My Turn: Not perfect but still the most free nation

Posted: Monday, September 24, 2001

As a pilot, I blame the FAA for their unwillingness to respond to problems before they become a crisis. Since the 1970s, the FAA has known that cockpit doors were incapable of stopping a determined attacker. Thirty years later the same doors are still being approved for use. Anyone heard of titanium or Kevlar?

Airport security? Ha! I work in a maximum-security prison. Who teaches these poor underpaid souls to do a pat search? My God. Last week, FAA inspectors managed to sneak a hand grenade through security at the Seattle-Tacoma Airport. It's time to start paying these people a decent wage and training them to do a good job. It's also time to make airports do reliable background checks on those who they allow to service aircraft. When I worked at the airport, I got my security badge in a day.

Did you know the FAA prohibits police officers from interfering with a hijacking? Instead of training our law enforcement officers how to respond to a hijacking, the FAA assumed we're all idiots and neutered us. I wonder how many police officers were among the 266 passengers who died on the 11th? How many of them were not carrying their service weapons because of FAA regulations? Train me. Pull a box cutter or knife on my flight and I'll shoot you dead. If we all die from decompression, so be it. At least thousands won't die.

As an 18-year veteran martial artist, I wonder how long it will be before the FAA will require flight crews to learn basic self-defense? Not only for terrorists, but also for unruly passengers. What a travesty that box cutters were used to kill so many thousands.

Islamic fundamentalists? I have studied Islam and traveled in Uzbekistan. I have yet to find any references in the Koran to killing "people of the Book." Matter of fact, Jews and Christians are considered people of the book and not "infidels." Osama bin Laden is not a fundamentalist. He is a racist a blood thirsty, murdering racist. Calling him a Muslim is an insult to Islam. He is no more devoted the principles of Islam than those butchers who carried out the Spanish Inquisition were devoted to Christianity. I challenge the media to quit calling him a Muslim and call him what he is a megalomaniacal murderer.

For those criticizing our nation and our president - thank your lucky stars that you live in a nation where free speech is an inalienable right. I have lived in a totalitarian regime. Be thankful you are not subject to arrest in the middle of the night. Be thankful you cannot be spirited away, never to be heard from again. No one is coming to arrest you, Ms. Ross. You are entitled to your opinion, but don't think that you speak for all Europeans. The outpouring of global support has shattered your thesis.

Is the United States perfect? Absolutely not. Is it the best system we fallible humans have come up with so far? You bet. Did we deserve this attack? No. Should we have expected this attack? Yes. Should President Bush be blamed for this attack? Hardly. I, for one, am glad I have a president, who stands for something besides the latest opinion poll. His speech to the nation on Sept. 20 was an inspiration. He made me proud to be an American.

To our citizens who would kill, harass, or intimidate, innocent Arab-Americans shame on you. You do not deserve to be called Americans. True Americans hold the sanctity of freedom of religion close their hearts.

For those who have brought pain and suffering to our nation hear this we are a proud people. Hiding behind the veil of God will not save you. You have become an abomination in the eyes of God.

To those who oppose freedom in the world, I will quote history. On Dec. 8, 1941, Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamato did not rejoice following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Instead he said, "We have awakened a sleeping giant." God have mercy on your souls.


Donald Stolworthy of Juneau works as probation officer in a maximum-security prison. He is a pilot and martial arts specialist who has studied the Soviet-Afghan war.

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