We Americans have a tendency to go about describing ourselves as being citizens of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, and bragging about how courageous we are, yadda yadda. Well it’s not true. It hasn’t been for quite some time. While some of us may be courageous as individuals, as a society we’re a mass of scared babies. We’re obsessed with safety, and every other phrase out of someone’s mouth when the subject of crime or terrorism or traffic fatalities or fat people or “those people” comes up is “the government should do something!”
I live here. I hear these conversations. I participate in some of them. I know what I’m talking about.
So when the powers that we have put into place start acting like Big Brother, who is to blame? I’m in a (rather one-sided) twitter discussion about yet another fun incident at an American airport with hostile gate security personnel harassing travelers. The thing is, the TSA and its shenanigans did not happen in a void. They were not imposed on us out of nowhere. We asked for more security, we asked for more protection, we asked that the government do everything in its power to prevent anything like the attacks on 9/11/01 ever happening again. We Americans tend to be quite naive about just how much power our government has thanks to our tendency to ask it to do more and more things for us. We’re finding out, and we don’t like it one bit, do we?
That’s not the only problem, though. The thing is, we’ve given our government not only too much power, but too many things to do, and many of these things are contradictory to the other things we want it to do. So we want to be made safe, safe as houses–but we also want to have ultimate freedom to travel within our borders and to be left completely alone to let our freak flags fly because this is By God America Land of the Free and Individual. Also, we want to be loved and admired by everyone in the whole wide world but we do have some problems… so we demand that our government show complete fairness to everyone regardless of race creed color freak flag whatever, and to Not Notice anything at all different or weird about anyone, because that’s prejudiced and ableist and racist and unfair. The problem is this is a setup for the comedy of errors that is airport security in the USA. We want to be made “safe” but don’t want to lose any of our freedoms. But you can’t be both safe and free–some dead white guy in our past did say something to that effect, didn’t he? Well never mind.
On the other hand, I can’t get too sad when the object of the affections of the TSA personnel is a middle-class, middle-aged white male. Most of the problems in this country can be laid at the collective feet of this passive-aggressive, partisan-politics-playing, exploitative-sports-and-tv-watching, all-of-the-privileges-having demographic. You hold most of the power in this country, White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Males. You can take a little of the discomfort and pain you’ve been meting out to all “THOSE people” in the past. Maybe it will open the eyes of some of you to what it’s like to not have all those “freedoms” you take for granted, but I doubt it. So far all I have been seeing are cries for their guy to be put in power and maybe by some sort of magical vote magic he’ll (yes, it will be a “he”) make all the TSA stuff go away or just bother those strange dark foreign people who come here who are obviously terrorists. And then when their guy shows no more intention of giving up even the tiniest crumb of government power over our lives, any more than any previous guy, they’ll just start campaigning for the next guy. Because they are about as foresighted as pigs who can’t see past the trough where their slop is poured. Grope on, TSA!