Monday, January 5, 2009

Passenger profiling

"At the end of the day, people got on and made comments they shouldn't have made on the airplane and other people heard them. Other people heard them, misconstrued them. It just so happened these people were of Muslim faith and appearance. It escalated, it got out of hand and everyone took precautions."—Air Tran spokesman Tad Hutcheson defending his airline's decision to remove nine Muslim passengers—all but one native U.S. citizens—from a Washington-Orlando flight, based on other passenger's suspicions.

I recall when this had come out on CNN last week. Any passenger getting on a plane and publicly discussing the safest place to sit in the event of a crash... If the nine people had been dressed in ratty looking t-shirts and jeans and were of the Christian faith would I as a fellow passenger be any less suspicious? After all, Christians of extreme faith have been known to get violent But that would be an unfair criticism, right? Or would it? Never mind that plane crashes of any type can focus any passenger's mind on whether he or she or even they will get safely to their destination. The safest place to sit on a plane in the event of a crash for one's survival has been openly discussed on no less than news and in the public interest shows.

But in the case of the Muslim 9, as seen on CNN and the republished [to the Spokesman-Review] Air Tran excuse of why they were removed from the flight in the first place; I highly doubt it was what they said, but the fact that they were Muslim in the first place. That it wouldn't have mattered to their fellow passengers what they said, their fellow passengers would have been suspicious because these 9 passengers were Muslim and made no secret of it. And we all know not to trust those who are openly Muslim on board an airplane, don't we?

What these supposedly panicking passengers did not do was think. People openly dressed as Muslims managed to pass the security checks. Any carry on items in their possession passed security muster, they exposed themselves to the same searches as their non-Muslim passengers had. And I'll assume that Air Tran like any other airline business would want to keep its planes and passengers safe to where their inspections of any passenger and his or her luggage at all would be quite thorough. Had I been on the plane, and knowing that this is what these Muslims were saying as they went to take their seats, my response would have been a shrug of the shoulders and a "so?" Because I would have been just as knowledgeable about the problems airline companies have been having to even keep their planes safely in the air, and in some cases, getting their planes off the ground. Terrorism accounts for less than 1% of all airline tragedies. But because of 9/11/2001, it manages to account for the 100% sense of terror and/or hatred that Americans now feel toward fellow Americans if they are of the wrong faith. So what does it take to destroy a pluralistic democracy anyway? The Air Tran 9 case would be an ample description.


Dogwalkmusings said...

I understand that it was some teenagers who made the complaint.

The New Arch Druid's take on the news said...

Yeah, wonder if the teens were trying to get some attention for themselves? Not that I wish to single out teens as young people only out to make trouble in general. But from what I understand about the issue, they seemed to have caused a lot of trouble for this particular group of people. Under other circumstances, if this group had not been Muslim, what difference would it have made?