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Arab-Americans kicked off NWA flight.
September 21, 2001 6:16 AM   Subscribe

Arab-Americans kicked off NWA flight. Three Arab-Americans from Utah have been kicked off a flight from Minneapolis because the other passengers refused to fly with them.
posted by kittyb (73 comments total)

 
I'm just cringing. So much for that mythical Minnesota Nice thing, hm?
posted by kittyb at 6:20 AM on September 21, 2001


I was just about to post this link-- funny that. I've always thought Minnesota Nice was a cover for rather deep rooted hostility.

Here's a quote from the article: "under government security rules is has to "re-accommodate'' passengers if their actions or presence make a majority of the other passengers uncomfortable."

Why could they not do the right thing and "re-accomodate" the passengers refusing to fly with the Arab-Americans?

The idiocy of the Northwest employees that made this decision really angers me. I wish I could say I won't be flying with them again, but here in Minnesota one does not have much choice.
posted by missmerrymack at 6:34 AM on September 21, 2001


I was wondering when this would happen.

Hmm, I'm flying out of Minneapolis next Friday to go to Amsterdam and there are usually a number of passengers of middle-eastern extraction on that particular route. Could be interesting...

Isn't the so-called "blind cleric" associated with the first WTC bombing being held in a Minnesota prison?
posted by MrBaliHai at 6:39 AM on September 21, 2001


Did anyone else hear the story on NPR last night about the Pakistani on a Delta flight, where the captain asked him to deplane?
posted by machaus at 6:43 AM on September 21, 2001


NWA's fuckin' up the program.
posted by NortonDC at 6:46 AM on September 21, 2001


At least one flight crew has kicked off a passenger as well; I only heard a teaser for that NPR story, but I think it was the same guy. Looks like "Flying While Arabic" is becoming as much an offense as "Driving While Black". [Link via Chuck]
posted by harmful at 6:48 AM on September 21, 2001


I've always thought Minnesota Nice was a cover for rather deep rooted hostility.

Oh, amen to that. It's a passive-aggressive form of misanthropy that never really seems to get much coverage on Prairie Home Companion. People here generally suck.
posted by kittyb at 6:58 AM on September 21, 2001


NortonDC: You stole my line, man.
posted by tpoh.org at 7:05 AM on September 21, 2001


I've always thought Minnesota Nice was a cover for rather deep rooted hostility.

I should amend my statement a little bit - I think it's more of a hostility to those they don't know. I don't think most people here suck, but they are more suspicious of the motives of others than they should be.
posted by missmerrymack at 7:07 AM on September 21, 2001


[Why could they not do the right thing and "re-accomodate" the passengers refusing to fly with the Arab-Americans?]

That is EXACTLY what they should have done!
posted by revbrian at 7:08 AM on September 21, 2001


I'm surprised to read this. I must be terribly niave. I understand that there will always be a minority group of people who fear and hate indiscriminantely but how did they all end up on the same plane ?
posted by Dawn at 7:09 AM on September 21, 2001


harmful-
In regards to that NPR story yesterday, it was a different guy who was "asked" to leave the plane on a different airline (Delta) . No anchor, just scroll down and listen to the segment titled Discrimination.
When I heard it yesterday, I was hoping it was an isolated incident, but alas.
posted by mayalucia at 7:30 AM on September 21, 2001


I take it from the disgust in this discussion that everyone here would have no problem flying with several males of Middle Eastern descent?

Personally, and no doubt to my great personal shame, I would beg to be taken off the plane.
posted by rcade at 7:30 AM on September 21, 2001


Agreed, rcade. I might fly, but I would be lying if I said I would be perfectly comfortable the whole time. My eyes would be on them the whole flight. Yes, that may be irrational, and yes, it's pretty sad--but unfortunately, that's the way the ball bounces. If we attack Afganistan, my guess is the same thing would happen to caucasians in that country as well.
posted by fusinski at 7:38 AM on September 21, 2001


You shouldn't be ashamed rcade, it should be your decision to board a different plane. However, if you were to try to wait for a flight that had no Arab-Americans you would probably be waiting for a very long time.

