up to bat was one Debbie Schlussel, a conservative columnist,
who proclaimed "Three
Cheers for Captain X!" Although "he's President
Bush's least-favorite pilot," nevertheless "we should
all applaud the embattled Captain 'X,' unnamed pilot of American
Airlines Flight 363, who refused to allow a suspicious, belligerent,
armed passenger to fly on his plane."
Ms. Schlussel, the matter is very simple: "Shatter was
armed. He was visibly an Arab (as were the Sept. 11 hijackers).
He was belligerent, appeared nervous, and flight attendants
reported to the captain that his behavior 'appeared to be
strange'" as if some of those airline stewardesses
should talk! Furthermore, "there were doubts whether
his Secret Service ID was legitimate. No terrorist ever used
a fake ID before, right." Nothing will satisfy Schlussel:
after all, he's "visibly Arab," and that's all she
needs to know. Gee, I didn't know they let Jews into the Ku
Klux Klan. At any rate, she would look a lot better
with a bedsheet over her head.
of course Shatter was armed he's a federal agent,
a man who was on his way to Texas where he would stand guard
over the President of the United States. Why is that so hard
for Ms. Schlussel to understand? Her real problem, of course,
is Shatter's ethnicity: apparently no Arab-American,
whether in the Secret Service, the FBI, the CIA, or the cop
on the beat, should be permitted to carry a gun anywhere,
and for any reason. Sure he was "nervous" and "belligerent"
what federal agent wouldn't be if some idiot airline kicked
him off a plane for no good reason?
pilot maintains that some forms Shatter had to fill out were
"incomplete," yet this is contradicted by the airline
manager who describes forms where some lines are "scratched
out" and possibly "altered." Whatever. There
was one way to solve the problem: call the Secret Service.
Why wasn't this done?
DISS THE PRESIDENT
amazing how unanimously the conservative pundits have all
come out against their own President, screeching and hollering
that all "profiling" is good and ludicrously reminding
our Commander-in-Chief, "Don't you know there's a war
on?" But what none of them mentions is the reason why
that phone call was never made, as revealed in the report
written by the American airlines manager in charge. This statement,
curiously enough, is posted on National Review Online,
which is siding with the airline. Disingenuously titled "American
Airlines Stands Firm," it contains not only the pilot's
whiny self-serving rationale but also a statement from the
American Airlines manager on duty at the time, who admits:
asked the Captain to request the agent's superiors [sic] name
and number. The Captain said that we should not use his information
because he could have a friend answering the phone when we
see if I have this straight: the pilot is telling us that
he believed Shatter had it all set up so that anyone who called
would believe they were calling Secret Service headquarters,
but would actually be talking to some crazed terrorist with
a thick Arabic accent. The utter dishonesty of this cock-&-bull
story is so embarrassingly obvious that it is hard to believe
anyone would seriously utter it. What's even more amazing
is that the manager went along with this nonsense,
and suggested he call the local police, instead, to what end
is not clear. The manager, who was 1,000 miles away from the
scene, had basically passed on making a decision, and thrown
it back in the pilot's lap.
that time, the pilot had already confronted Shatter, and the
two had gotten into a verbal exchange. "You haven't heard
the end of this," the angry victim of this impromptu
kangaroo court reportedly told the captain, and he was right.
Clearly, at that point, the captain knew he was dealing with
a bona fide Secret Service agent -- and that, to him, was
intolerable: after all, didn't those Arabs just blow up the
World Trade Center? What was he doing in the Secret Service,
anyway? Clearly this was and is the unspoken subtext of the
American Airlines report, and, also, of AA's vociferous defenders
in the Arab-hating neoconservative
POT CALLING THE KETTLE
really gets me is the accusation that the Secret Service agent
was "abusive." Ground control to American Airlines:
Look who's talking! Anyone who ever flew American Airlines
before 9/11 will instantly understand me: when you think of
AA, you think of sullen ticket agents, high prices, and those
weird gender-confused stewardesses with the Tammy Faye make-up
and the big hair. Talk about abusive those girls
are fierce! Just try asking one of those Amazons for
an extra snack, and see what happens.
being asked for his identification on five separate occasions,
humiliated, and made to grovel before the notoriously rude
and inept American Airlines personnel, Shatter had finally
had it: he told Captain Queeg off, and when he said
he was taking this to a "higher authority" he wasn't
kidding. Nobody ever deserved a comeuppance more than this
bigoted, pigheaded captain and the corporate bureaucrats over
at American Airlines: those pompous, strutting, and nearly
bankrupt jerks richly deserve the President's stern rebuke.
But even worse are those conservative pundits who have gone
to the barricades for bigotry.
Schlussel's case against Shatter is about as convincing as
the very bad dye job some mad stylist inflicted on her long
mane. Or is that a wig? Whatever it is, it's golden phoniness
is symbolic of the brazen lies and cheesy smears that make
up so much of her journalistic output. Appearances aside,
what are we to think of a "columnist" whose WorldNetDaily
logo is emblazoned with the slogan: "Debbie Does Politics"?
