One of last week’s top stories was an alleged incident aboard a United Airlines flight where a Muslim chaplain from Northwestern University named Tahera Ahmad claimed she was denied an unopened can of soda because the flight attendant told her it could be used as a weapon. Ahmad further alleged a fellow passenger made anti-Muslim statements to her. However, her claims appear not to be true. Here is how Mark Hemingway of The Weekly Standard describes the situation:
Pretty soon the story was flying around social media, and a hashtag campaign #unitedfortahera popped up. Major news outlets, such as CNN,ABC News, and theWashington Post, covered the story. TheDaily Showused the whole episode as the launching point for a bitabout the allegedly rampant Islamophobia consuming America. United went into crisis PR mode, publicly apologized, and reassigned the flight attendant in question.
What’s really remarkable about this story is, near as I can tell, at no point in the last week did any of these major media outlets try and independently verify the details of of Ahmad’s story.
Well, according to the Savvy Stews travel website, passengers who were on board the same flight have posted messages on the Internet with very specific details about what transpired that appear to contradict Ahmad’s story and portray her as the one being rude and out of line. For the record, Ahmad’s story always struck me as not entirely credible for lots of reasons, including the fact that I personally have been denied an unopened Coke Zero on a flight, and as a white Christian male, this did not occur to me to be a discriminatory act. Indeed, the Savvy Stews point out that there are all sorts of logistical reasons — e.g. there’s a limited number of Coke Zeros in the small beverage carts — why flight attendants may not be inclined or able to give someone a full can of soda.
Why would CNN, ABC News, The Washington Post or, for that matter, Jon Stewart care about verifying Ahmad’s story? Ahmad has an agenda and liberal media outlets are only too happy to take her word at face value and the facts be damned. As far as CNN, ABC News, WaPo and Jon Stewart are concerned America is a racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamaphobic country and must be brought to shame. Here’s more from Hemingway:
Accounts like these have real world consequences. The flight attendant in question has been reassigned, and who knows how this has been detrimental for her. Beyond accepting Ahmad’s words at face(book) value, I have yet to see any real proof that she did anything wrong.
Finally, journalists who think that a single, unverified account left on someone’s Facebook page is all they need to hang a story on ought to think long and hard about the incentives they are creating for people. Knowing that there’s a good chance you can say anything and it won’t be investigated and corroborated is just going to encourage a lot of people who have very unhealthy motives to aspire to be the victim du jour.
Maybe Tahera Ahmad was treated unfairly and discriminated against, but it’s really appalling that the facts of what happened to her would not be established before we mess with a flight attendant’s career, drag an airline through the mud, and use the episode as a launching point for a national conversation about Islamophobia.
But I guess this is what passes for “journalism” these days.
Sadly, this lack of due diligence isn’t confined to this country. When I read Hemingway’s article it reminded me of what occurred in Australia shortly after the terrorist attack at the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Sydney last December. A woman named Rachael Jacobs wrote a Facebook post in which she claimed she saw a Muslim woman forced to take off her headscarf on a commuter train for fear that she be attacked. After the Muslim woman departed the train, Jacobs claimed she approached her and comforted her. A Twitter campaign #illridewithyou was launched and Australia’s left-wing media lapped it up. The only problem is that it wasn’t true. Jacobs admitted that she made the whole thing up.
Whether Ahmad will fess up remains to be seen. But this won’t be the last time we hear accuations of Islamaphobia be it in America, Australia or elsewhere in the West. If these accusations of Islamaphobia sounds too good to be true then they probably are.
Notice to Readers: The American Spectator and Spectator World are marks used by independent publishing companies that are not affiliated in any way. If you are looking for The Spectator World please click on the following link: https://thespectator.com/world.