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.