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Archive for Sunday, January 11, 2009

Few topics are safe for Muslims

January 11, 2009

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Today’s column is presented as a public service for Muslim readers. Call it a list of Things Not To Say If You Are Muslim.

The need for such a list is illustrated by a New Year’s Day incident at Washington’s Reagan National Airport. An AirTran Airways flight was delayed two hours and a group of nine Muslims — eight family members and a friend — was refused permission to fly after two teenage girls overheard a member of the group say that sitting near the engines would be particularly unsafe in the event of an accident.

The girls told their parents, who told flight attendants. Next thing you know, 104 passengers are cooling their heels as the plane and all its baggage are rechecked by security officials. Even after the plane was cleared to fly and the group — eight of them native-born U.S. citizens — was determined to be no threat, they were still not allowed back on the plane. They wound up paying for seats on another carrier. AirTran initially refused to apologize for the incident, but quickly backtracked.

So there you have No. 1 on the list of Things Not To Say If You Are Muslim: Do not say anything about air safety. Granted, that’s a staple, albeit morbid, topic for skittish fliers the world over, but you are not “the world over.” You are Muslims in America, post Sept. 11. You may not discuss air safety. Not even to say, “For criminy sake, Malik, take your Valium and shut up; flying is perfectly safe.” If you discuss air safety even to defend it, we will have to conclude that you are a terrorist.

No. 2. Do not use “gee” words. Do not say jeepers, gee-whiz, Jesus or Jehosophat. Someone listening in may think you said “jihad” and we will have to conclude that you are a terrorist.

No. 3: Do not say jihad. If you do, we will have to conclude that you are a terrorist.

No. 4: Do not discuss movie history. Eventually, someone will observe that “Ishtar” was one of Hollywood’s all-time biggest bombs. Someone listening in will report that you plan to blow up Hollywood and we will have to conclude that you are a terrorist.

No. 5: Do not talk sports. Somebody might say, “Boy, I hate the Dolphins.” Then Homeland Security will have to shut down SeaWorld, Shamu will have to be guarded by unsmiling men in sunglasses ... and we will have to conclude that you are a terrorist.

No. 6: Do not discuss the weather. If someone says, “I can’t believe it’s raining again today” and someone else says, “Weatherman says it’s going to be even worse tomorrow,” and then the first someone says, “Any more of this and we’re all going to drown,” someone listening in will report a plot to blow up the levees and flood the town. And we will have to conclude that you are a terrorist.

Indeed, it occurs to me that it might be easier to list the things that are safe for you to talk about, that won’t make some eavesdropper think you an evil, America-hating outsider. There are two things. The first: lawsuits. There is nothing more reflective of American values than suing the so-and-sos who have mistreated and embarrassed you.

Indeed, one of the detained Muslims told the New York Times, “We have not ruled out the possibility of legal action.” It struck just the right tone, saying to skeptical fellow Americans in no uncertain terms: Hey, we are just like you.

The second thing on the list of safe topics: baseball. Yes, I know what I said about sports. Baseball isn’t sports. It’s hot dogs, blue skies, home runs, Americana at its most iconic.

Besides, it’s OK to say you hate the Yankees. Most people do.

Yes, you may think it pathetic that Americans have become such a skittish, paranoid lot that you can only talk about lawsuits and baseball without arousing suspicion. But look on the bright side:

Spring training begins next month.

— Leonard Pitts Jr., winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a columnist for the Miami Herald. He chats with readers from noon to 1 p.m. CST each Wednesday on www.MiamiHerald.com.

Comments

bondmen 5 years, 11 months ago

Again your spew rage is just the Pitts Leonard! Flying folks are rightly skittish about groups of people discussing possible air disasters or getting up and milling around in the cabin. Though most such behavior may be innocent, it is most certainly not thoughtful, and it also is a method real terrorists would use in advance of an attack by probing an airplanes defenses.I assure you Leonard that men and many women on board will take matters into their own hands should some jihadias begin a plan to disrupt or destroy a plane in flight. We will not tolerate haters taking down another domestic flight without a fight.So passengers who want to fly safely should just button up their lip before their trip!

jaywalker 5 years, 11 months ago

Odds on this spread denigrating to the Hitler theory.......what's that called again?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 11 months ago

You know, racist bigots above, Pitts was really talking about you, not Muslims. And he nailed it.

