Sunday, May 30, 2010

Being alert for terrorists doesn't mean being alert for Muslims

I am disappointed to see another example of a person being judged by appearance. Although there is no evidence that the individual's placement on the no-fly list was based on his looks, the MSNBC report on the incident quotes a Mexican official describing the suspect as "Muslim looking." 

That is little different from the highly offensive comment that a person "looks Jewish."

(A later report indicates that the man was arrested because of an outstanding warrant, according to the Transportation Security Administration. Clearly there is more to this story, since an outstanding warrant is not usually a reason to land a flight early - a very costly action.)

Just yesterday I had a conversation with a friend who had no idea that "black people could be Jewish." As I explained to her, not only is it possible, but she's met at least one of my friends who is both African-American and proudly Jewish. I think I may have gone a step too far in this conversation by further explaining that there's a very real possibility that Moses was black, and there is convincing evidence that we are all descendants of one African woman (we'll call her Eve.) DNA analysis is an amazing tool to learn about our origins.

The truth is that we must use every means possible to identify possible terrorists before they kill innocent people. And it is true that the United States has many enemies in the Muslim world - for many reasons new and old. 

However, the Muslim faith is a global faith, with many good, peaceful people practicing it and believing in its tenets. Only a small minority subscribe to the violent jihadism of the September 11th hijackers and other militants. The fact is that many of the militant Muslims are not Arab at all. 

Let's not confuse being alert with being prejudiced. If we do, we will continue to focus on the wrong people.

Posted via email from Doug's posterous

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