AA racial discrimination


Old Sep 26, 01, 11:40 pm
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AA racial discrimination

I was very distrubed to receive the following email from a former colleague. I had hoped American employees were better than this.

<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">
As with all events of great social significance, the horrendous attacks last week have generated the necessary and healing act of remembering through stories. Stories of bravery, grief, terror, and hope. But the stories that are only beginning to be heard, that are destined to burn on this nation's conscience, are in many ways even more frightening. These are stories of ethnic and religious revulsion, stories that threaten to change the psyche and challenge the moral core of this nation.

There are growing reports, nationwide, of physical and verbal harassment of people believed to be Middle Eastern or Islamic, of firebombings at mosques, persecution of school children, assaults in public places, and at least one murder of a South Asian man that appears to have been motivated by a blind desire for revenge. Sadly, these are not just solitary incidents, and
they are not occurring in remote places only. As a tall Pakistani man who would stand out in a police lineup like a sore thumb, I recently observed this increasing fear and intolerance first hand.

Last Sunday, a friend and I arrived early in the waiting area for our American Airlines flight from Palm Springs, CA to Chicago. Two people, a middle-aged gentleman and his younger female companion, arrived a bit later and kept starring at me with almost tangible hatred. We tried to ignore them as best we could. As we were boarding the plane, the couple whispered something to the gate personnel, who asked us to step aside for a minute; apparently we had been seen putting "something suspicious" in our bag. (Our flight coupons, in point of fact.) Airport security was called, and they quickly cleared us. However, when we tried to board the plane, we were told that a frightened flight attendant had refused to fly with me. In a bizarre decision, rather than re-route either the suspicious couple or the paranoid flight attendant, the airline told us to take another flight instead. We finally arrived in Chicago at around 1:00am, about six hours after our original flight.

I have lived in this country for most of my adult life. I am well educated, successful at what I do, and I dress well. There is nothing about me that could frighten anyone in that airport - other than my ethnicity. That I fly regularly for business and have been a valued American Airlines customer
with a high mileage status did not matter. In fact, while apologizing for the `inconvenience,' the American employees also asked us to be understanding of people's fears during these difficult times; in other words, I was refused boarding because of the irrational (after all, security had cleared us) panicking of a few individuals, and then expected to be sympathetic to their fears!

To suspect someone a terrorist because of his ethnicity is racial profiling, pure and simple. To treat a person like a terrorist when one KNOWS this not to be true is the ultimate victory of the terrorist acts of last week.

There is a revulsion towards Middle Eastern and Islamic men in this society, and unfortunately it is not new. Most of mainstream American society has grown up with a threatening stereotype of dark men with an Islamic or Middle Eastern background. Last week's heinous crimes have only brought this stereotype out in the open, and made it just as acceptable as anti-Semitism in early twentieth century Europe, or racism against African Americans more recently in this country.

Such open fear and hatred towards an ethnicity or a religion are sentiments that are all too common around the world; however, Americans take pride in rejecting racism of all forms.
President Bush has made a few gestures towards promoting tolerance at home, but has simultaneously proposed new rules that would limit the rights of millions of legal immigrants in
this country. That goes against the administration's public words that blaming any ethnicity or religion, both within the US and abroad, is unacceptable and contrary to the values of this great nation.

American society has to stand up and face the challenge of intolerance; else the terrorists would indeed have won. Not by demolishing a building or two, not by killing a few thousand innocent people or by crippling the economy, but by destroying the very essence of America, the humanist values that make us who we are.
[This message has been edited by Dudster (edited 09-26-2001).]
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Old Sep 27, 01, 1:30 am
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It pains me greatly to hear of your friends experience. The airlines actions were inappropriate. The feelings of the flight attendant and passengers should have been dealt with by giving them other options, not delaying their departure. These kinds of actions must be shared with the ACLU, FAA, AA Executive Office, etc. Racism cannot be tolerated in any form. It is fear based and must be dealt with.
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Old Sep 27, 01, 4:17 am
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1) Says any fear of him is irrational specifically because he passed security -- does he not realize that each and every one of the muslim terrorists on the 4 hijacked planes had also passed security? Sorry, having passed security does not suddenly eliminate the possibility you are a terrorist. In truth it gives no assurance whatsoever.

