Friday, January 22, 2010

Dude WTF?

US jet lands when religious item mistaken as bomb

You can read it, you can not read it, I'll summarize: plane lands because someone thinks jew using tefillin (the shit they affix to their heads and wrap up their arms - kind of looks like S&M, but the rest of the outfit rarely matches) is terrorist with bomb.

Issue #1: Really, no one on the plane knew what it was? It was a US Air flight out of LaGuardia, surely one of the passengers had been to hebrew school. New York does have a lot of tribal members.

Issue #2: The first step in assessing a threat is to land the plane? Leaving aside for a moment the fact that were it a bomb it could just as easily explode on the ground, and let us turn to some of the steps a potentially rational person might take prior to making an emergency landing. Like using your talkie-hole to ask the person in question what he is doing? Because

Issue #3: Terrorists are generally the furtive types. Dudes who wrap leather up and down their arms and chant in hebrew are certainly not furtive. They're out there praying in a non-hidey kind of way. People about to ignite secreted munitions generally like to do so in an unassuming way so that no one knows about the about to be blown up plane until it's too late to do anything..

Issue #4: Beards. I don't personally have one, but I know people who do. I'm pretty sure most, if not all, of them are not terrorists. Beard ≠ Terrorist. (See also Muslim ≠ Terrorist; Brown Person ≠ Terrorist; Chick in Head Scarf ≠ Terrorist; Sikh ≠ Terrorist; Person Wearing "Tom Jones in Beirut" T-Shirt ≠ Terrorist.) Also

Issue #5: Praying people. I don't personally pray, but I know people who do. Praying people are not always terrorists. Even if they have beards while praying.

Issue #6: Do you ever sort of wonder if people WANT to be the victims of terrorism? Even aborted terrorism? When I see someone doing something out of the ordinary, my first though isn't, "gee, that person must be a terrorist," yet that seems to be precisely what a lot of other people tend to think. I don't buy into the whole "if x then the terrorists win" crap, mostly because in the end we're all losers, but I'm just not all that frightened and, in this way, I can lead a life free from paralyzing fear. I know that's not the universal scenario.

People are scared. Some for good reason, most for not good reasons, but something happened here (albeit 8 years ago) that hadn't happened before and it scared people. Perpetually. Now all of our frames of reference take it into consideration; all of our actions are supposed to acknowledge or mind it; and our collective psyche is weighed down by its import (again, leaving aside that in the annals of tragedy, it ranks rather low - it just seems to rank high because it happened to America the Impervious). None of which is to say that terrorism doesn't suck and likewise the people who are terrorists. But I can't quite grok the rush to be victimized. Victims seem somehow sadder than non-victims and I don't personally like being sad. But as stories like this one crop up more frequently, I can't help but think that people are rushing to find instances of terrorism because it legitimizes their fear. It makes them less afraid of being afraid because now they have reasons to be afraid. "Of course it's ok to be frightened, look how many people are out to get me. I'm not paranoid, I'm a realist." And I get that too even as it saddens me.

As jaded and unpleasant as I may come across, I actually believe that most people are more or less just like me; they just want to live more or less happy, unmolested lives. And that's true whether or not they believe in evolution, or Vishnu, or thetans. So when I see people who are different from me, my first assumption is not that they're out to get me - and this is in no way designed to be raw self-aggrandizement, I just am sort of wired this way - even if they're really really different from me. I'd like to hope that others give me the same benefit of the doubt.

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