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Georgetown professor accused of calling officers ‘Nazi police’ at a German airport

A Georgetown professor has been accused of using the phrase “Nazi police” at a German airport. She denies the allegation. (Jeffrey MacMillan)

A Georgetown University professor with a history of confrontational encounters has been accused by German authorities of disparaging officers this month at Frankfurt’s airport, referring to them as “Nazi police.”

C. Christine Fair, an associate professor at Georgetown’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, denied the allegations, saying she made a comment about a man’s “Hitler Youth” haircut but did not describe police officers as Nazis. Fair said the Jan. 11 episode at Frankfurt Airport stemmed from her request to file a customer service complaint, not the reasons cited by German authorities.

“I don’t shy away from confrontation,” Fair said Monday in a telephone interview, “but I didn’t do this.”

Fair previously made headlines for confronting white nationalist Richard Spencer at a gym and for a spat with Asra Q. Nomani, a Muslim woman who voted for President Trump. She expected to meet about the matter Tuesday with an official at the German Embassy.

“I am certainly known for confrontation, but I own my confrontations,” she said. “This is absolutely slanderous allegations, and I’m going to be pursing this legally.”

According to a news release from German Federal Police at Frankfurt Airport, the incident began when Fair’s luggage was flagged for additional security screening.

During the inspection, officers found “loosely transported” cosmetic items that weren’t packed in a transparent plastic bag, as required, the release stated. There were also too many liquids in Fair’s luggage. Officers suggested she slip her roll-on deodorant in a checked bag instead of the carry-on, or just not fly with the item.

“The U.S. passenger reacted angrily towards these suggestions and became increasingly uncooperative,” the release stated. “She began to insult the Federal Police officers, by calling them, among other names . . . ‘German Nazi police,’ as witnesses can confirm.”

The release stated that police have started a “preliminary investigation on suspicion of defamation,” and a German police official said Monday in an email that the process was ongoing. Fair paid a $260 deposit for anticipated legal costs before being allowed to continue on her trip.

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Fair described the incident on HuffPost, writing that she was “literally framed, arrested and, for all intents and purposes, robbed by the Frankfurt airport and German state police.” She described the experience as “little more than jack booted thuggery.”

In the phone interview, Fair disputed the German officials’ account, saying she was cooperative during the exchange. She described an increasingly hostile experience, which included “deodorant drama” and officers who “went hyper-obnoxious about this liquid thing.” Fair said she eventually asked to speak with a manager and to file a customer service complaint, and claimed that an officer told her that if she filed a complaint, she would end up with what she described as a German police report.

“I was never rude about liquids,” she said. “I think this is just some preposterous story that they wanted to make about an Ugly American.”

Amid the incident, Fair said, she noticed three American men at the security gate, one of whom had “one of those hairdos that pretty much look like a Hitler Youth hairdo.” As she was putting away her items, she made a comment to herself about the man.

“I muttered to myself in utter disbelief, while the crack German police are confiscating my deodorant, they don’t notice the guy with the Hitler Youth hairdo, or something to this effect,” she said. “It’s clearly a snide comment. It’s clearly intended at no one in any direction whatsoever. The cop is not anywhere near me.”

A Georgetown representative said in a statement that “the views of faculty members expressed in their private capacities are their own and not the views of the university.”

“While Georgetown is committed to free speech and expression, we do not approve of or endorse every statement made by our faculty members,” the statement said. “We are also deeply committed to the safety, security and well-being of each member of our community.”