Jet Blue: Arabic = Terrorism?

Go Away!If this is true, Jet Blue has some serious explaining to do. Raed Jarrar wore a T-shirt on his flight from JFK to Oakland reading “We will not be silent” in English and Arabic. The Jet Blue staff (and possibly others) disagreed, and told him he had to remove or cover up his shirt if he wanted to board the flight.

Then I once again asked the three of them : “How come you are asking me to change my t-shirt? Isn’t this my constitutional right to wear it? I am ready to change it if you tell me why I should. Do you have an order against Arabic t-shirts? Is there such a law against Arabic script?” so inspector Harris answered “you can’t wear a t-shirt with Arabic script and come to an airport. It is like wearing a t-shirt that reads “I am a robber” and going to a bank”. I said “but the message on my t-shirt is not offensive, it just says “we will not be silent”. I got this t-shirt from Washington DC. There are more than a 1000 t-shirts printed with the same slogan, you can google them or email them at . It is printed in many other languages: Arabic, Farsi, Spanish, English, etc.” Inspector Harris said: “We cant make sure that your t-shirt means we will not be silent, we don’t have a translator. Maybe it means something else”. I said: “But as you can see, the statement is in both Arabic and English”. He said “maybe it is not the same message”. So based on the fact that Jet Blue doesn’t have a translator, anything in Arabic is suspicious because maybe it’ll mean something bad!

They offered to buy him a new T-shirt to cover up his message. Initially, they thought a “I (heart) NY” T-shirt might be good, but one of them remarked “No, we shouldn’t ask him to go from one extreme to another.”

I would like to have an official response from Jet Blue. If it happened, I want to know how they are going to make sure that it won’t happen again. If it didn’t, I want a clear message indicating that they do not discriminate against non-English-language t-shirts. I also want to buy a shirt that reads in Arabic either “Coke is it!” or “I am not a terrorist” for my next trip.

(Click on the image above to get your own “Go Away” shirt. I would want some assurances from a native speaker that this is really what it says before wearing it around. I mean if I were going to get it as a tattoo, I wouldn’t need to be so worried, but as a T-shirt…)

Update (8/25): Ah, someone has answered my call. Via Boing Boing a I am not a terrorist T-shirt. And the profits go to the ACLU. What a deal!

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  1. Posted 8/24/2006 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    I guess people like me may have to forget about other languages!! No way. I speak more than 3 and some of them are not even international meaning no translator if needed.

  2. Posted 8/25/2006 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    I can give you a T-shirt with Hindi script on it saying: “I love Republicans” or “KKK rocks!”
    Lemme know.

  3. Posted 8/25/2006 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    It’s the standard Muslim vs Arab confusion. Evidently Jet Blue has never heard of Arab Christians.

  4. Posted 8/25/2006 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Careful, I know VT, she’s a subversive and the Hindi script would more likely read “I love Reuters”

  5. Posted 8/30/2006 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Not a Native speaker of Arabic, but I have studied the language. And yes, that *can* mean “Go away”. It can also mean “I go”. It all depends on the short vowels, which aren’t written there (as is common in Arabic). Indeed, since they left off the exclamation point, I would be more inclined to go with the simple “I go” rather than the command “Go Away!”.

    Personally, I’d rather have the “We will not be silent” shirt that Raed was wearing.

  6. Posted 9/12/2006 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    I 100% agree with JetBlue’s decision regarding the “we will not be silent” t-shirt. Clearly, the shirt is not meant to be offensive, and clearly there ‘SHOULD’ be nothing wrong with wearing it during air travel. However, as the agents told Mr. Raed, it’s more of a matter of not being able to acurately translate the Arabic script. I’m sorry, but in a New York airport REGARDLESS of the airline, most people would be slightly worrisome of a shirt of that nature. While the shirt may represent a worthwhile cause, a new marketing approach should looked at, for touchy situations such as New York airports. The message of whatever ‘movement’ the shirt represents, should look at getting thier message out to the general public, not making the general public un-easy. What all you liberal radical t-shirt wearing people fail to realize, is the reason for the decline of American society. There’s a site sending profits of t-shirt sales to the ACLU. THEY, along with republicans, and democrats, and EVERY other polotician; are responsible for an American thought process that becomes upset over a shirt with Arabic script. The ACLU wants ‘ebonics’ taught in schools; which translates into IGNORANCE is ok, do not learn proper english. America is a mono-language society. If schools institute, and demand children learn a second language, I’m sure the ACLU will be there to stop it. And, because Americans generally speak ONE language, they will become uneasy seeing a shirt, in an airport, in a city who was directly attacked; when that shirt is written in the language of the attackers. Yes, there are many aspects to Muslims, yes, there are “Arab Christians”, but NO, most Americans do not know this. IF, the ACLU would keep out of the school systems, maybe a World Religon class could be taught introducing religions, and knowledge of them, to children. Mr. Raed’s Constitutional rights have been violated, but not by Jet Blue. Jet Blue is an outstanding airline; I know because I am doing a research paper on them. But, his Constitutional rights were not violated by no one, other than the media. YOU all, need to go back to the creation of the Constitution and realize the cause of the First Amendment to the Constituion of the United States of America. Freedom of the press came about, to denounce, and critize the King of England. To speak out against corrupt poloticians. To educate members of the newly formed country, how thier newly elected leaders conduct themselves. Not to burn the flag of it’s newly formed country. We ALL are having our Constitutional Rights violated, every time the media wastes our time with some story designed to get top ratings. We should all be informed about what our members of congress are up to; while they live in thier congressional mansions; which We The People pay for; what congressmen are snorting coccain and having sex with hookes; which We The People pay for; what members of congress are doing to change social security which they do not pay into. Why do THEY not pay into it? Because, THEY get 100% retirement, which We The People pay for. Why do they get it? Because, We The People elected them to help our country not deystroy it from the inside while We The People struggle to earn in one year what they are given in one MONTH!
    We The Pople put congress where it is. . . We The People shoud remove members of congress.
    I’ll make a deal…. YOU wear ANY t-shirt you want, ANY where; after you worry about important things which directly do effect our country.
    retort to

