Terror in the Skies, Again?
July 15, 2004 4:34 PM   Subscribe

Is this a firsthand account of a terrorist "dry run"? Terror in the Skies, Again? On June 29, 2004, at 12:28 p.m., I flew on Northwest Airlines flight #327 from Detroit to Los Angeles with my husband and our young son. Also on our flight were 14 Middle Eastern men between the ages of approximately 20 and 50 years old. What I experienced during that flight has caused me to question whether the United States of America can realistically uphold the civil liberties of every individual, even non-citizens, and protect its citizens from terrorist threats. Read the whole thing
posted by Rob1855 (124 comments total)
 
there are few things more frightening than a lilly-white bigot "journalist" quoting ann coulter.
posted by quonsar at 4:52 PM on July 15, 2004


The story doesn't really make much sense (ignoring that Ann Coulter was used as a reference, sans irony). So a bunch of arabic-looking men acted strangely on a flight and no one did anything about it. She seems to presume their guilt, even though they all went through security screening on the way into the airport. I'm not aware of plane bombs that can be built with parts that can make it through an xray and security check.

The story seems odd to me. If they were all musicians and they were nervous about flying, it seems like they would act much like they are described in the story. If they were building a bomb they might also act that way.

I assume when they got off the plane they were searched again and their luggage checked, and the plane was checked. If anything was found, I'm sure they would not have been flying again. If they did indeed fly to NYC for another gig then they were clean and I don't know what the problem is. They certainly were screened on the way to the flight, and again when they got off. The author writes as if she just watched an Al Queda training run, but nothing illegal came out of it so I don't know how likely her conclusions are.

The only thing that went wrong it seems was that the attendants didn't ask them to obey the seatbelt sign. Why didn't the attendants force them back to their seats? I've been hearing on all my flights in the past year that I wasn't allowed to hang out by a bathroom, why did this crew allow them to break that rule and make everyone (including the author of the piece) nervous?
posted by mathowie at 4:52 PM on July 15, 2004


"I continued my research by reading an article entitled Arab Hijackers Now Eligible For Pre-Boarding from Ann Coulter (www.anncoulter.com): "

Yes. This sounds like a reasonable article written by a rational human being...

"I continued my research by reading an article entitled 'The Coming White Revolution' from David Duke..."

Sheeesh!
posted by jpburns at 4:53 PM on July 15, 2004


Some middle-eastern men were on an airplane and used a bathroom. Ooh. Give me a fucking break. Nothing but speculation and innuendo based on race and--let me quote--"bizarre bathroom activities." This is not journalism. This is just more of the same bullshit scare-tactics we've been subjected to non-stop since 9/11. The article takes pains to note how aware the passengers were; how aware the flight crew was; how aware the federal air marshals allegedly on the plane were. What were these evil ragheads going to do, drop a cherry bomb down the toilet? Hey, here's a potential explanation for the magic disappearing McDonalds bag contents: maybe he fucking ate them. Jesus Christ.
posted by kjh at 4:54 PM on July 15, 2004


What I experienced during that flight has caused me to question whether the United States of America can realistically uphold the civil liberties of every individual, even non-citizens, and protect its citizens from terrorist threats.

Her solution seems to be that people that look middle-eastern should be screened extra closely, including all their baggage. If we did indeed do that, what kind of America would that be?
posted by mathowie at 4:55 PM on July 15, 2004


What I experienced during that flight has caused me to question whether the United States of America can realistically uphold the civil liberties of every individual, even non-citizens, and protect its citizens from terrorist threats.

Dude, I'm as torn a bout that question as any human can be, but they day I start looking to Ann Coulter and David Duke for guidance is the day I call the nice young men in their clean white coats to take me away, ha-haa!
posted by jonmc at 4:56 PM on July 15, 2004


>If we did indeed do that, what kind of America would that be?

One that didn't uphold the civil liberties they're so worried about.

I want my pizza without cheese. Oh, by the way, can you put extra cheese on it?
posted by shepd at 4:58 PM on July 15, 2004


jonmc, the david duke thing was a joke.
posted by mathowie at 4:59 PM on July 15, 2004


I continued my research by reading an article entitled Arab Hijackers Now Eligible For Pre-Boarding from Ann Coulter (www.anncoulter.com): 

Oh, you were getting such a good air of tension going and you had to ruin it!

Perhaps the nice A-Rab you were friendly with at first (aren't they all so pleasant?) was giving you the stinkeye because everyone on the plane was staring at him, waiting to light his shoes on fire? "My goodness, that man was so much friendlier when hundreds of people on board a plane weren't suspecting him of being a terrorist!"

Coming from Detroit, too? Home to one of the country's largest Arabic populations? Oy fucking vey. Clean out your head, lady.
posted by solistrato at 5:00 PM on July 15, 2004


But kjh, he ate them on the toilet. Sure sign of a terrorist. Try to deny it.
posted by squealy at 5:01 PM on July 15, 2004


Before I'm labeled a racial profiler or -- worse yet -- a racist, let me add this. A month ago I traveled to India to research a magazine article I was writing. My husband and I flew on a jumbo jet carrying more than 300 Hindu and Muslim men and women on board. We traveled throughout the country and stayed in a Muslim village 10 miles outside Pakistan. I never once felt fearful. I never once felt unsafe. I never once had the feeling that anyone wanted to hurt me.

aww c'mon lady, what's your point? as long as these strange people don't travel within the US they don't frighten me?
posted by tcp at 5:01 PM on July 15, 2004


I'm not saying I agree with the lady, but if that plane had had veered off course and smacked into the Sears Tower, you'd be bitching about the gubernmint didn't do enough to protect us. What's it gonna be?
posted by keswick at 5:04 PM on July 15, 2004


jonmc, the david duke thing was a joke.

Oh.

*puts out hands for straitjacket*

Eh, my statement still stands, just for Ann Coulter.
posted by jonmc at 5:04 PM on July 15, 2004


I'm not saying I agree with the lady, but if that plane had had veered off course and smacked into the Sears Tower, you'd be bitching about the gubernmint didn't do enough to protect us. What's it gonna be?

I would ask why the group was allowed to break the rules on the flight. I would ask why the air marshalls on the flight didn't do anything to stop it.

I wouldn't be asking why we aren't harder on middle eastern men at the airport.
posted by mathowie at 5:08 PM on July 15, 2004


No one inspected the contents of the two instrument cases or the McDonald's bag.
THis is very much contrary to my experience, which is that the cases would have been x-rayed and, most likely, opened. Even laptop computer owners are routinely required to remove batteries and anything even remotely out of the ordinary is examined in detail.

It seems to me that this is a case of someone who is frightened and projecting her fears on to something tangible. If this group had been white, wearing flannel shirts and drinking like there was no tomorrow, she (and the other "concerned" passengers and crew) probably would have hardly blinked an eye.
posted by dg at 5:09 PM on July 15, 2004


keswick: you just never know what hit you, or where it came from. being aware of suspects is not an option.

