Civil Liberties

Armbands and Tattoos

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D.C. radio host Jerry Klein thought he'd play a hoax on his listeners by suggesting  Muslims be identified with "a crescent-shaped tattoo or armband."  He made the suggestion, then waited for the phone lines to explode with outrage.

Unfortunately, many of his listeners agreed with him.

The first caller to the station in Washington said that Klein must be "off his rocker." The second congratulated him and added: "Not only do you tattoo them in the middle of their forehead but you ship them out of this country … they are here to kill us."

Another said that tattoos, armbands and other identifying markers such as crescent marks on driver's licenses, passports and birth certificates did not go far enough. "What good is identifying them?" he asked. "You have to set up encampments like during World War Two with the Japanese and Germans."

Klein concluded the show by revealing the hoax, then berating his own listeners:

"I can't believe any of you are sick enough to have agreed for one second with anything I said," he told his audience on the AM station 630 WMAL (http://www.wmal.com/), which covers Washington, Northern Virginia and Maryland

"For me to suggest to tattoo marks on people's bodies, have them wear armbands, put a crescent moon on their driver's license on their passport or birth certificate is disgusting. It's beyond disgusting.

"Because basically what you just did was show me how the German people allowed what happened to the Jews to happen … We need to separate them, we need to tattoo their arms, we need to make them wear the yellow Star of David, we need to put them in concentration camps, we basically just need to kill them all because they are dangerous."

Sound like Michelle Malkin has the topic for her next book.

NEXT: Hugo's Big Score

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  1. It appears Islam has a PR problem. It also appears that many listeners to WMAL AM have a problem with tolerance, compassion, the first amendment, and so on.
    I’d like to say I’m surprised, but I’m only saddened.

  2. I am certainly not going to agree with forcibly tattooing people but the parallels between the hatred that many Americans feel toward Muslims and the Germans (and other Europeans) felt during WW2 is not as strong as this radio show host would have us believe. Striking differences can be found in two important ways:

    First of all, the terminology: A Jew may or may not believe in the religion of Judaism. Ayn Rand was a Jew but she did not practice the religion of Judaism. You can have any number of views about religion or any other topic and be ethnically Jewish. The same is not true of the term Muslim. Not all Arabs are Muslim and most Muslims are not Arab. Islam is strictly a religion, it is not an ethnicity.

    Second of all: The origin of most of the hatred. In the United States, most of the hatred was either created as a result of or made manifest because of the Attacks on September 11, 2001. What made matters worse for Muslims was when news cameras saw Muslims celebrating in the Palestinian Territories and other predominantly Muslim parts of the world. I know of know parallel even in European history with Jewish people terrorizing innocent Germans or Austrians.

    My personal view of religion in general is that it is a collection of ideas and nothing more. Ideas may be good, bad or indifferent. They may be true, false or a mere opinion. In a free society people choose the ideas that they believe and should not be shocked if people judge them based upon those ideas. Islam has the distinction of having ideas not just about prayer, the nature of a god, how food animals should be killed and how women should dress but also about politics. If one cannot judge a person based upon the ideas that they hold in a free society you are forcing people to ignore a great deal of important information about that person.

  3. Because basically what you just did was show me how the German people allowed what happened to the Jews to happen.

    Well, basically the Jews never attacked the German Reichstag nor did they blow up any German government buildings, nor did their radical leadership threaten to destroy German society, nor did their terrorist wings use suicide bombers to kill German citizens, so the parallel isn’t quite, well, parallel.

    That doesn’t mean I agree that American Muslims should be targeted in the way this jock suggests in his hoax. But it is disingenuous to suggest that hatred of Islamofascists is in any way similar to hatred of Jews.

  4. But it is disingenuous to suggest that hatred of Islamofascists is in any way similar to hatred of Jews.

    It’s also disingenuous to conflate Muslims with “Islamofascists.” Holy fuck, this is supposedly a libertarian site?

