An award-winning economics professor from Penn was removed from an American Airlines flight on Thursday after his seatmate reported him as a terrorist — based on watching him do some math calculations while waiting for take off.
According to Philly.com, Guido Menzio was removed from the plane after it returned to the gate where he was forced to explain to FBI officials that he was doing research, not plotting a terrorist attack.
Menzio, who is tenured associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania after stints at Princeton and Stanford, said he was doing some calculations when he noticed his seatmate flag down a flight attendant, saying she was sick.
The take off to Syracuse was soon aborted, with Menzio stating he and the woman were both escorted off the plane where he was confronted by security officials.
After being asked about the woman, Menzio was told that she “thought I was a terrorist because I was writing strange things on a pad of paper. I laugh. I bring them back to the plane. I showed them my math.”
Saying he was treated “respectfully,” Menzio said that the response to her accusation shows a “broken system does not collect information efficiently.”
He added that it was not unexpected in a political season where suspicion of dark-complected people has heightened because of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.
“What might prevent an epidemic of paranoia? It is hard not to recognize in this incident, the ethos of (Donald) Trump’s voting base,” he stated.
According to the professor he was allowed to reboard the plane — which took off two hours late — but the woman did not return to the flight.