Shithouse rat

I'm a bipolar writer in the Naked City. I'm not playing with a full deck. I don't have all my dots on the dice. My cheese is sliding off my cracker. I don't have both oars in the water. I'm a bubble off plum. In other words, I'm crazier than a shithouse rat. These are my stories. Comments--short or long, nasty or nice--always welcome!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The end of the world as we know it?

Bio Hazard
Originally uploaded by mewmoocouw.
As a reaction to the London bombings, New York City has employed police to do random searches at subway stations. Here's an excerpt of an e-mail I sent to my good buddy Henry, slightly edited, on this horrific dilemma.

There's a whole big debate going on here re; the cops stopping people at random (like every five or ten people or something) before they enter the subway turnstiles and checking their backpacks, bags, etc. Thing is, one Brooklyn assemblyman has suggested that in this instance, there SHOULD be racial profiling, since he feels chances are if there is a terrorist, he will probably fit the Middle Eastern looking profile. Whadda you think? Have you had any similar things going on where you are?

Horribly enough, that was the first thing that came to mind when I heard about the searches--like, yeah, to do that would be profiling, and that rubs me the wrong way big time (like when they had the intern camps for Japanese Americans during WW II). But on the other hand, I think that stopping little old Upper East Side ladies and checking their purses and knitting bags is probably a waste of time. It's a real dilemma--esp. during such life and death times. I'd be interested in your take on it.

Oh also--there was this one young guy featured on my local station, NY 1--I think he was perhaps of Indian descent--who was stopped three times in one day, and started to feel like it might not be too "random." I think the guy was American, or had lived here a long time--no real accent, just a young student, I think from Columbia U. Yeah, I'd feel pretty bad if that happened to me. Shit, what a world!

There was another program on NY 1 tonight where they interviewed some Arab-American spokesmen and they pointed out that they feel Al Queda et. al. will soon figure out how to get around the whole thing by employing white or white-looking folks to carry their deadly cargo for them. They cited the examples of Richard Reid (your personal fave) and a few others, as well as instances where apparently devices, etc. were smuggled in via kids and babies.

Sometimes I'm amazed that downtown Manhattan isn't a wasteland. Instead, the real estate prices keep going through the roof, and on the Lower East Side there are more luxe hotels and apts going up every day. After 9/ll, I remember thinking that we probably wouldn't want to mention it at my job in our college promo brochures--that it would be taboo because it might scare prospective students (and their parents) away. But as it turns out, the admin. felt it was good to openly show how NYC had been steadfast and unintimidated--how the recovery from 9/ll demonstrated how NYC and America refused to be cowered by these maniacs. And as far as I know, the university's enrollment figs just continue to rise and rise.

But I also can't help but feel like we may be living on borrowed time. NYC is such an obvious target. Maybe it's a little safer at BG's place in the Bronx--what are they going to do, blow up the Zoo or the Botanical Gardens? (LOL).

Do you feel "safer" where you are? As far as Islamic terrorists, that is--not the domestic/neighborhood "terrorists" you've been dealing with--LOL.

BG often says you don't have to go halfway around the world to meet your enemy--your enemy is right next door, on the street, in the subway. He just says that when he's in one of his more paranoid states of mind--like when crackheads bang on his door at 5 am. None of that going on now, knock wood--but these days, after the London bombings, your enemy could very well be sitting next to you on the train.

I'll bet anything that Al Queda et. al. are rubbing their hands together in glee over this. After all, the dilemma over profiling is just the kind of thing that one could see as a great way to divide and conquer--to compromise American's jealously guarded and hard won gifts of individual freedom and civil liberties.

It is terrifying to think that a madman headed for the subways intent on wreaking havoc could be overlooked. It is also terrifying to contemplate the horrifying repercussions of racial profiling.

What do YOU think?


At 9:07 PM, Blogger !ce said...

I think that racial profiling is always wrong. I think that all of these issues are scare tactics to make people willingly give up their civil liberties, as if anyone has a choice anyway. By the way, have you ever noticed that it is usually artists who are Democrats who have trouble getting airplay, or actors who are Democrats who tend to get limited work or lackluster reviews. Also, there are social consequences to being against the status quo. People are villified for having political views that aren't very "popular." For example, look at Jane Fonda. One bad mistake about taking a picture and she's still labeled almost 35 years later. Another thing I hate is the word "un-American." What does that mean? That someone was born in a nation other than the US? No, it means that someone isn't a hick, Bible thumper, or flagwaver. It's a stupid work. You never hear anyone say "un-Canadian," "un-Australian," or "un-Icelandic." Just another example of how America is the dumbest, most arrogant country in the world, or at least very close.

At 10:30 PM, Blogger Walker said...