  5. Some Muslim terrorists did blow up the WTC and attack us.

    Just as some good ole white boys spread havoc across several states culminating in the bombing of the Federal Building in OKC. Do the same people who favour tattooing Moslems think it’s a good idea to do the same to the entire group of people that the Order, Aryan Nations and Timothy McVeigh belonged to?

    The Jewish people were targeted and scapegoated, that is a huge difference, but the response from the ones who favour an isentifying mark is certainly Nazi in idea.

  6. He didn’t even have to mention the Nazis, because “marking” Jews has a long history in Christian nations – Edward I did it to the Jewish population of England while bleeding them dry. Once he had stolen all they had from them he summarily booted them out of England.

  7. Imposing an identifying mark did not originate with the Nazis. In the Middle Ages, Jews in many European countries were forced to wear distinctive hats or other symbols to distinguish them from the Christian population. At that time, they were not perceived as a separate ethnicty, but as a separate religious community. One can see the Nazi genocide as the culmination of centuries of European anti-Semitism.

  8. Iron, whose conflating? It is fairly apparent that the hatred of islamofascists has already been conflated in the radio show callers own mind. I was merely reiterating that.

    Did you miss this or did you deliberately ignore it:

    That doesn’t mean I agree that American Muslims should be targeted……

    And no, this doesn’t seem to be much of a libertarian site, at least not in the comment sections.

  9. I am firmly convinced that all religions are inherently superstitious and somewhat intolerant. I am equally convinced that people have the right to believe what they like as long as no attempt to impose their views on others is made. Legally singling out a group for their religious views is immoral, un-american, un-libertarian and just plain evil. Arguments to the contrary are likely to be met with deaf ears here.

  10. Why can’t Muslims and Jews juat get along like good Christians?

  11. While there were indeed some Muslims who celebrated on 9/11, IIRC there was a candlelight vigil in Tehran.

    I also recall that when the US invaded Afghanistan, the Iranian gov’t tried to get some anti-American protests going. A handful of people did show up, but most people were celebrating in the streets because that very same day the Iranian soccer team beat Iraq. Women were running through the streets without headscarves, and when the cops tried to arrest one woman she shouted “I hope the Americans drop bombs on you!”

    This showed me that most Iranians have their priorities in the right place: Soccer is far more important than hating a foreign country.

    The next time a President of the US tries to start a war, maybe the cable companies could cut off the Fox News feed and replace it with ESPN?

  12. J Sub D, I agree with most of what you are saying here but can you not think of a scenario where some new prophet, messiah, guru etc. actually encouraged his/her followers to kill people who “slandered” their faith where it would make sense to “Legally single out a group for their religious views.” By the way, I am not at all insinuating that there have ever been cases where Muslims have held up signs that read “Death Those Who Insult Islam.”

  13. “But it is disingenuous to suggest that hatred of Islamofascists is in any way similar to hatred of Jews.”

    It is similar in many ways and different in many others. It is, however, important to avoid the conflation between Muslims and “Islamofacists.” There was nothing in the piece that indicated people (the callers supporting the tatoo/badge) were avoiding the conflation. American Muslims have not shown a tendency towards Islamofacism, but some seem to feel the need for them to be identified with a visible symbol. I guess that is to facilitate lazy bigotry. Things were much easier when you could just use skin color…

  14. “By the way, I am not at all insinuating that there have ever been cases where Muslims have held up signs that read “Death Those Who Insult Islam.”

    Rational thinker…name the fallacy involved in this statement…

    Here’s a quick cheat sheet if you need one.

  15. Mainstreamman, you are awesome. If you ever feel like commenting at http://www.inactivist.org I’d enjoy reading what you have to say.

  16. Thoreau,

    Thanks for the invite.
    But alas I am trying to cut down on commenting. It is surprizingly addictive and I have more important things to do.

    I do check out the conversations at inactivist on occasion. A smart group.

