Thinking Deep Inside the Box

Posted: Nov 23, 2010 1:37 PM
Liberals Eugene Robinson and Michael Kinsley write to defend the new TSA screening procedures.

Robinson insists:

[Critics] want profiling. That's a seductive idea, I suppose, if you don't spend a lot of time worrying about civil liberties. But it couldn't possibly work. Our terrorist enemies may be evil but they're not stupid.  If we only search people who "look like terrorists," al-Qaeda will send people who don't fit the profile.

Kinsley argues:

In the normal course of events, even a dedicated terrorist might not choose to dress up like Joan Rivers and sashay onto a plane. But if he knows that Joan Rivers and her lookalikes get an easier security screening, he will do his cross-dressing duty. Unfortunately, terrorists are not above using children to carry a bomb, or elderly grandmothers, or anyone else.

In other words, Robinson and Kinsley believe we need intrusive screening -- through machines or body searches -- of everyone to avoid terrorists using blue eyed blonds (or some such) to do their dirty work.

The amazing part of this argument is the cramped, uncreative thinking it represents.  Critics of the current system aren't arguing for just pulling out and screening stereotypical "Arabs" -- contrary to the benighted thinking Kinsley and Robinson want to project on the critics.

Rather, critics want the US government to think outside the box (in contrast to Kinsley and Robinson).  How about a "frequent flyer" pass, where a person pays a fee, submits to thorough background checks (which can be repeated randomly at any time) and then gets a reduced level of airport screening as a result?

How about using the Israeli system?  Robinson and Kinsley seem to allude to it without understanding it.  Given Israel's location and the ethnic composition of travelers there, the Israelis have obviously found methods to identify terrorists that don't rely exclusively on one's background as an Arab.  The methods include having to submit to interviews and questions, and having screeners trained to identify suspicious behavior -- and being able to do their jobs without the PC-patrol insisting that it's all about racism.  It's intelligent profiling -- not the dreaded "racial only" profiling that seems to haunt the dreams of the left.

In the end, the entire controversy comes down to the liberal notion of equality.  To keep us all "equal" -- so that no one is singled out and potentially made to feel "bad" by being treated like a potential terrorist -- everyone is singled out and treated like potential terrorists. 

It echoes the lefty approach to economics -- better to have equality of result, even if everyone ends up with less.