My last article suggested that readers who wanted to see all the elements of ham-fisted fascism in full operation need only visit an airport. Shortly afterward, I got a note from a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employee. She politely defended her agency and her comrades.
I felt lousy that O’Boyle’s inner smart ass had squeezed off a thoughtless screed against a group of hard working public servants. My correspondent reminded me that most of those in her position are friendly, polite, and conscientious. She’s right. The rude, sarcastic agent I met in Ft. Lauderdale is the rare exception, not the rule. TSA agents are our friends and neighbors, coaches, scout masters and den mothers. They provide an important service and want to do so as well as they can. TSA agents are just doing their jobs. With understandable pride, she closed by inviting me to fly out of her airport to see the TSA at its best.
My mind flashed to a friendly, cheerful security check where the boots you lick taste just like chocolate ice cream. I imagined a TSA wonderland where the official, witty repartee is so entertaining that “customers” ask for an extra pat down.
The problem is simple. Polite enforcement just makes creeping fascism worse. A cheerful smile on a fascist face doesn’t change its nature. It makes it more dangerous by making it more tolerable. Fascist power depends on complacency and the general acceptance of a host of colossal lies. Fascist power is implemented by ordinary people who accept and repeat the lies in exchange for good jobs with excellent benefits. Never doubt that they will follow orders, with or without a smile.
Sending TSA agents to customer service seminars doesn’t make the rest of us customers. Neither would putting yellow smiley face stickers on their TASERs. We’re not customers. We’re subjects; we’re subject to search, subject to interrogation, subject to arrest. Our property is subject to confiscation. If you resist, you are subject to injury or death. It’s for our own protection.
My TSA correspondent believes a constellation of false assumptions which her employer hopes Americans will also accept. Chief among them are the two monster whoppers: that terrorism is unspeakably dangerous, and that our government offers protection from it.
People constantly evaluate risks and the precautions to take against those risks. It’s only in places where our government has full responsibility for our safety, such as airports, that risk evaluation departs from reality.
Even the most casual analysis shows that airport security is an elaborate exercise in political theater, not public safety. The TSA does not provide protection. It provides obedience training. There is no rational connection between the risk of a terrorist attack on an airliner and the breathtaking effort we invest in avoiding one.
Government statistics clearly show that terrorism is not very dangerous. It is nowhere near dangerous enough to justify having thrown away over $100 billion and most of the Bill of Rights in fighting it since 2001.
According to CDC statistics it would take a successful 911 attack every month to make terrorism as dangerous as driving to work. You are three times more likely to die falling out of bed, six times more likely to drown in your bathtub, and 1200 times more likely to choke to death than you are to die in a terrorist attack. The chances of death by poisoning are 5000 times greater.
If our safety is so important why isn’t the government spending billions to root out e coli from the food supply instead of searching and bossing around air travelers? Why aren’t we tearing out every bathtub in the nation? It’s because airport security isn’t about safety, it’s about obedience.
The second lie, that our government can protect us from terrorism, especially in air travel, is equally ludicrous. Private security experts have called the TSA a steel door on a grass shack. Passenger screening has become a bizarre, pointless ritual. We genuflect to the patron saints of past failed terrorism, taking off our shoes, dumping containers of hair gel, tossing nail files and souvenir penknives. Only compulsory government sponsored “safety” checks would include such ridiculous, ceremonial humiliation.
No terrorist worthy of the label would think the best way to put a bomb on a commercial airliner was to sneak it into the passenger compartment. Although if we are to judge by the number of tests the TSA has failed, it could be done without much trouble.
Nor is any group of passengers ever again likely to allow a plane to be hijacked. If there is a next time, it will take a lot more than a few swarthy guys with box cutters to commandeer a plane full of able bodied passengers.
Government airport security is an unquestionable success. The success is not, however, in providing public safety, but in spreading fear, grooming complacency, and training us to unquestioned acceptance of authority. The smile on the fascist face simply makes our training less obvious and more palatable.
