Why the GOP must do a fast about-face or face disaster in November...
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on July 31, 2012)
Despite their spirited outward demeanor and cheerful speculation, is the Grand Old Party beginning to realize that they made a mistake in anointing Mitt Romney to lead the assault on socialism and Barack Obama? For their sake, let’s hope so. Because the only way for the Republicans to avoid the trap they’ve set for themselves is to understand the magnitude of their error and start back-pedaling as fast as they can.
The case against the GOP’s selection of Romney to carry the banner of conservatism on to the White House is easy to make. Our first premise is obviously that Romney is not a conservative. He is, in fact, a self-proclaimed “moderate” who “holds progressive views.” Needless to say, this makes his suitability for the afore-mentioned position rather dubious from the get-go.
Those few folks who are willing to look ridiculous by asserting that Romney is no longer left-leaning and that his opportunely-timed conversion to limited government and family values is genuine will be quickly hushed by a little research. Take, for example, these excerpts from an open letter signed by notable conservative leaders such as the Homeschool Legal Defense Association’s Michael Farris and Kelly Shackelford of the Liberty Institute.
“Romney changed his position on over thirty key issues as he prepared to run for President four years ago. We all expect a politician to change their mind on one or two issues over the course of their career, but when someone changes their mind on EVERY foundational issue of importance to conservatives, we must be skeptical. Indeed, it is hard to accept Romney’s conversion on so many issues as authentic….
…As Governor, Romney implemented an Executive Order that created a vast ‘diversity’ agency to make sure those of all races and ‘sexual orientations’ be hired throughout state government. Romney [also] issued a state proclamation honoring ‘Gay/Straight Youth Pride March’…
…Romney’s administration gave funds to Planned Parenthood. In November 2006, Romney’s economic development agency approved a $5 billion tax-exempt bond to be used by Planned Parenthood to build an abortion clinic in Worchester…
…For thirty years Mitt Romney was a strong advocate of abortion. His wife, Ann, contributed money to Planned Parenthood in 1994 at a PP event both her and her husband attended, but she was filmed during the 2008 campaign claiming, ‘I’ve always been pro-life…’ ”
Another video shows Ann Romney insisting that pro-abortion women have no need to worry about her husband due to his commitment to the abortion issue. (Once you’ve watched the 22-second clip, ask yourself if this is the voice of a pro-life woman!) To make matters worse for Romney’s record, even in the wake of his pro-life “conversion” experience in 2004, he continued to fund embryonic stem cell research and was recorded in 2005 stating “I am absolutely committed to my promise to maintaining the status quo with regards to laws relating to abortion and choice and so far I’ve been able to successfully do that.” In 2006, Romney introduced RomneyCare, which covers abortion and makes it easy for people to obtain a state-funded abortion for as low as $50.
The Cato Institute reported that in his first year as Governor, Romney “proposed $140 [million] in business tax hikes through the closing of ‘loopholes’ in the tax code,” and according to job creation experts Andrew Sum and Joseph McLaughlin of Northeastern University, manufacturing employment during the Romney years “declined by 14%, the third worse record in the country. Sum and McLaughlin also wrote that ‘from 2001 to 2006, Massachusetts ranked 49th in the nation in job creation…’
Having put to rest the myth that Romney is or ever has been “severely conservative,” as he now claims to be, it’s time to take a look at what that means for the GOP. The short answer is trouble.
Last December, former senator Bob Dole endorsed Mitt Romney. Let’s run that tape:
“The time has now come for us to decide who among [the Republican candidates] can defeat Barack Obama in 2012. I’ve made my decision, and I believe our best hope lies in Governor Mitt Romney. I’ve run for president myself and –”
Alright, stop. Stop it right there.
Let’s see what we remember about Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign. One thing really stands out in my mind. He lost, and he lost big.
It was a rough year for Republicans. They were trying to take down President Bill Clinton, who was running for re-election, and they thought they had a clear lead over him. In 1994, a poll asked Americans to choose between Bill Clinton and " the Republican Party's candidate for President." Result? Clinton got 43% of the vote. The ghost Republican beat him with 50%. “Anyone can beat Clinton,” was the popular refrain, which has become so infamous today.