2) Emphasizes that he could not possibly be a terrorist because he "is well educated, successful at what I do, and I dress well."
Does he not realize the hijackers were also well educated and well dressed?

3) says "To treat a person like a terrorist when one KNOWS this not to be true is the ultimate victory of the terrorist acts of last week."
Interesting that he thinks that people KNOW he is not a terrorist. How are they supposed to "KNOW". Does he think the passengers and airline personnel have psychic powers to discern that he is not a terrorist? They do not. Please recall the terrorists were all similarly well behaved, dressed, and educated. In fact, he shares the only visibly discernable trait the known islamic terrorists on all four planes had in common, his regional appearance. Rationally and logically, that means he is radically more likely to be a terrorist interested in hijacking planes than the general population. But the odds are still very low. Is this all racist? Perhaps, in the sense of recognizing race and correlating it with recent events. Irrational? No, it is quite logical, and in any case simple human nature. Human brains categorize and form judgements of every discernable trait, about everything. As civilized citizens, we strive to supress this natural pattern recognition when it entails "racism", and encourage others to do the same. So ideally someone should not be viewed suspiciously merely because of their race. However, self preservation instinct is incredibly strong, and may overpower this at times, when people are freaked out. The news coverage has seriously freaked everyone out. People who are just about to board a plane, when 4 were just hijacked by people who look like you, are understandably even more freaked out. This does not mean they are consciously out to get you because they are racist and hate you because of what you look like. In my opinion this is all an issue of human nature more than the fabric of our particular nation.

4) In light of events I think we can all be proud how few and far in between these ethnic reprisals have been. These hardly "Burn at the nations conscience", precisely because they have no support in the general populace, and our leaders unanimously denounce them. I don't think that will change soon. The contrast with the anti-USA hate and support and encouragement for terrorist actions coming from certain foreign political and religious leaders is notable. The mosque firebombing he mentions took place in Australia, not the USA. An interesting event he doesn't mention is the Pakistani owned gas station in Florida that burned up, but it turns out the Pakistani did it himself while claiming racists did it. Shades of Tawana Brawley.

5) Downplays Bush's effort to condemn ethnic reprisal, and explain that terrorism is the enemy, not religion or ethnicity. I don't understand what more Bush could do, he really was very forceful and unambiguous in saying these things represent the worst of America. He repeated these statements in a public speech at a mosque.

Author makes fuzzy allegations that immigrant rights are being abrogated. Wish I knew what specifically he was talking about. I will say that temporarily controlling our borders and immigration in a time of national emergency does not impinge on any non-citizen immigrant rights. To do otherwise would be folly, no? The Author makes a strained attempt to connect these security moves with some kind of generalized bigotry against ethnicity and religion. Bizarre.

6) Protests stereotypes about the dangers of islamic middle easterners, as if there is any group in the USA that is immune from stereotypes and discrimination... Unfortunately the author reinforces these stereotypes in his last paragraph, in which he downplays "the demolishing of a building or two" and the "killing of a few thousand innocents" in favor of playing up his own victimhood. I felt nausea. While the author goes to considerable length to condemn a few ethnic reprisals, he does not actually ever denounce the terrorism itself. This really gave me pause. Doing so would have also helped dispel such stereotypes.

We know the terrorists have significant minorities in the region that encourage, support, and finance their efforts. It is known that some groups in the USA are of the same mind, and it is an open question in some people's mind how broad these are. There are protests in Pakistan in support of groups that have declared open season on USA women and children. I know these are not representative of people here, let alone a majority of pakistan, but not everyone does. If you don't like the stereotypes, help dispel them by clearly and unequivacly condemning the terrorists and the evil they represent.
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Old Sep 27, 01, 7:12 am
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Perhaps the most disappointing aspects of some the posts on this forum, is the attempts by some to rationlise their own prejudices.
Sure thousands died in NYC and most people in world are shocked and angry about the their helplessness inability to deal with it.
But then you get the response to some instances of abysmal behaviour to some of our own citizens, hey thousand of us died in NY so how dare you complain about your treatment. What is the cutoff number for us to decide that some of this behaviour is way over the top.
Its OK, every group in world is subject to discrimination why the hell should we even bother to be different.
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Old Sep 27, 01, 7:34 am
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Unbelievable that the airlines are stooping this low!!! But then again, nothing suprises me anymore with the airlines.

