Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Sunday, August 20th, 2006.

Bad Actors

Congress, corruption, Democratic Party, Republican Party

From time to time I rant about the Left’s stupid proclivity toward single-issue advocacy rather than working through coalitions or the Democratic Party. The most recent such rants are here and here.

Via Digby, Matt Stoller explains why it’s even dumber than I had thought. (emphasis added)

Every bill that comes before the House and Senate faces a clear set of right-wing pressure points. The first and most powerful one is the Republican K-Street Project, which can whip all Republicans very quickly and effectively in the House, and nearly as quickly in the Senate. This is the machine that forces Republicans to obey the wishes of a right-wing leadership class, through the carrot of cushy corporate jobs and the stick of vicious primary challenges from the Club for Growth.

On the Democratic side, the pressure is just as intense, but more subtle. When a bill is introduced, a network of consultants, most of whom have corporate clients, begin to chatter about how taking a liberal position could weaken the Democratic Party. This is supplemented with a strong PR strategy by right-wing temporary coalition groups who put out networks of surrogates and ads to create a powerfully framed environment. Then business lobbyists come and visit Congressional offices, and make threats, attempt legislative bribes, or put out false but extremely persuasive pieces of information. There is often little real counterpressure, because liberal single issue groups have decided not to hold politicians accountable and do not cooperate with each other on issues not directly related to their vertical.

Note to self: Do not donate money to any single-issue group ever again.

Within the Democratic party, resisting a bill is an exercise in holding the caucus together. The long minority status of the Democratic Party has allowed the development of bad faith actors within the caucus, who cut deals with right-wing groups and sabotage any possibility of resistance. Al Wynn is one such actor; Joe Lieberman is another. On key vote after key vote, these actors have sabotaged the progressive position through fake bipartisanship. It’s no surprise that Lieberman’s former chief of staff was a lobbyist for Enron; Lieberman himself is responsible for many of the corporate accounting scandals over the years because of his embrace of various financial lobbies.

Note to self: Volunteer to work for Ned Lamont in the general election.

One irony of the Lieberman race is that all the single-issue groups have endorsed Lieberman, and if you look at donations, so have the lobbyists. Indeed, this isn’t a fight between ‘the left’ and ‘the right’ as it is traditionally defined, since no one would put NARAL on the right or even in the center. This is about creating a disincentive towards bad faith actors and corrupt lobbyists on the left.

Note to self: Make a list of every single-issue group I have ever donated money to. Write them and ask for the money back.

The pervasive lack of accountability among Democrats is a real weakness for progressives, and the fact that there is some measure of accountability in the form of potential primary challenges means that there will be a behavioral change on the part of many members of Congress. No longer will they be able to listen to former staffers turned lobbyists, because they know that Lieberman’s example could be their own. No longer can they take for granted their safety in safe districts, because Donna Edwards isn’t the only principled and connected progressive around. And some of the tools and methodologies we’re developing can be used to effectively damage Republican candidates, as we saw with the internet’s mauling of George Allen after his macaca comments. Accountability works all around.

This, IMO, strengthens my argument that even if it were possible to elect third-party progressive candidates to Congress, they would prove to be just as ineffectual as the Dems have been for the past several years. It also strengthens my argument that single-issue advocacy groups are a big part of the reason why progressivism is dead in Washington.

Digby comments:

The consultants who work for Democrats also work for corporations and they consistently pitch progressive ideas as being “too liberal” not necessarily because they are, but because these consultants have a conflict of interest that either makes them unable to see things clearly — or that makes them corrupt. In any case, they are giving bad advice to the Democratic party and it’s resulted in nice fat paychecks for them. Serving the public, not so much.

Here’s the sad truth about the single-issue groups:

This brings me to the special interests in whom I had placed so much faith to counter such corruption. I had resisted joining in the critique of these groups because I thought they had some basis for playing both sides over the long term. But I thought they knew which side their bread was really buttered on, even so. Apparently not. Stoller describes them as having been co-opted by the corrupt system and lazily enjoying the fruits of the spoils like everyone else. I have to admit that even the most generous view shows they have lost sight of their own goals.

As Digby says, NARAL’s endorsements are evidence that the organization is either corrupted or clueless. NARAL endorses Lieberman; Digby is betting money that, if Lieberman is elected in November, he will change his stance on abortion. That’s not a bet I would take. See also Jane Hamsher’s post from last February on endorsements by NARAL and Planned Parenthood.

