In the wake of last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut, and Baghdad by the Islamic extremist group Daesh*, conservatives in the United States have been tripping over themselves to profess their opposition to allowing Syrian refugees to emigrate to the United States. In their eyes, the terrorists who killed more than 100 people in France were Syrian refugees, and so the U.S. government must prevent “those people” from entering our country. Ted Cruz has proposed a religious test for Syrian refugees. Raging misogynist, homophobe, transphobe, and all ’round bigot Mike Huckabee (seriously, I think he checks off every form of bigotry I can think of) thinks that only Muslims are terrorists. Indiana governor Mike Pence turned away a refugee family who were supposed to be resettled in Indiana (but curiously, he couldn’t offer a reason why-it’s almost like he didn’t want to openly admit that he’s a bigot; thankfully Connecticut‘s governor decided to do what decent human beings do and accepted the family into his state). Not to be outdone by such antipathy, former neurosurgeon and GOP presidential hopeful Dr. Ben Carson recently compared Syrian refugees to rabid dogs (and may I just point out how surreal it is that a black man in the United States would dehumanize another group of people at all, let alone by comparing them to animals). Carson’s closest competition in the presidential race (and I cannot believe I just typed that), Donald Trump, cranked up the anti-Muslim hysteria to a new level by trying out for ‘Who wants to emulate the Nazis‘ (he’s also proposed shutting down mosques). Despite all the available evidence showing the Parisian terrorists to be European nationals rather than refugees, conservative rhetoric in the U.S. continues to focus on ‘how can we shit on refugees’. However, politicians and presidential candidates are not the only ones who have thrown their arms open and welcomed bigotry and discrimination into their hearts (nor are they the only ones seemingly incapable of performing a Google search). There are plenty of regressive assholes in the general population. Among them, a passenger on a recent Spirit Airlines flight who thought four of her fellow passengers were engaged in suspicious behavior.
A female passenger told the flight crew she saw suspicious activity, which turned out to be someone watching a news report on a smartphone, said Sgt. Jonathan Green, a spokesman for the authority’s police department, which patrols the airport.
“Everything added up to create a situation where she felt concerned,” Green said of the witness. “Everything was done in the interest of safety.”
Spirit Flight 969 was taxiing before takeoff when the passenger alerted a flight attendant, Spirit Airlines said.
“Out of an abundance of caution, the plane returned to the gate,” the airline said.
Officers removed three men and a woman from the flight, Green said. He said those passengers included a married couple, who were traveling with a family member, and a male passenger sitting near them.
“An abundance of caution”? What need was there for caution from four passengers? How could they have possibly been any sort of threat? Watching the news is suddenly a suspicious activity?
Green declined to identify the people removed, including whether they were of Middle Eastern descent, as several other passengers described them.
Suzanne Kennedy, a reporter for ABC7 in Washington who was aboard the plane, tweeted that they “[a]ppeared to be in [their] early 30s and of Middle Eastern descent.”
Jenna Farella, 26, who was flying home to Chicago after visiting her boyfriend in West Virginia, agreed with that description. She said she was sitting across the aisle from them, in row 15C. After the plane pulled away from the gate, Farella said, a woman behind her got up and walked with a child to the back. Farella thought the child needed to use the restroom.
Ah yes. The four passengers appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent. *That* explains why the female passenger thought they were suspicious. Because it is completely reasonable to treat all people of Middle Eastern descent as possible terrorists. A comparative handful of Muslim extremists commit terrorist actions and all Muslims get the blame. It’s a rousing game of the many shall be judged by the actions of the few. Curiously, this game is only ever played with Muslims, so I thought to myself “Self, surely this game can be played with another group. What other group has a small number of members who are shitty human beings like the Daesh?” Let’s see, what group are the following terrorists a subset of?
Notice any similarities between the above terrorists? Aside from the fact that they are all amoral assholes, they’re all white men. If all Muslims are going to be judged as potential terrorists as a result of the actions of a small segment of the Muslim population-the Daesh-the same ought to hold true of other groups. All white men must also be treated as potential terrorist suspects. Of course most people would bristle at the thought of viewing white men as suspicious, so why then do so many people not have a problem judging all Muslims based on the actions of a small number of extremists? I think I know the answer. It starts with ‘Ra’ and ends in ‘cism’.
And Spirit Airlines is not off the hook. They bear responsibility for the profiling of those passengers. The flight attendent, the pilots, and airline officials all treated this situation as if it were reasonable and a necessary precaution. As pointed out above, if they are going to treat Muslims that way (or those perceived as Muslims), they should do the same to white people. But again, I’m not advocating that. Actually, I’d rather they stop racially profiling all together and stop treating all Muslims as if they’re secretly in league with the Daesh. Sadly, I think the current surge of anti-Muslim bigotry is going to last for some time.
*(they prefer to be called ISIS or the Islamic State and consider the term ‘Daesh‘ an insult, but they aren’t an officially recognized state, and given their terrorist actions, I’m not about to refer to them by their preferred term, so ‘Daesh’ it is)