Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Profile - Or Grab the Junk

To ignore the obvious is, well, dumb.

I’m bored to death with the news, hearing over and over again about some poor traveler who had to go through a pat down or a body scan.

Not that I don’t empathize with them. I’m not real keen on someone grabbing my “junk,” and it wouldn’t be hard to convince me that going through the scanner a bunch of times isn’t good for you. But, hey - it’s worth it to me to have a higher level of confidence that I won’t arrive on the runway of my destination as dust blowing in the wind because some joker wanted a shot at a bunch of virgins and blew himself up upon landing. I’ll be dust soon enough, but I want to see the Cubs win the world series first.

Anyway, I’m complaining about the complainers when my wife says, “Well, if you’re so smart, what would you do?”

“Why don’t we let people who will subject themselves to the searches to fly on one airline, and those who won’t can fly a different one? Funny, I bet the complaints will stop, and everyone will decide to fly the airline that requires the searches,” I answered.

Ignoring my sarcastic remark, she says “Complain if you must, but how will you get them to change the rules if no one complains?”

“Change them how?” I replied. “You want them to let anyone on? I know - just make them promise they won’t hurt anybody? Yeah, that’ll work!”

“No, dummy,” she says. “They need to do like Israel and profile the passengers. Israel has the safest airline around. Let’s just do what Israel does.”

I answered it would never be allowed here because we think racial profiling is a bad thing, regardless of the consequences. But then I got to thinking. This is different. This isn’t like police stopping someone on the freeway because of their race, aka driving while black. Or what the Feds are assuming will happen in Arizona with the immigration law hullabaloo. No, this is different.

Understand that all rights in our governing documents aren’t necessarily guaranteed, i.e., the old example that you cannot yell “Fire” in a crowded theater, even if you are claiming self expression. The courts are clear; while they will go to long, long lengths to keep our rights intact (as they should), they will bend the guarantees if the situation merits it. So, let’s look at this particular situation.

First, when we are flying, we usually do not have a choice - we have to fly. Driving to New York from San Francisco and taking a boat to Europe makes for a long trip. No two-week vacation here.

Second, national and international commerce depends on reasonably priced and efficient air travel. Today one Al Qaeda group released a statement claiming they were going to modify their procedures to do more small things, notably with air travel, to kaput our economy. Under current screening procedures they may be able to make some hay in doing that. Above all else, we need cost-efficient methods of making our airlines as safe as possible.

Third, in most situations where racial profiling is not allowed, there isn’t a large group of people having their rights usurped by forbidding it. In our airline security situation, while profiling will result in a violation of rights for the profiled group, it will result in a far larger number of people keeping their rights of privacy intact, not to mention the minor issue of their lives.

And last - but very important; whether the Administration wants to admit it or not, we are at war. And it might be a long one. In any war, there are certain actions taken that might not be taken in times of peace. Would anyone fault troops taking a good look into a suspicious vehicle in the streets of Baghdad or Kabul? What makes it suspicious? Would it be unreasonable to be more careful with someone wanting to gain access to a military camp in Afghanistan who is Arab as opposed to an obvious American?

By the way, there is no danger of this turning into a situation like what happened to Japanese Americans in World War Two.

To attempt compensation, I see no reason why the TSA can’t make it easy for “profiled” people to go through an expedited process, so the irritation of the extra requirement and embarrassment at least has an up side. Not to make light of the ill feeling that people get who have to go through this, but I bet some people would prefer to go through the expedited system in order to get through security quicker.

Obviously, at this time, the main group of profiled people would be Arab Muslim males between the ages of 18 and 40. The parameters may expand, or at some time in the future, they may change completely, in which case our security agencies should have the ability to change with them.

And, in the same sense that Muslims will tell you there were innocent Muslim males killed on 911 in the attacks on the World Trade Center, there will be innocent Muslim males who will survive and benefit from a more efficient profiling system of security.

In this piece, I am truly sorry if I offend anyone. When I take aim at liberals for what I deem are their skewed viewpoints, it is fair because they have the choice of coming to their senses, or fighting back, or whatever, and I stand behind my statements. It is unfair that the mere fact someone is an Arab Muslim male (and usually innocent) should make them subject to this differential treatment. If they are well-intentioned, however, they shouldn’t mind the inconvenience. Only those with bombs should be angry.

In these times, reality needs to be a part of the decision-making process. Reality dictates we do this. And as you go through airport security, stay focused on who did this to us and who is responsible in the first place.

Mercer Tyson StraightThinker.com

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