Some fashion advice for Arab-Americans traveling by plane: leave the Arabic-slogan t-shirts at home.
Unless you want to become the plaintiff in an ACLU lawsuit. Consider this recently filed case:
The American Civil Liberties Union and New York Civil Liberties Union today filed a federal civil rights lawsuit charging that a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) official and JetBlue Airways illegally discriminated against an American resident based solely on the Arabic message on his t-shirt and his ethnicity.
JetBlue and the TSA official, identified as “Inspector Harris,” would not let Raed Jarrar board his flight at John F. Kennedy Airport until he agreed to cover his t-shirt, which read “We Will Not Be Silent” in English and Arabic script.
According to the complaint, Harris told Jarrar that it is impermissible to wear an Arabic shirt to an airport and equated it to a “person wearing a t-shirt at a bank stating, ‘I am a robber.’”
Oy. Gotta love those enlightened TSA officials. Should Jarrar have worn a burqa instead?
Okay, seriously — if Raed Jarrar were a terrorist intent on wreaking havoc, would he really have worn such a t-shirt on to an airplane? Isn’t that just a recipe for extra-special scrutiny from the federal air marshal?
(On the other hand, perhaps one could argue, under a “reverse psychology” rubric, that a terrorist might don such a t-shirt because everyone would think: “Only the most dumb-ass terrorist would call attention to himself with his outfit!”)
ACLU Sues TSA Official, JetBlue for Discriminating Against Passenger Wearing Arabic T-Shirt [American Civil Liberties Union]
“We Will Not Be Silent” [ACLU (lawsuit homepage)]
The Airline Screening Playset: Hours of Fun! [Concurring Opinions]
After 5 Years In U.S., Terrorist Cell Too Complacent To Carry Out Attack [The Onion]