Those individuals who have had their civil rights violated should SUE SUE SUE!!!
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Old Sep 27, 01, 8:08 am
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To see pre 9/11/2001 discussion about AA's "security", racial profiling and racisim, see http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/Forum71/HTML/004403.html
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Old Sep 27, 01, 8:47 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by MIKESILV:

Sure thousands died in NYC and most people in world are shocked and angry about the their helplessness inability to deal with it.
But then you get the response to some instances of abysmal behaviour to some of our own citizens, hey thousand of us died in NY so how dare you complain about your treatment. What is the cutoff number for us to decide that some of this behaviour is way over the top.
Its OK, every group in world is subject to discrimination why the hell should we even bother to be different.
Whether we like it or not it is crystal clear that the hijackers were all of middle eastern descent and appearance. The behavior of the people in US in avoiding people of Middle eastern descent is understandable, just as they are in a downtown area and encounter two African Americans. Even before this event people of Indian descent and Blacks have been profiled by various organisations and groups. It is inevitable and you have to take it in your stride.
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Old Sep 27, 01, 9:47 am
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I guess these folk that cause trouble for others because of their visceral hatred of other people who don't look like them now find a new "politically acceptible" opportunity to vent their hatred.

As white trash, they'd be sporting "white power" t-shirts and tattoos. Too bad these pax (and apparently airline crew) don't sport such readily-identifiable labels.
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Old Sep 27, 01, 10:21 am
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IMO if I can be associated with a group (albeit very small) that has terrorized the entire world I would not find peoples strained looks and frightened behavior irrational. I would have to enhance my behavior so that people more easily recognize that I am friend rather then foe. Though this particular case may not have been variable due to a atmosphere of hysteria I for one would like to know what the author of the above letter did to help alleviate the concerns of others.

Before anyone gets upset saying that the author had no responsibility to others by modifying his behavior I will just say that he has that responsibility to himself. After all, it’s in his interest to get on his flt and not wait for another. The climate has changed and in winter you put on a jacket or don’t go out in the cold.
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Old Sep 27, 01, 10:25 am
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This is called vigilante justice. If the pax in question were really 'suspicious' why were they rebooked on another AA flight? AA is tacitly admitting that their first flight crew was racist and/or giving in to racist pax. The problem is that pilots have absolute power without any recrimination. I believe pilots need to retain absolute power. I also believe pilots need to be held accountable for their actions. That includes fines and being fired if necessary, after the fact. I'm sure there are thousands of pilots just waiting for the job.
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Old Sep 27, 01, 10:37 am
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Racial Profiling is wrong in a free society and it goes on all of the time. Its not a question of do they profile but what results come from it.

At banks, statistics show that african american and hispanics have the highest rate of fraud. So tellers are taught to check their documents with tighter scrutiney. But they are also taught to do so without implying that they are criminals. Funny thing is the only time I was ever taken as a teller was by a little old lady, sixtish, who had paulsey so bad I couldn't verify her signature. She was a little old lady so she got 1,500 from me and 1,600 from another teller.

The airline had to act once the previous customer reported them doing something suspicious. The question is how they handle it after that point. Searching their bags was sensible, asking them questions was understandable. The part that bothers me the most is telling them to fly a different flight. At that point if they were going to make them fly a different flight they should have refunded their money.

It would have been a much different story if the airline security came aboard and appologized about how silly people were being but they needed to run through the motions (all while doing a very complete job)then let them fly.
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Old Sep 27, 01, 10:37 am
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Have you people ever met anyone from Pakistan? It seems to me that only the most ignorant would not be able to tell the difference between someone of Arab origin and some of Punjabi or other Indian subcontinent ethnicity. I am certainly not aware that Pakistan has terrorized the world.

I simply can't understand why some of you want to justify differential treatment based on skin color unless it is becuase of your own prejudice. The fact that you seem to support it of people who aren't even associated with the supposed threat, simply proves your discomfort with people of a different ethnic persuasion.

