Confounding Update To The United/Tahera Ahmad/Diet Coke Episode

Question_markWhen I posted with disgust on the Tahera Ahmad story (a Muslim-American woman who reported on Facebook that she was discriminated against by a stewardess and subjected to verbal abuse by a passenger on a United Airlines flight, and that no passengers came to her aid of defense), I noted that the facts seemed hard to believe, and that my commentary was based on a presumption that the account was true without knowing whether they were.

Now there have been two developments that provide additional perspective on the incident, and no enlightenment whatsoever.

First, United announced that it has investigated the incident, and fired the flight attendant. This would suggest that Ahmed’s account had at least some validity…or that the flight attendant got a fat settlement as United fired her to avoid a public relations battle with Muslim groups.

Second, this was posted on FlyerTalk Forums:

“I was actually on this flight on Friday evening from ORD to DCA…I was sitting close enough to her to hear everything that was said. The flight attendant came up to the lady (I believe she even took her order first in the entire cabin as she was seated in the bulkhead 7d) and took her order. She ordered a coke zero and a hot green tea with a Splenda. The flight attendant handed her a full diet coke with a cup on top and then told her that the green tea would take a few minutes and she would get it to her ASAP. The lady said very rudely and condescending to the FA that she ordered a coke zero and basically pushed the soda back to the flight attendant. The FA said she was sorry and attempted to find a coke zero for her (which she did not have many of) and told her that she could only give her a portion of the can not the full can. This is when the lady in question started to freak out and told the FA “What do you think I will use this as a weapon?! Why can’t I have the whole can? I think you are discriminating against me. I need your name….” The lady just kept yelling to her “I need your name… I am being discriminated against.” This is when a few passengers told her to calm down and one guy told her to “shut her mouth and she is being ridiculous over a can of coke”. No one ever said anything anti-Muslim to her at all. She was the one who started screaming discrimination when she did not get what she wanted. The FA asked her numerous times if she would like anything else when the lady just basically pushed her away with a hand in her face. The lady then got onto her phone with her credit card and paid for the internet so she could start spinning this story on social media and she was never in tears. This person is a liar plain and simple and is just pulling the discrimination card.”

The comment, however, is anonymous.

This would suggest that the original complaint was fabricated, but if so, why did only one passenger contradict that account? Why didn’t United’s investigation debunk Ahmad’s story? Why is the post on FlyerTalk anonymous?

I can’t, and nobody should, credit a post that calls a named individual a liar without the source being willing to be accountable himself (or herself.) The details are impressive and convincing but it doesn’t matter. Posts like this are as unethical as lies. They cast doubt without responsibility; they are inherently untrustworthy.

So we are back where we started. Then as now, I must assume that Tahera Ahmad was abused, that United’s staff behaved unprofessionally, that a bigoted jerk insulted her, and that nobody on the plane had the decency to protest on her behalf.

Or, that if her story is not true, everyone on that United flight is a pathetic coward.

10 thoughts on “Confounding Update To The United/Tahera Ahmad/Diet Coke Episode

  1. Or maybe not everybody on the flight is internet savvy and has access to some posting vehicle? (Sorry, I’d use the correct terms if I knew them.) But thanks for this post. I suspect something more will out on this “incident.”

  2. The previous post on this topic concluded that if Ahmad’s account was true, the passengers were despicable. This post concludes that it it wasn’t true, they are cowardly.

  3. Everybody appears to be afraid of Muslims, these days. Even the President, but then he’s afraid of Putin, also. Wonder if he’s any relation to Chamberlain?

  4. Perhaps everyone has been paying attention and is afraid they come forward they will be publicly branded as racists, lose their careers forever, and possibly be the subject of a Justice Department Civil Rights investigation. On top of that, there is the lingering worry that they might be attacked by some peace-loving Muslims after the media or a civil rights group publishes their home addresses.

  5. For an investigator, that would present a problem. One anonymous and unsupported testimony still relegates the info to the “Improbable” category. Now why weren’t other passengers questioned under conditions of anonymity shortly after the incident? Surely, the other flight attendants who must have also witnessed it were questioned. What did they have to say, with all due allowance for their natural inclination to back up a colleague? Did anyone check the background of this Moslem woman. There’s been a regular trend (in case no one noticed!) of these people inciting or fabricating an incident for the express purpose of intimidation. Did she have a history of such things? Did she belong to a sect or group noted for this? Did United Airlines (who should know a little about radical Islam by this time!!) approach this case evenhanded and professionally, or was the cowardice theirs, not the passengers’? If the latter, then they have rendered themselves vulnerable not only to blackmail, but to security issues. United hardly needs to go that route again.

  6. “Did she have a history of such things? Did she belong to a sect or group noted for this?” A sect or group noted for this? A PhD tenured member of the faculty at Northwestern (or any other American university? I’d say that qualifies as a sect these days.

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