The Wall Street Journal And The Arab On The Airplane

Last week I did a column about Bush`s Arab bodyguard, Walied Shater, whose exclusion from an American Airlines flight has been the subject of numerous articles, none of which asked the basic question:

Why does Bush have an Arab bodyguard? Aren`t we at war with the Arabs?”

I got some annoyed and angry email and critical responses from Ron Unz and James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal (wow!).

Ron Unz here:

This whole “profiling” nonsense is starting to get completely out of hand.

The current edition of VDARE.COM suggests that based on the evidence of a fictional Tom Clancy spy-novel, we should bar any Arab-American from serving as a Secret Service agent guarding the President…. If most terrorists are Arabs, but only 1 in 10,000 Arabs is a terrorist, profiling Arabs is a very poor strategy, and almost certainly counter-productive.

But leaving this aside, the logic presented by VDARE.COM has some very troubling corollaries.

First, as I have previously noted, the American ethnic group which almost certainly has the longest and worst record of anti-American treachery and spying are Jews, [VDARE.COM note: Just so you don`t think he`s going off the deep end, he means the Rosenbergs.] so perhaps all Jews should be summarily expelled from government service…

Second, since an absolutely astonishing fraction of America`s black population are either convicted criminals or have immediate family members who are convicted criminals (not to mention anti-American Farrakhan-type supporters), obviously no blacks should be allowed to guard the President or perhaps even serve in the police….

Ron Unz says here that we`re acting like the anti-Semitic and anti-black racists. But there is this distinction: neither African-Americans nor Jews are at war with the United States. There`s a difference between the assimilation of African-Americans and Jews, both of whom have been in North America since the 17th century, and people like the Arabs who just got here, most arriving after 1965, and may well still be loyal to their homeland.

Unz also says:

So, if most terrorists are Arabs, but only 1 in 10,000 Arabs is a terrorist, profiling Arabs is a very poor strategy, and almost certainly counter-productive.

I don`t mean to go all mathematical on you, but you need sell a lot more than 10,000 airline tickets to make up for one kamikaze 747. Not all Arabs are Arab terrorists, but all Arab terrorists are Arabs. Airline pilots have not only a right, but a duty, to be suspicious.

A common estimate is that approximately 15 per cent of Muslims world-wide are fanatical enough to support this kind of thing. A Daily Telegraph poll of Muslims in England gave even worse figures:

Sunrise, an Asian radio station in London, recently canvassed 500 Muslims living in Greater London. The ages of the sample were between 20 and 45. The station reports 91% of those responding believe the current war in Afghanistan is a war between the Christian West and the Islamic East. 98% say they would not fight for Britain in such a war, but 48% said they would fight for Al-Qaeda or for Islam. (Wonder what that kind of survey would find in the US?)

Furthermore, in any government occupation, you must assume that foreigners are likely to have a special loyalty to their native country. Walied Shater is an American citizen, a necessity for Secret Service, but I don`t know if he was born in the US, or how he was brought up. Taking the oath of citizenship doesn`t magically make you loyal.

There is an unanswerable case for checking into the family connections of law enforcement agents and military personnel. The espionage case Ron Unz refers to is the famous Atom Bomb Spy case. A draftee named David Greenglass, a former member of the Young Communist League, had a brother-in-law named Julius Rosenberg, who gave the atom bomb to Joseph Stalin.

The danger of the Young Communist League was its loyalty to Russia, which its members cared more about than they did about the United States. Is militant Islam the same kind of thing as the Communist Party?

Islam expert Daniel Pipes thinks it is. When Salon Magazine hinted in an interview that he might be guilty of McCarthyism, he came right back at them:

The other quote that caught my attention from your writing was “Officials need to scrutinize the speech, associations, and activities of potential visitors or immigrants for any signs of Islamist allegiances and keep out anyone they suspect of such ties.” To some that might sound an awful lot like old anticommunist rhetoric.

What`s wrong with that?

Well, that`s my question. Was that by design?

Our policy for decades has been based on a benign view of visitors and would-be immigrants. That`s foolish. And if Sept. 11 couldn`t persuade you of that, nothing will. There are lot of people out there who dislike this country and want to do harm to it. And our immigration procedures have done nothing to protect us from that. They have looked at ordinary criminality and they have not looked at ideas and beliefs and I believe that they should. We do have laws dating back to the `50s and I think they should be made operative.

Look, I like this country as it is and I don`t want it to turn into something quite different. What I`m advocating is a means to protect, roughly speaking, the status quo. If you want to see an Islamist country, then you will have the opposite view from mine and more power to you. The danger is within. If we don`t wake up to that now, we will have further attacks and blows that will wake us up later. I would like to wake us up now.

