29 August 2006

Scary T-Shirt! Code Red, Code Red!!

T-Shirt Inscription Keeps Iraqi Man From Boarding Flight
WNYC Newsroom

NEW YORK, NY August 29, 2006 — An Iraqi architect says he was not allowed to board a Jet Blue flight at JFK because of the Arabic inscription on his t-shirt.

REPORTER: Raed Jarrar was wearing a T-shirt that read "We Will Not Be Silent" in Arabic and English, when he was approached by security officers. The officers said the Arabic script was upsetting other passengers, and told Jarrar to either turn the shirt inside out or wear something else. Jarrar protested but finally wore a T-shirt provided by a Jet Blue employee.

JARRAR: I grew up and spent all my life living under authoritarian regimes. and i know that these things happen. But I'm shocked that they happened to me here, in the U.S. Especially that I moved from Iraq because of the war that was waged in Iraq under titles like democracy and freedom.

REPORTER: A spokesman for Jet Blue says the airline is investigating to see if the security officers were with the airline, the Transportation Security Administration or the Port Authority. He also said the airline does not forbid Arabic T-shirts, but that it does take into account the concerns of its passengers.
We are becoming a nation of bedwetters.

If a single line of Arabic script has you trembling and flagging down security, that's not "concerned," that's paranoid. It's also staggeringly stupid, unless you subscribe to the notion that it's conventional hijacker wisdom to wear things to call attention to yourself before you even get onto the airplane.

By handling this the way they did, Jet Blue validated the "concerned passengers'" paranoia and ensured that it will happen again. The guy had already been subject to the same security procedures as everyone else. His shirt was nothing more than a convenient excuse for the passengers to act on their fear of any Arabic-looking man. Again, unless they think a bomber is going to be strolling up to the gate with "Death to America" emblazoned on his chest, it's fairly clear that their problem was with the individual, not his clothes.

For anyone who might claim that the passengers were just being vigilant, doing their part to thwart terrorism, I have one thing to say:


Terrorist acts are a tactic, part of strategy, not a goal unto themselves. The goal is for fear to supplant reason as the ruling principle in our lives. So, check your watch and mark the date, folks, because when urine-soaked, borderline racist douchebaggery like this is legitimized--and in this case, it most certainly was--then the terrorists just won.

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