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July 17, 2004

Airline Lesson #5: Never Trust A Woman Who Gets Her "Facts" About Arab Men and Air Flights From Ann Coulter

I can't believe I missed this one.

World O'Crap has a doozy about how a woman and her husband were frightened by a group of Middle Eastern men aboard a Northwest Airlines plane who needed to use the bathroom a lot. She had apparently learned after the flight that terrorists can assemble bombs on planes in the bathroom, so she just had to get more information.

She did that, and her resulting article Terror In The Skies, Again? is a far-fetched piece of bigoted garbage that made me wonder if it really is so easy for airline personnel to invade our privacy.

The warbloggers are in quite a tizzy about this story, naturally. Lileks is in "Danger, Will Robinson!" mode:

Good Lord. Do not read this if you’re flying any time soon. It’s making the rounds, but again, I don’t know if your rounds are my rounds. (Spats nod: Instapundit.) I tell you, something like this happens on a big scale – lots of planes dropping out of the sky, half the country is going to ask for detention camps. All because we didn't dare delay or inconvenience self-professed bands of Syrian "musicians" because it might suggest we were (gasp) dispositionally suspicious of a dozen Syrians clutching violin cases. Is profiling a good idea? Read the piece, put yourself on that plane before you answer the question.

The warbloggers should have taken the close look at that story that World O' Crap took. Then they would see that the woman's story smells.

Some of her "facts" came from reading Ann Coulter.

'Nuff said.

Remember Coulter's enlightened article from September 20, 2001, in which she wrote, "We should require passports to fly domestically. Passports can be forged, but they can also be checked with the home country in case of any suspicious-looking swarthy males. It will be a minor hassle, but it's better than national ID cards. It's also far less annoying than the seat belt instructions."

We don't need those kinds of "facts."

Everyone from the flight attendent to the Federal Air Marshall's Services supposedly gave this woman sensitive information about that group of Middle Eastern men that she, as an ordinary citizen, really had no right knowing, including passenger flight and background information.

I have a hard time believing that the FAM and flight attendents would give up such information. It would cost them their jobs.

What kind of a threat were these Syrian men?

They were musicians who had been hired to play at a casino in the desert.

The word "hoax" comes to mind. And "sucker," for those who believe such outrageous nonsense. Might as well throw "bigot" in there, too, mainly for the woman who told her story. I hope her 15 minutes of fame ended with that article, but she might be quoted by Ann Coulter before her story finally bottoms out.

Posted on July 17, 2004 at 01:04 PM | Permalink

Comments

Annie Jacobsen is our daughter!! She is NOT the science fiction writer nor the psychic (with the same name). She is well-educated (an ivy league school class of 89 and a top prep school graduate) and is quite rational. She is a world traveler. This is not a hoax. She and her family were with us in CT to celebrate our 40th anniversary. Our still-shaking daughter and son-in-law called us immediately after speaking with both the FBI and the LAPD upon their return to their home. We had expected the call several hours earlier so we were quite concerned.

[Trish's note - I removed two duplicates of this comment.]

Posted by: at Jul 18, 2004 4:44:28 PM

Annie's Parents:

If the world is a safer place now-- as is constantly being asserted by proponents of the man I strongly suspect you voted for-- why is your daughter such a bundle of nerves on an airplane flight?

Posted by: Chris Vosburg at Jul 18, 2004 5:38:21 PM

Assuming you really are her parents and not just someone pulling my leg, why did your daughter see fit to take in so much detailed information about "swarthy men" before she even set foot on that plane? To be honest, her tale sounded more like the kind of bad fiction I'd be likely to find at an airport novel kiosk than reputable journalism.

Posted by: Trish Wilson at Jul 18, 2004 6:01:31 PM

Have a heart, Trish. Let's assume Annie does have some parents and that they would find it painful to read the angry abuse getting heaped on their daughter.

What America should or shouldn't do to prevent terrorist attacks on airplanes--that's a public question of great general interest. Whether or not one writer is a dishonest bigot--that's a question getting way too much blog-press, IMO.