I admit I might be a bit uncomfortable, but I think it's important not to jump to conclusions about people. Maybe I'm naive, I really feel that it's safer to fly today than it was week before last.
posted by missmerrymack at 7:39 AM on September 21, 2001


I hope these guys can get good court settlements before the offending airlines go bankrupt. [I hope their lawsuits make the airlines go bankrupt.]

> That is EXACTLY what they should have done!

No, the airlines should have kicked the bigots off the planes for disrupting service and they should have refused the bigots refunds. You cannot morally accommodate (or re-accommodate) bigotry.
posted by pracowity at 7:40 AM on September 21, 2001


i didn't really need another reason not to fly northwest, but this? i agree with pracowity. chuck the bigots off the flight.
posted by heather at 7:52 AM on September 21, 2001


And I'd be lying if I said I'd be completely comfortable. But I figure that if I'm going to avoid things that make me uncomfortable for the rest of my life, I'd be sitting in my mildewy apartment, going nowhere and doing nothing. I'd morph into a timid mealy-mouthed little churchmouse-girl. And who wins in that situation? Not me.

In a time when Northwest is going to need all the flyers it can get, I will be choosing another carrier when I fly to Baltimore next month, which I just politely told them in a nice little letter. I can't let my own fears close my eyes to how insensitive this was.
posted by kittyb at 8:01 AM on September 21, 2001


An airline has all the right in the world to decide who it wants to sell its services to, for whatever the reason. But because current American legislation unfortunately doesn't reflect this, we'll probably see both hate-crime, discrimination- and affirmative flight-action (!) programs coming down on NWA like a hailstorm. And people call America capitalist...
posted by dagny at 8:07 AM on September 21, 2001


Actually, mayalucia, Ashraf Khan in the NPR piece is the same guy mentioned in the story I linked, which is a different story than kittyb linked in the top post. It's a depressing story either way.

chuck the bigots off the flight.

Which is a bigger problem when the bigots are the ones flying the plane.

But I figure that if I'm going to avoid things that make me uncomfortable for the rest of my life, I'd be sitting in my mildewy apartment, going nowhere and doing nothing.

Been there, done that, didn't like it. You're absolutely right.
posted by harmful at 8:10 AM on September 21, 2001


Am I the only one who read the following line?

"Northwest says it had no choice. The airline says under government security rules is has to 're-accommodate' passengers if their actions or presence make a majority of the other passengers uncomfortable."

Also, it's worth pointing out MSP is a major Northwest hub, the seventh busiest airport in the United States. It's very possible those requesting the Arab-Americans be removed were not from Minnesota.
posted by mrbula at 8:13 AM on September 21, 2001


I think you people have too high of expectations for Americans right now. Yes, I disagree that it was insensitive, and discriminatory, and in poor taste--however, that doesn't change the fact that the people on that plane were human, and that humans have defense mechanisms that transcend all that is right and politically correct. Those people were scared, and they had every right to be scared in light of what just happened. Some of them could have lost family or friends for all you know. Hell, I think everyone in this forum knows somebody who died or had a close call. With that in mind, if you're operating an airline and either 200 people are going to get off a flight or 3 are going to get off, what would you do?
posted by fusinski at 8:16 AM on September 21, 2001


An airline has all the right in the world to decide who it wants to sell its services to, for whatever the reason.

That's not really true, under the Commerce Clause, any company involved in Interstate transactions cannot discriminate against people for race, sex, etc. etc. I believe the Supreme Court decided this involving a hotel in Georgia that refused service to Black travellers back in the 60's...

Yes, here it is...Heart of Atlanta Motel vs. United States
posted by vito90 at 8:21 AM on September 21, 2001


While I agree that it would have been better to remove the bigots from the plane instead of the Arab-Americans, if it was truly a "majority" of the people on the flight, fusinski has a point. The airline would have been placed in a position of flying a plane with maybe half (or less) of its scheduled passenger payload. In a time when the airlines are all hurting for money, it's just financially feasible to take those kinds of losses.

