Culture

An Economics Professor Was Racially Profiled On An American Airlines Flight For Doing Math

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Last month, a college student was kicked off his flight for speaking Arabic. Now an Ivy League economist was racially profiled for doing math on his flight.

According to the Washington Post, the economist who was profiled is Guido Menzio, who happens to be Italian. He was working out some mathematical models that he was about to present, when the woman sitting next to him regarded him, tried to strike up a conversation, and then deplaned, claiming that she was sick.

After that, flight personnel escorted Menzio off the flight, and interrogated him. It turns out his seatmate was suspicious because she couldn’t recognize what Menzio was scrawling. Neither could the staff. This is what happened next:

The curly-haired man laughed.

He laughed because those scribbles weren’t Arabic, or another foreign language, or even some special secret terrorist code. They were math.

Yes, math. A differential equation, to be exact.

The problem here? For one, that nobody tried to verify what Menzio was actually writing before they took him off the plane and questioned him, and then that someone’s ignorance could result in such a humiliating and unnecessary experience. As written in the Washington Post:

Menzio for his part says he was “treated respectfully throughout,” though he remains baffled and frustrated by a “broken system that does not collect information efficiently.” He is troubled by the ignorance of his fellow passenger, as well as “A security protocol that is too rigid–in the sense that once the whistle is blown everything stops without checks–and relies on the input of people who may be completely clueless. ”

He also says this suspicion is rooted in “the ethos of Donald Trump’s voting base.”

(via Washington Post)

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