I never thought I'd see the day when conservative Republicans would be calling my radio show saying: “Leslie, my civil rights are being violated, where's the ACLU!?!” Yes. TSA = Satan. Americans agree.
The problem is, I fear, Americans don't know what they want.
So let's break it down, ok?
Americans want to be safe when getting on planes, assured that there are no bombs on board. But we don't want to be groped, scanned, or profiled. And we certainly don't want to pay for the privilege, either. We can't have it both ways, now can we? [Check out a roundup of political cartoons on air safety.]
I flew from LAX in Los Angeles, where I live, to Chicago this past weekend. I was excited to go through the scanner, thinking I could keep my shoes, belt, jacket, bra, panties (ok, I got a bit carried away!) on. Mais non! Same ole, same ole. I take all of my liquids and put them in my zip lock bag into the grey plastic bin. Off got the shoes, belt, watch, and bracelets into the bin. I walk through, and the TSA agent talks to me like I'm a mindless 5 year old and then asks why I didn't smile. I didn't see anyone go through the scanner, and as much as I begged to be patted down, not one TSA agent groped me. Wah.
Like most people, I don't want to die…..today. And certainly not via a bomb on a plane or a terrorist hijacking a plane. So how do we stay safe and not violate a person's civil rights? And why was it ok to violate a woman wearing a hijab's rights or a man wearing a turban's rights, but now that someone wants to pat you down or send you through the scanner with a parting gift of extra radiation, you're outraged?!? “And then they came for me.” Hmmm.
Racial profiling is not only unfair; it doesn't work. Not with TSA agents making barely above minimum wage and with a country against paying more taxes to pay them more for better training. Is it a good idea to expose children, pregnant women, those with cancer, or those who might yet get cancer to radiation through the scanners? [Join the U.S. News debate: Should the TSA rely on full-body scanners?]
I have been blessed to travel throughout the world. I have been patted down in Ireland, India, and Pakistan, where I adopted my son. I have no problem with it. I have nothing to hide. In my opinion, the only way to remain safe is to screen all passengers equally. And being patted down does that, or being scanned. Each and every one of us. We also need to pay for better screening; not only of passengers, but of the baggage. And we need to provide funding for U.S. Marshals on every flight. We need to stay one step ahead of our enemy; not removing shoes after someone attempts a shoe bombing, not allowing liquids more than 3 ounces in measure after someone intercepts bomb-making liquids in larger bottles; or not trying to figure out a way to see inside our undies (hello scanners and pat downs) after the attempted underwear bombing on the Northwest flight on Christmas Day. We need prevention, and we need cooperation. And that, my dear fellow Americans, costs money.
Speaking of money, Delta Airlines stated they would reimburse passengers who either missed their flights or canceled their flights due to the new TSA requirements. I wonder what's cheaper: reimbursing passengers who miss/cancel their flights due to the new requirements or the millions paid out in lawsuits after a plane load of people die in the air due to an undetected bomb because we didn't want, as one put it, our junk being touched.