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American Airlines vs. the Secret Service

It was Christmas Day, and Walied Shatter, a bodyguard to the President of the United States, couldn't get a flight to Dallas. Not that he didn't have a reservation, or a ticket: both had been made and paid for by his
employer, the Secret Service, well in advance. The problem was the pilot: no way was he going to let an armed Arab male on his plane. According to Shatter's lawyer, John Relman, "Pure and simple, this is a case of
discrimination. Our client believes he was denied the right to fly because he is an American of Arab descent." Informed of what had happened to his Secret Service bodyguard, George W. Bush said he would be "mad as heck" if the allegation of discrimination turned out to be true - and it wasn't long before the President's conservative supporters turned on him with a vengeance.

First 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…"

…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
California mosque.

Did 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

…Oh, 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…

…Schlussel's 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…

…George 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..."


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