2019-01-12

Topsy Turvy


In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, airports became completely different places. Young people have no idea what an airport used to be like. They'll never know what it's like to travel without having to first submit to a humiliating security check. They'll never know what it was like to say goodbye to your friends and family at the gate, rather than at the front doors of the airport, or to greet them at the gate when they arrived.

I'm disappointed with myself that I don't even remember what some of it was like. I know we had to submit our bags for a security check, but I don't remember what that check consisted of, nor do I recall how onerous it was. I'm on the edge of my generation; I didn't do much air travel until I was in college, and 9/11 happened halfway through my college career. So, I'm struggling to remember exactly what it was like. People younger than I am -- younger than 39 years of age -- will remember even less. It is a dying memory that will disappear much sooner than I ever expected.

What makes me sad about this is that it is a tangible loss of freedom -- an enormous growth in the size and scope of government -- that occurred in my lifetime, and when we no longer remember what our freedom was like prior to that loss of freedom, we will no longer hunger for it. We will, collectively, assume that "it's always been that way," and so we will likely never make strides to regain the freedom we've lost.

It was a truly terrible loss, too. For those of us who even vaguely remember pre-9/11 airplane travel, the TSA security checks feel like humiliating assaults. Groping. Unexplained detentions. The power of TSA employees to cause us to miss our flights, often at great cost to us, and the power of TSA employees to initiate a nearly intractable legal process against us, even if we are not guilty of anything. They simply decide we are suspicious, treat us accordingly, and our rights are gone. Poof.

This morning, news reaches me of protests by TSA employees. They're protesting the government shutdown. The article presents the case that the TSA employees are victims in this case. They deserve their money. They deserve their jobs. Mean, bad Mr. Trump is making it hard for them to earn a living.

To earn a living groping us, taking body scanner photos of us that can see through our clothes, patting-down our wives and children. The government shutdown is making it hard for the TSA to earn a living detaining us.

They're the victims.