Living in countries like ours where he allow alot of immigration throw in students to come to our schools there is a very good chance of letting in some of our enemies.
The problem here is who are our enemies?
The are many visible enthnic Americans and Canadians whohave been here for generations, who have no affiliations with these terrorists.
They are being singled out because of race and are having their constutional rights violated.
What if a african country had been the cause if all tyhe trouble. Would they be hauling in all the colored people off the subway and checking them?
Walking to work would be faster than the subway then because of the long lineups of body searching.
Look what happened in England where they shot and killed a Spanish tourist, mustaking him for a terrorist.
It was nice of Blair to apologise to the family. It was only a mistake, one shot to the shoulder and six to the head. Bullets must be cheap in a country where the cops don't carry guns.
There has to be a better way of safley running the subway without discriminating Americans who look different than the rest.

At 11:41 PM, Blogger Henry said...

I definitely have thoughts on this subject (BP's have thoughts about everything...). I will need to gather a few things for demonstrative purposes, and it might take me a few days, but as Arnie says:

I'll be baaach!


At 2:05 AM, Blogger rob said...

I lived in Colombia a police-state country. The police could stop you in the streets or any public place for a "little" inspection and search and to check your ID. Then, if they wanted they could haul you off to the precinct for 72 hours while they checked your background. You were lucky if you lived through being locked up with real thugs and the putrid leftover food the cops dumped in a bag for all the detenees to scram for. With my looks (long hair, beard, jeans and t-shirt) I'd do 1 or 2 stints a year. Needless to say, guerrilla guys rarely ended in their clutches. They were the ones who when in the city were dressed in business suits or rich-kid attire, clean-shaved and short haircuts. You don't tell a crook, we're on the look-out for you, we know what you look like and are searching, and expect to nab him/her. A lot of what is being done for "security" is more for show than anything else. I don't feel safer having armed coast-guard on board the Staten Island ferry and a escort of CG boats on either side. What can they do if there is already a bomb on board? Anyway, it's great overtime pay. Do I feel safer? That is difficult when you're smack in the middle of a bull's eye.

At 9:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Blackie,

What to fear... profiling tactics?
police actions? strip searches? mass interdiction? street beatings?
interrogations? Maybe, but I say one should fear that picture!

That guy looks like Roy Schreider (Marathon Man-1979). He has evil, and deep fear on his mind. Is is SAFE?, IS IT SAFE? (Now a NICE, GOOD, FRESH, tooth gets pulled-infinitely more painful than a bad, rotten one). Oh, Zell was a wicked dentist, wasn't he?

Look at the eyes-very sinister, very cloak'n dagger, very scared. I'm going straight to the closet for a quick confession before Dr. Death comes knocking at my door! Oh no! They found out I know something-I don't even own a backpack! I promise I'm not an infidel!

Grab your pants, or else you may be running down the street like Dustin did, yelling and screaming in your undershorts. He found out his brother was in the dangerous
"organization", and there was no escape! Just keep running and then disappear. You never know what's just around the corner. AGHHHH !!!


At 11:25 AM, Blogger Henry said...

I have a whole bunch to add here, but I realize it's too much. I'll think about what to do with the info I gathered for my original comment.

Profiling is a very, very complex issue. As Elvira points out, it is probably a waste of time and resources to be searching little, gray haired, old ladies, but what happens when little old ladies start carrying drugs or bombs? I dunno.

It's a difficult subject to wrap a warped mind around.

At 2:35 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Thank you all for the comments; I'm very tardy in my reply, perhaps because I am at a loss for words (me?)

Ice: I guess what you're saying may tie in to the debate over the Patriot Act. I don't know if I agree with the anti-Democrat thing as far as artists, but that's an interesting point re: the term "un-American." Howver, I do feel very fortunate to have been born here, despite the fact that, as with all countries, we are far from perfect.

Walker: Yes, the scenario does conjure up some disconcerting scenes. Interestingly, however, I've yet to see a cop stopping anyone when I take the subway. Maybe I just haven't been at the most happening stations.

Rob: that scene you describe is very frightening, and one of the reasons I'm glad I was born here. Yes, I also think that all the guards in the world won't be able to stop a nuke. However, I just read an article in New York mag that gives an impressive account of how the NYPD has beefed up their counter terror watch without jack-booted thugs taking over the streets. It can be a hard balance to maintain.

BLLB: LOL! Good one. Larry Olivier sure did make one helluva convincing Nazi, didn't he? Ouch!

Henry: Yes, indeed, it is a difficult subject. I'm glad that people aired their views on it here. Henry et. al.--come back and comment on this anytime!

At 1:00 PM, Blogger Henry said...

Hey Ice, if you think America is the "dumbest, most arrogant country in the world", then please get your ass out of here and move to Iraq or Afghanastan.

After you find out how wretched life over there is, be sure to publicly speak out about the deplorable conditions; you won't be able to do it on the Internet, so get a soap box and head down to the corner. Let's see how long you last out there....


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