The better solution would have been asking the simple question -- why are you afraid of these men? Let the morons pipe up with their objections, and let the men answer them directly. "I'm afraid you're going to hijack the plane." "We're going to Minneapolis to visit our sister and her new baby, wanna see the pictures?" "How do we know you don't have any weapons?" "Wanna go through our bags yourselves? Security already did." "We can't trust you." "Hmm, given the number of mosques that have been vandalised and Arab-Americans who have been harassed, assaulted and killed in the last week, don't you think maybe that runs both ways?"
posted by Dreama at 8:39 AM on September 21, 2001


My opinions and feelings towards Arabs, Persians, and Pakistanis have not changed one whit... I have consistently found them to be polite, hospitable, and enjoyable to talk to. I think it comes from an appreciation in the Islamic world for the art of conversation - which is bit different than in the Western world. As for sitting next to a total stranger, and that is what airline travel forces one to do, I can't imagine the experience being any different, contextually, than sitting next to an American. I mean - what's the big deal... as long as we can agree to share the arm rest.
posted by LAM at 8:50 AM on September 21, 2001


So where is it going to take us. Where is the end to all this. What is the solution ? All Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans of other races should stop flying ? I think I have. I am going to Dallas today. But I am going to drive. That is if the rental car people actually rent a car to me. That is if some dimwit cop doesnt stop me for looking Muslim.

If the passengers in a plane arent sure about their security travelling with a Muslim-American, then it means the security wasnt tight enough. These people think that the security they came through didnt impress them.

During the Iran-Iraq war I used to live in Kuwait. Kuwait Airlines was hijacked several times by Irani hijackers for supportin Iraq. I have travelled in Kuwait Airline flights full of Irani looking people. I did that then. And I will fly with any number of Asian looking people now. Because I am not a wuss. I will die for respect of diversity, for respect of humanity.

So, to the Wussies on American Planes. I challenge your racism. I challenge your hate crimes. I challenge your pointing fingers. I challenge your "fuckin muslim/arab" comments. I challenge your Ignorant Arrogance.

I am goint to continue to fly. I will not be racially profiled. I will stand till the last drop of blood, for the dream of freedom, that I followed to the United States of America.

God Bless Freedom
posted by adnanbwp at 9:01 AM on September 21, 2001


It sounds good, Dreama, but wouldn't that just turn into a shouting match? And it would depend on the Arab-American passengers remaining unrattled, articulate, and comfortable speaking to an angry mob.

I guess I can understand the fear that the other passengers might have felt, though I balk at justifying the presumption that because the hijackers were Middle Eastern, we can rationalize and accept anxiety-turned-into-bigotry (or maybe that's bigotry situationally justified by anxiety?). But people are under pressure, and the best doesn't always come out.

But not only do I think the NWA handled it dreadfully (didn't they expect situations like these?), but I can't imagine that a majority of individuals spontaneously and individually expressed their discomfort and refusal to fly. Sounds like some very vocal bigots must have led this crowd to such a demand. These are the people I'm scared of.
posted by BT at 9:16 AM on September 21, 2001


I would have absolutely no qualms about flying in the same plane with Middle-Easterners (or anyone else for that matter).

Just as I would now have absolutely no qualms about going straight for their throats if they threatened the safety of the aircraft or the people on board.

I feel that I would not be alone, and that in fact, most of the plane would be with me.

That makes me feel safer...
posted by fooljay at 9:29 AM on September 21, 2001


i would love to have seen the northwest officials make an announcement on the plane in question: "due to some gross insensitivity on the part of the majority of passengers on this flight, we will be delayed as we escort three of our other valued customers to their first class seats on one of our other flights." it sounds like the cowardice of the airline officials was worse than the other passengers.
posted by judith at 9:37 AM on September 21, 2001


Yet again dagny, your bullshit overwhelms me.
posted by jackiemcghee at 9:48 AM on September 21, 2001


Ok. Now let's try another scenario. A gorgeous Arab chick gets on the plane and sits next to you. Do you ask theat she gets put off the plane?
Reminds me of Lenny Bruce who, talking about black and whites,asked: if you could choose between having sex with a white woman and a black one, which would you choose. Now, the white woman is Kate Smith and the black woman is Lena Horne. Pick.
posted by Postroad at 9:52 AM on September 21, 2001


What's next? Kicking black people out of restaurants because they make white folks uncomfortable? Is this the 1950s?
posted by MegoSteve at 9:55 AM on September 21, 2001


Because I am not a wuss. I will die for respect of diversity, for respect of humanity.

