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The Racist Authoritarian Mind

[ 93 ] April 17, 2013 |

Amy Davidson on the creation of a “terrorist” “suspect”:

What happened next didn’t take long. “Investigators have a suspect—a Saudi Arabian national—in the horrific Boston Marathon bombings, The Post has learned.” That’s the New York Post, which went on to cite Fox News. The “Saudi suspect”—still faceless—suddenly gave anxieties a form. He was said to be in custody; or maybe his hospital bed was being guarded. The Boston police, who weren’t saying much of anything, disputed the report—sort of. “Honestly, I don’t know where they’re getting their information from, but it didn’t come from us,” a police spokesman said. But were they talking to someone? Maybe. “Person of interest” became a phrase of both avoidance and insinuation. On the Atlas Shrugs Web site, there was a note that his name in Arabic meant “sword.” At an evening press conference, Ed Davis, the police commissioner, said that no suspect was in custody. But that was about when the dogs were in the apartment building in Revere—an inquiry that was seized on by some as, if not an indictment, at least a vindication of their suspicions.

“There must be enough evidence to keep him there,” Andrew Napolitano said on “Fox and Friends”—“there” being the hospital. “They must be learning information which is of a suspicious nature,” Steve Doocy interjected. “If he was clearly innocent, would they have been able to search his house?” Napolitano thought that a judge would take any reason at a moment like this, but there had to be “something”—maybe he appeared “deceitful.” As Mediaite pointed out, Megyn Kelly put a slight break on it (as she has been known to do) by asking if there might have been some “racial profiling,” but then, after a round of speculation about his visa (Napolitano: “Was he a real student, or was that a front?”), she asked, “What’s the story on his ability to lawyer up?”

There must!

Among other things, this an excellent illustration of why racial profiling is a really terrible idea.

Comments (93)

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  1. c u n d gulag says:

    If everyone who ran away from the blast was a suspect, then if the whole FUX Noise crew was there watching the end of the race when the bombs went off, then they’d have been suspects, too – if there were people fast enough to catch them.

    Hey, Conservatives, you don’t get to pick your suspects, like the shade you’d like your den to be, from a paint swatch.

    Lily white, might still end up being the color.
    Or, maybe not.

    How about you don’t say anything until you know something for a FACT?
    Or would FUX have to void your contract, since you’d be sitting there mute all day?

    • kerFuFFler says:

      “If everyone who ran away from the blast was a suspect, then if the whole FUX Noise crew was there watching the end of the race when the bombs went off, then they’d have been suspects, too…

      Yeah, they were even standing there with cameras like they knew something big was going to go down. Smells fishy. What did they know and when did they know it—-is there a coverup? 8D

    • kerFuFFler says:

      “Hey, Conservatives, you don’t get to pick your suspects, like the shade you’d like your den to be, from a paint swatch.”

      But yeah, singling out an Arab for running from the scene when that is what everyone was doing is pretty stupid.

    • firefall says:

      If they were restricted to facts that they knew, they’d be permanently mute

  2. John says:

    While I have no sympathy for FOX News and the New York Post, it seems like the real issue here was the authorities. Whatever quasi-denials they were issuing publicly, they obviously thought for a while that this guy was a suspect.

    • Barry says:

      Or a ‘person of interest’, or a witness. And considering that the police were working their way up from a state of total confusion[1], there’s squat for solid news.

      [1] Like the rest of us, except for Fox, the NYPost, Pamela Geller, Alex Jones, etc., who were working their way deeper.

      • Anonymous says:

        There were thousands of witnesses. Why are they searching this guy’s apartment?

        • John says:

          (that was me)

        • kerFuFFler says:

          Because other people fleeing the disaster thought the “Arab” (brown person) seemed suspicious. The police pretty much had to look into it just to cover their asses even if they thought the suspicions were based on nothing. The guy gave consent to search his apartment—-he probably figured it was the only way to clear his name and the police may have suggested it for that same reason, just to cross him off the list.

          • Anna in PDX says:

            Yep. I’m pretty sure that is probably what happened. My Muslim friends who live in big eastern cities like NY and Boston deal with similar stuff all the time. It’s a thing like Driving While Black.

    • Malaclypse says:

      Davis was not issuing quasi-denials, he was quite up-front – we are talking to a lot of people, but we do not have any suspect in custody. The person in the hospital is not a suspect.

      This was absolutely not his fault.

      • Scott Lemieux says:

        Yup. The authorities never, ever said that he was a suspect. This is 100% on the winger media.

        • Anonymous says:

          They did a search of his home on the basis of no evidence at all. I suppose I was using “suspect” in the colloquial sense rather than the legal sense, but that’s not something you do for any random person.

