Friday, January 2, 2009

Muslims, Elephants, and My New Hero

***Racial Profiling- I realize this is a hugely controversial issue, but WaPo has an interesting (outrageous?) article in today's paper about 9 Muslims passengers being evicted from a domestic flight. While I'm sure SHEAm will wholeheartedly endorse these bully-boy tactics and make some offensive comment about how rational it is to suspect people just because they are (or 'look') Muslim, this is just insane.

The passengers (including 3 children under the age of 10) are American-born citizens of South Asian descent and were wearing traditional Islamic garb. They were en-route to a religious retreat in Orlando from Washington, D.C. Two other passengers heard one of the adults in the group remark that they were seated right next to the jets and notified the flight crew that it was a 'suspicious remark'. Are you kidding?!

Two U.S. Marshalls were on board and reported the activity to the airport police, and the pilot chose to delay the flight. All 104 passengers were de-planed and rescreened. The 9 passengers travelling together were taken into FBI custody for several hours, and eventuall released. However, the airline (AirTran) refused to let them back on the flight.

This is absurd. I completely understand the need for airport security, but this is above and beyond ridiculous. These people were harassed and detained based, it seems, almost entirely on their appearance. The pilot, airline, airport police, and TSA all openly acknowledge that their appearance was a factor in their detainment. Can you imagine any white person being detained for making a similar comment? Of course not.

This kind of 'security' protocol is outrageous and I can't believe that the TSA et al is defending it. The fact that this story isn't bigger news or considered outrageous by more people is equally disturbing.

***Turn Tail and Run- Politico is reporting that many Republicans are leaving town for Obama's inauguration. Some are heading to the Alps for some skiing, others to watch the NFL Playoffs, some to Vegas to hold a last supper with old Mitt Romney. While I can somewhat sympathize with their decision, I can't say that I'll miss them...

***Aaron Belkin has an interesting (snarky?) column over at HuffPo about the atrocities of the Bush administration and how we can move forward. It's definitely worth a read, especially for you SHEAm. :-)

***Movie Theater Justice - This is a few days old, but I've been meaning to write about it since I first heard about it. Over the Christmas holiday a disgruntled movie-goer shot an overly-boistrous theater-enthusiast at a screening of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button". This is inspiring to me for several reasons.

First of all, as anyone who has ever had to experience loud and talkative people while at the movies: it's really obnoxious and annoying. A little talk here and there? Maybe that's ok. But the constant talkers need to be somehow phased out. Maybe a three-strikes rule for lack of etiquette or something. I can't stand it.

Moreover, while I can't say I'm a particular fan of vigilante justice (or carrying concealed handguns), this citizen was clearly doing us all a favor. The 'perpetrator', Mr. Cialella is an Iraq War Veteran (thank you!) and generally upstanding citizen. The 'victim' is a Mr. Lomax, whose arm was broken in the incident.

Now, I recently went with SHEAm and a few others to see the "Benjamin Button", and I must say it is an exquisite film. Go see it! However, just like Mr. Cialella, my experience was somewhat dampened by some of my fellow patrons. I completely share his frustration at having an excellent movie ruined by near-by dolts. A series of unforunate events unfolded that made this a memorable, if somewhat unreal experience. I've rarely witnessed so many rude people in such a small space. Getting up, sitting down, talking, yelling, coming in late, standing in the middle of the theater blocking people's view of the screen as your group finds seats in that row, the list goes on. And this is only a list of things that happened more than 30 minutes into the show. The first half hour was even more excruciating.

I now have a much clearer understanding of our restrictive gun laws. I was very tempted to follow Mr. Cialella's example of community justice. I strongly encourage President Bush to issue a full pardon to this brave young hero.

*** In some sad news, the creator of the Pell Grant, Clairborne Pell, has passed away. Mr. Pell was a U.S. Senator from Rhode Island for 36 years, and helped found the revolutionary college tuition program that still bears his name. As a recipient of the grant 4 years running, I salute you, sir.

*** Toyota is apparently working on an all-solar car. Sounds exciting, even if it is years away!

***Adopt Progressive Policies- So clearly I've taken to reading HuffPo much more often. Here is a piece from Bob Burnett that encourages the country to really take another look at some progressive policies (some basically dating back to T. Roosevelt, others much more recent). Among the winners, a real living wage based on region, health care (duh), and a new homestead act. It's worth a read!

***And Finally... Fox News actually aired a text from viewers that mentions "Barack the Magic Negro" which I've already written about... INSANE!

No comments: