What a great job we're doing keeping the skies safe!
First, we figure out that someone traveling on a London to Washington flight is on a "watch list" of people who the FBI think shouldn't have been on such a flight in the first place, so we divert the flight to Bangor, Maine. Then, we learn that the name on that list is Yusuf Islam, that of the entertainer known previously as Cat Stevens. Then we hold said folk singer and make plans to deport him back to London by tomorrow.
According to wire reports, Cat Stevens is on the watch list due to his support of Muslim charities - thus an association with groups believed to be aiding terror organizations. So he can't come into the United States, despite the fact that he was just here in May.
Anyone else find this just a bit ridiculous? I know Stevens said some nasty things about Salman Rushdie a while back, but didn't he also condemn the 9-11 attacks? Do we really think that diverting a flight and kicking a folk singer out of the country is aiding the War on Terrorism?
This whole thing is ridiculous for so many reasons:
- Haven't we made it a point to make Muslims understand that our War on Terror is not a blanket war on Islam? What kind of a message does it send when we eject a peaceful folk singer from the country for supporting Muslim charities without making public any evidence that his charitable giving has anything to do with terrorism?
- Come on. It's Cat fucking Stevens. It's not like he's carrying bricks of C4 in his guitar case. He's said no reasonable Muslim could support the 9-11 attacks. So why the heavy-handedness?
- How the hell does someone who is on an FBI watch list make it on an inbound flight in the first place? We shouldn't be figuring this out after he's already aboard the aircraft and in the air. Watch lists don't do you much good if terrorists manage to get on airplanes and leave the ground.
- How seriously are people going to take our anti-terror efforts if our people aren't seeing much on the news about catching actual terrorists, but hear plenty about how we forced a plane to land because a relatively harmless Muslim folk singer was on it?
Watch the mad scramble on the right-wing blogs to draw tenuous and unverifiable connections between Cat Stevens and terror groups. Here it comes.