  17. “Sound like Michelle Malkin has the topic for her next book.”

    If I did not know better, I would say Michelle Malkin was a liberal (in the modern sense of the word) who made it her life mission to make conservatives look bad.

  18. Mainstream Man, that last part was a snide comment, not to be taken seriously

  19. Thoreau,

    By the way.
    I am among those that find you the most consistently thoughtful of the h&r-er’s. You represent the libertarian species well. Not always true of others that claim the label.

  20. Rational,

    I got the snide part… but I was trying to look past it to the implications. Many will jump straight to lumping those with the signs to those with the head scarf etc…

  21. Mainstreamman, I think a great deal of the problem is that a great many Muslims have lived their entire lives in totalitarian societies and have known nothing else. There was a time in history when most Christians lived their entire lives in totalitarian societies and knew nothing else. This resulted in Witch burnings, the Spanish Inquisition etc.

  22. Hey, thoreau and MSM, if you need the rest of us to leave the room so you can have ‘alone’ time, please let us know.

  23. This post needs a headline. It’s not showing up on the RSS feed, and it’s too important to be ignored.

  24. IIRC there was a candlelight vigil in Tehran.

    Good Point Thowrow, there was an outpouring of grief worldwide, I was using the email circuit in those days and I remember sending around a particularly poignant photo of a Palestinian woman weeping in grief at the attacks on the WTC. I thought it was important to counter the photos of the Palestinians that were rejoicing in the streets.

    MM, Agreed. I may not have been clear enough. The callers were painting all Muslims with the broad brush of Islamofascism, that was apparent. However, in Nazi Germany there was no Jewofacism to hang your hat on. The Jews irritated the rulers by simply existing.

    Further, as was pointed out directly and indirectly in other comments, the coalesced anger currently on exhibit across America is an outgrowth of 9/11. Prior to that nobody much cared about the Islamis (misc skinheads and other racists notwithstanding).

    Rational Thinker: several gems, well done.

  25. Hey, thoreau and MSM, if you need the rest of us to leave the room so you can have ‘alone’ time, please let us know.

    Lol, took the words right out of my mouth. Remember kids, always read all the posts before responding.

  26. This post needs a headline. It’s not showing up on the RSS feed, and it’s too important to be ignored.

    Nor is the headline showing up on the website.

  27. Thaks Wine Commonsewer, and you have a GREAT website. I especially like your comments about the French MP’s wanting to teach kids about wine. I wonder if there will be as much of an uproar about that in the Islamic community as there was when the French government banned headscarves in school? I really would not have a problem teaching kids in our government schools about wine, I mean they might as well learn SOMETHING.

  28. And I’d just like to say that MainstreamMan is a smart chap. Indeed, I admire anybody who admires me, for somebody who admires me clearly has impeccable taste! 🙂

  29. “The next time a President of the US tries to start a war, maybe the cable companies could cut off the Fox News feed and replace it with ESPN?”

    When are we Antarcticans going to be invited to join FIFA? The last exciting thing to happen here was when Dennis Prager cam down to lecture us about what book we should take the oath of office on.

  30. IIRC the Nazis did not invent a “Judeofascism”, but they did suggest that almost all the leaders of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia were partly or wholky from Jewish backgrounds (Lenin, Trotsky et. al).

  31. Stupidity is a fundamental human right. I think all religions, including Islam, should be covered under the Stupidity Blanket and that tattoos should always be optional.

    With that in mind I’m off to consult my Feng Shui master about Thoreau and Mainstreamman’s wedding gift.

  32. The most distressing part of the article was this:

    “A Gallup poll this summer of more than 1,000 Americans showed that 39 percent were in favor of requiring Muslims in the United States, including American citizens, to carry special identification.”

    Of course, just because a lot of voters support something doesn’t mean it’s going to happen (see affirmative action, immigration). And the 61% might object if Congress tried to pull something like this.