[This message has been edited by Dudster (edited 09-27-2001).]
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Old Sep 27, 01, 11:22 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by Dudster:
[B] I am certainly not aware that Pakistan has terrorized the world.[B]</font>
1) Mir Aimal Kansi, a Pakistani national who was tried in the United States in November for the murder of two CIA employees and the wounding of three others outside CIA Headquarters in 1993.

2) The United States designated the HUA (a Pakistani group) a foreign terrorist organization in October. This group is responsible for the still unresolved July 1995 kidnapping of six Westerners in Kashmir; one of the six, a US citizen, managed to escape, but a Norwegian hostage was killed in August 1995.

3) Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, who was extradited from Pakistan to the United States in 1995, was convicted in New York in November for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York City.

4) US state department consular warning on Pakistan: Given the presence of international terrorist Usama Bin Ladin in neighboring Afghanistan and the public sympathy and support for him in Pakistan, and the presence of indigenous terrorist groups in Pakistan, [...]

5)“Despite significant and material cooperation in some areas — particularly arrests and extraditions — the Pakistani government also has tolerated terrorists living and moving freely within its territory,”. The report singles out South Pakistan as a “swamps” where terrorists can operate with impunity. Source: “Patterns of Global Terrorism — 1999.” US State department

6) "The United States made repeated requests to Islamabad to end support for elements harboring and training terrorists in Afghanistan and urged the Government of Pakistan to close certain Pakistani religious schools that serve as conduits for terrorism. Credible reports also continued to indicate official Pakistani support for Kashmiri militant groups, such as the Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM), that engaged in terrorism." US State Department.

7) "Global Patterns of Terrorism 2000", US state department document, adds two Pakistani-based Islamist groups --Jaish-e-Mohammed (the Army of Mohammed) and Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (the Army of the Righteous). http://www.state.gov/www/global/terrorism/

8) Pakistani terrorists hijack planes:

U.S. Concludes Pakistan-Backed Group Played Role in Hijacking

By JANE PERLEZ appeared in "The New Times" on January 25, 2000

WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 -- The United States now believes that a terrorist group supported by the Pakistani military was responsible for the hijacking of an Indian Airlines jet last month, a judgment that puts Pakistan at risk of being placed on Washington's list of nations that support terrorism, Clinton administration officials said.

The new military leader of Pakistan, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, was asked in a meeting with three administration officials in Islamabad last week to ban the group, Harkat ul-Mujahedeen, but the request was rebuffed, senior officials here said.

General Musharraf was also asked to exert pressure on the Taliban government in Afghanistan, with whom Pakistan has friendly relations, to expel Osama bin Laden, implicated in the bombings of two American Embassies in Africa, but no progress was made with that request either, the officials said. [fair use citation]

9) "In the wake of US missile strikes on terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, several Pakistani-based Kashmiri militant groups vowed revenge for casualties their groups suffered. At a press conference held in Islamabad in November, former Harakat ul-Ansar and current Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM) leader Fazlur Rehman Khalil reportedly vowed: "We will kill one hundred Americans for one Muslim." Other Kashmiri and domestic Pakistani sectarian groups also threatened to target US interests. The leader of the Lashkar-i-Taiba declared a jihad against the United States, and the leader of the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi vowed publicly to kill US citizens and offered his support to Bin Ladin. " Source: Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1998
Asia Overview http://www.state.gov/www/global/terr....html#Pakistan

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Old Sep 27, 01, 11:24 am
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I didnt know that every body in Pakistan looked identical. I am sure there must be some Pakistanis who are of Arab descent and look like Arabs. From what I read, Pakistan has supported Talibans and had their terrorists operating in Kashmir trained by Osama Bin Laden.
I am sure discrimination exists in Pakistan. Do you have any Hindu holding a high office or any temples in Pakistan? Pakistan IS NOT A SECULAR COUNTRY and Pakistanis must be prepared to face the consequences of being non secular.

Benoits post came in as I was writing mine and I agree with his/her view 1000%

[This message has been edited by 100000 (edited 09-27-2001).]
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Old Sep 27, 01, 1:18 pm
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Benoit, 100000, Have you two not figured out that your reasonable views are not appreciated by the majority dominating this site?
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