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More fear itself

October 4, 2006

For a nation of immigrants, this does not bode well:

Seth Stein is used to jetting around the world to create stylish holiday homes for wealthy clients. This means the hip architect is familiar with the irritations of heightened airline security post-9/11. But not even he could have imagined being mistaken for an Islamist terrorist and physically pinned to his seat while aboard an American Airlines flight – especially as he has Jewish origins.

Yet this is what happened when he travelled back from a business trip to the Turks and Caicos islands via New York on 22 May. Still traumatised by his ordeal, the 47-year-old is furious that the airline failed to protect him from the gung-ho actions of an over-zealous passenger who claimed to be a police officer…

“This man could have garrotted me and what was awful was that one or two of the passengers went up afterwards to thank him,” said Mr Stein. He has since been told by airline staff he was targeted because he was using an iPod, had used the toilet when he got on the plane and that his tan made him appear “Arab”.
- Humiliation at 33,000 feet: Top British architect tells of terror ‘arrest’

After 9/11, I had a Turkish grad student working for me – a wonderful guy, though as he put it; “Look like terrorist!” from his swarthy skin to the single dark eyebrow that spanned his face.  He occasionally encountered awkward moments, such as a when a number of police cars were summoned when he asked one D.C. cop for directions.  He felt it was understandable in light of recent events.  I thought he was an exceptionally good sport about the whole thing.

But it isn’t ‘understandable’.  As FDR said in his first in his first inaugural address, fear itself merits a skeptical review.  It can lead us to do stupid things we later regret, both as individuals and as a nation.  While promoting fear may be an effective strategy for keeping legislative seats or winning presidential elections, it guarantees an erosion of common sense and of confidence in our freedoms.

(from ***Dave)

Categories: Geeky, Security
  1. October 4, 2006 at 12:49 | #1

    Sucks to look like an arab now days.

  2. October 5, 2006 at 12:15 | #2

    Well, I’ve been solemnly informed by two taxi drivers (incidentally, both Muslims) that Jews were responsible for 9/11.  So it’s not surprising that they’re being profiled nowadays…

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