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Delta Airlines Crew Continues Pattern of Discrimination

Delta Airlines Crew Continues Pattern of Discrimination

Popular YouTube personality Adam Saleh was removed from a Delta Airlines flight early Wednesday morning. Delta alleges Saleh was removed for ‘disruptive and provocative behavior.’ Saleh and several passengers saw it differently. They assert other passengers targeted Saleh because he spoke Arabic.

During a phone interview with CBS News, Saleh details how he was in the middle of speaking to his mother (who does not speak English), when an older white woman turned around in her chair to confront Saleh about his speaking Arabic. According to Saleh, the woman demanded he stop speaking in Arabic because it was making her uncomfortable. He replied, “haven’t you ever heard someone speak in another language?” This prompted the man seated next to this woman to turn around and also engage Saleh, drawing connections between the mass casualty attack in Berlin with Saleh comforting his mother before the flight.   

After refusing to answer requests for comment for several hours, Delta’s communications office released the following statement, en lieu of speaking with the press: 

“Upon landing the crew was debriefed and multiple passenger statements collected. Based on the information collected to date, it appears the customers who were removed sought to disrupt the cabin with provocative behavior, including shouting. This type of conduct is not welcome on any Delta flight. While one, according to media reports, is a known prankster who was video recorded and encouraged by his traveling companion, what is paramount to Delta is the safety and comfort of our passengers and employees. It is clear these individuals sought to violate that priority.”

This statement is problematic for a few reasons. By being intentionally vague to appease general counsel, Delta’s statement is a factory of preventable ambiguities. Delta claims the passengers “sought to disrupt the cabin with provocative behavior.” What aspect of their behavior was provocative? By not denying the allegations of Mr. Saleh and neglecting to specifically identify his “provocative” behavior, the public must logically assume his version of events to be accurate. 

Is traveling a right of all free people? If not, then airlines should clarify in their signage and online disclaimers which people are not afforded this freedom. If it is a right, then Delta Airlines is culpable for the treatment of travelers utilizing their services, especially after these travelers enter their aircrafts.

With Delta allowing white fright to dictate the terms of the airlines’ customer service, a dangerous precedent has been established. If Saleh were the first or second such passenger to experience this level of discrimination, the public backlash would not be so widespread. But this is becoming commonplace on Delta Airlines flights. Remember this happened just two months prior to Adam Saleh's encounter: Doctor Charges Bias on Delta Flight From Detroit,  there was also this event from July: Muslim Couple Removed on Anniversary Trip, this from February 2015: Delta Investigating After Muslim Woman In Hijab Was Allegedly Harassed On Flight, and countless others. The harassment from non-white passengers on board Delta flights is rising, and Delta is responsible for the spike.

Delta has removed several passengers of color after fellow white passengers alerted the in-flight crew that their xenophobia and intolerance was too overwhelming to coexist.

This phenomenon of using Delta’s airline crew to carry out a hateful, race-driven agenda should be classified as Weaponizing Delta. The more accommodating Delta is to savvy bigots intending to weaponize Delta, the more often Deplorables will wield their privilege and thrust airline crew upon other passengers.

While Delta Airlines is not responsible for the bigotry rampant among many of their customers. Delta is responsible for how they deal with these individuals. With that understanding, Delta must be able to provide in-depth answers to the these questions:

• How will Delta ensure the protection of all passengers, especially passengers recently targeted because of their faith, skin complexion, or spoken language?
• Does Delta recognize that their airlines crew can be easily manipulated?
• How will Delta prevent their airline crew from becoming pawns in a game of airline hate chess?
• What training will Delta airlines crew members undergo to prevent this from happening again? 

As a show of good faith and understanding, Delta would be wise to include in its pre-flight instruction, a brief acknowledgement that the airlines serves passengers from all walks of life, and they will not allow bullying on any flight.  


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