Archive for Thursday, April 12, 2018

Opinion: Controversial but not a terrorist

April 12, 2018

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Shaun King is a controversial guy.

As an activist and journalist, he’s been prominent in the Black Lives Matter movement, defended the Palestinians and attacked the Republican Party. On Monday, apparently as a result of his politics, King was briefly detained at JFK Airport by an agent of U.S. Customs and Border Protection while returning home from Egypt.

In a series of tweets and a telephone interview, King described a “frustrating” and “weird” episode like something out of “The Twilight Zone.” He said he was approached by a customs official who pulled him out of line and took him down a white hall to a nondescript office. His wife, unwilling to be separated, came along, as did their children.

King said the agent first attempted to ply the children with small talk but that he, King, told his wife and kids “to not say a damn word.” According to King, the agent asked why they had visited Egypt — “traditional family vacation” was the reply — then inquired about King’s work with Black Lives Matter. He spoke in such a way, said King, that it became obvious he had “been reading my tweets and knew all about me.”

And King said the agent made reference to his “case,” indicating that whatever this was, it was ongoing and longstanding.

Again, King might be controversial, but he’s no terrorist. Granted, some conservatives, citing uprisings in Baltimore and Ferguson and random cop shootings in Baton Rouge, New York City and Dallas, are ever eager to conflate Black Lives Matter with violence. But that’s specious reasoning — like conflating the mainstream pro-life movement with violence because of deadly shootings and bombings by anti-abortion fanatics in Birmingham, Wichita, Colorado Springs, Brookline and Pensacola.

And anyway, CBP never accused King of terrorism. So, one is hard-pressed to explain what happened Monday as anything other than a clumsy attempt at political intimidation, the government’s unsubtle way of letting a critic know that Big Brother is watching. I asked a CBP spokesperson if the government is monitoring Black Lives Matter as a terrorist organization and how that squares with the First Amendment.

In response, I received a written statement which said in part: “Each traveler must present themselves to CBP for inspection in order to be admitted to the United States of America. This was a routine inspection typical of daily operations at our ports of entry across the nation. CBP treats all international travelers with integrity, respect and professionalism while keeping the highest standards of security.”

Bad enough the statement did not address the questions I posed. But ... “routine”?! Is this kind of thing really routine?

All I can say is that I’ve traveled to 13 countries and it’s never happened to me. A friend who’s journeyed to 25 countries said she’s never experienced anything like it. Another, who’s been to over 100 countries, thought it outrageous. And King himself told me that he understands random and routine screenings, but “This was not that.”

It certainly doesn’t sound like it. Indeed, one feels the ragged breath of authoritarianism moving the hairs at the nape of the neck. One hears George Orwell whispering, “I told you so.”

Some people will think King’s politics justify what happened. But short of calling for or engaging in violence, nobody’s politics justify it. Sure, he’s a controversial guy, but guess what? In America, you have that right. What happened Monday should induce us to remember just how important our rights are.

And how fragile they can be.

— Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald.

Comments

Gary Stussie 1 month, 1 week ago

Pitts feels “The ragged breath of authoritarianism moving the hairs at the nape of this neck” when an “activist and journalist” (prominent in groups that advocate and support violence against police or other groups) is questioned by authorities ... however he, and the entire left, is silent when the FBI raids the hotel room and offices of President Trump’s private attorney.

Apparently the left feels suspending President Trump’s Attorney-Client privilege was justified so that we can find out if President Trump’s lawyer paid a porn star some hush money to cover an affair he may have had with her 10 years ago!.

Remember when OJ Simpson’s lawyer walked out of Simpson’s house, and right by the authorities, with a duffle bag of “Stuff” while authorities were waiting for a search warrant? Everyone there suspected that bag contained damning evidence, however Simpson’s Attorney-Client privilege protected him and probably allowed him to avoid the death penalty!

Alan Dershowitz said it is a "dangerous day today for lawyer-client relations. If this were Hillary Clinton [having her lawyer's office raided], the ACLU would be on every TV station in America jumping up and down," he said. "The deafening silence of the ACLU and civil libertarians about the intrusion into the lawyer-client confidentiality is really appalling."

Where is the ACLU? Where is the liberal outrage? Where is the MSM?

Ken Lassman 1 month, 1 week ago

Why are you conflating the airport harassment of a BLM leader with the issue of lawyer client privilege as it relates to the president? That "authoritarianism" link is a very slender thread indeed, one that I certainly wouldn't want to pull on very hard, let alone walk across.

Ray Mizumura 1 month, 1 week ago

I'd say it's because Gary cannot critique the argument that Pitts makes, so he settles for trying to sell us a false equivalence, along with making all kinds of other references that have nothing to do with Pitts's argument and everything to do with Gary's delusion that Donald Trump is a victim.

Ray Mizumura 1 month, 1 week ago

Fun fact: Alan Dershowitz was on the Simpson "Dream Team" that successfully defended him in 1995.

Bob Smith 1 month, 1 week ago

Considering the random nature of airport security, they could also have mistaken Shaun for Edwin of Northumbria.

Daniel Kennamore 1 month, 1 week ago

Fun Fact: The biggest Black Lives Matter page on Facebook was literally ran by fake Russian accounts.

http://money.cnn.com/2018/04/09/technology/fake-black-lives-matter-facebook-page/index.html

How much of the hate against BLM is real and how much are just shills stirring the pot? How many of the supposed evils of the group were performed by real members and how many were done by Russians?

It's really disturbing just how many fingers the Russian shills have in out country and how many people buy their BS as face-value still to this day.

Bob Smith 1 month, 1 week ago

It's also disturbing how easy it was to dupe the folks on the starboard side of the aisle into donating to the fake BLM site.

Daniel Kennamore 1 month, 1 week ago

^ Speaking of those that buy whatever Putin is selling...

Bob Smith 1 month, 1 week ago

Still selling the othering of people who disagree with you, Danny?

Bob Smith 1 month, 1 week ago

Darn. Sometimes when I say starboard, I mean port!

Greg Cooper 1 month, 1 week ago

Darn. Sometimes when you disagree you agree?

Gary Stussie 1 month, 1 week ago

When I see that on a REAL news station, I will believe it!

Did the Ruskies fake the "fry'em like bacon" video?

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