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The Missoulian: Still Hating Arabs? Muslims? Somebody.

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I’ve re-written this sentence three times, because I keep using an unpleasant word to describe the editor responsible for today’s fear-mongering editorial in the Missoulian. Following their now classic example of pants pissing hysteria on Monday, they follow with an editorial suggesting racial profiling and gutting the 14th and 4th Amendments.

The problem we have is that we are unwilling as a society to acknowledge that we are at war with people who are more homogenous than the general U.S. population. Because of this, using a person’s ethnic heritage as one of many factors to decide if a person should be inconvenienced a little more than the 80-year-old grandmother isn’t discrimination. It is affirmative action.

It’s also a violation of the 14th Amendment. Isn’t this precisely the logic that justified internment of the Japanese? To couch discrimination not only in harmless terms, but racial buzzwords, speaks volumes about the mindset of a paper that has a strikingly different view about the government restricting the rights of newspapers in the name of fighting terror. Interesting, isn’t it, how willing people are to compromise the rights of others, but not themselves?

The cowards continue:

We have as a society decided that is OK to consider such things as race, when it benefits the individual and society; well, using a little affirmative action in screening will also benefit the individual and society. It will allow us to focus scarce time and resources screening the people who are members of the class that is the most likely threat. Those who are members of that subpopulation but have no hostile intent may sacrifice a little extra inconvenience from time to time for the greater good…

There are so many things wrong with this argument that I don’t even know where to begin.

  • The logical backflips needed to compare affirmative action programs with illegal screening based on race is almost unimaginably stupid; it’s an absurd utilitarian calculation that would justify almost abuse in the name of protecting people
  • The editor lacks the courage to even name the group he is talking about. Search the article–you won’t find "Muslim" or "Arab" or "Islam" anywhere; so I’m curious what criteria our friends at the Missoulian think we would be appropriate? It seems fair that, if you advocate selectively infringing the rights of a whole class of people, you should have the courage to name who they are. But that’s the thinking of racists and cowards–a generic construct of "The Other," one that assuages paranoid fears without having any real meaning.

Is it just me, or for all the tough talk coming from conservatives, they seem to be the ones so terrified of terrorism that have become willing to give up the very rights they so piously invoke as a justification for war?

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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