Friday, November 9, 2007

Biting my tongue

I was standing in the surgery lounge today and Fox News (and we're using that last word very liberally here) was on the television. The reporter (again, not the literal definition) said that the government is now warning us that there has been some threat of terrorism in the form of attacks on malls in LA. In response, the LAPD has decided to map Muslims, identifying neighborhoods where they live in order to root out potential extremists.

Upon hearing this story, I shook my head a bit and said, "Well, that's just great." I try to avoid religion and politics when I'm with my ultra-conservative physician preceptor, but I couldn't help it. Occasionally, carbon dioxide builds up and stimulates my respiratory centers, and I have to exhale to keep from dying. Similarly, occasionally, bullshit builds up and stimulates my brain, and I have to shake my head a bit so as to keep it from sticking.

Said physician saw the head shake and replied, "Well, if you don't want to get blown up at the mall, you have to be okay with profiling; and the only people who aren't okay with it are people who want to blow you up."

I bit my tongue (the end of it is now gone) at the time, but get ready for some head shaking now...

First, I worry about a lot of things, but I do not worry about Muslims lighting up my ass at The Gap. No one does. I don't worry about it, in part, because, as is the case with all of these threats of terrorism, I'm never shown any actual evidence. Believing them now requires almost as much faith as believing in Allah himself.

I do, however, worry about profiling. I'm against both blowing up shoppers and mapping Muslims. (Despite what the good doctor said, those two positions are not mutually exclusive.) I'll tell you why I'm not okay with profiling, why it's not okay. It's not okay because it doesn't work. Profiling people based on their religious beliefs does not find terrorists. It finds Muslims. They are not the same thing.

Let me say that again. Muslims and terrorists are not the same thing.

Like Christians and Jews and Agnostics and Atheists and all the millions of I just try to live a good life and pay my taxes please stay off my lawnists, Muslim Americans deserve peace and privacy in their homes and neighborhoods.

The story I heard today scares me because it reminds me of the writing of Martin Niemoller...

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I was not a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

We studied the Holocaust my freshman year in high school. I had an English teacher, Mrs. Toth, who taught it every year. She ended the Holocaust unit by sharing Mr. Niemoller's writing with us and by finally saying, "I know it seems like the Holocaust was a long time ago, but it wasn't really. This kind of evil still lives in people. And, if we don't learn from this, if we don't learn to speak out even when they aren't coming for will happen again."

So then I wonder, how much should I really bite my tongue?


Ms. Avarice said...

wow that's really creepy... isn't that against the constitution or something? ugh.

Sparrow said...

sing it sister!

Mme Benaut said...

Terroni: First, good for you for speaking out for what you believe in. But I don't think you can compare modern day USA with the SS. I can't see your government going in for mass extermination. Mass deportation would most likely be the extreme in this case.
Second, practical evidence was apparent in spades in NYC on 9/11.
Third, SOME Muslims ARE terrorists (there are cells all over the place, in many countries). In Indonesia, there is extraordinary leniency towards the terrorists so every now an again, they set off another bomb in Bali. Those who killed 88 Australians in Bali only 4 years ago were recently treated to a luncheon feast and the Sheik who was behind it all was released from gaol after only 3 years - for mass murder.
Fourth, Islam requires the faithful to attempt to convert everyone and create a Muslim society for all. Only in western countries do Muslims and other faiths live peacefully side by side (hence I understand your reluctance to accept profiling) but again, in some islands of Indonesia, there are REGULAR massacres of both Muslims and Christians. In Australia, the muslim mufti has made outrageous comments about women. He had a large following amongst muslim communities in Sydney and male youth are particularly susceptible to the preachings. We had a cultural clash between muslim youth and "christian" youth on one of our beaches in Sydney only a year ago which turned into a huge race riot.
I can't speak for the USA as I haven't been there for a while but LA is the first point of landing for many international flights and therefore the one most likely to be a point of connection for any potential terrorist, perhaps with links to likeminded folk already living there. In a city like LA, if I lived there, I might not oppose profiling.

This is a very tough question Terroni love but I did work in foreign affairs for long enough to know that there is more to this than you will ever be told and secondly that there is a battle for the minds and hearts of people the world over.

Most countries have had multiculturalism for some time now and sadly, it hasn't always worked too well. We humans are a complicated lot though and there is no easy answer to these questions - just lots of studying - sometimes that may mean profiling first even if only to eliminate (sorry about this choice of word) fear.

That's just me - speaking out (on your blog). Sorry, little one - you can delete this if you like - perhaps I shouldn't have written so much.

Terroni said...

Madame, I would never delete your thoughts. I enjoy reading them too much.

Maria said...

I don't suppose your English teacher was Susan Allen Toth, was it? Because if it was, I have one helluva story for you, T.

.j.william. said...


yes yes yes. And yet, you do bring up the good question: how much should you (we) bite our tongues?

Eric said...

I pretty much hate the news...I will watch it on BBC America...I just check it online a couple of times a day as the 24 hour news channels can't seem to find any reporting to do.
Today, Jared and I went to the bar next door and sat and had a couple of beers. We were there for a good half hour.
During that time Headline News was focused exclusively on the Gates arrest.
Then, right before we left they switched to a story about someone being sued over a Twitter comment.
I'm not sure how today could be such a slow news day, what with countless wars, a world-wide recession, the health care debate, etc.
At least they didn't try to scare the shit out of me with a swine flu story.
And yes, it sucks that people assume that you have the same views as they do just because you share a culture, or skin color. Something that happens fairly often in this very red portion of a fairly blue state.