To the TSA, a “Suspicious Object”

By | September 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

Examples of TSA agents humiliating elderly or disabled passengers are too numerous to note. Some years ago, a man was prevented from taking a “suspicious object” onto an airliner. The 86-year-old Joe Foss, former governor of South Dakota, was carrying his Medal of Honor, awarded personally by President Roosevelt for heroism in World War II. Now there’s a shady character requiring close scrutiny.

Foss had the medal with him to show the cadets at West Point, where he was invited to speak. But the five-pointed star looked suspicious to TSA agents. Of course, their education probably had not included anything about the Medal of Honor. The superiority of socialism? Yes. America’s shameful history? Of course. But heroism in defense of freedom? Are you joking?

The New York Times carried the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse story on the front page for 32 consecutive days. But the 19 Medal of Honor recipients in Iraq and Afghanistan? Either buried on an inner page or ignored entirely. Can you name even one?

The first time I recall seeing the Medal was in the film “Fort Apache,” when I was a kid. And then I saw “To Hell and Back,” with Medal of Honor recipient Audie Murphy portraying himself. I believe my high-school American history textbook had a picture of Alvin York. But I was luckier than today’s young people. My education transmitted my heritage and didn’t rob me of it. The Medal wouldn’t have looked suspicious to me.

We hear that we are under attack by young men who are Muslim extremists. But we don’t listen. On the contrary, we pretend that we have as much to fear from all ethnic, religious, age, and gender groups. But ignoring facts can be dangerous.

The Israeli airline El Al has a perfect record of preventing terrorist attacks. The Israelis search for weapons, but they concentrate on passengers. Every passenger is checked against a list of potential terrorists.

In addition, passengers are profiled. Suspicious-looking people are selected for questioning, with a view to identifying those with false identification or questionable reasons for traveling. Bags are searched, and armed agents are on most flights. Granted, El Al has many fewer flights than do U.S. airlines. Its methods might not be practical here. But are our current methods practical?

We ignore the passengers and concentrate on weapons. But what is a weapon? Prior to 9/11, box cutters would not have been included. And prior to would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid, nobody would have thought of examining shoes.

Israelis concentrate on suspicious passengers, but we avoid profiling and search children and elderly ladies, while young Middle Eastern-appearing men often pass freely. It is not much of an exaggeration to say that America does not have an airline security system – it has a system for annoying passengers.

Why should this be? In an effort to answer this real question, let me ask a hypothetical question.

Kids enjoy scavenger hunts, where the winner is the one who collects the most articles on the list. Suppose you were on a scavenger hunt. Suppose the list of things to be collected included “evil.” Where would you go to find it?

If you were a liberal, you would head for the nearest gun shop. Of course, you would have to look it up on Google. As a good liberal, you would have no idea where it was. And if it were a liberal town, you might have to go out of town to find one.

Once there, you would look first at handguns as the most “evil,” and then at rifles and shotguns. As with anything unfamiliar, they would look strange and threatening. You would have gotten your notion of guns from movies and TV, where someone who is shot is lifted off his feet and flies backward.

Not having taken high school physics, film makers ignore Newton’s Third Law. If a gun were powerful enough to lift the victim off his feet, it would do the same to the shooter. No matter, it makes for dramatic film − and anti-gun propaganda.

But you would want to win the competition by collecting the most “evil,” so where would you go next? A hardware store is a likely choice. There you would find knives, box cutters, axes, hammers, ice picks, and saws. Surely each of them has been used by criminals. That means the objects are “evil,” doesn’t it?

Next you might go to a drug store, where you would find scissors, nail files, tweezers, and other objects no longer allowed on airliners. Or you might find yourself at an auto dealer, where “evil” SUVs that “cause” global warming would catch your eye.

Then you might visit the poor part of town. Everyone “knows” that poverty causes crime. The idea that crime causes poverty − that high-crime areas do not attract businesses − would not enter your liberal mind. And then you might visit an upscale suburb. Capitalism and greed also cause crime. Everyone “knows” that, too. The contradiction eludes many liberals.

Finally you might wind up at an electronics store, checking out violent computer games, or perhaps at a movie theater watching a violent film, or at a newsstand reading magazines about guns and hunting or – horror! – military matters.

Yes, as a liberal you could spend the whole day going around town, picking up “evil” objects. With such a large collection, you would feel sure of winning.

But what a disappointment it would be if you arrived, loaded down with loot, only to find that a conservative had already won the scavenger hunt. And you would be even more irritated to learn that he had not spent the day exhausting himself, running all over town as you had. In fact, he had stayed home.

He had simply looked in the mirror.

That is the source of evil – ourselves. Not guns. Not knives. Not box cutters, nail clippers, or shoes. Not poverty. No, the source of evil is us.

And that is why America has such an annoying airline security system. For all our wealth, technical expertise, and military strength, we are searching in the wrong places.

Or course we must continue to search for weapons. But as the shoe bomber showed, we cannot recognize all weapons. If a shoe could be a bomb, a necktie or a belt could be a garrote. Shall we insist that businessmen arrive at their destinations with their pants falling down?

Books, laptops, or bags could be used as clubs. Eyeglasses could be broken and yield sharp pieces of glass. A shirt could be pulled off and used to tie up a cabin attendant.

In order to be sure passengers are not carrying weapons, we could insist that they travel nude. But what if they were experts in martial arts? In fact, there is no way to be sure, because the most dangerous weapon is the human mind.

If we spent less time searching elderly ladies and more time scrutinizing likely terrorists, we could make air travel both safer and less annoying. But to do that, we would have to admit that the underlying belief system of liberalism is false.

Evil is not an external influence, something outside ourselves that forces us to perform bad acts. People don’t kill because they have a gun, a knife, or a box cutter.

People don’t kill because they are poor. Most of the 9/11 hijackers were from upper-middle-class families. Their leader, Mohamed Atta, was an architect. Bin Laden was a multi-millionaire, and his chief lieutenant is a physician.

People kill because they have bad values. They kill because they lack the inhibitions that come from good values. They kill because they have never been taught that anything is superior to their own desires. They kill because they want to, and often because they enjoy it.

If 9/11 was not a sufficiently strong lesson, it is difficult to imagine what would be. Will it take a nuclear blast or a release of Ebola virus to cure us of our delusion that inanimate objects are evil?

We rightly condemn suicide bombers and airline hijackers, whose perverted fanaticism requires human sacrifices. But aren’t civil-liberties fanatics doing something similar? Don’t they imply that another terrorist attack is preferable to profiling? Don’t they demand human sacrifices to their pagan gods of multiculturalism and political correctness?

But what will happen if our stupidity allows another 9/11 to occur? Public pressure for extreme measures will be irresistible. If we aren’t careful, we will get the worst possible result: Many thousands will die in a nuclear, biological, or chemical attack − and then people will demand martial law. We will lose lives − and freedom as well.

If we truly love freedom, we will protect it with reasonable measures, rather than risk losing it after a horrible attack occurs because of our weakness.

Well, which will it be? Will we continue to humiliate 86-year-old heroes and grope elderly ladies, young children, and fathers in front of their little girls? Will we continue to fear being politically incorrect even more than we fear mass murder? Will we continue to educate young people so poorly that they cannot recognize a Medal of Honor and mistake it for a “suspicious object”?

Or will we awaken from our peaceful slumbers? Will we continue to search for weapons, but concentrate on the real source of evil – evil people? Will we, however reluctantly, reject pleasant leftist mantras and face an unpleasant reality?

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