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Yay I'm now officially a dhimmi!


(This comment was originally posted to Dhimmi Watch)

As the author of this piece, I'm surprised by the things I'm accused of. It seems to me that very few have read it on its own terms, and instead just read enough of it to categorize it as leftist cowardice, and then aimed all their arguments at the stereotypical leftist coward instead of at me. That's your choice of course, but if the intentions of the author matter here at all, let me just point out that I'm not a leftist, and that I'm no more ready to give in to Islamists than I am to fear of terrorism. I thought I phrased myself clearly enough, but apparently I didn't. My recommendation is to read the piece again, but this time without assuming that one must either belong to your side or the leftist coward side.

In the paragraph that is quoted here, what I have in mind is the passengers who recently refused to board the plane unless two Arab passengers, who they thought looked "suspicious", were thrown off. So here's a question for the community of Dhimmi Watch: How should passengers behave in a situation like this? Should they 1) insist that any Arab who looks suspicious is thrown off, or 2) swallow down their fear and go on the plane? Consider the consequences if everyone acts like yourself: If everyone does 1, then Arabs are in effect barred from flying by plane. If everyone does 2, then possibly a terrorist attack takes place that wouldn't have happened otherwise.

Answer, then read the paragraph quoted above again. That is my answer to this dilemma. I'm not saying you shouldn't fight terrorists - if you know they're terrorists. But if you only know that they're Muslims? Then you're sacrificing the rights of many for a tiny increase of your own expected life span. Is not that the definition of cowardice?

(Comment 2:)

Suz: "Brave to me is to fight and offer up ones life in order to save other lives. To prevent something horrible happening."

Yes, and why is that brave? Because you risk your own life for the sake of something you believe is even more important. That is precisely what I am describing here. We may disagree about which ideals are important, and which aren't. I believe that the right of everyone to be treated as individuals with the same rights regardless of how they look or what they believe in is such an ideal.

Leif the Lucky: "So instead of Christianity, they now labor under the self-imposed "prison chains" (PC) of political correctness (PC) -- how ironic."

I don't. It can be difficult to understand other cultures. Europeans find it difficult to understand how Americans think, and they find it especially difficult to understand that American culture can not be summed up easily with one or two words out of some Michael Moore book. I've been writing about this problem for years - check my archives. But the same applies the other way: Americans find it equally tempting to stereotype Europeans in the same way. Which is what you're doing here. Here's a suggestion: Instead of telling some European you hardly know that they are a politically correct coward, how about just asking them and find out? Surely the terrain is more reliable than the map. Ask me. Ask me anything you like. Test your assumptions.

Geoff: "Is it more or less brave to flout political correctness and risk arrest or violence than to passively sit by with internalized fear and hope that nothing untoward happens?"

Sorry, I won't let you rephrase your way out of my question. And this goes for anyone here who wants to tell me how foolish and cowardly I am. I want to know how you would behave if you saw two Arabs on your plane who struck you as "suspicious"-looking. Would you get them thrown off, thus (assuming everyone acts like you do) making it impossible for a large number of Arabs to ever travel by airplane, or would you let the plane take off without complaint, thus exposing yourself to a tiny risk of death? Which is morally right? Which is more brave? Forget what you think you can tell me about my depraved p.c. cowardice, just tell me what you would do.

(Comment 3:)

Maggie4Life: "Where I think that you are wrong, is the fact that you have trivialised the Muslim threat in our world today. This is a threat that has been around for 1400 years."

Thank you for a level-headed response. You're right that I don't think much of the supposed Muslim threat to Western civilization. I think it has been exaggerated by people who have taken a superficial approach to the task of understanding Islam. This, however, is a separate debate. After all, Islamists are not the only extremists who use terrorism. My argument applies to all terrorism, past and future.

"Some men of Middle Eastern appearance have a habit of being rather menacing towards others. Yes, you are right, they behave that way because it is fun to watch the Dhimmis cower. Perhaps, if this is what happened, the passengers should have just directly confronted the Arabs about their behaviour and then tell them to either stop behaving in that way, or else."

I didn't say that. Do you have any reason to think that these two Arabs behaved in an intimidating manner? If not, it's not relevant here. But don't let the difficulty of defining "suspicious" keep you from answering the question. You may define suspicious any way you like. I still want an answer. What would it take for you to get someone thrown off your plane?

Another question: If this sort of behavior becomes common and accepted, do you think it will generally be used responsibly, or abused? Will it do more damage or good?