Now, I’ve had a problem with NARAL for a long time. This is not because I don’t support reproductive rights; it’s because NARAL has been, IMO, ineffectual in supporting reproductive rights. Back in the 1970s and 1980s I used to send them small donations; I stopped when I got tired of waiting to see anything from NARAL except solicitations for more donations. I’m not talking about results; I’m talking about effort. I couldn’t tell they were doing anything except sitting in their Washington offices with their heads up their butts. I was living in Ohio at the time, and I saw anti-choice propaganda and activity on a daily basis. And I could tell most of this stuff was being coordinated by large organizations, somewhere. But NARAL was invisible.

Planned Parenthood is another matter. They’re on the front lines; I admire them enormously. But they’re not primarily an advocacy group. They actually do stuff.

Here’s an interesting editorial from Buzzflash:

[W]hy are groups like the Sierra Club and Naral continuing to support Chafee, a Republican pawn of the Busheviks in the most Democratic of states?

We’d suggest follow the money.

Advocacy groups need contributions from wealthy “moderate” Republicans, so they need to show that they will support a Republican now and then, even if is counterproductive to achieving the mission of the groups.

It’s not a question of abandoning their “bi-partisan principles” if they were to oppose Chafee. To the contrary, they are abandoning their principles BY supporting him. They are just using a fig leaf of “bi-partisanship” to justify appealing to Republican “moderates,” mostly women, who give money to the organizations.

In other words, they are undermining their own purposes to get more donations, to do what? Undermine their own purposes some more?

See also this recent Paul Krugman column, “Centrism Is for Suckers.” Krugman points out that right-wing groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business engage in knee-jerk support for Republicans even on issues that are counterproductive to their causes. And they do this because in the long run keeping a Republican majority in Congress serves their interests. Krugman continues,

Now compare this with the behavior of advocacy groups like the Sierra Club, the environmental organization, and Naral, the abortion-rights group, both of which have endorsed Senator Lincoln Chafee, Republican of Rhode Island, for re-election. The Sierra Club’s executive director defended the Chafee endorsement by saying, “We choose people, not parties.” And it’s true that Mr. Chafee has usually voted with environmental groups.

But while this principle might once have made sense, it’s just naïve today. Given both the radicalism of the majority party’s leadership and the ruthlessness with which it exercises its control of the Senate, Mr. Chafee’s personal environmentalism is nearly irrelevant when it comes to actual policy outcomes; the only thing that really matters for the issues the Sierra Club cares about is the “R” after his name.

Put it this way: If the Democrats gain only five rather than six Senate seats this November, Senator James Inhofe, who says that global warming is “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” will remain in his current position as chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. And if that happens, the Sierra Club may well bear some of the responsibility.

Soon you’ll be getting fat envelopes full of pretty Christmas stickers and solicitations for money from these groups. Don’t give them any.

And let’s kick Joe Lieberman out of the Senate.

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Moving On

Bush Administration, conservatism, September 11, Terrorism, The Homans Articl

Frank Rich writes,

The results are in for the White House’s latest effort to exploit terrorism for political gain: the era of Americans’ fearing fear itself is over.

In each poll released since the foiling of the trans-Atlantic terror plot — Gallup, Newsweek, CBS, Zogby, Pew — George W. Bush’s approval rating remains stuck in the 30’s, just as it has been with little letup in the year since Katrina stripped the last remaining fig leaf of credibility from his presidency. While the new Middle East promised by Condi Rice remains a delusion, the death rattle of the domestic political order we’ve lived with since 9/11 can be found everywhere: in Americans’ unhysterical reaction to the terror plot, in politicians’ and pundits’ hysterical overreaction to Joe Lieberman’s defeat in Connecticut, even in the ho-hum box-office reaction to Oliver Stone’s “World Trade Center.”

I admit I’m surprised by the tepid box office for “World Trade Center,” especially since the reviews have been good. I’d be tempted to see it myself except that I’m afraid it would be a little too intense to watch in theaters. Someday I’ll watch it on television. Rich says that the film is doing better in the Northeast than the rest of the country, which surprised me, also. I guess all those Heartlanders who snapped up T-shirts picturing weepy eagles and flaming towers, and the country music fans who made “Have You Forgotten?” a big hit as we prepared to invade Iraq — have moved on.

