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Truthdigger of the Week: Shoshana Hebshi

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Posted on Sep 16, 2011
Stan Brewer

Every week, Truthdig recognizes an individual or group of people who spoke truth to power, blew the whistle or stood up in the face of injustice. You can see past winners here, and make your own nomination for our next awardee here.

On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, FBI and Homeland Security officials took extra security measures because, as one official told the Associated Press, “The public would rather us err on the side of caution than not.” Unfortunately for nonwhite Americans who chose to travel that day, that meant being subjected to blatant racial profiling. Shoshana Hebshi, our Truthdigger of the Week, was one such victim, but she had the presence of mind to remember the details and later the courage to blog about her experience, bringing to light the truth about where America stands 10 years after the Twin Towers fell.

Hebshi, a self-described half-Arab, half-Jewish mother from the Midwest, was forcefully detained, interrogated and even strip-searched when her Frontier Airlines flight from Denver landed in Detroit, all because a nervous passenger reported that she and her two Indian seatmates had spent a suspiciously long time in a restroom. Hebshi said it did not dawn on her why she was being treated like a criminal until hours into the process when her interrogators told her, “... Judging from our line of questioning, you could probably guess.”

Her story quickly gained momentum across the Internet, sparking outrage from veteran law enforcement officials, constitutional lawyers and now the American Civil Liberties Union. The Guardian quoted a spokesperson for Hebshi from the ACLU, who said, “Law enforcement actions and decisions must be reasonable and must be credible, not based on stereotypes and appearance. We can all agree the arrest, the strip search and detention of an innocent mother of two was not reasonable or necessary.”

Hebshi might easily have been too humiliated or intimidated to share her story, but instead she chose to stand up and speak up in the face of injustice. 

* * *


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Honorable Mention

On Aug. 30, Ry Cooder released an album of modern-day protest songs called “Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down.” The album is a commentary on current economic times and the ethics behind what got us here. One of the more popular tracks from the album, “No Banker Left Behind,” Cooder said, originated with a line from a column by our own Robert Scheer. Some of the songs are old-timey and draw from Depression-era tunes. “I’m going to hit these stories as vividly as I can,” Cooder says, “and try to get the point across in four minutes.”

* * *

Listen to “No Banker Left Behind” below.


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Gabriel's avatar

By Gabriel, September 22, 2011 at 7:23 am Link to this comment

Make it absolutely clear when making reservations that TSA or anything of the sort will not be tolerated.

Present them with your fee schedule in case of any conflicts:
10k per hr if they waste you time, includes being detained
100k per incident
1 Million in case of injury, ANY and every injury .. including a scratch, bruise, etc.
1 Billion in case of death

Get it Notarized with reputable Notary and make lots of copies. Carry a few with you at all times.
This is no joke, it works.

Anyone so much as touches you without a Warrant from a Judge and substantial Probable Cause pays 100k automatically.

Tape everything! They tape you, so you can tape them. It is your Right. And don’t ever let them pull you into a side room.

Carry a copy of Constitution and your Rights with you at all times. Know them inside and out.

This is War all you PPL ... get it through your heads. It’s a war to get you to comply with nefarious fascist practice.

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By Blueteaau, September 21, 2011 at 6:43 pm Link to this comment

I am jewish and have a persian boyfriend…....we always get stopped and searched
at every airport in the US…..we now allow for extra time at the airport

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mackTN's avatar

By mackTN, September 18, 2011 at 6:49 pm Link to this comment

Shoshanna provided an inside view of what happens to innocent people who are
targeted as terrorists.  Absent any real terrorists, law enforcement has taken to
going after American citizens instead.  Really, is an apology sufficient to excuse
being practically black bagged and renditioned to a secure and hidden detention
center?  I don’t think so. 

It’s time for civil liberties groups to put a stop to this.  It’s outrageous.

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Hulk2008's avatar

By Hulk2008, September 18, 2011 at 4:34 pm Link to this comment

To FRTothus:

It’s either that half that comprises a “Judeo” part of our American heritage or the half that comprises a “christian” part or the part that guarantees equality regardless of our ethnicity or religion.

Profiling based on restroom ussage would guarantee a strip search for 90% of American teenagers, especially those of the female persuasion.  Parents of teenagers can vouch for at least one bathroom refurbishing project due to crumbling drywall and wet-soaked flooring.

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By ardee, September 18, 2011 at 6:43 am Link to this comment

This is only one example of the disease that rots our nation from the inside. Prejudice is not confined, of course, to the USA, but is endemic across the planet. I, as a citizen of this nation, confine my remarks only to conditions within it.

Racial profiling existed long before the events of 9/11. The phrases “driving while black” or “walking while black” are strong indicators of such profiling, and being Latino in Arizona will quickly school one in that form of police injustice.

This particular instance of said injustice is a direct result, obviously, of the way we have been manipulated as a people since those planes hit those towers. It does seem apparent, far too many times, that we the people are far too easily propagandized and tricked. Sad ,that.

FRTothus, September 16 at 1:43 pm

I assume that your comment was an attempt at humor. Please stick to your day job, thanks.

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By samd11, September 17, 2011 at 12:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank-you, Shoshana, for sharing your ordeal with those of us who will never be profiled in such a way due to the fact that we are white. The real terrorists are those who would perpetuate this atmosphere of fear and most of them are white male politicians.

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By FRTothus, September 16, 2011 at 1:43 pm Link to this comment

Half Jewish?  Which half?

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By Rodney, September 16, 2011 at 1:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The thing is nobody in America cares about racial
profiling.Unless they are the ones being racially
profiled. It’s done to blacks and Hispanics everyday
by local law enforcement. It’s done to people of
middle eastern decent in airports all over America to
protect white people. That’s really what it’s about.
Protecting white people. White people don’t get
racially profiled. The KKK, the Aryan Brotherhood,
and the skinheads along with the thousands of
militias who hate America don’t get racially
profiled. They just remove their outfits and
uniforms, cover their tattos and they are just white
again. When they wrote ” We hold these truths to be
self evident that all men are created equal”. The
slave owners that wrote that were referring to white
men only. Almost three hundred years later it still
means for white men only. It doesn’t apply to the
President who had to show proof of citizenship.
Doesn’t apply to the judicial system where we are
incarcerated without proper legal representation just
for being Black Hispanic Arab or Muslim and poor.
Doesn’t apply when it comes to being tortured. No
America is and always be racist. The civil war never
ended.It’s now being fought in the courts and the
state legislatures.
They have come to take their country back. Back to
1860. But in most cases it never left.

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By John Sullivan, September 16, 2011 at 1:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Excellent choice! It’s heartening to see a woman maintain her personal dignity and moral courage after suffering a state-sponsored indignity.

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