    Still, it shows that those radio callers weren’t simply a self-selected, unrepresentative sample.

  33. You just have to love a nation in the sway of some ancient Middle Eastern voodoo bullshit.

    God bless America.

  34. I’m sure a lot of the listeners/callers were in on the schtick, as was the host. The only ones not in on the joke, apparently, were the good folks at Reuters…

  35. I suspect that a bill for tattooing the entire group of people that the Order, Aryan Nations and Timothy McVeigh belonged to would pass easily.

  36. Thanks Rational Thinker, I appreciate your comments and the visits to the website.

    Godfrey, let me know what you got for them (that IS really funny) don’t want duplicates.

  37. “I suspect that a bill for tattooing the entire group of people that the Order, Aryan Nations and Timothy McVeigh belonged to would pass easily.”

    Extreme right wing Christians? Right wingers? White people? Where would they draw the line when they start tattooing?

    Good thing I’m an Episcopalian (Hey, I love cassarole lunches!).

  38. Sort of reminds me of the comments on this article.

  39. Islam is strictly a religion, it is not an ethnicity.

    Many Americans don’t make such careful distinctions. Anybody who looks Middle Eastern, especially if they dress in funny clothes like a head scarf or a turban, is suspect.

  40. Yeah, ask a Sikh what it’s been like since 9/11.

  41. You know, I just got done reading Mark Steyn’s America Alone.

    What I’ve learned about European appeasment sickens me. The equivalent of the DMV in England no longer flys the Eglish flag. They’ve reconstructed the prisons so they don’t face Mecca. One of the Scandinavian countries has been trying to shut down right wing websites critical of Islam.

    After the cartoon controversy Kofi Annan stated that some nations were still adjusting to their Muslim populations (Steyn makes the point when his ancestors immigrated they had to adjust to the host country not the other way around). After London papers didn’t reprint the cartoons the foreign minister praised their “restraint”.

    Its easy to overlook how signifigant this is. Europe has beasically given up freedom of speech. This precious right that millions have died for has been given up to a bunch of suicidal, fundamentalist rabble.

    I don’t agree with tatooing Muslims, but we might need some right wing crazies and Dennis Pragers to balance out all the masochistic liberals who no longer believe in the ideas of the enlightenment.

  42. Grand, here in Antarctica, the Antarctic taxpayers have to foot the bill for special signs printed in Arabic that tell all the rich Saudi tourists which way Mecca is. That can get kind of confusing down here.

  43. Grand, America is only three steps behind Europe….

    Anybody who looks Middle Eastern, especially if they dress in funny clothes like a head scarf or a turban, is suspect.

    And to avoid the perception of impropriety our security makes it a point to search blue haired old ladies and blond women traveling alone.

    Profiling is nasty business but Asian gymnasts are not blowing up planes, buses, buildings, and night clubs in Tel Aviv. How to best handle that reality is an important question but I can assure the US is not handling security matters in any kind of effective or constitutional manner.

  44. About the airport incident — better safe than sorry. Maybe those guys were innocent imams and maybe they weren’t.


  45. Profiling is nasty business but Asian gymnasts are not blowing up planes, buses, buildings, and night clubs in Tel Aviv. How to best handle that reality is an important question but I can assure the US is not handling security matters in any kind of effective or constitutional manner.

    Security is not what concerns me. We can take a terrorist attack every now and then.

    If western civillization falls it’ll be because of demographics and not demanding immigrants assimilate not because they kill us all. Europe has already surrendered free speech and Muslims make up 30% of French under 20. It doesn’t look much better for the rest of the continent. By 2050, Yemen will have a bigger population than Russia.

    In America there are no honor killings. I haven’t seen Muslims marching with signs saying “slay those who insult Islam” like they were in England.

    Some say its because American Muslims are better adjusted. But Steyn makes the point that if you jumped on someone’s car hood in Texas like they’ve been doing in France you’d get your head blown off. It wouldn’t be a smart move in Vermont either.

