22 August 2006

The Terrorists Have Won

The terrorists have won.

Dateline, Costa del Sol. An Airbus A320 was delayed until two “Asian” passengers were removed from the flight. This following the arrest in Britain of some 20 people who were allegedly planning a September 11th-style attack. The twist of this story is that it was the other passengers who initiated the removal.

CHRISTOPHER LEAKE and ANDREW CHAPMAN of the UK Daily Mail wrote, “Passengers told cabin crew they feared for their safety and demanded police action. Some stormed off the Monarch Airlines Airbus A320 minutes before it was due to leave the Costa del Sol at 3am. Others waiting for Flight ZB 613 in the departure lounge refused to board it.” (emphasis added) and “Worries spread after a female passenger said she had heard something that alarmed her.”


So, here’s my point, such as it is. If I was late to a flight, they would leave without me. In fact, I would expect them to do so. I have almost been left by a flight because I was late. Like wise, I would expect that if I left the aircraft, I would not expect to be waited upon. Yet, that is exactly what happened here.

So, why are these people given such special dispensation that they are able to dictate to the airline not only when the flight will leave, but also who will be on it?

The Daily Mail story also said, “The Monarch pilot - a highly experienced captain - accompanied by armed Civil Guard police and airport security staff, approached the two men and took their passports.

Half an hour later, police returned and escorted the two Asian passengers off the jet.”

What the crap?

OK, I understand people’s insecurities, and I understand fear. But I have to chalk this one as a victory for the terrorists. Those people were terrorized into acting irrationally, and causing unwarranted discrimination against two blameless men. Terrorists win when they force the rest of us to change our daily lives. They don’t have to bomb every plane, because we act as if they already did.

Don’t you think it might have been better, if someone was acting suspiciously, to seat them in a place where they could be watched by the Air Marshalls? Or, if the Brits don’t have Air Marshalls (or the equivalent) then by a couple of burly passengers, or several not-so-burly passengers. Remember Richard Reid? He got the stuffing beaten out of him by – get this – other passengers. All because he had an ill-conceived plan to light his shoe on fire and blow up a plane. Flight 93 was crashed into a field in Pennsylvania because the passengers rose up together against the hijackers. Though it was too late to save the plane and its passengers, they save probably hundreds of other lives through their actions. There is no end to what can be accomplished if large groups of people work together.

I guess I am trying to say that this whole situation was handled badly, and not just by the airlines. Until we as citizens of the United States, even the World, are able to say to the terrorists, “Not on my watch!” and continue living our lives, not without fear, but in spite of it, then the terrorists have won. To have regular passengers, regular people, leave the aircraft and impose their fears and insecurities upon the rest of us is a form of terrorism in its own right. There is a time to run away from a fight. There is a time to be a peacemaker. There is a time to turn the other cheek.

This is not that time. It is time now to kick ass and take names. It is time now to defend our homes, families and way of life. It is time now to not allow the terrorists the ability to remove us from airliners in fear. It is time now to make sure that the terrorists who do manage to get on board never get a chance to perform another act of atrocity like the one perpetrated on September 11, 2001. The way to safety and security is not to run at the first sign of attack. It is by first recognizing a threat, and then acting, sometimes preemptively, to stop the threat. There was no threat here, only fear of the same.

I say, “I refuse to let the fear that I might die today prevent me from acting any differently than I would normally.” I won’t let the terrorists win.