When we approached West Point while driving in New York State, a friend visiting from distant climes spontaneously asked if we might see it.
I’d toured West Point many times before September 11, 2001 because of my fascination with the American Revolution. I would enter the military academy past a guard-booth that might or might not contain a cadet; if anyone was inside, I don’t remember his doing more than giving me the once-over as I cruised past.
I returned to West Point only once after 9/11. The duo of soldiers then manning the gate barked at me to fasten my seat belt, turn around, and leave. Despite the billions of dollars West Point’s martial aggression steals from American taxpayers, Our Rulers barred us from it to protect their “Homeland.”
I related this anecdote to our guest; he urged that we try anyway. And so last weekend a gangly kid at West Point – just one, this time: apparently, we taxpaying terrorists no longer so frighten Our Rulers that they post two thugs to chase us away – demanded our drivers’ licenses. His order infuriated me because of its gross unconstitutionality and stupidity: as this guy whose indoctrination, food, lodging and clothing I buy scrutinized my license, turning it this way and that, I wanted to say, “Quick! Tell me the names of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted.” This silly sentry consulted no database, compared our licenses to no lists of unelected criminals. His little charade was just that: a show designed to humble us serfs, to condition us to a police-state where we must produce ID whenever an authority so decrees, and to convince us that incompetent, foolish, bellicose politicians can and will protect us.
I suppose that if West Point, a citadel of hired killers that should theoretically know something about security, relies instead on mere theatrics, we shouldn’t be too surprised that the TSA does as well. The agency – and the passengers it has brainwashed – would protest that its fixation with ID goes an essential step beyond West Point’s: it proves that the passenger’s name on the ticket is his actual identity. Unlike the dimwits at the military academy, those at the TSA force airlines to cough up their “passenger manifests”; the agency claims it then compares the names of everyone who’s bought a ticket against the No-Fly and other lists of alleged bad guys (we’ll leave aside for now those catalogs’ credibility – or, more accurately, their lack thereof).
Yet Mohammed Atta, the ringleader on 9/11 if you believe the government’s story, had no criminal record. All the ID and lists in the world wouldn’t have stopped his boarding that morning. Ditto for his alleged accomplices. We’ll assume that terrorists clever enough to concoct their own bombs will continue recruiting such upstanding citizens as their messengers, neatly circumventing the TSA’s obsession over ID.
Indeed, the mania with “Papers, please” actually destroys security. Like other such shams, it only pretends to protect customers who then trust and patronize a dangerous venue. It also distracts attention and effort from effective measures that could truly safeguard us.
But don’t expect TSA to renounce a fetish because it imperils us, any more than it has exiled its carcinogenic porno-scanners from airports lest they menace our health. As with the rest of the national-security circus, demanding ID has other, far more valuable purposes than preventing terrorism. For starters, it keeps us firmly in our place, kowtowing to morons and brutes for permission to travel. And it empowers the police-state to flex its muscles against us.
Tragically, passengers have come to love the very chains that bind them. They’d be the first to howl should the TSA abandon its fascination with ID because they believe this nonsense somehow safeguards them. Nor do they protest as it spreads to the private sector.
That acquiescence is as cowardly as it is inhumane because it breeds every crime the TSA commits. If passengers denounced the insistence on ID for the absurdity that it is, if they damned the TSA for its cruelty, inefficiency, theft, and sexual assault, if they refused to fly until its predators and assailants quit haunting airports, Congress would disband the agency tomorrow. Instead, they presume that the TSA prevents another 9/11: “’So many people say they really appreciate what we’re doing,’ [TSA officer Sheila] Teal said. ‘And if it wasn’t for us, many of them wouldn’t want to fly.’”
The TSA lies about everything, all the time, so take Sheila’s testimony with a truckload of salt. But we’ve all heard similar comments from the craven among us, that in order for them to feel “safe,” the rest of us must submit to the TSA’s atrocities before we board “their” flight.
That attitude enables the agency to torment dying women, persecute survivors of cancer and the elderly, molest and petrify little kids, harass the grieving, and manhandle everyone. It is the height of selfishness and the worst of insults to our fellowman. If the abuse and degradation of your neighbors comforts and reassures you, you are a sadist and degenerate (which is to say a politician, with a stellar career ahead of you in elective office).
Decency, common sense, compassion and our commitment to freedom and a civilized society require us to abolish both the TSA and the police-state it symbolizes. We must denounce all of its indignities, from gate-rape and ogling, shaming and intimidation, to the idiocy of demanding ID.
Becky Akers is a free-lance writer and historian. Halestorm, her novel of the American Revolution, is available in paperback or for Kindle.
Copyright © 2012 by Americans for Travel Freedom. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.