Fear is sometimes necessary for our survival, but irrational fear drives much human evil. The chances of dying of sudden cardiac arrest, cancer, an automobile accident, lightning are all greater than the chances of getting killed in a terrorist attack. I am not denying that it is probably a matter of “when,” not “if” the next terrorist attack occurs. This is true in the life of any nation state, and 9-11 was only the worst of a number of terrorist attacks (e.g., Oklahoma City and the first WTC attack) that have hit the U. S.
People in political power want more political power–Lord Acton‘s principle that “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” is now a cliche, but one that is true. Homeland Security (an Orwellian name for an agency if there ever was one) and the Transportation Security Administration, the TSA, are perfect examples. Now the TSA is requiring some individuals to either undergo full body scans or allow their genital areas to be touched by TSA security. Those who refuse both options are expelled from the airport and not allowed to travel. Now personally I do not care if I am given a full body scan; the person watching the scan would be sickened by a body that is overly well-nourished. However, privacy advocates are rightfully disturbed by a scan that reveals a person’s most intimate body parts. Some people are more modest than others; others may have suffered a sexual assault in the past and be extremely uncomfortable with a full body scan or (especially) with any touching of intimate bodily areas.
Americans should be outraged by the TSA’s policy–and opposition is growing. To defenders of the policy I would ask, “How much freedom would you be willing to give up for security?” I firmly believe that some Americans would support a dictatorship if they felt more secure under one. I suppose the fact that many Americans are in the “me, me, me” generation, spoiled and feeling a sense of entitlement, makes it easier for them to feel entitled to eliminate all risks in life. These individuals prefer a nanny state even if it means exposing all air travelers to full body scans.
I realize that the government has some responsibility in trying to stop terrorist attacks. However, a determined enough terrorist, with luck (if anyone would call it that) can slip through any security system, no matter how invasive or sophisticated. Or the terrorist may choose a way to attack Americans that does not involve an airplane flight. What do these invasive scans bring that will make air travelers more secure than previous scans? I pray to God there is never another terrorist attack such as 9-11, even though such hope may be unwarranted. I fear if there were such an attack, the United States would be in danger of becoming a true totalitarian state. It has happened before–in the Lincoln administration during the War between the States and in the Wilson administration during World War I. It may be a legend that Benjamin Franklin made the statement that’s been going around the web the last few years, but it is true nonetheless: “Those who would give up freedom for security deserve neither freedom nor security.”
- Pilots, passengers, parents rail at new pat downs (msnbc.msn.com)
- Growing Backlash Against TSA’s ‘Naked Strip Searches’ (cbsnews.com)