Illegal to Have a Middle-Eastern Name?

Daily Pundit: Homeland Insecurity

Debbie Schlussel has the facts about a truck-driving school in Missouri where about 300 people who took the licensing test from May 2004 to December 2005 “had names that appeared to be Middle Eastern in origin.” That’s about 60% of the total number of people tested at the school.

Fortunately, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (a fancy name for a group that hasn’t done much) raided the school, and the Missouri Highway Patrol has blocked the school from testing new students or issuing further licenses. Well, it’s about time. What took so long?

The so-called “War On Terror” seems to be about War On People With Middle-Eastern Names. All the wingers are getting whipped into a frenzy because dark-skinned people are learning to drive trucks. I guess the fear is that soon they’ll be dating the daughters of Republicans…

43 thoughts on “Illegal to Have a Middle-Eastern Name?

  1. So in your worldview, this would not give you one moment’s pause? You would have no response other than “Godspeed!” to the staggeringly-out-of-proportion predominance of “Middle-Eastern sounding names” of those that developed a sudden interest in being licensed to transport hazardous materials?
    “Nothing to see here…move along!!”…that would be your response?

  2. I think that Ms. Schlussel should be thankful that we aren’t fighting terrorists with German sounding names.

  3. I have it on good information that 60% of all women auditioning for parts in porn are named “Debbie” – (SIXTY PERCENT!)

  4. I hate to say it, but tomaig is right. Harassing individuals because of their middle-eastern names (or looks or accents) is certainly wrong. But investigating unusual behavioral patterns? I don’t think so.
    Now, I’m not saying the FBI was right in this case. I don’t have the first clue about whether the attendance figures were disproportionate or not. Whether to other driving schools or to similar technical training schools. I don’t know what qualified as a “mid-east name”. I don’t know that suspending the school was necessary.
    But as a matter of principle, i don’t have a problem with such profiling, if used as a launching pad for further investigation, and not with the assumption of criminality.

  5. I think Ms Schlussel is spot-on; in fact, we should also do something about those responsible for the Second-worst terror attack on American Soil.
    I suggest we round up all Anglo-Saxon conservative religious fundamentalists, as well as white men with Irish surnames, and detain them indefinitely. Let’s start with Mr O’Reilly.

  6. Congrats, STF! You lured two of the worst Republican Racist LGF Glue-Huffing Trolls over to your site. Thanks for taking ’em off our hands!
    Meanwhile, I’d like to ask Ptomaine why he thinks only white people named “Smith” should drive trucks — and whether or not keeping brown people from driving trucks is more effective than, say —

  7. My guess is that these were Sikhs. Sikhs have created a niche for themselves in the truck driving industry. And since Sikhs have a long-standing emnity towards Muslims, going after truck driving schools for teaching Sikhs as a method of finding Muslims terrorists would be beyond idiotic. You would want to have the Sikhs on your side.

  8. “My guess is that these were Sikhs. Sikhs have created a niche for themselves in the truck driving industry. ”
    That was going to be my question. Is this actually unusual, or on par with investigating a gas station chain for its disproportionately Pakistani ownership?

  9. Missouri can issue commercial driver’s licenses to noncitizens residing in the state if they provide proof of identity, training and legal residence in the United States, according to the Department of Revenue Web site.

    This is from the actual article Ms. Schlussel references. It just may be that there’s a lot of people who want to be truck drivers. Also, the article says that the people in question were just taking the test to qualify, and had proof of training elsewhere. If you trained at another facility, and it didn’t offer the test, then you would have to take the test elsewhere. Maybe it’s cheaper for people to train elsewhere and then go do the test (or cheaper at that particular school). Or maybe very few of the schools also include the certification. I will admit that I do not know a lot about getting a CDL license, but I don’t see how calling in the FBI is appropriate.

