With yesterday’s scare at the port of Miami, I find myself having a strange sense of deja vu: we’ve been through this — or something very similar to this — recently.
Let’s recap: a tractor trailer attempted to enter the port. Its paperwork was in order, but the driver acted suspiciously. He denied knowing the contents of the truck, and said he was alone in the truck when there were two others in the cab with him.
After considerable investigation and time and effort, the three men are still being held, but actual charges are not likely to be filed. Officials say that it is entirely possible that the misunderstanding was a consequence of a failure of communication — the driver apparently doesn’t speak English very well, and the guards didn’t speak Arabic.
The guards did the right thing. Here they had a Middle Eastern male, between the ages of 18 and 39, attempting to enter a highly sensitive area with a truck and not being able to give accurate answers to basic questions. The best thing would be to simply declare it a “great training opportunity” and give the guards pats on the heads, as well as the driver and passengers a good scolding — as well as the driver’s boss, for sending him to the Port so woefully unprepared.
But I am reminded of the infamous Flying Imams Incident.
To recap: six Imams — Muslim religious leaders — boarded an airplane and promptly set about fulfilling nearly every single item that makes up the “potential terrorist” checklist. They were removed from the plane after passengers notified the air crews, and now are working fervently towards becoming the latest poster children for “America’s vile Islamophobic culture.”
In both cases, we had Muslims acting in a way very reminiscent of terrorists, but in the end turning out to be innocent.
I don’t think that there is a conspiracy behind the two incidents (although I have my suspicions about the Imams being a deliberate act), but both of them show that — by accident or design — our domestic anti-terrorism are being tested.
The odd thing about these tests, though, is we never know whether or not we passed. I think we passed the one in Miami. The Flying Imams one is still up in the air — it might end up damaging the whole notion of “profiling” potential terrorist behavior.
And there’s no way of knowing how many other tests we’ve been subjected to and failed.
But never — never — doubt that the guards at the Port of Miami and the passengers and crew of US Airways Flight 300 did the absolutely right thing.