Wow, I agree this is bad all around, but I read stuff like the above and I think "better you than me" I am not afraid to fly with anyone, but if you are going to phrase it like that, I am completely unwilling risk my life for a stretchy concept like "humanity".
posted by thirteen at 9:56 AM on September 21, 2001


An airline has all the right in the world to decide who it wants to sell its services to, for whatever the reason.

I think I'd agree that they have a right to do this, and in any case, I doubt that it would even be possible to make something like this illegal without doing more harm than good. It seems to me, though, that there's often a big difference between what one has a right to do and what one should do.

Legislation requiring everybody to be nice all the time would be a really abominably horrible idea. At the same time, if someone consistently acts like an asshole, I'll think less of him, and I'll be less likely to do business with him.
posted by moss at 10:07 AM on September 21, 2001


I just want to know if this is true:

The airline says under government security rules is has to "re-accommodate" passengers if their actions or presence make a majority of the other passengers uncomfortable.

Does anyone know if this is actually codified somewhere? The passengers on any flight can get together and vote off anyone they don't like? Airplane Survivor?
posted by aaron at 10:28 AM on September 21, 2001



"Flying While Arabic" is becoming as much an offense as "Driving While Black".
Well, it's not exactly true: we're not talking about a bunch of LAPD rogue cops harassing (or, God forbid) beating up innocent blacks. That's racism and it should be punished very harshly.
But profiling doesn't always come from racism, I'm sorry to report: last Tuesday's kamikaze hijackers are, apparently, all males of Arabic descent, between 20 and 40.
Terrorism has come to America, and unfortunately things will be different: i.e., we must begin to accept that profiling, when it's well-done and doesn't come from racism, does work. If you're a cop and you're in a hurry and you're looking, say, for a militia guy, you just don't bother checking out a black guy.
Looking for one of Bin Laden's boys at the airport? Well, it's ugly and all, but you've gotta follow the Middle Eastern-looking guys, sorry.
This doesn't change the fact that those guys at the Minneapolis airport were racist and they lost it, of course: it's ugly and horrible and disgusting, just like the Italians and the Japanese who got beaten up and even deported in the USA and Great Britain at the beggining of WWII.
It's not very P.C., but profiling does not always equal racism. Just ask a good cop.
posted by matteo at 10:29 AM on September 21, 2001


Leave it to a Minneapolis-based airline. Yet another reason I'm glad I got the hell out of there, and not on Northwest either.

I'm with whoever said up there that they'd go for the throats of anyone who threatened the safety of the flight. I don't care what they look like. McVeigh showed us that terrorists can be white, too... you who are afraid of the Arab-appearing folks gonna say the same about the militaristic-looking gentleman sitting next to you who by all accounts and appearances is no troublemaker?

Just like a regular everyday Bic pen can be used as a weapon, your regular everyday traveler can go berzerker on a flight and cause mayhem. I don't know what all the fuss is about a bunch of knives being prohibited from flights when you can use just about anything pointy as a stabbing instrument. Security knows this, but you don't see pens or pencils being outlawed. If someone has enough of a driving desire to take a plane down, they can use any means at their disposal, and can look like anybody you'll run into on the street.

Terror doesn't have a face.
posted by evixir at 10:32 AM on September 21, 2001


I'm afraid I have to agree with you, matteo. It is ugly and I don't know how to couch it so it's more p.c., but the men who crashed those planes last week came into our country and blended into our society. For months, they were someone's polite neighbor or someone's cab driver or just the guy working the late shift at the corner gas station. Lashing out at every dark-skinned person you see these days is wrong, but we're all scared and suspicious right now, because we have reason to believe there are active cells still in the country planning more attacks.

And yes, terrorists can be white, too. Or they can be black. Or they can be Japanese. Or, or, or... Once you start thinking about it, who knows who anybody is? That's another effect of this type of attack: it makes us afraid of one another.
posted by Dean King at 10:44 AM on September 21, 2001


I've always thought Minnesota Nice was a cover for rather deep rooted hostility.