BuffyloGal 5 years, 11 months ago

Timothy McVeigh never talked about baseball.

TheYetiSpeaks 5 years, 11 months ago

In other news, Native American homeowner calls police after Caucasian couple remarks, "You have a lovely home", for fear of it being taken. But hey, after they took it they would of set him up in a real nice shanty.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 11 months ago

"Isn't 'racist bigot' a tad redundant?"Not in this case.

temperance 5 years, 11 months ago

bondman: "I assure you Leonard that men and many women on board will take matters into their own hands should some jihadias begin a plan to disrupt or destroy a plane in flight. We will not tolerate haters taking down another domestic flight without a fight."I positively swooned when I read this. It's so macho. So American. So Jack Bauer. I applaud the bold stand against "haters," and I got weak in the knees just thinking about bondman tackling a terrorist (preferably played by Asif Manvi) in an emergency exit row.But I have a couple of lingering concerns. You say "many women" will be involved in stopping the terrorist, but isn't this really a man's job? Shouldn't we instruct the women to watch after the kids or something? Also, the passengers on the flight in question -- it seems to me -- didn't take the manly bondman-esque approach. Instead, they hid behind the apron of a flight attendant, making her negotiate face-to-face with a potentially vicious terrorist. How cowardly.

Corey Williams 5 years, 11 months ago

bondmen (Anonymous) says…"Flying folks are rightly skittish about groups of people discussing possible air disasters or getting up and milling around in the cabin."You mean, after a plane had just recently (in the past few weeks) skidded off the end of a runway and burst into flames, it's not ok to wonder where the safest seat in a plane is? And they weren't "milling" around the cabin, weren't they on the way to their seats? And if they were terrorists planning to do something with the plane, why would they be wanting to know where the safe seats are? No one just hijacks planes anymore.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 11 months ago

beo, yeah, remember the last time Christians rioted world-wide because of some cartoons in a newspaper?The followers of radical Islam make the Phelps clan look like Care Bears.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 11 months ago

I laughed all the way though it. I am going to print it out and put in on the fridge so I can have a laugh now and then. It is like misunderstood song lyrics, though with more dire consequences.I agree with the comment about sitting near the engines, but unfortunately the plane isn't going to let those seats remain empty.Muslims have the same rights as everyone else. They are human, get that! People are simply not paying attention, no matter what they claim. This sort of allegation is like the game where one person makes a statement and it is passed around the group. Guess what it is when it gets to the last person?Innocent in a game, not in real life.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 11 months ago

In Dhimmi-world, Muslims will tell us what we can say.

fuel_for_the_fire 5 years, 11 months ago

"Odds on this spread denigrating to the Hitler theory…….what's that called again?"It's called Godwin's Law, also known as Godwin's Rule; I don't gamble but I'd say the odds are pretty good.

Confrontation 5 years, 11 months ago

Those two teenage girls are absolute idiots. Definitely a product of psycho Christians.

labmonkey 5 years, 11 months ago

Would No. 4 be all that bad if it happened?

Brosiusjb 5 years, 11 months ago

Just another bozo on this blog you are a dunce. Just yesterday there was a story on this very site about a man who forced an abortion on his teenage sister because she had been raped. Tradition states that cutting out the clitoris of coming of age women is virtuous. Killing non muslims yields you a special spot in heaven in their eyes. If you took Israels guns away they would be slaughtered, if you took the Arabic weapons away the Israelis would live in peace. Airplanes have been about the best way for terrorists to strike fear into us because it hits on all our mortal terrors: heights, being blown limb from limb, being trapped, being dead. And Confrontation you are equally off on this one Christianity has absolutely nothing to do with it, let's not forget Islam celebrates Jesus as a prophet, no Confrontation this is about survival. Even you should be able to understand that, when the people who are attacking the U.S., England, Spain, etc. are of the Islamic faith is it a product of psycho Christians or astute amateur detective work? You so hate Christians that you attribute every ill in the world to them, how many times have you been wrong? A whole lot dude. There is very little to be angry at the New Testament about, it's not Christianity thats the problem it's people." In this case you're blaming the victims. When Muslims are so sick and tired of being kicked off airplanes and being otherwise inconvenienced they will force changes in their religion--a belief that many believe values killing.

