Raed Jarrar was asked to remove a t-shirt that contained the phrase “we will not be silent” in Arabic and English. He was in an airport, traveling from NY to LA and was harrased by airport security and JetBlue. After reading his account of what went down, I wrote an email to JetBlue.
I recently read about a passanger that was asked to remove his shirt because of the fact that it had arabic letters on it. I just wanted you to know that I will not be flying your airline in the future and I will recommend to all of my friends and business collegues that they also not fly JetBlue. Your decision to not recognize the passenger’s right to wear his shirt, which was clearly expressing a sentiment that touches on current events in the world, is inexcusable. We live in America, which is a democracy with consitutional rights. These rights allow us to wear such shirts. I am very disappointed in JetBlue and look forward to your public apology for treating this citizen in such a demeaning way based on his shirt and, I’m quite sure, the color of his skin.
These types of stories make me so angry and sad. I’m trying to figure out the most productive manor in which to express this.
Update: I received the follwing response from JetBlue
Dear Mr. Barrish,
Thank you for giving us an opportunity to address the situation reported on DemocracyNow.org and other sites. We are working with the TSA to fully understand the situation, and we have not concluded our fact-finding yet.
Our fundamental responsibility as an airline is to provide safe and secure travel for all of our customers. This requires us to be sensitive to the concerns of all of our customers, while also upholding the rights of the individual. We value diversity, among our customers as well as our crewmembers. We take our responsibility seriously, and should there be an opportunity to improve our effectiveness, we will take the appropriate action.
We appreciate your interest in this matter as well as your understanding of all our customers’ needs. We remain available should you have any further questions or concerns.
Director Customer Commitment
There are a few reasons that I dwell on the topic of terrorism, but the top reason is that I have struggled my entire life with some sort of fear. The kind of fear the debilitates. And in much the same way anxiety problems used to cause me to make decisions based on fear, Americans (that means citizens, journalists, politicians, etc.) need to give less attention to the fear, and focus our collective energy on standing up to fear. Let’s face it head on and stop the fear-breeding, sensationalism.
Bruce Schneier made a really nice post on his blog about fighting terror with anti-terror, and I think he’s on the right track.
Our politicians help the terrorists every time they use fear as a
campaign tactic. The press helps every time it writes scare stories
about the plot and the threat. And if we’re terrified, and we share
that fear, we help. All of these actions intensify and repeat the
terrorists’ actions, and increase the effects of their terror.
Ze said it best, but isn’t everything more impactful and impressive when you get a bunch of celebrities and Hollywood personalities together? There’s a full-page advert in the LA Times.
“We the undersigned are pained and devastated by the civilian casualties in Israel and Lebanon caused by terrorist actions initiated by terrorist organisations such as Hezbollah and Hamas,” the ad reads.
“If we do not succeed in stopping terrorism around the world, chaos will rule and innocent people will continue to die.
“We need to support democratic societies and stop terrorism at all costs.”
It’s signed by a bunch of people including Michael Douglas, Dennis Hopper, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Danny De Vito, Don Johnson, James Woods, Kelly Preston, Patricia Heaton, William Hurt and others.
I like the message, except for one thing. That part about if we don’t succeed in stopping terrorism, chaos will rule. Guess what? We’re not going to stop terrorism. That’s the bad news. We’ve made our bed. Now we need to learn how to live with the terrorist threat. It’s going to be there and we just need to deal with it. The same way we consider (or not) that we could get struck by lightning, we need to consider that there may be a terrorist act in the United States. It’s not a matter of if, but when. And let’s stop the fear mongering, shall we? It’s not helping anyone or anything. Let’s live our lives with this new information being conscious of the state of the world. It’s a challenging time and we need to stand together with no fear.
If you live in LA (or OC), head down to Huntington Beach tonight to Quicksilver HQ – 15202 Graham Street
Huntington Beach, CA 92649 – for the premiere of Rising Son: The Legend of Skateboarder Christian Hosoi. Christian was one of my heroes when I was a skater. He was a total rock star skater. No one could skate vert like he did. When I worked at the skate shop, I would always watch his videos. I never really liked his decks, but always looked up to him as one of the best skaters in the world. I can’t wait to see this film. It’s got a lot of great interviews.