– The Healthy Home Economist
When ignorance about breastfeeding coincides with an irrational
fear of terrorists, what do you get?
A very nasty scene at a ritzy New York Country Club, that’s what!
This is exactly what Belgian diplomat Tom Neijens and his wife
Roseline Remans discovered when they stopped by the Metropolis
Country Club in White Plains, New York on June 8, 2013 and inquired
about having lunch.
Club employees permitted the family to dine on the terrace despite
the fact that they weren’t members, whereupon Remans began to
discreetly breastfeed her daughter Luka at the table.
Neijens, first secretary of the Belgium Mission to the UN, told the
New York Post that a female employee of the club quickly interrupted
Roseline’s perfectly legal and proper feeding of her baby with this
“Please leave immediately, you are disturbing the members!”
When Neijens protested and said it would only take a few minutes,
the female staffer insisted that Remans finish in the restroom.
Understandably incredulous at the blatant ignorance on display
at such a high end establishment, Mr. Neijens inquired why a baby
would be asked to have lunch in the restroom when adults are not.
The Greenburgh Police Department arrived minutes later with Detective
Scott Harding apparently yelling, “Close the doors!” with two other
diners ordered to leave the terrace.
Mr. Neijens described the chaotic scene as something straight out
of a Western movie with the officer walking around like John Wayne
with “one hand on his gun, one hand on his Taser.”
The officer warned the couple that they were trespassing despite
the fact that country club staff had given them specific permission
to dine. He also said that some fearful members thought Mr. Neijens’
black backpack indicated they were terrorists.
Most laughable if not actually true, is what the officer came out
with next when a tearful Ms. Remans asked why terrorists would
breastfeed at a ritzy club:
“In Sri Lanka, babies are used by terrorists.”
Well, you learn something new every day, don’t you?
Attention all breastfeeding mothers. Your milk engorged breasts are
actually considered weapons of mass destruction by law enforcement
authorities. That liquid is NOT food for your baby. It is actually
highly explosive material that could detonate at any time, sparking
a chain of events identified by the media as bona fide terrorist
Detective Harding quickly backed off his ridiculous posturing when
Mr. Neijens revealed his State Department issued identification.
He dismissed his over the top behavior by explaining that the club
had received terrorist threats in the past.
Despite the fact that they were doing nothing illegal or improper
and possessed proper identification, the couple was still escorted
off the premises via the back door.
A few days later, Mr Neijens sent an e-mail demanding an apology
from Country Club general manager Tracy Fraus and assistant general
manager Audra Vaccari.
“I am deeply worried about your staff if they cannot distinguish
between a European couple looking for a quiet place to breast-feed
a baby and suicide terrorists carrying a backpack.”
Lt. B.J. Ryan, a spokesman for the Greenburgh Police Department,
labeled the incident as a simple “cultural misunderstanding.”
Ahem. On behalf of breastfeeding mothers everywhere, I beg to differ.
Breasts are not “cultural” and there is no “misunderstanding”
their true purpose. They are the universal instrument for optimal
feeding of babies.
Not “boob grenades”.
Hard to believe the terrorism handbook didn’t cover this point