Letters to the Editor

Irish Need Not Enter

Dear Editor: In response to Carolyn Y. Woo’s column: “Encountering our Muslim Neighbors” (Jan. 23):

I flew out of London on Pan Am Flight 103 a week before it was blown apart over Lockerbie, Scotland. Of course, air travel today is very different worldwide than what it was originally. Fear and security dominates everywhere. Ms. Woo mentions prejudice when she gives an example of Muslims being referred to as “they.” I would like to show that it is not only to “they” that it applies.

I have been a U.S. citizen for over 50 years and I was traveling on my American passport.

At the London emigration counter, the clerk asked for my passport which I handed to him. He looked at it and immediately said, “Put your hands up,” which I did. After quite a while having my hands in the air, I lowered them slightly, whereupon the clerk roared at me, “Keep your hands up.”

I noticed no other person was asked to do the same, but of course, I knew the reason why. You see, the clerk had my United States passport, and on there was country of birth – Ireland.

Although I had lived in London many years before, and during the course of my work there as an EMT, I brought many patients to and from hospitals, and was a blood donor at North Middlesex Hospital in North London, apparently, that could not be imagined by this official. Prejudice often leads to erroneous conclusions.