          • Richard says:

            They might have been searching his house because they asked and he gave permission. It’s either that or they presented enough evidence to get a warrant

          • DrDick says:

            What do you mean, “on the basis of no evidence at all”? He was brown and Muslimy, which is all the evidence they need!

            • joe from Lowell says:

              Ed Davis was the CoP in Lowell for years, and one of the inventors of the community policing strategy.

              You are way off base with this charge.

            • joe from Lowell says:

              I take that back. It was the FBI who did the house search.

              So…maybe.

    • NonyNony says:

      Or, and bear with me on this, the fact that a Saudi national was on-site during a terrorist attack, and the fact that the last incident of international terrorism on US soil was performed by a group that included a number of Saudi nationals, might mean that if they just let him wander away without checking him out they would at the very least look incredibly stupid later if it turned out that this is the work of some other Saudi nationals (let alone if he turned out to be an idiot who was hanging around the bomb site to watch his handiwork and they let the bomber just wander off).

      I’m not going to second-guess the cops much on this one. It sounds so far like everything they were doing was fairly routine given the situation – it was the idiots in the press who jumped to conclusions while the police were checking out his story out.

      • c u n d gulag says:

        NonyNony,
        I’m witcha!

        Law enforcement was doing its job.
        Our “Fourth Estate…” er… uhm… not so much…

        All too often, our “Fourth Estate” makes me want to down a fifth of the hard stuff.

      • Anonymous says:

        It’s routine to search the home of somebody against whom you have no evidence whatever?

        • Malaclypse says:

          You’re white, aren’t you?

          • John says:

            (previous post was me).

            I’m the one who’s criticizing the police!

            • Malaclypse says:

              Then I misread you.

              But technically, his apartment was searched by the FBI, not the police. The police were quite clear that he was not a suspect.Hell, Feinstein was clear on it.

              And not that I’m a fan of the search, but given the media frenzy, we had probably reached the stage where they needed to prove the dude was clear.

        • witless chum says:

          Maybe the guys said “Hey, search my apartment. I got nothing to hide!” in delightful mashup of the Saudi and Bostonian accents.

          • rea says:

            Or, for that matter, the guy’s roommate, which would be sufficient.

          • Lurker says:

            And unless he said that, you can bet that the police would find something on him, just as a revenge for disturbing the investigation. E.g. “petty credit card fraud” or a felony CFAA violation, which you can throw on anyone if you investigate well enough.

      • Bill Murray says:

        and the most recent examples of domestic terrorism were all by white, radical right-wingers and more recent than your example of international terrorism.

        Were any of these types asked if there premises were searched? I would assume not or Fox would be screaming about it, but I suppose it is possible they do not either.

    • kerFuFFler says:

      If a bunch of other people running from the blasts all said that guy looked suspicious (out of their own biased paranoia) for running from the scene, did the investigators really have a choice not to look into it? This is the kind of investigation where no stone can be left unturned. If they had not searched his apartment they would have kooks going on forever about how they never even looked into it even after “witnesses” had fingered him.

    • Lee Rudolph says:

      Whatever quasi-denials they were issuing publicly, they obviously thought for a while that this guy was a suspect.

      Those two “they”s don’t necessarily coincide, and in fact the second “they” (who “obviously thought”) could have been precisely one person.

      • Anonymous says:

        In both cases the antecedent for “they” was “the authorities” as a collective. If he wasn’t a suspect, at least in the colloquial sense, why search his apartment? Hell, where’s the probable cause to search his apartment?

        • Shakezula says:

          Probable cause = Your honor, shit just got blowed up and we want to search this person’s apartment.

          The. End.

          • DrDick says:

            You forgot the critical clue here, which is that he was brown and Muslim.

            • Shakezula says:

              Well, here’s a thing that I have yet to see – the number of searches that were conducted.

              Would I bet a nickle on this being the only search that has been conducted since Monday?

              No. I would not.

        • joe from Lowell says:

          In both cases the antecedent for “they” was “the authorities” as a collective.

          “The authorities” are not a collective. The FBI and BPD are two different groups. It barely makes sense, when we’re talking about the immediate aftermath, to talk about the individual BPD officers as a collective.

          If he wasn’t a suspect, at least in the colloquial sense, why search his apartment?

          To rule him out. In addition to conflating different “authorities,” you are also conflating different levels of interest, from “potential witness” to “lead” to “person of interest” to “suspect.”

          Hell, where’s the probable cause to search his apartment?

          You don’t need probable cause for a consensual search.

