The airplane was heading toward the runway at the Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport when eyewitnesses said the Orthodox man began to pray.Now ask yourself, why would anyone be scared of a Hasidic Jew praying on a flight to New York City? Surely there are few more unlikely sources of terrorism. So, unless we wish to believe that the passengers or crew supposed, with no evident reason, that the lastest ploy of Al Qaeda may be to disguise themselves as pious Hasidim, we have to assume that this is a case of simple fear of unfamiliar signs of religious piety (and perhaps some queer, MSM-influenced misconceptions about orthodox Jews and violence).
"He was clearly a Hasidic Jew," said Yves Faguy, a passenger seated nearby. "He had some sort of cover over his head. He was reading from a book.
"He wasn't exactly praying out loud but he was lurching back and forth," Faguy added.
The action didn't seem to bother anyone, Faguy said, but a flight attendant approached the man and told him his praying was making other passengers nervous.
"The attendant actually recognized out loud that he wasn't a Muslim and that she was sorry for the situation but they had to ask him to leave," Faguy said.
The man, who spoke neither English nor French, was escorted off the airplane.
Air Canada Jazz termed the situation "delicate," but says it received more than one complaint about the man's behaviour.
The crew had to act in the interest of the majority of passengers, said Jazz spokeswoman Manon Stewart.
"The passenger did not speak English or French, so we really had no choice but to return to the gate to secure a translator," she said.
The airline is not saying if the man was told he was not allowed to pray, but a spokesperson said the man was back on board the next flight to New York.
And this, I think, is an interesting but disquieting sign of our cultural weakness. For on the one hand it shows that the people involved vaguely recognize, and fear, the power of the sacred over human minds; and yet, on the other hand, it suggests that these same people have little interest in the sacred and no idea what Hasidic Judaism is about. Indeed, we can confidently guess that only people who don't take prayer seriously - in the sense that they don't seriously practice it - would raise objections to a Jewish man praying. Such people would assume that pious, semi-public prayer is a sign of an unstable mind, and while they recognize its power, it may not be for the good.
In other words, if and when this type of person is indeed challenged by people motivated by the power of the sacred, people who see the secular North American as weak and decadent, the under-educated, secular-Gnostic, North Americans are going to run screaming if they can't find authority figures to complain to first. They are not going to be able to feel confident and very superior to the other. Sure they will think the other is crazy, but they will not have the courage to face him down in a fight. They will not be able to say "our faith is superior to yours", because they will only fear the power of faith and not be able to embrace it.
This kind of North American is simply buying time. They know the religious crazies are coming, but like the Spanish voters who responded to the train bombings by voting out a government that was willing to fight Islamic terror, they just want to do whatever it takes to avoid, but not face or understand, the supposed danger, and to keep the jet-settting and partying going for as long as they can, until the fearful power of the sacred triumphs in its return to the scene...
We need to learn again how to promote good faith, and so also an understanding of the sacred, that is suited to our times and needs.
Meanwhile, Concordia University continues to fear Jewish speakers.