Six years after 9/11, Americans remember and discriminate
By Ray Hanania — Maybe it’s the lies that led this nation into Iraq that are behind the apparent confusion some Americans have about how to respond to the terrorism threat. Are we fighting the war in Iraq to “save” the Iraqi people, or are we there to fight terrorism?
Nowhere is that more apparent than at our airports.
American Airlines Flight 590 was about to depart San Diego on a redeye flight for Chicago when a woman on board called police complaining of a terrorist threat after hearing six other passengers, all men, speaking “Arabic.”
Forget the fundamental problem here, for a moment. If she could speak Arabic, she would have known what they were saying and not called police. So, how did she know they were Arabs?
Sounded “Arabic enough,” apparently. A vague complaint is enough to force a pilot to delay a plane’s departure and put six innocent men under police scrutiny, again.
Turns out the “terrorism suspects” were six Iraqis working for Defense Training Systems, a military contractor. They had been training American Marines at Camp Pendleton.
It also seems one person with two children on the plane got into an argument with one or more of the Iraqi men. Maybe the same woman who complained?
Officials seem intentionally unclear in their public statements. And they should be. Incidents like this where innocent citizens who happen to be speaking Arabic, or something similar, are filing lawsuits and winning, after long, difficult battles.
Local police question the men, who had been screened, processed, questioned and had their bags check when they boarded the plane, along with everyone else including the “citizen terrorism vigilante.”
Was the complaint prompted by fear of terrorism? Or fear driven by a personal argument that was most likely prompted by racism?
Get in an argument with an Arab, even one serving our military, and you can always play the “terrorism trump card.” Call the police and the lives of the Iraqis are disrupted. They are embarrassed and humiliated.
One of the Iraqis said he was angry. Here he was, an American himself of Iraqi heritage, helping the American people protect their American soldiers in Iraq, and this is how he is treated?
I hope he doesn’t believe the United States sent their soldiers into Iraq to protect the Iraqi people from the savagery of the late dictator Saddam Hussein?
Clearly, as was demonstrated this week on American Airlines Flight 590, some Americans could care less whether Arabs are helping us or hurting us.
It reminds me of the quagmire that one Crusader commander faced in the siege of Beziers, a French town of Muslims and two groups of Christians, Catholics and Catholics of a condemned sect, called Cathars. Unsure of how to distinguish between the “good” Catholics and the bad Catholics in the siege, the Crusader general told his men, “Kill them all, God will know His own.”
That may have been the solution for Crusaders. It certainly is not a good policy to prevent terrorism in today’s day and age.
If we Americans still can’t figure out which Arabs are “good” and which Arabs are “bad,” then our problems are sure to worsen.
We Americans have not really learned anything since Sept. 11, 2001, have we?
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist, author and publisher of the National Arab American Times Newspaper. he can be reached at email@example.com. Copyright Arab Writers Group www.ArabWritersGroup.com.)
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"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.
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