Sunday, May 31, 2015

Islamophobia?? Diet Coke?? You Decide

Tahera Ahmad

Tahera Ahmad is a Muslim associate college chaplain at Northwestern University, in Illinois.Here is her FaceBook page entry describing what allegedly happened to her on a United Airlines flight (hat tip Memeorandum):

I am sitting on a United airlines flight in the air 30,000ft above and I am in tears of humiliation from discrimination. The flight attendant asked me what I would like to drink and I requested a can of diet coke. She brought me a can that was open so I requested an unopened can due to hygienic reasons. She said no one has consumed from the drink, but I requested an unopened can. She responded, "Well I'm sorry I just can't give you an unopened can so no diet coke for you." She then brought the man sitting next to me a can of UNOPENED beer. So I asked her again why she refused to give me an UNOPENED can of diet coke. She said, "We are unauthorized to give unopened cans to people because they may use it as a WEAPON on the plane." So I told her that she was clearly discriminating against me because she gave the man next to me an unopened can of beer. She looked at his can, quickly grabbed it and opened it and said, "it's so you don't use it as a weapon." Apphauled at her behavior I asked people around me if they witnessed this discriminatory and disgusting behavior and the man sitting in an aisle across from me yelled out to me, "you Moslem , you need to shut the F** up." I said, "what?!" He then leaned over from his seat, looked me straight in the eyes and said, "yes you know you would use it as a WEAPON so shut the f**k up." I felt the hate in his voice and his raging eyes. I can't help but cry on this plane because I thought people would defend me and say something. Some people just shook their heads in dismay.

"Tears of humiliation" over a can of Diet Coke? I have to admit that while that seems a little histrionic to me, a little too conveniently outraged, she's entitled to her own feelings and emotions.

But there are a couple of things about her account I find interesting.

First of all, I've never seen one instance on an airline of someone bringing a passenger a previously opened beverage can. The normal procedure is either (a) to open a midget soft drink can on front of you and pour the contents into a cup with ice or (b)to place the cup with ice on your tray, open the midget can in front of you and then leave it on your tray for you to pour yourself. The reason's obvious - they don't want any passenger cutting themselves opening an unopened can, disrupting the cabin service routine and suing the airline.

The stuff about them being a weapon? Have you seen how small these cans are? Maybe in munchkin land in the Wizard of Oz, but not on my planet unless they were filled with explosives, something unlikely considering the already stringent precautions.

Now, I also note that this happened on a United flight.

I would not fly on United ever unless I literally had no choice. In my experience, they are one of the worst airlines going.You see, United is employee owned and heavily unionized, so there's very little beyond the most basic minimum accountability on anything for their employees, and for the most part that quaint art known as customer service is rarely if ever practiced. The last time I had anything to do with United was several years ago when my son was flying home from Chicago as an unaccompanied minor, which I paid extra for. Somehow, they 'lost' him, which I wasn't told by the good people at United. No, they left it as a happy surprise for me to find out when his flight landed and he wasn't on it.

After being told twice snidely that they were 'making inquiries' about my young son stranded at O'Hare,  I lost it, loudly in the middle of a crowded terminal with a lot of potential United ticket buyers looking on. It took a major public rage fit at top volume on my part and a phone call to them from my lawyer for them to suddenly 'complete their inquiries,' find my son and put him on the next flight home.

The point I'm making here is that Ms. Ahmad might have had an altercation with one of United's flight attendants, but it might have had nothing to do with Islam. United says that the flight attendant 'tried several times' to fulfill Ms. Ahmad's drink request. Perhaps she didn't see the can being opened somehow, and her emotive  complaining about it might have ticked off the flight attendant, especially a United one. Anyone who flies knows that upsetting the flight crew can definitely earn you some retaliation. Or the flight attendant might have simply been having a bad day and after several attempts to please Ms. Ahmad simply told her whatever came to mind to shut her up and ignored her afterwards, leaving her with her 'tears of humiliation.'.

With all due respect, I frankly have difficulty believing the next part about anther passenger cursing her out and using religious  slurs. Her narration simply sounds too pat, too much straight out of CAIR's ridiculous 'flying while Muslim' storybook. Given what they throw people off of airplanes for these days, I'd want some unbiased witnesses before I credited this.In reality, it might have been someone telling her to shut up so he could enjoy the in-flight movie or get some rest, especially if she was sobbing her little heart out over a cup of diet coke.

I also wouldn't be surprised if this wasn't Ms,Ahmad's first high profile grievance. Or if a look back at some of her past statements reveals that she isn't particularly tolerant herself.

Needless to say, this incident is being trumpeted by CAIR and the other usual suspects as the reason to jump start a Muslim boycott of United.That could either hurt United or actually get them some additional business. I've already seen most of the joke ad slogans, so feel free to come up with yours.

I would end by saying this. No one deserves to be treated badly simply because of their faith but I also think that Muslims need to look at it from the other side of the telescope as well.

Before 9/11, flying was a lot more fun than it is now.  Because both the Bush and Obama administrations for various reasons have avoided security steps like profiling, all of us, Muslims included, have had to put up with a number of increasingly annoying regulations and personal indignities, including invasive TSA patdowns and expensive scanner screens that don't work.

Since then, we've also had underwear bombers, shoe bombers, imams on a plane who didn't need them demanding seat extenders (which actually can used as weapons) and acting in ways guaranteed to raise the suspicions  of their fellow passengers, and  a number of plots to blow up airliners, some of which came pretty close to succeeding. 

We've had the spectacle of Islamist groups like CAIR,   MPAC, and others telling Muslims not to cooperate with law enforcement and the FBI in fighting domestic terrorism, something many Muslims have thankfully ignored.

We've also discovered something else as a society in spite of numerous attempts to whitewash it. While the majority of the 1.3 billion Muslims in the world are  happy to live peaceful lives,  there are a significant number whom aren't, and whom see Islamist terrorism as a fully justified activity of jihad, as a holy act sanctified by their religion. And they are by no means a fringe element. 

It would be contrary to human nature for Americans whom aren't Muslim not to look upon those whom are with some degree if apprehension and suspicion, especially on a plane. And that's something I think Muslims ought to take into consideration when they consider how they behave on an airliner and whether it's really a good idea to ramp up tension in the crew or the passengers.

Actually, I think that's true of everyone. But in view of recent history, perhaps thoughtful Muslims need to address that with special sensitivity.

UPDATE: As I suspected, Ms. Ahmad has a history of grievance mongering and intolerance of others.  And I haven't even bothered yet looking into what I'm almost certain are some interesting posts and remarks on Israel ...

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