumper sticker possible. The most offensive one had a peace symbol and the slogan "footprint of a chicken".

Well my boyfriend just happened to have a bumper sticker taped to his back window( I gave it to him) that said "Support the War-Draft a Republican".

So he thought it over and did it...stuck his sticker over the chicken one.

So I wonder how long it will be before the brave Spartan notices?

Malkin is over the top (as usual). But there is a point to be made here. They were up to something. It was an intentional provocation at a minimum. I think we should be concerned at the attempt to sue people into silence. Passengers should report suspicious behavior. After all, they didn’t jump these guys and tie them up in the aisle and sit on them – they reported their concerns to the flight crew.

If these lawsuits were successful and a couple of “John Doe” folks lost a ton of money defending themselves would it make you (anyone) less likely to report your concerns in the future?

The amended lawsuit identifies possible John Does as individuals who "may have made false reports against plaintiffs solely with the intent to discriminate against them on the basis of their race, religion, ethnicity and national origin."

IANAL – but this seems ridiculous. How could they possibly prove that John Doe wasn’t really concerned for his safety, he was just being racist for the hell of it?

I say kudos to the lawyers who have stepped up and offered to defend any John Doe for free.

Michelle is over the top – but I think you are letting these guys off way too easy.

How could they possibly prove that John Doe wasn’t really concerned for his safety, he was just being racist for the hell of it?

if you ask someone a few questions and he keeps saying things like "well, even if this one wasn't guilty, this action sends a message to all the rest of 'em who are, that we aren't gonna take it; hell no, we ain't gonna take it; we're not gonna take it, any more."

that'd prove it to me, well enough.

In the Frank Capra film, "Meet John Doe", the lovely Barbara Stanwyck's character puts the words of her false manifesto in the mouth of John Doe, the lovely Gary Cooper, and ends it with a threat for him to commit suicide by leaping from the roof of City Hall on Christmas Eve to dramatize his demands with a little seasonal martyrdom.

Why does Malkin leave that part out?

The entire poor, dear, misunderstood victim class in the Republican Party could shimmy up the Washington Monument, give one final tax-deductible shriek, and leap into the reflecting pond.

I like a little high-stakes desperation in my drama-queens.

Instead, Malkin invariably comes across as a high school junior trying to make her chops on the school newspaper with a searing expose about how the hair-netted, treasonous ladies running the cafeteria didn't ice the Fourth of July cupcakes with red, white, and blue frosting, and we all know what that means.

Maybe she can get a petition going and clickity-clack down the tiled school hallways in her fashionable high-heeled jackboots to present it to the power-hungry vice principal.

"...it might be because unlike (for instance) the British, we already had another group firmly lodged in the Minority We Discriminate Against slot by the time Muslims began to arrive in significant numbers, and thus didn't need to enlist them for this purpose."

The British discriminated against plenty of minorities before Muslims arrived in any signficant numbers. The Irish, black people, Jews, women (ignoring for the sake of argument the definition of "minority"). The discrimination wasn't in most cases as bad or as institutionalised as it was/is against blacks in America, but it was there all right.

DaveC: I genuinely do not bear ill will to you or hilzoy or anybody, but sometimes I disagree, indeed sometimes quite passionately.

Likewise. ;)

I'll post a proper response @ my pad later today - will make sure to send you the link, Dave. Happy Wrestlemania Sunday.

Didn't the hippie-infested CIA under George Tenet send some memos to Condi and Dick and George during the summer of 2001 asking THEM to join the John Doe club?

They were up to something. It was an intentional provocation at a minimum. I think we should be concerned at the attempt to sue people into silence. Passengers should report suspicious behavior.

OCSteve:

Who was up to something? Precisely what were they up to? How do you know?

Why are you using the phrase "intentional provocation?"

I'm really confused about why we're supposed to assume that all John Does have pure motives but that the imams must have been intentionally provocative.

Seriously, OCSteve, I really really want to hear your answers to these questions, because in the absence of some hard facts, your unsupported assertions seem a little like "crazy man in the park ranting about the aliens probing him."

Or maybe I'm just terribly confused.

It's just that using Rudolph and McVeigh, to me is kind of like citing Baruch Goldstein's mosque massacre as Israeli terrorism. There is a disparity in numbers of incidents or something that rubs me the wrong way.

Are you trying to claim that israeli terrorist attacks against palestinians or israeli-arab citizens are *rare*?

What planet do you come from?

