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April 15, 2004

Getting tough. Rivka has had it with pussyfooting around.
Yet another member of a Certain Ethnic Group has been arrested on charges of being armed and ready to carry out a terrorist attack on American soil. This guy had ricin, the same stuff that shut down the Capitol when it was sent to Bill Frist, the same stuff that can kill a person in half-milligram quantities. And this comes less than four months after another member of the same Ethnic Group was caught planning to bomb U.S. churches and other civilian targets. It comes less than two years after federal agents uncovered an enormous network of terrorist activity, including fake federal IDs and caches of weapons, even a sodium cyanide bomb capable of killing hundreds—all, you guessed it, organized by members of this same Ethnic Group.

It must be taking truly heroic effort on the part of the interests who control our media, to willfully avoid connecting the dots here. We’re supposed to believe that all these crimes are isolated incidents. We’re supposed to piously mouth assurances that these repeated terrorist plots don’t reflect on the “vast majority of Certain Ethnic Group members, who are peace-loving, law-abiding, loyal citizens,” and ignore the evidence that these so-called law-abiding Ethnic Group members covertly support the terrorists among them. No doubt, we’ll be expected to ignore the links between the latest suspect and radical religious movements, just as we weren’t allowed to ask hard questions about the religion that supported the last guy - because (of course) “theirs is a religion of peace.”

Well, I’ve had enough. I don’t care how “politically incorrect” it is—I want to do whatever it takes to keep America safe from terrorism. If that means a crackdown on the civil rights of members of Certain Ethnic Group, well, so be it.
[12:22 AM]
Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Getting tough.:

Will "Scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2004, 12:36 AM:

Is it any reflection on me that after I was clear on the punch line, and that after I'd clicked a few of the links, my primary response is "they really shouldn't call it a Ministry when they're talking about Peace. I mean, word choice..."?

McDuff ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2004, 12:46 AM:

Nice to see this kind of thing getting a little airing here and there, now and again. It always boggles me that, even here in the UK where we've had the Catholics and the Protestants tearing each other apart for most of our history, people can whinge and moan about Islamic Terrorism like it's some terrible new invention.

I've no great love for Islam, but it's no worse than Christianity as far as producing psycho-nutjob-fruitbats is concerned. I challenge anyone to spend time on the Shankhill road and then try to say that White Christians are any saner than Arab Muslims.

Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2004, 01:46 AM:

Not necessary, McDuff. I've lived near Tulsa.

Tony Hellmann ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2004, 02:55 AM:

Americans of all ethnic groups are protected equally by the U.S. Constitution, and for good reason.

Applying this logic elsewhere, we should have had crackdowns on the civil rights of members of lots of groups. Italian Americans in the 1920's through 1970's for organized crime, for example. And it's a good thing the gov't broke its own laws with executive order 9066, interning Japanese Americans on the West Coast (only) to camps and confiscating their homes: we only had to settle two lawsuits (Korematsu vs. United States actually found for the gov't and was overturned when it came to light that the gov't supressed evidence) and pay out a billion dollars in claims. Back to the crackdowns, we might think about cracking down on white males: over 90% of serial killers have been white males.

The socio-psycholocial phenomenon we're dealing with here has a name: illusory correlation. Illusory correlation refers to thinking that one has observed an association between events that either (a) does not exist, (b) exists but is not as strong as is believed, or (c) is in the opposite direction from what is believed. Illusory correlations occur because of preconceptions: based on a prior belief, a person expects to see a particular association. This expectation causes the person to see what he or she expects to see.

If you added up all the members of your "certain ethnic group" who have been arrested (or are wanted for) for acts of terrorism, then compared that number to the total population of members of the group living in the country or the world, and then ran a very basic test of statistical significance called a t-test, the test shows that a relationship between terrorists and your "certain ethnic group" has NO statistical significance. This means that "these repeated terrorist plots don’t reflect on the 'vast majority of Certain Ethnic Group members, who are peace-loving, law-abiding, loyal citizens,'" and that "evidence that these so-called law-abiding Ethnic Group members covertly support the terrorists among them,"--when based on assuptions of illusory correlation--is hogwash.

Rivka ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2004, 07:33 AM:

Tony Hellman - did you actually click through any of the links? The fact that you suggest "Back to the crackdowns, we might think about cracking down on white males" makes me think that perhaps you didn't.

Maybe my point was too subtle, but in fact I hardly need to be lectured about illusory correlations and the evils of prejudice against Certain Ethnic Groups. I'm guessing Patrick doesn't, either.

BSD ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2004, 07:38 AM:

One could say that David Neiwert, over at Orcinus

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2004, 07:55 AM:

Irony always runs the risk of being invisible to a portion of its audience.

Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2004, 08:00 AM:

Rivka, if one didn't check the links, or didn't have some familiarity with your views from elsewhere, the post was a little subtle. People spout that crap all the time, or you'd have had nothing to parody. Blame Tony for not doing his homework before posting, but I think he meant well.

James Slusher ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2004, 09:08 AM:

I must admit that it was too subtle for me. I read this blog in an aggregator and rarely follow the links. I was actually getting a little irritated before I hit Rivka's comment and then actually looked at the links. Puts a bit of a different spin on it, doesn't it (he asks sheepishly)? Sad thing is, I made a joke on my blog that used the same method and nobody got that. You would think that I would notice someone else's use of it, though.