  10. It seems to me that there shouldn’t have been a single arabic named person taking this class who wasn’t already investigated and/or watched by the Department of Fatherland Security and the FBI?
    Really if it’s come to this that any time someone with a weird name is going to be investigated then maybe they should just write a law that says anyone who is a practicing muslim cannot hold such a job as that which required the license?
    Better yet, just write a law that says that if you want to obtain the license you have to draw a cartoon picture of Muhammad sucking off a camel followed by a declaration that Jews are great people and that Jesus is your lord, followed by taking a shot of whisky and eating a few slices of bacon? I doubt any Muslim could fake his way through that.

  11. tomaig:
    Original article doesn’t indicate what percentage of trainees applied for hazmat conveyance certificates.
    You’re assuming facts not-in-evidence.

  12. Space,
    Unfortunately Tomaig is a notorious racist who has posted imfamous comments on Hesiod’s now defunct blog and on Atrios’ Eschaton blog.
    By “racist” I’m not speaking of opinions with which I disagree, but comments on the order of “if you have to kill a few innocent Mohammedans to kill the Evil Doers, well, so be it” (that’s a paraphrase). His modus operandi is on the order of: Better 1000 innocent Guantanamo detainees than one guilty one slipping through the net. Don’t be fooled by his seemingly moderate posting on this board.
    As for this particular topic, is 60% an unusually high percentage? Well don’t you think it would depend on the demography of the surrounding towns? If, say, the Islamic population in a 50-mile radius of that driving school is 50%-70% of the total, then I’d say that that percentage is not statistically significant. If, however, people of Islamic background make up 10%-20% then, yes, that would warrant an investigation. And by investigation I’m not talking about breaking down people’s doors at 2:00 am in the morning.
    I’ve lived in NYC all my 51 years and was on the street in downtown Manhattan when the North Tower came down (a sight forever burned in my memory), but for the life of me I just can’t fathom this girly fear of attack exhibited by many small-town, red state, red neck, stump-jumping, bible-thumping, book-burning hicks. As if Al-Qaeda would waste their time on these bullshit, one-horse little towns.

  13. Wow…to follow the logic of tomaig, I guess we should also deny them driver’s licenses, since they could put a bomb in the trunk of a Ford Escort. Come to think of it, they could place C-4 in a bike bag, too, so no Brown-skinned folks should be allowed to ride bikes, either.
    Hey, and those backpacks they make nowadays…could fit a HUGE explosive in those. Better outlaw backpack and purse sales to anyone with an “El-” or “Al-” in their moniker.
    Lastly–where does Ms. Schlussel get off determining what’s a ME name and what isnt? Does India count as ME? Does Pakistan? Can she tell the diff?

  14. Good! Someone else recognizes tomaig!
    He is a casual nuisance on any number of “lefty” sites. Easy pickings, though. Good for practice.

  15. A) This assumes that terrorists would train to drive trucks here in the USA. Why the fuck would they do this? You don’t need a fucking CDL to drive a truck bomb!!! What, they’re worried about getting a ticket?
    B) The FBI is so clueless about anything more exotic than white bread that I would never trust them to culturally categorize anything.

  16. DICK CHENEY GOT DRUNK AND SHOT A 78 YEAR OLD MAN IN THE FACE. Does anything else really need to be said about this administration?

    And I’m not sorry for the double posting because I don’t think you can possibly say this enough times. It should be said at the start and end of each and every news broadcast for the next 6 months.

  18. Total BS, the irregularities had to do with the possibility of fraud within the school program. It’s racism to bring up the ethnicity of any of the students. They’re not the ones being investigated except as participants in a school based fraud. The schools mgmt. doesn’t have middle eastern sounding names.
    Just mindless PC. The Bizarro world version of Bush.