(i'm drunk, my english is horrible and i hope i'm not hurting anyone's feelings, honestly).
posted by tcp at 5:11 PM on July 15, 2004


It sounds to me like the men were either drinking or using drugs in the bathroom. They are musicians after all... (not to profile anyone).

I was also quick to label this woman as paranoid and potentially xenophobic, but I do think the bigger issue of airline security or lack thereof is at the bottom of a lot of these fears, which is understandable. Most of her article is pure conjecture based on nationality (how did she know cases weren't inspected, etc, was she following these guys from when they entered the airport?) but the underlying frustration with airport security is totally understandable,

Airports have been turned into malls and food courts, and people take about 30lbs of carry on luggage with them. It's absurd. Planes should stock magazines, snacks, toiltetry items, baby supplies, and everything else that is essential to air travel. No carry-on luggage should be allowed on board, and no luggage should be allowed to even enter the main area of the airport without being fully tested for explosives. Every person, regardless of race/nationality should be screened, searched, and put through metal and explosive detectors. Airports should have no restaurants or stores inside secure areas.

The easy answer is to profile people, which would have some success-- but it would not have total success, as terror networks can far more easily adapt to profiling then they can to total security overhaul of the nation's airports.
posted by chaz at 5:11 PM on July 15, 2004


"read the whole thing" ... that seems to be a favorite expression over at Instapundit
posted by rks404 at 5:13 PM on July 15, 2004


but if that plane had had veered off course and smacked into the Sears Tower, you'd be bitching about the gubernmint didn't do enough to protect us.

Would we? I know I wouldn't be doing that, as I don't expect a hermetically-saled universe to cater to my whim and make sure I'm never disrupted in any way, especially one created by the U.S. government, so please don't deign to speak for me.

This is all about fear. Were the musicians acting sorta weird? Well, sure. Weird enough to creep out the flight attendants, who one would presume would be trained to deal with such "suspicious" situations. This has nothing to do with the validity of an actual terrorist threat. One would presume that an organized squad of terrorists would be a little less conspicuous than to wear Arabic-embroidered jumpsuits. A bunch of swarthy guys were acting weird, so this person fits that into the only reality-mold she knows: these guys must be terrorists.

Everyone wants to feel safe. They don't care if they actually are, they just want to feel safe. And the notion that at any time, at any juncture, dastardly terrorists could strike (like ninjas!), while theoretically true, is just plain not going to happen anytime as frequently as Ashcroft, Ridge, et. al. would like us to believe. Just because you feel it, doesn't mean it's there. (Thanks Thom!)

No one inspected the contents of the two instrument cases or the McDonald's bag.

How the hell would she know?
posted by solistrato at 5:18 PM on July 15, 2004


Thank god she didn't have to leave the terminal in DETROIT, she would have seen suspicious men of middle eastern decent everywhere- lining up for the bathroom, driving cabs, possibly even wearing law enforcement uniforms!
I think the bomb assembly threat is very real, and I hope that any potential perpetrators will be stupid enough to all board a plane together in Detroit and act as suspiciously as this woman believes she witnessed.
posted by 2sheets at 5:19 PM on July 15, 2004


This story sounds embellished to me. My guess is that the foot long tube or whatever was a prayer carpet. My further speculation is that they were taking turns praying on it in the bathroom. Strange? Maybe, and quite possibly it was done to get a reaction. Or maybe they were just devout, I don't know. These guys were screened, there's no reason to recheck credentials prior to boarding another leg of a flight and in fact when I fly through Minneapolis they make a big deal about stating that. That's the whole point of having an enclosed terminal.

A dry run is a stupid idea now. People are on the lookup. Doing a dry run will increase scrutiny and reduce the chances of a successful operation later. They could've taken out The Renaissance Center, Joe Louis Arena or Oakland Mall if that was there intent and if this story happened remotely how the author states.
posted by substrate at 5:27 PM on July 15, 2004


Bshi*t.

She doesn't know Detroit has a large population of people of middle eastern background? Not aware or dumb.

Flight attendants are not supposed to know if or who are the air mashalls I thought. And I certainly would not spread it around the cabin. You might be telling this little secret to one of them white terrorists.

I can see being scared on the plane and seeing this around you - time to work through the fear. It's also time for Northwest to enforce the bathroom rule, don't congregate around the bathrooms.

Lastly, when I become head of the TSA - bye bye carry on bags. One bag - period. And it's clear. Checking in and security will be a lot faster; security will be easier. No purses, no wheeled luggage, etc. etc. You have to go to the baggage claim.
My rules. One bag and it's clear. Might even be able to lower the TSA budget with that little rule. Thank you, thank you very much. G'night.
posted by fluffycreature at 5:32 PM on July 15, 2004


The bathroom might have been the only place they would have enough room to actually unroll the prayer carpet.

Question: when someone brings a guitar or other largish instrument on a flight, it has to be checked, right?
posted by solistrato at 5:34 PM on July 15, 2004



The interrogators seemed especially interested in the McDonald's bag, so we repeated in detail what we knew about the McDonald's bag.

So, who got to go retrieve the bag?
posted by NewBornHippy at 5:39 PM on July 15, 2004


CowardFilter
posted by Jimbob at 5:39 PM on July 15, 2004


If this situation had happened to me--exactly as described--I have to admit that I would have been freaked out, too (at least until the helpful Caucasian stewardess whispered comfortingly in my ear that I was surrounded by undercover TSA agents).

But this one detail really stuck out at me:

Two men wore tracksuits with Arabic writing across the back.

What kind of hijacker is going to dress up like a terrorist? Total bullshit.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 5:43 PM on July 15, 2004


Two men wore tracksuits with Arabic writing across the back.

Maybe they were a dance troupe.
posted by jonmc at 5:44 PM on July 15, 2004



Why didn't the attendants force them back to their seats? I've been hearing on all my flights in the past year that I wasn't allowed to hang out by a bathroom, why did this crew allow them to break that rule and make everyone (including the author of the piece) nervous?

Because this whole story has been completely fabricated?
posted by NewBornHippy at 5:51 PM on July 15, 2004


Yeah, you guys are all acting high and mighty. Snooty bastards. We've all eaten McDonald's on the shitter before. Admit it.

*crickets*
posted by graventy at 5:51 PM on July 15, 2004


How can she write

"As aware Americans, my husband and I exchanged glances, and then continued to get comfortable. I noticed some of the other passengers paying attention to the situation as well."

and immediately follow it with

"As boarding continued, we watched as, one by one, most of the Middle Eastern men made eye contact with each other. They continued to look at each other and nod, as if they were all in agreement about something."

while being completely oblivious to irony? This has to be a joke. Right?
posted by revgeorge at 5:55 PM on July 15, 2004


Security at Detroit Metro is very lax. The screeners are busier chatting with each other than looking at the contents of your carry-ons. I was in the Northwest terminal last year and saw a guy in what looked like an airline employee jumpsuit go through a door that said "authorized personnel only." Thing was, he was smoking a cigarette (Metro is supposedly a no smoking facility) and wasn't wearing a badge on a lanyard like the other employees. I mentioned it to someone at the NWA desk, and they seemed unconcerned. (Unless they just underplayed their interest to avoid starting a panic.)
posted by Oriole Adams at 5:57 PM on July 15, 2004


Who does this lady think she is, James Woods ?
posted by herc at 5:59 PM on July 15, 2004


On the topic of airline security, a few weeks past a very good friend of mine was on a flight from Vancouver to Halifax when about half way through he realized his eye was swelling up and was having all the trademarks of an allergic reaction with no visible source.

