When one gets behind in blogging, one finds herself with too many stories and situations to comment upon in an effective manner. Therefore, I will point you to the big story of the past week and to a bit of relevant commentary.
By now, everyone knows that the corporation Dubai Ports World (DPW) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is planning to take over terminal management of six US ports from the British corporation Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company--a majority stock acquisition. The initial uproar from both sides of the political spectrum was telling and, like many others, my first reaction upon learning of this plan was something like, “oh, HELL no.” When President Bush came out and vehemently backed the deal and signaling that he would issue the very first veto of his presidency if Congress passes a bill to block the acquisition, most Republicans were in shock; it was the ‘WTF’ heard ‘round the Right. As it turns out, however, neither President Bush nor the relevant department heads even knew about the plan initially. The deal had been handled and approved by Department underlings. (More about delegation of authority in a later post--and less than one week later. I promise!)
But as more and more information has been revealed about the prospective deal, it’s been obvious that it’s not a black-and-white proposition. At first, the story was that DPW would take over the security of the ports. However, upon further inspection it was revealed that security would remain under the auspices of the US government—the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to be specific; the US Coast Guard, US Customs and the Transportation Security Administration to be even more specific. (The recently revealed deficiencies in at least a couple of agencies under the DHS bailiwick are relevant, but they are a side discussion here; the main point being that our security will not be ‘out-sourced’ as certain legislators asserted that they would be.)
Another pertinent fact is the significant role that the UAE has played in alliance with the United States in the Global War on Terror (GWOT) since September 11, 2001. Simply put, the UAE has been one of our nation’s staunchest Middle East allies in the GWOT, outside of Israel.
However, there are opposing facts of note: two of the 9/11 hijackers were UAE citizens and it is said that much Al Qaeda and other terrorist group funding flows through UAE banks and finds itself washed clean.
From that, third points come to mind: Richard Reid—the would-have-been Shoebomber--was a British citizen; many of the 9/11 hijackers plotted in Germany as well as in the US. Presumably, all of these terrorists sent their terror-plan funding through the aforementioned allies’ banking systems and through our own.
So what more could be said against the DPW takeover? It’s this: the UAE is a country governed by and composed of Arab Muslims. And that is the problem that most American observers actually have with the acquisition—some will admit it, but I’d wager that there are few in the Big Media who will be up front about it. Politicians who feel this way and who would admit such in public are practically non-existent, and understandably so. To admit to racist tendencies and/or religious bigotry in public is media and political suicide.
It’s the problem that I have with business deal, however. What else is there to do but admit it?
After all, in one of my very first posts on this blog—regarding the realization that 9/11 was a terrorist attack—were the words that I knew that the “f**king Arabs did this.”
And the fact that a country with the ethnicity ‘Arab’ in its name and composed of mostly Muslims taking over said ports is the real problem and it is the failing that most Americans—still fighting to clamp down on other racist and bigotry issues—don’t want to deal with.
But it is the issue.
Saturday morning, during FoxNews’ ‘Cost of Freedom’ line-up of shows, I listened as the lone Big Media person (that I know of)--Charles Payne--admitted to his Arab-bigotry in opposing the DPW deal. Tellingly, the man who mentioned it is black. He called it ‘personal hypocrisy’—he didn’t spell it out, but I knew what he meant. He, I, and all too many other black Americans butt our heads against ugly and annoying stereotypes constantly: each of us is an individual and are no more the same as lower-class persons of our same descent any more than are all white Americans the same as lower-class persons of theirs. Of course, the same standard applies to those of other decent. Or at least it should.
Will non-Arab/Muslims ever (again) be able to apply that standard *universally* to Arab and/or Muslim persons? I wonder how many non-black Americans asked themselves this question about their black countrymen forty years ago (or still ask it now).
But are these suspicions—these stereotypes, this bigotry, this racism—justified? These are the questions that those of us who hold all of these character failings must ask ourselves. And when we give ourselves honest answers in our heart-of-hearts, we must make decisions based on those honest answers.
As for myself, I don’t like the answers that I feel in my heart and in my logic-based mind--such as it is. DPW should not be blocked from acting in a natural and trusted business manner--if they have proved their trust-wortiness--but I hope that they are, simply for the safety of our nation. Who knows who could insinuated themselves into that business? Yet I know that this thought is based on an ugly bigotry.
What to do?
In a related matter, Gerard Vanderleun points to Glenn Reynolds-authored commentary in the Wall Street Journal (subscription-only) on the ineffective manner in which the White House has addressed the DPW controversy.
The White House, unaccountably, seems to have been blindsided by the furor over this deal, though most people's gut reaction was negative. As with the many bloggers like me who changed their minds, gut reactions can be overcome by evidence -- but the White House should have taken advantage of this early warning to have its arguments in order. It didn't. [SNIP]Gerard says that a White House blogger could have diffused the situation in its infancy.
The White House should not only have read blogs, but responded to them with information and arguments, rather than waiting for blog readers to weigh in. As Rich Galen observed on Wednesday, "It is an issue of this administration having a continuing problem with understanding how these things will play in the public's mind and not taking steps to set the stage so these things don't come as a shock and are presented in their worst possible light." Paying more attention to the blogs won't solve that problem. But it will help.
What if there were an official Presidential blogger who had clearance for fly-on-the-wall access in the White House, within limits, but generally free to talk to and wander about and pickup information and impressions of what is going on.Reverend Donald Sensing agrees that the White House needs to ‘get out more’ and submits an informal proposal:
As a thought experiment, I’d propose that a joint information office be established with the responsibility to integrate information from executive departments for distribution to the public. The “JIO” would have no authority to censor anything, nor would it have the authority to direct departments what to release to itself or the public. It would have the authority and budget to reuse information through multiple media in order to carry out the tasks above.Getting out in front of this controversy certainly wouldn’t have squashed much of the suspicions born of the type of bigotry mentioned above. However, much of the “outrage” could have been smothered early on had there been some official White House mechanism to get out into the information networks—blogs and other commentary—to see what the public has been saying about the DPW takeover.
What media, you ask? Just some ideas:
Ad buys in print and broadcast media. Direct mailing. Internet. “Trailers” in movie theaters shown before the feature film. Radio spots. Public seminars. Certainly there are downsides, but the status quo must not continue.
As it is, the US Treasury Department—who approved the DPW deal in the first place—will be using a forty-five day waiting period to further inspect DPW in relation to national security issues. It turns out that DPW asked for this delay.
It seems that we find ourselves caught on those proverbially dilemma-horns.