If, indeed, they were ever there. I’ve believed all along that 9/11 represented something very different to many who watched on television than to those who were eyewitnesses and survivors. George Lakoff speaks to that a little bit in the Talking Dog interview:

There is a difference between imagery of someone who watches from afar, and the reality of someone who was actually there. The way the picture was shown, the buildings were hit, like a person being hit. The image would permit one to identify with the building– as if it were you. This has to do with mirror neurons: in our brains, there is a system of neurons that fire when you are either doing something physically or seeing another do the same thing. Seeing the plane hit the tower over and over on tv is as if you were seeing someone in shot, over and over again.

Lakoff elaborated in a paper he wrote just a week after September 11.

Buildings are metaphorically people. We see features—eyes, nose, and mouth—in their windows. I now realize that the image of the plane going into South Tower was for me an image of a bullet going through someone’s head, the flame pouring from the other side blood spurting out. It was an assassination. The tower falling was a body falling. The bodies falling were me, relatives, friends. Strangers who had smiled as they had passed me on the street screamed as they fell past me. The image afterward was hell: ash, smoke, and steam rising, the building skeleton, darkness, suffering, death.

It was different for me, because when I think of that day I remember watching through a window as the towers burned and collapsed. And they weren’t metaphorical buildings to me. I had walked through the mall levels where the shops and restaurants were many times. The towers were part of my ordinary workday landscape. I didn’t see the planes hit the buildings that morning, and seeing that imagery on television later didn’t hit me as hard as the collapse of the towers did.

As the Talking Dog says of the destruction of the towers, “people who DID NOT experience it personally actually have a harder time dealing with it than people who did.” I’ve heard other New Yorkers say the same thing. I believe that is true. That may be because, for New Yorkers, our whole environment changed. For days, weeks, months after, the city all around us was coping with September 11. For us, it wasn’t something that happened inside a little box in our living rooms. I think because of that direct and personal experience we had to face what had happened and deal with it in a direct and personal way. Television viewers could indulge in feeling outraged and victimized; survivors and eyewitnesses, on the whole, were overwhelmed with other emotions.

Lakoff continues,

The administration’s framings and reframings and its search for metaphors should be noted. The initial framing was as a “crime” with “victims” and “perpetrators” to be “brought to justice” and “punished.” The crime frame entails law, courts, lawyers, trials, sentencing, appeals, and so on. It was hours before “crime” changed to “war” with “casualties,” “enemies,” “military action,” “war powers,” and so on.

Lakoff wrote this just a week after September 11, remember. He caught on to what the Bushies were up to a lot faster than I did.

John Homans describes in the August 21 issue of New York magazine how the Bush Administration appropriated the grief of September 11:

Bush and his administration quickly swooped down to scoop up the largest part of the 9/11 legacy. The justified fear and rage and woundedness and sense of victimhood infantilized our political culture. The daddy state was born, with attendant sky-high approval ratings. And for many, the scale of the provocation seemed to demand similarly spectacular responses—a specious tactical argument, based as it was on the emotional power of 9/11, rather than any rearrangement of strategic realities.

Of course, the marriage of the ultimate baby-down-a-well media spectacle with good old American foreign-policy adventurism was brokered by Karl Rove, who decreed that George Bush would become a war president, indefinitely.

The final military takeover of Manhattan was the Republican convention in August of 2004, with nary an unscripted moment. In the convention’s terms, New York was less a place than a stage set for a sort of 9/11 puppet show.

Both Lakoff and Homans say that the nation became infantilized by September 11. Homans writes:

The memory of 9/11 continues to stoke a weepy sense of American victimhood, and victimhood, as used by both left and right, is a powerful political force. As the dog whisperer can tell you, strength and woundedness together are a dangerous combination. Now, 9/11 has allowed American victim politics to be writ larger than ever, across the globe. When someone from Tulsa, for example, says, “It’s important to remember 9/11 every day,” what he means is, “We were attacked, we are the aggrieved victims, we are justified.” But if we were victims then, we are less so now. This distorted sense of American weakness is weirdly mirrored in the woundedness and shame that motivate our adversaries. In our current tragicomedy of Daddy-knows-best, it’s a national neurosis, a perpetual childhood. (With its 9/11 truth-conspiracy theories, the far left has its own infantile daddy complex, except in that version, the daddies are the source of all evil.) No doubt, there are real enemies, Islamist and otherwise, more than ever (although the cure—the Iraq war—has inarguably made the disease worse). But the spectacular scope of 9/11, its psychic power, continues to distort America’s relationships. It will take years for the country to again understand its place in the world.