The Republicans nominated Bob Dole, an uninspiring moderate who did nothing to fan the flames of conviction. Dole didn’t understand that a huge portion of the Republican base was staunchly conservative and willing to take a stand for it at the polling place – even if it was going to hurt them. He failed to excite his base, and a third party candidate, Ross Perot, came in and snagged all of the votes his moderate stances didn’t bring in. Dole was a massive failure, and he gave us four more years of Clinton. His endorsement of Romney is anything but reassuring.
Fast-forward to 2008: the Republican Party’s next big loss. Faced with the alarming prospect of Obama as POTUS, the Republicans nominated another moderate, John McCain. McCain, just like Dole before him, did not succeed in capturing the enthusiasm of his base. Indeed, many Republicans were disgusted with him, and it wasn’t until his selection of conservative Sarah Palin for his running mate that his poll numbers began to climb. Palin ensured that the race would at least be competitive. McCain still lost.
This myth that moderates have the best chance to beat popular Democrats is just that: a myth. History clearly shows that Republicans do poorly when they nominate candidates who don’t pull in impassioned voters. Voters with strong opinions who care about real issues and will fight for them. Moderate voters by their very nature are a bad group to rely on in an election. Because their stances are less radical, they are less likely to be a virulent crowd and less likely to give sacrificially or inspire enthusiasm. While conservatives and liberals are people who feel strongly about ideas, moderates are people who delight in the muddy waters of the “middle ground”, and who, in large part, make decisions pragmatically rather than relying on principles.
The Republican Party ignores at their peril the fact that their candidate is a poor one. Their best hope for a comeback in November is to breathe life into their party by welcoming a staunch conservative darling into their ranks in the position of Vice President. If they fail to do this, I doubt if even Obama’s own alarming radicalism will keep him out of the White House for another four years. The question is, does the GOP want to hoist the banner of conservatism (and win) or slide back into moderate positions (and lose)?
I had the opportunity to sit down with novelist and Middle East expert Luke Montgomery last week and discuss his life, writing and philosophy. Read the first portion of the interview here.
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on July 24, 2012)
Towards the beginning of the book, Ian O’Brien soliloquizes, “How had history gotten into this rut of ruin and rubble, allowing religion to be an instrument of havoc and horror?” This dismay over the politicization of religion seems to be a central theme in your characters’ experiences, and yet your book hints at a heartfelt respect for faith.
Faith IS the human experience for the simple reason that our ability to know is infinitely limited. Every ontological question is a matter of faith regardless of one’s metaphysical views. Our finite mind makes faith fact whether we like it or not.
Religious faith is one of those amazing conundrums. One the one hand, it has inspired countless acts of love and sacrifice. It has fed the poor, clothed the naked, built schools and hospitals. One the other hand, it has, in the name of various gods, committed crimes of unspeakable horror.
However, the crimes of “religion” are without exception crimes of “politicized” or “institutional” religion not personal faith. The Spanish Inquisition, for example, had nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus. Its sole purpose was to achieve political unity through religious homogeneity.
Theistic religion is not the only system used as a political instrument of terror. Atheistic “faith” paradigms like communism are guilty of crimes far more horrific than the Spanish Inquisition.
Are you saying that human nature is evil?
It is an unpopular view, I know, but the empirical evidence is overwhelming.
The existence of evil is often presented as a problem for faith in a good and loving God.
The existence of moral evil is as much or more of a problem for the atheist as it is for the believer. There could be no evil without a moral standard. How can anything be truly right or wrong if everything is a product of time and chance? I have never met an atheist who believed that things like child abuse were not "evil".
In the novel, you talk about the intolerance of both Christian and Muslim regimes. Most of the allusions to Christian misdeeds are in the past, but is religion being utilized for political purposes in America today?
Remember the prayer rally led by Texas Governor Perry just weeks before he launched his bid for the White House? That’s your answer. There is still a very direct connection between faith and politics in this country. Republicans are far more likely to attend religious services on a regular basis, and the Republican Party clearly seeks to garner support from religious conservatives because religion is what provides the “values” the party claims to champion.
