Man Without Qualities

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

Arab-Americans Are NOT Foreigners

UPDATE: It didn't take long:

"Congressman John Conyers of Michigan, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, denounced the [the Administration's] system [for fingerprinting visitors from higher-risk countries] as employing racial and ethic profiling."

"'Rather than helping to protect our citizens, these registration rules will only serve to further alienate the American Muslim community and our Muslim allies abroad, two crucial allies in our fight against terrorism,' he said."

"Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle told reporters he gets concerned 'about the long arm of the federal government when it comes to taking actions like this that may or may not be helpful and certainly may be invasive.'

"The plan 'smacks of the sort of tactics' used by totalitarian regimes like Iraq, said Frank Sharry, executive director of the National Immigration Forum."

"James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, a policy group, said the change would add to an already overburdened process and would fail to improve security. He called it a political initiative designed to send the message the Bush administration was 'doing something' about terrorism."

Before opening their checkbooks again, prospective Democratic contributors should take note that the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee and the current Senate Majority Leader think that the Republican Administration's plan for fingerprinting visitors from higher-risk countries is an unacceptable restraint on civil liberties (or, in the evasive, pseudo-populist argot of Senator Daschle, a "cause for concern").

Are THOSE the guys traditional Democratic contributors think should be running the country?

Maybe House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt should rush over and show Representative Conyers and Senator Daschle the most recent polls and focus group results!


Despite concerns in some quarters over possible impairment in the ability of the Bush Administration to effectively deal with the "racial profiling" aspect of counterterrorism, the Washington Post reports that the federal government seems to be willing to keep track of foreign visitors from higher-risk countries, including Arab countries. The Post says "Arabs and Muslims reacted angrily," but there is no mention of American Arab or American Muslim organizations reacting at all.

It will be interesting to see how this goes down on the domestic front. My guess is that at least responsible Arab Americans (that is, those such as Spence Abraham - not CAIR) will have no trouble with this. Where the loonier CAIR types come out will tell a lot - possibly bringing good news.

On the other hand, there appears to be no hope for the ACLU, which continues in some pre-September 11 Groundhog Day existence:

"`The Bush Administration is, step by step, isolating Muslim and Arab communities both in the eyes of the government and the American public," said Timothy Edgar, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. 'This latest move needs to be seen in the larger context of all the actions targeted at people of Middle Eastern descent since September 11.'"

The action, of course, is not "targeted at people of Middle Eastern descent" at all.

Rather, the action is targeted largely (but not solely) at people from certain Middle Eastern countries. The ACLU's persistent equation of Arabs and Arab-Americans is downright weird, and as wrong headed as the errant World War II equation of Japanese with Japanese-Americans.

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