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Penis Pump or Bomb?

by CounterPunch News Service

Mardin Amin, an Iraqi arrested at O’Hare airport now faces serious felony charges of disorderly conduct. He could get three years in prison. A female security guard claims Amin uttered the word “bomb” when she was examining a small black squeezable object she’d taken from his bag.

For his part, Amin, on his way to Turkey with his mother and his children, claims he was whispering to his mother that it was a “pump” ­ in fact a penis pump.

The judge believed the security guard and now Amin faces the felony charges.

CounterPuncher and Arabic-speaker David Price clarifies the affair.

“As an anthropologist and Arabic speaker,” Price tells CounterPunch,” let me call attention to a vital aspect of this story. Simply put, Arabic has no ‘Ps’ and all native Arabic speakers voice their bilabials as ‘Bs’, thus it is pretty obvious that any native Arabic speaker with an accent would say the word ‘pump’ as the word ‘bumb’ –which the poorly-trained and overly paranoid airport security worker mis-heard as ‘bomb.’

“As has happened here, with newspapers such as the Chicago Sun Times, news pieces with the words ‘penis pump’ will generate guffaws from sea to shinning sea, but by not stating what the obvious context of this misunderstanding is, the Sun Times is adding to a dangerous climate of American anti-Arab sentiment.”

Professor Price urges the chortling scriveners and newsreaders of Chicago’s entyertrainment industry to do what they can to reduce climate of hysteria by shedding some public light on what actually happened in this case.

After Wednesday’s hearing, Amin said airport security officials never gave him an opportunity to explain the misunderstanding. And he said he would never utter the word “bomb” while going through securi
“Come on — what do you think?” said Amin, who lives in Skokie and works for a janitorial service.

Amin does not consider the pump unusual.

“It’s normal,” he said. “Half of America they use it.”

David Price teaches anthropology at St. Martin’s College in Lacey, Washington. He is author of Threatening Anthropology: McCarthyism and the FBI’s Surveillance of Activist Anthropologists (Duke, 2004). His next book, Weaponizing Anthropology: American Anthropologists in the Second World War will be published by Duke University Press. He can be reached at:



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