TSA Forced Invasive Air Passenger Body Searches—Prelude To Locking Down America?
It is problematic TSA for reasons of national security will at some point, Force Citizens boarding trains and buses, to submit to invasive body scans and searches; routinely search Americans and their vehicles at highway checkpoints, before allowing passage.
TSA announced it will arrest air passengers as suspected terrorists that refuse both invasive pat-downs and body scans? Passengers no longer—will not be free to leave. How long before TSA’s invasive body searches/scans; threats of arrest and $11,000 fines are extended to Citizens boarding buses, trains and cruse ships? What choices will Americans have that are stopped at a TSA roadway vehicle checkpoint—problematic in the future? Will Citizens be allowed to turn their vehicle around or like air passengers, be forced to submit to invasive body searches/scans or be arrested as a suspected terrorist? Could Americans soon lose their right to travel freely in their own Country?
Another problem with TSA strip-searching and scanning Citizens, is that it can be used by the government in power to selectively target individuals that lawfully speak out or write against U.S. Government, harassing targeted Citizens at every mode of transportation with relentless body searches, pat-downs and X-ray scans. At some point many Americans would be reluctant or afraid to travel anywhere by plane, bus or drive their vehicle on the street because of TSA Check Points.
In Northern Ireland, not many years ago, Irish Catholics traveling, were intentionally harassed by British troops and police at highway check points, forced to submit to humiliating searches; political activists were delayed or taken away so they could not drive to a political meeting or speak at an event that opposed British polices. Could U.S. Citizens be similarly targeted e.g., Tea Party Members, Anti-War Activists and others should TSA extend its body searches and scans to passengers boarding trains, buses and at vehicle check points? While U.S. Government might state otherwise, that would effectively Lock Down America.
Sorry to hear of your experience. Very scary. No wonder 1 out of 100 U.S. citizens is in jail: everything is a crime. And if it’s not, it soon will be!
We have a friend from the U.K. who was strip searched and cavity checked in the Miami airport. A female friend: very sweet, pretty, nice body, long blonde hair. Strip searched and cavity checked by a female Homeland Security officer. Alone. After the “investigation”, the officer left the room, never to return. My friend eventually put on her clothes and left the room, very shaken.
I think we are the only people she told and we only heard because we saw them the first day they were in the states, the whole thing was so horrific.
I’ve heard to avoid Miami at all costs. Thank goodness we fly in and out of Ft. Lauderdale… Thank you for sharing the rant. People need to know they are not alone and that there is something rotten going on in the U.S.A.
Yes, well said once again. Well said!!!
I just traveled in 3 different international airports this month, none in the US. So fast, efficient, and much easier to take- their security measures made sense. Ours are so overboard. And that is only the beginning. My husband was detained once, recently, in the US, because we did the right thing and declared how much cash we had. He was detained for almost 2 hours for telling the truth.
The only reason we didn’t miss our connection is that it was an hour delayed. The treatment he experienced was just not right. We aren’t drug dealers or anything, we fit NO profiles I’m sure. But he was interrogated and deliberately asked questions in a hostile, accusatory manner, some of which he could not answer because they made them ambiguous on purpose. Then he could not ask for clarification, as they increased the hostility. He told me that he felt they were deliberately trying to unravel him to see what he would do. I was left with the experience that we are disincentivized to check anything off on that dumb form, or to travel with anything besides a book and change of clothes. Anything else invites problems.
But maybe that was not the purpose of his treatment. I am still trying to figure it out. Are the security staff trained to treat all detained people like potential terrorists and that they should be treated as such (hostility and interrogation)? If that is the case (it fits the experience and what we saw in the back room of the others) then they are doing this to thousands of people a week! It is crazy. And it does reek of creeping fascism.
Sorry for the rant. Everytime I think of that time in the airport I get really, really annoyed. It was probably mild compared to many others’ stories that are too common.
You must be thinking of the newly redesigned checkpoint at BWI. (Which your blog does not allow me to link to. Go search for it.)