Juan Williams was on the Bob Edwards show yesterday promoting his new book. He stated again that people in Muslim garb in airports do frighten him (without any caveat this time) and that his saying this is part of Honest Debate.
If you’re truly interested in such debate, the first rule is to question the validity of your premise beforehand.
The Muslims who conducted the 9/11/2001 attacks were wearing button-downs and khakis, while the people who held Mumbai hostage in November of 2008 wore jeans and tshirts. Unless you’re actually in, say, Basra or the Swat valley, your chances of being attacked by a person in a dishdash or chador are slim to none. Not only is this a horribly inefficient method of profiling, the attitude is also extremely silly. My aunt had “dothead” yelled at her in New Jersey by a man tattooed with a German Iron Cross, while a fellow geophysicist of Indian origin was recently beaten up in London by a bunch of punk thugs wearing Union Jack tshirts and bandanas as they referred to him as a “Paki.” These are attacks that occur almost everyday in the western world. At the gym the other day, I saw a guy with a giant iron cross tattooed on his right leg. A colleague put up the British flag in his office. By all rights, I should be frightened by these outward symbols of identity, correct? If I had then gone on the Rachel Maddow show and freaked out about it, I would have been laughed off the set.
The best way to fight fundamentalism is to get rid of it in yourself first. Each time I hear paranoid squawks about the growing Islamization of the West, I don’t fear Muslims. All I think is, “Hey, these guys sound exactly like those old mullahs in Kuwait who fumed and incited their young over the growing Westernization of the East.” Don’t sound like a fanatical mullah, for starters.
Next time: “Collective guilt” for you, but not for me.