Until of course, he looked at the women next to him.

She had somehow sneaked her cat onboard by jamming it into her purse, and was cooing to a panicked little head sticking out.

His subsequent freakout to the staff on board was met with "Well, at this point there's nothing we can do." A few angry letters to, I believe, CanJet have gone unreplied to. His main points were he had to leave behind a cup of coffee, and a few other completely innocuous items (his what you can't take on airplane pamphlet handed to him with his ticket detailed that you can't take ninja stars onboard an aircraft. I wish he still had this it was unreal the common sense things they deny onboard an aircraft) and somehow someone had sneaked a live animal in with their purse.

Granted this story had nothing to do with terrorism as much as completly shoddy security checks in airports.
posted by loukas_c at 6:13 PM on July 15, 2004


I wonder what the cat looked like when it went through the x-ray machine?
posted by dg at 6:24 PM on July 15, 2004


Did anyone consider that it was an test of the air marshalls and airport security? Which might explain the ineffectuality of the stewardesses and air marshalls.

It was an interesting read until the citation of Ann Coulter (my guaranteed sign of quality) then it all went downhill from there.

She did not dwell too much on the seeming ineffectuality of the stewardesses and the air marshalls to the situation which would have been more intriguing to me. The article seemed to be about about fear and irrational choices.
posted by jadepearl at 6:26 PM on July 15, 2004


The "story" is crap, but on top of that the arguement that we need to sacrifice basic liberties (the freedom we're supposedly so in love with) just makes no sense at all.

AIDS kills a lot more people every year than terrorism, if we enforced mandatory testing for all and quarantine for anyone with AIDS, we'd save a lot of lives! Great! Let's get that done first, right?
posted by malphigian at 6:43 PM on July 15, 2004


The website that published her story should have at least bothered to corroborate her facts -- dates, claims of FBI and police at the terminal, the supposed story in The Observer, etc. -- this is merely unsubstantiated fearmongering otherwise.
posted by briank at 6:54 PM on July 15, 2004


I would give the flight attendants on the plane a lot more credit. They have likely been through hours and hours of safety, emergency and self-defense training each year since the terrorist attacks. They see everything that happens on the plane - they are more paranoid and earlier than the passengers are because they know if shit goes down - they're going down first.

And remember folks, it's always easy to spot the air marshals.
posted by ao4047 at 6:54 PM on July 15, 2004


So a bunch of arabic-looking men acted strangely on a flight and no one did anything about it.

I think you might consider actually reading the article before making comments in the future...
posted by clevershark at 7:02 PM on July 15, 2004


Well, pretty much what everyone has already said. I'm suspicious about all the details of the story, but it could all be true. If it were, and it'd been me, I'd have been nervous, too. Although, if it'd been me, I might have seen some things that this woman didn't.

Like others, I was with her right up until she quoted Ann Coulter and then began her argument that racial profiling was the answer. At that point, the previous air of "just that facts" began to seem to me more like a facade of objectivity behind which we now see her real agenda.

And, as substrate said, why in the world would the terrorists do dry runs? Seems like an unacceptably high risk to me. I suppose that if the people had completely clean but fake IDs, nothing whatesoever to give authorities an excuse to hold them, their masters trust all of them not to do something stupid, their movements couldn't be backtracked and forward tracked, that the dry run isn't giving away some element of surprise...well, assuming all that, they could do a dry run without any bad consequence for them. How likely is that, though? Again, seems like a stupid risk. However, never assume anything is to stupid for people to do.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:03 PM on July 15, 2004


why in the world would the terrorists do dry runs?

Atta and co spent most of the summer of 2001 doing dry runs, according to the 911 panel report. I believe James Woods did see them. They wanted to scope out security, cockpit routines etc.


Nowadays, I hardly think any dry runs would be performed in such an obvious way, wearing the getups she describes.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:09 PM on July 15, 2004


Only an idiot would whisper in a cramped cabin that air marshals are all over. This shit reads like a mass trade mystery, one stop removed from a Harlequin romance. All that was missing was the author being ravaged by the "once kind looking Middle Eastern man with the goatee" while her husband went to the front of the cabin fishin' for reassurance from the friendly police state representatives.

Did I mention that virtually every "concerned" American in this story is a bumbling idiot so consumed with a cliched sense of brain-stunting xenophobia that even the "documented" lack of common sense on anybody's part doesn't pass the smell test? If this is how hijackings in the future are going to be stopped, then I'll readily agree with the author: racially profile away!

But what I sigh of relief, the mysterious goateed one, mouthed the word "No" at the last minute. Seemed to me like they'd already gotten away with everything they wanted to do up until that point. Jesus! And people will just lap this grade B plotline up.
posted by crasspastor at 7:12 PM on July 15, 2004


the mysterious goateed one, mouthed the word "No" at the last minute.

. . . wait a minute, weren't they speaking in Arabic to each other?

Hmmmmmm. I kind of doubt the Arabic word for "no" is "no."
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 7:19 PM on July 15, 2004


I think I would have asked one of these people whether they knew each other and where they're from.
I once heard a truly amazing story from a guy who walked from Tajikistan all the way to southern Thailand by expressing my curiosity. He dodged borders, crossed some very large mountain ranges, slipped past lots of people with guns, walked through what was apparently a minefield around ten minutes after someone in a village he passed had just had their leg blown off. Fascinating person, full of interesting experiences.
I think she wasted an opportunity.
posted by snarfodox at 7:23 PM on July 15, 2004


Holy crap! Does this mean Bush's brilliant Flypaper Strategy isn't working?
posted by electro at 7:24 PM on July 15, 2004


Well, the article was published in "Womens [sic] Wall Street", so what do you expect?
posted by tippiedog at 7:29 PM on July 15, 2004


Well, the article was published in "Womens [sic] Wall Street", so what do you expect?

Well I know who I won't be taking investment advice from. If they pick stocks as good as they find terrorists, my money's safer under the mattress
posted by mathowie at 7:36 PM on July 15, 2004


Everything else aside, this seems like an awful lot of trouble to kill a very small number of people. You're going to have 14 suicide bombers to take out one jet with maybe a couple of hundred people on board? I don't mean to be callous, but that hardly figures as a major terrorist threat after 9/11.