feeble 5 years, 11 months ago

Brosiusjb (Anonymous) says…Just another bozo on this blog you are a dunce. Just yesterday there was a story on this very site about a man who forced an abortion on his teenage sister because she had been raped.=========================So Brosiusjb, clearly you're informed on the topic, how can I differentiate between a man from Afghanistan who may want to eviscerate his sister and a lawyer from Arlington, Virgina, who was born and raised in Detroit? By the color of their skin perhaps, or peculiar facial features? /sarcasm

AjiDeGallina 5 years, 11 months ago

Marion, I am surprised with what you report, that you are not muslim, in fact you are an avid supporter of a guy who said the Holocaust was not all that bad.Can you tell me what percentage of Muslims actually fallow the ignorant practice you demonstrate. i agree it is terrible, but if you are going to tell a story, please tell the whole story and not just bits and pieces that support your racism and leave out the ones that show your racism is so ingrained that you will probably never recover from that cancer.

Strontius 5 years, 11 months ago

"Can you tell me what percentage of Muslims actually fallow the ignorant practice you demonstrate"Public executions? Well, if I'm not mistaken, they are still practiced in much of the Islamic world, though they tend to be more along the lines of hanging rather than firing squads. But that's more "civilized", right?Even in America, there is still some support from Muslims for suicide attacks:http://blogs.usatoday.com/ondeadline/2007/05/poll_a_quarter_.htmlAnd remember, this is in America. In most Islamic countries, much of the population thinks suicide bombing is acceptable for at least some reasons. Since most Muslims live outside the U.S., we can easily conclude that "most" Muslims support suicide bombing in some circumstances. Is it any wonder that people feel put off by Muslims who look as though they haven't left the Middle Ages talking about the dangers of being close to the engines in case of an accident? When the majority of Muslims stand up and denounce terrorism, suicide bombings, and gender inequality, then we'll talk about the unfairness being afforded to these people. It also wouldn't hurt to see Islamic countries start sending in troops to defeat the Taliban and other radical Islamic groups. But we all know that these countries at the very least are well aware that doing something like that would be very unpopular at home, where support for radicals is much higher than many people would like to think.

fuel_for_the_fire 5 years, 11 months ago

Death by electrocution or a fatal injection in front of only a few witnesses is sooooooooo much more civilized.For the pragmatically impaired, this is called sarcasm.

Strontius 5 years, 11 months ago

"Death by electrocution or a fatal injection in front of only a few witnesses is sooooooooo much more civilized."I was being sarcastic too in my remarks about hangings being more civilized, and granted there are people in Western countries who are proud of the fact that some crimes carry a capital punishment (I recall a bumper sticker which read "We fry 'em in Texas"), but you simply can't compare capital punishment in the United States to capital punishment in Islamic defacto dictatorships. And no, I do not support capital punishment, but this issue isn't black and white.

womanwarrior 5 years, 11 months ago

Hmmm, most psychotic mass murderers are white males. I guess when there is a murder, we should search all white male's homes. Especially the one's on here who think they know what's best for all us women. Of course, if you have nothing to hide, I'm sure you won't mind.

jayhawkologist 5 years, 11 months ago

From my experience, each and every one of Mr. Pitts's well written columns is a very insightful look at an aspect of that which we call the human experience. Sadly, what the 8 Muslim-Americans faced and put their fellow Americans through that day - simply because of an innocent sentence about airplane safety being taken out of context by 2 teenage products of paranoid white America - is a harsh reality for Muslims worldwide....these people are the innocent victims of a public perception and stereotype based on the actions of an extremist few. Those who were offended by this column need to consider that they themselves might be the reason that the idea of '6 things not to say...' was ever brought up, due to the rampant and unfortunate need of the paranoid so-called 'moral majority' for comfort and 'political correctness. If this demographic calls itself Christian, then I ask, what would Jesus do?

Calliope877 5 years, 11 months ago

I wonder if the two teenage girls that turned them in were the same two teenage girls who got kicked off a plane for being too "pretty?"

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