Civil Liberties

Very Animated Anti-Arab Animus


Alan Vanneman sends along this dispatch from The Wash Post, in which an ex-diplomat has been sent to jail for being, well, not very diplomatic:

A retired Foreign Service officer was sentenced yesterday to one year in prison for making threats against Arab American Institute President James Zogby and other employees there.

W. Patrick Syring, 50, who served two tours in Beirut during his 25-year State Department career, pleaded guilty to violating civil rights laws. The charges stem from messages he left at AAI in the midst of the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah.

"The only good Arab is a dead Arab," Syring said in a profanity-laden July 2006 voice-mail message delivered to AAI, which promotes Arab American participation in elections and policy issues.

After federal prosecutors in the District accused him of intimidating the workers based on their national origin, Syring sent an incendiary message to a television station where Zogby had been interviewed. In the March 2008 e-mail, Syring repeated some of the language from his phone call and accused Zogby of "promoting the interest of Hezbollah, Hamas and Arab terror."

Whole thing here.

While it's easy to see why the guy washed out of the diplomatic corps, it's not fully clear to me that he should be doing jail time for his out-of-bounds comments (at least as reported in the press). I like the idea of holding government officials to higher standards than the rest of us, but it's not clear to me that's in play here. He should (and I'm assuming he will) have a tough time finding work. What say you, Hit & Runners?

Alan Vanneman site here; always worth reading.