An acquaintance of mine and fellow blogger from Britain posted the following item right after the London terror plot was uncovered:
I've been away for a week in Jamaica and so encountered the new air travel rules on the trip back. At Atlanta, the TSA confiscated my two year old's diaper rash ointment (the quaintly named "Boudreaux's Buttpaste"). Another victory for liberty!
I know exactly how he feels.
Watching televised images of American travelers, lumbering like docile cows through TSA rope lines, obediently tossing their Skin-So-Soft and soda cans into government-approved containers, I felt…ashamed.
Yes, I know there's a terrorist threat. I know about the plot to blow planes out of the skies using peroxide-based explosives and the flash from disposable cameras. Perhaps our abandoned tubes of Crest and travel bottles of Pert Plus are the price we must pay for our security, but in my gut I know it's wrong.
We aren't the problem, we vast majority of Americans lugging our suntan lotion through La Guardia and our chap sticks through Charleston International. Treating us all like potential terrorists is annoying. It's inconvenient. But worst of all, it makes us look just plain dumb.
What must the Islamists think of us, watching us on Al Jezeera back in Iran or Syria? What chumps we must seem. What dopes!
Do we really think we're fighting terrorism my chugging down our Diet Cokes before we board an airplane? Hey aren't there bottles of "soda" on the plane already? And who put them there? What do we really know about the immigrant workers pushing the beverage carts at our airports?
And even if all the soft drinks are safe, what about the cargo? It hasn't all been screened, you know. There could be a bomb in there, or in some resourceful terrorist's checked luggage. Come to think of it, who's checking the folks who check our bags?
My point is this: Name any air travel safety measure, no matter how complex and expensive, and I will reply with a cheap and simple alternative that guarantees a terrorist can blow your next flight out of the sky. Shoeless, thirsty passengers with no laptops but lots of bad breath cannot make us safe. But it certainly makes me angry.
It's not the inconvenience. I agree that forcing the female flying public to carry their hygiene products in clear, plastic bags, while somewhat embarrassing, isn't a constitutional crisis. I'm angry that, once again, our government's reaction to the very specific problem of Islam-inspired terrorists is the very broad reaction of treating the rest of us like a terrorist threat.
In Knoxville, TN, the TSA has been testing a device designed to read the minds or at least the motives of airline passengers. The machines, which look like a cross between a high-tech cubicle and the Orgasmatron from Woody Allen's Sleeper, were described in the Wall Street Journal:
"With one hand inserted into a sensor that monitors physical responses, the travelers used the other hand to answer questions on a touch screen about their plans. A machine measured biometric responses blood pressure, pulse and sweat levels that then were analyzed by software…The trial of the Israeli-developed system represents an effort by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration to determine whether technology can spot passengers who have 'hostile intent.'"
Great. First it was metal detectors, then checking every laptop, then removing every shoe. Now it's "No Aquafina and, oh by the way, Mr. Graham, please sit in the Chair of Inquisition and answer a few questions about how feel about the Jews…"
Why do we average American schmucks put up with this abuse? We're not the problem. The problem, as every sentient being on planet Earth is painfully aware by now, is the current state of Islam. Our planes aren't in danger because of the existence of explosives or box cutters or even shoulder-fired Stinger missiles. These are just tools. The threat comes from killers inspired by their faith to use these tools to end their lives in a fireball of death and fear.
Unfortunately, this is a problem we're not allowed to discuss, much less address. President Bush says "Islamic fascists," and the Council of American-Islamic Relations launches a press jihad against him. Point out that the only commonality between the terrorists in Indonesia, Thailand, Spain, Canada and London is their faith, and the accusations of bigotry fly. Beg your fellow Americans who happen to be Muslims to step forward and do something about the killers operating in their name, and these "moderates" denounce your ignorance and intone: "Islam is a religion of peace."
And so we are stuck in long lines, with fussing, frustrated children and frazzled, put-upon TSA agents, all "solving" the problem of terrorism, one harmless tube of lipstick at a time.
Will it do any good? Of course not. But for the moment, we'd rather have the problem of Islamist terrorism than the solution.