If these lawsuits were successful and a couple of “John Doe” folks lost a ton of money defending themselves would it make you (anyone) less likely to report your concerns in the future?

No, because there's a huge qualitative difference between concerned citizens and "John Doe" folks, and that's entirely my point. To be the latter requires, by its very definition, a belief in both a complacent population that will do nothing, and in one's special, higher calling to do battle with the invading hordes. That's paranoia on a national scale -- not just the enemies without, but the enemies within -- and it's not something that I'm overly concerned about being prosecuted for.

Are you trying to claim that israeli terrorist attacks against palestinians or israeli-arab citizens are *rare*?

Or, to be fair, the other way around. There's a whole lot of people killing civilians for no particularly good reason.

Who was up to something? Precisely what were they up to? How do you know?

Well, I wasn’t there personally, so I rely mostly on news reports, as I suspect most folks do.

I don’t think that they planned anything beyond what they did. I do think that they fully intended to provoke this incident. Their behavior was provocative, IMO, intentionally so. Prayers and speaking in Arabic? I don’t think that would freak most people out. But it was a fellow speaker of Arabic who was concerned enough to report their conversation.

If you have a group of men who scatter throughout the aircraft and do not sit in their booked seats, who ask for seatbelt extensions when they do not need them (and place them under their seats rather than using them) I would be very concerned. What do you think would happen if you attempted to bring a tough strap with a heavy weight on the end through security as carry on? Would they let you keep it? I hope not.

Have you researched Omar Shahin? Would you be comfortable with him on your flight?

“Intentional provocation” is the least of what happened here.

If a half dozen devout Christians got on my flight and acted similarly I would report them, and likely demand to be let off the plane. All I can assume by your comment is that you would not – you would be just fine in that situation. I don’t understand that – I guess it makes me a bad person.

To be clear – what I think happened here…

I don’t believe that they intended any actual harm to anyone. I do believe that they made a conscious decision to act that way and to provoke a reaction. Call it a protest against what they see (with some justification) as profiling. I say “some justification” because it seems that given the choice between a young middle-eastern male and a 70 year old Caucasian grandmother, grandma gets strip-searched. We are too PC in this area, and people like this are trying to push us more in that direction. Why?

OCSteve: Prayers and speaking in Arabic? I don’t think that would freak most people out.

It might not freak you out, but it does appear to have been what freaked the "John Does" out.

According to their lawyer in the NYT, the imams were asking for seatbelt extensions for the obvious reason - their belts didn't fit - and they were sitting in their assigned seats. (link)

The initial provocation seems to have been that they were praying at the gate, and that they were talking in Arabic. After that, to a bunch of John Does, everything else looked suspicious.

Personally, I think a decent airline would have told the John Does that if they wanted to unilaterally change their flights (and pay the fee) they were welcome to leave the aeroplane, and if they didn't, to sit down, shut up, and quit creating a ruckus. As the airline staff failed to do this, the airline certainly deserves to be sued: poor standards of customer care, to say the least.

Jes: From your link:
… they requested seat belt extenders and stowed them under their seats.

Seriously – what would you do? If you tell me seriously that you would have been fine then I will just say you are a better person than I am (but you knew that).

According to their lawyer in the NYT, the imams were asking for seatbelt extensions for the obvious reason - their belts didn't fit

I don't know in general whether their lawyer is any more or less trustworthy than the reports of the passengers, but their need for seatbelt extensions is presumably testable -- was every one of them large enough to need one?

As far as the lawsuit against the John Does, as long as they were truthfully reporting what they witnessed and didn't harass anyone, I don't see why they should be liable, regardless of their underlying motivation. The airline officials were free to act on their concerns or not, as they saw fit.

What do you think would happen if you attempted to bring a tough strap with a heavy weight on the end through security as carry on? Would they let you keep it? I hope not.

OCSteve,

Why not? I have certainly carried a heavy fireman's belt onto plane; that belt has a camera pack that can be easily filled with heavy things that I've also packed in the same bag. I've never had any problems getting that through security. I've also carried a bag with 150 robots through security without incident. We let people take on all kinds of things that can be used as weapons onto aircraft. So what?

Can you please explain to me what exactly the imams would have done with the seatbelt extenders? Would they have smashed a stewardess on the head? And then what? Cockpit doors are reinforced, and, in any event, the other passengers would have beaten them senseless because they know that a hijacking is a death sentence unless you put a stop to it.

