This week I enjoyed a now rare aspect of my prior job: a business trip. It used to be a virtually weekly activity: leaving 2+ hours before the flight only to wait in lines for a boarding pass and to get through security; then stumble to the gate, only to sit on the runway for another hour or two until some guy in a tower thinks its okay to actually fly somewhere. I think the airport is the only place you have to get somewhere 2 hours early to end up arriving 2 hours late. Now I travel once, maybe twice a month, max. And that’s fine with me.
Today I experienced something we travelers have all became far too accustomed and numb to: waiting in a slow moving, seemingly endless line for security. Security, not only on the airlines, but also in museums, sporting events, concerts, etc. has become so commonplace these days after 9/11, that I suspect most of us barely even notice it anymore. But as I stood in line, bored out of my wits, I began to think about it, and started resenting it.
I mean, isn’t all this security in a sense “letting the terrorists win?” I mean, sure there hasn’t been a significant attack since 9/11 and that’s obviously really great. But their psychological warfare has been outrageously successful: We now worry about packing a bottle of face wash too large in our carry on; we are forced to buy a new bottle of water after security; we make sure we waste countless hours of our lives getting to airports way early so that everyone flying can go through a mostly symbolic ritual of taking off our shoes, removing our laptops, taking out our quart size plastic bags with our mini toiletries, etc. so to make us feel like no bad men can take the plane down if they feel like it, even though they still probably could pretty easily if they put their mind to it, despite the “security”. So if nothing else, these terrorists must at least be gloating that they have made our lives much, much less pleasant because we now live in fear and annoyance.
But what can you do, right? I mean, what’s the alternative? Always worry about some sociopath trying to hijack the plane you’re on when all you’re trying to go is go home for Easter? Maybe.
What if we ended it all today? What if we stopped all security measures at airports? What if you went to an airport, parked, got your boarding pass, and just walked onto the plane? Madness you say? Let’s give this some thought.
5ВЅ years does not seem like that long of a time, but we seem to have forgotten just how pissed off most people were after 9/11. A major influx of people joined the army to seek and destroy the terrorists; others swore that if it ever happened on their plane they would be sure to take down the terrorists and not let them do any harm; still others went around and attacked innocent Muslims that they considered guilty by association.
Look: that last action is clearly inexcusable, but it does illustrate just how angry people were about what happened. But now our anger has faded into irritation. We’ve accepted our fate in being forced to conform to the security measures that the terrorists have forced upon us. So removing them suddenly might be interesting.
There would be some attacks, probably within the first few months. With each attack, people would get more and more pissed off. Suddenly there would be less and less tolerance for terrorism. You scoff at the idea that there’s tolerance for terrorism? Just ask Hollywood. How many George Clooney or Brad Pitt movies do we have to nominate for Oscars featuring terrorist as protagonists before we all start wearing t-shirts saying, “Even Terrorists Need Hugs”? Oh wait, I forgot that the most popular t-shirt around is one with the infamous late terrorist Che’s face on it. Looks like we’re already there!
Let’s allow these terrorists do their worst, because it will get people angry. And it will cause the righteous people to act. More will join the armed forces to fight terrorists, just as before. The government will be forced into taking proactive instead of reactive measures to combat terrorism – such as better sealing our porous borders instead of confiscating our 12 year old cousin’s Mentos at the security check. We need to really mean it and act on what we say when we threaten that anyone who is not with us is against us. We need to stop babying places like Iran and North Korea as we pray that won’t sell any filthy Islamic extremist a dirty nuke to detonate in the heart of his major city of choice. We need to seek out any potential terrorist threat and not only eliminate it, but respond with 10x as much ruthless force as that threat intended.
I really don’t see any other way to stop living in fear. About twenty years ago now we were in the midst of the cold war – another time in American history when we lived in fear. Any day, we worried that Russia could “push the button” and a nuclear war could destroy the world as we know it. Now we are in a different kind of war – and I don’t mean that distraction in Iraq. We are in what I would call a “Cold SORE War”. Terrorism is like Herpes and the terrorists are like cold sores. We don’t know when an attack is coming; moreover, it isn’t easy to prevent one. We may go for year with “peace” until a bloody incident interrupts, and then have peace for a while again, until the next one erupts. And all these security measures are like Valtrex: They may lessen the symptoms, but they certainly aren’t a cure.
And there are some innocent people who are tragic casualties, but the majority of casualties aren’t people at all. They are our principals; they are our freedoms; they are the very things that the United States stands for. And that’s the real tragedy in all of this. The terrorists have succeeded in changing our very way of life.
So let freedom reign I say. Go ahead: Let those terrorists do as they please. Let them try to hijack a plane I’m on – we’ll see how far they get. Perhaps the best way to protect us from each other is not to protect us at all, because then our enemies won’t have the protective shield of our complacency in thinking that the government has things under control. Because let’s face it: They don’t; and they never will.