A deep thinker she ain't, but what's interesting is the almost
macabre illogic of her ranting screed. Here is Schlussel citing
the sinister "evidence" that supposedly justified
kicking Bush's bodyguard off the plane:
Shatter's bag was searched like other passengers', The
Crusades Through Arab Eyes, by Amin Maalouf a book
that presents the 'Arab side' of the Crusades and laments
a lack of Arab unity against the West appeared."
is the confirmation of what the observant reader might have
suspected all along: Schlussel is an ill-read ignoramus whose
library consists of the Collected Works of Danielle Steele.
Maalouf's book is an historical account of the Crusades based
on previously inaccessible or undiscovered sources, a work
of considerable scholarship which has been translated into
many languages, and widely hailed by mainstream reviewers.
The public seems to like the book, too, for all 21 reader-written
reviews on Amazon.com give it a five star rating and describe
it as a "balanced" and fascinating account of events
usually seen exclusively through Western eyes.
none of this matters to Schlussel, who obviously never even
heard of the book or its author before this incident, and
so must rely on a rather innocuous paraphrase by Harold Bloom.
It is enough for her that an organization she wants to smear
as "pro-Arab Muslim terrorist" the respected Washington
Report on Middle East Affairs praised it.
the joke is on Schlussel. For Maalouf, far from being some
wacko Bin Ladenite sitting in a cave, is a Westernized intellectual
and a novelist of note living in Paris. He was born
into a Catholic Lebanese family and his many novels are
lyrical evocations of a benevolent transnationalism which
seeks to define Arab identity in terms that would reconcile
religion and culture with modernity. He was awarded the Prix
de Goncourt, in 1993, for his novel The
Rock of Tanios. His most recent novel, Ports
of Call, is the beautiful love
story of an Arab and a Jewess told against the backdrop
of World War II and the underground resistance to the Nazis.
This is a Bin Ladenite? Nutball ideologues like Schlussel
aren't embarrassed or deterred by their ignorance: indeed,
it makes them feel invincible, presenting a barrier no fact
owes Maalouf a public apology, but I wouldn't hold my breath.
The woman is a harpy whose last vicious attack on a prominent
Arab-American a thoroughly misleading smear job on Rep.
Darrell Issa (R-California) almost ended in the death of
its target. Schlussel's column smearing
Issa as a supporter of terrorism because he observed,
in a congressional hearing, that Hamas runs an efficient charity
organization could arguably have been a factor in the
recent attempt on Issa's life by the pro-Israel fanatic Irv
Rubin and some other Jewish Defense League crackpot. Shortly
after Schlussel's column came out, Rubin and his confederate
were caught trying to bomb Issa's office, as well as a Southern
she apologize then? Of course not. For this is precisely what
Schlussel and the blindly pro-Israel faction of the conservative
movement want: to import to our shores the tribal violence
that makes life in Israel so miserable. Indeed, any ordinary
decent human being would've dropped the Issa vendetta after
the bombing attempt, but not Schlussel. She actually brings
it up again in this most recent column, writing:
the two most prominent cases of alleged profiling of Arab-American
passengers involve suspicious and belligerent, yet very self-important
individuals Shatter, and before him, Rep. Darrell Issa,
R-Calif., aka Jihad Darrell. Issa arrived more than an hour
late to an international flight with a one-way ticket to Saudi
those dirty rotten Arabs, so "self-important"
well, we know how to treat them in Israel, now don't we Debbie?
The pure hate that emanates from Schlussel's poison pen is
enough to send one reeling and choking, but I have the sinking
feeling that the sheer brazenness of this kind of evil is
deliberately meant to be shocking. The ugly racism of some
sections of Israeli society is now being injected into American
politics, and that kind of poison could be deadly as Rubin's
terrorist escapade showed.
A BIN LADENITE?
incitements are not an isolated case, unfortunately: the entire
neoconservative apparatus is now mobilized behind a post-9/11
campaign that runs directly counter to the President's war
aims and strategy, one intent on inciting hatred against all
Arabs. Referring to Shatter's interest in Maalouf's book,
President Bush still believes there is no radical Islamic
war against the West, he'd better check with his 'profiled'
yes, Bush the secret Arabist, with his sinister Arab bodyguard
whispering policy prescriptions in his ear no wonder this
administration is giving that old softie Ariel Sharon such
a hard time!
A NICE FLIGHT
ideology, which avers that Arabs are demonic subhumans and
not to be trusted, comes out of the closet when she warns
people against getting on a plane with either Walied Shatter
or Darrell Issa. Of the latter, she asks: "He's a bigwig,
but would you want to fly with Hezbollah's biggest fan in
Congress?" Good lord, can you imagine having to sit next
to this frothy-mouthed harridan for an entire flight? Be ready
to dodge a lot of spittle
THE POOR AIRLINES?
