Coming back from a week-long holiday, I had to play some catch up today to understand the events surrounding the Christmas Day attempted attack on a flight into Detroit Metro Airport. On Friday, a 23-yr old Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab made it onto a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit despite numerous warning signs including paying in cash, having no luggage, a denied visa into Britain, and a father willing to go an American embassy to warn that his son will capable of committing terrorist attacks. Much of the debate aftermath has been agreeable. For instance, Janet Napolitano must resign for continued ineptitude. After saying that our security system worked over the weekend, she later recanted amid polling saying 96% (!) of people disagreed with her. Also, most agree that making all passengers on international flights sit in there seats with nothing in their laps for the final hour of travel does not address the problem. But one thing that keeps being hinted at around many circles is a tough question to ask: Is it time we began to handle flight security with an increased measure of ethnic profiling?
Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com analyzed the statistical probability of being on a commercial flight taken over by a terrorist over the last decade. When you crunch the numbers of six impacted flights in the aughts to the number of domestic flights in that period, the odds of being on a departure which is the subject of a terrorist incident have been 1 in 10,408,947 over the past decade. Silver compares that to the 1 in 500,000 odds you have of being struck by lightning. What Silver did not add, was that all six flights were hijacked by Muslim Extremists born and bred overseas. So with my statistical background, I can tell you that 100% of terrorized flights in the last decade, were hijacked by foreign-born Muslim extremists.
It’s a tough opinion in a politically correct society, but the more I read, the more I find myself asking when is enough, enough? I know, white Christian male…scared of muslim terrorists, typical racist, right? But when does our attempts at being racially sensitive effect our ability to rationalize what threats are real in today’s screwed up world? I am sure many Arab-Americans feel they are already strongly prosecuted, but what I notice when I take flights, is how often I see an average businessman or a mother of three being pulled from line for further security checks.
I read several posts on Huffington Post where the comments are not so much about the terrorist himself, but rather the strategies used by the TSA to screen passengers. Here is a sampling of actual comments from this article:
Thanks to the complete ineptitude of security to properly detain this passenger before he even got on a flight, the average citizen will now be subjected to more ridiculous & asinine security measures to get on board.
We airline passengers now have to be more inconvenienced due to airline/security personnel in Lagos and/or Amsterdam allowing this guy to board the plane after purchasing an international ticket with cash.
Our government has to do a better job. The people don’t deserve to be treated like this.
We are losing ourselves and slowly becoming police states in the name of freedom. How sad that so few in the government see the sickening irony of that.
Staying in your seats for the last hour of a flight with nothing in your lap does NOTHING to ensure safety. Neither does the small bottle of shampoo in the clear baggy, taking your laptop out of your bag, taking off your shoes etc. It’s all smoke and mirrors to make it APPEAR the TSA is doing something pro active. Another “win” for terrorism.
Personally, I don’t care about taking my shoes off – but many are annoyed by having to do that. I am not saying I necessarily disagree with the content of the article, but find it peculiar that the author is willing to bash the reactionary tactics of the TSA, but not offer any solutions that he thinks would be worthwhile. Would they feel better if there was more racial profiling and less security on them, individually? What do you think they would think about full body scanning when they don’t trust government surveillance now?
I am not scared of an African-American man flying out of south Chicago, a Hispanic out of Laredo, or a Korean out of Seoul. I’m not scared of muslims born in America having the level of hatred to hijack and kill our fellow countrymen. But I do know when statistics tell me who is an enemy of my country, and who is the most likely to attack innocent civilian Americans. Whether you are liberal or conservative – if you don’t want increased scrutiny into your own civil rights, the harsh reality is we need to increase racial profiling of foreign-born Muslims on domestic and international flights. When Joe Q. American decides to blow up a plane – I’ll re-evaluate that position.
UPDATE (10:08pm CST): Unknowingly, The O’Reilly Factor did a segment on this topic tonight. I usually catch the show but because 1) I hate all his subs other than Ingraham and 2) I was in a hotly contested fantasy football final tonight – I did not watch it. Wish I would have because they make some interesting points. I agree with Ann Coulter with almost all she says.
UPDATE #2 (11:05pm CST): Article from the Huffington Post mocking the audicity of pointing out the common sense involved in profiling the enemy who has attacked 6 planes in the decade. Obviously, I disagree with most all said in the article and in the comments. This is not some cheap attempt to be racist; it’s a practical response for those who feel unsafe during travel and those who complain about airline travel security and its many inefficiences. Unlike people like Jason Linkins, I didn’t want to just complain about the problem, slam the opposition and offer no solution.