  19. They go nuts over people daring to have a ‘funny sounding’ name, but are just fine with an arab foreign concern running a major port. News item:
    “The Bush administration dismissed the security concerns of local officials yesterday and restated its approval of a deal that will give a company based in Dubai a major role in operating ports in and around New York City…”

  20. Yes. Six of our largest ports (NY, NJ, Philly, Miami, NOLA, etc) are now going to be run by a company owned by the royal family of the United Arab Emirates, aka one of three countries to recognize the Taliban, the country whose banking system was used by the 9/11 terrorists, the country which ports traffic illegal Nuclear proliferation materials, and of course, the country that two of the 9/11 hijackers called home.
    Yup. Terrorists. Get a job there and take a boat to the US for free! bring all the bombs you want for we only check 5% of the cargo anyway! hell, maybe you can get hired as the guy who decides which cargo to check!
    Go team Bush!

  21. …well if you are going after all those new truck drivers, you had better head out to the west cost and nab the majority of our cab drivers…again, middle eastern and indian folks have become our chaffeurs of choice for those who hail a cab…oh, and it’s not the safest job around as evidenced by these…
    the fact is i think the bad guys are going to just block our major freeways in like 20 metropolitan areas and really bring our country to a standstill !! did you notice that Forbes on-line has helped them out by publishing a list of the worst commutes in america – ha ha ha

  22. I think we should be watching the 7-11 and Dunkin’ Donuts franchises. Someday we’re going to wake up and find anthrax in our crullers and slurpees.
    I’ve also noticed a disproportionate number of Republican voters (and leaders) arrested for DUI. When have we ever had a President AND a Vice-President who had drinking problems? Cheney’s had TWO DUIs and had them at a time when you didn’t get busted for a few beers, but only if you were totally shit-faced, crap-you-pants loaded. A lot more people are being killed by drunk GOP voters than by terrorists in the US. I say “round ’em up and show ’em a little tough love, Abu Ghraib-style!”

  23. Let’s carry these thoughts to fruition. First, we deny middle easterners legal the right to be employed as truck drivers, because they might blow something up. So, if they’re programmers, they might hack into a dam and flood a community, if they work at mcdonalds, they might poison the fries. Let’s face it, there’s no occupation that a middle easterner could have that would not be a ‘risk’.

    So, now we have a bunch of middle easterners with way too much spare time and we all know that idle minds are a devils playground, so we must enter them in camps where we can watch them and make sure they not going to ‘git us’.

    These camps can be pricy, do to the fact that the mongrels breed like rabbits, so we must quietly ‘eliminate’ them. After the ensuing war, and subsequent devastation of america, the children of these middle easterners are given the entire west coast (by the un) causing a massive refugee crisis.

    Sounds like a winning plan to me, I mean the destruction of the US and it’s subsequent break up are lofty goals, but you guys are off to a good start.

  24. And let’s not forget about all those Indian motel managers. Granted India is a democracy and they’ve never been considered enemy material and I don’t recall any acts of terrorism connected to them vis-a-vis the West (but I bet they did and were just sneaky about it). But they are the sworn enemies of our good friend Pakistan which I know is a military dictatorship and has a few Muslims among its populace and has probably been sheltering Osama Bin Laden on and off since 9/11. But Mr. Musharef is our friend (past friends: Augusto Pinochet, Trujillo, Batista, Noriega, Saddam Hussein among many) and any enemy of our friend is by extension our enemy. Call the CIA and Motel 6! Quick! I just love finding a new enemy.

  25. It’s so cute to see Auggy humping tomiag’s leg like that. I’m glad I don’t have to clean it up.

  26. I have four very good Arab friends, and I play cards with them every weekend, and from observing my friends, I could easily explain why all of these Arabs went to that school.
    1) St. Louis is only a few miles away. There are several thousand Arabs in St. Louis.
    2) Arabs have this recommendation thing. When they like a vendor, or know a vendor, they recommend the vendor to everyone they know, especially if a fellow Arab was the vendor, or worked for the vendor.
    In fact, a lot of Arabs would ask their friends before they open the yellow pages.

  27. Names are something of a poor filter, but what do you suggest? You might recall that the 9/11 terrorists took flight training here in the US. A little vigilance then might have made a difference.
    Go ahead though – simply oppose everything, and don’t offer any actual solutions.

