At this point, after dozens of attacks or foiled plots by quiet, polite guys who suddenly become religious and later start shooting people, we should know that appearances can be deceiving. What might look a little odd at the time takes on a sinister cast in retrospect. But nearly 15 years after 9/11, people seemed to have received mixed messages. The Homeland Security mantra of “if you see something, say something” conflicts with admonitions from elected officials and other doyens of the political class that “not all Muslims are terrorists” (obviously) and “religious and racial profiling is wrong” (not so obvious).
Faced with the choice of either “saying something” to the authorities about suspicious behavior that may or may not be a bona fide threat and remaining mum for fear of being tarred as a bigot people increasingly opt for the latter.