Sunday, November 28, 2010

Are You Ready to Fly?

Flying used to be a fine way to travel.  Then as airlines started losing money and reducing services, flying became more of a hassle.  The tragedies that happened on September 11, 2001, brought more worry and more dismay for travelers.  We have endured more restrictions, stopped carrying shampoo, beverages and sharp objects, and seen more cumbersome regulations, such as shoe removal, impact our trips.  But until now, Americans have taken these obstacles mostly in stride; however recently the climate in airports has changed.  Have you noticed the lemmings marching toward the airports?  Can lemmings even march, you ask?  (Lemmings are small rodents living in the far north near the arctic -- they have demonstrated herd behavior in migration, but do not commit mass suicide as is sometimes claimed.)  Are Americans demonstrating this same behavior?  Are we taking leave of our senses?

What ever has happened to the credible dialogues we used to be able to have in this country?  When the so called underwear bomber tried to set him self ablaze last year, the hue and cry was to hurry up and implement full body scans.  This technology was said to be able to protect against an attack of this type.  Now that full body scanners have arrived at many airports, as the country approaches its busiest travel season, the right wing is raising a ruckus.  Former Republican candidate Governor Mike Huckabee blasted the Obama administration for this "invasion of personal rights," notwithstanding the fact that his own son was apprehended trying to board a plane with a handgun in his carry-on bag.  (I personally, have never carried a gun in my briefcase -- so I have not had the problem of forgetting that one was there, have you?  Didn't the staff of a certain Democratic Senator have a similar problem last year? )   Huckabee apparently indignantly demanded that profiling be used instead of these new TSA practices and also suggested that the First Family fly on a commercial flight and be subjected to these security measures.  If this weren't so arrogant, it might even be thought of as humorous.  

Recent polls showed that Americans overwhelmingly supported tougher security policies.  The body scanners were thought by most to be a moderate solution.  If the passenger cannot or will not walk through the scanner, a body pat down is used.  A pat down -- by its very nature -- is intrusive, so why go though it if it is not required?  Pilots are exempted -- but flight attendants were not -- does that make any sense?  It appears that the pilots have a stronger union.   As soon as the fear mongers got hold of this issue, they tried to sway public opinion; a group tried to organize a massive protest this week to slow down the system on the busiest flight times.  Polls started to show opinions shifting, as the drumbeats of negativity increased.  Could one assume that this was because the conservative talk hosts compared notes and talking points?  Guess what happened?  The protest was a flop; passengers wisely stopped taking the bait on this topic.  Cooler and calmer heads prevailed.  Americans wisely stated that they want to be able to fly safely and securely and if this is the next level for security -- they will go with it.   Faceless images viewed remotely do not appear to trouble passengers as much as the possibility of missing their flights from pointless delays.  One passenger looked at this and protested in a humorous vein -- she wore a bikini and was passed through in record time!  Now obviously this is not the solution for everyone.  Some people, such as myself, would not travel that way, but the point was made quite visibly made.

I ask that we return to a common sense approach.  Apart from the choruses of "isms" which the Obama administration is being accused of, aren’t these negative voices the same folks who also claimed that the Democrats are soft on protecting our freedoms?   When I grew up we were taught to respect the Office of the President, even if we did not always approve of what actions were chosen.  Somehow that lesson has been forgotten.  Somehow today others can find nothing that is worthy of praise, when we have a country which is beginning to be renewed.  Reports from terrorists recently have said that success in disrupting our country was achieved by use of the printer cartridge bombs.  They did not have to explode to cause fear, the threat was enough.  With obstacles such as this facing our travelers today, shouldn't we as a country speak with a single strong voice and be grateful that our Federal government has protected us and will continue to do so, through the efforts of many hard-working employees?  Shouldn't we support the decisions of experts who have set up measures which should help us travel more securely?  Shouldn't we turn our backs on those who would exploit our safety, if it gave them a chance to make the present administration look inept?   Look ashamed Bill, Glenn, Sarah and Rush -- even you can do better than this.

1 comment:

  1. I recently had my first experience going through the body scanner at BWI. It's no big deal. Simple, painless, easy, quick... what other words can describe it? Contrary to negative noodles in the media, you don't see your naked body image on TV screens blasted through the airport. If that had been done with me, the medics would have to respond in large numbers to take care of the people who fainted from seeing that... just sayin'. NO BIG DEAL!


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