Thursday, December 07, 2006

Snakes Allah on a Plane

snakes on a plane?Six Muslim imams were removed from a U.S. Airways flight in Minneapolis just before Thanksgiving. They were questioned by police for several hours before being released. Their offense: saying their evening prayers together on the plane.

Good Will Hiking points out that most of the media coverage of this event centers around allegations that this being a case of racial profiling and religious infringement. He also references this article, which gives a much different opinion: Given that Islamic terrorists continue their obsession with turning airplanes into weapons of mass destruction, it is nothing short of obscene that these six religious leaders ... chose to turn that airport into a stage and that airplane into a prop in the service of their need for grievance theater. The reality is, these passengers endured a frightening 3 1/2-hour ordeal, which included a front-to-back sweep of the aircraft with a bomb-sniffing dog, in order to advance the provocative agenda of these imams in, of all the inappropriate places after 9/11, U.S. airports.

While I think the author makes some interesting and valid points (assuming her facts regarding the details of the incident are accurate), I can't help but wonder if this particular reaction is simply indicative of a spreading paranoia regarding Muslims.

At any rate, this is the first thing I've read referencing the word "Islamophobe." So it's got that going for it.


theRoyal said...

"Given that Islamic terrorists continue their obsession with turning airplanes into weapons of mass destruction, it is nothing short of obscene that these six religious leaders ... chose to turn that airport into a stage and that airplane into a prop in the service of their need for grievance theater..."

This concept of racial profiling is predicated on RACISM at its core. Why is so obscene that these men practiced their religion in an area that it is perfectly acceptable to do so? Is it wrong for a Christian to pray before getting on a plane? Is it wrong before a Catholic does their weirdo/voodoo cross stuff across their face or whatever? No...its only obscene because these men weree of Arabic descent or Islamic? You are equaling every Muslim with every Islamic Terrorist. You are even equaling every Islamic Terrorist with ever Zealot, and they are not one in the same, and it is irresponsible and obscene to do so. It is taking the easy way out to racially profile HUMAN beings...

goodwillhiking said...


i'm not sure if you read the article i referenced or not. i think the main point was to demonstrate that these men knew what they were doing--they made a loud show of their ritual prayer, they did not sit in their assigned seats, they asked for seatbelt extensions that they didn't need, and they voiced their dislike of Americans and U.S. foreign policy. from these facts alone, it seems obvious that they were trying to provoke a response.

i understand a frustration with racial (religious?) profiling. but in this case no one was "equaling every Muslim with every Islamic Terrorist". they were reacting in rational fear and concern to unusual behavior that has obvious and real links to actual terrorists and terror events. there is nothing wrong with a Christian, Muslim, or any other person of faith praying before getting on a plane. but these men did much more that.

another very important point in the article has to do with safety being the first and main concern on an aircraft, not civil rights.

"Once your foot traverses the entranceway of a commercial airliner, you are no longer in a democracy in which everyone gets a vote and minority rights are affirmatively protected in furtherance of fuzzy, ever-shifting social policy. Ultimately, the responsibility for your personal safety and security rests on the shoulders of one person, the pilot in command. His primary job is to safely transport you and your belongings from one place to another. Period."

can you react to this excerpt?

can you explain what you mean by "taking the easy way out to racially profile HUMAN beings"? did you mean "religiously profile"?

also, what do you mean by "weirdo/voodoo cross stuff"? Voodoo is an entirely different religion than Christian Catholicism.

theRoyal said...

"these men knew what they were doing" -- These men/women were Imam's which in both Arabic and Farsi translates to leader. To you and I, as americans, that takes on a different form. However a leader in an arabic community is an example of PERFECT behavior. Rigid, accomplished, adept so on and so on...However we now combine Imam with the word Muslim/Islamic...these are men and women who are to be perfect examples to their religious communities at all times.

