why recycling is bad for you

First heard about this incident over at Sepia Mutiny... Indian American poet Kazim Ali teaches at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania. On his website, he writes about how a trip to the garbage, plus his South Asian looks, shut down the entire campus: Poetry Can Be Dangerous. Basically, someone spotted Mr. Ali dropping off a box of papers at a campus trashcan, then driving away. This "suspicious" act of recycling alarmed the guy enough to call the authorities:
A young man from ROTC was watching me as I got into my car and drove away. I thought he was looking at my car, which has black flower decals and sometimes inspires strange looks. I later discovered that I, in my dark skin, am sometimes not even a person to the people who look at me. Instead, in spite of my peacefulness, my committed opposition to all aggression and war, I am a threat by my very existence, a threat just living in the world as a Muslim body.

Upon my departure, he called the local police department and told them a man of Middle Eastern descent driving a heavily decaled white Beetle with out of state plates and no campus parking sticker had just placed a box next to the trash can. My car has New York State plates, but he got the rest of it wrong. I have two stickers on my car. One is my highly visible faculty parking sticker and the other, which I just don’t have the heart to take off these days, says "Kerry/Edwards: For a Stronger America."
So the local police came, the bomb squad came, the state police came, buildings were evacuated, classes were canceled, campus was closed. All because of a discarded box of poetry. Let's be real. All the guy saw was Kazim Ali's dark skin, and he caved to fear. That package became suspicious the moment the guy thought he saw a "Middle Eastern"-looking man holding it. That's racist! ...not to mention a pretty ridiculous waste of time and resources for everyone involved.

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