Airport security, specifically the TSA (Transportation Security Agency) has been a hot topic lately; you can’t help but hear about it, from the papers to talk radio shows. We hear reports filled with horror stories about full body scans for every passenger, with intrusive “enhanced pat downs” as punishment for those who refuse to submit to them, including nuns, 90-year old grandmothers and a screaming 3-year old toddler who didn’t want to surrender her teddy bear.
But in my view, the biggest insult has to be that the TSA feels the need to even thoroughly search the very people who are the backbone of the airline industry… the pilots and flight crews of the planes themselves. I even heard one interview with a commentator who supports the searches, who when asked if these searches are really necessary, replied that “well, you never know what these pilots picked up between flights”.
Picked up what, I wonder? Some last minute tips from a representative of a terrorist training camp? Received a codeword over the phone that activated the sleeper agent within him? Slipped a bomb under his hat? What, exactly?
The government says that it needs to do these enhanced security measures to “keep us safe”… but do they really? Or are they little more than theatrics to give us that illusion?
My money is on the latter.
The problem we have here is that while the TSA is searching for weapons (or objects that could be used as weapons… like fingernail clippers and bottled water), they’re not observing the actual people themselves, specifically their body language, mood, behavior and appearance. In fact, they’ve been trained not to.
Yes folks, I’m talking about America’s second dirtiest word… profiling.
“But David!” you say… “We can’t just judge people based on how they look! That’s… that’s… (Get ready, here’s the first dirtiest word) RACIST!!!”
Let me give you a scenario…
A black American wakes up in the morning, and to his horror, discovers a hangman’s noose on a tree on his front lawn. The police are called and they start observing the man’s neighbors. Who would be the most likely suspect?
The man’s black neighbors to the left? The Latino family to the right? The Asian man living across the street? How about that elderly couple that runs the flower shop a few doors down? Or could it be that middle-aged, white male with a sofa on his porch and a Confederate flag hanging in his living room window at the end of the street?
If you were the cop, who would be the first one you’d want to interview?
Too easy for you? How about a few more examples?
When a young child is abducted, and sometimes tragically killed, who has the perpetrator been in almost every single case?
When news breaks out that someone went on a shooting rampage at work, who do you visualize first?
When a pipe bomb goes off in a clinic that is known to provide abortions, who do you see as the most likely suspect?
I bet the first thing that popped into most of your heads was a middle-aged, white male. Bonus points if you added “religious wacko” for the last question.
Congratulations… according to a liberal’s logic, you’re a racist.
Then again, this logic only seems to apply when it is used on “minorities”, like the nervous looking, young to middle-aged Middle Eastern man approaching the security gate. Three year old toddlers, on the other hand, are a much higher security risk.
We have this attitude in our country that because we don’t want to risk “offending” a particular demographic (in this case, Muslims), we must therefore treat everyone as a criminal. Of course, most Muslims are not criminals, but can you name one single incident in which a non-Muslim blew up a passenger airliner? Who else has threatened us time and again that they would destroy us?
It’s not the Christians… it’s not the Jews… or the Hindus, or the Buddhists or even the atheists. It certainly wasn’t any of the pilots and flight crews of our airliners.
It’s the Muslims.
But to be fair, it’s not the race or religious practice alone that matters. It’s also how the passenger behaves that counts the most. A Muslim man who has a history of flying back to Saudi Arabia to visit family during Ramadan, and is simply minding his business, doesn’t deserve the same level of scrutiny that a young white female should get if she is clutching her bag and nervously glancing around the terminal.
Profiling works, folks. The Israelis have proven that for years. It’s why their airports are considered to be among the safest in the world. There are no body scanners, no intrusive pat downs, and they don’t check your bottled water or make you take off your shoes. They’re observing you, not your objects… the complete opposite of how we do it here. The time it takes for a passenger to pull his car by the entrance and enter the terminal, with several layers of screening along the way… around 25 minutes.
In America, it can take you longer than that just to check in your luggage.
We can learn a lot from the Israelis. If there’s any nation that understands the need for tight security, especially their airports, it’s them. They have insisted that our methods are flawed, and have demonstrated more efficient, less intrusive ways of screening passengers (which can be found in the links below).
So why aren’t we listening to them?
“First, it’s fast – there’s almost no line. That’s because they’re not looking for liquids, they’re not looking at your shoes. They’re not looking for everything they look for in North America. They just look at you. Even today with the heightened security in North America, they will check your items to death. But they will never look at you, at how you behave. They will never look into your eyes … and that’s how you figure out the bad guys from the good guys.”… Rafi Sela , president of AR Challenges, comparing Israel’s screening methods vs. North America’s.
The ‘Israelification’ of Airports: High Security, Little Bother : Cathal Kelly, The Star.com, 12/30/2009
Israeli Airport Gives Rare Glimpse into Security : Daniel Estrin, Associated Press, 11/03/2010
3-Year Old Girl Accosted by TSA : YouTube Video posted by “StopvotingTandL”, CW39 News Report, 11/17/2010