When You Buy A Plane-Ticket The Terrorists Win

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

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. 

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/09/when-you-buy-a-plane-ticket-the-terrorists-win/245009/