I try not to be overly sensitive about these issues, but these comments struck me as immediately problematic. The United States fears that the next
April 3, 2007
chertoff-mtp1.jpg I try not to be overly sensitive about these issues, but these comments struck me as immediately problematic.

The United States fears that the next September 11-style attack on America could be launched by Muslims from Britain or Europe who feel “second-class citizens” and alienated by a “colonial legacy”, according to the US Homeland Security chief.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Michael Chertoff, who arrives in Britain tomorrow for talks with John Reid, the Home Secretary, said the US was determined to build extra defences against so-called “clean skin” terrorists from Europe. (emphasis added)

In January, Joe Biden caused quite a stir when he referred to Barack Obama as the first “clean” mainstream African-American presidential candidate. In retrospect, the coverage was probably a little excessive.

But with that in mind, hearing the Secretary of Homeland Security expressing concerns about “clean skin” terrorists from Europe is hardly reassuring. Maybe it’s a term of art in security and immigration circles, but they couldn’t come up with a less racially-charged phrase?

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