Sunday, November 28, 2010

On cowing a nation

Roger Cohen, in a Thanksgiving Day op-ed in the New York Times, gives an apocalyptic view of the new security regimen at American (and other) airports. The U.S., he writes, "has empowered zealous bureaucrats to trample on the liberties for which Americans give thanks this week." Our security system, he argues, is "stupid," relying as it does on "dubious gropes" and "daily humiliations." And that's just the warmup:

Whether or not these explosive devices [liquids, shoes, underwear] were ever actually operable remains a matter of dispute, just as it remains a mystery that the enemy — if as powerful as portrayed — has not contrived a single terrorist act on U.S. soil since 9/11. What is not in doubt is an old rule: Give a bureaucrat a big stick and a big budget, allow said bureaucrat to trade in the limitless currency of human anxiety, and the masses will soon be intimidated by the Department of Fear....

Anyone who has watched T.S.A. agents spending 10 minutes patting down 80-year-old grandmothers, or seen dismayed youths being ordered back into the scanner booth by agents connected wirelessly to other invisible agents gazing at images of these people in a state of near-nakedness, has to ask: What form of group madness is it that forsakes judgment and discernment for process run amok?....

The unfettered growth of the Department of Homeland Security and the T.S.A. represent a greater long-term threat to the prosperity, character and wellbeing of the United States than a few madmen in the valleys of Waziristan or the voids of Yemen.

America is a nation of openness, boldness and risk-taking. Close this nation, cow it, constrict it and you unravel its magic.
Happy Holidays. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

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