Kicking Off

Dear J-

In the news today:  folks kicked off an airplane because they wondered, aloud, where the safest place would be to sit.  Oh, and the traditional Muslim garb undoubtedly added to it; had it been a group of, say, Chinese folks wondering if the overwing seats are best, and debating the tradeoffs (proximity to exit rows and increased structure to accommodate lift forces versus the possibility of an engine ingesting something it disagrees with) people might smile and nod, wondering what their technical background is that fed the discussion.  Put a headscarf on, though, and suddenly it’s the equivalent of fire in a crowded theater:  you can’t say that here.

I must have missed the class where it was okay to prejudge based on appearance in extenuating circumstances.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating; profiling is a slippery slope we cannot afford.  We choose the intellectually lazy path of assuming guilt without proof, justifying it as keeping us safe when I thought we were all past this freakish paranoia by now.  So what is the best answer?  I can tell you what it is not:  engendering more fear, more resentment, more fodder for fundamentalists to point out the hypocrisy in our freedoms.

Mike

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