Do you remember Orwell's 1984? Words are given new meaning, often at odds with the conventional definition. For example, the Ministry of Love is responsible for law and order, while the Ministry of Peace wages war. Doublethink is the order of the day. Many have wondered whether this country is becoming one of the nations noted in 1984. I think we are and I think we need to look no further than the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to see the proof.
The TSA is fast becoming the American version of Orwell's Ministry of Love. There is absolutely nothing it will not do in the name of security. Whether it is insisting that a 95 year old woman remove her Depends, or patting down a 6 year old for no reason other than she got selected (original video here), the TSA will do what it wants, when it wants, to whomever it wants and don't ever plan on protesting it because they have their fingers in their ears singing "lalalalala". And of course, it is all in the name of 'security' because we want to travel without worrying about whether we'll be blown up or taken hostage.
What security purpose is really served by patting down a 6 year old, or removing a woman's Depends (which were wet we are told!)? Who are we trying to kid when the word 'security' is bandied about so loosely? Are we so fearful that we will not, let alone cannot, insist on some other procedure that is more respectful of our dignity as people? Are we so fearful that we cannot see the forest for the trees and cannot see the implications of what is happening, allegedly to keep us safe?
TSA's procedures stand the Constitution on its head. Make no mistake. You are a threat because you bought a ticket and want to fly to a destination. Your children and other relatives and friends are also threats because they bought tickets. Until the TSA is satisfied otherwise, make no assumptions about getting to your destination, let alone your plane. And don't even try to tell me that anyone is politely asked. Demand is the only accurate description because there are no other options. The only difference between you and the guy stopped on the streets by the police is the type of language being used and it's intended to create the illusion that you are not a suspect. That is all it is, an illusion. You aren't going anywhere, not even to your home, until the TSA decides you can. The mother of the 6 year old knew that. The emotional breakdown of the daughter of the elderly woman simply amped up her 'suspect' rating and caused her to be patted down. It is truly a case of guilty until proven innocent.
The 'security' in the TSA's name is a mask for a profound paranoia, founded on the reality that we have made ourselves unlikable to many in the world. We can change that without giving up our freedoms. If we spent more time helping other communities, including our own, that are in need we would be a more compassionate nation. If we spent more time building the foundations for justice and recognizing that incarceration and vengeance only fuel fear, despair, and more dysfunction, we would be a more secure nation. If our military spent more time on activities that support national infrastructure and defense, rather than force projection, we'd be a more peaceful nation. If our political leaders spent more time emphasizing those values and beliefs that bring us together, we would be a more unified nation.
In short, if all of us fully lived the principles we claim as American and stopped using force on behalf of those principles, we could project American power in a way no tank, humvee, or bomber, ever could. We could gain the respect and security that is achieved by those who live authentically and with integrity, respectful of their fellow travelers on this world. We emulate those who live as we wish to live. Do we really wish to live in a way that reinforces suspicion and fear? Are we no longer willing to love our neighbor as we love ourselves? Are we all going to continue to live as guilty suspects until some government agency decides we are innocent? Or are we content to be the frog in the pot, slowly dying because we are in denial about the implications of what is happening in front of us,?
The TSA, not surprisingly, is standing behind its employees. We should not expect it to be otherwise, ever. But we can demand procedural changes. Or, we can all be frogs.