"Nobody else pops up on your radar as someone to watch?" Schwarz continued.
"Well, there is this nosy engineer with a round face, but he's been grounded already," Komalko said with a wink.
"Personal issues with Cole already?" Schwarz asked.
"Cole wanted is pal, Armin Mustafa, to be placed as flight engineer in my place. Said this mission was no place for some hotshot and his kid sidekick," Komalko explained.
"I know Mustafa, and except for him being hooked up with a complete jerk, Armin's a decent guy. Another hard worker, quiet, gets along with everyone," Komalko said. "And they run all through deep background checks. I don't think he's al Qaeda."
Schwarz shrugged. "I don't judge on names, Pie. I've been through enough to know that worrying about somone's name sounding vaguely like a paperback terrorist without solid foundation is just plain stupid. Never mind that I've worked with plenty of folks, and encountered the best and worst of everything, Arab, Asian, white, black. People are people. Some are dicks, some are just plain bad, but most are just folks doing their job."
At that moment, a young, handsome black man came up the scaffolding.
"Oh, Armi, we were just talking about you," Komalko said.
"Hi," Schwarz greeted. "What's wrong?"
"You guys had a problem with the old circuit board,: Mustafa answered. "I brought up a new one. You must be Miller, the new guy."
"I am," Schwarz told him. "I guess you heard us talking."
Mustafa shrugged. "I'm used to it by now. I've got a name that brings up some bad images to ignorant folks. Luckily, you're not ignorant."
This is one of my favourite movies. The humour isn't high-brow - let alone cultured, but I guess that's why I love it. It's silly, slapstick, both predictable and not.
And of course, it spoofs 'Top Gun', the quintessential 1980's flick. Apart from the bravado, the jets, the soundtrack and the awesome ("Your ego's writing cheques your body can't cash") lines, one thing I really like about Top Gun is Maverick's (Tom Cruise) wooing of Charlotte (Kelly McGillis). He actually has to make an effort to build that attraction. So many shows and movies just undercut that process by having a female character more or less throw themselves at the male. He makes no effort, she initiates everything, makes every move, the male almost incidental to the entire scene. Now guys like this do exist - they're handsome and just exude that, I don't know, magnetism to which females respond. I've seen it. With a 1980's Tom Cruise, that would have been both easy to write and convincing - but they didn't. Top Gun isn't the best written flick of all time, but I can appreciate the effort that the writers made in developing the attraction between guy and girl. It works and is preferable to simply making him an irresistible object that draws women like flies to a pig's backside.
"Mustafa shrugged. "I'm used to it by now. I've got a name that brings up some bad images to ignorant folks. Luckily, you're not ignorant."
In a post 9/11 world there are those who would make snap judgements about a person based on their name and/or religion. A few years ago, I recall a guy saying "Not every Muslim is a terrorist, but every terrorist a Muslim." What vacuous nonsense. Terrorist attacks against the United States have been perpetrated by Christian fundamentalists, Environmental and Animal Rights extremists, Far Right nutcases, crazy people as well as Islamist zealots - and continue to do so. The 9/11 attacks did not usher in a monopoly on the use of terrorism. Islam is painted as a dangerous religion that advocates violence and the total subjugation of women, especially by those whose leanings are to the right, or by current affairs programs whose ratings are dependent on sensationalised bullshit like Islamic extremism, rapacious landlords, dole bludgers and 'political correctness gone mad'. To quickly answer the common argument about Islam's treatment of women - I refer you to Diah Permata Megawati Setiawati Sukarnoputri, former President of Indonesia - the world's most populous Muslim country. Now, I am not defending countries like Saudi Arabia, whose treatment of women is deplorable, only saying that an entire religion and culture cannot be summarised and judged so conveniently.
One of my favourite episodes of 'The West Wing' is 'Isaac and Ishmael'. It is an episode that was aired at the beginning of the third season and separate from the series' continuity. It deals with the September 11 attacks. Terrorism is explored by the characters as is the propensity for profiling and prejudice in 9/11's wake. It is a grounded episode that remains calm in its exploration of the issues, facts being delivered succinctly and without nationalistic fervour. It is an episode that makes me proud to be human, as it was exactly the calming influence that many needed at that time.
"Islamic Extremist is to Islam as the KKK is to Christianity." That is powerful stuff, a sentiment that has not been articulated enough.
Speaking of the navy and the West Wing, I can't help but bring up one of my favourite supporting characters, Admiral Fitzwallace.
So true. Look! Even Fox News agrees! Jump to 2:30.
Didn't see that coming, did you?