Whether the party actually cares about the moral issues that drive religious politics, such as abortion and gay marriage, is another question. Personally, I sense that it is just a way to manipulate the base.
Fortunately, the culture war in America is still being waged somewhat civilly, but as the gap between the values held by America’s various “cultures” widens into a chasm, it will become harder and harder to maintain that civility.
So, in your opinion, what practical steps can be taken to eliminate this exploitation of faith without creating a secular and irreligious government that seeks to tear down creeds as creeds tear down one another?
The working title for my novel was actually 'Till Kingdom Come for this very reason. The cultural war, religiously-tainted political maneuvering, and the Continental Divide of Values will be with us to the end. I think the dilemma politically active Christians face was eloquently stated by the one they claim to imitate. He said, "My Kingdom is not of this world."
Reconciling a spiritual focus with worldly politics is, to be sure, a difficult matter. Very few of the politically-active Christians I’ve met seem to have spent sufficient time wrestling with this problem.
I believe in the marketplace of ideas, but like all markets, the outcome is determined more by the marketing than it is by the product. The rhetoricians seem destined to win in this world of lies and half-truths.
Let’s change gears… Where do you find your inspiration for writing?
Inspiration is all around us if we will take the time to carefully observe. It is the difference between looking and seeing. One of my favorite poems says it better than I ever could. “Earth is crammed with heaven / And every common bush afire with God / But only he who sees takes off his shoes / The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.” Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
Humanity is my starting point. Obviously, religion and the Middle East is something I know well, and enjoy immensely so I expect these themes will continue to play an important role in my work.
I found this novel a bit more complex and nuanced than some modern fiction. Did you worry that this would put people off?
My favorite books were the ones I didn’t want to end, the books that created a world for me to enjoy. Creating a world is not as easy as Genesis 1 makes it sound. It needs a bit of ink and paper.
I like a novel with substance and wanted to give my readers that same experience. I think good writing should be like a symphony, orchestrating different movements with dozens of instruments and multiple themes, all climaxing in a final crescendo.
Speaking of which… The end left me begging for a sequel. Will we be seeing more of the O'Brien’s?
Most definitely. In many ways, their journey is just beginning. I’m anxious to see where it takes them.
Do you have any plans to publish the book in Turkey?
We are talking with translators now, so I expect some significant developments in the next couple of months. There have been requests for a Dutch translation as well. It’s all quite exciting actually. I love languages and the idea that this work will be available in languages other than English thrills me.
My final question... What is your assessment of fiction writing today?
It’s hard not to be pessimistic. Yesterday, I was looking at the top 100 books on Amazon. The Shades of Gray trilogy was ranked one, two and three. Porn has become the American dream.
The present is scary enough, but the future looks terrifying. Ideas have consequences and as a society we seem to have abandoned reason. The desire to better oneself through ideas and hard work has been largely replaced but a reckless determination to gratify our desires.
Fiction ought to do more than just entertain. It should inspire and challenge as well. Every generation needs a narrative that addresses its most pressing problems. After WWII, this narrative was shaped by Animal Farm and 1984. I wonder who it will be today.
I sat down this week with novelist Luke Montgomery to talk about his debut thriller, A Deceit To Die For. Mr. Montgomery is a expert on the Middle East and has fascinating insights to offer.
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on July 21, 2012)
The essence of a good book is whether or not it raises the right questions. The answer to an irrelevant question is of little consequence. Pondering a pertinent question is far more beneficial even if the answer remains elusive. Enter Luke Montgomery…
His debut thriller A Deceit To Die For is a fascinating tapestry of suspense, art and history. As a fast-paced contemporary novel that keeps readers engaged and guessing right up to the end, it is an unmitigated success.
But, it is more than just mind candy. The storyline revolves around a number of historical subplots and wrestles with timeless questions about culture, creed and the political exploitation of humanity’s most central theme - faith.
As an expert on Middle-Eastern culture and Islam who spent over a decade in the Middle East, Mr. Montgomery writes with amazing authority and is clearly a student of religion and politics. It is clear from his recent writings that he keeps a close eye on developments in his beloved Turkey.