Oh, and loukas_c, I once flew from Boston to San Jose sitting next to a woman who had hidden five (count 'em, five) dogs inside her coat. But that was before 9/11, and luckily I'm not allergic.
posted by alms at 7:50 PM on July 15, 2004


What does this crazy lady expect?

Chances are that their bags were checked. I hear so many pathetic complaints these days about how much trouble it is to go to the airport for just that.

And if they were able to sneak the makings of a bomb that could be assembled in a bathroom on a plane, what could the flight attendants do? Essentially nothing.

Should the stewardess break in to the bathroom when somebody is in there when the light is on? I don't think she wants that.

If she generally doesn't trust Middle Eastern folk then there's really nothing short of barring them from flying that would satisfy her.
posted by destro at 7:50 PM on July 15, 2004


Because this whole story has been completely fabricated?

The "story" is crap

It must be really nice to be omniscient.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:54 PM on July 15, 2004


Maybe this will be the next Elvis sighting craze:

Jane, remember that trip to Mexico in 2001?

Yeah?

That Arab in front of us on the plane?

No.

Well, it was Atta. He was totally there, looking all Arab and suspicious! Have you checked out Ann Coulter's site or Womens Wall Street? Everyone has seen these guys!

No. Umm, I left my iron on. Gotta go.

Yelling: Get Coulter's new book! Keep an eye out for the next generation of terrorists! Lets goto dinner after my husband comes back from Promise Keepers!
posted by skallas at 7:56 PM on July 15, 2004


I'm not saying I agree with the lady, but if that plane had had veered off course and smacked into the Sears Tower, you'd be bitching about the gubernmint didn't do enough to protect us. What's it gonna be?

"I would ask why the group was allowed to break the rules on the flight. I would ask why the air marshalls on the flight didn't do anything to stop it."


No, you wouldn't. If the plane had smacked into the Sears Tower, no one would know if the rules had been broken or if the air marshalls had failed.

The point isn't moot; had the plane been hijacked, it would have been shot down long before it reached Chicago.

The article is hysterical, and I don't mean funny.
posted by bwg at 8:05 PM on July 15, 2004


Re. everybody standing up at the end of the flight to use the bathroom: as a bladderly challenged individual who swills the free coffee on flights, I always get up and get in the queue myself at that point, for fear of not being able to make it through touchdown, taxi-ing and disembarkation.

Re. the guy not recognizing her on the flight after she'd made eye-contact at the gate: everyone knows white people all look the same.

This is a nice counter-point to shepd's earlier thread on Al-Jazeera being monitored for 'anti-semitic content.' This kind of xenophobic and rabble-rousing portrayal of Muslims is far more common and usually goes completely unremarked.
posted by carter at 8:11 PM on July 15, 2004


So even if Northwest Airlines searched two of the men on board my Northwest flight, they couldn't search the other 12 because they would have already filled a government-imposed quota.

If the above is actually true (?), that's a real dangerous area we're getting into. Like most Europeans, I think the US has over-reacted in the past few years, but the discrimination (positive and otherwise) laws in the US are totally wack. If an airline has suspicions over twelve men.. discrimation or no discrimination.. they should have the right to search them.

Also, I can't see why this woman is being accused of being racist. The main worry in this story wasn't caused by them being middle eastern (although this may have been a reason to be extra suspicious - hardly surprising given recent events), but by the actions of supposedly disparate groups of men. If random groups of people around a plane started handing stuff and nodding at each other, and then all took a toilet break at the same time.. this can seem suspect, even if it's perfectly innocent. This is what flashmobs are all about.. sure it could happen by chance, but generally if you show me a coincidence, I'll show you someone up to no good.

BTW, 'la' (sound-wise) is Arabic for 'no', so yeah, the lip movements wouldn't have been the same.
posted by wackybrit at 8:12 PM on July 15, 2004


Re. everybody standing up at the end of the flight to use the bathroom: as a bladderly challenged individual who swills the free coffee on flights, I always get up and get in the queue myself at that point, for fear of not being able to make it through touchdown, taxi-ing and disembarkation.

I'm always amused by this. You can accurately predict when people will be lining up for the restroom.. and then just use it yourself in the down periods. Humans are so cute, there's always a line for the toilet after the main meal has been eaten, and there's always a line just after the approach has been announced!
posted by wackybrit at 8:16 PM on July 15, 2004


Is it possible to assemble a bomb on board? Could several men pass through security with C-4, det cord and a blasting cap crammed up their backsides?

If so, then anyone making trips to the bathroom could be a suspect.
posted by bwg at 8:23 PM on July 15, 2004


Even ParisParamus thinks this is stupid "journalism." What I don't quite get, however is why anyone, especially people of a suspect class would do anything to draw attention--stupidity more than terrorism.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:34 PM on July 15, 2004


Eventually, someone, if not Al Qaeda, is going to come up with a way to swallow a bomb; plastic explosive. And then air travel disappears.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:37 PM on July 15, 2004


Good thing "someone, if not Al Qaeda" hasn't yet learned how to swallow eh? Already, that puts the existence and purpose of the nefarious "McDonald's bag" toted to and fro into question.
posted by crasspastor at 8:55 PM on July 15, 2004


Eventually, someone, if not Al Qaeda, is going to come up with a way to swallow a bomb

Or worse, a plastique enema. Why don't you beat 'em to the test run, tell us how it goes.
posted by jonmc at 9:14 PM on July 15, 2004


Airline security is a joke. And yeah, if 14 Arab men were getting on a plane at the same time and were not checked a little more thoroughly than others - I would be pissed. It's unusual, and chances are the next round of suicide hijackers will be Arabs (sorry, can't be politically correct on this one).
posted by xammerboy at 9:24 PM on July 15, 2004


I kept waiting for the 'Penthouse Forum' part where the swarthy middle easterners ravaged her like she'd never been ravaged before.....
posted by spilon at 9:25 PM on July 15, 2004


Has anyone considered the possibility that, well aware of the amount of panic pent up in the American public, these people might have been deliverately trying to get a rise out of the other passengers by so overtly engaging in "suspicious" activity?
posted by Krrrlson at 9:30 PM on July 15, 2004


They put the fear of Jeebus into you when you're flying into or out of DCA (Washington Reagan National Airport, which is really in Arlington, Virginia; but I digress.) If you get out of your seat within 30 minutes of takeoff or landing and refuse to comply with verbal instructions to sit down, the plane makes an emergency landing and you get a playdate with the FBI.

This story was over the top, but it made me immediately think of the James Woods episode in the summer of 2001. I'm a crunchy hippie but this would have scared the shit out of me.
posted by PrinceValium at 9:51 PM on July 15, 2004


She wasn't citing Ann Coulter's politics. If you do a web search and come up with an Ann Coulter article on a topic, you've still found some information.
posted by abcde at 9:59 PM on July 15, 2004


I think you mean "data" -- information is meaningful data.
posted by maudlin at 10:02 PM on July 15, 2004


Read the story again, knowing that they were a musical group (touring I guess?) - so they couldn't get tickets together (not uncommon with group bookings), their manager got a 1st class seat (can't slum it), a couple of them wore tracksuits for their group (none of the cool kids did though), and they had a chat on the plane once they were on board.

