Sunday, January 30, 2005

Flying the PC Skies

Recently, CNN ran a special called "Defending America". They interviewed the airport gate agent who first encountered Mohammed Atta and Abdul Aziz al-Omari on September 11. This was at the airport in Maine as they were trying to get to Boston to board the flight they intended to hijack and fly into a building in New York City.

Michael Touhey, the agent, said that his first gut instinct was that these men were terrorists. He said Attas eyes were stone-cold, the "eyes of a killer".
TOUHEY: They had a tie and jacket on. All right? And as I'm looking at them, you
know, they're holding their IDs up, and I'm looking at them, (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
It's not nice, but I said, Jeez, if this doesn't look like two Arab terrorists,
I have never seen two Arab terrorists.

But then, he felt bad for thinking such a thing and went ahead and issued them passes.

Now, I can't imagine how this man must have felt following that tragic day knowing what he knew and I don't blame him for having been hesitant toward his gut instinct. But, I think such an example tells us something very significant. It tells us that the liberal idea of political correctness that has so permeated our society that is has become a danger to our society.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): His instinct to label the Arab men that morning as terrorists, to slow down their check and to search their bags, to possibly make the ringleader miss his flight, all of that is post-9/11 thinking.

On that September morning, hassling two men simply because they were Arabs
would not have been politically correct, Touhey says. His job was to get them on
the flight, and he did.
Even now, however, screening personnel have been told that "racial profiling" is not allowed. They must conduct random searches. The political correctness remains official policy. I have nothing against law-abiding foreigners and as a traveler in today's world, one should expect a certain level of scrutiny. It's just reality. I don't even mind the random searches and certainly, there are people who will break profile stereotypes. What puzzles me is that when I have flown since 9/11, on at least one occasion, I have been in the security line behind a Middle Eastern male who looked not unlike one of the 9/11 hijackers was waived through normally and then looked to my right to see an 80+ year-old woman being wanded and frisked. I know the system is not without flaws. We know that weapons are still getting through. There just seems to be a disconnect here between tact and reality.

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