Salon's resident airline pilot Patrick Smith reacts to that woman's account last week of her uncomfortable flight on Northwest Airlines with a bunch of Arabs who she feels in her gut might have been terrorists. He also takes in the overheated Web reaction, and says it all seems more than a bit melodramatic, "a story about nothing, puffed and aggrandized to appear important."
As a matter of fact, nothing happened. Turns out the Syrians are part of a musical ensemble hired to play at a hotel. The men talk to one another. They glance around. They pee.
Speaking as a pilot, air travel columnist, and American, I find Jacobsen's 3,000-word ghost story of Arab boogeymen among the most overwrought and inflammatory tracts I've encountered in some time.
Most disturbing of all has been the pickup from Internet bloggers and news sources, including ABC, CNN, MSNBC and the New York Times. The writer hops a flight to California on which absolutely nothing of danger occurs, and the following are among the citations:"Harrowing piece" "The frightening true story" "Disturbing account" "Riveting article" "An absolute must-read"
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