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Marc's Comments: From the NYT. This articles describes what I talk about in the main essay. The terrorist attacks, so far, are solely work of Arab radicals. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that if you have someone on your flight that looks Arab, you have a larger chance of being subjected to some hijacking than if you had no people of this ethnicity on your flight. This is the rationale the airline employees are using. It is based on fear and paranoia because of the recent events. While you certainly cannot say that what they are doing is right, they are not doing it for reasons of hatred of the race, but solely using race as they would any other aspect that might arouse suspricion on a person, similar to banning all persons with large duffel bags from entering the plane. Banning of the bags is an inconvenience to the person because he has to check his bag now and wait for it after getting to his destination. For the Arabs in this episode below, it is a REALLY big inconvenience to not be allowed on the flight, but though they feel insulted, it really isn't so much of an insult as an unfortunate and sad outcome resulting from the tradgedy that has made people very scared. The enormity of the disaster that can happen when a plane is hijacked is so high, that people are willing to make decisions that inflict negative things upon a class of people based on this one piece of information. While it certainly cannot be the case to simply ban all Arab looking people from planes to make them safe from hijackings, it should be understood that this below incident isn't an act of hatred to a race, rather an decision made by people who are making a cognitive decision about how to best make them safe. It is unfortunate, and can't continue, but the keying of race must also must be recognized for what it is in this case: a determinant like any other that people use in making decisions. I feel bad for the many good Arab and Arab looking people in the world because this reaction is natural and will continue for some time that people will be worried if they do anything that looks remotely suspicious. But I also feel bad for the person that wants to bring a backpack into a baseball game and can't now because they are banned. Though they differ significantly in degrees or hardships caused on people's lives, the two things are based on the same principles. The only difference is one cannot change one's race. For this reason, we must overcome using race as a determinate for things like this, but understand that it is not an act of hate and for the people who may be subjugated to it to understand that it is not an act of hate, such as the act of defacing an Arab owned business or insults hurled at Arab-Americans.
September 22, 2001
FEAR OF FLYING
Some Passengers Singled Out for Exclusion by Flight Crew
By BLAINE HARDEN and SOMINI SENGUPTA
In San Antonio on Monday, Ashraf Khan, 32, a mobile phone salesman who was trying to get to his brother's wedding in Pakistan, was ordered off a Delta Airlines flight. The plane's captain, Mr. Khan recalled, told him that the flight crew did not "feel safe flying with you."
A Delta spokeswoman said the airline was "aware of this incident and takes this matter very seriously."
In Orlando, Fla., on Monday, two businessmen from Pakistan were ordered off a US Airways flight bound for Baltimore. As the businessmen, Akbar Ali and Muhammad Naeem Butt, recalled their long day at the airport, an airline agent told them that the pilot would not take off until they left the aircraft. He then suggested they take a train. They were accepted on a later US Airways flight to Baltimore.
A spokesman for US Airways declined comment, but noted that the company's chairman, Stephen Wolf, sent out a special bulletin to employees on Sept. 14.
"It is important to remind ourselves," the bulletin said, that "we must show the greatest respect, indeed, support for our Muslim, Arab- American and Middle Eastern co- workers and customers."
In Minneapolis on Thursday, three Middle Eastern-looking men were denied permission to board a Northwest Airlines flight to their home in Salt Lake City. Ticket agents expressed concern, according to a police report, because the men went to the restroom often, looked at their watches and appeared nervous. After they were bumped by Northwest and given $10 food vouchers, Delta flew them to Salt Lake City.
The men said last night that they were returning to Utah after a 10-day visit to a friend in Philadelphia and had a layover of more than two hours in Minneapolis. Kareem Alasady, one of the men, said that the three were questioned about their nationalities and itineraries by the police, who then escorted them to the rampway, but that an airline official stopped them.
"She said, `The crew and the passengers refuse to go with you guys, so you're not going,' " said Mr. Alasady, 36, who said the men had previously been questioned by the F.B.I. at the airport in Philadelphia and allowed to board there.
"It's indescribable what we were feeling," he said in an interview at his apartment in Salt Lake City. "We've been discriminated against and rejected. All the people were looking at us like we were guilty."
The men are from an Arab country but did not want its name published, saying they feared for safety of relatives. Mr. Alasady, a taxi driver, came to the United States in 1994 and became a citizen in 1999.
Traveling with him were his brother Akram, 23, who has been in the United States since October and is studying English at a community college, and a friend, Raheem Alkinani, 33, a permanent resident who works at a sports club.
All of these incidents are part of a pattern that the major airlines are struggling to stop, said an industry executive who would not let his name be used. "You are dealing with a lot of human beings," the executive said. "The flight crews are extraordinarily edgy. They will err on the side of caution."
The day after the attacks on New York and the Pentagon, Donald J. Carty, chairman of AMR, the parent of American Airlines, sent out this company-wide e-mail message:
"There is one emotion that we must avoid at all costs," Mr. Carty wrote. "That emotion is hatred. My fear is that it will be all too easy to direct our collective grief, anger and shock in ways that treat our Arab, Muslim and other Middle Eastern employees and customers with less than the absolute courtesy and respect that they deserve because of stereotypes that we know in our heads and hearts are just not true. We simply cannot do that."
Mr. Khan, the mobile phone salesman from New Braunfels, Tex., who is a permanent resident of the United States, missed his brother's wedding.
He said Delta Airlines offered to book him on the next flight out of San Antonio, but he declined. He had missed a connection that would have taken him to San Francisco for a flight for Karachi.
"There was no apology, nothing," he said in a telephone interview.
"I would have understood if he had explained me something," Mr. Khan said, referring to the pilot who told him to get off the plane. "When he was going through the passenger list, because of my name, the color of my skin, he thought I was a bad person, I was going to do bad to everyone."
In a statement yesterday, Northwest Airlines said that it "regrets any misunderstanding that may have occurred" and that it was investigating what happened at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport.
"It grew to a point where it would have been unreasonable to have all the passengers and crew board this particular flight," said Kathy Peach, a spokeswoman for Northwest. "It had just become an uncomfortable situation for everyone involved."
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