Monday, April 19 was the 15th anniversary of that terrorist attack. Yes, terrorist attack by an American, just like bombing Planned Parenthood Clinics and threatening and killing doctors who perform abortions. Terrorism, American terrorism.
A few years (or maybe only months) after the Oklahoma City bombing, I was in a very small U.S. airport. Evening. Me, the only passenger going through the security checkpoint. A couple women ran the screening system. Two young white male soldiers sported machine guns.
My suitcase goes through the screening device and… oops… big oops… There’s a metal hair clip that requires examination. This is a bad metal hair clip. Long, pointed. Actually pretty much a weapon. Seriously. I forgot the clip was in the suitcase.
I’m embarrassed and I apologize to the screening people. “My error. Please throw it away.”
The women are very kind and, essentially say, “no worries.” One of the young soldiers agrees, “No worries,” he says, too. “Of course,” he continues, “if you were Egyptian or looked like a Muslim, that would be something else.” (I admit, I’m not remembering his exact words. But that was the gist.)
I responded (and this I remember very clearly and intentionally) — “But that’s profiling.” His response was, “Yes, profiling!” With great enthusiasm and pumping his arm. You know that arm pump, the one people use to emphasize “yes, great, cool, I win”…whatever.
“Yes, profiling!” Arm pump with one arm while holding the machine gun in the other arm.
And my response? “So, are you going to bomb something? Are you a terrorist?”
His response to my challenge? “Of course not!”
And I said, “But you’re a young white guy like Tim McVeigh who bombed the Oklahoma City federal building.”
He looked at me. I collected my bag and walked off towards the airplane.