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The Daily Whim

The Daily Whim

Mon. Jun 10, 2002

Dirty Bombs and Dirty Fingers

Dirty Bombs and Dirty Fingers – I was out of touch last week, and didn’t get to add to the commentary on the US plan to photograph and fingerprint those entering the US on a visa from Middle Eastern countries. But, as is often the case, James Lileks said what I felt better than I ever could: "I dont believe most Americans who practice Islam are going to be offended by this. And if some are, let me be honest: I dont care. I am way past caring. I have not a jot of the care-sauce left in my bones. The care tank is empty. Theres no one home in Careville. The dog ate my care. The Care Crop didnt come up this year. Self.com/care comes up as a 404."

After today’s breaking news about the foiled plot to explode a dirty bomb in the US, the tiny remaining drop of care hidden near my heart … evaporated. Consider me a canary in a coalmine. Those who watch America from outside best pay attention. Yes, America has always been the Big Labrador Retriever of the world. The Giant Dog who often does damage just because he’s so damn big, knocking everything off the unnoticed coffee table with his wagging tail as he passes by, or because he can get obsessed with chewing on some particular toy, but just as obviously has a Giant Heart. A Good Dog. Of course, some people just don’t like dogs. Some people get their jollies by beating the dog.

Beat that dog long enough, and the Good Dog gets buried under a hardened growling exterior. The Good Dog is still in there somewhere, but he’s now biting back when you get too close. His native good nature has been overcome by the survival instinct, due to the beating, and he will take no more.

And that’s the way this dog views it: Let’s see, I have a choice of [A] risk my life, and those of my loved ones, to a slow painful radiological, biological, or chemical death, or [B] risk offending some non-citizens by taking their picture and fingerprints when they desire to enter our country to enjoy its blessings.

Entry into Disneyworld isn’t free. And given events, it shouldn’t be easy. Look, the Clue Truck just drove by and one fell off the back: the arrest of The Dirty Bomber happened at the airport as he was trying to enter the US from Pakistan, in what may be the first effective border defense this country has seen in 50 years (even if he was a citizen), after a barrel of failures.

Let me be clear. I’m generally a left of center guy, especially on social and domestic issues. Prior to 9-11, I was sometimes smeared with that evil label, Liberal. Even by my own sister. Now some people think I’m some kind of warmonger. But I was raised in an environment that was both color-neutral and religion-neutral, in clear contrast to the society around me. And while I was raised to judge the individual on their own merits, I was also taught when it was raining, I should use an umbrella. Look around at the glaringly obvious (”water falling from sky”), and use some common sense (”protection”).

In this case, it’s best summed up by an e-mail posted on the site of Bob Ballard. It was originally a list of multiple choice questions, but I’ve removed the original choices. They were meant to be funny, and well, this just isn’t funny to me anymore. See if you can properly end each sentence.

1. In 1972 at the Munich Olympics, athletes were kidnapped and massacred by…

2. In 1979, the U.S. embassy in Iran was taken over by…

3. During the 1980’s a number of Americans were kidnapped in Lebanon by…

4. In 1983, the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut was blown up by…

5. In 1985 the cruise ship Achille Lauro was hijacked, and a 70 year old American passenger was murdered and thrown overboard by…

6. In 1985, TWA flight 847 was hijacked at Athens, and a U.S. Navy diver was murdered by…

7. In 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was bombed by…

8. In 1993 the World Trade Center was bombed the first time by…

9. In 1998, the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed by…

10. On 9/11/01, four airliners were hijacked and destroyed and thousands of people were killed by…

11. In 2002 the United States fought a war in Afghanistan against…

12. In 2002 reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and murdered by…

...and now a new one not on the list:

13. In 2002, a plot to explode a radiological ”dirty bomb” in the US was made by…

The clear and undeniable answer to each and every item? ”Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40.”

Those are the facts. And that is our target. Note, this is not the same as saying all Muslim males between the ages of 17 and 40 are terrorists, although there are those who will argue that. This is a matter of factual efficiency: don’t waste time interrogating the grandmother from Iowa, just so we don’t offend anyone. In the past couple of weeks, we’ve all seen plenty of evidence of inefficiency within our various arms of law enforcement, and I’m all for giving them reasonable means to slash that inefficiency. This is one of them.

The protest raised against this measure is indicative of the charmed life this country has led over the past 30 years. It’s the reason there was still a hidden but hardened drop of care remaining near my heart. We’ve led such an unthreatened and charmed life for so long, we hear of these measures, and cannot even see the threat, only the far more important fact that it might offend others.

One Nation, under Political Correctness. It’s sad that it might take a nuclear device to completely destroy that mindset.

