America in the Age of _____ ...
The son of boxing legend Muhammad Ali—Muhammad Ali, Jr.—was detained for hours by immigration officials at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport because of ... his “Arabic sounding” name.
Ali Jr. was traveling home from a speaking at a Black History Month event in Jamaica with his mother, Khalilah Camacho-Ali—Ali’s second wife—when they were pulled aside while going through customs.
You know, those Arabic sounding names always mean trouble, but, get this, Khalilah Camacho-Ali was allowed to leave the airport, to enter this country because she showed officials a photograph of herself with her ex-husband. Her passport wasn’t good enough to get through customs, but a photo with a boxer did the trick.
Sadly, for Muhammad Ali Jr. he had no such photographic evidence so officials held him and questioned him for nearly two hours, repeatedly asking him, "Where did you get your name from?" and "Are you Muslim?"
When Ali Jr. responded that he is Muslim, the officers began questioning him about his religion and where he was born.
Muhammad Ali Jr. was born in Philadelphia in 1972 and holds a U.S. passport.
But, again, that darned Arabic-sounding name .... A spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection [CBP] played it off like this:
"Due to the restrictions of the Privacy Act, U.S. Customs and Border Protection cannot discuss individual travelers; however, all international travelers arriving in the U.S. are subject to CBP inspection."
Even the guy with the famous name and an American passport.
What this is, in the Age of _____, is racial, and religious, profiling, where you are stopped and questioned and detained for hours because of your name and your faith.
In America .... and yet it isn’t just those with “Arabic-sounding names” or those who are Muslim. Henry Rousso, a French historian was detained at a Houston airport for 10 hours by US immigration officials and then threatened with deportation.
It all began when border agents in Houston began to question Rousso’s visa, saying he’d been selected for a “random check”, which the Egyptian-born ... oops, Egyptian ... perhaps that explains everything ... academic claims was not some "mere coincidence".
When the immigration officer discovered Rousso was to be paid for speaking at Texas A&M University, he ordered Rousso to be deported, claiming he should have a working visa rather than a tourist visa.
“I told him I don’t need one, that the university took care of the formalities, as always, and especially, that I have been doing this for more than 30 years without any problem.”
Yes, for thirty years he’s been coming to this country without incident and yet a month in Hair Furor’s regime and he is stopped, detained, questioned, fingerprinted and searched and then threatened with deportation.
Rousso was given a phone call, and spoke with Richard Golsan, a Texas A&M professor; he told Golsan “he was waiting for customs officials to send him back to Paris as an illegal alien.”
A slew of university officials, a law professor and the director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic, swept in and succeeded in securing Rousso's release.
Rousso says he has no idea why he was detained, but did say that his situation was “nothing compared to some of the people I saw who couldn’t be defended as I was".
“That is the situation today. It is now necessary to deal with the utmost arbitrariness and incompetence on the other side of the Atlantic. I do not know what is the worst. What I know, having loved this country forever, is that the United States is no longer quite the United States." — Henry Rousso
And I think Rousso is right. We are headed in the wrong direction when the son of an athletic legend, bearing the exact same name, is detained, because his name sounds odd and because he’s Muslim, and when a visiting professor, traveling as he’s traveling for years, is detained because ... well, no one really knows why Rousso was detained ...
In the Age of _____.