I had an opportunity this week to sit down with Mr. Montgomery and talk about his life, his writing and his philosophy.
INTERVIEW WITH LUKE MONTGOMERY
There’s an oft-quoted adage to the effect that writers should write what they know, not what they love. But I got the feeling while reading A Deceit To Die For that this is something you both know and love. Am I wrong?
No. On the contrary, you are spot on. And this is not exactly a confession I’m proud of. This story is one that has been tugging at my mind for years. A sort of nameless apparition haunting my soul, and yet I have developed a strange fondness for this specter. It is something I ran from for years, but one cannot run forever. In A Deceit To Die For, I stopped running.
Stopped running? Running from what?
Reality. The terrible truth that what people hold most sacred is vulnerable in the extreme. Vulnerable to political manipulation. I can think of nothing as repulsive as using religion for political purposes. Yet, it seems to be a constant in the story of humanity.
Several reviews have compared your book to Dan Brown’s bestselling novel, The Da Vinci Code. Is that a comparison you are happy with?
It’s hard not to see the religion-conspiracy parallel. I'm happy that readers put me in the same class.
But Brown has been criticized for misleading readers by suggesting that some fictional aspects of his story were in fact true. How much of the historical background in your book is factual?
Every smidgeon, which is why my novel is a significant departure from Brown’s fanciful approach. It was extremely important to me that historical facts be represented accurately. A novel that twists historical fact may achieve popularity by appealing to certain popular sentiments but it is a disservice to humanity and a blatant affront to the historian. Let’s be honest. Many readers of popular fiction are not particularly discriminating.
You mentioned Mr. Brown's novel The Da Vinci code. This novel is wildly popular in the Middle East where anti-Christian propaganda is already endemic. Many believe that Dan Brown’s book is gospel truth presented as fiction just to protect the author from being eliminated by the Vatican. People find it easy to believe propositions they already hope to be true. Like Western secularists, Muslims believe the church is a hotbed of corruption. It is an easy sell there.
Now, the Church will find few people as critical of her mistakes as I am, but enough genuine fault and corruption exists already. We don’t need to make it up. The waters of history are muddy enough without introducing falsehood for the sake of sensationalism.
We often hear that history is the account of events written by the victors. The assertion is meant to discredit history, yet the proposition itself is patently false. One need look no further than the Native American story to see this. They were not the victors and yet we know a great deal about the wrongs done to them.
In reading the book, I was particularly struck by your respect for humanity as a whole. The emphasis on human universals is a frequent theme. I felt that you were trying to shy away from and even shoot down stereotypes while still recognizing the impact that cultural differences have upon us.
I would argue that no influence shapes us as much as our culture. This is hardly controversial. The more interesting question is what shapes culture? The broadest answer is, of course, human nature. There are clearly human universals.
For example, humans have an innate moral sense, which, of course, explains why the basic moral code in every religion and society is the same. Honest atheists like Steven Pinker have argued that this is somehow genetically encoded and that it must have evolved because it granted our species certain advantages. A Christian theologian, on the other hand, would claim it is the fingerprint of the divine, that people have an innate sense of justice and morality because they are created in the image of God.
If the broad answer to culture is human nature; the narrow answer is most assuredly ideas. Nothing is as powerful, liberating or dangerous as an idea. It is at this point that cultures diverge. The paradigm that prevails in culture shapes its destiny. It either exalts or debases a nation.
I lived in the Middle East for over a decade. It is not a place where civil liberties and especially Western individualism have gained a great deal of traction and yet I have never met a people as generous as the Turkish people. Their paradigms certainly had a huge influence on me and my development.
You dedicated the book to the Turkish people.
That’s right. For over a decade, I lived and breathed Turkish culture. The Turks opened their hearts to me. They were unbelievably accepting and tolerant. Anatolia will always be my second home.
A major theme in your novel is the Gospel of Barnabas, a book depicting the life of Jesus and purporting to be written by one of his earliest followers. I was surprised to see the persistent Muslim connection. What is going one here?