Having travelled with large groups on more than one occasion, all this sounds fairly familar to me. I wouldn't take McDonalds on a plane, but then I wouldn't eat it anywhere.
posted by sycophant at 10:07 PM on July 15, 2004


As we sat waiting for the plane to finish boarding, ..;.... As aware Americans,

It doesn't seem there were 'aware' enough, they could have gotten off the plane at that point.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:27 PM on July 15, 2004


"Is it possible to assemble a bomb on board? Could several men pass through security with C-4, det cord and a blasting cap crammed up their backsides?

If so, then anyone making trips to the bathroom could be a suspect." (bwg) - This is a completely valid concern, one which we'll now deal with by eliminating all public bathrooms on airlines. Homeland Security agents will now catheterize airline patrons and tape bags to their asses before takeoff.

Have a nice flight
posted by troutfishing at 10:27 PM on July 15, 2004


What a happy mutually backslapping little group here just waiting to agree on anything.
posted by semmi at 10:39 PM on July 15, 2004


The best response in this entire thread is Even ParisParamus thinks this is stupid "journalism." Amen brother.
posted by chunking express at 10:39 PM on July 15, 2004


Middle easterners on a flight from Detroit? Holy shit! Does this person even realize what the demographics are like for Middle Easterners in Detroit and the city's surrounding areas?

I would guess a big, fat NO.

Seriously, I'm increasingly tired of scared white people thinking that we should round up brown people because, uh, they had to take a piss.
posted by dogmatic at 11:06 PM on July 15, 2004


Silly-ass article. Read the whole thing, revolted by it from first page to last page. You can almost hear the "Not that I'm racist, but..."

Feh.
posted by FormlessOne at 11:07 PM on July 15, 2004


semmi - read Metafilter much? I guess not. You haven't noticed members clawing each other's eyes out over minor differences, have you.

No, you haven't. Pull off your ideological blinders from your eyes and you'll notice....

But, such issues can be put aside - even between liberals and libertarians - to pay attention to the ten million ton national security state boulder suspended now over our mutual heads.....

Who's your daddy, who's your momma, and who will you pay when that child support dunning notice comes knocking ? And are you so sure that the state will be on your side ?
posted by troutfishing at 11:10 PM on July 15, 2004


And that reminds me :

"Photographing while tan" - your homeland security tax dollars at work.
posted by troutfishing at 11:13 PM on July 15, 2004


What a happy mutually backslapping little group here just waiting to agree on anything.

Every now and then, as it turns out, the sky really is blue.
posted by kjh at 11:33 PM on July 15, 2004


>I'm increasingly tired of scared white people thinking that we should round up brown people

I was at a restaurant the other day with a conservative Bush voter. There was a large party if Arabs who rented out half the place and had a band, and even a dancer. The guy says to me "You think there are any terrorists here?"

I just laughed and told him theres a better chance we'd get hit by a bomb from a B-52 from paranoid people like you in the government.
posted by skallas at 11:53 PM on July 15, 2004


skallas - or from home grown American right wing cyanide bombers
posted by troutfishing at 12:06 AM on July 16, 2004


hmm the guy mouthed "no" in English
made a "throat slit" motion in front of the whole airplane
they saw passports with "arabic writing on them" but later were able to read them as being Syrian and they're casually on the same area where they're being interrogated
the officials do nothing
she provides no evidence regarding any of the laws or other 'facts' she mentions
she researches using ann coulter

and some people want, almost need, to find this credible. bizarre. For those of you with this need, what is the reason? Why does this ring true despite the obvious holes in the story and the over-the-top prose?
posted by cell divide at 12:40 AM on July 16, 2004


Y'know, one of my favorite audio tidbits these days is Harry Shearer's "Tales of Airport Security" (maybe a copyrighted feature someday). Usually not as meaty as the nifty little dime store potboiler at the top of this thread, but still pretty peachy keen.

This week: Leaving Las Vegas... (should pop up in real audio, but if not, just head over to www.harryshearer.com and click on Le Show li'l dudes and dudettes.
posted by Bixby23 at 1:55 AM on July 16, 2004


Lastly, when I become head of the TSA - bye bye carry on bags. One bag - period. And it's clear.

The airline industry will thank you greatly, I'm sure, for destroying any hopes that businessmen will use airplanes for business travel, unless they don't need to take their laptop with them. And don't tell me you can check your laptop. That's not at all viable, especially considering the treatment (loss, general beating around) my luggage has endured.

If you want to make sure that something you take with you on an air trip gets there when you do, and in one piece, the only solution is to take it with you in the passenger cabin.
posted by oaf at 4:02 AM on July 16, 2004


The only way to make sure that McDonald's doesn't accidently give you a diet coke instead of a regular coke with your meal, is to bring your own.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:44 AM on July 16, 2004


A law enforcement official stood near us, holding 14 Syrian passports in his hand.

Cell_Divide: Yes, this leapt out at me, too. How does she know they're all Syrian? (Or that any are Syrian, for that matter.) Can she see the country-identifying marks for every one of them? How does she know there are 14? Did she watch him count them? Is she unusually good at estimating the number of objects in a stack? Or is she retroactively forcing these data points to match information she gets later?

It's a minor point, but a telling one. If she can make up that detail (and she clearly did), then how do we know what other details she made up?

I'd like to be able to take detailed accounts like this seriously; I suppose I should be glad when they tip their hands by screwing up in such an obvious way.
posted by lodurr at 5:51 AM on July 16, 2004


Followup: I know it's, like, uncool to send letters to the editor anymore, but I thought I would, anyway. I'll post back if they say anything to me directly.
posted by lodurr at 6:16 AM on July 16, 2004


It must be really nice to be omniscient.
posted by pardonyou? at 3:54 AM GMT on July 16



Not as nice as being scared, very very scared.



Has anyone considered the possibility that, well aware of the amount of panic pent up in the American public, these people might have been deliverately trying to get a rise out of the other passengers by so overtly engaging in "suspicious" activity?
posted by Krrrlson at 5:30 AM GMT on July 16



Yes, you.

What a surprise!



Cheers for "aware american" "journalists" everywhere...!


.
posted by sic at 6:40 AM on July 16, 2004


By the way Rob1855, you are a pussy for posting this crap non-critically and not sticking around to defend it.
posted by sic at 6:42 AM on July 16, 2004


Wow, this souldns like a pretty good action-comedy-good-cop-bad-cop-drama thing for FX next year!

Oh, wait, just reread on preview. My fault.
posted by andreaazure at 7:08 AM on July 16, 2004


That was hardly necessary, sic.
posted by Optamystic at 7:21 AM on July 16, 2004


sic, chill out. We're supposed to post interesting links, and this was one.
posted by ook at 7:24 AM on July 16, 2004


What a happy mutually backslapping little group here just waiting to agree on anything.
posted by semmi at 1:39 AM EST on July 16


throw that man off this plane!
posted by quonsar at 7:26 AM on July 16, 2004


Everything else aside, this seems like an awful lot of trouble to kill a very small number of people.

