Actually they're -- you guessed it! -- whining about a possible "backlash." This whole article is absurd, however, since Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab did not try to blow up Flight 253 because he was Nigerian, but because he was Muslim and believed it his religious duty to wage war against Infidels. But apparently the Times was tired of writing about fears of a backlash against Muslims when one never materializes, and so they gave a new twist to an old story angle by worrying about a backlash against Nigerians instead. The Muslim angle does come in, but not until late in the story.
"'Shocked' Nigerians in U.S. Express Fears of Guilt by Association After Arrest," by Mary M. Chapman for the New York Times, December 29 (thanks to Bill):
DETROIT -- When news broke on Christmas Day that a young Nigerian man had been arrested in a thwarted terrorist attack aboard a jetliner bound for the airport here, Joseph Ajiri, a Nigerian-born entrepreneur who lives in the suburb of Oak Park, was tucking into steaming servings of foofoo, moi-moi and other traditional Nigerian dishes with about a dozen friends and relatives.
Edwin Dyke, founder of the Nigerian Foundation of Michigan, said, "This isn't like our people."
"We just had some people here for Christmas dinner, then all of a sudden this comes on TV," Mr. Ajiri said. "It was regretful that he was Nigerian, but that didn't make us any more angry. We were all very happy that the explosion didn't take place, that he wasn't successful."...
"We want to tell Homeland Security and the federal government that we are sorry about what happened," Dr. Dyke said, "that this isn't like our people, that we believe this is an isolated incident but that we will keep our ears open."...
Salewa Ola, a Nigerian who founded the Detroit-based United African Community Organization, emphasized that the plane attack was "not what our community stands for."
"We are shocked and embarrassed," Dr. Ola said. "This has given all of us a black eye."
Relatives have said that Mr. Abdulmutallab, who is from a Muslim family, was particularly devout, even as a child.
But that tells us nothing, eh?
Twenty percent of Nigerians living in Michigan are Muslim, Dr. Dyke said. But Kamol Bello, a Detroit resident who is a Nigerian Muslim and has lived in the United States for 20 years, was quick to disassociate the religion from what occurred on Flight 253 on Christmas Day.
"A truly religious person would not do that," Mr. Bello said, adding that Muslims he knew did not think Mr. Abdulmutallab "is Muslim or Christian because no true religion teaches" someone to ignite an explosive aboard a plane.
"That's just crazy ideology," Mr. Bello said.
All right, Mr. Bello. Then how did Abdulmutallab, a devout Muslim since childhood, misunderstand Islam so drastically? And what are you doing to prevent such misunderstandings in the future?
Nothing -- just worrying about a phantom backlash:
Even so, Mr. Ajiri and several other Nigerians living in and around Detroit said they expected prejudicial fallout from the attack and from an incident on the same flight two days later in which a Nigerian man spent a long time in the plane's lavatory, arousing the suspicion of fellow passengers, flight attendants and an air marshal and setting off security alerts as the plane landed. It turned out that the man had simply been ill.
"Profiling? When you look at 9/11 and what happened with the Arabic community, we cannot expect anything different," Mr. Ajiri said. "It is just unfortunate that one individual is going to ruin reputations for the rest of the Nigerians. When we travel now, the system will make us pay, and I don't feel good about it."...
Lekan Oguntoyinbo, a Nigerian who used to live in Detroit and now lives in Columbia, Mo., said Mr. Abdulmutallab's nationality would heighten suspicions of all Nigerians.
"Nigerians have had a horrible reputation with the authorities of this country for importing drugs and for things like Internet fraud," said Mr. Oguntoyinbo, an assistant professor of journalism at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo. "I think this incident on Christmas not only makes us incredibly more suspect, but also positions Nigerians as enemies of the state. When you're trying to blow up a plane, the dynamics of perception change a great deal."...
No kidding, really?