What He Said

This hits the nail on the head:

Racial Profiling at U.S. Airways – TalkLeft: The Politics Of Crime Six imams attending a conference in Minneapolis took time to pray at the gate before boarding a U.S. Airways flight to Phoenix. A passenger handed a note to a flight attendant pointing out the “6 suspicious Arabic men” on the plane. Disturbed by their “unsettling” behavior — which apparently consisted of praying and asking for seat belt extensions — the crew told the police that the imams needed to be removed. They were escorted from the plane in handcuffs and detained for five hours before authorities conceded that they posed no threat.

U.S. Airways refused to book the imams on another flight to Phoenix. According to the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Muslims (both passengers and airline employees) have more complaints about U.S. Airways than other airlines. The incident prompted the Council and the NAACP to ask for Congressional hearings on racial profiling in airports.

Can you imagine the outcry from the religious right if six Christian pastors were removed from a flight because they prayed together at the gate? U.S. Airways would be deservedly out of business in a week.

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13 Responses to What He Said

  1. BroD says:

    Damn–that “Acquiesence” thing got me again!

    No way this is acceptable. Personally, I’d be in favor of banning prayer in airports: I don’t fly often and it does make me a bit nervous so seeing people indulging in overt prayer might be a bit unsettling. But, yeah, the idea that they’d bust Christians for praying is preposterous.

    I’ll avoid US Airways if at all possible.

  2. Phill says:

    Phoenix means its probably an Air West crew rather than US Airways.

    Not an excuse but much more of a chance of getting the parent company to see sense and read the riot act.

  3. Anonymous 1L says:

    So wait — if it was a passenger who passed a note to a flight attendant, how is this racial profiling on the part of US Airways? US Airways (in what must be the first instance of a US airline doing something in response to a passenger comment in the last several years) simply reacted to a passenger’s comment. As far as I know, these imams were never singled out by a US Airways ticket agent, security, or a US Airways gate agent/flight attendant/pilot for any reason. (If they indeed were, then there is a very strong argument that the imams were victims of racial profiling)

    As to your comment about arresting six Christian pastors, I would hope that this is a comment made without much reflection; otherwise I respectfully believe that you are blinding yourself to reality. If it were 19 fundamentalist Christians who were behind 9/11, then yes, US Airways would be completely justified in taking the same action if it responded to a passenger complaint by calling the police. As history shows however, it was not 19 fundamentalist Christians who were behind 9/11.

    Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that airlines should go around calling the cops because a passenger feels that actions of certain other passengers (religious or not) are suspicious or threatening. That being said, if you were sitting next to a passenger at the gate who made you uncomfortable FOR ANY REASON (religious or not), what would you do? I am willing to wager that this passenger alerted the flight attendant because he/she felt that his/her safety was legitimately threatened, not because of any bigotry or intolerance (if evidence comes out to the contrary, then I will be the first to retract this statement).

    Nobody is doubting the imam’s right to pray or worship as they see fit; to ban this (or any other prayer, for that matter) would probably constitute a violation of the First Amendment. However, while one may be guaranteed the right to worship one’s deity as one sees fit, one is not guaranteed the right to be free from the reactions of others in so doing. In no way am I blaming these imams, and I will be the first to defend their right to pray and worship as they believe their interpretation of Islam requires, but they should also recognize, in the current climate in which we are in, that a Muslim engaged in open prayer in the middle of an airport is likely to arouse suspicion. Again, I AM IN NO WAY BLAMING THESE IMAMS. But it must be recognized that there are consequences to one’s actions, whether those actions are constitutionally protected or not. The (unfortunate) consequences to this actions was they they were disallowed from boarding the plane. If they feel that their rights were violated, then there are courts in which they may seek a remedy.

    On preview — I read somewhere that the captain of the airplane, in his power as captain, can refuse to fly the plane for any reason. I don’t know if this is true or not. Can someone enlighten me?

  4. Phill says:

    Fact is that Timothy McVeigh, the white supremacist gun nut who murdered 240 people in Oaklahoma was very much white and Christian.

    Racial profiling is bad security.

  5. Anonymous 1L says:

    That’s very true. But Tim McVeigh didn’t hijack an airplane to murder those people in Oklahoma City. He rented a truck and bought 5,000 pounds of fertilizer that he then made into a truck bomb. Therein lies the difference. If, after the Oklahoma City bombing, a young white male decided to show up out of the blue and buy over two tons of fertilizer, and the fertilizer vendor became suspicious, I would fully support the fertilizer vendor in calling the cops.

