More from Jacobsen, Sensing, and Rivka on the (Ir)Rational Fear of Traveling (Syrian) Musicians

Annie Jacobsen (the cub reporter from Women’s Wall Street who made a sensation by recounting her suspenseful brush with not-quite-terror in the skies) has some followup comments: Part II: Terror in the Skies, Again? She breathlessly recounts being slashdotted (or whatever the equivalent term is when it happens at the hands of überbloggers; Instalanched, I think I’ve seen before), and goes on to reiterate how her story and its aftermath demonstrate that we are being endangered by rampant political correctness.

After reflecting on the story for the last few days, and reading much of the commentary on it, I disagree. It’s not political correctness. It is our cherished American freedom, embodied in our Constitution, a document that Jacobsen and others like her, who favorably quote Anne Coulter’s calls to subject all swarthy-skinned muslims to body-cavity searches in front of the other passengers before every flight, should spend more time reading.

As demonstrated lately, I’m kinda wishy-washy, in the sense that I try to pay attention to people on both ends of the political spectrum, and believe, on some level, that truth and certainty are mutually exclusive. That attitude makes me less able to spout one-sided rants (what? I could actually be worse??), but it pays occasional dividends. For one thing, it puts me in a position to notice when rational people on both sides seem to be saying the same thing.

As they are in this case. See the latest Jacobsen deconstruction from unapologetic liberal Rivka of Respectful of Otters: Terror In The Skies!!!. And from very-much-Right-leaning former Army public affairs officer and current fire-and-brimstone-spouting (at least on the subject of countering Islamofascist terrorism) Reverend Donald Sensing: Terror in the skies — Jacobsen writes more. (Update: Sensing is a self-described non-Bush-supporting centrist. My apologies for the mischaracterization.)

Though Rivka and Sensing disagree about a great many things, they are pretty much of one mind about Annie Jacobsen: She’s paranoid (Update: Sensing might not go that far — see his comment below), and almost surely over-reacting to an innocent case of “Arab while airborne.” Which isn’t a crime in the land of the free and the home of the brave. At least not yet.

6 Responses to “More from Jacobsen, Sensing, and Rivka on the (Ir)Rational Fear of Traveling (Syrian) Musicians”

  1. Donald Sensing Says:

    “very-much-Right-leaning”? Me? You must be kidding! I am solidly centrist.

    Maybe you missed my posts from early this year when I explained why I could not endorse Bush’s re-election and why I would vote for Lieberman in the Tenn. primary.

    Minor nit: ‘Twas not I who ever said Jacobsen was paranoid (but now I start to wonder . . .). I did say, emphatically, that by her own admission, she was “terrified” of the Arab men literally before the plane left the jetway in Detroit and that before the Arab men had done anything but take their seats. Okay, you’re right, it does sound paranoid, doesn’t it?

    Annie got scared. Her fear influenced how she understood and wrote about every event that happened. But in fact, nothing did happen. What she wrote turns out to be a long shaggy dog story.

  2. John Callender Says:

    Oh, actually, I did miss those. Sorry about that, and about the mischaracterization of your position on Jacobsen.

  3. Aaron Says:

    Teror in the Aisles….

    Yesterday, I was at Meijer (for those from other parts of the country, think WalMart lite), minding my own business, shopping for some groceries and a few other items, when a short and swarthy-looking person came past me. He was moving at a speed well above that of a casual shopper, and was showing no respect for those of us who were sharing the aisles. He seemed to have absolutely no interest in shopping, and when I made eye contact with him his expression was frighteningly blank.

    He passed me a couple more times as I shopped, in what seemed almost like a random pattern, but would periodically reconnoiter with other swarthy individuals, male and female. It was apparent that he was not there alone. He seemed to be taking instruction from a woman who was wearing conservative Muslim garb – a loose black dress and a head covering. Even more frightening, she was speaking – more accurately, barking orders – in Arabic.

    Later when I was checking out, I noticed the young man in line behind me. He was joined by the woman and not less than five other individuals, all chattering in Arabic. Many of them were picking up items, but it was clear that they had no intention of buying them – and I suspect that some of them would even have stolen those items had they not been under the close watch of the cashier. The woman who was directing the group seemed quite angry and impatient, and continued to bark orders at the others. She was also purchasing a suspiciously large number of bottles just the right size to make molotov cocktails, and baby diapers. (We all know that terrorists can smuggle items through security checkpoints by hiding them in baby diapers, right?)

    I don’t know what happened after I left, but I felt lucky to escape with my life. No, actually, I’ll revise that a little bit…. I felt kind of sorry for the young mother and her attempts to reign in her brood of six preadolescent kids.

  4. Kathy Says:

    I’ve taken a stab at the assertion that airlines have directed not to take more than two Arab men into secondary questioning — an assertion that I learned about while reading Jacobson et al. Lehman mischaracterized the public testimony.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    July 21, 2004, 7:21 p.m.
    The Syrian Wayne Newton
    The man inadvertently behind a scare in the skies.
    By Clinton W. Taylor

  6. Paul Says:

    The funniest thing about this, especially from the right-wingers, is that they don’t denounce Bush, Cheney, etc. I mean campaign line is that Bush has made America safer, but many know that him and his crew have done very little on the domestic side.

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