The past two weeks or so have shone a lot of light on airport security in this country, more specifically the new full body scanners in place at most terminals and the “don’t touch my junk” pat downs offered as an alternative. I have not flown since the month after 9/11 and do not anticipate doing so again any time soon. Yet I, in some ways, am probably as offended by the new procedures as are a vocal percentage of regular air travelers.

             The offense to my sense of justice and outrage, though, is tempered somewhat by the real possibility of further terror acts. But then I look at the facts of the terror attacks on U.S. soil and try to gain some perspective, free of the rampant paranoia at the fore of our security efforts.

                   Other than the legally sanctioned sexual assaults by TSA screeners there are other manifestations of this paranoia. We have the more odious sections of the Patriot Act. We have the opposition to the so-called Ground Zero Mosque. ( I remind again that it is neither a mosque nor at ground zero, and how far should it be from that point….Omaha?). We have physical attacks on Muslims with no provocation. We have local ordinances or state laws introduced to limit the practice of Islam. We have a need for 3 ounce shampoo and mouthwash bottles.

               That the airport security efforts have descended into slapstick is pretty evident. But save for some feeble efforts by individuals no assault on our planes have really been made since 9/11. That tragedy was probably more of a one-off that required months if not years of preparation before the product of that preparation came completely out of the blue….well save for the CIA report presented to Bush some weeks earlier, than it was the blueprint for all future attacks.  So the fact no large scale attempts have ensued may mean that Al Qaida is focusing elsewhere. Perhaps they’ll be satisfied with smaller attacks that will still earn huge headlines.

             But here’s something to think about. Regardless of the innocent lives lost,  Al Qaida’s murder sprees will do nothing to materially change America or bring them to rule here. They are pure criminal acts ultimately of no more consequence than the bank robbing escapades of Bonnie and Clyde or the cross-country Magical Murderous Tour of the smug Ted Bundy. Possibly in pure numbers they may be worse. But we have absorbed Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, the BTK killer, the Green River killer and other amoral sadistic mutants and survived as a people. Are we more alert to heretofore unthought of possibilities? Certainly? Do we still eat, drink, sleep, work, make love, go to ball games, bathe our babies, surf the internet, and post comments on blogs? Even more certainly.

                Al Qaida’s thousands will never physically conquer our millions. They can be a lethal nuisance but their greater danger, and perhaps their true goal, is in making us view our American way of life in terms of fear rather than in terms of the freedom our Founding Fathers fought for and bequeathed to us.

          Operating more out of paranoia than cold hard facts is encouraging us to squander this inheritance of freedom. So many legators try to insulate their heirs from harm by placing assets in a spendthrift trust to protect them against waste. Our Constitution was designed to be our spendthrift trust. Every step we take to break that trust is merely another step toward figurative bankruptcy.

              We citizens must re-evaluate what violations of our privacy and human dignity we will endure to keep us safe from a threat which is barely more likely to occur than a fatal dog bite or a vending machine toppling and crushing our bodies.

               Sadly I have no solution. I feel I’m spitting into the wind as most Americans yield to the paranoia, acquiesce to the intrusions, though grudgingly, but do not even remotely demand from our leaders acceptable alternatives that will enable us to keep our spendthrift trust intact.

            This admonition from Galatians 6, verse 7, says it all

             whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap

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