But if Frank Rich is right, maybe the psychic power is wearing off. This is good news, but to me it’s also a little sad. It was an extraordinary event, and it deserves to be remembered. They’re still finding bone fragments of the victims, for pete’s sake. And I worry that Americans are moving on not because the memory has faded, but because they’ve come to associate September 11 with the Bush Administration and all its shams and lies and deceits. And maybe people who over-indulged in victimhood don’t want to think about September 11 now, like someone overstuffed on Thanksgiving dinner who doesn’t want to even hear about roast turkey for several days.

Homans writes that for New Yorkers, September 11 is “a bond, a secret society, a thought world entered if not exactly happily, then without fear.” However, “The country, perhaps inevitably, has made a mess of our grieving.” I know how he feels. But this to me is a reflection on the hideous caricature of “leadership” provided by the White House. For five years the Bushies have worked mightily to bring out the worst in America. And they’ve done a heck of a job.

Just a week after September 11, Lakoff foresaw how the Right would react:

The use of the word “evil” in the administration’s discourse works in the following way. In conservative, strict father morality (see Moral Politics, Chapter 5) evil is a palpable thing, a force in the world. To stand up to evil you have to be morally strong. If you’re weak, you let evil triumph, so that weakness is a form of evil in itself, as is promoting weakness. Evil is inherent, an essential trait, that determines how you will act in the world. Evil people do evil things. No further explanation is necessary. There can be no social causes of evil, no religious rationale for evil, no reasons or arguments for evil.

Rightie refusal even to consider what caused Osama bin Laden and his followers to attack America is, IMO, pathological. As I explained here and here, to understand is not to justify. There is no virtue or advantage to remaining ignorant of our enemy’s motivations. But try explaining that to a rightie.

I agree with Lakoff also about how righties understand evil; I said about the same thing here. Righties judge whether an act is evil by who does it, not by the act itself.

Lakoff continues,

The enemy of evil is good. If our enemy is evil, we are inherently good. Good is our essential nature and what we do in the battle against evil is good. Good and evil are locked in a battle, which is conceptualized metaphorically as a physical fight in which the stronger wins. Only superior strength can defeat evil, and only a show of strength can keep evil at bay. Not to show overwhelming strength is immoral, since it will induce evildoers to perform more evil deeds because they’ll think they can get away with it. To oppose a show of superior strength is therefore immoral. Nothing is more important than the battle of good against evil, and if some innocent noncombatants get in the way and get hurt, it is a shame, but it is to be expected and nothing can be done about it. Indeed, performing lesser evils in the name of good is justified—”lesser” evils like curtailing individual liberties, sanctioning political assassinations, overthrowing governments, torture, hiring criminals, and “collateral damage.”

Of course, there’s also the cowardice factor. This past week (see Tbogg for details) rightie bloggers actually worked themselves into a lather over a couple of ladies with suspicious substances — which turned out to be Vaseline and facial scrub — on airplanes. It was way pathetic.

But Frank Rich says that, for most Americans, the thrill is gone.

The administration’s constant refrain that Iraq is the “central front” in the war on terror is not only false but has now also backfired politically: only 9 percent in the CBS poll felt that our involvement in Iraq was helping decrease terrorism. As its fifth anniversary arrives, 9/11 itself has been dwarfed by the mayhem in Iraq, where more civilians are now killed per month than died in the attack on America. The box-office returns of “World Trade Center” are a cultural sign of just how much America has moved on. For all the debate about whether it was “too soon” for such a Hollywood movie, it did better in the Northeast, where such concerns were most prevalent, than in the rest of the country, where, like “United 93,” it may have arrived too late. Despite wild acclaim from conservatives and an accompanying e-mail campaign, “World Trade Center” couldn’t outdraw “Step Up,” a teen romance starring a former Abercrombie & Fitch model and playing on 500 fewer screens.

Come to think of it, I’d rather watch a dancing Abercrombie & Fitch model than Nicolas Cage in fireman’s clothes, too.

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Minority Majority

conservatism, Europe, Middle East, Terrorism

Whenever I hear someone advocate racial profiling as part of national security — singling out people who look Middle Eastern for special attention — I think of the 1987 film “Born in East L.A.”

