On Sunday, Sept. 11, Shoshana Hebshi was a passenger on a Frontier Airlines flight from Denver to Detroit. She, along with two male passengers, was removed from the flight in handcuffs, searched and questioned. On Monday, the 35-year-old mother of twins told her story on her Wordpress blog. Below, she shares her perspective on the reaction her story has generated.
FIRST PERSON | When I hit the "publish" button on Wordpress, I felt like I had put the period on my experience of being detained in Detroit on Sunday, Sept. 11. Writing the post took most of the day on Monday, but in the cathartic process, I was able to go through what had happened the previous day, put it all down in a format that made sense to me and get on with it. Only, the "getting on with it" part has been more a semicolon than a period.
I originally took to the blog because it has been my space for the last few years to write freely about my humdrum experiences, thoughts and observations since I moved across the country from my native California to Iowa and then to Ohio. It had never been widely read by more than family and friends, so I had not even a modicum of a clue that it would explode and go viral.
I posted the blog link to my Facebook profile so my friends who had wondered about my experience (as judging from my 9/11 tweets and simultaneous Facebook posts) could read it. Soon they were sharing the post, and their friends were sharing, and so on and so on. I sat in my living room Monday night chatting with some Facebook friends who were watching the post spread to Gawker and then to Boing Boing.
I checked my blog stats for the day, which had gone from about 8,000 to 44,000 page views in just a few hours. And then I went to bed.
In the morning, I woke up and waited to do any computer work until I had taken my kids to school so there would be no distractions. Around 8:30 a.m., I opened my laptop and soon found requests from reporters for interviews, a mound of comments on the blog post and several email account inboxes overflowing with new messages. The post had picked up speed, not unlike a tropical storm, and had become a hurricane overnight.
I now had a choice to make: ride the storm or duck for cover.
I realized, in talking to some friends and family members, that the overall message of my post was resonating with so many people, and a dialogue had started about the extreme security measures of the authorities. People were talking about the state of our country. There was dialogue. There was outrage. There was agreement among some that what happened should have happened and should continue to happen. There were some hateful and ugly comments, too, and some that didn't quite get what I was trying to say, but most important, in my view, is there was and continues to be dialogue going on about our constitutional rights and if we as a country are being proactive or reactive to terrorist threats.
It's uncomfortable for me to be in the spotlight. As a writer and former newspaper reporter, I never thought twice about having my byline published. But I have always preferred the sidelines to the spotlight and writing about injustice rather than being the subject of it.
I feel overwhelmed by the response but supported by the many people whom I don't know and whom I have known for years who have come forward with positive sentiments and similar outrage.
I hope the dialogue continues and leads to some rethinking of the way we go about protecting ourselves from our own worst fears.