Live and learn.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2004, 11:28 AM:

It's been widely pointed out that we didn't start profiling blond Michiganders after Oklahoma City. While I'm glad we didn't (as a blond from Okemos), it does point out that this isn't just a "hard-nosed practical" thang.

I'm very glad I read the comments before commenting. I knew something was wrong, but almost fell into the trap.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2004, 12:10 PM:

Am I the only person who know exactly what was going on before I finished the first paragraph? Of course I know Rivka, but sheesh. I didn't think it was all that subtle.


HP ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2004, 12:43 PM:

Mary Kay--I was on to the irony by "Yet another member..." It was dead obvious. (Not to imply that it wasn't well-written or worth saying.)

I was reading a thread on MeFi (or maybe MoFi) yesterday, about Photoshop and doctored images. The question was, "How do we know which images to believe?" And I thought, "The same way we know which texts to believe."

There goes that theory.

Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2004, 12:52 PM:

If for no other reason, MK, I knew because Patrick posted it --

Thel ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2004, 12:53 PM:

Well, I was on to the irony pretty fast, but that's partly because I'd already heard about the guy with ricin and already knew which Certain Ethnic Group he was a member of. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the rest of the piece, knowing that.

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2004, 01:54 PM:

Don't sweat it - For Italians Sacco and Vanzetti were railroaded (says nothing as to what their actions actually were).

As for Aryans:

A growing number of campaigning German Americans are now asking for - at the least - recognition from the American government for what happened to them.

That has not so far been forthcoming. People of Japanese nationality or descent held at the same camp during the war have had a full and public apology.

A monument records that on the site. There is no equivalent marker for the Germans held.....Altogether 10,905 Germans and German Americans were interned in the US during World War II. ...."You know, it's a lot less about someone saying sorry than it is about someone saying, 'this happened'."

Max Ebel nods acknowledgement. He was held at an internment camp in the state of North Dakota.

In Texas, on the site of Crystal City, Eric Gehrmann is at a loss for words as he tries to trace exactly where it was that he played as a child, behind tall fences, patrolled by dogs and guards.

For these proud Americans, there is a part of their past that they feel is denied by their own government.

The Lost Voices of Crystal City was broadcast on BBC Radio 4

Lon Horiuchi didn't shoot anybody in a burqa.

I have every confidence my government is an equal opportunity oppressor, really I do.

Tony Hellmann ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2004, 02:17 PM:

Maybe my point was too subtle, but in fact I hardly need to be lectured about illusory correlations and the evils of prejudice against Certain Ethnic Groups. I'm guessing Patrick doesn't, either.

That's the risk you take with subtlety.

I followed the first two links, which were not tongue in cheek per se. Thirteen links in a 296 word article are too much for me, not to mention the aggregated 8800 words to which they link.

So yes, it was too subtle for me, and by the looks of the comments, not just me. I don't know Rivka or Patrick, so that didn't provide me the clue that more familliar people followed.

Then there are the personal biases I bring with me: I have a degree in ethnic studies, and am used to debating these things with people. When I saw the message, it didn't look unusual.

I do think that in light of what I know now, that the piece is funny. A fine op ed.

Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2004, 02:45 PM:

See, I had it as soon as my eyes caught the word ricin higlighted the way links are on electrolite so as to draw attention. Not because I'd heard recent ricin news, but because I've heard past ricin news, and therefore there's a strong ricin-to-white-pride-whacko association in the back of my head.

That and my mouse happened to hover over the last link in the piece, which url then gives it away.

Michael ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2004, 03:13 PM:

I think the whole repetition thing going on there with the phrase "Certain Ethnic Group", combined with the fact that it's on Patrick's blog, made it quite clear to me.

But thumbs up to Tony for expressing his outrage very well, even if his aim was a little off.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2004, 05:15 PM:

It's 'cause God is an iron, and some of us are atheists.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2004, 11:43 PM:

Avram, I'm always a little grateful that my friends who are atheists are so broadminded about my own beliefs.

Mary Kay, I knew too. Figure it has anything to do with where we grew up?

J.Scott Barnard ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2004, 12:40 PM:

It sure does make quite a point... --s

Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2004, 04:18 PM:

As soon as I read the capitalized phrase "Certain Ethnic Group", I suspected irony. I knew might be simple hatred merely masquerading as irony, but I would have expected a different intro from Patrick in that case. For some reason, bombing places of worship makes me think of white supremacists. And when I got to the cyanide bomb, I remembered reading about that case, and so my suspicion was confirmed.

MD² ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2004, 10:25 PM:

Barely noticed myself at first, and wouldn't have at all without the capitalization. Scary how close the text looks like some of its humorless counterparts I've tumbled upon.
It may have to do with my english not being fluent enough, though.

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 10:32 AM:

I thought it was great fun.

Karen Underwood ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2004, 12:50 PM:


I couldn't help but think of the troubles when all the headlines screamed, "Europe Now Has Its Ground Zero" right after the Madrid bombings.