The goal of terrorism is not to kill but to terrify. Making 200,000 people afraid to fly is the larger goal of killing the people on one plane.

Not that I believe this story.
posted by archimago at 7:31 AM on July 16, 2004


Speaking as one whose family has been in the US since before the American Revolution, but whose father obviously had the poor planning to marry the daughter of Lebanese immigrants...I'm calling shenanigans on this whole article.

Firstly, since there is no collaborating evidence except for the fact that this "article" is now getting huge airplay on the freeper type sites.

Secondly, Detroit...hello? Goodness, you can't swing a falafel in that town without finding someone with taziki sauce.

Thirdly: Somehow the first time she saw the passports they just had Arabic writing on them...but the second time she sees them they're Syrian? WTF? During her 4 hour flight did she suddenly learn how to read from left to right and how to discern the subtleties of various country passports?

Fourth: oooooh, the big bad Arab man didn't smile at her after she and her husband stared at him then passed notes to the flight attendant. What a fucking surprise.

Fifth, she quotes Ann Coulter as "research".

Sixth, she not so subtly suggests that those of us with dark skin should be marked out for harassment by government officials. I'd like to point out that I get more than enough shit for being partially Lebanese, what with the neighbors planting flags on my yard and locals asking if I'm one of "them Ay-rabs...I thought you people didn't drink" when I try to buy booze, ...so I'd just as soon not have to put up with any more shit, if y'all don't mind.

She's a racist and since I can't find a single corroborating story to back this diatribe of crap up, I'm going to say that I think she made the whole thing up.

There's nothing in either cities papers that suggests this happened, there's nothing in the archives of the news stations, friends in both LA and Detroit have searched everywhere trying to find even an iota of truthfulness...including a friend who works at Northwest Airlines in LA who says that this is bullshit and didn't happen because he was working the desk when that flight came in.

This stupid cunt (and those of you who know me realize that I don't use the term lightly) made this whole story up because there were some dark guys on her flight and she doesn't think Arabs should be allowed on planes. I bet her daddy didn't like darkies drinking from the water fountains either.

But, unfortunately, just because it isn't true doesn't mean it's not going to spread like wildfire through the Coulter fanbase...as it's started to do. Expect to see it in a Bush speech soon.
posted by dejah420 at 7:33 AM on July 16, 2004


How does she know there are 14?

well, she initially counted them in a group of six and a group of eight, so that seems believable.

all in all, this does sound hysterical, and the self-congratulatory "we're aware americans" comments annoyed me. I don't know if this experience, if it happened the way it did, would have made me nervous. I would have been surprised about flight attendants not asking people to return to their seats when the seat-belt sign was on, though, and it's weird/worrying that detroit security is so weak, if the posts making that claim are true.

What I'd be curious to see is a response from one of these guys... if they were a dance troupe or something, and came across this article randomly... of course, if they're terrorists they must be off getting plastic surgery or something so they can practice again without being recognized.
posted by mdn at 7:39 AM on July 16, 2004


we're aware americans

part of that elite group of americans who remembers what happened on 9/11.

of course the next time it will happen exactly the same
posted by jacobsee at 8:24 AM on July 16, 2004


sic, chill out. We're supposed to post interesting links, and this was one.

Yeah, I guess I should relax, I mean I don't even live in the US. But I strongly suspect that this wasn't posted simply as an "interesting link" but rather as a way to spread fear-mongering propaganda. If his goal was to be interesting, he would have given some kind of perspective in the FPP and then, most likely, would have contributed to the thread. I mean this is some pretty inflammatory stuff, especially given our particular historical context, don't you think? I've also felt the humilation of being the target of racism in my life, so I'm a bit sensitive about this type of thing.

But hey, maybe he fell asleep after posting the link and hasn't had a chance to come back to Metafilter yet.

Or maybe he's really Ann Coulter.

Or maybe he really is a pussy.
posted by sic at 8:35 AM on July 16, 2004


Question: when someone brings a guitar or other largish instrument on a flight, it has to be checked, right?

The answer, last time I was flying regularly (perhaps notable that my last flight was May 2001), is:

it depends. On the airline, on how full the flight is, on the size of the overheads. I've both checked and carried-on a guitar or a banjo over the years, seemingly depending on the whim of the flight crew.
posted by cortex at 8:43 AM on July 16, 2004


I don't really give two hoots about the article itself... it was a pile of shit... but I did want to echo the thing about carry-on bags: I will *not* fly without being able to carry on my suitcase. I travel for business regularly now. If I get to an airport, and I hear "Oh, yeah, your suitcase ended up in Hawaii. It'll be back here in three days." ... which is more common than you think ... I'd be screwed. There's no way that I can get a new suit (not to mention ties and stuff) tailored and ready in under 24 hours from hitting the ground, and I may as well show up naked if I show up for a presentation or meet a client for a progress check in a polo and chinos. Talk to anyone who flies regularly; we've all mastered the art of fitting a week's worth of clothes into a small carry-on roll bag. Why don't you think they haven't done that already? It'd kill business travel, and business travellers always end up paying the most for seats. (Personally, with the scarcity of carry-on stowage on planes these days, I'd prefer if carry-on was restricted to business travellers... but that's just me being an elitist bastard.)

Instead, I'd just get the materials Fed-Ex'd back here where my clients are, and do the presentations without travelling. No more trips to exotic places for meetings, but no chance of embarrasment.

Oh, and I love the liberal 'tude here at MeFi ... "We're so free. Love everyone. Don't racially profile. ANN COULTER'S AN IDIOT! ... ... HEY, YOU! You're not allowed to carry that bag on the plane!"
posted by SpecialK at 8:58 AM on July 16, 2004


I mean this is some pretty inflammatory stuff, especially given our particular historical context, don't you think?

Yes, it is. And the content of the link makes me as angry as it does you. But calling someone a "pussy" -- twice now -- just for posting something you happen to disagree with, well, what do you hope to accomplish by that? It's sure not going to convince him your views are correct.

I'm as lefty as they come, but I don't want this to just be an echo chamber; I still want to know what the other side thinks.
posted by ook at 9:26 AM on July 16, 2004


All this mental masturbation is rather moot if it isn't affecting the attitudes of the general public. I wager most readers of that column will uncritically accept it as true fact, and will unthinkingly become just a little more racist because of it.

Must be a royal bitch not being sparkly white in America.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:59 AM on July 16, 2004


(1) Some of us work for a living, Sic.

(2) I posted the link because it was interesting -- not because I thought it was gospel. Frankly, I don't know what to think about this piece. But given the circumstances, I thought it worthy of discussion.

(3)Michelle Malkin has done some fact-checking on the story. Many of you think she's a nazi, but that doesn't affect her ability to do basic research and speak to the parties involved. Worth a look.