Seriously, what is your threat model here? Do you even have a threat model?

Hijacking stopped being effective on 9/11. Just because you are really really scared on airplanes does not mean that there is a legitimate basis for your fear.

As for Omar Shahin, I don't see what the big deal is. Can you explain specifically why I wouldn't want him on a plane? The guy is a religious leader and attorney. Is it now your contention that all attorneys should be banned for flight? The worst thing that I see is that he ran a charity that was accused of funding Hamas. I don't see what the problem is there. The US government has accused him, but an accusation is very different from a conviction. I suppose they couldn't get a conviction due to a lack of waterboarding.

On every single flight I've ever taken through Boston Logan, I'm sure I've traveled with people who funneled a hell of a lot more money to the IRA than this guy ever did to Hamas. Are you suggesting that all those people should be banned from flight? Or do you believe that Israeli lives are inherently worth more than British lives?

(By the way, I've heard of cases in the past where people claimed to be arabic speakers when reporting on actual arabic speakers; usually, they're lying. Most people believe they instinctively "know" when people are up to no good and that the police will easily confirm that once they're given a pretext to investigate.)

Michelle Malkin...wait, she's of Filipino descent, isn't she? and wait...aren't there terrorists in the Philippines?

Malkin...I got my eye on you.

Common Sense: but were you carrying 150 fifty foot robot Michael Jacksons?

I thought not. I rest my case.

I am a bit troubled by the lawsuits against the individuals. That doesn't make Malkin's manifesto any less crazy.

I don't understand what researching Omar Shahin has to do with anything. Is OCSteve suggesting that the passengers recognized him and knew something about him that would justify panic?

Hilzoy,

No I was not. There are some things that even DARPA will not fund. Thankfully, thesis work on how to destroy the sun is something that they will fund.

We let people take on all kinds of things that can be used as weapons onto aircraft.

And yet, we won't let people take a tube of toothpaste on the plane that I just bought the day before and was barely used, godfrackit.

I'm just going to note for the record that the last plane to crash into a New York City building---just twenty blocks north of the U.N.---was a small private jet.

OCSteve, I know you get piled on a lot around here, but really...

Compare the article...

Some passengers also said that the men spoke of Saddam Hussein and cursed the United States, and that they requested seat belt extenders and stowed them under their seats.

...to your comment:

… they requested seat belt extenders and stowed them under their seats.

I'm a big fan of the ellipsis, but I don't see how this is anything other than an abuse of its purpose.

How many imams were alleged to have stowed seatbelt extenders under their seats, and by how many passengers exactly? How many of the imams were overweight? Was this allegation confirmed by the flight crew? How many of the passengers spoke Arabic? Etc etc...

Just because the AP can't afford copy editors doesn't mean you have to pick on some poor innocent piece of punctuation.

For one thing, most terrorists in this country are not Muslim, and it's a mystery to me why Malkin assumes that they are, or why she doesn't seem nearly as interested in spotting the next Tim McVeigh or Eric Rudolph.

Don't lie. You know perfectly well why Malkin assumes that in her rhetoric, and why she's not interested in spotting the next Tim McVeigh or Eric Rudolph.

OCSteve: … they requested seat belt extenders and stowed them under their seats.

Seriously – what would you do?

Um, if I were sitting next to someone who requested a seat belt extender and then put it under his seat? ....Well, I'd figure that he wasn't sure how to fit it and needed a flight attendant's help. If the seat belt fitted him, I would expect him to put the seat belt extender under his seat, and hand it back to a flight attendant at some point when the flight attendant was less busy than during take-off.

I usually carry a pair of nail-clippers in my pocket, and have joked with friends that airlines obviously have a high opinion of my threatening demeanor/my combat skills, since they think I can take over a plane using only the inch-long file attached to the clippers. It is ironic that, though I am made to pack this inch-long file in my hold luggage, I am then permitted to buy any number of heavy glass bottles which will make much more effective weapons than my tiny pair of clippers.

Why on earth would I worry about someone "armed" with a seat belt extender? Especially an elderly man (imams are never young men) who was tubby enough that he might well need a seat belt extender to make himself comfortable, even if he didn't have it fitted immediately?

"""The parody writes itself, and it is titled "I am John Dough"."""

bah. how about J-Doe ? or The Doey Pantload ?

"""I usually carry a pair of nail-clippers ... they think I can take over a plane using only the inch-long file attached to the clippers."""

