Lining Up Like Cattle To Slaughter
Right now I have much more fear of the people who are employed to keep me safe than the people who I’m told are determined to kill me and other citizens of the United States. The reason I don’t fly isn’t because of some irrational fear of Osama bin Laden and his merry band of men better known as al Qaeda. The reason I wouldn’t fly isn’t because of some long shot possibility that I might be on that one plane that’s been targeted to blow up on takeoff from St. Louis’ Lambert Field airport. I might be wrong, but I don’t think a terrorist has ever blown up, hijacked, or even tampered with the lavatory of a plane at my local airport. The reason I don’t fly is the very real likelihood that I will be forced to be stripped search or scanned in order to prove that I’m not a terrorist bent on destroying a plane I need to get to my destination.
The authorities have made the idea that our lives are in jeopardy every time we get on a plane part of our collective fear. Never mind the fact that it has been a long while since anybody has successfully downed an American airliner flying from one destination in the United States to another. Now that we have a better sense of how far people in other countries are willing to go to do their best to kill Americans, we have to throw common sense out the window to inspect each and every person that is getting on a plane because we don’t have the resources to employ people to find the terrorists in our midst. So we have been programmed to think that our flying safety is so tenuous that it requires us to get in long cattle lines, surrender our rights to privacy or to fly with anything that might contain fluid and is larger than a lip balm outside a clear zip lock bag of the officially approved dimensions.
If I was a terrorist, I wouldn’t put a bomb in my son’s diaper or put a suicide vest on my octogenarian mother. If I was a terrorist bent on striking fear on the flying public, one of those so-called low radiation back scanning machines wouldn’t stop me from striking fear into the flying public. Nobody in the TSA could stop me from killing the flying public. If the authorities don’t know who I am when I walk into the airport, then the people I would be trying to kill would be as good as dead already.
If I was a terrorist I would get the biggest piece of luggage accepted by baggage handlers I could find and stuff it with the most powerful explosives that I could find assembly directions for on the internet. I would take my Samsonite bomb and walk up to the line of people waiting at the ticket counter and when I was in the middle of the throngs of people waiting for their opportunity to be felt up or scanned, I’d detonate that bomb right there in the airport. The billions of dollars spent buying scanners and hiring TSA gropers to harass people would be useless. The entire airport would be shut down. People would be afraid to go to any airport anywhere. All that time and money put into keeping us safe would be wasted. And my family would be safe at home far from harm.
Instantly the rules for the game would be changed. A new set of scanners would be added to airport security and people would have to be scanned outside the airport in order to get in. The lines would build up outside the airport right there at the curb. If I was a terrorist when all of this happened, I would pack my minivan with explosives, drive right up to that curb and detonate a bomb that would make Timothy McVeigh’s blast in Oklahoma look like a firecracker. And after that, the game would change again. People would have their cars scanned at the perimeter of the airport before they’re allowed onto the airport grounds. A queue of vehicles would build up at the checkpoint which would become the latest soft target.
Only a dumb terrorist would come to our local airport and try to sneak their suppository bomb onto a plane. And only people with the most limited of imaginations would think all these invasions of our privacy are meant to keep us safe. These scanners and these TSA representatives are simply meant to give us the illusion of safety and the illusion of some tough crackdown on terrorism. This morning I watched a video clip of a little boy, maybe about nine, being inspected in an airport line. His shirt had been removed so that inspectors could examine him more closely. And wouldn’t you know it, he didn’t have a bomb. The inspector gave him back his shirt and probably patted his head while his parents looked on. How the hell is that supposed to make me feel safe?
All that money that went into turning our airports into fortresses would be better spent if we didn’t just wait around until terrorists buy airline tickets and turn themselves in at the TSA checkpoint. Maybe we could invest that money in enhancing the ability of authorities to find these people ahead of time. Eventually, somebody will figure out a way to hurt people who are trying to fly and will implement it. We are a society of soft targets. If we fortify our airports and make them impervious to terrorism the target will move to a grocery store or a church or a theater or anywhere people congregate. If you really look at things with an open mind, you’d understand that just because we line up like cattle doesn’t mean we’re any safer.