Saturday, July 31, 2004

Syrian Ambassador Gets Surreal

The story of the 14 Syrian "musicians" just got much more disturbing. Michelle Malkin links the Syrian Ambassador's letter to the Washington times and the follow-up by Annie Jacobson in Women's Wall Street. Ambassador Imad Moustapha wrote:

Your reporter failed to mention that the only "crimes" these professional musicians were accused of committing were going to the lavatory, eating McDonald's food and talking to one another. [But they were also traveling with expired visas, weren't they? -- JoC]

The fact that they have performed in the past six months in places such as the Kennedy Center, the Lincoln Center and the Juilliard School did not prevent Mrs. Jacobsen from saying, "[C]ouldn't 14 terrorists learn to play instruments?"

Annie Jacobson responds:
...I asked Dr. Moustapha why his letter suggested that these 14 Syrians played at the Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, and the Julliard [sic] School, when according to my research, that's not at all the case.

Dr. Moustapha said Nour Mehana and his back-up band had not played there, but that other Syrian musicians had. I told Dr. Moustapha that his letter to The Washington Times was at best misleading, and at worst, completely misrepresenting the facts. I added that I didn't consider doing so either diplomatic or fair.

So let me get this straight; when Moustapha says "they" in the second paragraph quoted above, he doesn't mean the same musicians as in the first paragraph, but some completely different set of Syrian musicians? That isn't just undiplomatic, it's insane. Who says things like that?

Oh, wait, I get it! He is suggesting that there is such unity among Syrians that what one does, they all do. So if some Syrian musicians played in Juilliard, then they all played in Juilliard. This must be that Eastern logic they told me about in High School. It's just our fragmented, individualistic Western culture that prevents us from understanding.

But wouldn't that imply that since some Syrians are terrorists, they all...? Uh, no, never mind, I won't go there. But it seems like something similar occurred to Ms. Jacobson. She continues:
Dr. Moustapha told me that I was a paranoid racist.

I asked Dr. Moustapha if, by suggesting that all Syrian musicians are innocent (not to mention talented) just because they are Syrian, wasn't that the same kind of gross generalization he'd accused me of?

Dr. Moustapha told me again that I was a paranoid person and that the men did nothing wrong.

I reminded him that it was the in-flight behavior of the men (which has now been corroborated by other passengers) which caused alarm, not their Syrian heritage.


He said a few more things that aren't fit to print.

I suggested to Dr. Moustapha that we focus on a diplomatic solution, that perhaps he himself could help to locate the 14 Syrian musicians in question so that they could share their side of the story. I waited for an answer, but instead, Dr. Moustapha hung up on me.
[Emphasis mine]

I'm sorry, but this has gone quite beyond misunderstanding. One of these people is flat-out lying. Since there are other corroborating stories to back up Ms. Jacobson, I'm betting it's Moustapha. And that is just not a good thing. If these fellows were innocent, it's hard to see why a trained diplomat should be acting so completely freakish.

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