Congrats, yer a hysterical bigot, lady, righty radio & lefty media both proud

Read her story of terror!

Realize that it consists solely of her freaking out because some of the people on her flight were Middle Eastern! Read how she blows absolutely nothing more than some bathroom breaks and a lot of standing into a major cultural event in which she think might maybe have been a dry run for a major terrorist attack!

Reality: a bunch of Syrian musicians were hired to play at a hotel. They fly on a plane. They pee, talk with each other in their crazy unamerican language, and look around. The end. Even the details of her story that seem questionable wouldn’t be particularly alarming even if true.

But the right wing radio circuit is eating it up: calls for new rounds of racial profiling, screams of outrage. Never mentioned is the complete innocence of the men. Or that they and their baggage were checked out for dangerous objects and so on just like everyone else.

Now the writer has gotten major media attention. They too preface their descriptions with breathless lead-ins that make it sound like some major event occured, like the plane narrowly avoided destruction. And the original author is now gushing about it in a follow up article containing lots of insane hangers on who seem to take her word that it was a major terrorist incident:

Here is the account of an airline pilot who was dumb enough to think that hate radio would be a good place to debunk misinformation:

Again: what happened? Some Middle-Eastern looking guys flew on an airline. They did nothing out of the ordinary for any group of people traveling together. The FBI and TAS follow up and find nothing out of the ordinary about the men: they are who they say they are, and they did absolutely nothing at all illegal or even suspicious.

Nevertheless, some chick works it up into a major international event, and gets courted by both scare-hungry major media and right wing jackoffs who feel it fits their newsertainment format and political talking points (there are people that, for some reason, still never manage to get the posters here who glibly compare Michael Moore to famous Nazi film propagandists to compare these guys to famous Nazi radio propagandists).

I once went on a plane with a Jamaican guy. Maybe I should write a melodramatic paranoid piece of estrogenic blubbering bullcrap as well.

Christ, that’s a long article. It just keeps on going.

She isn’t be a racist, remember - she once sat next to a bunch of Indians on a flight to India, and that turned out OK. Mind you, if those Indians had talked to each other, gone to the toilet or eaten McDonalds, she would have been worried!

Racism never really dies.

It just goes in cycles based upon what people think they can get away with.

Right now with much of the media in control of the far-right wackos, tolerance of racisim is on an upswing.

In other news: paranoia will destroy yah.

It sounds to me like she saw “suspicious activity” because she was predisposed to find it suspicious, because the men were Middle Eastern. I wonder how upset she’d be to see fourteen Swedes lounging about the airplane cabin. But then, I doubt she’d have be making moment by moment notes of every movement made by fourteen Swedes; instead, she’d be reading her book or talking to her husband or whatever.

And considering that failing to return a “friendly smile” falls in her category of “suspicious” behavior that makes a cold shiver go down her spine, she also needs some cultural education. Many Middle Eastern Muslim men believe it is improper to interact with women to whom they are not related. The irony is that she’s complaining about security measures on a flight that went according to Hoyle: plane takes off, plane lands, suspicious activity is investigated. I think her story would be a lot more compelling if we had some indication – any indication – the “danger” wasn’t entirely in her head. Instead, apparently it was. Thanks for sharing your paranoia, honey! Next time, take the minivan and spare us all.

Let’s be clear: there may or may not be a good case for racial profiling in anti-terror actions directed against Muslim terrorists. But for goodness sake, a case where the profiled turn out to be COMPLETELY INNOCENT is not a solid basis for making such a case!

You didn’t read her second article apparently. Not only did she learn nothing, but she now speculates that her experience was connected to all sorts of other incidents that have no logical connection (a Syrian man was detained for having anti-American materials, these guys were Syrian: there must be a connection!)

If I had observed what she observed, and it occured the way she relates it, I’d have been a bit nervous as well. Had they all been white, I probably would have found it equally as unusual and suspicious.

For those who condemn her for relaying her account of the events of the day, name-call all you like, but realize that apparently she wasn’t the only one to notice what can easily be described as suspicious behaviour. It was suspicious enough that the flight crew were eyeing them up and there were authorities at the gate to meet them.

This woman may well have over-reacted in the recount of her story, and her inferences about how the experience is subjecting everyone to new terror. Or whatever other stuff she’s blathering on about. But I would have shared her nervousness.

I particularly enjoyed Thaumaturge’s comment that tolerance of racism is on the upswing. I don’t know - maybe it is. But I have noticed a definite increase in the propensity to call others racists.

Well, I can hardly speak for you, but I seriously doubt most people would have found it “equally as unusual and suspicious.” By her own account, what initially caught her eye was that they were Middle Eastern and there were so many of them. If she hadn’t started paying attention then – oddly close attention, apparently – she’d never have noticed any of the “suspicious” activity that followed. None of which was, objectively speaking, suspicious. (This one took an object from his carry-on; that one made eye contact with someone else; that one went to the bathroom a lot.) I don’t agree that being paranoid makes her a “bigot,” since that’s not a word I throw around lightly, but it certainly seems clear by her own account that the race of these men was her triggering concern.

Agreed, agreed, agreed.