In the Wall Street Journal, under the heading “The Nativists Are Restless,” James Taranto writes:

One heartening feature of the post-Sept. 11 political landscape has been the absence of a generalized backlash against immigrants. You`d think a horrific sneak attack by 19 foreigners on American soil would be a perfect opportunity for the close-the-borders crowd, [VDARE.COM comment: The converse of what we call the Open Borders Lobby, of which the WSJ is usually the worst example.] but they`ve scarcely been heard from. Of course, their argument wouldn`t really stand up; it`s preposterous on its face to suggest that Mexican gardeners are a national-security threat, even if Arab flight students are. [VDARE.COM comment: Of course, it`s the process by which they enter that constitutes the threat. Is that so hard to grasp?]

It also may be that the anti-immigrant folks are getting ignored because they have a tendency to be cranks. Evidence of the latter hypothesis can be found on Peter Brimelow`s Web site, VDARE.COM, which features an article by James Fulford on Walied Shater, the Arab-American Secret Service man who is threatening to make a federal case out of his run-in with an American Airlines pilot. We have criticized Shater`s behavior, but Fulford objects to his ethnicity…This is utterly cracked. Shater is no traitor; no one has accused him of being anything worse than a jackass.

The question here is what constitutes a reasonable doubt. I don`t know Shater is a traitor. But I don`t know that he isn`t, either. Nor does Taranto.

It is entirely reasonable that Arab-Americans, like Communists, or German and Japanese Americans in WWII, should not, unless proved innocent, to be trusted with the plans to the Atom Bomb, or the keys to the President`s Bedroom.  What`s news is that anyone should doubt it.

Shater has appeared with representatives of CAIR, which presents itself as a kind of NAACP or ADL for Muslims, but which, according to Middle East Forum`s Daniel Pipes, is actually a radical group trying to create an Islamic state in the U.S.. Shater should know that, both as an Arab-American and as a Secret Service agent, even if his politically-correct principal, President Bush, doesn`t know it himself.

The whole principle on which the Secret Service is organized is that no one is to be trusted with the President`s life except the Secret Service. The SS will search whole audiences to make sure that they`re not armed, even in states like Vermont, where there`s no law against carrying a pistol, and no reason to suspect anyone even if they are. The Secret Service has repeatedly been guilty of arrogance, acting like a Praetorian Guard that`s above the common folk. Shater`s behavior on the plane was probably an example of that.

Taranto talks of “cranks.” But I`m not the only one who wonders if Shater should be guarding the President. Ann Coulter does too. Somehow, I don`t think James Taranto wants to tangle with her, unless he wants to be classed with the National Review girly-boys. Ann wrote:

This man should not be allowed near the president with a loaded gun. At the least, he`s an immature nut. At worst, he`s a ticking time bomb, in a simmering rage at America`s supposed mistreatment of Muslims…There is no principled basis for opposition to using Arab appearance as a factor in airport screening procedures.

Another “crank,” John Ringo, who actually opposes the profiling aspect and feels the pilot overstepped his authority in ordering Shater off the plane, nevertheless writes in the NY Post:

…But Agent Shatter needs to be sent back to chasing counterfeiters. I don`t want anyone who loses their temper, as he did according to witnesses, guarding my president. And I certainly don`t want anyone guarding my president who thinks he is holier than I.

And some immigration enthusisast “cranks” at the Weekly Standard, under the heading “To Heck With Him” write:

… For an armed agent of the Treasury Department to demand access to an airplane by claiming to be acting with the authority of the White House, as if he were some American-style Tonton Macoute, is an offense to citizens of a free country.

Whether someone with a hair-trigger willingness to resort to civil-rights grievance suits is the best person to defend the chief executive is open to debate. Whether it`s okay to bully one`s way onto an airplane, using threats of presidential reprisals, is not. If Shater indeed acted in such a way, his spending a single minute more in the president`s employ would make us mad as heck. This is, in any civilized scheme of values, a firing offense.

Taranto concludes:

If Fulford had been around in 1944, would he have complained that the supreme allied commander in Europe was a “German”?

Eisenhower, of course, came from a family that had been in the U.S. since 1740.  There was very little German immigration – or any immigration – in the generation before World War II. But in World War I, Americans were indeed intensely suspicious of recently-arrived German immigrants – click here or here or here. And not without reason – as my last source notes, “many were sympathetic to the cause of their homeland.”

Ugly, of course. But that`s what you get if you mix mass immigration and war. And isn`t that what the Wall Street Journal wants?

January 16, 2002