I totally agree. Minnesotans in general are cold blooded. I miss Texas.
posted by jusx at 10:44 AM on September 21, 2001


We all know that the current state of affairs will, unfortunately, allow racism against Arab-Americans to fester. However, there is something we can do about it. The following story relates how three men were kicked off a Northwest Airlines flight because of their race:

http://www.startribune.com/stories/1576/704367.html

Please send letters of disapproval to Northwest Airlines at ttnwa@nwa.com or any of the usual suspects (root@nwa.com, postmaster@nwa.com, etc) or mail them to:

Northwest Airlines Customer Service
5101 Northwest Drive M/S C6590
St. Paul, MN 55111

Feel free to pass this around as you see fit. Write your own letter or just stick your name on mine, that's fine.


Below is my letter:
---------------------------

I read in the newspaper this morning about the three men - American men, even, although your actions would be despicable no matter who they were - of Middle Eastern descent who were refused passage on a Northwest flight because of the extreme racism of other passengers and the Northwest staff who accomodated and allowed that racism.

I am disgusted that this could happen in America. The fact that you coddled these racist anti-American passengers - the fact that you ENCOURAGED their racism by allowing them to disrupt the lives of these three men - is proof that we have allowed racism to fester as a result of last week's tragedy.

I can guarantee you that I will never, in my life, fly on Northwest Airlines ever again. And I will do my best to make sure that nobody I know flies on your airline either. I will forward this story to everyone I know and encourage them to write you letters like this one.

I am embarassed that I ever gave you my business. Please cancel my frequent flyer account immediately. I hope you change your policy after this, and I hope you can make amends to the many Americans of Middle Eastern descent who will feel (and rightly so!) discriminated against by your decision. This is just as bad as a restaurant asking black customers to leave because they made white customers "uncomfortable." Shame on you! Why not "re-accomodate" the passengers who brought up the issue in the first place?

I suppose we shouldn't be surprised by your actions; Northwest is, after all, a sponsor of Rush Limbaugh's radio show.

Yours,

Joshua Lurie-Terrell
Sacramento, California
posted by luriete at 10:45 AM on September 21, 2001


Ok people, back off on Minneapolis. From the sound of the story this could have happened anywhere in this country. I've lived and spent a significant amount of time in a number of communities around the Midwest and this is easily one of the most tolerant I've found.
posted by mrbula at 10:50 AM on September 21, 2001


i believe that the decision of northwest airlines might have been based on the anger felt by the staff due to the 10,000 layoffs about to be made. arabs fingered as responsible for the attack on wtc via a commercial airline=passengers less likely to fly on airplanes=airlines lose money=airlines layoff 10,000 people=anger at all arabs.

the passengers were scared, they have a right to complain.

the Northwest Airline staff (NWA IS based out of minnesota, mrbula) is to blame for not taking the trouble to reassure the passengers that they need to trust that security checked these passengers and that these passengers are merely passengers. perhaps the staff needs training on dealing with this situation. there will always be a need for diversity training, now more than ever!

btw:if you are really angry with nwa, open a site i.e. angry nwa customer.

one more thing:
per: aclu press release 12/97
Northwest Airlines has been testing the CAPS system in select airports since earlier this year, and, according to Nojeim, the ACLU has received more complaints of discriminatory security screening from Northwest passengers than from passengers on any other airline. However, it is not yet clear whether and how those complaints are linked to use of CAPS.

and i am from minneapolis...and a little shocked at the sites i am finding that are showing the disability and race discrimination cases by NWA.
posted by m2bcubed at 10:53 AM on September 21, 2001


Hey, I'm from MN and I'm not cold blooded. I'm just cold. Really, don't judge a state by the people that use NWA. I'd be upset if someone did that on a flight I was on. It would be embarrassing.
posted by torlon2001 at 10:54 AM on September 21, 2001


the most disturbing thing to me throughout all this backlash has been the cultural ignorance shown by people.

In a nation that prides itself on it's "melting pot" heritage, we sure are showing that we don't know our basil from our cilantro.
posted by themikeb at 10:55 AM on September 21, 2001


I am so conflicted about this. On the one hand, I get very self-rightous like everyone on this string. I can't believe how horrible that is to the passengers who were removed and I think "how awful is that!" I'm indignant, I'm amazed, I'm horrified, and angry.

