Leigh Robbins, a 35-year-old housewife, genuinely believes that she was fulfilling her maternal duties. The truly sickening aspect of her story, which delayed a flight for more than twelve hours, isn’t so much her fear of brown-skinned people, which is quite evident in Robbins’s attempt to get her sons off a plane that, lo and behold, happened to have seven Iraqis on board. It was the way in which Robbins justified her racism with these quotes:
“How can you overreact when it’s your children?”
“I’m very sorry, but I’d do anything to protect my kids.”
Robbins’s excuses are very much grounded in the hermetic seal of the nuclear family archetype. The horror from six years ago has so successfully indoctrinated its way into public consciousness that it is no longer a matter of remembering (“Never forget!” read many of the signs here in New York), but a matter of fulfilling one’s basic domestic duties.
9/11 is no longer the smoking gun. Hollywood is — to some extent. It is no longer a matter of accessing one’s general sense of reality. It is, as Robbins observed, a matter of comparative metaphor. “It was very frightening, like something out of a movie,” said Robbins.
There are important questions here which must be asked: Why didn’t the plane’s passengers stick up for the Iraqi men? They were questioned by American Airlines, as if they were the villains. Why was Robbins’s ostensible safety valued over that of the Iraqi men? Does Robbins truly comprehend the callous fury she has unearthed?
Never mind their ethnicity. Why in America were seven men — who served their country — considered lesser than one racist homemaker, who served nothing more than graham crackers and juice?