Nordlinger, of National Review, weighs
in against the President, too, attacking him for being
"PC": the author of NR's regular "Impromptus" column
is mainly concerned with extending his condolences to those
poor airlines who never took security seriously and
still don't. All those government handouts have made them
so blue: "One has to feel a little sorry for the airlines
at the moment" on account of their "difficult position."
course, any business with a safety record like American Airlines
at the moment is bound to be in a bit of difficulty but
who's to blame for that? Apparently the US taxpayers, who
are being hit up for even more bailouts by the airline lobby.
At any rate, Nordlinger avers that "they erred on the
side of caution," and, "well, so what?" The
moral of this story is not that the market will rightly condemn
American Airlines to extinction, or that some people just
can't admit they were wrong, but that "PC is still in
its saddle, bossing us around, screwing with our emotions
and logic, and falsely accusing."
YOU KNOW THERE'S A WAR ON?'
implication that it was the President doing the false accusing
brought letters of complaint, which Nordlinger conceded, in
another column, might be correct, but even so:
Secret Service agent, with his lawyer and his publicist and
his ethnic mob, is an unbelievably selfish piece of work,
isn't he? There's a war on. Our enemies have killed thousands
of us, and they're vowing to kill thousands or millions more.
So the guy suffered a personal insult; he had to get off the
plane, which humiliated him. Big effin' deal: at least he's
think of it that way: the captain could've shot Mr. Shatter
down in cold blood and, you know what? I think Nordlinger
(not to mention Ms. Schlussel) would've found a way to justify
that, too. That's how sick they are.
final magisterial words on the subject pretty much sum up
how far the current crop of tousle-haired P. J. O'Rourke lookalikes
have dragged down National Review: "Screw you,
honcho (meaning, the Secret Service agent, not my dear letter
writer)." It seems history has at last overtaken the
magazine whose founders once vowed it would "stand athwart
history yelling 'Stop!'" and it isn't pretty.
no one should be all that surprised by this kind of concerted
ugliness. After all, it is well-known that mental
illness flourishes in wartime. However, the problem is
that pundits like Schlussel, Nordlinger, and especially David
Horowitz whose Frontpagemag.com has become a virtual anti-Arab
hate-fest are doing their damnedest to spread their illness
far and wide. The President and his supporters need to impose
a quarantine on these hawkers of hate.
MAN OF INTEGRITY
W. Bush was not my choice for President. I oppose this war,
and many if not most of the foreign policy stances taken by
this administration. But I have to admit that the President
has personal integrity of a sort that harkens back to an earlier
era. He didn't have to travel to a mosque right after the
9/11 attacks and stand with Arab and Muslim Americans. He
didn't have to explicitly warn against attacks on Americans
or immigrants by other Americans, and he wasn't compelled
to go out of his way to defend Walied Shatter. But he did,
and for that he deserves a lot of credit, especially from
the very people who will never give it to him the yapping
leftists who are marching "against war and racism."
WISE TO THEIR RACKET
hope the President is "madder than heck" a lot
madder. And I hope Shatter's lawyers make the corporate poohbahs
who run the worst airline in America get down on their knees
and crawl. As for the professional haters and yes,
this means you too, Andrew Sullivan who are objectively
helping the Bin Ladenites by demonizing all things Arabic
and Muslim, I hope conservatives get wise to their racket
and start supporting the President on this issue.
think, if only for a moment, of how this looks in the Arab
world: there's no doubt Schlussel and Nordlinger have. The
whole point of the anti-Islam, anti-Arab propaganda campaign
is to further polarize the developing conflict into the US
and Israel versus the entire Arab world. If the latter see
that not even the President's personal bodyguard is immune
from persecution if he's an Arab, that is then
you can kiss our broad-based anti-terrorist coalition goodbye.
is precisely what the neoconservative faction of the Right
desires most: to isolate the US from its Arab allies, so that
we'll only have Israel, India, and Taiwan to rely on in a
crunch. And the crunch, they hope, will come sooner rather
ISOLATIONIST AGAINST ISOLATION
funny, but it takes a so-called isolationist like me, who
opposed this war from the beginning, to warn against the very
real and dangerous isolationism of the War Party. For whatever
motivates the neocons has nothing to do with America's national
interests or even winning the war on terrorism. Bin Laden
and his followers would like nothing better than to see World
War III start in the Middle East. It seems more and more unlikely
that Bush will allow himself to get pushed into it, and this
is why we seeing these attacks from his right. After all,
the War Party has other options: their champion blusterer,
Mad John McCain, went on a taxpayer-funded cruise to the region
with Senator Joe Lieberman, and the two of them always in
campaign mode averred that it was high
time we attacked Iraq. Just as if they were conducting
their own foreign policy.
WITH THE PROGRAM, DUBYA OR ELSE!
long will it take the War Party to turn against George W.
Bush? It's already happening, to a certain extent, and you'll
see more of it if the President and his administration don't
get with the neocon program and fast.
of $50 or more will get you a copy of Ronald Radosh's out-of-print
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Right: Profiles of Conservative Critics of American Globalism.
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