(4) Left-wing, right-wing, whatever. Something happened on that plane that ended with the detention of 14 foreign nationals, and the involvement of the FBI, Air Marshalls, and the LAPD. Funny we didn't hear a peep of it in the papers.

(5) Anyone else find it interesting that the publication held this story for two weeks?

(6) Trying to start a flamewar on the internet by calling someone a "pussy" is kinda like winning the trivia contest at the XENA convention.

Even if you win, you're still a loser.
posted by Rob1855 at 10:15 AM on July 16, 2004


It's a good thing the terrorists haven't won. Otherwise, we'd be irrationally paranoid or something.

I am very glad that there's Mr & Mrs Moron carefully observing in their 'aware American' roles.

That said, I do find the behaviour of the flight attendants and supposed air marshals to be kind of strange.
posted by sinical at 10:35 AM on July 16, 2004


and will unthinkingly become just a little more racist because of it.

Or a lot more, as the comments on Rob's followup link demonstrate:

TIP FOR MIDDLE EASTERN TRAVELERS IN US - Don't act like a jackass when you are flying on our planes [...] what possible US market would hire Middle Eastern musicians these days? [...] if I fly this year, and I see a bunch of Arab men about to board the same plane, I AM NOT GETTING ON [...] If I see Middle Eastern Males on a flight passing communications or signals - particularly of the throat slitting kind - I will be the first to accost them [...] I would thought that in this day and age, whomever is sponsoring the Syrians tour would have coordinated with the airlines in advance [... and my personal favorite:] What if that plane had landed with 14 dead Syrians and 200 passengers who all just said, "We Don't know? Guess they all had heart attacks."?
posted by ook at 10:43 AM on July 16, 2004


No carry-on luggage should be allowed on board

Right, that's realistic. Like I'm going to check the six grand in photo equipement I travel with or my nephew is going to check his insulin.

How do they handle diabetics flying anyways? I've got a friend who takes four needles a day. How do people like that manage a 12 hour flight?
posted by Mitheral at 11:00 AM on July 16, 2004


Hmm Rob1855 has made 29 comments to Metafilter, 2 of which have been "Islam-- religion of Peace" posted in threads about Muslim killers. Typical LGF stuff, so I guess we know where we stand with Rob1855.

I actually don't doubt that the fundamentals of the story are true (large group of ME men on a plane, turns out to be a band, people were suspicious) it's the details and the type of people who are latching onto the story that turn my stomach. There seems to be a strain of American who thinks racial profiling would solve all our problems, and that the government is to Liberal to do anything. As I said before, airline security does need to be improved, and I see nothing wrong with asking large groups of foreign nationals special questions. But the tone and tenor of this story, and the people who are plumping it speaks more to their private fears and fantasies and less to what securing the situation really requires.
posted by chaz at 11:04 AM on July 16, 2004


Hmm Rob1855 has made 29 comments to Metafilter, 2 of which have been "Islam-- religion of Peace" posted in threads about Muslim killers. Typical LGF stuff, so I guess we know where we stand with Rob1855.

Wow. Only 29 posts, and I've already got my first stalker!
posted by Rob1855 at 11:39 AM on July 16, 2004


Actually, this sounds like that urban legend about the frightened white women in the elevator with all those scary black men.
posted by solistrato at 2:18 PM on July 16, 2004


Airline security is a joke. And yeah, if 14 Arab men were getting on a plane at the same time and were not checked a little more thoroughly than others - I would be pissed. It's unusual, and chances are the next round of suicide hijackers will be Arabs (sorry, can't be politically correct on this one).

Actually, I don't think that you're going far enough. Since every single act of terrorism in the United States has been perpetrated by a man, I think that all males should be prohibited from flying. After all, chances are the next round of suicide hijackers will be men.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 3:11 PM on July 16, 2004


just for posting something you happen to disagree with

Actually, it wasn't that I disagreed with what he posted, it was the way he posted it that bothered me, as I explained in the follow up post, with absolutely no perspective, just a straight up "read this" as if it were something valid and then disappears for 100 posts without stating his opinion on the piece. When somebody posts inflammatory stuff, obnoxious racist stuff, and then disappears from his own thread, it is pretty cowardly, in my opinion.

And Rob1855, I wasn't trying to start a flamewar. I was just expressing an opinion that I had about somebody who posts stuff like this and then disappears. Having a job has nothing to do with it, since you have plenty of time to read Womens Wall Street and post articles to Metafilter.

So what is your opinion on the article Rob1855?

After you found this article, read it, what was the impulse that made you want to share it? (I am honestly asking.)
posted by sic at 3:11 PM on July 16, 2004


I forgot to mention ook that I agree that I am not going to convince anybody by insulting them, but my irritation comes from the fact that poster wasn't participating in the thread. There was noone to try to convince, although I doubt I could convince him of anything. How is that fostering debate?

I agree with FiveFreshFish:

All this mental masturbation is rather moot if it isn't affecting the attitudes of the general public. I wager most readers of that column will uncritically accept it as true fact, and will unthinkingly become just a little more racist because of it.


which is why it bothers me that Rob1855 seems to be spreading the propaganda. Of course he had little success convincing anyone here (Jesus, not even ParisParamus) and in that sense I was gratified.
posted by sic at 3:21 PM on July 16, 2004


... it wasn't that I disagreed with what he posted, it was the way he posted it that bothered me, as I explained in the follow up post, with absolutely no perspective, just a straight up "read this" as if it were something valid and then disappears for 100 posts without stating his opinion on the piece. ...

Yet, if he had hovered over the thread waiting to pounce on every comment, he would have been crucified for editorialising and trying to control the thread. Instead, he posted it and then stood back to let the community have their say. Damned if you do, damned if you don't, Rob1855.

... my irritation comes from the fact that poster wasn't participating in the thread. There was noone to try to convince ...

Convincing other people is not the point, posting interesting links is the point. The amount of discussion shows that it was an interesting link to a lot of people.
posted by dg at 4:19 PM on July 16, 2004


Let's see. If I agree with it, it's news, and if I disagree, it's propaganda, right?
posted by keswick at 4:55 PM on July 16, 2004


Rob1855, my hat is off to you for your measured, intelligent response to sic's belligerent, juvenile attack. You're a better man than I.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:40 PM on July 16, 2004


with absolutely no perspective, just a straight up "read this"

Would that more of our posters behaved likewise.
posted by ook at 9:47 PM on July 16, 2004


Okay, that was a snark too far, and I apologize. But seriously: one of the most frequent NewsFilter complaints is about posters who overeditorialize, who slant the initial commentary so much that it poisons the rest of the discussion. Rob did exactly the opposite here, and I was able to read the article without preconceptions, and with an open mind. That's as good as it gets.
posted by ook at 10:00 PM on July 16, 2004


Ook, I accept your criticism in good faith and apologize to you if my comment bothered you, since your reasons are, well, reasoned.

dg, when the discussion is completely uniform, everyone saying the same thing, in this case condemnation, maybe ithe link isn't so interesting. But again, if my comment bothered you, I apologize.

