Walter E. Williams

For most of my professional life, I've traveled frequently -- sometimes boarding a commercial flight two, three or four times a month for lucrative speaking engagements. Over the past three years, the frequency has fallen to an average of once or twice a year. The reason is simple. I don't want to be arrested or detained for questioning some of the senseless airport security procedures. Don't get me wrong. I'm for security but against stupidity. Let's look at some of it starting off with a hypothetical question.
 
You're a detective. A woman reports a rape. How would you go about finding the perpetrator? Would you confine your search to males or would you include females as well?

 You say, "Williams, that would be stupid to include females!" But not if Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta were your supervisor. You might be ordered to investigate females and males as possible suspects to avoid committing the politically incorrect sin of sex profiling.

 With regard to airport security, Mineta said, "While the security procedures are not based on the race, ethnicity, religion or gender of passengers, we also want to assure that in practice, the system does not disproportionately select members of any particular minority group." That means Americans who fit no terrorist profile -- mothers with children, blind and disabled people, elderly couples -- are frisked, groped and hassled. What's even more stupid is that pilots and flight attendants face similar screening. Here's my question to you: If a pilot is intent on crashing a plane into a building, does he need to carry anything on board to do it?

 On several occasions, having gone through screening without setting off any alarms, I've been pulled aside for additional screening. Imagine that you're there with a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) supervisor and I'm being subjected to additional screening. You offer him a bet whereby if Williams is discovered to be in possession of something that endangers security -- a knife, gun or bomb -- you'll pay him $5,000, and if I'm not, he'll pay you $100. Do you think he'll take your offer? I'm betting he wouldn't.


Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
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