FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Freedom Air

by MICHAEL DONNELLY

The unwarranted removal of passengers from a domestic air flight has triggered an investigation, a discrimination complaint and a national protest.

 

Flying While Muslim

On Tuesday November 21, six Muslim clerics were removed from a US Airways flight on their return from a Minneapolis meeting of 150 Imams held by the North American Imams Federation. The six–five from the Phoenix area and one from Bakersfield were taken from the plane by an airport police officer and a US Air Marshall after a pilot and passengers requested their ejection.

The grounds for the expulsion? Witnesses noted that three of the Imams had been seen doing their normal evening prayers in the terminal before boarding and they were supposedly heard making comments critical of the Iraq war. (With some 70% of Americans now critical of the war, the airlines would quickly bankrupt if that criterion was universally imposed.)

The other 135 passengers were also forced to de-plane and then re-screened for boarding – a process that delayed the flight for three hours.

This was not an isolated incident. Anti-Muslim prejudice is on the rise in all areas of American life. A recent report from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) details the sad rise in such bigotry.
A National Day of Protest

The day after the Imams were so rudely denied the right to freedom to practice their religion, airports around the country saw a concerted, indignant grass-roots protest. Hundreds of activists gathered at terminals around the country to protest the removal–of a woman who was nursing her 22- month-old toddler–from a Freedom Airlines flight on October 13th. The rest of the passengers endured the apparently standard three hour delay.

Clearly the removal of Emily Gillette, her husband Brad and the child from the flight in Burlington violated a Vermont law protecting breast-feeding “in any place of public accommodation.” Forty-three states have some sort of law protecting citizens’ right to breast-feed. Even Delta Air Lines, the parent of Freedom Airlines, according to spokesman Anthony Black, “supports a mother’s right to breast-feed-slash-bottle-feed her babies on our aircraft.” Freedom’s spokesman said that it was OK to breast-feed in a “discreet way”–whatever that means.

What it might mean is being sensitive to others’ sensibilities (you know, tolerance and diversity) and at least trying to shield one’s activity from public view, which is ultimately what Gillette objected to being asked to do; as “breast-feeding is natural.” So is using the toilet and most folks would not want to see others in that activity. Apparently, it’s easier and more satisfying to be indignant than to be sensitive.
Baby’s First Demo

While it is horrible for the airlines (and other public entities) to harass nursing mothers, what does it say about the Left’s response to discrimination when hundreds of white, middle class, well-educated, indignant moms (and dads) can be readily turned out–with a major assist from many of the usual foundation-sponsored “leaders” of various “progressive” non-profits–yet, odious and more widespread, well-documented racist/religious discrimination is on the rise and has gone virtually uncommented on by the Left?

When the airlines have hundreds of folks at their ticket counters protesting the type of treatment those religious leaders experienced; when progressive foundations pull out the checkbooks and support such actions; and non-profit leaders put their considerable organizing skills to such an end, then we can truly claim that individual rights are paramount in the eyes of the Left. Can we really accept a country where the right to breast-feed in public view is inalienable, but freedom of religion is surrendered as just another casualty in the War on Terror (aka the War Against the Global Resistance to US Domination)?

MICHAEL DONNELLY is a strong supporter of breast-feeding for a number of reasons–health, environment and opposition to the corporate baby formula empires. He also supports the right to believe or not believe in any religion one chooses. He can be reached at pahtoo@aol.com

 

 

MICHAEL DONNELLY has been an environmental activist since before that first Earth Day. He was in the thick of the Pacific Northwest Ancient Forest Campaign; garnering some collective victories and lamenting numerous defeats. He can be reached at pahtoo@aol.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism:  Transcending the Masters tools
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Chuck Collins
Wall Street Hopes You’ve Forgotten the Crash Already
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Robert Koehler
Costa Rica’s Peace Journey
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
Andrew Stewart
The 4CHAN Presidency: A Media Critique of the Alt-Right
Edward Leer
Tripping USA: The Chair
Nyla Ali Khan
One Certain Effect of Instability in Kashmir is the Erosion of Freedom of Expression and Regional Integration
Rob Hager
The Only Fake News That Probably Threw the Election to Trump was not Russian 
Mark Dickman
The Prophet: Deutscher’s Trotsky
Christopher Brauchli
The Politics of the Toilet Police
Charles R. Larson
Review: Timothy B. Tyson’s “The Blood of Emmett Till”
February 23, 2017
Dave Brotherton
Trump, Moral Panics and Resistance
Jonathan Cook
One State: Trump Has Reminded Palestinians What It Was Always About
Bill Quigley
Ten Examples of Direct Resistance to Stop Government Raids
Linn Washington Jr.
Bigot Boy Business: Trump Exposes His Ignorance and Intolerance, Again
John W. Whitehead
The Illusion of Freedom: the Police State Is Alive and Well
Ralph Nader
Restricting People’s Use of Their Courts
David Macaray
Women As Labor Union Organizers
Kathy Kelly
Friendship in Defiance of War
Doug Weir
Why Did the US Use Depleted Uranium Weapons in Syria?
Steve Horn
Former GOP Congressional Staffer Follows Revolving Door, Now Latest Keystone XL Lobbyist
Binoy Kampmark
From Rights to Repentance: Norma McCorvey and Roe v Wade
Thomas Knapp
The Target of the “Border Adjustment Tax” is You
Chris Zinda
Open Letter to Neoliberal Environmentalists
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail