Underachievement Department of Idiocy: a report from the BBC tells us that an architect of Iraqi descent was asked to remove a T-shirt with the legend "We will not be silenced" printed on it in both Arabic and English before boarding a flight from JFK to California. The flight staff of JetBlue, the airline concerned said that the T-shirt was offensive, after a number of inane passengers expressed concern over what the Arabic phrase meant.
Let us put aside for one moment the civil liberties issue here (it is but a small drop in the ocean after all compared to so much else engendered by the illegal Bush and Blair war) and ask how could anyone be so stupid as to think that somebody wearing a T-shirt with an Arabic slogan onto a commercial flight is likely to be a suicide bomber? An American is statistically more likely to be killed in a car crash or by food poisoning than in a terrorist attack, or even to be killed in a plane crash, caused by human error, as happened in Kentucky last week. The removal of the T-shirt seemed to have a talismanic effect though; once you take that scary alien language Arabic out of the equation, then the threat is gone. Whatever measures, long or short-term, might be taken to combat terrorism there is unfortunately little that can be done to legislate for idiocy. That will be with us long after Osama's assault on "Western values" has been reduced to a footnote of history.