"they made a loud show of their ritual prayer" - you mean they a public showing...their prayer by nature is "loud" and "showy"

"hey asked for seatbelt extensions that they didn't need" -- Why is this a bad thing? If its offered, then what's the big deal?

"they voiced their dislike of Americans and U.S. foreign policy" -- We live in America, where these things are common...i.e Alan Combs, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, I can go on and on and on with this one from the liberal left to the wierdo right...

"they were reacting in rational fear and concern to unusual behavior that has obvious and real links to actual terrorists and terror events" -- This is where I will take great lengths to stress the counterfactual deduction of the majority of americans, well those not familiar with the Muslim/Islamic culture. Rational I dont know about. Yes some dark colored men, claiming the name of Allah flew a plane or two into a building or two. However this doesn't make the fear of those on that plane rational. There is a connection I understand, but the connection linked does not indicate any preconception of rational. Is it rational for me to believe that a man wearing a hoodie, baggie pants, and a gold chain will rob me? No, its understandable that a man would make that connection, however not rational. It is as unusal to you or any american to see a muslim pray in public...ssure I understand that...however not linking to a rational thought/fear.

I mean racially...let me explain...what if a white man, wearing blue jeans and a white tshirt got down on the floor faces the window and began to act as if he was kissing the floor. Every person in that room would think, "That guy is a freak" Now, replace white man with Arabic, replace blue jeans and white shirt with arabic we have the opportunity for rational fear? I don't buy it. This is also what I am referring to when I say we are taking the easy way out by racially profiling. There is no reason in the world that by color, creed, religion or race we should indict any man or woman regardless. Not every black man is a killer. Not every woman is a money grubber. Not every white man commits white color crime. Not every arabic muslim or not wants to kille the great white devil and fly an airbus into the oval office. And by allowing that thinking to bleed through the media, through public policy, or through ignorance is obtuse and misguided.

As far as the policy regarding the pilots job. So be it. If that is his job, and that is law then make it happen. I don't blame the pilot. I dont blame the crew. I dont blame the TSA. They were doing their job. I blame the person or persons responsible for apatheticlly and blindly committing an acestral malfeasance. Keep in mind that the report was made BEFORE they got on the they were boarding. Seats were open, have you never flown with your wife and not been able to sit next to her and asked to be moved next to her? I have. And your civil rights are not abolished the moment you step onto an airplane, and certainly not before...

Case in point...and I will end with is the day/week/month/maybe year after 9/11 and you see a man of Middle Eastern descent walking down the street. What is the first thing that comes to your mind?

This is good debate. Good questions hiking.

theRoyal said...

and i apologize for my mispelling and lack of grammar...blame my mother.

goodwillhiking said...

by "made a loud show" i meant drew attention to themselves unnecessarily (i didn't mean merely publically). they could have easily performed their prayers less conspicuously. i'm not saying they weren't within their rights to perform them as they did. i'm saying they made a loud show when they didn't have to. (by the way, Imams would only be men, never women.)

as far as the seatbelts go...again, why ask for them and draw attention to yourself if you don't need them? of course they're allowed to ask for them. but they didn't need them.

i wouldn't blame anyone who witnessed all these things for becoming alarmed and alerting a flight attendant (according to the article this happened on the plane, not before boarding.) i myself would be alarmed and probably frightened.

when i see a person of middle-eastern descent walking towards me on the street i don't think anything of it at all. however, if i saw these Imams performing their prayers as they did, loudly denouncing Bush and his foreign policy, stashing seat belt extensions under their seats and deliberately sitting in a configuration identical to the 9/11 hijackers i would take notice and probably want to alert someone. this is precisely my point--they chose to do all those things on purpose--on an airplane, with a captive audience. they didn't have to. why did they do it?

maybe part of the answer lies in the most recent update on the story. the Imams are now asking for an out-of-court monetary settlement with the airline. what should we make of that?

theRoyal said...