    Now, add to the situation that Sheik Omar Shahin, one of the imams escorted off the flight, admitted to the Arizona Republic that he had supported Osama bin Laden through his mosque, and has publicly stated that Muslims were not behind 9/11.

    Why this man was not singled out for more security before he got to the gate is beyond me. And if you were wondering, if Gerry Falwell were to hijack an airplane tomorrow and fly it into a gay rights organization’s headquarters because he sees that organization as an abomination to God, then yes, I would support extra security screening of fundamentalist evangelical Christians at airports. And if one started praying to Jesus right before a flight and an uncomfortable passenger reported him to a flight attendant and he was then removed, I would say the same thing I am saying now.

  6. Anonymous 1L says:

    Sorry, that should be Jerry, not Gerry.

  7. aidan says:

    I think the “Islamic scare” has been largely orchestrated for political purposes. Strange that I of all people should be saying that since for a while I pretty much bought into the demons_r_them rhetoric of those who have sown the seeds for a lot of this paranoia.

    Yes indeed, the 9/11 hijackers were Muslim and of Arab lineage, but if instead of thinking of the infamous 19, we refocus on an American Muslim population in excess of 5 million, it is remarkable that Americans haven’t experienced a single car bomb blast in a crowded civilian area that can be tracked back to any local extremists. Another way of looking at it is to consider that Al Qaeda and affiliates, in the context of the greater global umma, are an extremely tiny band of insurgents with whom the average Muslim has nothing much in common.

    The other side of the issue also, is that paranoia, suspicion and official “treatment” that is perceived to be high handed or unfair, lends justification to extremism. The provisional IRA in N.Ireland drew a lot of their para-military justification from precisely that type of targeting and suspicion by the authorities, often extended to grass roots activists in areas like the Ardoyne and Short Strand in Belfast. Irish Republican spokespersons constantly complained about “their people” being harassed and picked on. It actually propelled the violence, rather than helped add to security. This isn’t to say of course that there wasn’t a dangerous environment … there was … but it was inflamed often by attitudes and presumptions that ended up targeting the innocent.

    I think profiling based on physical attributes and distinctiveness is unfortunate. Psychological indicators are now apparently being looked at more closely, and that makes sense. People engaged in illegal activity in places such as airports have been shown to have certain biological indicators … i.e. raised pulse rate, awkward body movements, fixed expressions etc that are indicative of stress and anxiety. These are probably are better tip-offs than say brown skin or a burqa.

    It is a complicated challenge in many ways, but I think that most of all we need to avoid over reactions.

  8. Go Democrats! says:

    All I have to say is, we didn’t start this, the arab extremists did. If there is racial profiling, it is not our fault, blame the arab extremists who started this mess.

    I don’t care if 6 people were inconvenienced and had to leave the plane. Better 6 arab people inconvenienced, then another tragedy similar to 9-11.

    What other way is there to handle these situations in a post-911 world? Anyone have any ideas? I am falling out of my chair waiting to hear the responses to this…

  9. Anonymous 1L says:

    I don’t know if that is supposed to be snarky, or serious.

  10. Go Democrats! says:

    It was quite serious… if you have anymore ideas Mr. Anonymous 1L, as to what better way to deal with terrorism on airplanes… please do tell.

    Also Mr. 1L, shouldn’t you be studying for your finals? Everything in your life is secondary to your first semester exams.

  11. Joe says:

    Terrorism on airplanes, even after 9/11, isn’t as big a problem as incompetent airline employees and airlines that refuse to perform proper maintenance. I have avoided United Airlines for years because I don’t trust their maintenance efforts. I believe that their incompetence contributed to their security being compromised on 9/11. The latest “News of the Weird” retells a story that appeared in the Wall Street Journal in September about a British Airways 747 that flew from LAX to Manchester, England, after an engine caught fire shortly after take-off. The aircraft apparently landed safely. I don’t know how long the flight lasted, but I’ll be damned if I willingly fly from California to Great Britain in an airplane that has experienced an engine fire. I doubt if I’ll ever fly British Airways.

  12. Go Democrats! says:


    Your comment about United Airlines is quite attenuated (is that too big of a word for you?).

    United Airlines does not really do the safety checks of the passengers on the airplane, it is the federal airport security. I guess in a way United Airlines is a part of it because they must pay a fee for this service, but that does not mean that responsibility inures to them just because they must pay money.

    If you want to keep posting here on discourse.net… please lay off the drugs!

    iiiAlguien mas quiere cocotear con el panal de abejas!!!

  13. michael says:

    Dear “Democrats,” please have a look at the comments policy as regards civility.

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