Two above-the-fold stories this morning are really jarring.
The New York Times continues its profile of Fort Drum’s 1st Brigade in Afghanistan. There’s print, photos and video depicting a dirty, chaotic, mind-numbing, and often violent engagement for our North Country neighbors in America’s “war on terror”. (We’ll have an interview with author Jim Dao later this week.)
Sharing headline space is National Opt-Out Day, a group of citizens protesting the full body scans being instituted in airports across the country. According to the website, “the federal government’s desire to virtually strip us naked or submit to an ‘enhanced pat down’ that touches people’s breasts and genitals in an aggressive manner” is a violation of our rights and an attack on “liberty”.
Let me get this right.
We’re fine with hundreds of thousands of young men and women invading two countries to fight against (and, in thousands of cases, die at the hands of) terrorists. We’re fine with spending trillions of dollars to do so. We can handle detaining people at Guantanamo indefinitely without due process. We’re OK with the U.S. government using extraordinary rendition to torture suspects in other countries (even when that suspect is eventually found to have done nothing).
But we’re ready to man the barricades because some security guard in a room at an airport sees a digital version of us naked? This is where we draw the line on keeping potential terrorists from attacking us?
I’m as frustrated, dehumanized and humiliated as the next guy standing in those lines at the airport, like a rat in a maze you can’t escape. I recently missed a flight standing in one of the full body scan chambers because the security folks didn’t know how to use the equipment yet.
And I know little about whether these invasive machines will actually stop the alleged “death by a thousand cuts” strategy advertised by an Al-Qaeda branch in Yemen over the weekend.
Our democracy, economy, and social fabric have made so many concessions in the nine years since September 11th in the name of fighting terrorism. It strikes me that a personal pat-down – and the elementary school-like fear that someone in some hidden room at the airport is checking out your private parts – is a concession some Americans aren’t willing to make. It’s even more disturbing that the media and the Obama Administration itself is willing to take them seriously.