November 9th, 2010
06:34 PM ET

Air marshal sidelined for 'culturally insensitive' remark

A senior administrator with the Federal Air Marshal Service has been removed from his leadership position while the agency investigates a "culturally insensitive" remark he made on a recent conference call, CNN confirmed Tuesday.

John A. Novak, assistant director of the service, dismissed a black colleague's suggestion that the agency hold regional meetings to improve communications by saying such meetings are "nothing but traveling minstrel shows with people with banjos and guitars," said a senior government official familiar with the investigation.

The reference to minstrel shows, in which white performers in blackface lampooned African Americans, was offensive, the senior official said.

"It was dumb. It was stupid. It was egregious," added the official, who spoke on condition of not being identified by name. The official was not authorized to speak about the case publicly.

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Filed under: Air travel • National security
soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. p

    oh gee! tell novak not to worry he would be on fox news and become the next president for his statement ask palin.

    November 10, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Michelle

    A minstrel was a medieval European bard who performed songs whose lyrics told stories about distant places or about real or imaginary historical events. Though minstrels created their own tales, often they would memorize and embellish the works of others. Frequently they were retained by royalty and high society. As the courts became more sophisticated, minstrels were eventually replaced at court by the troubadours, and many became wandering minstrels, performing in the streets and became well liked until the middle of the Renaissance, despite a decline beginning in the late 15th century. Minstrelsy fed into later traditions of traveling entertainers, which continued to be moderately strong into the early 20th century, and which has some continuity down to today's buskers or street musicians.

    So how is this culturally insensitive?

    November 10, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • JMarie

      You have no clue. It isn't about one comment. This is one of many racial and female discrimination examples from top brass. If you where fired for being female would you be too sensitive? Ohhhhh...that's about me now

      November 10, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Wild Hurricane

    Sounds like this Air Marshal was revelling from a night at the theatre.

    November 10, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Wild Hurricane

    Why do ethnic people get violent when you talk bad about their m0thers? Because everything you say about their m0thers is true.

    November 10, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. phil

    The flames of racism are fanned by political and religious leaders. The vast majority of US could care less what color you happen to have been born. The excuses they use these days for pulling out the "dreaded race card" are pure milk-yoast. no substance whatsover.

    November 10, 2010 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. phil

    Milk-toast rather...some of you oldsters might remember this treat.

    November 10, 2010 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. stick dog

    @jMarie – don't waste your breath we these clowns on here.

    November 10, 2010 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. stick dog

    Wild hurricane you still around? Are have you downgraded to a tropical depression.

    November 10, 2010 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Wild Hurricane


    November 10, 2010 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
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