On the other hand, I want to stay alive. I don't know what a "bad" middle-easterner looks like vs. a "good" middle easterner. No one does. I am scared. I don't know how many "cells" of terrorists there are. If there is a Jihad, I don't know what their plans are.

I am not treating Arabs any differently now. In fact, I am patronizing business run by Arabs on purpose would not dream of being rude. But that's on the street, not in a flying bomb. I don't think I would have asked for them not to fly, but I would have been watching them like a hawk.

Again, I don't see it as black and white as others do. I'm very conflicted by what happened.
posted by aacheson at 11:04 AM on September 21, 2001


I'm well aware NWA is based in Minnesota. That's beside the point. I'll quote the article, again:

"Northwest says it had no choice. The airline says under government security rules is has to 're-accommodate' passengers if their actions or presence make a majority of the other passengers uncomfortable."

If that's true, it doesn't matter if the airline is based in Eagan or Chicago or Houston. It's a regulation problem--and a national one at that--that needs to be fixed. In this particular case, it's wrong for us to be holding NWA responsible.

(That said, I hope it doesn't sound like I'm endorsing NWA. Whenever possible, I go with Sun Country.)
posted by mrbula at 11:11 AM on September 21, 2001


I'm hoping that the flight may have been only partially full and the "majority" may have only been a few ignorant people.

I don't think American commercial air travel would provide a very healthy environment for terrorists right now since the outcome of the thwarted highjacking by the passengers in PA, the additional searches and security, the APA's request for passengers to interfere with highjackings and talk of armed air marshals. Doesn't seem to be the easiest form of terrorism anymore.
posted by torlon2001 at 11:18 AM on September 21, 2001


What's next? Kicking black people out of restaurants because they make white folks uncomfortable? Is this the 1950s?

I don't think there's any comparison here. I'm not aware of any restaurants that have been blown up lately by black patrons.
posted by briandame at 11:33 AM on September 21, 2001


briandame,
they are both reactions from fear and lack of ability to differentiate one individual from another.
mm
posted by m2bcubed at 11:38 AM on September 21, 2001


I don't think there's any comparison here. I'm not aware of any restaurants that have been blown up lately by black patrons.

If there had been, would it be okay to kick them out? Just wondering.
posted by Saima at 11:41 AM on September 21, 2001


NWA's fucking up the program = Gold

I am in agreement with the thought that terrorists and hijackers can come in any color, not just Middle Easterners but white people, black people and Mexicans too.

Basically I'm suspicious of everyone I ride the airplane with because any one of them could burst out and be a freak. Even that kind looking granny lady that keeps asking me if I want a mint. She might be a secret ninja in disguise or something like that.
posted by monique at 11:44 AM on September 21, 2001


Thanks, luriete, my letter is sent to NWA and I forwarded your entire message to friends as well.
posted by msacheson at 11:46 AM on September 21, 2001


mrbula said: Ok people, back off on Minneapolis.

But the people who posted those comments are being racially sensitive! In fact, they are being so racially sensitive, they are willing to make sweeping generalizations about people based on where they are from!
posted by Potsy at 12:02 PM on September 21, 2001


Basically I'm suspicious of everyone I ride the airplane with because any one of them could burst out and be a freak.

monique just summed up why my experience of flying internationally -- often with enough Middle-Eastern men on board to re-enact Lawrence of Arabia -- has always been much more pleasant than on domestic flights in the US, where a significant minority of passengers seem to enjoy re-enacting their infancy.
posted by holgate at 12:15 PM on September 21, 2001


"Northwest says it had no choice. The airline says under government security rules is has to 're-accommodate' passengers if their actions or presence make a majority of the other passengers uncomfortable."

Folks: go back and read vito90's post. Government security rules or no, this practice is illegal. Disrimination on the basis of race or religion is illegal. A government rule that seems to imply otherwise is either a. unconstitutional or b. really means "except where so doing is unconstitutional." And yes, NWA should be expected to know this--this is not arcane law, this is one of the essential parts of our society. The commerce clause makes this even less in doubt--this is actually a *more* clear-cut example than the precedent, since the vast majority of plane flights are state-to-state or international.

