FBI Special Agent-turned-CNN Political Analyst Asha Rangappa — gosh that resume sounds unsurprising, doesn’t it? — tweeted this yesterday night:
As an experiment, 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
— Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) October 31, 2021
Put on your irony helmet, this is going to be a long ride. Rangappa was referencing a story involving a Southwest Air pilot who became a headline news story by saying, “Let’s Go, Brandon!” during a flight from Houston to Albuquerque. Sitting on that flight, incredibly, was an AP reporter named Colleen Long who was writing a piece entitled, “How ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ became code for insulting Joe Biden.”
How did it happen? On October 2nd, at a NASCAR race at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama, a crowd broke into a chant of “Fuck Joe Biden!” after 28-year-old Brandon Brown won a race. NBC reporter Kelli Stavast was interviewing Brown during the chants, and quickly spoke over them, saying, “You can hear the chants from the crowd. Let’s go Brandon!”
The phrase has since become a war cry for people all over the country, being at once a burn on Biden, the anxious, airbrushing press, and the corporate conglomerates who are taking pre-emptive action to try to prevent such outbursts from ever again darkening America’s door (“NASCAR and NBC have since taken steps to limit ‘ambient crowd noise’ during interviews,” as the AP put it).
Now WFBI agent Rangappa has essentially declared “Let’s Go, Brandon!” the equivalent of an ISIS war cry. Supportive hand-wringing from press/natsec colleagues (is there a difference?) was instantaneous. “Donald Trump tried to overthrow American democracy and at least one Southwest Airlines pilot thinks that’s just fine,” cried HuffPo’s S.V. Date. “Come fly the extremist skies,” chimed in official #Resistance mascot Aaron Rupar. Then there was Rangappa’s fellow spook-to-CNN pipeliner, former Homeland Security official Juliette Kayyem:
If @SouthwestAir doesn’t do anything, every passenger on that flight has standing to file a complaint with the @FAANews and they should do so. Southwest will then be compelled to investigate or defend him. Have fun with that. No messing around in the air. Bright line rule. https://t.co/L7VlZWJ0SU
— Juliette Kayyem (@juliettekayyem) October 30, 2021
Is it really possible that these people don’t get they’re being trolled? Part of the joke of “Let’s Go Brandon,” of course, is that you couldn’t go five minutes during the last administration without hearing someone in pearls or a bowtie screaming “Fuck Trump!” I don’t remember Rangappa pumping out “Osama de Niro” tweets after this celebrated Tony Awards appearance:
The bigger part of the “Let’s Go Brandon!” gag is that such outbursts during the Trump years were not only not condemned, they were celebrated, as pundits and reporters for the first time told us directly profane insults of presidents were okay. “Robert de Niro’s Comments at the Tony Awards Go Viral,” was CNN’s bemused take, in a story quoting artist Ferrari Shepard saying, “Robert de Niro is my favorite rapper.”
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