In the midst of discussion on whether racial profiling was okay now in relation to the 11th's attacks, somebody offered this amusing ancedote. It's a nifty thing to think about.
Back during the days of frequent international airliner hijackings, I was seated on a flight from London to NYC next to an (evidently) Arab man in his twenties. As we were taxiing and taking off and so on, he kept checking his watch in a very obvious and somewhat unusual manner. Not as if he were wondering idly when we would get underway, but as if he were checking the timing of things.
I can tell you that I and the passnger on the other side of him started to exchange quizzical/nervous glances!
After a little while we started talking (a little nervously), and it emerged that he was in fact a student pilot from, IIRC, Saudi Arabia, who was en route to the US for further training, so he had been timing things like the turns and retraction of the landing gear and so on out of professional curiosity. We all had a laugh about it.
It was perfectly reasonable for us to be a little wary in that situation. In fact, he would have been wary also if he had seen someone else doing the same thing.
Note that this is not a case of someone getting nervous simply because a
Lebanese, Saudi Arabian, Iranian, or whomever was on the plane. That would be
//Dear Artemesia! Poetry's a snare:
//Bedlam has many Mansions: have a care:
//Your Muse diverts you, makes the Reader sad:
//You think your self inspir'd; He thinks you mad.
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