Why do we fail to detect or defeat the guilty, and why do we do so well at collective punishment of the innocent? The answer to the first question is: Because we can’t—or won’t. The answer to the second question is: Because we can. The fault here is not just with our endlessly incompetent security services, who give the benefit of the doubt to people who should have been arrested long ago or at least had their visas and travel rights revoked. It is also with a public opinion that sheepishly bleats to be made to “feel safe.” The demand to satisfy that sad illusion can be met with relative ease if you pay enough people to stand around and stare significantly at the citizens’ toothpaste. My impression as a frequent traveler is that intelligent Americans fail to protest at this inanity in case it is they who attract attention and end up on a no-fly list instead. Perfect.
It will continue until we demand our rights again. And unfortunately, this is a bi-partisan problem. This idiotic philosophy applied in the last administration as well. It’s a natural tendency of bureaucrats of any stripe.
Also, I was listening to some talk radio today in the car (Prager) and it occurred to me that people have this strange notion that “safe” is a binary condition. Something is safe or it is not. But it’s not. As I’ve said in other contexts (what a mess the human spaceflight program is), there is no safety this side of the dirt. Every decision you make, every action you take, carries some level of risk. Each one must be balanced against the expected benefit. When someone asks the president if it’s “safe to fly,” he should use it as a teachable moment. But he won’t.