On Thursday evening, a 40-year-old man — with dark, curly hair, olive skin and an exotic foreign accent — boarded a plane. It was a regional jet making a short, uneventful hop from Philadelphia to nearby Syracuse. ...
Had the crew or security members perhaps quickly googled this good-natured, bespectacled passenger before waylaying everyone for several hours, they might have learned that he — Guido Menzio — is a young but decorated Ivy League economist. And that he’s best known for his relatively technical work on search theory, which helped earn him a tenured associate professorship at the University of Pennsylvania as well as stints at Princeton and Stanford’s Hoover Institution.
They might even have discovered that last year he was awarded the prestigious Carlo Alberto Medal, given to the best Italian economist under 40. That’s right: He’s Italian, not Middle Eastern, or whatever heritage usually gets ethnically profiled on flights these days.
Menzio had been on the first leg of a connecting flight to Ontario, where he would give a talk at Queen’s University on a working paper he co-authored about menu costs and price dispersion. His nosy neighbor had spied him trying to work out some properties of the model of price-setting he was about to present. Perhaps she couldn’t differentiate between differential equations and Arabic.
Yes, that brilliant American passenger couldn't distinguish mathematics from Arabic. Not that it would have mattered if this man had been writing Arabic. So what? Not that it should have mattered if he'd been of Middle Eastern, rather than Italian, ancestry. What in the world has happened to us?
You can read the whole story here. But it's completely insane. Like Donald Trump's candidacy, it's a triumph of hysteria, xenophobia, and irrational fear over sanity, courage, and common sense.
Actual Islamic terrorists must be laughing their asses off. This is exactly what terrorism is designed to accomplish. It works best on cowards, because cowards overreact. And what better way to destroy America than to encourage America to destroy itself? (They must be overjoyed at the rise of Donald Trump.)
It's bad enough that we have to take our shoes off before boarding a plane, because one guy tried - unsuccessfully - to explode his shoes. And it was certainly disgusting that we were willing to torture prisoners of war because we were scared (or because the Bush Administration wanted to justify their invasion of Iraq, take your pick).
But this degree of hysteria is just ridiculous. Now an Italian economist can't even take a plane in America? Or anyone who speaks Arabic to a relative on a phone? Or any Muslim at all? (Or anyone who even looks Muslim?)
What has happened to the America I love?