My Washington Examiner column this week covers two developments last week that may make you somewhat less likely to “Give Thanks for the TSA” as former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen urged on National Review’s website.
The first is the viral video of a TSA agent at New Orleans airport giving the “freedom fondle” to a six-year-old girl. The second is Friday’s revelation that among the “behavioral indicators” TSA uses to scope out travelers who deserve extra manhandling is the “arrogant” expression of “contempt against airport passenger procedures.”
Because, clearly, making a scene on an airport security line is sound strategy for anyone trying to sneak a bomb onto a plane.
Is it possible that anyone with an IQ above room temperature buys that logic?
A lot of Al Qaeda terrorists are pretty dumb. But it seems doubtful that they’re that dumb.
The column looks at what our willingness to submit to this sort of thing says about “American Exceptionalism”:
There’s been a lot of talk lately about “American Exceptionalism,” and whether President Obama understands what makes America stand out among the family of nations.
I’ve always thought that what makes Americans exceptional is our ornery resistance to being bossed around….
Neoconservatives see America’s uniqueness as an excuse to bomb any country that looks at us crosswise. But the original idea was somewhat less aggressive. With “every spot of the old world… overrun with oppression,” America would be freedom’s home – an “asylum for mankind” – as Thomas Paine put it in Common Sense.
In the 1992 film adaptation of “Last of the Mohicans,” James Fenimore Cooper’s novel about the Seven Years War, there’s an exchange that illustrates American Exceptionalism at its best. An effete British officer berates the rough-hewn colonial “Hawkeye”: “You call yourself a loyal subject to the Crown?”
“Don’t call myself ‘subject’ to much at all,” Hawkeye replies.
You have to wonder how long that spirit can survive in a world where official federal policy requires you to stand by placidly while agents of the state run their rubber gloves under your innocent 6-year-old daughter’s waistband. And it’s far from clear that these procedures are even making us any safer.