Saturday, January 03, 2009

Profiled Based on Their Appearance?

by Barbara W. Sowell

When a traditionally-dressed Muslim family was removed from an AirTran flight last Thursday, it provided another opportunity for Muslim advocacy groups to claim profiling based on perceived race, religion or national origin. Was it a set-up?

Last Thursday a traditionally-dressed Muslim family, consisting of 9 members, was ordered off an AirTran flight to Orlando Florida after passengers overheard them talking about flight safety. The incident happened at Reagan National Airport just outside Washington, D.C.

Shortly after boarding the plane, and as they were walking through the plane, two family members began debating the safest place to sit on the plane. One of the female family members said:

“Yes, I guess it makes sense not to be close to the engine in case something happens.”

The rest is old-hat; a very repetitive scene. Two air marshals escorted the family members off the plane and the rest of the passengers were removed from the plane. The FBI interrogated the family and found them to be without suspicion. The airline issued an apology and paid for their tickets on another airline to get the family to their destination. The Muslim Public Affairs Council and Council for American-Islamic Relations issued their typical complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation saying:

“It is incumbent on any airline to ensure that members of the traveling public are not singled out or mistreated based on their perceived race, religion or national origin.”

As soon as I read the initial story it became obvious that this incident appears to be the latest holiday “profiling” test by Muslim advocacy groups in their continuing war against the airline industry. The set-up was pretty obvious from the start.

9 traditionally-dressed Muslims boarding a plane as a group in this post 9/11 world is bound to attract attention. People are going to look and people are going to listen. But if the Muslim family had been speaking in Arabic most of the passengers would have been oblivious as to the content of the conversation.

I can just imagine a joint Muslim Public Affairs Council and Council for American-Islamic Relations planning session:

MPAC planner: To attract attention, we need a large group of Muslims to board the plane.

CAIR planner: And they would have to be traditionally-dressed to heighten the suspicion factor.

MPAC planner: Yes, but they can’t be all males. That’s too threatening. Remember, that when they are pulled off the plane, they have to be found to be above suspicion. Nothing they actually say or do can be suspicious.

CAIR planner: How about a family?

MPAC planner: Yes a family sounds good but they should be a native-born American family. We want them speaking in English so the passengers will overhear their conversation.

CAIR planner: And we want the family to have a little prestige. How about a doctor or a lawyer and their families?

MPAC planner: Yea that sounds good but several family members all traveling together on one plane? There has to be a good reason like a vacation.

CAIR planner: Yea but what are the odds that all the family members will be traditionally-dressed given that some would be native-born Americans who have become westernized; at least in dress?

MPAC planner: I’ve got it! The family should be going to a religious retreat so naturally they would all dress traditionally.

CAIR planner: That’s great! Ok now what are they going to say?

MPAC planner: It has to be something very innocent; something any passenger might say in passing.

CAIR planner: Well it has to raise suspicion!

MPAC planner: How about a general discussion about seating and the safest place on the plane?

CAIR planner: Well that sounds good but what if nobody hears them? They can’t be too loud or appear to be deliberately attracting suspicion.

 MPAC planner: I’ve got it. They’ll have this discussion while walking back to their seats so that the maximum number of seated passengers will hear the discussion.

 CAIR planner: Wow! Now this is shaping up to be the perfect anti-profiling storm!

Of course the above imaginary scenario probably didn’t happen, but I don’t imagine that there’s any law prohibiting advocacy groups from devising similar tests against profiling. Somewhere a line has to be drawn between profiling due to “perceived race, religion or national origin” and the common sense of profiling common terroristic characteristics for passenger safety. After all, profiling usually does include race, religion and national origin.

Now if Muslim advocacy groups, such as the Council and Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), would spend as much time and money denouncing their ties to radical Islam, we might see this scenario in a different light. We might actually believe that their anti-profiling motives were pure. Until then, expect more of the same from those who have ulterior motives and agendas!

Perhaps airlines will be driven to issue new rules and regulations prohibiting any discussion of airlines, or airline safety once a passenger has entered the terminal?

Of course people can get around such a rule. Human nature always has a way of getting around most arbitrary rules.

If we don’t come to our common senses, I can foresee a day when all passengers will be forced to don a mummification garb that completely disguises their identity and all passengers will be locked into their seats forbidden to do anything more that breathe.


  1. Whether or not it was set up, I don't think this incident truly qualifies as "profiling." The passengers were removed because of things they had said - - subtract that, and there's no incident.

  2. I don’t doubt that tests are arranged, and this might well have been one of them.

    I agree with your statement that if these Muslim advocacy groups would work as hard to oppose their murderous, radical brethren as they do at fighting the natural reaction to their behavior, it would go a long way to help how they are perceived. They seem not to understand that the burden of establishing understanding is theirs, not ours.

    RE the MPAC/CAIR statement: “It is incumbent on any airline to ensure that members of the traveling public are not singled out or mistreated based on their perceived race, religion or national origin.”

    It would have been smarter and more appropriate for them to have said: “It is incumbent on any airline to ensure the safety and comfort of all their passengers, and if there are elements regarding race, religion or national origin that threaten the safety or comfort of their passengers, the airline is obliged to take care of it.”

    Everyone needs to recognize that an airline is a business and is entitled to deny service to anyone for any reason. We pay the airline for the privilege of riding on its planes from one place to another; it is not a right.

  3. It is not the Muslims in traditional dress that scares me. It is the Muslim in Western clothing that does.

    The 9/11, 7/7, Madrid, Mumbai terrorists didn't wear traditional dress. They wore Western clothing.

    A big difference.

  4. I can see the "planner angle." They also picked a very pretty Muslim woman. I was puzzled at her beautiful head "shroud." Looked Iranian. I don't think any any other country would allow such ornamentation. After all, it wouldn't be modest.

    They all worry me: western clothing or traditional.

  5. The solution is simple: if we all adopt Muslim dress and live according to Shari a, there is no need for profiling or, for that matter, for terrorism.

    Rather than make those accomodations piecemeal, as we now are doing, why don't we just concede it all in one giant step and be done with it?