Hang on... is that the deal ?
The little file thing is the concern is it ?
I always though the rationale was that if you fly US to Australia the ensuing 16 hours would allow you enough time to mini-snip your way through to someone's artery using the clippers.

PC has nothing to do with not targeting Muslims.
Political correctness implies that if the subject in question wasn't a minority, we would have no qualms profiling, watching them and reporting on them--but in reality, if 9-11 had been committed by WASPS, nobody would be issuing serious instructions to regard all white people, or arguing that they were more predisposed to terrorism than other groups, or that we should profile them.

Even if they'd been a recognizable group--Mafia, neo-confederate--nobody would suggest that all Italian-Americans or all Southerners should be suspect.

And having seen Spike Lee's "Four Little Girls" just a couple of months back, the idea Muslims and Arabs are more inclined to terrorism than white Americans is laughable.

By the way, do people who believe it's acceptable to murder abortion doctors believe that people who oppose the death penalty are justified in murdering executioners? Because it's pretty much the same logic ("They're committing murder! To save life, I must take it!").

Kilo: The little file thing is the concern is it ?

According to several airline employees, yes. Though I found a pair of clippers without a nail file, and the airlines actually seem to be equally unhappy with that: I could take the clippers apart, you see, and use either or both halves to, I don't know, majorly menace someone aboard the plane. "Fly this plane to Montreal at once, or I will press rather hard against your throat and eventually give you quite a nasty scratch!" - "We are already going to Montreal, ma'am." - "Oh. Well, that's all right then."

Last year I took a baby knife to cut my breakfastcake with, and they didn't allow it on the plane... My 3 yo can't cut himself with it, but they are afraid I might highjack the plane with it????

but in reality, if 9-11 had been committed by WASPS, nobody would be issuing serious instructions to regard all white people, or arguing that they were more predisposed to terrorism than other groups, or that we should profile them.

I thought that was what the post suggested from the references to Rudolph and McVeigh, and later assertions in the comments.

Look here, Christians can't hand out bibles because it is obnoxious, but Muslims can basicly terrorize airplane passengers (and yes, the praying loudly, swapping seats and asking for seatbelt extensions did that, far more than giving away Bibles.)

Those imams were demanding the right to terrorize people. The Gideons were doing nothing like that. You tell me to get over it, but you act like Christians are the worst thing in the world. And this discussion has gone full circle, to the suggestion that purposely scaring airline passengers is some kind of funny joke.


DaveC: what I said in the post was that if Malkin wants to catch terrorists, she has no reason to restrict herself to Muslims. That is, after all, true.

What other people have said is that they see no particular evidence to suggest that the imams were trying to frighten anyone. If they were trying to, then that is wrong; if not, then not. In any case, I fail to see why asking for a seat belt extension constitutes "terrorizing" people.

The Gideons in the article you linked were not arrested because they were handing out Bibles, but because they were violating trespassing laws. It's standard in law that you can be prevented from doing something that (among other things) restricts your right to proclaim your religion in certain ways. This is why it's OK to have ordinances against disturbing the peace, even though they prohibit (among other things) reading the Bible through a megaphone at 3am. I don't see why trespassing laws should be different, pr why people should not have to obey them just because they're passing out Bibles while trespassing.

But here's my understanding on what the whole deal was about, which was the lawsuits against the other passengers:

By passing a specific grant of immunity that covers passengers reporting suspicious activity in good faith, Republicans will prevent special-interest lawyers from using "creative" legal theories to attack the well-meaning passengers who make reports. The motion:

* Grants immunity from civil liability to any person that voluntarily reports suspicious activity that could be a threat to transportation security.
* Provides attorneys fees for defendants victimized by frivolous lawsuits.
* Is retroactive to activities that took place on or after November 20, 2006 - the date of the Minneapolis incident, and authorizes courts to award attorneys fees to defendants with immunity.

It is important to remember that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and transportation systems nationwide (subways, railways, buses) rightfully urge passengers to report anything suspicious. Law enforcement agencies across the country have "tip lines" to report suspicious activity.

Republican Leader Press Office

Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)

My thought is that in the restricted space of a plane, you can't bang on the restroom door and start yelling to be let in, or demand to talk to the pilot, or any other thing that will freak the other passengers out. The lawsuit against the other passengers is simply wrong. There are several ways to avoid the religious proselytes, but you are stuck on a plane, which is a very anxious situation for a lot of ordinary people.

