What Will Keep Us Safe?
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) just gave terrorism a huge holiday gift basket tied with a bow. With Thanksgiving air traffic only a few days away, Americans are already in an uproar over new TSA passenger screening procedures. We now have a choice: either be showered with X-rays and have our cellulite and love-handles exposed to some unknown TSA operator in the next room (who is watching them, I’d like to know?); or be subjected to an “enhanced” pat-down by a same-sex security officer who probably learned his or her trade at Abu-Ghraib. (My apologies to these officers, who are probably all very hard-working people and just following orders. But dentists can now relax. They are no longer the most hated profession.)
The issue went viral last week when a San Diego man simply refused both options and posted a video of his telling the officer, “If you touch my junk, I’ll have you arrested.” Representative John Mica (R-FL) spoke for many outraged Americans when he said, “Shoe bomber, we had to take off our shoes; liquid, we have to take out our liquid; now we’re being groped because of the diaper bomber. What’s next? The proctologist, the gynecologist?”
No matter where you stand on the issue (or which option you would chose), one thing is clear: terrorism works. I’m not saying this because I support terrorism. Quite the contrary. But if the terrorists’ goal is to so inconvenience our lives and force us constantly to change our lifestyles and our principles so that we will eventually cry uncle (and that is indeed their goal), then they are clearly winning.
I find it ironic, however, that we can invade other countries, slaughter civilians by the thousands, engage in rendition and torture, violate their human rights, in addition to our own Bill of Rights, and institute a national security state that would make even Orwell squirm, and hardly anyone complains. But touch our junk, and suddenly we’re Rosa Parks on steroids.
Want to know what will really make us safer? How about changing our foreign policy in the Middle East? How about a little fairness, a little even-handedness in the way we treat Muslim states and Muslims in general. How about we stop preaching to other governments about democracy and human rights while we prop up corrupt and repressive regimes like Egypt, Israel and the Saudis? How about a little concern for the poor and oppressed, instead of just oil, oil, oil? That’s what the Muslim world is really asking for, and to be honest, they have a point. No, they don’t “hate our freedom.” They want our freedom. Freedom from us. (One political blogger noted months back that one of the main reasons immigrants, legal and illegal, flock here by the millions every year, is just that: the U.S. is the only place where they can be free of the U.S.)
“But wouldn’t that be, like, giving into the terrorists?” No, it would be, like, doing the right thing.
But such change is not the way of profit and empire. We’d much rather squeeze and plunder, than give into such unreasonable, humanitarian demands. Besides, these new scanners just put hundreds of millions in the pockets of Rapiscan, a client of the Chertoff Group, a security consulting firm (you mean Michael Chertoff, former Homeland Security Director, who has been singing the virtues of these machines? The very same. Hmmm. The plot just got thicker. I’ll think of him every time I am groped.).