I don't agree with the conclusions the LGF crowd is drawing from this "Syrian band" story, but they make more sense than the idea that the story is racist garbage so let's not even think about terrorists riding airplanes.

Posted by: Betsy Devine at Jul 18, 2004 8:55:13 PM

The story *is* racist garbage. This world traveling woman was suspicious of the guys because they all went to the bathroom one after another. She never heard of Muslims having to wash up before prayer time one would be led to believe. Which world has she traveled?

Posted by: Anna in Cairo at Jul 19, 2004 5:00:40 AM

Perhaps if Ms. Jabosson had spend some time outside of the prep school - Ivy womb, she wouldn't be quite so hysterical at encountering people different than herself?

She certainly would have known better than to expect cheery smiles from strangers while she was telegraphing to everyone in sight that she wanted them arrested for being from the wrong place.

Posted by: julia at Jul 19, 2004 8:52:06 PM

Perhaps if Ms. Jacobsen had spend some time outside of the prep school - Ivy womb, she wouldn't be quite so hysterical at encountering people different than herself?

She certainly would have known better than to expect cheery smiles from strangers while she was telegraphing to everyone in sight that she wanted them arrested for being from the wrong place.

Posted by: julia at Jul 19, 2004 8:52:29 PM

Betsy Devine writes: What America should or shouldn't do to prevent terrorist attacks on airplanes--that's a public question of great general interest.

That's a valid question, Ms. Devine, but won't you concede that public debate should center around why it happens, instead of how to eliminate the symptoms?

Posted by: Chris Vosburg at Jul 19, 2004 10:43:51 PM

Trish, please see this racist world traveler's followup. She is STILL suspicious of the musicians. God. If this is the way America is moving I look for the detention camps to be set up real soon.

Posted by: Anna in Cairo at Jul 20, 2004 5:31:02 AM

>>Remember Coulter's enlightened article from September 20, 2001, in which she wrote, "We should require passports to fly domestically.

This requirement would seriously restrict air travel. Many American's don't have passports. We also don't have national ID cards.

Posted by: lucia at Jul 20, 2004 9:52:43 PM

All this hoopla about a bunch of men who like to go to the bathroom together...

Posted by: Ontario Emperor at Jul 22, 2004 3:24:32 PM

Discriminating on the basis of nationality should be legal. If people are travelling on Northo Korean passports we are allowed to treat them differently. We should be able to do the same with people travelling on Syrian passports. The fact is, Syria isn't our friend and it wouldn't be too much to expect they might do something about it. I know everyone tries to blame the Americans for 9/11, but it seems a whole heck of a lot like blaming the woman for getting raped.

Posted by: Joseph at Jul 23, 2004 12:27:56 PM

Joseph, where do we go from here? Back to the caves? Back to the trees? You're letting your fear drive your thinking back into the reptilian core of all humans; the instinct to kill or be killed, and the fear of the "other"-- anyone who doesn't look like us, and worse, doesn't think like us.

If there's a measure for civilization, I like to think it's embodied in the words put down in the Declaration of Independence-- the part about all men being equal, and entitled to certain inalienable rights-- and the many refinements which have passed since on this planet.

There will always be men who thrive on hatred; on distrust. But if you'll examine this, you'll find that it's good for them and bad for everyone else. Thomas Paine said it best:

That there are men in all countries who get their living by war, and by keeping up the quarrels of nations, is as shocking as it is true; but when those who are concerned in the government of a country, make it their study to sow discord, and cultivate prejudices between nations, it becomes the more unpardonable.

-– Thomas Paine, "The Rights of Man", circa 1792

Don't let 'em run you like this.

Posted by: Chris Vosburg at Jul 24, 2004 10:19:04 PM

Trish, most maddening comments window ever. I'm not sure how many other people this happens to, but the window enlarges beyond the screen boundary as soon as I start typing in it, making part of the comment text I'm writing invisible.

Posted by: Chris Vosburg at Jul 24, 2004 10:27:35 PM

Chris, is the comment window still acting up? What browser are you using?

I've seen that screen boundary problem with one other blog. I'll ask Typepad if there's a problem.

Posted by: Trish Wilson at Jul 26, 2004 10:06:27 AM