    • Warren Terra says:

      If I were wearing a keffiyeh at the site of a terrorist bombing in the US, I’d be pretty worried about racial profiling – but not just from the authorities; also from the distraught bystanders. Apparently this guy needed a trip to the hospital and medical treatment anyway (he was hit by a bomb blast), but I’d hope the cops would provide some protective custody lest he be lynched by the sort of bystanders who’ve marinated themselves in the sorts of notions propagated by those smug Fox News people quoted in the main post.

      I read a post elsewhere (at Esquire, I think) that suggested the guy’s neighbors had now been separately interviewed by the Police and by the FBI, and his apartment may have been searched. All of this seems like it may have been excessive; on the other hand, the neighbors did not seem very concerned and said those who contacted them were respectful and did not seem to be presuming involvement.

      • Shakezula says:

        I disagree. I think if you were wearing anything when a bomb went off nearby you MIGHT be worried about shitting your pants, but you’d more likely be to damned frightened to form a coherent thought.

        • Lurker says:

          Actually, this is not true. About a third of population will panic and lose their capability to act, but even most of them will do what they are told to, if someone assumes authority. Maybe 10-20 % are capable of actually doing something constructive and leading, and the middle ground will be acting rationally on the individual level.

          The shock only really hits you after you are safe.

          So, an average person might quite well be freaked out by the possibility of being lynched.

          The important thing here is to remember that none of us knows what category we belong to unless we have been in a critical emergency situation (or actual combat). Nothing can reveal person’s that side beforehand. So, claiming that someone is a coward without seeing him act in such a situation is extremely vain. You don’t know even yourself.

          • Shakezula says:

            1. This goes against everything I know about the human or even vertebrate response to perceived immediate threat.
            2. There is nothing cowardly in having functioning reflexes.
            3. Did you even read my post or the one before?

  3. Shakezula says:

    “There must be enough evidence to keep him there,” Andrew Napolitano said on “Fox and Friends”—“there” being the hospital. “They must be learning information which is of a suspicious nature,” Steve Doocy interjected.

    Gosh. A person who was near a bomb blast is in the hospital. What other reason could there be for detaining him in a hospital bed except he is a suspect!

    “If he was clearly innocent, would they have been able to search his house?”

    [Snort] So, does this mean the specter of Obamathugs seizing the guns of innocent Americans false or what?

    Of course not. Very soon the Frightened Keyboardists will decide that every agency investigating the attack is either cowed by the forces of PCness or in cahoots with the Muslins and the real vault copy certified truth will never be known.

    This will also provide a layer of coverage when the cops collar some fat pasty Uhmuricun bastard with a car trunk full of Tea Party propaganda.

  4. rea says:

    Well, these people know who must be behind it, from the experience of OKC and 9/11–it must be Saddam!

  5. Rhino says:

    With any luck the bystander who ‘tackled’ him will be criminally charged with assault and battery, and then lose a substantial financial settlement to a civil lawsuit.

    There skulks the racist… The man who viciously attacked a wounded victim for being Arab.

    • Warren Terra says:

      Dude had already been assaulted for looking Arab at the scene of a terrorist atrocity. I’d hope the cops would take him into protective custody and get him someplace where more rational heads prevailed. Though I can see how the cops bundling him off could be misinterpreted, especially by the sort of person who thinks it’s sensible to tackle him for looking Arab.

    • calling all toasters says:

      Clearly he was guilty of BWA (bleeding while Arab).

  6. Dana Houle says:

    I never get pulled out for the “random” TSA checks. But about half the time we fly together my very dark skinned not African American wife does. Because, you know, random.

    • Shakezula says:

      If it is any comfort I’m a very yellah African-American woman and pat downs are a regular part of my flying experience.

      COMPLETELY random.

      How inconsiderate of Muslins to come in so many varieties.

      • Dana Houle says:

        One of our recent flights, four people got pulled out of a long line to get through security. My wife and two other South Asian/Middle Eastern-looking people, and a black, 20-ish guy with dreads. I guess the TSA folks assume Rastafarians come in only one variety.

    • BlueLoom says:

      But I’m a very white, blue-eyed, gray-haired, 75-yr-old female, and I’ve been pulled out for the Full Monty, complete w/ the TSA woman running her hands inside my jeans & pretty much down to my crotch. It’s a humiliating procedure for any person of any race or age.

      • Dana Houle says:

        Sure, they may do it to anyone. But when it’s about every second or third flight, there’s obviously a pattern.

