7.30.2005

tourist trap

Perhaps you haven't all heard about this. On July 26, a supervisor with the Gray Line bus company reported that five "suspicious men" had just boarded one of the company's double-decker tour buses.

Here's why the men were suspicious: they had purchased their tickets in advance, they carried backpacks, and they were wearing something else that caused bulges to appear around their waists. Oh, did I mention they appeared to be South Asian? The men were British citizens, and Sikhs.

The Gray Line ticket-taker called his supervisor. The supervisor called the police. The police cordoned off the area. That is, Times Square.

The five men were ordered off the bus, handcuffed, and forced to kneel on Broadway while bomb-sniffing dogs searched the bus. The bulges were fanny packs. The men were questioned and released.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg apologized to the tourists, defended the police, and criticized the Gray Line employees for overreacting. This in a city with posters and public-address announcements everyfuckingwhere repeating, "If you see something, say something." What was he expecting?

Post-apology reports from the New York Times, BBC News, The Telegraph (India) and The Hindustan Times. An interesting contrast.

Please spare me the most obvious comeback: at least they weren't shot. No harm done.

Thanks to Kyle for reminding me to blog about this.

12 comments:

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

Actually, I'll say at least they weren't shot. There was harm done, but considering the paranoid society we live in I'm afraid that Brazillian might not be the first.

Speaking of the Brazillian, it's amazing to watch the Britsh keep retracting things. Right after the attack they said he definitely was linked to Islamic terrorism. Then oops, well he might not have been. Then oops, he wasn't "South Asian", but South American. Then oops, he wasn't Muslim. Oops, he wasn't actually wearing a bulky jacket, and he didn't jump the turnstile. I wonder if the next revelation will be oops...the plainclothes police didn't actually reveal they were police and not just strange men with guns....

Sean said...

You criticize others for lacking direction or purpose in their blogs. I'd rather have a random collection of entertaining, cynical rants than some holier-than-though blog decrying the politics of modern America. Why don't you take a stand in your own country instead of retreating to Canada? There are still bastions of sincere liberalism left in this country.

And that story from New York is depressing--I was just traveling through there with a bulging pack of my own. But I'm white. Then again, in a city the size of New York or London, politically correct, unbiased searches of passengers is completely ineffective. Not an easy problem to solve.

-www.sevendeadlycynics.com

L-girl said...

You criticize others for lacking direction or purpose in their blogs. I'd rather have a random collection of entertaining, cynical rants than some holier-than-though blog decrying the politics of modern America.

Each to his own. You asked for reaction, I gave some. Had you not asked, I never would have commented.

Enjoy your blog. No need to enjoy mine.

Why don't you take a stand in your own country instead of retreating to Canada?

I have taken a stand all my life. I am not retreating. I am moving on.

There are still bastions of sincere liberalism left in this country.

Indeed there are. I live in one of them. However, I am tired of hating my country, and tired of feeling so alienated. So I'm going somewhere where I think I'll fit in more.

Thanks for stopping by.

L-girl said...

Speaking of the Brazillian, it's amazing to watch the Britsh keep retracting things.

I know. Exactly.

Sean said...

Good luck to you. I hope you find the grass greener, though I'm skeptical. Universal healthcare and decriminalized marijuana are a good start.

L-girl said...

Universal healthcare and decriminalized marijuana are a good start.

So is legal gay marriage. So is no death penalty. So is a government not owned by the religious right.

But most of all, so is no war for empire and oil. For me, that is the greenest grass of all.

Thanks for your good wishes.

G said...

Hmmm ... isn't it a bit hypocritical, Sean, to chastise someone for being holier-than-thou (that is the correct spelling, by the way) in their comments on a story, and then proceed to mention in your comment the suggestion that you weren't searched because you were white, which implies a criticism of racial profiling, similar to what L-Girl wrote?

Just saying, seems odd. Maybe it's just me.

Kyle, it does seem odd the retractions that come forth. Most telling is the fact they thought he was Muslim right away - profiling rooted in fears from the prior attacks, sure, but I'm guessing in the case of Menezes, such assumptions were based solely on thick dark hair and slightly darker skin. Nice to see how far we've come in terms of categorizing our people based on a glance. Wonder if they still think Africans and Carribeans are the same ... ?

L-Girl, I agree entirely: if you start something, you have to expect a reaction. Bloomberg must live in a bubble if he didn't expect profiling would occur, or that innocent non-white persons would be subject to humiliation in public. Sean makes the point for me; haven't heard of this happening to a white guy yet. Profiling in countries still battling deep-seated racism is a bitch.

I just can't wait to see their faces when sometime down the road a white guy turns out to be a bomber.

L-girl said...

Holier-than-though! I missed that one. :)

I just can't wait to see their faces when sometime down the road a white guy turns out to be a bomber.

Tim McVeigh says hi.

L-girl said...

Then again, in a city the size of New York or London, politically correct, unbiased searches of passengers is completely ineffective.

Politically correct searches???

Try no searches, because searching passengers on public transportation is an utter waste of time and taxpayer dollars.

deang said...

I really admire your restrained pointedness with some of the more stupid comments, L-girl. When I'm met with people who wanna remain "cynical" and entertained while the US is slaughtering tens of thousands of people in Asia and ruining a good bit of their own landmass, I either get tongue-tied or abusive.

L-girl said...

I either get tongue-tied or abusive.

I get both - plenty.

I appreciate your saying this, Dean, I really do. I've outgrown some of my hair-trigger anger. It took a long time, and I can't say I regret my angry days!

But now if I dash off an abusive post, I'm more likely to trash it then hit send. It's easier in writing, too. The delay gives you time to think.

I really enjoy being pointedly restrained (restrainedly pointed?). It's fun, especially when the target is a jerk.

Anonymous said...

ALPF...
http://www.canada.com/vancouver/vancouversun/news/observer/story.html?id=0d185839-efcf-4cf4-8f7f-2e34350ebb81