A FEW YEARS AGO, an aircraft commander flying cargo aircraft through Shannon remarked that his outbound briefing had included warnings about snide comments to be expected in and around Shannon Airport. He also made passing comments about crime in Ireland and I thought he had been reading a tabloid newspaper. His source of information actually came from the US Department of State Travel Advisory. Under the category of Crime, State advises potential tourists, "There have been a limited number of incidents in which foreigners and tourists have been victims of assault, including instances of violence toward those who appear to be members of racial minority groups. In addition, there have been several reported incidents in Dublin of persons severely assaulted by small, unorganized gangs roaming the streets in the early morning hours after the pubs close." This tidbit of information will not be easily offset by the glorious panoramic videos of Ireland now playing on broadcasts in major American media markets. Nor will suggestions that Barack Obama can trace his forebears to the Republic of Ireland distort the reality of racism on some of Ireland's major streets.