That’s a spoiler question!... Let me just say that the Gospel of Barnabas is widely viewed in the Middle East as the truest copy of the sayings of Jesus. Reports of new discoveries of this text have popped up consistently over the last 40 years. Pakistani newspapers have run lengthy excerpts of this Gospel on the front page. In Iran, a producer has even made a ‘Jesus Film’ based on this gospel.
There is only one complete extant copy of the book and it is held in the National Library of Austria in Vienna. The library was kind enough to give me complete access to this document. It was amazing to hold this bit of history in my hands. Today, we know enough about the circumstances surrounding this unique text to reconstruct the story, but it has been a long time coming.
The story of this incredible manuscript is every bit as interesting as the novel itself. If you don’t mind, I’ll leave it at that and let readers experience the thrill of discovery on their own.
You’ve written several articles about the anti-liberal stance of Turkey Islamist government, most recently covering pianist Fazıl Say and journalist Ahmet Şık. But apparently you’ve had your own issues. I saw on your blog that your author website has been blocked for some time now in Turkey. Is there a connection?
Well, there is no connection with my writing about the difficulties those individuals face because the block on my website predates those articles. There is, however, an ideological connection. The current government is not known for its tolerance.
This is a country where the Prime Minister sues cartoonists for unflattering caricatures. Dozens of senior military officers are languishing in prison in connection with the Ergenekon case, a government "anti-terrorism" operation. It has already been demonstrated that material evidence in this case was fabricated. This is disconcerting.
World-renowned classical pianist Fazıl Say is facing charges for insulting Islam. Freedom of the press has deteriorated. All of these are unacceptable in an open, free society.
It would be easy to say that all of this was due to the current government’s Islamic roots, but that would be unfair. The preceding secular governments were not very different. In short, the cultural war is not unique to America and it is waged much more openly in Turkey.
As I said earlier, ideas are powerful. There is nothing governments fear more than a revolutionary idea. They can be liberating for those living in bondage, but just as dangerous to those who benefit from the status quo. I suppose my book hits a little too close to home and that is why the website is being blocked. Come back later this week for the second part of the interview with Luke Montgomery.
Rev. David Lynn and Toronto Police Officers
Incident at Toronto Gay Pride Parade demonstrates the potential for injustice that is imminent when government takes sides and acts apart from the law
(Posted by Shannon Lise on July 13, 2012)
Canada Day in Ontario this year was marked by a disturbing incident when Rev. David Lynn and a small group of friends attended the Toronto Gay Pride Parade. Setting up a small stand on a street corner with a microphone and a video camera, Lynn preached, held conversations with passers-by, and handed out Bibles and tracts – that is, until Toronto police wearing LGBT rainbow stickers shut him down and forced him to vacate the area. Ignoring the profanity and violent behavior of angry parade attendees and demonstrators who verbally assaulted the group and even doused Lynn and his cameraman with water, police told Lynn he was ‘promoting hate’ and must leave.
Despite Lynn repeatedly requesting to know what law he was violating and why he was being shut down, the police never quoted any relevant regulation or by-law and refused to explain their actions beyond insisting that Lynn was ‘causing a disturbance.’ Instead, some twelve officers surrounded the stand, assaulted the 17-year old cameraman, and yelled at the crowd to go away and stop listening to Lynn, refusing to let anyone near. Video footage of the event shows one officer shouting, “Guys, everybody, by staying and listening to him you’re helping him get his message across. You ignore him and it all goes away.”
However, these same zealous would-be enforcers of laws that don't exist proved less than enthusiastic about dealing with the multiple displays of nudity going on at the same time in the surrounding area. Although public display of nudity is illegal according to the Canada Criminal Code, police apparently did not write a single ticket for nudity during the parade.
Whether or not preaching about the love of God at a Pride Parade is ‘promoting hate’ or being disrespectful may be up for debate, but it is not something for the Toronto police to decide. By choosing to ignore the illegal and disruptive conduct of parade participants and arbitrarily shutting the preacher down instead, the police have taken sides in a complicated national dispute that is beyond their jurisdiction. The police are supposed to enforce the law, not support the interests of a particular group at the expense of someone else' rights. Police officers are well within their rights to have whatever private sympathies they like, but if those sympathies are allowed to influence their decisions when they are acting in an official capacity, then they are just part of the angry crowd, with the difference that they are able to exploit their position in order to intimidate and coerce other people, especially the people they disagree with.
