An AP reporter was aboard a Southwest flight when the pilot said, "Let's go Brandon," over the intercom. Since this reporting, the pilot has come under fire from leftists and Democrats who see his statement as somehow problematic.
Pilots across the country have been subjected to a vaccine mandate from their employers after President Joe Biden demanded that all companies that employ over 100 people, or those that contract with the federal government as so many airlines do, vaccinate their workers.
The reporter, Colleen Long, was working on an article for the Associated Press at the time, titled "How 'Let's Go Brandon' became code for insulting Joe Biden."
On Twitter, Long wrote: "[That feeling when] you're trying to go on vacation and then the pilot says the very thing you're working on over the loud speaker and you have to try to get him [sic] comment but then almost get removed from the plane."
She followed up with "Also in defense of the airline I was asking them to open [the] locked cock pit and probably sounded insane."
However, Long reported that Southwest Airlines did respond to her query, saying that the airline "takes pride in providing a welcoming, comfortable, and respectful environment for the millions of Customers who fly with the airline each year and behavior from any individual that is divisive or offensive is not condoned."
Long apparently isn't amused by the "Let's go Brandon" meme, which her short article tracked back to an Oct. 2 NASCAR event where it all began. An NBC reporter, covering the winner of the race after his final lap, allegedly misunderstood the crowd's explicit chant of "F*ck Joe Biden" as "Let's go Brandon," and so a meme was born.
"A portion of the U.S. was already angry well before the Brandon moment," Long wrote, "But anger has now moved beyond die-hard Trump supporters, said Stanley Renshon, a political scientists and psychoanalyst at the City University of New York."
That anger is not just one-sided, however, and people took issue with the pilot's message. Juliette Kayyem, a CNN National Security Analyst and former Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security under former President Barack Obama, wrote that:
"Southwest pilot saying Let's go Brandon demonstrated the poorest of judgements best case and a MAGA death wish worst case and then the rest of the flight crew let him remain in the cabin operating a commercial aircraft," Kayyem wrote, as though the pilot's dislike of the sitting president precludes him from doing his job.
"They should in fact all be fired and lose their certificates," the prominent national security pundit wrote. "FAA won't let me fly when mentally impaired, impairments including being sad or angry. In a commercial crew, they're supposed to apply such test to each other. Total failure to implement the IMSAFE checklist, clearly the guy is stressed out enough about something—stolen election, vaccine mandate, Hillary Clinton," stated Kayyem with no proof of anything other than that it's likely the pilot doesn't like the president and was amused by a meme.
She further said that "every passenger on that flight has standing to file a complaint" with the FAA, and that "they should do so." This, she said, would force Southwest to "investigate or defend him."
Former FBI special agent Asha Rangappa wrote that a pilot saying "Let's go Brandon" in mockery of a sitting president that is disrupting the airline industry was similar to pledging public allegiance to a known global terror organization.
"As an experiment," Rangappa wrote, "I'd love for an @SouthwestAir pilot to say 'Long Live ISIS' before taking off. My guess is that 1) the plane would be immediately grounded; 2) the pilot fired; and 3) a statement issued by the airline within a matter of hours."
Emma Jo Morris of the New York Post commented that "the ruling class will not be mocked."
Cristina Hoff Sommers noted that "Criticizing a political leader is not terrorism."
Christina Pushaw, Press Secretary for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, simply commented that a "Former FBI special agent believes that the majority of Americans are actually terrorists, because they oppose Dear Leader Joe."
Kayyem went on the defense on Twitter after being roundly mocked for believing that someone who doesn't like the sitting president is suffering from a mental deficit. She wrote that "MAGA is not happy and crazed in my feed. Glad @SouthwestAir is addressing. Context matters; pilots in cockpits have responsibility. Be a jerk anywhere else. But proof I have a sense of humor (in victory), I think Karen Kayyem is pretty funny. Now stop with the sexism and racism?"
Because for Kayyem, attacks against her statement that the pilot should be fired for having a laugh were nothing more than bigotry against her, as opposed to anger at her bias.
Southwest Airlines has said that they do not intend to fire employees who do not comply with the federal vaccine mandate.