there have been a number of news items about George W.
Bush`s Arab bodyguard being thrown off a plane. They
mostly focus on the question of whether
racial profiling of Arab gunmen
Briefly, Walied Shater, Wallid Shatter, or for all I
know, Waleed Shatar (Arab spelling is hard to agree on,
Libya`s head of state has at least 32 ways of
spelling Muammar Qaddaffi) attempted to board
American Airlines flight 363 on Christmas Eve. He
presented a form saying that he was an armed federal
agent, going to see the President, and thus entitled to
be armed on the plane. The pilot-in-command decided to
not let him on the plane because he wasn`t sure if he
was a legitimate member of the Secret Service, and had
other concerns, such as the book the man was carrying (The
Crusades Through Arab Eyes, By Amin Malouf).
thing is getting
of hand. American Airlines claims they`re not
“guilty” and would reject any armed, belligerent,
shifty-looking guy who claimed to be going to see the
President on Christmas Eve, carrying
especially if he couldn`t keep his story straight, even
if he wasn`t an Arab. [See incident report
suing American Airlines for not letting him on the
plane, saying he was rejected on the basis that he`s an
Arab. This is unfair to American Airlines, which not
only lost two planes to Arabs in the attack, but which
actually issued a
statement saying, “Let`s not be beastly to the
Arabs” on September 12th.
"My fear is that it will be all too easy to direct
our collective grief, anger and shock in ways that treat
our Arab, Muslim and other Middle Eastern employees and
customers with less than the absolute courtesy and
respect that they deserve, because of stereotypes that
we know in our heads and hearts are just not true," [AA
CEO Don] Carty said in a recorded hot line message to
airline workers. "We simply cannot do that. Muslims and
Arabs are our co-workers and our customers–and they
grieve over this tragedy as well."
My question is not “Should we profile Arabs on
planes?” The answer to that is obvious to everyone
Arabs themselves and the Federal Aviation
Administration. (It`s Y-E-S. But click
here for an FAA Word document saying “No.”)
My question is one that no one seems to have asked:
Why does W. have an Arab bodyguard anyway?
"Foreign Legions" piece last August (!), I
expressed some question about the loyalty of recent
Islamic immigrants, partly because of the case of
Sergeant Ali Mohamed, who was convicted of helping
Osama blow up the embassies in Africa. I wrote:
In Tom Clancy`s
one of the President`s bodyguards, an
Iranian-American sleeper agent named Jeff Rahman, is in
position to assassinate President Ryan, and is waiting
for the order and the opportunity to do so.
Since Clancy always has
happy endings, Rahman fails, but in the meantime,
readers throughout the English-speaking world were
jumping up and down and yelling “You`ve got an
Iranian guarding the President! Are you
Jonah Goldberg says in his
“So let`s stipulate that racial profiling was going
on here. Let`s also stipulate the obvious point that the
pilot was wrong about Shater being a threat.”
No, let`s not stipulate it. Anwar Sadat was
assassinated by his own troops (Bin Laden and
friends have been
linked to that incident). But Sadat didn`t have any
choice about being guarded by Arabs. Indira Gandhi was
assassinated by her Sikh bodyguard. She did have a
choice about being guarded by Sikhs, rather than Hindus,
at a time when her troops were engaged in clearing Sikh
terrorists out of the Sikh temple. In bullet-riddled
retrospect, her choice was wrong.
President Bush seems to be irate that his bodyguard
couldn`t get on the plane. He
said on Friday that
“I talked to the man this morning," Bush said. "I
told him how proud I was that he was by my side. He`s
here on the ranch, and he`s guarding me. And of course,
I was [upset]."
Bush also said
“There`s an inquiry going on
as to specifically what took place," Bush said. But if
he was treated that way because of his ethnicity, that`s
— that will make me madder than heck."
What makes me [upset] – even madder than heck
– is that Bush, who is involved in a War on Arab
Terrorism, is so politically correct that
apparently sees nothing wrong with being guarded by a
man who may decide, on principle, to kill him.
I have no objection to Arab gunmen in principle – no
vulgar universal "anti-Arab-gunman bigotry."
I can`t honestly say that “Some of my best friends
are Arab gunmen.” But I am a big fan of Massad Ayoob, a
third-generation New Hampshireman, who runs a
private firearms training school
near Concord, N. H. I have several of his
books, and I
would trust him with my life.
But I wouldn`t expect the Secret Service to trust
Massad with the President`s life. I don`t think he would
interned and relocated
Japanese and Japanese-Americans in WWII, he was
responding to the massive sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.
basing his decision
on the well-known fact that blood is thicker than water,
and that people frequently put loyalty to family and
religion over loyalty to the state.
When Osama bin Laden blew up the Twin Towers, we can
be sure that he wouldn`t have let
John Walker Lindh stand behind him with a pistol, in
case Lindh had a sudden flash of loyalty.
Bush – and the American governing class – should wake
up and smell the cordite.
January 9, 2002