Thursday, December 15, 2005


Secure Driver’s License Campaign

The dual use of terrorist imagery

The Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License has created an ad campaign designed to persuade the states to adopt a single national standard for the issuance of drivers licenses. The intent is to make more difficult for terrorists to obtain them.

USA Today quotes James Zogby, president of the Washington-based Arab American Institute, as saying the billboard is "bigoted."

"I think the motivation is anti-immigrant," Zogby says. "They are creating fear ... over Arabs. The message is very clear: 'Arabs are dangerous, Arabs should not get driver's licenses.' "

The first billboard of the campaign, minus the Arabic script, will go up soon in Raleigh, North Carolina:

According to the group's web site, North Carolina was chosen as the first state targeted because the largest Hezbollah cigarette smuggling operation in the United States was based there and it is issuing licenses to undocumented individuals from out of state who cannot get state-issued ID where they live. USA Today has more:
"For us, the issue is terrorism. It's certainly not about racism," says Colleen Gilbert, the coalition's executive director. "We're trying to highlight the fact that the 9/11 hijackers had 60-plus driver's licenses. It's not about immigration for us. It's about security."

North Carolina did not issue any of the licenses that were obtained by the 19 hijackers in various states, and it has tightened up its licensing process during the past three years, says state Department of Transportation spokesman Ernie Seneca. He says the state now requires applicants to provide multiple forms of identification.

Seneca says his department objects to the billboard and has received complaints from people who find it offensive.

"It's misleading, totally inaccurate and offensive," Seneca says. "They're entitled to their freedom of speech, but North Carolina is not the right place for its campaign. They ought to look elsewhere."
What a ridiculous statement, especially the 'go away' bit. Sure, the image of a man wearing a kaffiyeh while holding a grenade and a driver's license is offensive to some. So what? There is nothing misleading or bigoted, as Mr Zogby claims, about it.

With a twist, the group inverts actual terrorist propaganda to convey reality. The terrorist figures were lifted directly from terrorist web sites and the billboard serves to successfully reinforce in the public mind the demonstrated ability of terrorists to secure driver's licenses and use them in furtherance of a spectacular terror plot. Very clever. I hope their campaign proves effective.


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