White people don’t blow up planes?

Frank Yonkof

To be honest, most of us had seen this coming.

The first terrorist incident in the Obama presidency was sure to spark a massive wave of criticism from the right, and the attempted Christmas Day attack by a Nigerian nationalist did just that.

It didn’t matter that former President George W. Bush was president during the biggest terrorist attack in our nation’s history. Conservatives were pissed at Obama for letting this happen. (If you are reading this on KentWired.com, I’m sure a commenter has already tried blaming 9/11 on President Clinton.)

“Now, I want you to remember, it took him three days to respond to the Christmas Day Fruit of Kaboom Bomber, three days,” said Rush Limbaugh. ”And when he came out after those three days, he was clearly irritated that he had to do it … He comes out here in less than 24 hours to speak about Haiti.”

Even though the Obama administration came out that day and condemned the incident, conservatives were still in an uproar about an attack that never took place.

But even on a social level, this so-called “crotch-bomber” has given right-wingers the opportunity to attack the idea of political correctness.

As someone who often reads right-wing blogs like thefoxnation.com, I can attest that conservatives hate “political correctness,” or P.C. as it is often called in the blogosphere. To them, P.C. represents everything that is unfair or unjust about this country.

To these conservatives, P.C. is almost always linked to liberalism. So it should have been no surprise that these people were convinced that liberals are making us unsafe.

But what surprised me was the level of discussion that political correctness had in the following weeks in the real world. One expects this from the online wing-nut community, but not from the general public.

From waiting in line at the gas station to eating New Year’s Eve dinner with my relatives, everyone was talking about how political correctness and liberals were putting this nation in grave danger.

And the overwhelming response I got from these people was that the Arabs should be forced to go through extra security to ensure everyone’s safety. Racial profiling, according to these conservatives, must become a policy. Apparently, white people don’t blow up planes.

But in the next breath of air, they would always criticize the government for taking away everyone else’s rights at the airport. One guy I talked to even thought the botched Christmas attack was staged by the government in order to take away more of our rights.

Looking back in the recent history of our great nation, it is important to remember that Republicans created this post-9/11 world full of heightened security. After all, they passed the Patriot Act. Not saying that’s a bad thing, but it’s the truth.

It is important to keep this “crotch-bomber” incident in context. Sure, it was a scary thing, but it was also a good reminder. We have let our guard down since 9/11, and every so often we need reminders. We were lucky this time.

To say increased security measures should only be enforced on Arabs and other foreign people is just crazy. Back in 2001, the Taliban were able to recruit John Walker Lindh, a 20-year-old white guy from California.

If we really wanted to stay safe, tightened security should affect all people and not just certain groups. It’s just plain dangerous not to think anyone could be a terrorist.

Perhaps the most important thing anyone could take out this whole debate is that terrorism is an ongoing threat. It doesn’t matter which administration is in power, the security vs. rights debate is always going to be the backdrop of any terrorism incident.

But if you are not content with the way things are, do as I do and simply don’t fly.

Frank Yonkof is a sophomore newspaper journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].