TSA Stupidity and the Defensive Mindset

 Posted by on 15 July 2008 at 4:39 pm  Foreign Policy
Jul 152008

Airline pilot Patrick Smith tells of the latest indignity and bureaucratic folly he had to endure at the hands of the TSA (Transportation Security Administration):

“You ain’t takin’ this through,” she says. “No knives. You can’t bring a knife through here.”

It takes a moment for me to realize that she’s serious. “I’m… but… it’s…”

“Sorry.” She throws it into a bin and starts to walk away.

“Wait a minute,” I say. “That’s airline silverware.”

“Don’t matter what it is. You can’t bring knives through here.”

“Ma’am, that’s an airline knife. It’s the knife they give you on the plane.”

The whole thing is worth reading. Smith asks, “Do I really need to point out that an airline pilot at the controls would hardly need a butter knife if he or she desired to inflict damage?”

While stories of TSA stupidity abound, the more disturbing underlying issue is that Americans are becoming slowly acclimated to this defensive posture, which we adopted in the aftermath of 9-11.

Historian John Lewis writes about this defensive mindset in his superb article, “‘No Substitute for Victory’: The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism“:

Meanwhile, a state of siege is being more deeply entrenched inside America every day. We are losing the war by institutionalizing the loss of our freedoms, searching the sneakers of senior citizens in wheelchairs in order to avoid confronting bellicose dictatorships overseas. In the minds of many people, the Bush administration’s allegedly “offensive” strategy has discredited the very idea of genuinely offensive war for American self-interest, which it pledged to fight, and then betrayed to its core. Our soldiers come home maimed or dead, and military offense, rather than timidity, takes the blame. To compensate for our weakness overseas, we are building electric fences and security barriers to keep the world out, accepting the medieval ideal of walled towns under constant threat of attack, rather than destroying the source of such threats.

Lewis correctly points out that we will never defeat Islamic Totalitarianism if we maintain our current cringing, apologetic, defensive posture towards them. Instead, America must have the moral confidence to know that it is proper to take the fight to them, with the goal of destroying the threat they pose.

For more details, I highly recommend reading the entire article from the Winter 2006-2007 issue of The Objective Standard.

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