On July 7, Muslim terrorists bombed the London Underground trains, as well as a bus in Tavistock Square. Over 50 people were killed, and over 700 were injured.
On July 21, Muslim terrorists attempted to bomb both a bus and the London Underground once again. The following day, British police, suspecting that an overcoat-wearing man could possibly be attempting a terrorist act, chased him into the subway and shot him five times, killing him.
Most Americans reacted to the July 7 bombings with horror. The bombings renewed our sense of vulnerability. The July 21 bombings reiterated the message that Muslim terrorists still wish us all dead; the July 22 shootings reminded us that in a state of war, all of us must retain the utmost respect for law enforcement.
So most Americans were perfectly willing to go along with law enforcement officials who suggested that bags should be searched at subway stations in Washington, D.C. and New York. Yes, we'd prefer that police target those of Muslim religious persuasion for searches: After all, bombers tend not to be middle-aged white women from Kansas or elderly Asian men. Random searches are worse than useless, because they provide the illusion of security. But that doesn't mean we should resist police enforcement or lobby against further enforcement.
Most of us realize that during wartime, sacrifices must be made. During the Civil War, President Lincoln famously suspended writs of habeas corpus. During World War I, Congress passed the Espionage Act, prescribing harsh penalties for anyone revealing defense information or preventing the recruitment of troops. During World War II, thousands of Japanese were interned because President Franklin Roosevelt had information suggesting that some American Japanese were aiding the enemy.
Surely, having our bags checked does not even begin to approach such heavy-handed and horrific measures. As New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond Kelly explained, those who do not want their bags to be checked can simply opt not to take the subway. Communal safety supersedes any supposed individual "right" to transportation here. Effective law enforcement should supersede individual "rights" to transportation when hundreds, potentially thousands, of human lives are at stake.
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