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Watching for hairdressers The Love Boat Some days Paula Corbin Jones must feel like she’s in The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy’s tornadoassisted ride from a Kansas farmhouse to a mystical land is no more unlikely than Jones’ long strange trip from an Arkansas trailer to her current position of celebrity in the bizarre world of the Clintonhaters. Jones’ allegations that the President crassly propositioned her catapulted her into social circles of conservative intellectuals and big-money Republican politics. She is the beneficiary of more than partisan rancor; she has directly profited from a subculture that goes beyond disagreeing with the President to seeking his personal destruction. And now, her whirlwind tour lands her on a cruise ship bound for the South See “Love Boat,” page 5 LEFT FIELD The Hair Terror in Plano y l ou might think that after the Okahoma City bombing fiasco when instantaneous \(and en ing” suspects generated nationwide hysteria and attacks on Arab-American citizens the authorities and the media might have learned their lessons. Instead, because of Y2K panic and the F.B.I.’s institutional paranoia, the end of the millennium saw a host of absurd raids and arrests for no particular reason, other than the targets were either Arab immigrants or of Arab descent. “During December,” reports the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, “dozens of Arabs and Arab Americans arrested or detained on minor charges were accused of being part of one terrorist plot or another.” The nuttier busts included: In New York, an Arab-American airline pilot was charged with making a “terrorist threat” because he tried to get the baggage inspectors to do their jobs. He reportedly said, “You have to remove my bags. They could have a bomb. You don’t know. I’m a pilot, I know the rules.” In Massachusetts, police exploded a “suspicious” parcel from Germany destroying a box of chocolates and a music box. Police and F.B.I. agents in Washington, D.C., undertook a fruitless twoday search for a blue Mitsubishi van. Reasonable cause?: a gas-station attendant reported the vehicle was being driven by people who appeared to look Middle Eastern. But as loyal Left Fielders might suspect, our favorite police-state excess took place in Texas. On December 18 in Plano that well-known hotbed of militant insurrectionism more than a dozen plainclothes federal agents and local police stormed an apartment in search of a suspected ring of Arab terrorists. What did they find? Three Lebanese hairdressers and an electronic parts salesman. Kassem ElAjami, his brother Khalid El-Ajami, Ahmad Rabaa, and Ibrahim Kais, were duly interrogated by the F.B.I. and I.N.S. And while the men weren’t quite terrorists, North Texas can rest a little easier knowing that they were all arrested and scheduled for deportation anyway. They had exceeded the time limits on their U.S. visas and were working without I.N.S. permission. The authorities insist that they were only doing their jobs, on a “heightened stage of alert” in light of the pending New Year, when “international terrorists” might be planning spectacular crimes. But the nature of the official “investigation” makes understandable the protests from ArabAmerican organizations. “The first thing they asked me is if I was a Muslim,” Kassem El-Ajami told The Dallas Morning News. Then the questions turned even more professional: Did they “know that guy in Seattle” \(apparently referring to Ahmed Ressam, the Algerian arrested December 14 near Seattle for allegedly trying to enter the U.S. with explosives in his gious or political meetings during their stay in Dallas?” The arrested men responded that they worked every day, and had no time for poli tics. They might also have pointed out that Algeria and Lebanon are different countries, containing large numbers of citizens who don’t know each other but such fine distinctions are generally lost on employees of the F.B.I. Except for the four poor gentlemen who will be duly returned to their home country for the crime of trying to earn a living and the thousands of Arab-American citizens who now have one more reason to fear their government thus ends another minor chapter in the vigilant history of those noble G-Men once known as The Untouchables. Let no one mock them because they went in search of terrorists, and found only hairdressers. Indeed, perhaps the entire F.B.I. “terrorism” rationale was nothing but a sophisticated cover for a more important operation: protecting Dallas-area hairdos from baleful foreign infiltration by Lebanese sophistication. Indeed, it’s well known that the French influence in Lebanon remains all too strong. Who knows what might happen to Big D’s Best-Dressed List if these barbarous and scissored interlopers were allowed to operate without fear of intervention? + FEBRUARY 4, 2000 4 THE TEXAS OBSERVER