By lex, on December 6th, 2006
In the WSJ today **, Ms Deborah Burlingame – a director of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, and sister to a murdered 9/11 pilot – pulls no punches in her assessment of the “praying imams” drama that unfolded last month aboard a US Airways jet:
Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! Those are the words that started it all. Six bearded imams are said to have shouted them out while offering evening prayers as they and 141 other passengers waited at the gate for their flight out of Minneapolis International Airport. It was three days before Thanksgiving. Allahu Akbar: God is great.
Initial media reports of the incident did not include the disturbing details about what happened after they boarded US Airways flight 300, but the story quickly went national with provocative headlines: “Six Muslims Ejected from US Air Flight for Praying.” Yes, they were praying–but let’s be clear about this. The very last human sound on the cockpit voice recorder of United flight 93 before it screamed into the ground at 580 miles per hour is the sound of male voices shouting “Allahu Akbar” in a moment of religious ecstasy.
“Well”, and “I suppose” the thoughful reader might say. Heaven forbid that some maddened Episcopalian goes on a public killing spree while reciting the Nicene Creed, or we’ll all have to give it up entirely and join the U/U’ers. Fancy hats * or no.
But wait – there’s more:
“Allahu Akbar” was just the opening act. After boarding, they did not take their assigned seats but dispersed to seats in the first row of first class, in the midcabin exit rows and in the rear–the exact configuration of the 9/11 execution teams. The head of the group, seated closest to the cockpit, and two others asked for a seatbelt extension, kept on board for obese people. A heavy metal buckle at the end of a long strap, it can easily be used as a lethal weapon. The three men rolled them up and placed them on the floor under their seats. And lest this entire incident be written off as simple cultural ignorance, a frightened Arabic-speaking passenger pulled aside a crew member and translated the imams’ suspicious conversations, which included angry denunciations of Americans, furious grumblings about U.S. foreign policy, Osama Bin Laden and “killing Saddam.”
I don’t know, but if it was you aboard that flight and you’d been treated to all of this, your heart is beating at least a little bit faster by now or else you really ought to get out of the passenger cabin and down into the cargo hold, because the odds are that you’re already beastly dead.
All of the right kinds of people are lining up of course to claim that the whole thing is a stark reminder of how very far civil society has drifted from its Platonic Ideal in Mr. Bush’s Amerika. Which increasingly seems to be the point of the whole absurd spectacle:
Today, (Muslim American Society) Executive Director Mahdi Bray says his organization wants more than an apology. He wants to “hit [US Airways] where it hurts, the pocketbook,” and, joined by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), will seek compensation for the imams, civil and federal monetary sanctions, and new, sweeping legislation that will extract even bigger penalties for airlines that engage in “racial and religious profiling.” An investigation by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties is under way. Not incidentally, it is the “fatwa department” of MAS that pushed for segregated taxi lines that would permit Muslim cab drivers at the Minneapolis airport to reject passengers carrying alcohol.
Tell you what – In the spirit of interfaith dialogue and Grand Compromise, let us strike a bargain: You fellers convince your co-religionists to stop celebrating throat-slitting butchery on internet videos, blowing up school buses and buildings around the world, engaging in orgiastic bouts of mass murder by IED and torture and above all, flying airplanes full of innocents into buildings full of innocents while shouting out the shahada, and we’ll let all of those ethnocentric profiling bygones be bygones. Deal?
Yeah, I know – yours is the heavier burden. Best to get started right away.
* 07-17-2008 Links Gone; no replacements found – Ed.
** 07-17-2008 Original link gone; replacement found – Ed.