  7. alex
    Posted 9/12/2006 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the comment. I don’t think you could have better supported my assertion. Your suggestion here is that Jet Blue should continue to coddle stupid Americans.

    You are correct. Most Americans, especially English-speaking Americans, tend to be uni-lingual. And many don’t even manage to speak their first language well. But the idea that a non-roman script should make people uncomfortable demonstrates our weakest population: the ignorant.

    I didn’t make any constitutional claim here. What I said was that Jet Blue chose the wrong path. Rather than treating people equally, they favored the stupid. That’s not a good way to do business.

    Those who buy into the “conservative/liberal” debates are just as ignorant as the xenophobes who besmirch our nation by calling themselves Americans. I’m sick of lilly-livered proto-fascists who are sooooo scared of the terrorists they are willing to burn our constitution and our way of life. They are the lowest of the low: collaborators. They are the modern equivalent of Vichy France, willing to roll over in front of terrorist action rather than stand up for our country’s best virtues: freedom and equality. In the worst cases, when they violate our laws all the way through to the constitution, and move us closer to a police state, they are traitors.

    > The ACLU wants ‘ebonics’ taught in schools; which translates into IGNORANCE
    > is ok, do not learn proper english.

    Single-quotes are not used in American English to indicate a key phrase, generally. And “English” is always capitalized.

    As for the ACLU and ebonics (AAVE), do you have a citation, or did you just hear that somewhere and think it was true? Are you talking about Oakland or San Bernardino? Can you give me a single example where there was an effort to “teach ebonics”? (Note: in neither of these cases that was the aim.)

    > America is a mono-language society.

    I don’t know where you live, but it isn’t the case in any of the cities I’ve lived in America. You may want it to be a mono-language society, but your wishes don’t affect reality.

    > If schools institute, and demand children learn a second language, I’m sure
    > the ACLU will be there to stop it.

    That’s just stupid. Many schools require students to learn a second language already, though they seem to be doing a pretty poor job of educating our children in any language lately. And what possible evidence do you have that the ACLU would object to this?

    I won’t continue, but to indicate that you have a very poor grasp not only of English but of our constitutional rights, which is really too bad. There is no good excuse for being ignorant of our freedoms as Americans.

    Your argument: that we should coddle the ignorant, is an anathema to any true patriot.

  8. Joe
    Posted 8/10/2007 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    This guy was just trying to start trouble and piss off us western imperialistic pigs. Well I’m glad Jet Blue did what they did this @$$hole should be sent down to gitmo with the rest of these $hithead$.

    They now want us to provide foot baths for them at airports. They believe this land is dirty soil.

    God bless Israel and keep the palestinians out of the Holy land they belong in the land of pigs.

  9. mandala
    Posted 1/24/2009 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    i have this same shirt in black. i have been stared and gawked at; they even asked me to remove it at work where we can wear black shirts of any knid. the shirt has NOTHING to do with the Islamic faith, nor the middle east, nor terroism!!!!! it is about a group of brave students during the hilter regiment. education is key. this is soooo frustrating! because of my ethnic appearance at this point i ENJOY confusing/aggrevating people by wearing the shirt. i find it amusing at this point.

One Trackback

  1. […] The Blogsphere has exploded in outrage eversince Raed’s Jetblue experience. I was reading about reactionary t-shirts today on Alex Halavais’ site. Personally, I’d really like to have a “We Shall Not Be Silent” shirt. Though, yeah, who doesn’t want a grammatically correct “I am not a terrorist” shirt. LOL. […]

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