        Years ago, shortly after 9-11, I flew 8 or 10 times with the same woman, and we ALWAYS got pulled out for random checks. At first we couldn’t figure out why. Then one day in conversation about something else she told me about flying in to Heathrow or Gatwick around 1996 or so and being pulled in for questioning because she matched the description of a woman they were looking for who allegedly had ties to the Real IRA. When they determined she was not the woman they sought, they let her go, but apparently her name was still placed on a watch list, and through 2004 still hadn’t been removed, because every damn time she flew she got pulled out for the “random” check.

        After that, I was never again pulled out for a random check…until I started flying with my wife.

        • cpinva says:

          i’m a middle-aged, whiter-than-white male, and i’ve been pulled for a “closer” inspection, on every flight i’ve been on, since 9/11. maybe they think i’m an IRA terrorist or something. go figure. this, and the time it now takes to fly, is why i avoid it, if it’s humanly possible. if i’m going east of the mississippi river, i will drive.

          • joe from Lowell says:

            I get pulled out if my hair is long of I haven’t shaved for a few days, not if I look natty.

            Randomly, that is.

      • mark f says:

        I’ve been randomly selected every time I’ve purchased discount tickets.

      • Shakezula says:

        I don’t disagree that it is not fun for anyone.

        But there is (I think) a difference when you are pulled out and are “obviously” no threat and when you trip a few “Terrist” triggers in your fellow flyers’ minds. I’m going to guess you get sympathetic looks. I get the stink eye, and that adds another layer of suck.

        • Lurker says:

          A few days after the London underground bombings of 2005, my brother and I were backpacking around Europe. We are quite white, but we do have dark hair and eyes. I never forget the a 50-year-old guy we sat opposite to in Berlin metro. He kept looking at our (very large and full) backpacks and almost got on his feet when I started opening the backpack to get a water bottle out.

          I can quite well imagine that a person of Middle Eastern descent would be close to being lynched at an attack site.

          • Shakezula says:

            And that’s what I was snarkily hinting at in my comment about Muslins. The portion of the world’s population that falls into someone’s stereotype of what a “Muslim” (and therefore a turrist) looks like is immense.

  7. ajay says:

    It must be pretty embarrassing for all the bloggers who seized on the NY Post report and put up posts like

    NY Post claims 20-year-old Saudi being held in Boston blasts
    [ 46 ] April 15, 2013 | Paul Campos

    Obviously our invasion of Saudi Arabia after the 9/11 attacks failed to prevent more terror.

    You’d have to take a long hard look at yourself after posting something like that.

    • Jeremy says:

      Because saying a newspaper reported something is bad why?

      • Uncle Kvetch says:

        Because said newspaper is a piece of garbage, and should not be trusted in a situation like this under any circumstances.

      • Malaclypse says:

        Also, that is the revised post. The first version lacked the “NY Post claims” part of the sentence.

        • Richard says:

          And even with the revision, Campos’ comment is based on the supposition that the report is true. A low point for this blog

          • Lee Rudolph says:

            With or without the revision, Campos’s comment is clearly—clearly—a reductio ad absurdum of “the supposition that the report is true”, not an expression of that supposition.

            I wish I could say that your comment is “A low point for this blog”, but there are many lower. Still, you’re trying!

        • ajay says:

          The first version lacked the “NY Post claims” part of the sentence.

          Ouch. Didn’t know that.

    • Cody says:

      Can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic or not, as everyone else (okay, I can only confirm that it was me) read that post and saw him pointing out how absurd that headline was.

  8. Warren Terra says:

    What’s the story on his ability to lawyer up?

    What does this even mean? Isn’t everyone supposed to be able to lawyer up? Didn’t the Supreme Court decide that decades ago, even if it has been quite badly eroded since then?

    • Joshua says:

      So basically, the evidence on this guy is:

      1. He was running away from the scene of a bomb blast.

      2. He got a lawyer.

      • rea says:

        Haven’t seen anything indicating tht he got a lawyer–they were asking if he would be allowed to get a lawyer (with the implication that the answer ought to be, “no.”)

    • Jeremy says:

      Because if you’re innocent you don’t have anything to hide and therefore won’t mind the authorities tearing your life apart to find any shred of anything they can hold against you. Obviously.

      • herr doktor bimler says:

        If you’re innocent you don’t have anything to hide and therefore won’t mind the authorities tearing your life apart, and if the authorities are tearing your life apart you must necessarily be guilty.

    • Shakezula says:

      They assume he’ll be shipped off to Guantanamo Bay if he is a terrist?

    • Anonymous says:

      “Lawyer up” used to be an MRA dogwhistle. I guess the white supremacists are growing sophisticated.

  9. Kurzleg says:

    I look at it this way. The initial inaccuracies put forward by the NY Post and FOX are, at root, attempts to get a scoop. Unfortunately, the desire to scoop everyone else is heavily leavened by their obvious biases. To engage in self-assured speculation gives away the game. They had no scoop, and they hadn’t beaten the bricks to get the story.