But still.

I’da probly peed my pants; you think the worst in those kinds of situations. I’d’ve felt guilty (and of course relieved) to learn they were innocent, but still.

Anyway, one way tickets? Those guys weren’t musicians–they were Syria’s answer to Tom Green and Marilyn Manson:“Let’s do some shit to freak these complacent middle-class assholes’ shit the fuck out! Let’s wear sunglasses and buy one-way tickets!–Yeah, and let’s congregate at the bathrooms and leave packages in the toilet! These people’ll shit their pants! Don’t say anything in English! Yeah, and talk in whispers, act all serious, and you, Ali, read from that prayer book every now and then! Yeah, good one!”

From the first article:

This is a woman who thinks that reading Ann Coulter constitutes “research.”

What a fucking moron.

Since this is the Pit, I think I’m going to call you a fucking liar, you fucking liar.

I don’t condemn her for relaying her experiences. I condemn her for implying that there was ultimately something to her suspicions and filling her article with hysterical speculative nonsense that seems impervious to the later realization that she was just plain mistaken in her suspicions, however legitimate she might have felt they were. When you racially profile someone and then turn out to be WRONG, the mark of a true bigot is to try to pat yourself on the back with wacky conspiracy theories to prove that not only weren’t you jumping the gun, but just maybe you were an international hero that foiled a terrorist plot.

Hm. That was rather reactionary. A piece of advice for you that you can take into the rest of your life, hopefully living in a decidedly less vitriolic world. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. You really don’t know me well enough to judge me nor make such allegations about the degree of my honesty. That said, I don’t really care much what you think of me, so I’ll just keep on movin’.

You’re right, I don’t know much about your degree of honesty. I just know that you’re big, goofy liar.

You think everything’s all about you, don’t you.

Liar: you’ll ahve to rest sometime.

And hell, I just went to the bathroom and talked to my friends and glanced around some, I’m white, and so far you haven’t called the police on me. So apparently you’re a fucking traitor to our nation too.

What’s disheartening is that so many people seem prepared to accept this ludicrous anecdote as proof that U.S. authorities aren’t doing enough to control Arabs’ movements within U.S. borders.

Recently, in GQ, I provided a [repaired] link, without commentary, to a website which contained what I considered to be a more-than-adequate debunking of the story.

A Doper – a Doper, no less – a Doper, God help us, responded by saying:

Suffering Christ. What hope is there for the unwashed?

I’m reminded of a story the physicist Feynman told in his autobiography. Part of the medical test he took for an army physical was a psychological test. The psychologist asked him, among other questions, “Do you think people stare at you?”

Feynman thought, well, there are about fourteen guys here waiting to be examined, no reading materials available, so the only thing to look at is me, the psychologist, and another inductee-psychologist pair at the other desk. By the law of averages, he figures, yes, some of those waiting guys are probably looking at me.

So he honestly responds, “Yes, I think some of those guys are looking at me.” And he gestures over at the waiting line. Of course, his gesturing causes others to look at him, so he continues, “and now he’s looking as well, and him, and him… yes, they’re all staring at me, all right.”

  • Rick

I started a GD thread with this as the primary material. As I said, I have my suspicions about the veracity of the story, and particularly don’t like her mention of Hindus as being at all relevant,

But… You’re all condemning her for her paranoia. That’s fair enough, as it can be irrational. However, most paranoia is a gut reaction and not one that can be controlled: I experienced it myself on a flight to Spain on September 16, 2001. Not something I’m proud of, but neither was it something I could control.

I am not defending her conclusions, but I do think the issue of whether or not her suspicions were justified hinges on the veracity of what she said the stewardess told her. If there were large numbers of Federal Air Marshals on the plane, and if the FBI or whoever did indeed intercept the men at the other end of the flight, then perhaps she was right to freak out.

In other words, a group of middle eastern men acting bizzarely on a domestic US plane prompted paranoia not just from the Coulter-loving writer, but also from the people whose job it is to protect air passengers. Are they also hysterical bigots? Or not, if their suspicions were justifiable, why aren’t hers?

jjimm made the same comment I was intending to. If this woman is a hysterical bigot, why was the plane met by the authorities, and why was this band gone over with a fine toothed comb? Apparently there was enough suspicious activity to give the attendants cause to call the authorities, and to have a number of air marshalls on board to watch and see if something was really going down. Her conclusion is a bit out there, and apparently incorrect, but you can’t fault her for being worried on board.

Because people like her reported authorities.

This part of the story sounds like utter bullshit. We have a shortage of air marshalls, yet for some reason they are suspicious enough to send many marshalls on one flight, yet not suspicious enough to investigate the men BEFORE letting them fly.

But that’s not the issue. If she had written an article about her fears, and examined them in any way in light of the “nothing-doing” outcome, that would be one thing. Instead she amplified a non-event into a supposed edge-of-your-seat thriller that boils down to “I flew with a bunch of Arab-ish men, AND BARELY MADE IT OUT ALIVE” Gut reactions don’t make you a bigot. Defending that reaction in the face of the facts and trying to inflate your fears instead of rationalizing them does.