Debra J. Saunders

The latest controversy over Transportation Security Administration body scans and enhanced body pat-downs leaves no doubt: America truly is a nation of whiners.

A CBS News poll found that 81 percent of Americans support full-body airport scanning. That reasonable view is being drowned out by elements on the left and the right who love nothing better than to proclaim that they are victims.

First exhibit: Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, who introduced the "American Traveler Dignity Act" to "protect Americans from physical and emotional abuse." Abuse? Have Americans become such babies that a pat-down designed to prevent another 9/11 causes adults to melt down?

Yes, I've been through body scans. Yes, I've been patted down, not just at airports, but also covering political events. Yes, I've had to contend with the rare overbearing TSA worker who let the power go to his head. Are these searches intrusive? Sure, but they beat crossing the country in a covered wagon.

I won't say that the TSA agents have handled every passenger deftly. A Michigan cancer survivor was humiliated after his urostomy bag leaked during a search. As the 15-seconds.com blog noted, the TSA's most lamentable error was failing to do the simplest thing: "apologize."

Blogger Brian Sodergren has called on airline passengers to participate in a "National Opt Out Day" on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. "We have a right to privacy and buying a plane ticket should not mean that we're guilty until proven innocent," Sodergren wrote.

In protest, he suggests that passengers who are asked to go through a body scanner instead "opt out" -- which means they submit to a body-pat. That's right, the body-pat Paul describes as "abuse." Sodergren even advises passengers to have their privacy-violating pat-down in public.

Sodergren contends "there is no intent or desire to delay passengers," but he must know that if more passengers opt for longer security checks during one of the year's heaviest travel days, delays are inevitable.

Some on the right argue that if the TSA engaged in profiling, agents would not have to bother granny and the kids. Now, I support directing security personnel to consider profiling information -- such as countries visited -- when screening passengers. But I disagree with Ann Coulter, who wrote, "In a lucky stroke, all the terrorists are swarthy, foreign-born Muslim males."


Debra J. Saunders


 
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