Belated Gratitude

« November 2006 »

Memo to the American Public: THANK YOU.

I didn't do the usual "What I'm Thankful For" column that so many people did on Thanksgiving. For three reasons. First, nobody reads the column on holidays or things that vaguely resemble holidays. Second, I was kind of busy over the holiday anyway. And most importantly, it's usually a cheap out. A quick bit of hackwork. Easy. None of which, obviously, I'm opposed to, at least sparingly, but I like to think that when I slack off it's in my own unique way.

But I am, truly, oh so grateful to the American public. Because you never learn. Whether it's because you're unable, unwilling, or both, you NEVER FUCKING LEARN. Which means you will keep doing the same stupid shit over and over, which means as long as there's a series of tubes connecting all these computers, I'll never lack for mockable incidents.

For example, last week. The Imam Incident. A half-dozen Muslim priests, on their way back from a priest conference in Minneapolis, were praying in the boarding area before the flight. This made the white Midwesterners nervous, the men were asked to leave the plane, they refused. The men were then handcuffed, taken off the plane, investigated, and cleared, but US Airways wouldn't put them on another plane. They had to wait until the next day and catch a flight on Northwest.

There are two things that I love about this incident. The first thing I love about this incident is that it's five years after 9/11, and white people still think that (a) they're gonna get hijacked, and (b) if they're vigilant, and report suspicious behavior, they can keep from being hijacked. You fucking morons. Let me say this to you one more time, slowly, in the hopes that it will sink in.

YOU ARE NOT KURT RUSSELL IN "EXECUTIVE DECISION". You're not even pudgy Steven Seagal in "Executive Decision". You are also not the "Let's Roll" guy. You are a jittery fuckwad in seat 7B, and your ability to predict a hijacking is exactly on par with your ability to predict winning Powerball numbers. You don't know shit. And you know how I know you don't know shit? Because you and your ilk over the past five years have never once actually identified a terrorist.

Every single time, the reports of "suspicious behavior" are trumped up. Every single time, the people escorted off the plane are investigated and found to have been planning nothing and doing nothing. Every. Single. Time. Here's how you'll know if the guy in the seat next to you is a terrorist: he'll either pull a weapon on you or blow up. Until that moment, your judgment is suspect.

Which brings me to the second thing I love about this incident. Once again it illustrates that there is no penalty, no sanction, for being wrong in our society right now. Dozens upon dozens of people immediately leapt to the defense of the passengers who ratted out the innocent imams. And not just everyday Internet assholes, either. Or even right-wing fucks like Investor's Business Daily, who, in an editorial, are convinced that it was all a deliberate provocation by the imams to raise a stink.

Which makes no sense, because for their plan to work, the imams would have had to assume that at a plane out of Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport would have at least one terrified ignorant racist on board. Well, OK. But it's still a ludicrous thing to claim.

No, I'm talking about people like the Pioneer-Press editorial board, which went out on a limb and proclaimed:

"What happened to the imams, we believe, was not racism or religious bias. It falls into the category of reasonable overreaction." There you have it, folks. The defining oxymoron of the post-9/11 era. "Reasonable Overreaction". It was a case of controlled panic, you see. Spontaneity aforethought! You can't overreact reasonably. That's just being wrong. Again.

The Strib devoted an entire article to the horrible, agonizing choice faced... by the passenger. You know, the guy that was wrong? Featuring lots of nice quotes to make Midwestern racists feel better about themselves. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"It's better to make a mistake and insult people than make a mistake and let a planeload of people get killed." - Voua Her, of Rochester, MN. This is a classic false dichotomy, of course. It treats the two options as if they were equally likely, despite five fucking years of evidence to the contrary. How many passengers have made a mistake and let a planeload of people get killed? ZERO. How many passengers have made a mistake and insulted people and fucked up their travel plans? DOZENS. And who gets blamed when that happens? The victims. For making white people nervous. Which these days is a crime punishable by, at a minimum, a few hours in handcuffs and a night or two at a shitty airport hotel.

So thank you, vacuous, numb-skulled, shit-for-brains America. For making all this possible.

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