Sunday, February 8, 2009

Safety first, fellas

American Airlines is caught up in litigation over an incident in 2007 in which the pilot of a flight from San Diego to Chicago decided not to take off, and instead taxied back to the gate, because of alleged suspicious behavior by five men of Iraqi descent who were on the plane. The men, of course, hired a lawyer and sued the airline, claiming they were the victims of discrimination. The airline says the way the men acted, not their nationality, was behind the captain’s decision. The five men had raised concerns among fellow passengers and flight attendants through behavior that included one man putting a blanket over his head, another taking off his shoes, another departing for the restroom and a fourth man glaring at a crew member during safety instructions. The pilot put all those concerns together and decided it was best not to take off. Police interviewed the Iraqi men, and everyone, including the Iraqis, left the next day on another flight. The Iraqi men’s lawyer, Lawrence Garcia, says his clients just wanted to be “treated like everyone else on the plane.” He added, “One took off his shoes. One went to the bathroom, and one put a blanket on his head … If a white or African-American person had done that on a plane, it would have aroused no suspicion.” Maybe Mr. Garcia has forgotten that on 9/11, it was people from the Middle East who hijacked four planes and killed thousands of Americans. And maybe Mr. Garcia has forgotten about the guy who was trying to blow up an airline with a SHOE BOMB. There are still plenty of Arab-looking people who would be tickled to death to do great harm to America and its people. I’m not for strip-searching every Arab-looking person before they get on a plane, but is it wrong to take a little extra caution when Middle Eastern-looking people start behaving strangely on a plane? A decision is pending on the airline’s attempt to have the lawsuit thrown out. Let’s hope the judge has the good sense to do so, and that the next time this particular group of Iraqi men decides to take a trip, they have the good sense not to act goofy and draw attention to themselves.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brilliant comment and common sense applied. It is insane what has been done in the name of political correctness and avoiding the obvious.
The real shame is that an Obama administration will create MORE of this not less. Feel good crap that endangers the lives of Americans should be ended, period.

February 8, 2009 at 1:39 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

It almost sounds as if those Iraqi passengers were kind of taunting the airline staff...just to see if they react. And when they did, they sued. Just like they planned.

February 9, 2009 at 7:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, if you or I or any white person goes to the bathroom, takes off his shoes or puts a blanket over his head on a plane, we'll be treated as terrorists?

I don't think so.

The fact is that because these people were Iraqi -- or looked "Arab" -- they were treated differently. It's no different than the cops pulling over a black guy because he happens to be driving in an all-white neighborhood at the wrong time. Its racial profiling, and no amount of whining about how Arabs were behind 9/11 makes it OK.

And it's no different than long haired men in the 1960s being refuses service at restaurants or otherwise abused because they didn't look like mainstream men.

I'll bet you'd say a woman raped while wearing a short skirt was "asking for it."

February 10, 2009 at 7:33 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

That's quite a leap you're making. I think this is considerably different than someone refusing to serve bacon and eggs to smelly hippies. But since there's a Phish concert at Star Lake this year, I'll try to observe how the new generation of smelly hippies is treated. And I'll stand by my comments. If there are some Arab-looking people acting goofy on an airplane, I want the authorities to take all precautions to make sure they aren't planning to wreak havoc.

February 11, 2009 at 10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brant, you prove my point. Simply because a man has long hair doesn't mean he is a "smelly hippie." I had shoulder length hair in 1968. I did not smell, I wasn't a hippie, and my clothes were always clean, though not quite the "uniform of the day" for older people. I and my friends were often refused service in restaurants, especially if it happened to be at night. IF we were allowed to eat, many times we were the target of stage-whispered verbal abuse.

Do you think that if I'd stopped one of the people who refused to serve me from being mugged by a guy dressed as he was, I'd have been a "smelly hippie?"

And more than once while I had long hair I was pulled over by police because "something" was wrong with my car -- like a "missing bumper" that wasn't missing, or a light that "was out" but really wasn't.

So I guess an white, crewcut terrorist like Timothy McVeigh or a white, bald drug runner is pretty safe in America.

"Acting goofy" is in the eye of the beholder. What if the 19 hijackers involved in 9/11 had been of 19 different nationalities, including WASPs? How many planes would turn back then?

And I stand by my inductive leap about the rape victim.

February 11, 2009 at 2:16 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

I still think that these guys were testing the system, trying to provoke something. I'm an old white guy, but if I started acting as suspiciously as they did, I'd fully expect to be treated at a terrorist. This politically correct horses**t will be the death of this country. And I have to wonder, anonymous, had you been on that very plane if you'd be so quick to come to their defense. Perhaps after you changed your soiled undies?

February 11, 2009 at 2:34 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Anonymous, I'm sure you were a very tidy person. What I'm getting at is there's a big difference between some long-haired kid in the 60s or 70s and suspicious-acting folks who just happen to look a lot like the guys that flew planes into buildings and killed thousands of people. I've been accused of being liberal, but you make me look like Jesse Helms.

February 11, 2009 at 2:40 PM  
Anonymous thom said...

If I'm a pilot and I have to choose between tossing four guys off of a plane because they're acting strange and enduring a four hour trip with 100+ anxious passengers and a potential mid-air crisis because someone decides to be a hero when one of these guys gets up to stretch his legs, I'm tossing them off of the plane. It's a safety issue and an unfortunate one at that.

That being said, I don't think the airline is entirely innocent in what happened. While the pilot has to make tough decisions, he is relying on the rest of the flight crew to give him reliable info on what is going on. The airlines need to make sure their staff is better prepared for this type of event. Both in identifying suspicious behavior and in calming down a nervous passenger. It sounds like the flight crew got caught up in the hysteria with the passengers. At the end of the day these guys are guility of nothing more than being Middle Eastern, and while it may not be wrong to exercise a little extra caution, it isn't always right.

February 11, 2009 at 4:15 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

I still think the pilot did the right thing. And I can tell you this, anonymous...if you're more liberal than Brant, you are OUT there, buddy!

February 11, 2009 at 4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate political correctness, but what's right is right. Erring on the side of caution is OK, but I abhor the Wild West philosophy of "Shoot first and ask questions later." I'm willing to admit that maybe the Iraqis copped an attitude on the plane. So would I if I were accused of what they were accused of. So the airline offered them free tickets. That's like someone who just beat the crap out of you offering you Ben Gay. Try to put yourself in their position. Go to the Middle East on vacation and see what it's like to be looked on as suspect just because you look American.

Whities like us say we understand how minorities feel -- like Bill Clinton, we feel their pain -- but do we really? I doubt it, anymore than a man can understand what it's like to be a woman. For some perspective, try reading "Black Like Me."

February 11, 2009 at 5:24 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

I honestly don't care how those passengers feel. They screwed up, they were handled the proper way, and they got restitution.

Enjoy living in your glass castle with your sanctimonious attitude. Just be careful not to fall off that high horse you're on.

February 12, 2009 at 4:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

America fell of its high horse, not me.

February 13, 2009 at 11:24 AM  

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