Monday, November 29, 2010

Keep Away From My Junk

“We have met the enemy, and he is us”---Walt Kelly, via Pogo
When those people who hijacked those planes nine and a half years ago flew them into those towers and got their misguided point across, they had no idea what they really had wrought. How could they have known that what they really were doing was planting a seed of paranoia that still grows at a fast and furious rate all these years later.
First, our knee-jerk reaction was, correctly, to attack al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, a move that our then-president apparently decided was too difficult, and instead opted for invading Iraq, a famously incorrect and ill-advised move that got rid of a despotic dictator who had no connection to the attacks of 9/11, trashed the infrastructure and centuries of antiquities of one of the great civilizations of the world, and did nothing to help our country get cheaper oil or gas, the prices of which actually rose by more than a little bit.
Then, we find out that the “war on terror” brought us the shameful news that certain agencies and public officials had made the decision that it was okay to use torture in special cases, such as those involving terror suspects. Well, you know something, folks? It’s NOT okay to torture another human being, no matter what they are, or have done. That was why the Geneva Conventions were created, to try to keep a very uncivil act---war---from being any more barbaric than it already is.
Those hijackers also probably didn’t know that they were going to make life very difficult for good, decent practitioners of their own religion, since the less intelligent denizens of the land have decided that it is okay to vilify an entire belief system based on the misdeeds of a relative handful of radicals. Well, folks, that’s NOT okay either.
And now we have the current Big Controversy: the intrusive and invasive tactics of the TSA at our airports. I never thought I would find myself agreeing with Tea Party members, or Republicans, or even Democrats. It appears that NO ONE wants to have their naked body seen by a total stranger in a remote location or be patted down or groped by a different total stranger in front of a line of fellow travelers, who are also strangers.
This latest issue is the one that comes across as something to protest, and that is because it has the possibility to affect them personally, unlike waterboarding, or being threatened or intimidated for wearing Muslim traditional clothing.
I want to fly safely as much as the next person. The stated purpose of the TSA is to prevent would-be terrorists from bringing weapons or explosives aboard. The tally of terrorists caught at the airports by these methods to date: zero. So, am I feeling safer because of this? No. These full body scans of old ladies and little kids are ineffective, a violation of privacy, and just are not necessary. This is where the remaining vestiges of common sense have flown out the window. A friend of mine who works for TSA in Greenville, S.C. told me of having to pat down a flier who set off the machine when she passed through it, necessitating a hands-on search, only to discover that the alarm was from the new artificial hips that the woman---Betty White by name---had recently had put in. To her credit, Ms. White was very cordial about it, but in truth, she never should have been patted down. Folks: it’s NOT okay to search Betty White! Or me. Or you.
A solution: bomb sniffing dogs. They cost about five thousand dollars each, which means that 40 dogs could be purchased for the cost of one body scanner. And dogs, which are used to great effect in Israel, can detect much more than those scanners can.
Let’s not be our own worst enemy, folks. We already have enough.

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