In this film Cheech Marin (who was also the writer and director) plays Rudy, a native-born east Angeleno who got caught in an INS raid without his wallet (and ID) and deported to Mexico. Denied re-entry to the U.S., Rudy spends most of the film scheming to get himself smuggled across the border, and getting mixed up with some con artists, hustlers, and the inevitable pretty girl along the way. If you’ve never seen it, rent it sometime; it’s a hoot.

Anyway, in one particularly brilliant segment Rudy is given the task of teaching English to a group of men planning to enter the U.S. illegally. The men turn out to be Chinese. Instead of English, Rudy teaches them how to pass for Latinos — how to walk, dress, watch girls, etc. And the funny thing is that it works; the Chinese fugitives are transformed into completely believable Latinos.

Years ago a Chicano friend (whose grandmother was Huichol) complained he often was mistaken for an east Indian by east Indians. And a Filipino co-worker once showed me a photograph of himself costumed in a Mongol-style helmet and chain mail. You would have sworn he was Genghis Khan.

Remember Jean Charles de Menezes? He was the Brazilian shot and killed on July 7 last year because London police mistook him for a Middle Eastern terrorist.

I bring this up because today the righties are cheering the mostly British passengers of Monarch Airlines Flight ZB 613 — departing Malaga, Spain, and flying to Manchester, UK — who mutinied because two (presumed) Arabic men were boarding. Passengers walked off the plane or refused to board entirely. Police eventually removed the two men so that the flight could take off (three hours late) without them. A security sweep of the plane found nothing amiss, and the two men eventually were cleared by security and flown to Manchester in another plane.

Captain Ed:

The incident shows that citizens will start imposing their own solutions to flight safety in the absence of demonstrably intelligent security while attempts at attacks continue … the unwillingness of the governments in both the UK and the US to provide systems of screening that instill confidence in the flying public has led to these incidents. They will continue and increase while screening systems insist on playing political correctness games instead of focusing on real threats as the Israelis have done for decades.

Other righties point out that the passengers were alarmed by the two men’s behavior, not their race, which was the same thing the London police said last year about Jean Charles de Menezes. This odd behavior was that they were speaking a foreign language (presumed Arabic, but the Daily Mail doesn’t say for sure) and wearing leather jackets in summer (London police also claimed Jean Charles de Menezes was wearing an “unseasonably thick jacket,” like the one I wish I had when I was riding around London on the top deck of a sightseeing bus last August; I was freezing). And the two guys were checking their watches. Like no law-abiding citizen ever checks his watch while waiting to board a plane.

So to those passengers who claim they were judging the men entirely by their behavior, I say: Sure you were.

A few days ago I wrote some posts about James Fallows’s new article about U.S. security in the current issue of Atlantic Online, in which he wrote:

“The patriotism of the American Muslim community has been grossly underreported,” says Marc Sageman, who has studied the process by which people decide to join or leave terrorist networks. According to Daniel Benjamin, a former official on the National Security Council and coauthor of The Next Attack, Muslims in America “have been our first line of defense.” Even though many have been “unnerved by a law-enforcement approach that might have been inevitable but was still disturbing,” the community has been “pretty much immune to the jihadist virus.”

Something about the Arab and Muslim immigrants who have come to America, or about their absorption here, has made them basically similar to other well-assimilated American ethnic groups—and basically different from the estranged Muslim underclass of much of Europe. … most measures of Muslim disaffection or upheaval in Europe—arrests, riots, violence based on religion—show it to be ten to fifty times worse than here.

See also this article in the National Catholic Reporter of January 14, 2005, that says American Muslims are remarkably law-abiding and are not providing a base of support for jihadists.

Muslims in Europe are another matter. Back to James Fallows:

The difference between the European and American assimilation of Muslims becomes most apparent in the second generation, when American Muslims are culturally and economically Americanized and many European Muslims often develop a sharper sense of alienation. “If you ask a second-generation American Muslim,” says Robert Leiken, author of Bearers of Global Jihad: Immigration and National Security After 9/11, “he will say, ‘I’m an American and a Muslim.’ A second-generation Turk in Germany is a Turk, and a French Moroccan doesn’t know what he is.”

