Lost in the gleeful conversation was any sense of the danger that putting citizens on the no-fly list without due process may eventually get around to people of different political stripes. Lawmakers have urged the FBI and TSA to expand the nation’s no-fly list to include everyone who took part in the violent pro-Trump protest at the US Capitol last Wednesday.
Left-wing observers thought they were seeing just such a case in a video that circulated on Sunday on social media. It shows a distraught man walking past a boarding lounge, saying:
This is what they do to us. They kicked me off the plane. They called me a f**king terrorist, and they want to f**king ruin my life.
The scene of apparent consequences for Capitol rioters was met with cheers – and zero sympathy. “Man, you can’t even break into the Capitol building wearing a Camp Auschwitz T-shirt carrying zip-ties to take hostages while shouting about hanging the vice president just before killing a cop without landing on the no-fly list anymore,” a group known as Sleeping Giants said on Twitter.
Others joined in the fun. “My favorite part is when he cries because they called him a terrorist,” lawyer Great Sarafan said. Podcast host Nick Wright quipped: “No-fly lists don’t care about your feelings.”
Self-described “anti-racism educator” Tim Wise said he had no sympathy for the unidentified crying man. “Any idea what it takes for a white man to end up on the no-fly list?” he tweeted. “Yea, it doesn’t happen because of a tweet.” Podcast host Nathan Bernhardt added: “Stop trying to make me think the no-fly list is good in any way.”
TV writer Melissa Jo Peltier offered a translation of the crying man’s outburst, saying the attitude of “When I break the law and am held accountable like anyone else, I am a victim,” is prevalent among “the MAGAsurrection crowd.”
But as it turned out, the happy observers may have misinterpreted the scene. Journalist Yashar Ali said that, according to the woman who filmed the viral video, the man was kicked off the flight for failing to wear a mask, in violation of Covid-19 rules.
Columnist Anthony Fisher, who said the US no-fly list is “unaccountable and unjust,” seemed to make an exception for the supporters of President Donald Trump who stormed the Capitol. “Unlike most people suspected of ties to terrorism, these people actually tried to overthrow the government,” he said.
After it came to light that the man was perhaps merely a Covid-19 criminal, Fisher deleted his original tweet and reiterated both his opposition to the no-fly list and his condemnation of the Capitol rioters.
Lawyer Owen Barcala offered a glimmer of principled thought, saying the government shouldn’t be punishing people without due process. “I was against this applied to suspected terrorists, and I’m against it applied to suspected insurrectionists,” he said.