ALLAN JEFFERYS: The Pendulum Now Needs to Swing Back
The recent near-catastrophe on that Amsterdam-to-Detroit plane makes us think the time has come to reverse the pendulum again.
You know the pendulum theory. Management gets too tough with workers, and a union is formed. The pendulum swings in favor of the workers. Then the union pushes too hard (Viz. UAW). Companies go belly up, and it's time to turn the pendulum back. We may have reached that point with political correctness.
Some people have, for many years, been guilty of applying derogatory labels to every race, color and creed. Most of us have fought that evil with euphemisms that sometimes bordered on ludicrous. (Sanitation engineer for trash collector.) More and more, we go out of our way not to offend. There is some justification in that.
Years ago, the late comedian and actor Godfrey Cambridge was a good friend of mine. He used to tease me about my getting a bit part as a taxicab driver that Godfrey thought he should have gotten. I countered that I had once driven a New York cab when things were tough. After he made it big, he told me one night with resigned bitterness about being stopped by police outside a Park Avenue address at 11 o'clock at night.
It was a classic case of profiling. Godfrey Cambridge was black and, in spite of his celebrity, in the eyes of the police, should not have been in that neighborhood late at night. I remember being incensed at the unfairness of the incident and determined to join forces with those who would combat it.
Now, however, it would appear that the pendulum has swung too far. Our president came into office and expressed willingness to talk with evil leaders of evil countries. So far, it has backfired as even our non-enemies view him (and us) as weak. Hopefully, he is getting the message that turning the other cheek may be politically correct but it just plain does not work.
There are bad people in this world who are unmoved by attempts to work with them or help them or even understand them. There are jihadists whose sole goal is to slaughter non-believers (especially Americans) at any cost. The promise of glory in the afterlife is enough to make them strap a bomb to their bodies as they seek that goal. No talk or compromise will ever get to them.
We are therefore placed in the awkward position of profiling them and blocking their efforts to kill us or doing the correct thing and giving them too much of a benefit of the doubt.
The young man who tried to blow up the plane is a classic example. Despite being warned by his own father that he posed danger, no one did anything to prevent him from boarding. The fact that hundreds of people were not killed was simply a stroke of luck when the bomb did not detonate.
Pat-downs were increased, including ridiculous cases of nursing mothers being double-checked. But pat-downs would not have disclosed the bomb. Now, we are told that full body scanners are going to be used despite protests of privacy by some. So be it. And profiling should now be encouraged.
Admittedly, most Muslims are law-abiders who will fall prey to such profiling. Yet, equally admittedly, most (if not all) of the acts of violence against this country have been committed by Muslims. The 9-11 attacks are just one example.
Engineers are working on the scanners to blur faces and private parts so innocent citizens do not appear on YouTube, but we must remember that law-abiding Muslims and innocent citizens will be protected by the use of scanners and profiling. There is no alternative in a world of deadly would-be attackers. The pendulum has swung too far. We must act with strength and determination.
I suspect that even my old friend, the late Godfrey Cambridge, would agree with this decision.
Allan Jefferys, a former New York theater critic and newsman, lives in Pinehurst. Contact him at email@example.com.
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