Then, anyone who still feels any ambiguity about this, step back and think about whether we *ever* want to allow restrictions of something as essential to our freedoms in this country as the right to travel freely based on religion or ethnicity.
posted by feckless at 12:21 PM on September 21, 2001


if it was truly a "majority" of the people on the flight, fusinski has a point. The airline would have been placed in a position of flying a plane with maybe half (or less) of its scheduled passenger payload.

What a bunch of crapola. The majority don't have the right to tyrannize a minority. If you think the potential money lost due to not accommodating bigots is anything comparable to the discrimination lawsuit that's inevitable then you're sadly mistaken.

Its also pretty disheartening to know that my tax dollars are subsidizing racist airlines.
posted by skallas at 12:27 PM on September 21, 2001


we must begin to accept that profiling, when it's well-done and doesn't come from racism, does work.

This is a well-written argument that racial profiling does not "work." It's far more cogent than any response I could write.

In any event, we could just "temporarily" suspend the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th Amendments if effectiveness were our paramount concern. All those pesky rights sure hamper law enforcement efforts. Imagine, no more right to remain silent, have counsel, or be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Our police would finally be free to truly maintain public order.

Okay, so it's a goofy overstatement, but my point is that some of our ideals are too important to sacrifice for dubious notions of efficiency. If racial profiling really does "work," then let's see some numbers from a few serious studies.
posted by estopped at 12:34 PM on September 21, 2001


Crap, hit post instead of preview.

Anyhow, I was just going to add that only 20% of Muslims are Arabs (according to ABC's Nightline a few days back) and that most Muslims are Asians (e.g. , Indonesians, Bangladeshis, etc.) So, are we going to throw all these folks off out airliners so we can feel safe? What about Bosnian Muslims? African Muslims? African-American Muslims?
posted by estopped at 12:39 PM on September 21, 2001


White Muslims?
posted by jackiemcghee at 12:44 PM on September 21, 2001


Round up the usual suspects: How far should ethnic profiling go in the quest to nab the World Trade Center terrorists?
"We in the Arab community need to have a little bit of forbearance, a little bit of patience. We should be slightly more tolerant than usual." The tolerance, however, may wear out over time. If profiling extends beyond the crisis -- if in six months or a year, no Arab can cross an American border or get on a plane without being strip-searched -- then support for the law-and-order cause will likely diminish.
posted by Dean King at 12:52 PM on September 21, 2001


I'm not sure if the $5 billion airline relief bill has had the monies go through to Northwest already. But if it hasn't, it might be a good idea to begin lobbying Congress to cut Northwest Airlines out of the relief. If Bush stated last night that any racism against Arab Americans will not be tolerated, well then it's time for the U.S. to stop encouraging them. It would send a clear message throughout the nation that atavistic incidents like this will not be rewarded.
posted by ed at 1:01 PM on September 21, 2001


monique just summed up why my experience of flying internationally -- often with enough Middle-Eastern men on board to re-enact Lawrence of Arabia --

There were no Middle Easterners in Lawrence of Arabia! That was Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness, and Anthony Quinn in brownface, silly!
posted by dogmatic at 1:15 PM on September 21, 2001


I missed vito90's post, it was good to read that. (And just to be clear, I want to state I was in no way endorsing NWA's behavior.)

"...it might be a good idea to begin lobbying Congress to cut Northwest Airlines out of the relief."

We need to look at the big picture here. We could only do that if we were willing to fuck over the Twin Cities, Memphis and Detroit in the process. (Imagine removing American and United from Chicago or Delta from Atlanta.) Should NWA be punished? Of course. But I honestly cannot believe any public company as large as NWA has institutionalized racism and should be punished with what, considering the current situation, could be a death sentence.

If there's anything we can say NWA has institutionalized it's incompetence. This was probably just a bone-headed move by some lower-level employees.
posted by mrbula at 1:22 PM on September 21, 2001


NWA is like any other airline, it has staff who are not aware of how to react to conflicts...they just need to be trained better perhaps. maybe some of that money could go to training?
posted by m2bcubed at 1:53 PM on September 21, 2001


But the people who posted those comments are being racially sensitive! In fact, they are being so racially sensitive, they are willing to make sweeping generalizations about people based on where they are from!