There’s a host of inane reaction to the announcement of the ID measures, but this one struck me for its irony: "Jean Abinader, managing director of the Arab American Institute, predicted that relatives of Middle Easterners who already live in the United States will be intimidated by the proposed rules. Abinader said the new rules amount to the Justice Department telling such relatives, ’We’re putting you on notice that your countries are enemies of the US, so you may be subject to more scrutiny than you have been in the past.’ As a result, she said, ’I think there’s an intimidation factor, maybe unintended.’ "

Yes, exactly! That’s the desired message. I’m to the point, I hope it is intended. Let it be known, if you want to come to the US, you will be scrutinized, because we will protect our society. And we know we have enemies who lust to kill us by the thousands. We will do our best to keep them out. You have no God-Allah-Buddha-Bob given right to enter this country, just as it is quite literally impossible for me to visit Saudi Arabia: without a citizen sponsor, they will not let me in for even an hour. If you are allowed into the US, you will benefit from this protection, and from the freedom of our society. Fulfill the basic requirements for becoming a US citizen, and we will welcome you (and your descendants) for life. But if you seek to harm American citizens, you should know, you’ll be fingerprinted and photographed when you arrive. And, unlike your brothers who came before you, we may determine on the spot that you are a suspected terrorist.

Even if you are an American citizen, if you plot to explode a radiological device in our country, we’ll declare you an enemy combatant under the laws of war. You will receive our utmost attention, none of it politically correct.

Because we do still care. But not about you. About us. Get used to it. The beaten dog will be beaten no more, and is biting back, political correctness be damned. Those who’ve been beating it best stay out of range.

Throughout the world, during our most peaceful eras, we’ve been known as The Ugly Americans. Let me clue you in on something, non-Americans: you haven’t seen anything. Let one nuke, or even one Dirty Bomb explode within our borders, and you will see a redefinition of Ugly American. A fearful one.

And this Liberal Dog will likely be leading the way.


Peanut Gallery

1  Paul wrote:

Priests have raped hundreds of boys. Does that mean that all priests are disgusting individuals who need to live their lives under the a watcher? Have you any idea how humiliting it would be to have to be fingerprinted and processed because your skin is brown? Does anyone think that is is really a total solution?what's going to happen if you fingerprint everyone who comes the usa that a has an islamic country stamped in their passport? I'm not even sure this system is foolproof.. I'll say it again: we need peace with Palestine and Israel. Now.

2  Richard wrote:

(This is in response to the comment, not necessarily the post itself) You're right, some priests raping boys does not necesarrily make all priests rapists. But should the fact that not all priests who rape stop us from punishing those who do? Put another way: punish the priests that rape boys, not the ones who don't. Same with terrorists. Most Arabs are not terrorists. Some are. Punish the ones who are. If they are non-citizens, what rights do they have when they come to the country? Do they have the right not to be fingerprinted and "processed" as you put it? Last time I checked, constitutional rights applied to citizens of the United States. Or in my case, Canada, but even that's not true: refugee claimants (many of them terrorists, but admitedly, most of them not), have rights to 'due process' here. And you go from using a race ("brown") to a religion ("islamic"). If a person says that terrorists tend to be Islamic in nature is not racist, because Islam is not a race (and let's not forget the many non-Arab Muslims in the world). No system is foolproof. (How does it go? "Make something foolproof, and you'll turn fools into geniuses"?) Terrorist attacks will occur. That's pretty much a given. Terrorists slip through the cracks (after all, they're trained to do just that). But the aim is always towards preventing most of them and limiting casualities that result from them. And "we need peace with Palestine and Israel"? We have peace with Germany and Japan. How? We won a war. As long as there is a peace process, groups like Hamas will derail it. Their aim is not peace, but the extinction of Israel.

3  PhotoDude wrote:

"Have you any idea how humiliting it would be to have to be fingerprinted and processed because your skin is brown?" Do you have any idea how humiliating it would be to be dead, from a bioweapon? Do you think you'd be more upset at the radiological death of a loved one, or by a non-citizen being "humilitated" by a brutal fingerprinting and harsh photo session, the same type of brutality administered to Americans every day when they get a driver's license? Does your life, and the life of other American's mean so little to you, that after facing the decades of evidence listed, you still think their ability to enter our country unfettered is more important than your life? If so, you'd make a helluva cruise director: "hey, sure, sink the ship, it's all about you having fun on us." Not me. The party's over. "I'll say it again: we need peace with Palestine and Israel. Now." We have peace with Palestine and Israel. There is no peace between them. Are you saying, until two third parties figure out how to end the enmity of decades, it's perfectly acceptable to attack the US because of it? The United States has put more effort into Middle East Peace for 30 years than any country on this planet. This is not unlike, in the poorly drawn analogy to priests and molestation, saying "we need to abolish the policy of celibacy for priests. Now." How much will that statement calm the various upset parishes in this land? Is it a real viable plan of action that can provide near term relief, as in, is it likely to happen in our lifetimes? Nope. Better work on some other plans of action...

4  adrian wrote:

It might also be stated that Israel's aim is not peace but the extinction of the Palestinians in Israel. The situation cannot be resovled with this attitude but by members of both sides having the courage to stand up and say enough is enough. Look at what is (slowly) happening in N. Ireland. Neither side has claimed victory and the process is and will take a long time but it can be acheived given the willpower and the refusal to resort to the gun.

5  PhotoDude wrote:

Hi. My name is Reid. I started a discussion about radiological weapons and scrutizing incoming Islamists. It mentioned neither Israel nor Palestine. Yet it appears all problems, right down to the hangnail on my pinkie, will be on hold until this enmity of decades is ended.

