Near the end of last year, six Muslim imams – one of whom was blind – were traveling from Minneapolis to Phoenix on US Airways. Before boarding they prayed in the terminal, as many Muslims do fives times a day. This upset and frightened some staff and passengers. Fears mushroomed when the six did not sit together after boarding. According to some passengers and staff, they sat in a pattern suggestive of 9/11 terrorists. One of them asked for a seatbelt extender – which apparently is very dangerous. After several complaints, including one from a passenger that spoke Arabic, the six were inspected and cleared by bomb-sniffing dogs. This evidence was not enough – even for the plane’s captain – and so the six imams were told to deplane. When they refused, police were called to forcibly remove them. All passengers had to be screened again, and the flight took off, sans imams, more than three hours delayed. The six imams are now suing US Airways, and have contemplated suing several of the passengers – named “John Does” – who reported their behavior as suspicious.
An outspoken critic of this turn of events is Michelle Malkin, who founded the conservative media website hotair.com and is a frequent contributor to Fox News Channel. As a response to the possibility of the imams suing some passengers, she has written “The John Doe Manifesto” in an attempt to defend the behavior of the passengers, as well as the rights of all people to point their finger and scream, or rather whisper, “Muslim terrorist.” Ultimately, though, it provides a glimpse into the deranged mind of a xenophobe with vivid stereotypes.
Malkin begins, “Dear Muslim Terrorist Plotter/Planner/Funder/Enabler/Apologist.” She recalls 9/11, the shoe bomber Richard Reid, the actor James Woods, and asserts her obedience to the Department of Homeland Security to report any and all suspicious behavior. She will support warrant-less domestic spying, and will “oppose all attempts to undermine our borders and immigration laws.” She continues, “I will not be censored in the name of tolerance … I will not cringe when you shriek about ‘profiling’ or ‘Islamophobia.’ I will put my family’s safety above sensitivity. I will put my country above multiculturalism.” I am nominating Malkin for the Citizen of the Year award by the Bush Administration.
Clearly, Malkin appears to believe the USA is constantly under attack by Muslim terrorists. “They” are constantly trying to bomb our buildings, murder us, and destroy our way of life. “They” want the USA to become an Islamic state and will make her wear a burqa. Thus, to her, it is better to err on the side of caution and limit the access of all people that remind us of terrorism. Though Malkin addresses her “manifesto” to Muslim terrorists themselves, she is not speaking only to them. When she claims the right to turn on anything multicultural in a country that is itself derived from many cultures, it becomes clear that her manifesto is addressed to all foreigners.
Legally, it is problematic to suggest that a person who reports suspicious behavior risks being sued. It is not reasonable that a bomb maker has any right to sue a neighbor for calling the police. That is a bomb maker however, not an imam trying to return home. The fear of US Airways passengers and staff was completely excessive, and ultimately it is only the airline that should be held accountable, not the passengers. I still cannot understand how a seatbelt extender could bring down a plane, unless US Airways planes are that vulnerable. Malkin’s manifesto is an attempt at an excuse for ignorance and insensitivity, but is only a clear indication that these are the real threats to Americans and their relationship to the world.