    America isn’t tough enough for my taste (I would’ve like to see the president stand by Belguim during cartoongate, etc) but we’re not Europe either.

  46. America isn’t tough enough for my taste (I would’ve like to see the president stand by Belguim during cartoongate, etc) but we’re not Europe either.

    Make that Denmark.

  47. I suspect that a bill for tattooing the entire group of people that the Order, Aryan Nations and Timothy McVeigh belonged to would pass easily.

    Why do you need a bill? Trailer trash usually tattoos itself voluntarily.

  48. While we’re at it, can we throw the Jew down the well?

  49. Do the same people who favour tattooing Moslems think it’s a good idea to do the same to the entire group of people that the Order, Aryan Nations and Timothy McVeigh belonged to?

    If the deal is that they have an image of a sphincter tattooed in the middle of their foreheads, I’m for it. Otherwise, never mind.

    Perhaps we could just opt for an annual running of the muslims?

  50. I know — why not have a “documentary filmmaker” invite himself into the homes of American Muslims, and then show a movie mocking and insulting them?

    No, that would be too cruel.

  51. Some say its because American Muslims are better adjusted. But Steyn makes the point that if you jumped on someone’s car hood in Texas like they’ve been doing in France you’d get your head blown off. It wouldn’t be a smart move in Vermont either.

    Are you honestly promoting that as the single most important difference between France and the US w/ regard to their respective Muslim populations? You don’t think there are more significant social, economic, or demographic differences that might account for the fact that young American Muslims aren’t rioting in the streets?

    I mean, yes, Steyn is technically correct that Americans would likely react more violently, but it’s not as if that’s the only thing keeping American Muslims in check, or some such nonsense.

  52. You just can’t trust Muslims. They have no respect for our culture. Why, a couple weeks ago I saw this movie about a guy from Kazakhstan who came to the US and tried to bring a prostitute to dinner, and talked about how the Jews were behind 9/11!

    Worst of all, he had the audacity to mock our national anthem!

  53. thoreau: I saw that too. I think it was called “Casino Royal” or something.

  54. Are you honestly promoting that as the single most important difference between France and the US w/ regard to their respective Muslim populations? You don’t think there are more significant social, economic, or demographic differences that might account for the fact that young American Muslims aren’t rioting in the streets?

    I mean, yes, Steyn is technically correct that Americans would likely react more violently, but it’s not as if that’s the only thing keeping American Muslims in check, or some such nonsense.

    Yes, I think the odds of you fighting back has a big impact on if you get hit or not.

    And its not just physical violence. Its an entire cultural attitude, that doesn’t treat every third world pathology with respect.

  55. “I especially like your comments about the French MP’s wanting to teach kids about wine. I wonder if there will be as much of an uproar about that in the Islamic community as there was when the French government banned headscarves in school? I really would not have a problem teaching kids in our government schools about wine, I mean they might as well learn SOMETHING.”

    Excellent! It would be great if the Feds got the course materials, translated them into English, and forced them down the throats of every school board in the dry counties of the South and Midwest. It’s about time that those unassimilated, un-American, freedom-haters got with the program.

  56. “Its an entire cultural attitude, that doesn’t treat every third world pathology with respect.”

    Indeed. For me, it comes down to whether a belief system respects the freedom of the individual to do as they wish with their own means as long as they don’t harm another person or their property. In most of the rest of the world, the overriding belief is against that.

    Unfortunately, within our own country there are plenty of red-blooded, flag-waving Americans across the political landscape that agree that society can squash the individual.

    Once you recognize that and confront them with the same vigorous “cultural attitude” as you muster against “unassimilated foreigners”, I’m on board. Until then, you are just a hostile hypocrite who only alienates Muslims who would rather not identify with the Islamists and offers the Islamist the chance to say, “See, the West will never accept you.” I categorize such people as “Osama’s little helpers.”