Good is the problem I think we are facing...there are obvious conflicts in reports from any medium. By loud and showy, I only understood that they were not meaning to draw unecessary attention to themselves. They were just doing what were being obiedient to what they know. And by nature how a muslim prays is showy and loud at times. That does not mean by any stretch, that they were unecessarily drawing attention to themselves. Now I feel you are parsing words. There is no difference in what they did, and what any white american protestant does before he gets on a plane. Can we then assume that if a white male who has bowed his head and closed his eyes in an airport terminal drawing unecessary attention to himself? I don't think so, because by nature that is how Christians pray, however different, how muslims pray is by def. loud and showy.

"they could have easily performed their prayers less conspicuously." refer to my previous statement. As a national to an Islamic country, I am telling that by nature, by decree, the way Muslims pray is loud and it is showy. Well in regards to any other religion i guess. There is nothing that can be done about that.

These men DID pray before they got on the plane, and from what i heard, the flight attendant and pilot were notfied prior to boarding the passengers. So at that point, it doesn't matter what those Muslims could do. It was lights out game over for them. In the passengers eyes, they were Islamic Jihadists.

And yes, Imams can be women...nativley it is improbable but here it is quite common.

"loudly denouncing Bush" -- this is speculation and a conflicting report.
"deliberately sitting in a configuration identical to the 9/11 hijackers" --again conflicting, however how do the news media know and the passengers on the plane know for sure? And even so why would if they intended on hijacking the plane do what the TSA would be looking for? highly doubt this occured...again as I said this conflicts with other reports I have heard from CNN/BBC/Fox and others...could be possible but highly improbable.

The reality is we will never really know because we weren't there...however simply taking the facts at hand, its easy to see that this was a case of religious/race bias. They were victims of a mild hate crime, and a victime of circumstance.

goodwillhiking said...

you're right...i probably should not have said "never" regarding women Imams. i was going on my limited knowledge of the religion and thinking in terms of mainstream Islam (however easy that is to define).

as far as conflicting reports're right again--neither of us were there to witness it. i am only going on what i've read and heard in the news. i'm sure different news outlets have different versions of the story.

but as far as what their intentions were, i think we just disagree. obviously neither of us know. but from what i've read of the story i'm convinced it was deliberate. what do you think of the fact that they are now asking for money?

i also would be wary of labeling it a "hate crime". for me, "hate" is a very strong word and one that is thrown around a lot and used carelessly these days. especially now, in this country, that we are getting to the point of criminalizing a person's thoughts and labeling it a "hate crime". this is another discussion entirely and one worth debating.

van.diesel said...

this is a good discussion. i would just like to add a couple comments. and by a couple comments, i mean several paragraphs.

i can see good points from both sides. i am not saying that the airline handled the situation perfectly, but i can't totally fault them for their actions. as has been pointed out, we weren't there, so we can't say for sure - but from what i've read, i have a hard time really believing this is a cut-and-dry case of racial/cultural profiling. i think had anyone been making the kind of blatant scene these imams were apparently making that the same or similar actions would have been taken. obviously, that is speculation, but it is my sense when reading through articles pertaining to this matter.

i remember an airline case just a couple years ago (i think) of a christian airline pilot who had just gotten back from some kind of missions trip. over the intercom, he asked that all christians on board raise their hands and then asked any non-christians to make sure they spoke with one of those people. as i remember, that incident freaked a lot of folks out and i believe the pilot was suspended.

point being, suspicious activity on, near, or in airplanes has become taboo, to say the least. i don't think that the precautions taken when such occurs is merely limited to particular religious/cultural/racial profiles. are there cases of such profiling? unfortunately, this is inevitable simply due to the fact of fallen human nature. but i think it is dangerous to call every single like instance racial profiling or hate crimes just because it involves a person or group of people who are not caucasian north americans. i would be very wary in making cases like this a 'tyranny of the minority.'

we use those phrases too loosely, and should we continue to do so, i think you will condition people to be so skittish, that they will be afraid to report even valid suspicious behavior, thus leaving the door wide open for the real terrorists.