"In fact some of the things that are banned on aircraft, such as knitting needles seem a little bit absurd to me... however, you never know what can be used as a weapon ;-)"

But what good is a knitting needle against a planeload of passengers who know that their lives depend on their defending themselves? Before September 11, it was accepted wisdom that the smartest thing you could do if your plane was hijacked was to sit quietly and do nothing. Now, we all know the smartest thing you can do is to attack the hijackers as soon as you can, with whatever you have at hand. On this, I think all of us agree. Which is another reason why these regulations are counterproductive: They teach us that security in the air is the responsibility of airport security and the airliners, when a great deal of it is really the responsibility of individual passengers. As, of course, is the responsibility not to act like cowards just because there are some Arabs on your plane.

Archimedes: "I did read your piece (article), but I believe the reason you are getting so much negative response is your own fault, as the author, for not being clear enough about your own views."

If I was unclear, you have my apologies, but I suspect a lot of the confusion I've seen comes from the prejudices of the readers, who expect people to be on either on one side or the other. Since I'm obviously not on their side, I must be on the other side. I aim to write as clearly as possible, but I will not dumb down my posts just because they might be featured on Dhimmi Watch and Gates of Vienna. I expect my readers to think when they read, and not leap to insane conclusions about my views and motives. If in doubt, ask, don't just go into flame mode.

Low risks should not be neglected, I agree. Nowhere have I said otherwise. But we should weigh the cost against the benefit. The cost of throwing any suspicious-looking Arab off airplanes whenever the other passengers say so, is much much too high. So is the cost of many other anti-terror measures. In the end it comes down to whether you believe it is worth it to sacrifice the rights of many for a slight increase in your own expected lifespan.

"Contrary to what you suggest in your piece, the cost of terrorist attacks are actually relatively cheap for the jihadist terrorists (who do not value this life but only value the hereafter) monetarily, whereas the results of one attack can be hugely costly (as 9/11, 7/7, and 3/11 were) in monetary terms."

Yes, but they are expensive in terms of time and human resources. My point is simply that terrorists are unable to destroy us simply by blowing us and everything we own to bits. Stupid behavior on our part is also required. So if we don't act like idiots, the terrorists can't win. This is why fear is the only major weapon they have.

Btw, I would still like an answer to my question. Put yourself in the place of these passengers. What would you do?

(Comment 4:)

August 22: "This is Bjorn's problem in a nutshell: [..] What I prescribe for that malady is for Bjorn to educate himself about islam, and that means spending a few months on jihadwatch and reading all the articles posted here"

Why would I trust these blogs and their communities to teach me about the complexities of a religion with a billion followers that spans 1400 years of history and great parts of the world, when they're unable to understand even a simple blog post that contains views they're not used to reading?

libbysmom: "I decided not to fly an Israeli flag from my car, even though my children wanted me to. In other words, I gave up my right to free speech. I am still upset with myself for not flying my flag, but at the same time, I think it is probably why I still have a house and my car still has windows. What would you have done in this situation, assuming that you are an ardent supporter of Israel?"

Assuming that I shared your views, I hope I would have had the courage to fly the Israeli flag. We're only on this earth for a short time, and there are very few things that are truly our own. One of them is the ability to stand up for our opinions. What's the price of new car windows compared to that? If you felt that the lives of your family was in danger, that would have made the choice more difficult, and I won't tell you to do that - I have no children myself. But I will tell you that I don't think it will ever be easy to believe something radically different from the people around you, and that our children should be taught how to deal with that. I think most children are taught that they will have it easy in life, that they can just sail through it all without risking anything, without making any hard choices. I think they should be taught instead that fear and greed and hatred and corruption will always be around them, and also be taught to ignore it, and play by better rules. If the society they grow up in turns out to be nice, no harm done. If it turns out to be bad, then they'll be mentally prepared to put it right again - like our ancestors have done before us, at great risk to their lives. I'm told by people here that my continent will turn into some Eurabian hellhole under Islamist rule. I don't believe that, but I hope that if I have children, and that is the world they become adults in, that they will be among those who won't bend, who say "no".

"Anyway, the bomber would run into the Jews, pretend to blow himself up, and then the little girls waiting on the other side of the street would begin their trilling screaming, clapping and smiling, and would wave the bomber over to them, covering him with hugs when he arrived. This is what so upset my child. How would you have responded to seeing this?"

I don't know. I know I would have been horrified, and wanted to do something, but I don't know what I would do. Where was this?