Secondhand Somalia

So they arrested this poor Somali kid who’s got so many reasons to feel like a hated outcast that — in his adolescent brain — the possibility of death is no doubt less horrible than the thought of going one more day without expressing his outrage at the unfairness of it all.

Good straight news report from NY Daily News (no bunch of peaceniks they!)

So, this kid is:

1. A foreigner in an America that worries about foreigners in general, and especially ones from Muslim countries with dysfunctional governments

2. Black in America (‘nuff said)

3. Muslim in America (way ‘nuff said)

4. Poor in America (not nearly ‘nuff said)

5. Named Mohamed Osman Mohamud, which is like being named Jesus O. Jesus, (see #3).

6. Somali pirate?

If Mohamed were fat and smoked cigarettes, he would win whatever is the opposite of the gambling term for “Trifecta” – except for picking eight winning horses in a row instead of just three.

The only thing this kid has got going for him is his anti-celebratory celebrity value as a symbol of fear. He has Al-Qaeda ties – because he talked to a guy from Al-Qaeda on the phone. The Al-Qaeda guy evidently joined our own FBI (Fear-mongering Bureau of Instigation?) in facilitating – and how do they say – enabling? – poor, angry Jesus O. Jesus to think he actually had the skills to pull off a major, horrific terrorist act.

The FBI watched him for a year in all kinds of ways, supplied him with the bomb and waited until he actually pushed the button (twice) before they swooped in, allowing him to shout “Allah is great!” which, of course, confirmed his guilt and status as an anti-celebratory celebrity.

It would have been hilarious if a real terrorist had infiltrated the FBI as an Arabic linguist and slipped a real bomb in where the FBI thought it was a fake bomb. Are you listening, Jerry Bruckheimer? Angelina Jolie cracks the case? Will Smith? Borat as the linguist?

But this is a serious matter because this case — like almost all  recent nabbings of homegrown terrorists – resulted from a member of the suspect community supplying the authorities with intelligence (it feels good to use the word correctly for a change!) which allowed law enforcement to neutralize people like Mohamed before they become a real threat.

It is not necessary to then harp and preen with the horrible retribution Jesus O. is facing – in this case life in prison – and when you start at 19, that can be a long stint in the slammer.  Or endless iterations of what might have happened if the bomb went off.

You don’t want to make the kid a martyr (hey, these are Muslims, remember 72 virgins in Paradise?) and you especially don’t want to alienate reasonable people who might come forward with intelligence. That is, if they didn’t feel the authorities would use the opportunity to reinforce the stereotype that they come from inherently dangerous people who need to be dealt with harshly.

So what does this have to do with secondhand smoke?

I was just thinking that there’s Somalia (pirates, warlords, Black Hawk Down, female circumcision) and then there’s Secondhand Somalia (homegrown terrorists reacting to all of the above.)

Just like there are the actual dangers of actual first-hand smoke (undisputed by Sensible) and the overstated, fear-oriented blather thrown about regarding secondhand smoke.

Taking a hard line with Mohamed in order to stoke fear is only going to alienate the very people we depend on to come forward and tell us when something is amiss. So we don’t get caught unawares.

I would probably turn my child in if I knew he planned to explode a bomb at my adopted town’s annual tree lighting ceremony. But if I knew he was going to be made a poster boy to advance the agenda of the fear mongers, it would be a lot harder for me to do so. I might wait to see if someone else stepped forward. I might wait too long.

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