Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Price of Being Nice

While looking into this recent cheese-bomb business I ran across references to a key decision by an airport screener, Michael Tuohey, on 9/11. It supports my theory that the fear of being called phobic about suspicious-acting Muslims poses a greater danger to the nation than any risk we’re facing from the misleading bugaboo of “Islamaphobia.”

“Michael Tuohey saw two of the hijackers on the morning of 9/11 and had the same instinct [to look at them more closely]. Tuohey worked the ticket counter at the airport in Portland, Maine for US Airways. He'll never forget that particular day amongst his 34 years of employment. At 5:43 a.m. on a bright Tuesday morning, two men wearing sport coats and ties approached his ticket counter with just 17-minutes to spare before their flight to Boston. He thought this pair was unusual. ‘It was just the look on the one man's face, his eyes,’ Tuohey told me. In front of him were Mohamed Atta and Abdul Aziz al Omari.

“’I looked up, and asked them the standard questions. The one guy was looking at me. It sent a chill through me. Something in my stomach churned. And subconsciously, I said to myself, “if they don't look like Arab terrorists, nothing does”. ‘Then I gave myself a mental slap. In over 34 years, I had checked in thousands of Arab travelers and I never thought this before. I said to myself, “that's not nice to think. They are just two Arab businessmen”.’ And with that, Tuohey handed them their boarding passes.” (“Profiling: Street Smarts by Any Other Name”).

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