This post deserves to win some kind of award.
posted by aaron at 2:50 PM on September 21, 2001



Government security rules or no, this practice is illegal. Disrimination on the basis of race or religion is illegal. A government rule that seems to imply otherwise is either a. unconstitutional or b. really means "except where so doing is unconstitutional."

Perhaps it is, but you are not the one that gets to decide the rule in unconstitutional. Until a court overturns it, or at least grants an injunction pending the outcome of a lawsuit against it, the rule is legal and binding.

If the rule actually exists in the first place, which still is unclear.

Step back and think about whether we *ever* want to allow restrictions of something as essential to our freedoms in this country as the right to travel freely based on religion or ethnicity.

EVER? I have no trouble imagining circumstances where such restrictions might have to be put in place. They would have to be exceedingly wild circumstances, to be sure, but if it ever were to come to the point where the very existence of the United States itself were in jeopardy due to an out-of-control war, I'd take a temporary imposition of such restrictions over the total collapse of the government. Because I can guarantee you that in such a case, our government would not be replaced by a regime more concerned about such essential freedoms.
posted by aaron at 3:03 PM on September 21, 2001



Updated article from the StarTribune.
posted by mrbula at 3:32 PM on September 21, 2001


dogmatic: You saying Omar Sharif isn't Middle Eastern? Or that Peter O'Toole was an ethnically inappropriate casting choice to play an Englishman?
posted by Potsy at 3:41 PM on September 21, 2001


Ok. Peter O'Toole wasn't in brownface. My bad. And I'll give you Omar Sharif.

But Alec Guinness? He's no more Middle Eastern than I am Japanese. And note, Lawrence of Arabia was not the only time David Lean darkened Sir Alec's makeup.
posted by dogmatic at 4:41 PM on September 21, 2001


aaron-

First, I suspect that if the rule exists, and doesn't explicitly state "except where doing so would violate someone's constitutional rights," that there's probably a blanket rule somewhere in a higher-level paragraph that has that kind of statement. If not, well, expect the lawsuit to take on the government as well as the airline.

Second, I could see *blanket* restrictions on rights being needed during an extreme crisis. Heck, we're probably already facing them regarding airline travel--everybody's ability to travel freely has just been restricted a little bit, by government decree. I think most people find this reasonable, given the context. The problem is with doing so selectively, on the basis of contitutionally protected areas like race or religion. To the extent that we do so, we risk become something other than the United States.
posted by feckless at 5:49 PM on September 21, 2001


I would hope that if I was was faced with the situation of being on a flight with Arabic persons and some of the other passengers voiced the the fact that they will not fly with "those people", I would stand up for their right to be there the same as everyone else. But, as I am not likely to be in this situation, I really don't know what I would do.
posted by bjgeiger at 5:59 PM on September 21, 2001


Just a note, apparently Northwest Airlines isn't the only airline having trouble with the crew and/or passengers being scared and/or insensitive. Though I do find the thought of pilots using ropes to get out of the cabin on the tarmac funny, in an odd way.

As a person from Minneapolis, I'd have to agree with the others who have said back off about Minneapolis/Minnesota people. I highly doubt that every person on that plane were from Minneapolis. And I can drive down Lake Street and still see flags from ALL nations (including, I believe, Pakistan and Afghanistan) hanging from the flagpoles, as they were before 9/11/01. They haven't been replaced with all US flags. Even in light of reports that here, in Minneapolis, we also had a minority faction of Muslims who had a celebration the day after the WTC attacks. The majority of people do realize that the Muslims (and non-Muslims) who are celebrating the attack are in the minority of their culture, just as those who are perpetuating violence and hatred towards the Muslims are the minority of ours.
posted by TiffanyRing at 7:37 PM on September 21, 2001


Regarding backing off about Minneapolis/Minnesota people. My comments were in regards to the mention of Minnesota Nice. In my opinion and experience (I've lived here since I was a baby) Minnesota Nice is a fallacy. It's just peachy with me if others hold a different opinion.
posted by missmerrymack at 10:31 AM on September 22, 2001


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