Let’s not forget that the police represent the government. The authority abused by the people who enforce the law can be just as easily abused by the people who make the law. The role of the government as a neutral arbiter of justice is undermined when the government refuses to protect everyone’s freedom equally. In Lynn’s words, ‘You’re here to defend my rights, too.’ But when the government takes sides, freedom is redefined to mean the freedom of whichever side the government is on, to the exclusion of the rest of society.[You can watch the shocking footage of the incident in the three clips below. Please note that these clips feature a generous amount of uncensored profanity on the part of incensed Pride Parade attendees. Viewer discretion is advised.]
The first video clip shows the first ten minutes of the confrontation, ending when an angry officer snatches the camera from Rev. Lynn's cameraman.
This second clip shows what happened after the camera was restored to Lynn's camerman.
This clip, recorded by a third party, documents the officer's confiscation of the camera and the subsequent confrontation.
Angered and disturbed by what you've seen? Don't leave it at that! Utilize the contact information below and let the authorities in Toronto know that they overstepped their rightful authority.
Names and badge numbers of Toronto police officers identified by footage captured by Lynn’s cameraman:
T. Adams, 9114
Staff Sergeant R. Pasini, 4528
D. Sinclair, 9678
D. Rubbini, 6346
M. Duffy, 1095
Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD)
Ph: (877) 411-4773
Complaint against police form
Rob Ford, Mayor of Toronto
Office of the Mayor
Toronto City Hall, 2nd Floor,
100 Queen St. West,
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
Ph: (416) 397-3673
Americans are giving up their liberties to the TSA and aren't even getting security in return
(Posted by Bryana Joy on July 10, 2012)
The TSA, which has attracted much attention over the past few years for coercive and idiotic behavior, continues to behave coercively and idiotically. The agency has also added a number of new behaviors to their repertoire, making headline news repeatedly in recent weeks for behaving callously, disrespectfully, inefficiently, and indecently.
Last week, Indianapolis resident John Gross underwent a painful and emotionally exhausting experience at Orlando Airport in Florida when a TSA agent opened the sealed jar containing his grandfather’s ashes and spilled them on the floor of the terminal. Gross says the agent, a woman, spilled up to a third of the contents and then laughed as he frantically tried to pick up the bone fragments. He also later found out that according to TSA's policies, a crematory container in carry-on baggage must pass through the X-ray machine at the security checkpoint but should be opened under "no circumstances."
“I want an apology,” Gross told The Indy Channel. “I want an apology from TSA. I want an apology from the lady who opened the jar and laughed at me. I want them to help me understand where they get off treating people like this." But how can an apology fix a system that flaunts such blatant disregard of privacy rights and human dignity?
In February, a Dallas woman complained when she was told by TSA agents that she had a “cute figure” and was scanned three times by the controversial full-body x-ray machine. According to the rather shocking results of an investigation by CBS 11 in Dallas, the passenger, Ellen Terrell is only one of many women making similar complaints about TSA scanning procedures. Many women say they felt sexually harassed by the agents.
Last year female novelist T.P. Alexanders was arrested for reciting the Constitution of the United States during a TSA inspection at the airport in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She has since been hassled and harried in an alarming manner. In April a disturbing video surfaced revealing a woman sobbing during a pat-down at the airport in Madison, Wisconsin. In May, a new mom was forced to show security her freshly pumped breast milk before she could board a plane with a breast pump. In January, two TSA agents admitted to stealing $40,000 from a checked bag at JFK Airport in New York. In April, a TSA screener admitted to accepting $1,200 in bribes from drug traffickers. In December, rapper Freddie Gibbs claimed he got away with smuggling some marijuana on a flight. The TSA agent who checked his bags left him just a note which read: c’mon son.
You’ve doubtless heard other tales of horror and high surprise: grandmothers in walkers and wheelchairs being strip-searched, infants and toddlers being subjected to lengthy pat-downs, and countless reports of stolen items, from cake to ipads.