  57. You cannot trust what Mark Steyn what says about Europe.

  58. “Legally single out a group for their religious views.”

    I’m wondering if the Census will try to establish that. But for egalitarian reasons, natch.

  59. Who the hell listens to AM radio except during Redskins games (and probably at this point in the season not even then) in the DC area in the first place?

  60. Indeed. For me, it comes down to whether a belief system respects the freedom of the individual to do as they wish with their own means as long as they don’t harm another person or their property. In most of the rest of the world, the overriding belief is against that.

    Unfortunately, within our own country there are plenty of red-blooded, flag-waving Americans across the political landscape that agree that society can squash the individual.

    Once you recognize that and confront them with the same vigorous “cultural attitude” as you muster against “unassimilated foreigners”, I’m on board. Until then, you are just a hostile hypocrite who only alienates Muslims who would rather not identify with the Islamists and offers the Islamist the chance to say, “See, the West will never accept you.” I categorize such people as “Osama’s little helpers.”

    Everything in degrees, my angry friend.

    I don’t attack drug warriors or evangelicals with the same “vigorous ‘cultural attitude'” because simply, they’re not as bad.

    In your world, if I started treating traffic cops with the same hatred I have for suicide bombers who that make me more intellectually consistent?

  61. Well, basically the Jews never attacked the German Reichstag nor did they blow up any German government buildings, nor did their radical leadership threaten to destroy German society, nor did their terrorist wings use suicide bombers to kill German citizens, so the parallel isn’t quite, well, parallel.

    But if some Jews *had* done any of those things, I guess forcing them all to wear yellow stars (and then deporting them to camps in the East) would have been OK? And since some Japanese *did* bomb Pearl Harbor in a sneak attack, I guess it was OK to round up all the Japanese on the West Coast and ship them off to camps in the interior.

  62. What the response to Jerry Klein’s little gag really suggests is that the people who call into radio talk shows have no lives and are filled with bile. They love to fantasize about “getting” people. In their own lives they never get to tell anyone what to do. In their fantasies they kill anyone who doesn’t “look right.” Sort of like a Dirty Harry movie of the mind.

    Oh, and I also thought that Jerry’s little gag was too Borat for words. Encouraging people to act like assholes and then pretending to be shocked when they do so is way too easy and way too cute.

  63. If only Americans could find the love like The Wine Commonsewer/Rational Thinker, and MSM and Thoreau, we’d all be better off.

    Do you think it will be a double wedding?

  64. There is a very intelligent discussion on the larger topic brewing at 3quarksdaily

    http://3quarksdaily.blogs.com/3quarksdaily/2006/12/a_case_of_the_m.html#comments

    Anti-semitism writ large is examined in a historical context.

  65. And here is an example of the people that some were advocating should be tatooed…

    http://www.arabwomanprogressivevoice.blogspot.com

  66. “Well, basically the Jews never attacked the German Reichstag nor did they blow up any German government buildings, nor did their radical leadership threaten to destroy German society, nor did their terrorist wings use suicide bombers to kill German citizens, so the parallel isn’t quite, well, parallel.”

    Trying to salve your conscience by insisting there is a disction is indefensible. The number of Jews who were involved in with violence committed by the German Communist Party, which did in fact commit violent acts, is roughly similar to the number of Muslims involved in terrorist attacks against the United States – that is, some number well below 1/100th of 1% of the members of those groups living in those countries at the time.

    There is no excuse for thinking about Muslims the way the Nazis thought about Jews, but there will always be excusers.

    Oh, no, it couldn’t happen here. Ergo, when we do it, it’s different. Nonsense.

  67. Joe, even if that is true, they were doing so as COMMUNISTS, not as Jews. Communism is a political philosophy, not a religion. In fact, I recall a couple of famous Communists who said that religion was “The Opiate of the Masses” or some such. That is one of the few things Marx was right about.

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