  28. James,
    Let me guess, you live in Small Town, USA, right? I’m not bashing America’s innumerable hamlets per se, but my observations lead me to believe that most right wingers live in these back water towns.
    Oh, and James, as an aside, I invite you to visit NYC and travel the subways. Take the “R” train from Forest Hills (where I live) to Manhattan. Bask in the glory of all those gorgeous Asian women that get on the train at the Grand Avenue and Elmhurst Avenue stations. Nope, no white bread here.
    I remember a line from an old Carly Simon song (“Haven’t Got Time for the Pain”): Suffering was the only thing made me feel I was alive.
    For you folks just substitute the word “fear” for “suffering” and I’m sure you’ll make it through the night.
    Metro99 (Big City Elitist)

  29. Two questions:
    If we start restricting people’s movements because they have middle-eastern sounding names (by this I guess Debbie means “Arabic” or “Muslim” names?), wouldn’t the terrorists be smart enough to get, oh I don’t know, Turkish or Jewish or Greek or even Italian names on their fake IDs to get around these restrictions?
    If the terrorists are not smart enough to do this, why the heck are we so afraid of them?

  30. does anyone realize how trivial for a citizen to legally change his name in this country? A birth certificate, about $100 and maybe 6-8 weeks.
    Achmed Hussein al-Halabi becomes Herbert Walker Bush in no time flat.

  31. You might recall that the 9/11 terrorists took flight training here in the US. A little vigilance then might have made a difference.

    The school’s owners were vigilant; they called the FBI and told them they had some weird students who only wanted to learn to fly, not to land.

    And the FBI was vigilant — they took the report and passed it along to Washington DC, where it was promptly ignored.

    Here’s an idea: maybe next time a school reports suspicious behavior by some of its students, the government pays a little fucking attention instead of running around after the barn has been blown up harrassing anyone with an Arab name.

  32. baric: It doesn’t even take that. I changed my name by filling out a paper at the DMV to get a new ID card with the name I wanted, then took the new ID to the Social Security office and they changed my name there, no questions asked at either office.

  33. I think there is a terror connection here. From what I read the Sikh’s are the truck drivers in India and are known for terrorizing the roads there.

  34. There’s only one fair solution–fair to all u.s. citizens, and it would avoid the white versus brown versus purple issue: We all just have to wear leg bracelets all the time, that track and log our movements, and record everything we say and do, so that when anything bad happens, the NSA just has to start tracing backward to see what everyone was doing, what everyone was saying, thinking etc.
    If you’re not doing anything wrong, you don’t have anything to worry about and should be willing to go along with this simple program that will keep us all safe, yet isolate, and thwart the terrorists.
    And if you are opposed to this program it just shows that you either ARE a terrorist, or you SUPPORT them, or you are a DUM-AST-LIBRAL.
    Either that, or we could all just wake up and realize that 911 didn’t change our world at all. It hurt us, sure, but what changed our world was our response to it. It’s like this: If you are an avid motorcyclist, and get hit in the teeth once by a JUNE BUG, would you decide that all motorcycles should have JUNE BUG screens, and mount a national program to kill all JUNE BUGS, and change the national speed limit to prevent that from ever happening again, etc. etc. Maybe kill all insects, birds, etc. Or would you maybe decide that you are so far above the stupid June bugs that you should just shake your head, spit out the bad taste, have a stick of gum, and ride on.
    I say, “Ride on!”

  35. ‘I think there is a terror connection here. From what I read the Sikh’s are the truck drivers in India and are known for terrorizing the roads there.’
    dilbert: the KKK reader may not be the most accurate source of information on this stuff.
    Us Sikhs (and Punjabis in general) happen to love trucks, motorcycles, and anything else with wheels that makes lots of noise and can move pretty fast.
    Anyone ever stop to ask if maybe the school in MO taught in multiple languages? I’ve got family who go to trucking schools that teach in Punjabi.

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