Yet another controversy has erupted this week, with passengers displeased by the TSA’s recent decision to randomly test beverages which passengers in the secure area of the airport have purchased in the secure area of the airport. Even travelers who don’t object to the TSA’s other controversial screening measures are confused and disturbed by this new development . "I'm always glad that my safety is a priority, I just think testing drinks after they've already been bought might be a little extreme," Jennifer Smart told radio KJTC8. Passengers want to know just what it is that the TSA is testing for in drinks that come from the secure area of the airport, but the agency has declined to explain themselves.
The TSA is outrageous. And the important factor is they are not outrageous only or even primarily because of outrageous breaches of protocol. They are not outrageous only because they have had the misfortune to hire a ridiculous number of incompetent and even criminal employees. They are not outrageous because these employees violate the agency’s policies on a regular basis. The TSA is outrageous because their policies are intrusive and inappropriate from the get-go.
It is not good enough to have a policy against gratuitous or voyeuristic exploitation of scanner images. The problem lies in the fact that passengers are subjected to this humiliating imaging process in the first place. It is not good enough that the TSA apologizes for employees who make inappropriate comments about passengers’ personal belongings. The problem lies in the fact that these personal items should be scrutinized and uncovered in the first place. The TSA’s arrogant and unconstitutional intrusion into our lives is wrong based on principle, not on individual horror stories – although those horror stories do a lot to demonstrate the consequences of such widespread misappropriation of authority.
Sadly, it appears that Americans are undergoing this degradation to no real purpose. On multiple occasions over the past few years, passengers have accidentally boarded planes or have passed through security with loaded guns in their luggage. ABC News shares some alarming reports of security test failures at major US airports:
“Federal agencies have conducted random, covert ‘red team tests,’ where undercover agents try to see just how much they can get past security checks at major U.S. airports. And while the Department of Homeland Security closely guards the results as classified, those that have leaked in media reports have been shocking. According to one report, undercover TSA agents testing security at a Newark airport terminal on one day in 2006 found that TSA screeners failed to detect concealed bombs and guns 20 out of 22 times. A 2007 government audit leaked to USA Today revealed that undercover agents were successful slipping simulated explosives and bomb parts through Los Angeles's LAX airport in 50 out of 70 attempts, and at Chicago's O'Hare airport agents made 75 attempts and succeeded in getting through undetected 45 times.”
We are trading our privacy, our rights, and our liberty, and we’re not even getting security in return.
We can talk and complain and fume about invasive pat-downs and intrusive baggage checks and naked-body scanners, but unless we actually take action against the tightening noose, all of our anger and our words are wasted. I’m not suggesting a we won’t fly campaign, as we obviously will fly, but something less demanding and perhaps even more effective.
As election season rolls around, it’s a great time to put pressure on candidates and incumbents at all levels of your state and federal government. Perhaps this year you might consider taking time to make a few calls to your representatives and let their offices know exactly how you feel about the TSA and how their stance will affect your vote. Don’t let them get away with stating generically that they oppose the agency, but ask them what they’ve done to curtail it and how they plan to fight it in the future. It’s very painless to make these calls and you will probably speak with a sympathetic and polite secretary who will do his or her best to help you. There are a number of tools online to help you find out who represents you.
Unfortunately, the furor and the uproar over the TSA’s overreach has not been sustainable. People have to fly. They have to work. They have to see their aging parents and grandparents, go to funerals and weddings, and take vacations. It’s unrealistic to expect them not to. It is not, however, unrealistic to ask them to object and to do it courageously and regularly. America is the land of the free and the home of the brave. We all fight tyranny in different ways, but the important thing is: are we fighting it, or are we just complaining?
British educator Charlotte Mason
"Young people at home are equally indifferent [about history], nor have their elders such stores of interest and information as should quicken children with the knowledge that always and everywhere there have been great parts to play and almost always great men to play those parts: that any day it may come to anyone to do some service of historical moment to the country. It is not too much to say that a rational well-considered patriotism depends on a pretty copious reading of history, and with this rational patriotism we desire our young people shall be informed rather than with the jingoism of the emotional patriot. If there is but little knowledge of history amongst us, no doubt our schools are in fault."