Footnotes of an America United

September 26, 2001

Airport officials in Oakland, California are upset that 1,000 badges that will get you into secure areas in the Oakland International Airport are missing. That’s 10 percent of the 10,000 such badges that exist.

The Port of Oakland President Phil Tagami said this, “bothers me deeply.” And Tagami confirmed that the Federal Aviation Administration has criticized that airport for violating its rule that no more than 5 percent of badges be missing.

Speaking of port officials, Italian officials checked the contents of a shipping container on the dock in the southern Italian town of Gioia Tauro. When they opened it, out came a well-dressed and well-groomed 43-year-old Egyptian man named Rizik Amid Farid. He had a laptop computer, two mobile phones, a Canadian passport, and airport security passes for Canada, Thailand and Egypt. He also had a certificate that said he’s an aircraft mechanic.

His container had been outfitted with a bed, a makeshift toilet and supplies for a long journey. Investigators said Farid could not explain why he had a valid ticket from Montreal back to Egypt. They suspect they have foiled a terrorist hijacking, though Farid’s lawyer denies it.

More flag trouble on campus. Students at Central Michigan University in the town of Mount Pleasant were displaying patriotic posters and American flags from their dormitory. Earlier this month, a dormitory adviser ordered them to remove them by the end of the day, saying their display was, “offensive.” The group, FIRE, Foundation for Individual Rights and Education, has complained to college president Michael Reo and to the board of trustees, but has yet to receive a response.

And FIRE has also taken up the case of Professor Kenneth Hearson, who teaches politics at Orange Coast Community College in Costa Mesa, California. A week after the September 11th atrocities, he contended in a lecture that silence on crimes against Christians and Jews in the Middle East amounted to consent to terrorism. Several Muslim students claimed he’d called them terrorists. Other students said no, that he was just making a point about moral consistency. But the professor was suspended without a hearing.

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Schools: Central Michigan University Cases: Central Michigan University: Abridgement of Freedom to Display Patriotic Symbols