Copyright 2002 Linda Marcas - All Rights Reserved
I'm Worried, Too
I didn't have a topic for this week's column until this morning, when I looked at the back page of last week's
paper. There I found "A Pilot's Editorial," subtitled "You Worry Me!," which JP noted had come to him via the
Internet and which, he added, "seems to say it all." It had supposedly been written by American Airlines pilot
Captain John Maniscalc, and expressed his concerns about Muslims in America, terrorism, patriotism, the good
ol' U.S. of A., and his right to know who is, and who is not, a true American.
Yeeeeeee-hah! There's nothing like a bunch of racist, hate-mongering, inflamatory drivel taking up half a
page of the Tiny Town Tattler to get me up and running...........I don't love the smell of napalm in the morning,
because it smells like BS.
Several hours of flogging my keyboard later, I have found out a few things about "A Pilot's Editorial." By
and large, it is attributed to Captain John Maniscalco, dated August 24, 2002, and reprinted, usually with the
same typographical errors that were in the version in our paper, all over the 'Net, most often in sites and
discussion threads festooned with colorful graphics of American flags, bald eagles, guns, and misspellings. I
found a couple of mentions of it as the text of a speech delivered by Maniscalco at a Meir Kahane memorial
banquet on January 29, 2002. (Kahane was an American-born Israeli extremist, I gathered) Unfortunately, the
location of the banquet was given as Jerusalem in the first reference and as Brooklyn in the second; in the
interest of compromise, perhaps we should assume it was somewhere over the mid-Atlantic. An even earlier
version appeared in the Hyattsville Gazette (Maryland) on October 12, 2001, where it was attributed to one
Kevin Daly, of Beltsville. According to Snopes.com, a hoaxbusting site, the status of the piece is
"undetermined," which means they can't track it down as either true or false. Either way, it's a frightening piece
of prose, both in and of itself, and because it showed up in the paper on my doorstep.
The author wants all the Muslims living in America and enjoying "our" freedoms to "prove" to him where
they stand, claiming that he has a "right" to know whether or not they love this country. He thinks they should
do this by, among other things, waving the American flag in the streets and handing over the 400 people the FBI
wants to talk to regarding the World Trade Center attack, because those people "live and socialize in Muslim
communities." Hey, I have an idea! Muhammed Ali is a Muslim, so he must know who and where all those
folks are. Let's go camp on his doorstep until he tells us! That should get results, right?
Do human beings have an intrinsic distrust of anything and anybody that is somehow "other" than
themselves? Probably, but we should try to control our expressions of that distrust, because they seldom lead
to anything good. Just ask any Holocaust survivor, or the Japanese-Americans who spent World War II in an
internment camp and lost their homes, businesses, and bank accounts because they happened to share the
ethnic background of the "enemy" of the day. Ask any African-American, or disabled person, or Amish family
at the zoo how they feel about being on the recieving end of prejudice toward "others."
Can you tell the difference between an Arab Muslim, a Pakistani Muslim, and a Malaysian Muslim? How
about separating, by sight, a Mid-Eastern Jew, Muslim, and Christian? Or Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Christians,
or Buddhists who come from the Indian sub-continent? Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, of whatever
persuasion? Holy Toledo, there's a lot of "others" out there! What should we do, shun them all, and let God
sort them out?
Yeah, I'm worried. Maniscalco demeans and derides the fundamentalist extremists of Islam, and the
"degenerative form" of their religion; that's fine and dandy, as far as it goes. But what about other
fundamentalist extremists? What about white boys with guns and explosives, the ones who can stand next to
you in the checkout line at the farm center, buying fertilizer, and you wouldn't have a clue? Try these names and
places on for size: Ruby Ridge, David Koresh, Branch Davidian, Waco, Timothy McVeigh, Oklahoma City,
the Unabomber............terrorists, Christians, extremists all, but no one you'd pick out in a crowd. If you adhere
to Maniscalco's criteria, they wouldn't worry you at all, because they can pass for one of "us," and therefore are
not subject to demands for conspicuous flag-waving. Can you say "militia in Michigan"? I thought you could.
I know local pillars of the community who own fully automatic weapons and don't trust the government;
should I go rushing off to the FBI to spill my guts? I don't think so. I'm not so sure that the world would be a
better place if everyone stood up and shouted what they really believed, no matter how much we pretend it
should be so. It would better behoove us to struggle with our knee-jerk reactions and to try to bring our inner
beliefs into line with those values which we profess to hold dear, such as "all men are created equal."
Maniscalco might be worried by brown skin and burkahs, but, as long as his ill-conceived polemic can turn up
in my local paper with phrases like "go back to your desert sandpit where women are treated like rats and
dogs" posing as patriotic statements, then I'm worried, too. Aren't you?