The soda saga – and how to be a better American Muslim

This story has attracted quite a range of responses.  Opinions initially differed as to the significance and seriousness of Northwestern University Chaplain Tahera’s Ahmad’s in-flight experience – rude treatment from both an attendant and another passenger.  Then followed posts seeking to discredit the allegations altogether.

If you haven’t yet caught up with the background to this controversy, Ahmad’s own initial account of alleged discrimination against her as a visible Muslim woman is a good place to start.

This piece from Frontpage Mag has been linked to BTL here. It contends that her experience was trivial – something easier to do when, as Daniel Greenfield does, you miss out a good deal of detail.

But that’s Muslim Privilege. It means that your whiny complaints about airline service suddenly become an international incident.

It’s a pretty tendentious piece, but it doesn’t claim that Ahmad was lying so much as grievance mongering.

Here’s another post which has been linked to in the comments here; this time it’s by someone who claims to have been on the flight and tells a quite different story to Ahmad.  If the account offered by ‘ComeFlyWithMe33’ is truthful, any claims of anti-Muslim bigotry are completely unsubstantiated.

[Edit – it’s worth noting that this detailed account comes from an anonymous account very recently created. That doesn’t automatically discredit it, but it’s entirely conceivable that it’s a fabrication]

Maybe this is what happened, although it seems odd that a professional, high profile person would make up such an elaborate story, and also odd that UA should have issued an apology and disciplined the attendant if the accusations were unfounded.  Could this simply have been a damage limitation exercise in the face of bad publicity?

A Shuttle America flight attendant ‘will no longer serve United customers’ following an investigation into a Muslim chaplain’s complaint of discriminatory treatment during a flight, an airline spokesman said Wednesday.

In an email to The Associated Press, United spokesman Charles Hobart said the airline ‘does not tolerate behavior that is discriminatory — or that appears to be discriminatory — against our customers or employees.’

It’s a confusing story. One Harry’s Place commenter here was asserting that of course no one would be given an unopened can (for safety reasons) – so her complaint was obviously frivolous. But in fact the airline has no policy against providing full cans.  There are (at least) two ways to use that information – either as evidence to reinforce the unreasonableness of the flight attendant, or as evidence that Ahmad’s account is not truthful – why would the flight attendant reference a policy which doesn’t exist?

Maybe the truth is somewhere in the middle, but if her own account accurately captures both the events and the tone of the flight attendant’s reaction then she seems justified in feeling hacked off.  If, on the other hand, ComeFlyWithMe33 is giving the correct version of events, then her response was both unjustified and irresponsible.

I have a feeling some readers may not find this as amusing as I did – but here’s Jon Stewart’s take on this story.