DaveC Muslims can basicly terrorize airplane passengers (and yes, the praying loudly, swapping seats and asking for seatbelt extensions did that . . .)

Terrorize????? Are you for real????????

If so, you must be the most pathetically easy-to-terrorize target anyone can imagine. No wonder Osama bin Laden thinks Americans are soft!

I suppose we should be grateful they didn't threaten you with the comfy chair.

I can manage the comfy chair, it's the soft cushions that make me wibble...

In re the substantive point, first of all: no terrorist is stupid enough to try to hijack a plane by trying to "bang on the restroom door and start yelling to be let in, or demand to talk to the pilot". That's a recipe for getting thrown off the plane -- as has happened in the presence of some friends, incidentally -- not for terrorizing the passengers. Unless, as noted above, they are "pathetically easy-to-terrorize". Obnoxiousness isn't frightening, as a general rule, it's obnoxious; annoying, irksome, aggravating, a whole host of other unpleasantness, but terrifying it is not.

Second, Boehner is AFAIK talking out of his ass. It would be nigh-unto-impossible to sue those who "tipped off" the airlines about this "suspicious" behavior -- if you really can, with a straight face, suggest that the airline needed help identifying a bunch of imams who were praying loudly enough to terrify those wee rabbits around them -- and they've pretty much said exactly that. Quoting the article cited by OCSteve about:

"The imams will not sue any passengers who reported suspicious activity in good faith, even when the 'suspicious' behavior included the imams' constitutionally protected right to practice their religion without fear or intimidation," Mr. Nihad said. "When a person makes a false report with the intent to discriminate, he or she is not acting in good faith.

IOW, the lawsuit is aimed at John Does who make false reports about suspicious behavior, presumably with an intent to discriminate. This cannot be overstated. Regardless of the facts of the case, the general thrust here is both legal and perfectly legitimate; it alleges a particular kind of discrimination which is (and bloody well should be) illegal. Whether those allegations hold water is something that will be decided at trial, as with any other case.

In short, Boehner is, not surprisingly, being boehn-headed (ha! I slay me) but there's no reason to buy into his idiocy. And there's no reason to be terrified of praying imams, or whatever. Anyone who's trying to kill you is going to be a hell of a lot subtler than that; so tell them to keep quiet, get them turfed off the plane if you must, and generally man up.

[Or woman up, for the ladies among you. Gender up, for appropriate gender-marked honorific. Whatever.]

Oh, and to those who think that reporting such people requires the Anonymous Hero moniker John Doe: get a friggin' grip. It takes no more courage to tell them to keep it down than it would to tell the drunk bastard in the seat beside you to keep his goddamn elbows to himself. Sheesh.

Yes, dr ngo, you are on target, I am a nervous flier, and have been on a trip recently. I'd like to smoke on the plane but don't. I'd like to jump up and down when we hit some turbulence and yell "OHMYGODWE'REALLGOINGTODIE", which is literally true, just not accurate for the place and time.

But that is not appropriate conduct. Manners matter, and if I am freaking out everybody elsed on the plane, then they have a right to complain.

DaveC, not all disturbances are created equal. Smoking is a health hazard (a very severe one for some of us). Yelling interferes broadly with others' concentration, and unjustified yells of terror feed unnecessary panic. But people who can't handle the fact that others have a religion or culture with different practices aren't fit for civil society in the 21st century, and the problem-makers who need to be removed are the ones who refuse to coexist.

I am sometimes prone to a seizure-like condition - it's not technically a seizure disorder because of the EEG behavior during these episodes, but you can scarcely tell the minor ones from petit mal by anything this side of the EEG. A variety of environmental factors can trigger these episodes, and I avoid those triggers when I can. If I have something crucial like a business meeting an an unfamiliar place, I'll go over the list in advance with someone who knows it, and if there's a conflict, I will explain the medical issue and work to resolve it as best I can, usually by extra prep on my part and something like a portable air filter in the space beforehand. But some of my episodes have no obvious trigger at all; they're random. Among other things, this makes me an unsafe driver. So I don't drive. It's a nuisance sometimes to have to rely on friends, cabs, buses, and other alternatives, but I don't demand that the entire traffic system adjust to accommodate someone with random seizures, and if I were to drive, have a seizure, and hit someone, I wouldn't blame them for it.