6  Haremail wrote:

Look, if a bunch of caucasian female computer consultants between the ages of 25-35 started terrorist activities, I for one would glad if someone started looking into it. And if I fit that profile than damn straight they should check me out too. They aren't saying we'd ALL be bad, just that those that are bad seem just like us for all intents and purposes and they need to check us all out. I'm getting really sick of all this PC bullsh*t tying our hands while we moan about what's going to happen to us next. If it was a group of people who looked just like you, wouldn't you wonder about them when next you get on a plane? I would. And as soon as bomb-threats start coming from those fundimentalist geek-ettes, I'll be standing right there in line with them saying "I'm innocent, are you?" This isn't like some Salem witch-hunt or the McCarthy trials. There are over 3000 dead people. 3000. In a few short hours. And more threats every day. Next time it might not be New York. It might be the nuclear power plant not 20 miles from my house. So suck it up and put your fingers down on the pad so they can filter you innocents out and find these @%$*&! people before they can hurt us again.

7  Tim Peck wrote:

0. On June 6, 1968, Robert Kennedy was assasinated by a . . . FURTHER READING: Arafat Ordered Diplomat Slaying. Black September, the same group that had murdered the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics the year before, invaded a diplomatic reception held at the Saudi Arabian embassy in Khartoum, Sudan. Holding a group of diplomats hostage, the commandos demanded the release of Sirhan Sirhan, the assassin of Robert Kennedy. When U.S. President Richard Nixon refused to negotiate, the terrorists murdered American Ambassador Cleo A. Noel Jr., his deputy, George Curtis Moore, and Belgian charg? d'affaires, Guy Eid. The Arafat I Knew. By Ion Mihai Pacepa, Saturday, January 12, Wall Street Journal. A year later, a Romanian intelligence adviser assigned to the PLO headquarters in Beirut reported that Arafat and his KGB handlers were preparing a PLO commando team headed by Arafat's top deputy, Abu Jihad, to take American diplomats hostage in Khartoum, Sudan, and demand the release of Sirhan Sirhan, the Palestinian assassin of Robert Kennedy. Why aren't Arab nations pushing Arafat? By Scot Lehigh, Boston Globe, 4/17/2002. Writing in The Wall Street Journal in January, General Ion Mihai Pacepa, a former Romanian intelligence official, charged that Arafat helped plan a 1973 terror raid in Khartoum designed to take American hostages to ransom the release of Sirhan Sirhan, RFK's assassin, and hundreds of other Arab prisoners held in other countries. When those demands were refused, the Palestinian terrorists brutally murdered two American diplomats and a Belgian envoy. Although Arafat claimed that his organization ''had nothing to do with the incident in Khartoum,'' Pacepa said Romanian intelligence had had prior information that Arafat was in fact involved, and that afterward, during a dinner with Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, ''Arafat excitedly bragged about his Khartoum operation.''

8  Tim Peck wrote:

Walter Williams follows up: We need to profile. Walter Williams, Town Hall, June 12, 2002. At the 1972 Olympics, who kidnapped and murdered Jewish athletes? In 1979, the U.S. Embassy in Iran was taken over by whom?...

9  oreta wrote:

"What's going to happen if you fingerprint everyone who comes the usa that a has an islamic country stamped in their passport?" asks Paul, in an earlier posting. Not a thing. Fingerprinting and issuing of mandatory-carry ID cards seems to be common in most of those countries. Shucks it's even common in France. see http://mondediplo.com/2002/06/08france (link from "cut on the bias") It's hard for me to believe that folks coming to visit the USA will be upset because the USA does something their own countries do. When I visited Pakistan last year, one of our members had to visit the governmental offices in order to prove we were Americans before they would let us leave! That is frightening. Fingerprinting is not.

10  Dave K. wrote:

To Paul, I live in Manhattan, work downtown, and watched over 70 of my friends and former coworkers die. My local firehouse (Co 22, Ladder 13) lost 9 of its 24 members. I walked home that day through hell, covered in ash and still have not lost the cough. For 9 months I looked out my window at work and watched them carry flag shrouded stretchers out on an almost daily basis. 2 weeks ago I burried my best friend - no casket. His wife had waited in the vain hope they would find something to bury to no avail. Do you think anyone here has any interest in humiliation? Spend a few days here, soak it all in. If the humiliation of a few saves ANYONE from what we have gone through it's worth ten times the cost.

11  FastNed wrote:

The policy of Pic & Print for those coming from Arab Countries is incorrect. Period. Every Visa Applicant, from ANYWHERE, must be 'pictured' and 'printed'. The numbers of overstays, disappeared, Not Enrolled Here, etc., make it clear that our existing entry procedures lack coherency and our Visa system is out of control. America (please pardon the expression) is "Mecca" for much of the World and the word is out: just get in somehow and then hide in plain sight. ID them before they arrive and we can perhaps find those who don't leave. Do you invite just anyone into your home without knowing who they are? Oh, and "Paul", Humiliation is when you are pictured and printed for something real stupid like "Drunk Driving" not when you do it for something you want like a great paying job or a visit to some place special.

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