Lest We Forget

Apparently a couple of people were kicked off a plane in the USA because they were speaking Arabic. And thus rises the spectre of racial profiling.

And as usual the comments of “They should Speak English! This is America! You shouldn’t speak foreign languages here” abound around this story. And it pains me to remind Americans that English is a foreign language in the USA. 

There are other arguments defending the usage of racial profiling and I repeat this. It’s okay to racially profile people if and only if you accept it for yourselves.

1. Every Single person who has run amok in the USA has invariably been “White and Male”. When are we going to ban white people from owning guns?

2. The people who fucked up the economy? Mainly white guys. I say all white people should be regularly audited to make sure they aren’t breaking the system.

3. Serial killers? How many of them are white?

But that’s stupid right? The very notion of that just sounds moronic.

Yet we still use this principle to determine who flies and who doesn’t.

The world’s most effective terrorists never killed a single person. They instead created so much fear by their non-actions or self harming actions that they changed the way airports will always operate.

The Glasgow attackers sole injury to anyone was to a man who got hurt attacking them. He kicked one of them so hard that he broke his own foot.. However? Because of that it became harder to push your suitcases to the airport. We began to see people bringing more small suitcases to wheel through the parking lot rather than larger “trunk” style suitcases.

The Liquid bombers? They were caught and their “attack” probably may not have worked out. They however cost the world economy $175 million in just delays. In addition the restrictions for flying with fluids still hold forcing people to buy comically sized “containers” while travelling.

The Shoe Bomber? Failed to detonate but caused millions in delayed flights and millions in extra security every single year including the extra wait for international flights.

And they came from so many backgrounds. Hell the Shoe Bomber went by Richard Reid. He dodged past every single “profile” of such attackers. There are “white” radical muslims out there. Let’s not create a system with a massive flaw.

Keep calm, we don’t know who is responsible. Let’s find out and punish them rather than people who happen to look like them.


  1. says

    You’re right. Fear and “security theatre” are costing countries’ economies hundreds of millions. All racial profiling does is ensure that the next terrorist won’t look like the stereotype. We should do as Israel does and actually screen travellers by interview and inspect a percentage at random.

    Meanwhile, if anyone is afraid of flying with people speaking another language, the airline policy should be to remove the cowards and not interfere with other passengers minding their own business.

  2. Robert B. says

    Actually, every single mass-shooter of American civilians has been white and male, and we shouldn’t be ignoring it like we do. Obviously banning white men from owning guns doesn’t strike me as a good solution (or at least, not banning just white men) but the trend is way past the point where coincidence is a believable explanation, and we should be trying to figure out what’s causing this. And if we’re going to use racial profiling (which strikes me as a bad idea given human psychology) the statistics say that white males should be at the top of the list for mass-shootings and similar crimes.

    The economy thing is just because we don’t let anyone who’s not white near that much money in the first place. :-S

  3. latsot says

    “This is America! You shouldn’t speak foreign languages here”

    I saw almost exactly this recently. I was on a flight from Detroit to Amsterdam. There were a couple of dozen high school students on the plane, generally being annoying by changing into pyjamas and slippers, then spending the whole flight marauding about showing people they were wearing pyjamas. Some of them were even carrying teddy bears. I didn’t see any sucking their thumbs, but probably only because I had my eyes screwed shut in silent, throbbing rage.

    Anyway, when we were waiting to leave the plane, the girl in front of me started *very* loudly and almost hysterically complaining about the people in front of her, who were speaking Cantonese. On account of their being Chinese, I expect. Apparently people aren’t even allowed to speak non-English languages in countries that aren’t America. She clearly either assumed that they didn’t understand English or didn’t care that she was shouting deeply racist things right next to them. To his credit, the boy sitting next to her kept telling her to shut up, but it seemed more out of embarrassment than recognition that she was being insane and horrible.

    I hate to think how she’d have reacted if she’d noticed anyone speaking all foreign while we were in American airspace.

  4. latsot says

    One more anecdote about security theater. I was queuing for an internal flight somewhere in the US (New York, I think) not too long after 9/11. I’d flown from the UK to Belgium to the states with my various liquids in a plastic bag as per regulations. At New York they decided that my liquids were actually not allowed after all and took them away. Mildly inconvenient, stupid, pointless and invasive.

    However, as I was waiting in the queue to be searched, there was a notice on the wall saying that if I was carrying a gun that was totally fine as long as I inform a member of the crew as I boarded. But deodorant, soap and mouthwash can and will not be allowed on the plane.

    I *assume* this didn’t mean that just anyone could carry a gun. I *assume* it meant that if I was already authorised to carry a gun on a plane for some reason I should tell someone about it. But I don’t understand why people authorised to carry guns on planes should need to be reminded of that. And I’m far from convinced that even ‘authorised’ people carrying guns on planes is a good idea.

  5. Terry Scurr says

    “people who happen to look like them” Aren’t you falling into an assumption? Surely, people who might look like them.

  6. says

    @latsot: I’ve once saw a n American woman in Spain, angrily muttering, “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” It turned out that she objected to hearing people speak Spanish. In Spain. And she complained that the Spanish we being uncooperative. Gosh, I wonder why?

  7. Nepenthe says

    @Robert B.

    Sorry, but that’s just not true. While most mass shooters in the US have been white men, one woman and several men of color have committed these crimes. Of the 7 mass shootings in 2012, 2 were committed by Asian men, for example.

  8. PatrickG says

    Every Single person who has run amok in the USA has invariably been “White and Male”. When are we going to ban white people from owning guns?

    Just one counter example: Virginia Tech shooting?


    I agree with your overall point, but your point 1 is factually incorrect

  9. PatrickG says

    How did I miss Nepenthe’s comment directly above the comment box? Off to drink more coffee or something….

  10. says

    And it pains me to remind Americans that English is a foreign language in the USA.

    And let’s not forget that English is NOT the official language of the USA.
    Because it doesn’t have one.
    Oh, and would all the American soldiers and their families please kindly speak German next time they visit the local zoo? Really, I shouldn’t be subjected to occasionally hearing somebody speaking AE to somebody who isn’t even me just because it’s their native language…

    For those hard of thinking: That last part was snark

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