When You Buy A Plane-Ticket The Terrorists Win

More on flying while Jewish and Arab from Fallows:


[R]ead this story and see if "caution" or "restraint" is the term that comes to your mind. In a free and diverse society "the public would rather" that officials recognize the balance and tradeoff between "complete" security, on the one hand, and on the other the liberties and privacies that distinguish open societies from police states. 

In the Gilbert case, you can argue that once the authorities were called in, they kept their cool and reached a sensible "let's calm things down" decision. That is not how this latest case looks to me. 

 Assuming that Ms. Hebshi's account is correct, this is an important instance for recognizing what security-state, permanent-fear thinking has done to us. Which is a necessary part of the tenth-anniversary reflections.

I think the scariest aspect, for me, is that there's nothing anti-democratic about this overreaction. If Obama were to change TSA regulations today, and there were a terrorist attack, he would be finished, as would many Democrats. He would not be finished simply because of Republican fear-mongering. He would be finished because a large number of actual people,  actual members of the electorate, are more afraid of the tangible--if unlikely--threat of dying in terrorist attack, than the intangible, but significantly more likely. threat of "permanent-fear thinking."

"The people" are not evil or dastardly, but they are neither particularly noble or brave or right. They're just people. At some point, individuals have to decide how they'll respond. I have to think this over more, but for me, there's no real reason to continue flying domestically. 

I don't know what I'll do. But I'm not a victim in this, I'm a participant. I'm a customer. 
Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

Why Principals Matter

Nadia Lopez didn't think anybody cared about her middle school. Then Humans of New York told her story to the Internet—and everything changed.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A History of Contraception

In the 16th century, men used linen condoms laced shut with ribbons.

Video

'A Music That Has No End'

In Spain, a flamenco guitarist hustles to make a modest living.

Video

What Fifty Shades Left Out

A straightforward guide to BDSM

More in National

From This Author

Just In