Alex Massie writes for The New Republic online:

The challenge of assimilation in Great Britain is daunting. A recent opinion survey of Muslims carried out by Channel 4 News concluded that just 44 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds feel Britain is their country, and 51 percent of them believe September 11 was the result of an American-Israeli conspiracy. Furthermore, 30 percent of British Muslims would like to live under sharia law, and 28 percent would like Great Britain to become an Islamic state. These findings, alas, cannot be considered the result of a rogue poll. A Pew Research Center survey this year found that 81 percent of British Muslims consider themselves Muslim first and British second. As Timothy Garton Ash noted in a prescient piece in Thursday’s Guardian, “This is a higher proportion than in Jordan, Egypt or Turkey, and exceeded only by that in Pakistan (87%).” No wonder the Channel 4 pollsters concluded that nearly one in ten British Muslims “can be classified as ‘Hardcore Islamists’ who are unconcerned by trifles like freedom of speech.”

What’s baffling about the alienation of British Muslims is that the British government has done more than most European governments to help Muslims assimilate. Further, British Muslims enjoy greater economic and educational opportunity than in some other European countries. Yet, as noted in the Guardian article, not only are British Muslims alienated, young British Muslims born in Britain seem more alienated than their immigrant parents.

The writer of the Guardian article, Timothy Garton Ash, speculates that, maybe, it has something to do with the fact that most British Muslims trace their origins to Pakistan. Maybe it’s Tony Blair’s support for George Bush. Maybe it’s the libidinous nature of British society (more so than the rest of Europe?). Maybe it’s all of those factors.

What Ash doesn’t say, but which the killing of Mr. de Menezes and the mutiny on Flight 613 reveal, is that British Muslims may be swimming against a strong but unacknowledged current of bigotry. Go here for more examples. The Brits may have entered into an unfortunate spiral in which terrorist acts of a small minority of Muslims incite bigoted reactions from “native” Brits, which in turn causes British Muslim youth to feel more alienated and more likely to be radicalized.

I say that if we listen to the hysterics and hate-mongering from the Right, we could find ourselves traveling down that same spiral.

One hears calls for “Israeli-style profiling.” I’m no expert, but it’s my understanding that Israeli-style profiling is more psychological profiling than ethnic profiling. According to this guy:

El Al’s passenger screening system, established in the early 1970s, relies on psychological profiling techniques backed up with high-technology equipment. This system has been highly effective: the last successful hijacking of an El Al jet was in 1968, when Palestinian terrorists diverted a flight from Rome to Algiers.34 Whereas the United States gives priority to screening baggage rather than people, Israel’s security model aims at ferreting out individuals with terrorist intentions. This profiling process relies on access to intelligence and careful observation of would-be passengers.

Note that these observations are made by people trained to catch revealing behaviors; not by bigoted passengers who panic when a man speaks Arabic (maybe) and checks his watch. And it would be pretty futile to single out ethnic Middle Easterners when you’re in the Middle East, I suspect.

I also agree with this blogger:

Israeli profiling is the very last line of defense. The first line of defense is a well-run intelligence service that has been penetrating Palestinian militant groups for years. Second is a series of checkpoints, roadblocks, and a wall. Finally, there’s a broad set of people trained to look for suicide bombers.

The blogger is not confident that U.S. airport personnel would be competent to carry out psychological profiling, and profiling done by improperly trained people is nothing but “security theater.” There are a great many other things we should be doing to improve airport security, he says, before we start profiling.

Every now and then some rightie will wonder why New York subway security doesn’t single out Middle Eastern persons for backpack searches. I always want to take the rightie by the hand and gently lead him to, say, some high-traffic spot in the Union Square subway station, and tell him to point out all the subway passengers who might be Middle Eastern. Eventually it should dawn even on the densest of righties that a majority of the thousands of people he sees might be Middle Eastern. It would be a lot easier to single out those passengers who definitely are not Middle Eastern, and even then he most likely would make some mistakes.

And if your purpose is to identify Muslims, don’t forget there are African Muslims and Asian Muslims, and the occasional person of European ancestry who converts to Islam.

If airport and other security were to put people wearing Muslim dress through special security, it wouldn’t take long for the enterprising terrorist to figure out how to dress and act so as not to arouse suspicion that he is Muslim. He might even rent “Born in East L.A.” and get tips on passing as Latino. If Chinese can do it, becoming Latinized should be a snap for a Pakistani.

Update: See Glenn Greenwald.

The blame lies not with those who entertain such fears, but with those who allow those fears to govern their conduct, and more so, those who purposely stoke and exaggerate those fears due either to their own fears and/or because doing so is to their advantage.

Update update: See also Scott Lemieux.

Shorter various blogospheric wingnuts: the government’s appalling lack of racism gives people no recourse but to take racism into their own hands.

Also also: Dave Johnson.

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