Accuracy in Media

On Tuesday, Southwest Airlines had to remove a passenger from a flight after she claimed a ‘life-threatening’ allergy to dogs.

The woman, identified as Anila Daulatzai, threw a fit when police officers began to escort her off the plane, according to the New York Post. A video of her being taken off the plane has since gotten national attention.

When she boarded, she demanded the two dogs onboard — one a kenneled pet, the other an emotional support animal — be forced off the flight. But Southwest Airlines told her she would have to be the one to get off, as she did not have a medical certificate saying she could not fly with the dogs on board.

The issue is cut-and-dry: Southwest Airlines’ policy states that a customer without a medical certificate may be denied boarding if they report a life-threatening allergic reaction with animals on board. But a Vogue columnist had a different take on the issue.

Mary Wang’s column, headlined “It’s No Coincidence That the Southwest Passenger Dragged Off a Plane Is a Person of Color,” disregarded Southwest policy and instead made a race issue out of the incident. She writes:

Anila Daulatzai, a 46-year-old professor, got dragged off of a plane today in an incident eerily reminiscent of when Dr. David Dao was forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight in April. Dr. Dao declined to give up his seat, while Professor Daulatzai, who teaches at the Maryland Institute College of Art, landed in a dispute with the flight crew about her allergy.

The only similarities between the two incidents? Both occurred on American soil and neither passenger is white.

Wang said it herself: These incidents have almost nothing in common. But as Vogue has gotten progressively more political, it was an opportunity for Wang to take a swipe at President Trump.

Yet, this incident highlights how, especially in Trump’s America, traveling inherently carries more risk for people of color.

Two people caught on camera while being removed from a flight does not equal an “inherent” risk. Wang does not have data on incidents that did not go viral, and only cites friends’ feelings on flying to drive her point home. There could be a correlation here, but Wang did not bother to find it.

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