Monday, August 13, 2007

T-Shirt Story 2: Civil Rights vs Common Sense

My post earlier today, "T-Shirt Story 1: 'I Got Rights!'," tells about Raed Jarrar, an Iraqi living in the United States, who chose to wear a T-shirt with bold Arabic lettering, days after terrorists tried to blow up airliners. Again.

He's suing, of course.

Maybe scaring airline passengers is a constitutional right. The ACLU is backing Mr. Jarrar, the architect who says his civil rights were violated, so I think we can count on this case being taken as far as it will go in the courts.

I'm not going to argue one way or the other about the profound constitutional issues involved. Not in this post, anyway. I don't have expert knowledge in constitutional law.

On the other hand, I think that over a half-century of living in the real world has given me a little knowledge about common sense.

Based on my experience, Mr. Jarrar was not showing common sense. Not if he was serious about wanting to board that JetBlue airliner quietly.

I mean to say: a few days after terrorists tried to blow up airliners, wearing a black shirt with big white letters - in Arabic?!

The sad fact is that there is the people who knocked over the World Trade Center in New York City were from the Arabic-speaking part of the world. The people who have been chanting "Death to Israel! Death to the Great Satan America!" all these years have been doing so in Arabic.

Like it or not, Arabic has been linked with some very anti-social activity. Moreover, many people are not broad-minded enough to risk being part of the next jihadist martyrdom, just to avoid hurting someone's feelings.

I hope that the Flying Imams (I still think that would be a good name for a rock group) and Mr. Jarrar's T-shirt escapade don't represent an increase of false alarms triggered by daft behavior.

I'm very fond of my hypothetical Scandinavian Lutheran terrorists, so I'm going to indulge in another mini-story about them.

If you find that sort of thing annoying, you should stop reading this post now. There won't be anything else after this paragraph.

In case you missed the setup of this very hypothetical situation, here's an excerpt from a previous post.

Let's say that Scandinavian Lutherans had, for decades, been blowing up airplanes, buses, and themselves in what they called a Ragnarokathon. Leaned scholars explained that the Scandinavian Lutherans were doing this because western culture didn't appreciate lutefisk and lefse.

Then, in the fall of 2001, Scandinavian Lutherans, mostly from Sweden, blew up the Sears Tower in Chicago. Thousands of people were killed. The skyscraper was destroyed by crashing two airliners into it.

It's five years later. A few days earlier, Norwegians belonging to Eske Lutefisk og Lefse eller Dø (ELLD) were foiled in their plans to blow up airliners over the Atlantic Ocean.

You're in a New York City airport. You notice that a fellow passenger, six-foot-something (two meters) Kjell Hanssen is wearing a black T-shirt.

The first thing you notice is probably not how well it sets off his pale blond hair and blue eyes. You're more likely to notice the big white letters spelling out "Stillhet er ikke en valgmuligheten." You might even notice the English translation, in small lettering below: "Silence is not an option," a phrase used by those protesting the war in Denmark.

You've got quite a few options, including
  • Ignore Kjell, and hope he's not a terrorist
  • Alert one of the flight crew or a guard of the shirt and its slogan, and your visceral reaction to it
  • Beat Kjell to within an inch of his life, just in case
  • Make a mental note to contribute to the Defense Alliance for Witless Norwegians (DAWN)
I'm sure you can think of other options.

I don't think that the second option would be that far out of line, under the circumstances.

Finally, in case you wondered what the name of that hypothetical Scandinavian terrorist group, "Elske Lutefisk og Lefse eller Dø" (ELLD), means, here's the name in English: "Adore Lutefisk and Lefse or Die." Catchy, isn't it?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Like it or not, Arabic has been linked with some very anti-social activity. Moreover, many people are not broad-minded enough to risk being part of the next jihadist martyrdom, just to avoid hurting someone's feelings."

Exactly. Don't blame the narrow-minded people who would prefer not to die today. Blame the toilet grime that keep carrying out attacks in the name of Allah.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.