August 13, 2003 · admin
I have to admit to a feeling of resentment at the extent of the security searches every time I travel by air. The armed guards, the x-ray machines, the metal detectors, the pat downs, the search of luggage and personal effects, the removal of shoes, and for some, I suppose, the explanation of prosthetics, pacemakers, and appurtenances, constitutes a massive invasion of privacy. We have just come to accept this as a natural state of things because, like Gilmore, we’re all suspected terrorists. I find myself having to explain to people why I, as a Presidential candidate, am repeatedly shuttled off to that special line of selectees identified by the SSSS stamped on my ticket. The transportation security agents inform me that a computer has made this decision. I want to know who programs the computer. Is it John Ashcroft?
Even though I don’t feel as though I’m getting special treatment or that I’m entitled to special treatment, it makes me wonder how much of a threat I must be since I really do intend to replace the entire government. So when people occasionally recognize me getting the magic metal detector wanding and dutifully submitting to searches of my person, extending my arms and my legs spread-eagle, I explain with a smile, “I’m running against George Bush.”
What I’ve been able to determine from an informed intelligence source (oxymoron) is that I tend to get selected because I buy one-way tickets. This poses a dilemma. Should I change my campaign and do round trips say in a continuous loop from Seattle, Washington to Washington, DC in order to avoid greater suspicion or do I plan a practical itinerary from Seattle to San Francisco to Austin to Oklahoma City to Des Moines to Cleveland to Manchester and gain near public enemy status? The real reason that people who travel point to point instead of round trip are more likely to be subjected to a search is because, I’m told, that the hijackers bought one-way tickets. This is an interesting type of profiling that goes on. One which seldom invites an iota of self-reflection about America’s role in the world or about the basis for the murderous grievances which misguided individuals may have against us. It would be useful to have a national dialogue about our democracy and the manner in which it has been undermined since 9/11. The alternative is to proceed, robot like, and submit to metal detectors, x-ray machines, magic wands, pat downs, and the shuttling of point to point travelers to a point by point inspection.
It seems to me that the Bush Administration, with its moral obtuseness, its inconscience on matters of civil liberties, and its craven attempts to demolish the Bill of Rights has prepared for the American people a one-way ticket of sorts. When it comes to the quality of our democracy we are traveling on a road to nowhere.
Airline security is, as we have learned, a deadly serious business. The traveling public deserves assurances that they and their loved ones will be safe in the air. But when does security in a democracy morph into something profoundly anti-democratic. This is a discussion we need to have. And the answer, as Gilmore knows, cannot be simply “search me?”!
Dennis J. Kucinich
On the road to Des Moines