In this week’s episode of Past Present, Niki, Natalia, and Neil debate United’s rough treatment of its passengers, Trump’s missile attack on Syria, and the White House Easter egg roll.
The Unfriendly Skies
The brutal forced removal of a passenger from a recent United Airlines flight is the latest evidence of the unfriendly skies of air travel today. Natalia noted how different the contemporary flying experience is from the glamorous early days of air travel depicted in the 1967 stewardess memoir, Coffee, Tea or Me?, laying some of the blame on airline deregulation in the late 1970s. Neil pointed to 9/11 as another transformative moment for air travel, and noted that the increasing prevalence of camera phones meant airplane incidents could be easily captured, such as videos taken aboardUnited Flight 3411. Natalia observed how those who have defended United, such as Matt Walsh of the conservative website The Blaze, have argued that the problem was a resistance to authority rather than an example of corporate negligence or police brutality, as most others have argued.
Trump & Syria
Donald Trump ordered a missile strike on Syria in response to a recent gas attack. Neil cited Niki’s article in The Age that argued the missile attack wasn’t a sign of Trump’s emerging foreign policy doctrine, but rather his impulsiveness. Niki mentioned Brendan Simms and Charlie Laderman’s book, Donald Trump: The Making of a World View, for a contrasting view of Trump as consistent on foreign policy. In reference to Trump’s foreign policy, Niki also noted our prior episode on the “America First” ideology, and Neil recommended our previous episodes on Aleppo and Refugeesfor further discussions of Syria.
The Easter Egg Roll
Reports are that the Trump Administration is not prepared to host the annual White House Easter Egg Roll. We discussed the history of the Easter celebration at the White House. You can view historical pictures of the event here and here. Natalia remembered a Times of India article thatdiscussed how President Obama incorporated yoga sessions in the 2016 White House Easter celebrations.
What’s Making History
- Natalia commented on how the wife of Alabama’s governor, Robert Bentley, orchestrated his downfall after she caught him cheating.
- Neil discussed how Chechnya is torturing hundreds of gay men in detention facilities. Neil also recommended Jeff Sharlet’s 2014 GQ article, “Inside the Iron Closet: What It’s Like to Be Gay in Putin’s Russia.”
- Niki talked about the Slate article, “The Week the World Almost Ended.”