Once More Until We Get It Right

« April 2008 »

Memo to Patriotic Paranoids: LET'S MAKE A DEAL.

You can't possibly want me to keep writing these columns, mocking your fear and paranoia every time you jump at a noise in the dark that sounds swarthy to you. And honestly, I'm starting to run out of things to say, because your behavioral pattern doesn't vary all that much. You see something you think is suspicious, you try to save the day, you're wrong. The details change, but the basic pattern remains constant.

So I'd like to formally propose a deal I've informally hinted at in the past. I will let all of it slide. The racism, the paranoia, the profiling, the terror. I'll let all of it drop and never write another column like this again. You'll be off the hook. You can harass people in turbans on planes until you're blue in the face and red in the neck, and to me, it'll be like water off a duck's back. And all you have to do is catch a terrorist.

It should be easy for you, after all. I mean, we're six plus years into the post-9/11 world where we're all so constantly aware that we're under attack by a militant brown force of extremist dark jihadism rooted in a radical, bearded form of Islamofascism that wants to destroy us all. With six years to prepare and plan, there should be a constant stream of attacks, attempted attacks, and "dry runs" for you to stop. So just stop one, and I'll stop, too.

Now, admittedly, I'm going to have to set some conditions here. I'm sure you'll understand. Y'all don't play fair, and y'all ain't that bright, so we need to be clear on our terms. Luckily, I have a real-world example I can use to help set these terms.

1. PROFILING: The terrorist you catch must be spotted via racial or ethnic profiling. This shouldn't be a problem, since it's a strategy you've been espousing for years. Skin color, facial hair, or outward evidence of a belief in the Islamic faith are all valid so long as they are not combined with blatantly suspicious behavior like trying to light the fuse in his shoe.

For example, Jim Diffly, a student at the University of Georgia, was investigated by local police, and subsequently the FBI, largely on the grounds of his bushy beard. The FBI agent, according to Diffly, wanted to meet him face to face to make sure he wasn't Middle Eastern. Which is fair. Since nobody in the FBI speaks any foreign languages, they would have no way of knowing that "Diffly" actually means "Harmless Man Of Peace" in Farsi.

2. PROOF OF POST-9/11 MINDSET: This one's a bit trickier, but the terrorist you catch must have been spotted engaging in a behavior that was, before 9/11, unremarkable. But after 9/11, that act has taken on a sinister significance. Things like going to the bathroom on an airplane, praying toward Mecca on purpose, or taking pictures of public buildings. You know, the kind of shit you've been busting people's balls over in your attempt to keep America safe for white Christianity.

That last, by the way, is what Diffly was doing that aroused all the non-beard-related suspicion. He was taking pictures of the outside of chicken processing plants for a school project. He was taking pictures of the outside because they wouldn't let him inside, and they wouldn't let him inside because, well, when it comes to lasting harm to the American people, I'm betting that what goes on inside those chicken plants on a day to day basis trumps anything a terrorist could do to those chicken plants from the outside. After all, the last time someone got a camera into a big meat processing facility, it resulted in a record beef recall. Just saying.

3. CONVICTION ON TERRORISM CHARGES IN UNITED STATES COURT. I know this may seem unfair, but I hope you can understand that it's necessary. Military tribunals don't count. Yes, I know the actual conviction rate of people rounded up with great fanfare is shockingly low. Not my problem. I mean, hell, if they tortured Jose Padilla for four years and barely managed to convict him on a lesser charge, what hope is there for any real terrorist caught brown-handed by a patriotic citizen doing his patriotic duty?

But you can't get credit for catching a terrorist unless they're actually a terrorist. And despite what the last seven years have taught you, you can't actually prove someone's a terrorist just by calling them one. Which is why, luckily, Jim Diffly's not in jail right now for having a beard and a camera. And which is also why I'm so very sure that not a single one of you panicking, paranoid fuckers will ever manage to satisfy your half of this deal. But get cracking nonetheless. I await the peals of laughter your attempts will cause me.