Racial profiling ("Readme") and bailing out the airlines ("Everyday Economics") were the hot topics this week, while some of the best arguments came in "The Breakfast Table" being conducted among Slate staffers: Look for the checks and stars.
Subject: Identifying the Enemy
Re: "Frame Game: Anti-Terrorism"
Date: Thu Sep 27 10:32 p.m. PT
Terrorism is not exclusively associated with the actors behind the acts of Sept. 11. Whatever alliance we construct, we will find terrorists within the fold. … If "terrorism" is not our enemy, what is? The answer seems to be "Islamism," suitably qualified: "fundamentalist Islamism" or "violently aggressive fundamentalist Islamism." But this treads uncomfortably on the threshold of religious warfare. If it's dangerous to choose "Islamism" as the enemy, why not simply "those who trespassed against us on Sept. 11"? It lacks the high gloss of "ridding the world of evildoers," but it is better defined and less susceptible to mission-creep and coalition-decay—and it is potentially achievable.
Subject: Search Me
Re: "Readme: Racial Profiling at the Airport"
From: Dan Simon
Date: Sat Sep 29 10:01 p.m. PT
There is a perfectly sensible, legal, practical, and eminently defensible alternative. As far as I know, not a single U.S. citizen has been implicated in this recent terrorist attack. Simply singling out non-citizens for extra scrutiny is such an obviously reasonable measure that it arguably would have made sense even before Sept. 11. It also can (and probably should) be implemented without regard to race or ethnicity (since foreign identity credentials are generally more difficult to verify as genuine), and without unduly inconveniencing the typical domestic air passenger. For the record, I'm not an American citizen …
Subject: Getting Close Enough To Judge
Re: "The Breakfast Table: Retract This, Tim Noah!"
From: Joseph Britt
Date: Sat Sep 29 1:17 p.m. PT
The very process of globalization that pushes people and cultures together paradoxically imposes limits on the amount of tolerance and cultural sensitivity we can afford. Because we are living in history and not conducting an academic exercise, we will often be required to judge not only which values will win but which should win. There is no escaping the link between making judgments about values and about the civilizations that hold them—especially when, as in the present situation with regard to Islamic terrorism, we are required to impose acceptance of our values on others by force.
Subject: What the Future Holds
Re: "Foreigners: The New New World Order"
Date: Tue Oct 2 1:55 a.m. PT
I suspect we will never again see anything remotely like Sept. 11. … We will see some hijackings, a truck bomb or two, possibly an assassination of one or more prominent Americans. Most of these will occur on foreign soil where it is much harder for us to exercise control. We will absorb them rather dully, much as we absorbed the ones that preceded Sept. 11. The real issue will become our relationship with the Islamic world. My guess is that we will find out that Islamic radicalism enjoys much wider support than we now think it does. I suspect that before this is over, Islamic radicals will have seized either control or considerable influence in a few more countries than at present.
Zeitguy is as opinionated as ever (a good thing in "The Fray") and was pulling no punches about the airlines here: "Either they don't have the business acumen to be running their own companies … or they are stunning opportunists whose exploitation of the tragedy is the most callous display of corporate ghoulism in history."
Erik Tarloff, a frequent Slate contributor, was singled out by BML for special appreciation—because he "takes the time to wag a finger at the rambunctious Fraysters." BML saw Erik's comments in the "Dialogue" on patriotic songs, remembered this highly contentious "Book Club" on religion, and says "any acknowledgement is a good acknowledgement."
There is still room for discussion on how the Fray should be conducted. The God Of Wine wants a split-level board: See here for more details and to read a good thread. The post likens the Fray to a large family get-together, some people shooting the breeze in the den, others discussing current events in the kitchen. We think that's a compliment …