We now live in a time where all you have to do to be interrogated by airport security on a flight is write things down. Oh, and look like “other.” That’s what happened to Guido Menzio, an Ivy League economist that was aboard an American Airlines flight from Philadelphia to Syracuse.
According to the New York Times, Menzio was working on a differential equation while his 40-minute flight was preparing to take off. Seated next to him was a curious and suspicious woman that somehow got the notion that Menzio was a terror threat because he was writing something she couldn’t understand. She took a leap of judgement and assumed he must be up to no good.
After trying to pry some details out of him in conversation – which no one is obligated to participate in – the woman tipped off the flight crew and was escorted off of the plane under the guise of being “sick.” Minutes later, Menzio was also escorted off and taken to questioning.
Menzio, who’s Italian, by the way, was told by officers of an unidentified agency that he’d been flagged as a terror threat because a passenger thought he was writing down Arabic during the flight. The economist laughed and showed the officers what was actually a complex math equation he was working his way through before a presentation later on.
After everything was cleared up, Menzio was able to get back to his seat and head forward on his trip. The pilot was embarrassed for the entire incident but there’s no word on the feelings of the woman that was sitting next to him. Her name couldn’t be provided by security officials and Menzio didn’t happen to catch it. But something tells me she’s sitting somewhere with some figurative egg on her face.
Menzio claims that he was treated well once in custody. But he feels the incident is a side effect of a shift in collective thinking in America following Donald Trump’s cross-country tour of best case concerning and worst case hateful rhetoric.
“What might prevent an epidemic of paranoia? It is hard not to recognize in this incident, the ethos of [Donald] Trump’s voting base,” he wrote in an e-mail to to New York Times.
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