Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New Airport X-Ray Machines: Open Letter to Congressman Waxman From One of Our Loyal Readers

A friend of mine sent me this letter regarding the airport security - x-ray machine -situation:

Dear Mr. Waxman,

When I was a child going through Los Angeles public education I remember being taught about the great patriots that throughout our nation's history had the courage to stand up and defend the rights of their fellow Americans.  I remember learning about such heroes as Rosa Parks and Dr. King, who through their courage helped end oppressive government policies and ensure that the United States of America was truly the land of the free.  Individual citizens like them helped me to understand why our nation was also called the "home of the brave". One of the lessons that I learned from these individuals through my government-sponsored public education was that it is the responsibility of every individual citizen to stand up for the rights of others and to defend the values of American liberty.  
I am greatly distressed by what is currently happening at our nation's airports.  Next week I will be among the millions of Americans who will travel to visit family for the upcoming holiday and am dreading my upcoming experience.  My wife is pregnant with our first child and by no means will we allow her to be subjected to body scanning radiation or allow the TSA to put our unborn child at risk.  We are both religious Jews and the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors and are also dreading the experience of having to be touched inappropriately by government agents as a punishment for our not wishing to subject ourselves to potentially-dangerous radiation.  (Remember, they used to say it was perfectly safe to X-ray children's feet to size shoes, and let's not forget about the drugs that the government declared safe only to find out 10 or 15 years down the line they were in fact quite dangerous).
I believe that our airports and public places must be secured to the greatest degree possible.  I understand and agree that it is the role of the government to ensure the safety of its citizens.  However, I strongly believe that the current safety measures are unnecessarily invasive and offer little more than pseudo-security meant only to make those of feeble mind and limited critical thinking abilities feel comfortable and complacent.  
I find it ironic that naked radiation body scanners and physical near-prison-style pat downs are considered perfectly acceptable and appropriate means by which to secure our airports, yet simple behavioral profiling somehow crosses the arbitrary line of excessive intrusiveness.  How is it that asking someone who they are and why they are flying, and having a trained professional study their body language and analyze their responses, is an un-American tactic but allowing body scanning and intimate touching is perfectly acceptable?  It's okay for someone to look at my naked body or touch our private areas so long as they don't ask me why I'm traveling?  Have we all gone mad?
There is no doubt that we must secure our airports and protect our citizens.  However we must go about doing so intelligently and in a manner that guards against creating a police state.  We cannot sacrifice our core values as a nation in exchange for empty rhetoric that says it's for our own good.  Many in government argued that separate lunch counters and water fountains were also for our own good.  Do you agree with those practices as well?  The individuals today who are protesting the TSA, body scanners, and pat downs are simply fulfilling their duty as Americans and I encourage you to fulfill yours as our elected representative.
Come next week my wife and I will opt out of body scanning and will be forced to subject ourselves to embarrassing 'enhanced' screening techniques. I will keep in mind that the TSA is feeling around in the dark and experimenting on us to try and find ways to keep us safe.  I'll keep in mind that they mean well but are simply misguided.  I'll remember that Israel figured this out 50 years ago and is laughing at our attempts to reinvent the wheel by wasting money on expensive technology while the human solution has been proven to be the most effective. I'll keep in mind that Janet Napolitano and President Obama will never have to subject themselves to such indignity.  And I'll keep in mind how you respond to this issue come your next election cycle.
Sincerely and respectfully yours,

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