The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), those calm, non-reactionary types who gently remind Americans of their ignorance and intolerance whenever necessary, has a new event to be pissed off about.
This time, six Muslim imams were removed from a Northwest Airlines flight from Minneapolis to Phoenix. The reason? All six stood up from their seats and started praying in unison. The plane had not yet left the gate, so authorities were able to board and start asking questions. Ultimately, the six were taken for further questioning and the plane left without them.
OK, I get it. Muslims pray multiple times each day, and this is sacred to them. No problem. And I agree that it sucks for everyone when a group of men can't pray in public without raising suspicions. It shouldn't come to that in America.
But it has.
Had I been on the flight in question, I would have freaked out right along with some of the other passengers. I HATE to fly, I'm scared to death of it, and, these days, I'm not alone. Once that plane leaves the ground, everyone on it is incredibly vulnerable to any maniac who's cleared security. There's no such thing as a "minor" plane crash - you don't walk away with some bumps and bruises. Sure, flying is, statistically, safer than zipping your fly. It doesn't matter. When in-flight on a commercial airliner, you are more at the mercy of those around you than at any other time that doesn't involve you wearing diaper.
Given the situation, everyone on board should follow some very basic rules of etiquette. Passengers should just stay in their seats and shut the hell up. Don't do things you know are going to alarm those around you. Don't jump up and yell "fire!", don't drop on the floor and roll around in a fake seizure, don't run around singing "Wooly Bully", don't stand up as a group and start praying. All of these things freak your fellow passengers out. They are NOT cool.
And if you do feel the need to cause alarm, don't get all whiny irritated when people get freaked out, and when the authorities come hassle you. I don't really care about your rights - there are 100+ people around you who have a right not to be scared by your actions. Your rights are not more important than theirs.
And then there are those wonderfully helpful folks at CAIR, who over-react to anything they perceive as a slight to Islam.
We absolutely should have a group out there standing up for Islam in a non-violent way. There is clearly a need for someone to explain, in calm, rational terms, how, through our ignorance, we're putting a religion down unfairly. Too bad CAIR isn't that group.
This bunch of clowns has done more to poison Western attitudes about Islam than anyone west of Gaza and east of Jakarta. In their eyes, a Muslim has never done anything to warrant suspicion or questioning, and it's only American stupidity and insensitivity which causes conflict. I'm not sure how this casting of stones is supposed to help us all just get along. Does it really calm tensions and foster understanding to attack the vast majority of the country's populace whenever a minority draws attention to itself in a negative way?
This turned into quite a bit more of a rant than I had planned. I guess I'll close with this: I really do want to understand others around me, and I'm the ultimate get-along guy. But, at the same time, I realize this is America, where certain actions, beliefs, and conduct are the norm and other actions, beliefs, and conduct are not the norm. Everything is easier for everyone if we all try to meet in the center a bit more.