Friday, April 02, 2004

Do we live in the same world? 

Every time I find myself becoming frustratingly enraged over the political comments of someone, I try and ask myself if I am, myself, acting in a mindlessly partisan manner or if there is reason in my reaction. Lately, I find myself more and more concerned, as it seems the source of my wrinkled brow, the vast majority of times, is from the left. Have I become more transparently and reactively "conservative" over time, or has the rhetoric from the left departed further from the confines and strictures of reality?

For example, a recent article in the New York Times addressed the prevalence of anti-Bush comments inserted into otherwise non-political prime-time programming. (tip provided by Glenn Reynolds) On the second page, an upcoming film for HBO, called "Strip Search" is described as "track[ing] the parallel experiences of an American woman being held for questioning by the authorities in China and a Muslim man being held for questioning in the United States, both on suspicions of terrorism" and quotes the creator, Tom Fontana, as saying "The real question is, if it's wrong for a white American woman to be mistreated in a repressive country, is it O.K. for us to mistreat a Muslim male in this country?"

This whole idea generates such a violent reaction of "wrongness" it is hard to keep seated. While the question of to what degree collective safety and security may trump an individual's freedoms is not only valid but vitally important in a free society, the "comparison" of "experiences" is not only irrelevant but deceptive. Let us dismiss the question of how many creative liberties will be exercised in depicting the "mistreatment" the Muslim man is subjected to relative to any actually documented mistreatment. Let us ignore, for one moment, the legal rights and recourses afforded the Muslim man in the United States as compared to the lack of similar civil liberties and protections for the white woman in China. Let us, however, address the fundamental fallacy in the entire comparative scenario. How many organizations of "white woman" terrorists are there worldwide and how many acts of terrorism against China have been perpetrated or threatened by these "white woman" groups? Because, apparently unknown to Mr. Fontana, there are hundreds of known organizations of almost exclusively Muslim males that have not only threatened but attempted violent terrorist action against the United States. In fact, now please sit down so the shock doesn't strike too hard, one of those groups killed over 3,000 people just two years ago, destroying two landmark buildings and damaging another, causing billions of dollars of economic loss to the country in the aftermath. And, now here's the kicker, there are still more out there and they regularly issue statements and tapes bragging how they will do it again.

Now, if there were evidence of widespread "mistreatment" of random Muslims or organized pogroms against Arabs, I'd be arm in arm with Mr. Fontana wanting to get to the bottom of it and finding out where we went wrong, but I just don't see any. And no matter how objective I try to be, when I think about Mr. Fontana and read his statements, I see nothing but a blatantly political creature who, from one side of his mouth will say "Bush didn't do enough to prevent 9/11" and from the other side essentially say "he's doing too much to prevent the next attack." I see one who is either coldly calculating in his attempts to use whatever means suits his ends, or a politically correct partisan who doesn't understand that paying extra attention to male Muslim travelers is not racism, but more akin to looking for your keys where you dropped them rather than looking where the light is best. Lest any try to misconstrue my words, I advocate neither mistreatment nor random harassment of Muslims in the United States, but think it seems a willful negligence of responsibility to not concentrate and direct the limited resources available for security where they have the best chance for success.

And if ELF ever so clearly and violently declared its hostilities against the US, I'd expect to see that "Muslim man" waiting his turn for questioning right along side that white, granola-eating, Birkenstock-wearing Berkleyite.

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