Skip to comments.Column on Arabs strikes a nerve
Posted on 09/16/2005 9:05:24 AM PDT by Dawsonville_Doc
CHAPEL HILL -- The dismissal of a writer from a student newspaper over a controversial column usually would stir a tempest only on campus. But not at UNC-Chapel Hill, a frequent battleground in the national culture wars.
In the first sentence of her opinion column Tuesday in The Daily Tar Heel, Jillian Bandes wrote: "I want all Arabs to be stripped naked and cavity-searched if they get within 100 yards of an airport."
Referring to conservative writer Ann Coulter's comment that if she ever wanted physical intimacy, she would walk through airport security, Bandes wrote: "I want Arabs to get sexed up like nothing else."
Bandes, 20, a junior from Oldsmar, Fla., was dismissed Wednesday from the student newspaper.
Within a day, she was being interviewed by radio stations throughout the country. Her case was gobbled up by the conservative media and featured on a major professional journalism Web site Thursday.
Bandes' column unleashed outrage among Muslim students and others who sent letters to the student newspaper's editor. Some students also came to her defense.
Bandes, in the column, quoted Arab students and a professor at UNC-CH as saying they wouldn't mind being searched.
"I essentially was committing an act of freedom of speech," Bandes said Thursday. "I was fired because of the reaction to my piece."
The Daily Tar Heel's opinion editor, Chris Coletta, explained his action to readers in a column Thursday. He said he fired her not because of what he termed her inflammatory comments but because of "journalistic malpractice."
"I fired her because she strung together quotes out of context," wrote Coletta, 21, a senior from Cary. "She took sources' words out of context. She misled those sources when she conducted interviews."
Bandes disputed that Thursday, saying she did not cross any journalistic ethical boundaries.
She also said Coletta did not have a problem with her column before it ran. "He laughed," she said. "He thought it was humorous. He praised me for having the guts to write what I did."
In retrospect, she regrets offending people she respects, she said, and she has apologized to some of them.
But she's not backing down entirely. On Thursday, she was all over talk radio and featured on a number of conservative Web sites, including Coulter's.
Coletta said the newspaper had been deluged with about 200 responses to the situation.
"In some ways, this is going to be turned into another salvo in the culture wars," Coletta said in an interview.
He said he was sorry to have lost the newspaper's main conservative voice because of what happened.
"This is a liberal campus; I don't think there's anyone who's denying this," Coletta said. "Students who hold beliefs like Jillian's do feel put upon, do feel persecuted."
But Coletta said the newspaper embraces a variety of viewpoints and freedom of expression. "I never would have run the column if those weren't fundamental bedrock ideals that I hold dearly."
The issue is not Bandes' opinions, Coletta said, but the way she conducted herself as a journalist. He said Bandes told her interview subjects that she was writing about Arab-American relations after Sept. 11, 2001, and then used selected quotes to bolster her argument for racial profiling.
'A lot different'
"That's a lot different to me than saying, 'I would like to write a column on racial profiling,' " Coletta added.
Coletta said he takes responsibility for not thoroughly scrutinizing the column before running it.
Readers were joining the debate on the Daily Tar Heel blog about the brouhaha Thursday. One post said Bandes had offended the "liberal Ayatollahs of academia."
Members of UNC-CH's Muslim Students Association denounced what they said was a disrespectful column.
"The image of naked Arabs in a public airport is not only truly horrifying, but it is also reminiscent of the Abu Ghraib photos where Iraqis were also 'stripped' down for information about terrorists," wrote Uzma Khan and Bushra Bhatti.
Bandes said she thinks Coletta was too easily swayed by public opinion and emotion. She also pointed out that she had received support from readers.
"The way I made my point was offensive," she said, "but some people appreciated it."
Staff writer Jane Stancill can be reached at 956-2464 or email@example.com.
Sounds like a career is born.
Ping others as you see fit...
One of the new things in the terrorist world is "Womb Bombs"! The women pack in the explosive and without a cavity search, you ain't finding it. They can pack in enough Semtex to take down a place if they do it right. These vermin need to be expunged from the world.
oops, place = plane.
Be fun if they were infidels though.
An explosives-sniffing dog would find that, I believe. And I *do* want little old ladies in wheelchairs sniffed...I just want more likely suspects sniffed more.
I think her comments were disgusting and immature, quite to be expected of a 20-year-old with pretensions to "journalism." Give it a pass because you don't expect anything better of students ... but making her a heroine because she's into exposing other people to humiliation is just silly, imo.
No doubt but imagine a woman's reaction to a dog sniffing her crotch! And the use of perfume can cover the scent I believe. If the pooch alerts on her in a public area, you KNOW that the poopy will hit the fan! Ted Kennedy will bloviate for weeks on it!
All she had to was use a good editor. Substitute the word "Arab" with "suspected terrorist" and I don't see a problem with the searches.
What does she look like? < /dirtyoldman>
she engaged in hyperbole to excess, but as she phrased it as her own desire/opinion, rather than a statement of fact, I am unsure there is a problem with what she said.
on the other hand... Chechnyans are often enough blonde-and-blue, and they also practice -ah!- "explosive diplomacy", so RACIAL profiling is probably not a particularly wise option.
strip-searching anyone who refuses to step on a Koran or eat a ham sandwich, otoh, might make a lot of sense.
Hmmm. Playing passenger and security screener with Ann Coulter. That's a fantasy I had not previously thought of.
I agree that her remarks are immature, not well written, and needed editing. But that's not why she was dismissed, and we all know it. I haven't seen the resulting press coverage, so I don't know if she was made a heroine or not. I would be willing to bet you a steak dinner at Morton's that other equally poor writers have written equally poor articles in the school rag from a leftist slant, and they remain on staff.
I don't doubt it for a minute. That was why I said she should get a pass - because this is what student journalism is like, as a rule.
I meant of course anyone of our intellectual elite
hairbrained college professors etc......
The fired journalist's letter to the Editor of The Daily Tar Heel, from which she was dismissed...
In other words, she's perfectly qualified for a job at the NY Times, Washington Post, LA Times, CNN, ABC, CBS, etc. etc. etc.
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