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Too Far

We had to drop in at the clinic today; Mom had what proved to be an ear infection. I watched television news while waiting in the lobby, and the station—CNN, I believe—reported that, despite bitter complaint over new search procedures and threats of protests, actual resistance in the airports was negligible, and everything was flowing smoothly.

Perhaps this was a product of boycott: if people stayed home to protest with their dollars, airports generally might be as empty as Newark and O’Hare. Or perhaps there was nothing to protest, if lots of airports put off the new searches until after Thanksgiving, as Newark did. CNN said nothing about traffic volume or procedures in place, just that protests were mild or nonexistent, and it business as usual, or even a little better than usual.

Having made the claim, the news played a few “man in the street”—er, concourse—interviews, which weren’t exactly happy about security but were mild in their objections. The one angry voice was the first guy they quoted. I wish I’d had my laptop on hand to get his words exactly, but I distinctly remember his opening line: “Well, I don’t look like bin Laden.” He went on to explain that invasive searches were all right, but that they should be reserved for Muslims and foreign-looking people. Probably ought to throw Mexicans in for good measure.

And that, in a nutshell, is where the storm of protest is coming from. Liberals may be offended at the erosion of civil liberties, but they object in calm, rational voices. Moderates may be irked at the inconvenience, but admit that airport security is important. Everyone may take umbrage at the needless hassle and economic waste of security theater, bu they’d rather not make a scene and miss their flight in order to stand on principle. It takes the heedless sense of entitlement and boundless anger of the right wing to make a protest movement. Protests didn’t register on the news until the right wing began making a stink, and they only began making a stink when they realized that the new police state wouldn’t only be frisking and detaining undesirables, but Real Americans like themselves as well. And suddenly they weren’t okay with the new security procedures AT ALL.

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