Some Suspicion of Arabic-Speaking Guys

Is it racial profiling when a cop takes an interest in a blonde white kid in a herringbone sports jacket, khakis and penny loafers wandering on Passaic Street in Trenton at 10 p.m.?

The Trentonian
4 March 2002

By Tom Baldwin

The pliant among us, especially those possessing furrowed brows and fogged vision, might say so. 

Answer this, my soft-palmed friend.

Should I be nervous about dark-featured Arabic-speaking guys in their 20's or 30's?

Who assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat for signing a U.S.-brokered Mideast peace?

Who assassinated the American ambassador to Lebanon and left his riddled body on a beach?

Who shot Bobby Kennedy behind the ear?

Who blew up the American Embassy in Beirut?

Who launched the deadliest attack on the U.S. Marine Corps, killing and wounding hundreds of peacekeepers on a Sunday morning at Beirut Airport?

Who machine-gunned tourists amid the timeless artwork of Upper Egypt?

Who hijacked airliners over the eastern Mediterranean, not once but numerous times?

Who murdered Olympians at Munich? 

Who knocked the 747 jetliner full of passengers out of the Scottish sky and onto the heathers around Lockerbie?

Who blew up the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es-Salaam?

Who kidnapped journalist Terry Anderson, and then kidnapped other agents of goodwill, such as educators, diplomats, clergy and aid workers?

Who hijacked U.S. jetliners on that sun-drenched morning last September and flew them full of innocent people into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and into a Pennsylvania hillside?

Answer to all of the above: Arabic-speaking guys in their 20's and 30's.


I hate to call it racial profiling. But then before my daughter dates a guy, I warn her to check and make certain he sports nice tattoos.

The same is true of Arabic-speaking guys in their 20's and 30's. Too many wear unattractive tattoos, and those things don't just wash off.

The Arabic language contains phrases that go beyond beauty.

To say a simple "Good morning" translates to "It's a morning of the flowers." 

To say "hello" is a hospitable, "Welcome to my tent."

No Arabic speaker mentions upcoming events, even the setting of the sun, without saying, "If God wills it."

This is a culture that gave us algebra, metallurgy, alchemy, algorithms, distillation processes, navigation, wine, global exploration, medicines, wind-powered travel, commerce as we know it, fine glass, knotted-- not woven -- carpets of high art, guiding-light poets such as Kahlil Gibran, the haunting voice of singer Fairooz, the ode in literature and the star-quality acting of Omar Sharif.

Arab militants complain that the West is smothering their culture with fast food, an insensitive media, non-Islamic values and long Cadillacs.

That's horsewhiskers.

Western culture is like cable TV. Some of it is worthwhile. Some of it is dumb and empty. 

The West has smothered nothing. The Arabs have picked and chosen.

Whatever Western-inspired olive leaf might bloom in their grove is the one that they alone selected.

Which is why I am justifiably suspicious of Arabic-speaking guys in their 20's and 30's.

"Fee mush-kedda?"

English translation: "You got a problem?" 



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