Harassment in the name of National Security
Amnesty International condemns racial profiling (FCN, 09-30-2004)
I thought long and hard about writing this article. In fact, it has taken me two years to make a determination, that this article should be written. It actually began in December 2004, when the harassment on my domestic and international travel began. I am among the hundreds of millions of men and women who profess Islam as a way of life. Many of us are becoming fed up more and more each day with how Muslims are treated under the guise of National Security, which really amounts to Muslim profiling. The term that is used most frequently throughout the Muslim world is Islamophobia, which is defined as “a fear or dislike of Muslims or Islamic culture.”
The security at many airports in America and throughout the world is as confused and disorganized as the Bush White House. Just look at the latest security issue on liquids. You can carry liquids or you cannot carry them. You can carry a certain amount, but it must be placed in a plastic bag. How will the plastic bag make it safer than just being inside my personal bag? Those who are trying to carry out the confused instructions are just as confused as those who gave the instructions.
I happen to be just one of the thousands of Muslims, on what they call the “no fly” list. This means that when you travel inside or outside of America you must report to the ticket counter and the agent must call a special telephone number to obtain a clearance in order for you to travel. They then put an “SSS” on your boarding card. When you reach the security gate, the TSA agent usually tells you that you have been randomly selected by the airline. My response to them is that my name must be Mr. Random, because I am always randomly checked.
What inspired me to write this article, was a few weeks ago I was traveling from Africa back to the United States and when I arrived in Europe, (Italy), while waiting in line to board my flight, one of the Italian officials went up and down the line calling my name out. Because of her Italian accent, I could not understand her. When I finally realized that she was looking for me, I responded and she politely took me off the line. Two policemen in uniform and one in plain clothes confiscated my passport and boarding card. They proceeded to take me through a side door to the bottom of the plane. They found my bags and checked them, searched me and everything that I was carrying, and then allowed me to board the flight. This kind of treatment has happened to me on a few occasions. The only way that the Italians would have this information, about me being some type of threat, is that the American officials warned them against me, or placed my name on a checklist.
In some instances, they selected certain seats for me on the plane and put an obvious, armed, sky marshal to stand guard. If the Bush White House had a special department called “How To Lose Friends and Make Enemies,” I would guess, that it would be headed by none other than Vice President Dick Cheney. It may have been the Vice President who encouraged President Bush to make the ridiculous statement, “they hate us because we are free.” Immediately, after this asinine statement, Vice President Cheney and his inner circle went to work, stripping the American people of all of their freedoms. Now, I guess the “terrorists” should hate us less because we are less free.
I would hope that President Bush’s father would step in and say: “Look son, you have not only messed up America, but you have messed up the world.” More than likely, he would have used another word for messed up. Messed up does not convey the intensity of how much President Bush Jr. has messed up America and the world.
When I returned from Africa via Italy and finally landed in the United States, I went through an unbearable harassment at the Chicago O’Hare airport. Upon arrival, the gate agents stood at the door of the plane and instructed everyone to have their passports ready. During these types of situations there are always two customs officers checking passports, as passengers exit the plane. Instinctively, I know these custom agents are waiting for me. Once I approach them and hand to them my passport, that particular security post, breaks down and the two-armed police officers escort me down, as if I am a common criminal. Most people seeing a Black man being escorted off a plane do not think terrorist, they think he must be an African illegal alien, a drug pusher or carrier, or a fugitive from justice.
After they take me down, they pick up my bags and then commence to search every sheet of paper with a fine toothcomb, reading all my personal notes. They have even gone as far as making a photocopy of my telephone book. This is reminiscent of all of the movies, documents, and writings on fascism in Nazi Germany. Fascism is defined as a philosophy or system of government that is marked by stringent social and economic control. A social and political ideology, with the primary guiding principle that the state or nation is the highest priority, rather than personal or individual freedoms.
If this is not harassment, then tell me what does this constitute. I have been a member of the Nation of Islam since 1960. The Nation of Islam under the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Imam W. D. Mohammed, or the Honorable Louis Farrakhan, has no history of being involved in any terrorist acts against the United States of America. I asked one of the agents, do you think that this treatment of me and many others like me, is making us wave the flag and say we love this type of security for America? Do you think you are making friends for America, while we know that we are innocent of terrorist acts?
Dr. Cornell West in a speech in Pasadena, California described it correctly. He called what is going on now the, “n—-r-ization” of America. Those in the Black community understand why we are profiled when we enter a store and when we get pulled over when driving while Black.
Many of the foreign Muslim Brothers, before 911, use to think that we were overly sensitive and we were always whining and crying about police profiling, harassment and brutality. They did not quite understand this before 911, but now they understand clearly, as they go through what we have suffered for years in America.
I suggest that as a father, Pres. Bush Sr., put some older and more experienced people around Pres. Bush Jr. One of the tasks for this new think tank should be, how help America out of the hole that it has dug for itself. He should quote the parable, “When you find yourself in a hole, the first order is to stop digging.” The next order of business should be how to constitutionally fire Vice President Dick Cheney and to close down his pet department entitled, “How to Lose Friends and Make Enemies.”
I am sure that Vice President Cheney will probably go on fighting and will try to paint the picture that his department has accomplished a lot. He will use confusing statements, i.e., the recent confession that we are not winning in Iraq, but we are not losing either. The American people and the world are still scratching their heads over this statement.
A recent article in the current History publication December 2006, has an article entitled “America and Islam” by Peter Warren Singer, clearly showing that America is losing friends and making enemies throughout the Islamic world.