  10. Uncle Kvetch says:

    Is Doocy the smug asshole with the face that says “date rape,” or is that one of the other smug assholes? So many smug assholes, it’s hard to tell them apart.

    • Malaclypse says:

      He’s the dumb one. No, not him, the other, really dumb one.

      • Uncle Kvetch says:

        Well, all I know is that one of them looks like a date rapist. There must be something to that. If he clearly wasn’t a date rapist, why would I think he looks like a date rapist? That wouldn’t make any sense, now would it?

      • Shakezula says:

        Your search has over 1,000 results. Would you like to enter new search terms?

  11. Warren Terra says:

    Speaking of racism, dark fantasies, and the specter of terrorism, I wonder if Louie Gohmert thinks he’s competing in some sort of vile dishonesty contest:

    “We know Al Qaeda has camps over with the drug cartels on the other side of the Mexican border,” he said in an appearance on C-SPAN, according to the Huffington Post. “We know that people that are now being trained to come in and act like Hispanic [sic] when they are radical Islamists. We know these things are happening. It is just insane not to protect ourselves, to make sure that people come in as most people do … They want the freedoms we have.”
    Gohmert previously criticized birthright citizenship by claiming it would enable pregnant terrorists to come to America, deliver their baby, and raise them as sleeper agents.

    • Shakezula says:

      King got ahead of him with “Maybe we should hold off on Immigration Reform because Dark Furriners Boom,” so he has to make up for lost ground.

    • Hogan says:

      act like Hispanic

      Wearing sombreros? Eating tamales? Working construction? Doing the rumba?

    • sharculese says:

      He is but he also resents that anyone thinks he has competition.

    • Cody says:

      This is pretty much the root of racism, yes?

      How do you think a Al-Qaeda agent comes to America and has a child… and this child is magically a terrorist. Why is that? I’m going to assume it has to be because he’s Saudi or whatever dark-skinned ethnicity you feel like hating. Otherwise, it seems to be rather difficult to raise your child to be a suicide bomber against a country he/she has known their whole life.

      (Though treating them like trash and hating them because of their race might certainly help turn them into terrorist)

    • medrawt says:

      No, in a super insane and racist way I think he’s being totally logical. The idea that you can profile “Muslims” or “Arabs” is insane, regardless of the question of how moral or effective it is to do so. It’s not a thing you can successfully attempt. People are atrocious at guessing other people’s ethnic backgrounds, especially not their own. In my life I’ve been taken for Hispanic, Southern European (every specific country), North African, Arabic, Turkish, Iranian, Ashkenazi, and North Indian (the biggest stretch, I think: I’ve met many people from all the other groups who look like my cousins) – particularly by people from those ethnic groups. (Teutonic-Americans just know I’m something that they aren’t.) If some goober from Wisconsin thinks he can tell the difference between an Italian, an Arab, and a Mexican, he’s going to get some hits but he’ll miss an enormous number of the people he’s trying to scrutinize.

      Of course, you’d have to be an insane racist to turn that sentiment into “so let’s shit on them all!” but it’s more logical than what some other crazy racists are proposing.

  12. Unhingedliberal says:

    This subject seems to be a great vehicle for the commenters to express their hatred of their perceived enemies.

    Bottom line is they don’t know, they’re just making it all up and blaming those they hate.

    They seem to have become the assholes they espouse to hate.

    • Malaclypse says:

      I liked you better when you were blaming the scary, scary Saudi Arabian dude in the hospital. You know, yesterday.

  13. Surreal American says:

    Actually this subject seems to be a great vehicle for the commenters to express their love for pancakes.

  14. Anonymous says:

    For extra fun, the Saudi’s a VICTIM – totally classy, Murdoch-land.

    And, why’s think they’d be right about his apartment being searched when they made up everything else?

    Though it IS easy to imagine a racist on the scene might thought his skin color wrong and raised a complaint to police. Boston isn’t exactly a racist-free heaven.

  15. Loud Liberal says:

    Hey Scott,

    Would this be an example of racial profiling?

    The devices’ design was immediately recognized by counterterrorism experts as a type touted by al-Qaeda for use by its operatives around the world. Similar devices have been used by terrorists in mass-casualty bombings in numerous countries, from the Middle East to South Asia to North Africa.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/boston-marathon-bombs-had-simple-but-harmful-design-early-clues-indicate/2013/04/16/c2b061cc-a6d8-11e2-8302-3c7e0ea97057_story.html?wprss&google_editors_picks=true

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