14 September 2002

The Brown People Are Wrong And Must Pay

By now, all have no doubt heard the news about the three men on their way to a South Miami hospital who stopped for a bite to eat in a Georgia diner. That little meal precipitated a massive manhunt and shut down a major Florida interstate for most of the day. The three men were stopped late Thursday night For 18 hours the three men were interogatted while automated robots and demolition experts scoured their vehicles looking for munitions. But it turns out it was just a false alarm, and the law enforcement response was triggered by the words of a Shoney's restaurant patron who says she overheard these young men saying that "Americans mourned on 9/11 and they are going to mourn again on 9/13". Authorities "suggest" that the three men may have been playing a prank on the woman who was staring at them.

Oh, I forgot to mention they were brown people, of Middle Eastern descent. So they must be terrorists, right? Well, according to a large number of folks, that's the way it works. I was listening to the one of the local right wing talk radio shows Friday afternoon, and the host and caller after caller banged away on the brown people. One caller expressed his outrage and argued vehemently that these individuals should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and made to pay restitution for all the police activity that was necessitated by their hoax. One caller said that they should be dropped into the middle of a rural Georgia tractor and truck pull event and have the alleged derogatory comments they made be rebroadcast over the public intercom. Another veteran stated that the three men should have to pay because of potential military status changes. Yet another joked that they be turned over to Sheriff Joe Arpaio to deposit into a tent city jail. The host himself expressed outrage at the "perpetrators", agreeing with the callers that these individuals should be "de-exported" out of the country and made to pay restitution and weighty fines. On freerepublic.com, I read the outpouring of support for Ms. Eunice Stone, the eavesdropper who alerted the authorites. She should be given a medal, the consensus there echoed. The South Miami hospital chief executive told the students to discontinue their journey, that their safety could not be guaranteed, as the hospital had been receiving threatening phone calls and E-mails all day.

Wait a second, I'm really confused here, let me try to sort this all out.

Basically, in my estimation, we have a "he said, she said" issue. One white woman says she heard the three brown men joking about 9/11 and asking eachother if they "have enough to bring them down". The three brown men say the white woman is "flat-out lying". But the three brown men must be lying because they're brown people, right? At least, that's the judgement of a lot of folks it seems. It saddens me to see such a resurgence of bigotry and intolerance. I guess I mistakenly thought that such attitudes were buried in bygone eras except for a militant few whose twisted philosphy is righteously ostracized from the zeitgeist of current days.

Without knowing for sure, let's assume some comments were made that may have remotely resembled bombs or munitions. How can one person who only hears bits and pieces, without knowing the context in which those words are woven into really ascertain their meaning? I may be talking to my friend about the details of a new videogame. I'm explaining how my team in Battlefield 1942 was sucessfully able to blow up a grain depot and win the battle. Somebody eavesdropping may not have caught the "videogame" part. What about if someone is describing their shooting range experience from the night before, and someone else only overhears shooting without the words "range" and "practice"? Oh, I forgot, there's a different set of criteria for brown people. I mean, I don't hear talk of jailing Ann Coulter for her remarks about bombing the NY Times building, made in jest. I'm pretty sure that if I call the authorities and tell them I overheard some folks in Luby's restaurant planning to blow up a bomb and I give them their license tag number, they're not going to close down I10 while they stop these "suspects". Or, on the other hand, maybe they will, if they're brown people.

Bottom line is we really don't know for sure what was said and unsaid in this case, do we? Again, it's just the word of one white woman against the word of three brown men. And I've spent enough time in rural Georgia to know that it's not inconceivable that the white woman is fabricating - I can easily envision a scenario in which these three brown men returned an unfriendly glare or even quipped a derogatory remark. And then she decided to one-up and give these guys some real grief. What the truth is, I don't know and neither do you. But the rush to judgment by a lot of you does indeed make a statement on our society.


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