The next time you are the genuine victim of racism and everyone yawns with disinterest when you complain, be sure to thank Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D) for the fact that no one gives a damn about racism any more.
United Airlines passenger Jean-Marie Simon claims that on December 18th her first class seat reservation for a flight from Houston to Washington D.C. was inexplicably cancelled and her seat given to Rep. Lee following Lee’s request for an upgrade. According to Ms. Simon (see her Face Book post here) she watched as a flight attendant escorted Rep. Lee onto the plane ahead of “…uniformed military, toddlers, people with disabilities and Global Services passengers…,” unaware that her own reservation had been cancelled until she subsequently lined up to board. When she handed the attendant her boarding pass they could find no record of her reservation, and she was ultimately given a seat in economy-plus, but she was none too pleased about not being seated in the seat that she had specifically reserved weeks ago. Ms. Simon later had an opportunity to walk through the first class section, at which time she took a cell phone picture of Rep. Lee occupying the seat that Simon had reserved. This got the attention of a flight attendant who sat down next to Simon after she was back in her seat and questioned her about whether or not she intended to “…be a problem.”
In its own statement United has claimed that it appears Ms. Simon cancelled the reservation herself on her phone app after being notified that the flight was delayed, a claim which Ms. Simon denies (United eventually gave Ms. Simon $500 for her inconvenience). After the story hit the news Rep. Lee initially offered only the following statement: “I asked for nothing exceptional or out of the ordinary and received nothing exceptional or out of the ordinary.” Following an outpouring of anger, however, she posted a lengthy Face Book post of her own about the incident in which, as you may have guessed, she attributes Simon’s anger over the seat incident to racism. Ho hum.
Apparently it isn’t possible that a woman trying to complete her journey home from Guatemala was understandably irritated that the seat she chose and reserved using thousands of her banked airline miles was suddenly given to someone else, and that someone else just happened to be a person who had clout with the airline. Never mind that when she initially voiced her objections with United upon learning her ticket was cancelled Ms. Simon wasn’t even aware to whom her seat had been given. No. If a white person is upset because their reservation disappears and a black person with clout ends up taking their seat, this means they’re a racist.
I can’t say with certainty what happened with Ms. Simon’s reservation, but I do know that when someone like Sheila Jackson Lee pulls the race card there’s always a reason and it has nothing whatsoever to do with race. According to Ms. Simon, the congressman who was seated beside her in the seat she ultimately occupied told her that Rep. Lee has done this type of thing before. If you read Ms. Lee’s FB post, you’ll notice that she is careful in her words, never claiming to have reserved that first class seat herself but only claiming to have a boarding pass. I’ll let readers be the judge of who’s statement they can trust, but the point I’m making is that Sheila Jackson Lee is using the tired old race card for the sole purpose of taking people’s attention off what appears to be the use of her clout to steal someone else’s seat. Anyone of reasonable intelligence understands that the consequence of feigning victimhood to satisfy other motives is that it makes good people indifferent and cynical to such claims. Race-baiters like Rep. Lee know this as well as anyone else, but they just don’t seem to care. If the real victims of racism end up ignored or assumed to be posers because the claim of racism has been so rampantly abused, it is of no consequence to them as long as their own personal objectives are attained.
By the way, I wonder what the race was of the United employee(s) who assisted Rep. Lee with her upgrade and escorted her onto the plane ahead of all the other passengers? I wonder how it was that Ms. Simon, a 63-year old white woman, ended up being the person whose reservation was cancelled? Not being a race-baiter myself, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that if there was mischief involved, it was not racially motivated.