December 26, 2013 11:15 am -

Can you imagine what would happen if the government ruled you could be arrested for carrying something in Hebrew–or Latin? You’d have Jews and Catholics correctly claiming religious bigotry. But we have a different, and wrong, standard towards Muslims. But a federal judge says the TSA and the FBI can arrest you simply for carrying flash cards in Arabic.

A former college student detained at Philadelphia International Airport after Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials discovered he was carrying Arabic language flashcards lost his bid to sue the federal agents who detained him.

Nicholas George alleged that the TSA agents violated his First and Fourth Amendment rights when they arrested him as he tried to board a flight from his Philadelphia home to Pomona College in 2009.

According to Chief Judge Theodore McKee’s ruling, despite the fact that George clearly had the right to carry the flashcards, the TSA agents were “at the outer boundary” of justifiability in detaining him. In addition to everyday words and phrases like “day before yesterday,” “fat,” “cheap,” and “pink,” the deck of flashcards also contained and phrases like “bomb,” “terrorist,” “explosion,” and “to target.”

Judge McKee believes that those words and phrases warranted further investigation, even though George told the officers that he was using the flashcards in order to learn Arabic for a study abroad program in which he would be traveling to Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan.

“I want to serve my country using my Arabic language,” George told CNN. “And it just seems crazy to me that for that I was arrested and treated like a criminal.”

So, if you want to “serve your country” you’d better do it in an acceptable language. Never mind that our parents and grandparents came here speaking in foreign tongues.