If you look up “droll” in the dictionary, there ought to be a picture of George Will. Here’s the end of his current column, which kvetches about increased airport security:
The average American has regular contact with the federal government at three points – the IRS, the post office and the TSA. Start with that fact if you are formulating a unified field theory to explain the public’s current political mood.
Will joins Kathleen Parker and Charles Krauthammer in a trifecta of WashPo conservative columnists opposed to the new screening procedures. Here’s Parker describing the unappealing choices:
I don’t like the idea of some stranger – regardless of whether he or she can see my face – examining my concessions to gravity without my permission. …
As to the alternative, no thank you. The idea of a stranger, even one of the same sex, foraging around my private principalities is simply unacceptable. Forget the creepiness factor, which is sufficient; consider the principle – quickly! – before you get used to the notion that government has the right to do Whatever Is Necessary To Protect You.
From what, if not this?
Krauthammer thinks he knows a better way:
We pretend that we go through this nonsense as a small price paid to ensure the safety of air travel. Rubbish. This has nothing to do with safety – 95 percent of these inspections, searches, shoe removals and pat-downs are ridiculously unnecessary. The only reason we continue to do this is that people are too cowed to even question the absurd taboo against profiling – when the profile of the airline attacker is narrow, concrete, uniquely definable and universally known. So instead of seeking out terrorists, we seek out tubes of gel in stroller pouches.
Profiling doesn’t have to mean racial profiling — although, speaking strictly from a security point of view, obviously it would make sense to give a higher level of scrutiny to young male Middle Eastern Muslims. Michael Totten, the independent journalist, describes how the Israelis keep their planes and airports safe:
Security officials should pay less attention to objects, and more attention to people.
The Israelis do. They are, out of dreadful necessity, the world’s foremost experts in counterterrorism. And they couldn’t care less about what your grandmother brings on a plane. Instead, officials at Ben Gurion International Airport interview everyone in line before they’re even allowed to check in.
And Israeli officials profile. They don’t profile racially, but they profile. Israeli Arabs breeze through rather quickly, but thanks to the dozens of dubious-looking stamps in my passport — almost half are from Lebanon and Iraq — I get pulled off to the side for more questioning every time. And I’m a white, nominally Christian American.
If they pull you aside, you had better tell them the truth. They’ll ask you so many wildly unpredictable questions so quickly, you couldn’t possibly invent a fake story and keep it all straight. Don’t even try. They’re highly trained and experienced, and they catch everyone who tries to pull something over on them.
Grousing about the scanners is all well and good, but the danger is not theoretical — there was an actual incident of a bomb hidden in a man’s underwear. Next time I fly, I’ll shrug and walk through the scanner, if that’s what I’m told to do.