Blaming the Right Targets

Although National Review has made the onerous decision to stop providing free access to an online edition of the print magazine to subscribers who receive the print magazine, an essay in the December 20 issue by former assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Security Stewart Baker expresses a perspective worth considering. Describing his experience with airport security as professional and efficient, Baker writes:

It’s not that the measures are popular. Nobody likes going through the new scanners or the new pat-downs. But attacking them without offering a plausible alternative is foolish, especially after Dec. 25, 2009, when al-Qaeda nearly succeeded in bringing down a plane with an underwear bomb.
The U.S. has long had an air-security system that puts far more effort into looking for weapons than into looking for terrorists. It is also committed to giving all passengers more or less the same screening. With such a system, there’s only one way to find weapons hidden in underwear, and that is to check all the passengers’ underwear. The privacy campaigners tried to blame the TSA for these facts of life. The rest of us may have disliked the procedures, but instead of the TSA, we blamed, well, the terrorists.

Of course, Baker’s very first suggestion for improving the system — looking for terrorists rather than weapons — shows his allocation of blame to be more rhetorical and political. Yes, as long as there are people who make airport security a necessity, the policies intended to provide that security should ultimately be blamed on them; that much goes without saying. But it isn’t unreasonable to blame the people who insist on politically correct walls around the policies that we’re permitted to implement.
I’ve written in many contexts that, were there specific, credible threats being made by a subculture of blond, blue-eyed white guys, I’d submit to the necessary screenings and blame my co-complexionists. Under such circumstances, it would be entirely appropriate for black women to blame a bureaucracy that treated them in like fashion to me.

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Phil
Phil
10 years ago

“I’ve written in many contexts that, were there specific, credible threats being made by a subculture of blond, blue-eyed white guys, I’d submit to the necessary screenings and blame my co-complexionists.”
This is worth highlighting and remembering.

BobN
BobN
10 years ago

For what purpose is it worth highlighting and remembering?
Methinks Phil is preparing another act of propagandistic intellectual terrorism.

Phil
Phil
10 years ago

Sorry to disappoint, but I’m preparing for a morning of shellfishing in Greenwich Bay.
propagandistic intellectual terrorism.
Bob
Have you considered that you may be the only one whose mind could be terrorized by any kind of intellectualism.

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

How about McVeigh or is that down the memory hole now? I take it you would also support harassing law abiding members of the armed services based on the actions of someone like McVeigh?

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

“But attacking them without offering a plausible alternative is foolish…”
Not if the scanners are ineffective for their stated purpose. It’s not clear the device would have been detected or why terrorists would not simply use devices inserted in body cavities to avoid detection.
Doing nothing is preferrable to doing something demonstrably harmful (expensive and ineffective). It’s like the guy on the bus snapping his fingers to keep away the lions. What, you want to be attacked by lions?

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