While Donald Trump was tweeting about expanding the nuclear arsenal yesterday, another controversy arose when Ivanka Trump was harassed by another passenger on an airplane flight. The right wing media quickly took advantage of this launch an overall attack on the left. With all the sensationalist reports in the media, fortunately there is a more reliable account from another passenger who posted about it on his Facebook page.
The passenger who confronted Ivanka Trump was removed from the flight. From the account of the witness in the Facebook post it does sound like it was a reasonable decision. The other passenger’s case is also not supported in light of this tweet prior to the episode: “Ivanka and Jared at JFK T5, flying commercial. My husband chasing them down to harass them.”
It has become conventional to give the children of a president a certain amount of privacy. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are in a different situation than recent presidential children such as Obama’s daughters because of their actual involvement in Donald Trump’s transition, which is expected to continue after he takes office. That still does not justify intentional harassment of them. The fact that they were traveling with their children is further reason to give them a little privacy.
This was one person acting badly. It hardly justifies sensationalism such as the cover of The New York Post, which declares: Heir Strike–Now Dems are attacking Trump’s kids. An opinion piece by Karol Markowicz also takes advantage of this to attack the left in general, ending with this unsupported conclusion: “The left is trying to turn the whole country into a liberal safe space — safe for them, dangerous for anyone who disagrees with them. They’ve lost their minds.”
Donald Trump’s election has raised a lot of emotions in response to the xenophobia, racism, and misogyny raised during his campaign. In this case, the reaction was excessive and inappropriate, but it hardly reflects on all liberals. Having followed many heated elections, I have found that Clinton supporters have often been the most intolerant of those holding different viewpoints that I have seen. This, of course, does not apply to all Clinton supporters, and many of us on the left saw both major party candidates as being near equally repulsive.
Despite the erroneous argument in using this incident to attack the left in general, I do agree with Markowicz on one point. Ivanka Trump is hardly the person in the incoming Trump administration for the left to concentrating our opposition on. She gave a rather liberal speech at the Republican Convention and, as I pointed out earlier in the month, has been advocating for action on climate change. It would make more sense to encourage her to try to influence her father in a more liberal and tolerant direction, as opposed to attacking her.
It is no surprise that an isolated individual acted badly, or that the right wing media would take advantage of the episode. It is also no surprise that social media provided valuable information beyond what was reported by the news media. What I did find a little surprising in all of this is that Ivanka and Jared are flying coach, which is uncomfortable even when you don’t have someone harassing you.