I think that a small but noisy section of the country is so consumed by fear of terror and the Other that they have what amounts to a psychological disorder, just as I have a physical one. And I think that the burden of dealing with their crippling inability to feel safe around manifestations of Islam, Arab ethnicity, and so on, is theirs. Perhaps they should charter ethnically and culturally pure flights, or go by train, or whatever. I don't think that others have an obligation to pander to all fears.

but I don't demand that the entire traffic system adjust to accommodate someone with random seizures, and if I were to drive, have a seizure, and hit someone, I wouldn't blame them for it.

I think that you have made my point.

If "Christianists" or "Christers" or whatever you call them, ranted and raved about abortions when boarding an airplane, would you expect the people who complained about them to be sued for civil rights offenses? What if they rolled around in the aisles and started speaking in tongues?

It's a double standard to discriminate so much against Christians (and I say this as a religious sceptic) and not against Muslims.

Also noted, petit mal seizures make people look like they are in deep sleep and can't wake up. It is an interesting question where and how people with severe cases of Tourettes syndrome (more like the airline case) should be accomodated.

DaveC: It is an Islamic requirement to pray five times a day, at certain times of day. According to what I have read, it's acknowledged that one of the acceptable reasons for skipping one of the daily prayers is because you are travelling. That would explain why, though I have often travelled on a plane with Muslims, I have never in fact seen a Muslim praying in the aisle, nor - as I understand it - do the passengers claim that they saw the imams praying on the plane. They say they saw the imams praying at the gate.

That seems to me to be perfectly reasonable: if a daily prayer hour will occur on the flight, let the Muslims travelling pray together before the flight at a place that won't inconvenience the other passengers. That's no more terrorizing than a priest reading the Office - also a daily requirement. If there's enough demand for it, large airports might set aside a room specifically for travelling Muslims to use to say their prayers - which would have the advantage to Muslims that they would be more likely to be able to say their prayers in company.

The terror you feel on seeing Muslims praying together is your prejudice, not their action.

(I agree that hearing someone pray out loud on a plane, however, is both irritating and can be somewhat scary, especially if the prayer is in English and is of the OMGWTFWAGTD sort - which Muslim prayers are not, on either count.)

If "Christianists" or "Christers" or whatever you call them, ranted and raved about abortions when boarding an airplane, would you expect the people who complained about them to be sued for civil rights offenses?

Are you seriously comparing ranting and raving about abortions to having a petit mal seizure? I'm too flabbergasted by that to even snark.

Did DaveC just cite WorldNutsDaily as a credible news source and pull the old "Poor, maligned Christians just can't get an even break in this 90% Christian country" card? Seriously?

Perhaps they should charter ethnically and culturally pure flights, or go by train, or whatever.

Question for the scholars here: would that in fact be legal? Could one actually charter ethnically, religiously or "culturally" pure flights? Would that fall under freedom of association, for example? "KKK Air" might not be the most compelling of names but it could conceivably pass Constitutional muster...

I'm feeling the need for a TIO post, but the latest one is still all about grading.

Well, DaveC does have a set of keys...

;)

(Sorry for the delay on my response, Dave - hope you haven' turned blue from holding your breath for so long.)

Are you seriously comparing ranting and raving about abortions to having a petit mal seizure? I'm too flabbergasted by that to even snark.

DaveC also seems to be comparing ranting and raving about abortion to praying. I realize that in certain circles the distinction may be a fine one, but it seems an important one nonetheless.

I'm feeling the need for a TIO post

OK, done.. If you really want to get mad at me, go over there.

Part of the problem here, of course, is that we're all filling in gaps from incomplete evidence. Those disposed to believe badly about the imams are probably imagining dervish-like displays and shouting and all; those disposed to believe badly about the complainers are probably imagining prayers conducted at a volume more like a typical Rosary review. In the absence of a recording, I don't think we can settle this easily. And I don't want to hold DaveC accountable for the contents of my head, any more than I want to be accountable for the contents of his.

If someone wanted to point at clips of Muslim prayers conducted in a couple of different styles, that might be a useful service.

Bruce, I actually don't care how loudly the imams prayed while waiting inside the security gate: I doubt it was louder than normal talking, but you're right that without sound recordings we don't know.

Call me a weird kind of atheist: I just don't think that public prayer in a public place ought to be considered evidence, by and of itself, that the people praying are dangerous criminals. I wouldn't think so if the suspect was a priest reading the Holy Office in Latin: neither do I think so if the suspect is an imam reciting the 'Asr or the Maghrib in public.

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