Anyway, I still don't know what Rob really thinks about his post. Editorializing is one thing, claiming to have no opinion is another; I mean it is his post.
posted by sic at 2:26 AM on July 17, 2004


You haven't noticed members clawing each other's eyes out over minor differences, have you.

Maybe that explains the sheer blindness of this thread.

I thoroughly dislike Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, think the National Review is 3/4 complete twaddle, and cannot imagine any circumstances under which I would vote for Bush in any election.

But if it's true that 14 arabs getting on the plane didn't warrant some extra attention, if it's true that their musical instruments were not checked before getting on the plane, if the airport security was as lax as they say in Detroit there is a problem here.

Maybe they were completely innocent. Maybe a thorough screening up front wouldn't have saved them the trouble of having to talk to the FBI at the other end because everyone on the plane was scared because they're personally read bedtime stories by Anne every night.

Maybe the next band won't be. Maybe a thorough screening and a warning against odd behavior would have been enough to save everybody time and some of the frustration.

I expected a lot better from MetaFilter. I expected to see more "I'd rather live in America where people periodically die via airplane attack than start a step down the profiling road" than "racists! David Duke followers!" -- and yeah, I know some of you probably meant that instead but you came off sounding as hysterical as what you're criticizing.

Personally, I think there's a ... well, not *happy* medium, but an an uneasy truce possible here. Profiling is scary. I know it from being in situations where police have questioned me for something I had *no* connection to whatsoever, but I fit some descriptions and my behavior fit a profile and it was still unnerving. I know it from getting my car insurance bill as a single 30 something male with nothing more than two glass claims in my lifetime of driving and seeing young 20 something women with a wreck or two behind them getting better rates. It's unfair. I still believe it has its uses. The real problem isn't that it couldn't add some real value to our system, it's that we're terrible at oversight in this country.

And yes, LittleMissCranky, it's absolutely true that gender should make a difference in profiling. Not the flight ban that you're proposing but it should make a difference. We're talking about the difference between the curfew the VOICE chapter at my University propsed on all male students, and having university security/police keep a closer eye on male students who tend to hang out by the bushes south of campus after 10pm.
posted by weston at 1:04 PM on July 17, 2004


There's nothing in either cities papers that suggests this happened, there's nothing in the archives of the news stations, friends in both LA and Detroit have searched everywhere trying to find even an iota of truthfulness...including a friend who works at Northwest Airlines in LA who says that this is bullshit and didn't happen because he was working the desk when that flight came in.

I just thought that this comment from dejah was worth repeating.
posted by jokeefe at 1:15 PM on July 17, 2004


Two retractions:

(1) mathowie did in fact give the reasoned argument "What kind of America would we live in if we did this?" and I've spotted some other close comments in the thread.

(2) My understanding is that there is usually not more than a 1-2 air marshals on a given routine flight. If this story is true, the presence of a number of federal air marshals on the plane probably indicates there was a pre-flight decision made that there was a risk here, so any theoretical security failure wouldn't seem to be so bad.

The biggest thing I hope is that people will shut up with "racist!" vs "Ignorant PC brain-dead lefty!" stuff. I can respect someone who says "I'd rather have people die in occasional mishaps than have constant racial profiling" and equally respect someone who argues "There's a difference between racism and profiling, and I'd rather see even 50 more people get off a plane alive." There are different values at work here, and there ought to be room to respect both and have an actual conversation about it.
posted by weston at 2:08 PM on July 17, 2004


I agree the article is rubbish, but so is some of the debunking here.

My dear beloved imbeciles, Syrian passports, like all passports I have ever seen from a country using a non-Roman script (such as Arabic, Thai, Chinese, etc.), also have writing in a Roman script, usually French or English. It would be quite easy to see they were Syrian.

The new Syrian passports, for example, say Arab Republic of Syria.
posted by Mo Nickels at 2:52 PM on July 17, 2004


dg, when the discussion is completely uniform, everyone saying the same thing, in this case condemnation, maybe ithe link isn't so interesting. But again, if my comment bothered you, I apologize.
You do not need to apologise for stating your opinion, given that you did it in a reasoned manner.

Perhaps the reason that (most) people are in agreement about this is because the article was so clearly biased and dramatised that it is hard to see it as anything other than a racist diatribe, not because it was not interesting.
posted by dg at 3:28 PM on July 17, 2004


Hmm Rob1855 has made 29 comments to Metafilter, 2 of which have been "Islam-- religion of Peace" posted in threads about Muslim killers. Typical LGF stuff, so I guess we know where we stand with Rob1855.

Whew! I'm so happy I can use those previous comments to shit on everything he says now... I mean, how dare the bastard express an opinion! I can't wait to go back to pleasing, Metafilter-acceptable material.
posted by Krrrlson at 1:39 AM on July 18, 2004


Here's what our Arabiac invaders were up to as of last February. (via catch)

Dialogue, a group of five young Arab musicians from Syria, will be bringing their unique brand of music to Richmond on Saturday, February 28 at 7:30 pm in a concert for peace at the First Unitarian-Universalist Church. As their name suggests, Dialogue seeks to build understanding and trust between people in America and the Middle East and these young musicians will be offering their music as a way of bridging these two cultures. Their unique style combines the Middle Eastern music of their homeland with the beat and style of American music for a sound like nothing you've ever heard before!

The group has been invited from Syria to perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC on February 27 and while here in the U.S. they will be performing at several other locations including Boston; New York; Middletown, Connecticut; Lancaster, Pennsylvania and here in Richmond. The First Unitarian-Universalist Church is located at 1000 Blanton Ave. Tickets are $15/$10 Student and will be on sale at the door on the evening of the concert.

The five distinguished musicians in Dialogue are from both Christian and Muslim backgrounds. The director, Kinan Azmeh, (clarinet) won first prize at the Nicolay Rubinstein international youth competition in Moscow, Russia, in 1997. He holds degrees from Julliard in New York and Damascus (Syria) Higher Institute of Music. He has performed throughout the Middle East with great musicians like Sylvain Kassab, Marcel Khalife, and Kani Karaca as well as being a member of the well-known Arabic pop group "Kulna Sawa." And here in the U.S. he has performed with such renowned conductors as John Adams, Daniel Barenboim, Charles Dutoit, Itzhak Perlman and Julius Rudel.


So the goateed one was only smilin' just to smile eh?

At long last America, have you no shame?
posted by crasspastor at 2:55 AM on July 18, 2004


The hysterical skies
posted by homunculus at 8:08 PM on July 20, 2004


Americans frighten me. I hope I don't find myself on a plane with a large group of them, especially if the reacion I've seen elsewhere to this racist woman's comments is typical.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:00 AM on July 21, 2004


« Older The UN shedding light on problems   |   Danzig gets his just desserts Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments