According to The New York Times, there is no discernible pattern in the airlines' choice of fliers targeted for aggressive footwear examination. At the Atlanta airport, for example, the passengers whose shoes were searched "included a flight attendant, an elderly black man, a white man wearing a cowboy hat and boots, and an Asian woman with two small children."
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman responded to this latest attack by summarily announcing that our only choices are to "become less open as a society" or simply "to live with much higher levels of risk."
I think I have another solution. It's something I like to call "ethnic profiling." My logic is this: There is a common thread hidden within 20 years of relentless attacks on America by Muslim extremists: In every one of these attacks by Muslim extremists, there appears to be one or more Muslim extremists involved. This ought to help the airlines engage in more accurate risk assessment.
Tariq "Biff" Raja attended the same mosque as Zacarias Moussaoui, the suspected 20th hijacker in the Sept. 11 attack. (The New York Times has yet to report Tariq's connection to the mosque, though the paper will surely print that fact before any of the media will ever breathe a word about the story reported in the San Francisco Examiner that American jihadist John Walker's father left Mrs. Walker for another man.)
The men who used passenger jets to attack America on Sept. 11 were Muslim extremists.
Last year, our warship, the USS Cole, was attacked by Muslim extremists.
In 1998, U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed by Muslim extremists, killing 212 people and wounding thousands.
In 1996, Muslim extremists exploded a truck bomb outside an Air Force housing complex in Saudi Arabia, killing 19 and injuring hundreds more.
In 1995, five Americans were killed in a car bomb explosion executed by Muslim extremists.
In 1993, the World Trade Center was bombed by Muslim extremists, killing six and injuring thousands.
Also in 1993, Muslim extremists plotted to assassinate then U.S. President George Bush. (Intriguingly, the word "assassin" comes from a Muslim sect active in the 11th to 13th centuries known as "the Assassins" for their religious practice of murdering infidels.)
In 1988, another passenger jet, Pan Am flight 103, was bombed by Muslim extremists, killing 270 people.
In 1986, Muslim extremists bombed a West Berlin discotheque frequented by U.S. servicemen.
In 1983, Muslim extremists blew up U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 American servicemen.
In 1982, Muslim extremists bombed the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, killing 49 people, including 17 Americans.
In 1979, Muslim extremists stormed the U.S. Embassy in Iran and held American Embassy staff hostage for 444 days.
So naturally, it took the airlines completely by surprise last week when the passenger who tried to detonate a sneaker bomb on a passenger jet turned out to be a Muslim extremist. Doggedly imitating an Alzheimer's joke, the airlines instantly began ever more intrusive examinations of elderly black men, cowboys and Asian women with small children.
Meanwhile, al-Qaida just keeps on coming. The chairman of the London mosque attended by Moussaoui and Raja told the British Broadcasting Corp. he believes there are hundreds more Islamic extremists in Britain lying in wait for their chance to become suicide bombers. He expressed incredulity at the idea that Rahim could have planned the sneaker bomb plot on his own.
Yet the Times' Friedman, in a commonplace formulation, sniffs that ethnic profiling is not "civilized" and then gratuitously attacks "religious fundamentalists of any stripe."
I don't know. Amish extremists have been rather quiescent lately. If all this carnage and murder had been executed by anti-abortion extremists rather than Muslim extremists, it is unlikely that Friedman would be pussyfooting around the issue by referring to the culprits as "political extremists of any stripe."
The refusal to make a connection between Muslim extremists and unending violence by Muslim extremists borders on psychopathological disturbance. Usually the nonsense liberals spout is kind of cute, but in wartime their instinctive idiocy is life-threatening.
In 1996, Osama bin Laden mocked the United States, saying: "Your problem will be how to convince your troops to fight, while our problem will be how to restrain our youths to wait for their turn in fighting."
Our "youths" have taken Kabul, dropped daisy-cutters on Osama's cave, and are now sleeping in their boots in the middle of an Afghan winter while dreaming of Iraq.
But on another front -- the commercial aircraft war-zone opened by al-Qaida -- bin Laden is right: We refuse to fight. Bedraggled smelly men who make Talibanist John Walker look like Beaver Cleaver are getting on airplanes with C4 explosive material, and we commend ourselves for being so "civilized."