The Gropes Of Wrath

In a recent editorial about the airport-security brouhaha, the Times reiterates the usual liberal cant as regards profiling. We read:

Seeing conservative Republicans accuse the Obama administration of trying too hard to protect America from terrorists is a remarkable spectacle of contortion. But many of them are making a far more pernicious point. They want the government to start “profiling” passengers on the basis of ethnicity or nationality or personal history to single out those most likely to commit terrorism. That would spare decent people from the indignity of a backscatter machine.

It would spare them a potentially dangerous blast of radiation, too, as we noted here.

The Gray Lady continues:

But terrorists, tragically, aren’t fools, and constantly adapt to the screening regimes. Before the T.S.A. started searching for bombs in shoes, underwear or printer cartridges, that’s where they were hidden. If terrorists learn that elderly white women from Iowa are exempt from screening, that’s exactly whom they will recruit.

Read that again: “If terrorists learn that elderly white women from Iowa are exempt from screening, that’s exactly whom they will recruit.”

Do these people even think about what they’re writing? It’s things like this that make me miss S.J. Perelman (peace be upon him); were he still with us, this ludicrously fanciful assertion would no doubt have been the germ of a boffo vignette, in his inimitable style.

At any rate, it was too much for one Edward Jay Epstein, a reader of James Taranto’s Best of the Web newsletter. Mr. Epstein had this to say:

The editors of the New York Times, though their concern over profiling may be well-intentioned, are underestimating the challenge Al Qaeda faces in recruiting elderly white women in Iowa.

OK, the Russians succeeded in recruiting white men such as Aldrich Ames in the CIA and Robert Hanssen in the FBI to steal secrets, But that coup required only getting these spies to deliver copies of documents to a dead drop, and in return for this relatively safe job, they were offered millions of dollars in useful cash.

Recruiting elderly white women from Iowa to conceal high explosives in their body cavities to blow themselves up aboard an airplane is far more difficult. Even assuming elderly white women from Iowa are more technically proficient than the Muslim male shoe bomber and underwear bomber, and are not grounded by a fear of flying, some inducement would have to be offered to persuade elderly white women from Iowa to undertake suicide missions.

Unlike the Muslim male candidates offered 40 awaiting virgins in paradise, elderly white women from Iowa presumably are not Muslim and have no need of virgins. Nor is ideology a likely incentive, since al Qaeda makes few provisions for women’s rights, senior citizen discounts, or the extension of Medicare benefits. This means that the only incentive an Al Qaeda recruiter can offer elderly white women from Iowa is cash, which has limited utility to someone about to commit suicide.

If my analysis is correct, the fear over unpatted-down elderly white women from Iowa blowing themselves up is overblown.

Indeed. Mr. Taranto responds:

The Times’s underlying objection to profiling surely is not that it would leave us vulnerable to elderly white female Iowan terrorists but that it’s unfair for innocent young Arab Muslim men to receive greater scrutiny than innocent old white Christian ladies. That’s “discrimination.” Better to treat everyone as a potential terrorist.

No doubt an innocent young Arab Muslim has reason to feel aggrieved if he’s singled out for scrutiny merely because his religion and ethnicity match those of many terrorists. But grandma can hardly be faulted for resenting it when the TSA agent touches her junk in order to assuage the Arab Muslim’s feelings.

Meanwhile, it does seem as if Americans are beginning to shake off the spell of radical anti-discrimination. Over at View From The Right, Lawrence Auster summarizes:

It is among the evils, and perhaps is not the smallest, of democratical governments, that the people must feel, before they will see. When this happens, they are roused to action—hence it is that this form of government is so slow.

— George Washington to Henry Knox, March 8, 1787.

It should have happened nine years ago, when President Bush, in order to avoid ethnic profiling of Muslims, inaugurated the “treat all Americans as potential Muslim terrorists” regime in the nation’s airports, instead of doing what he should have done, which was to treat all potential Muslim terrorists as potential Muslim terrorists. But now it is happening: the American people are openly calling for profiling. Why? As I’ve said many times, quoting George Washington, people living in a democratic society will not resist an evil on the basis of reason alone; they will only resist it when it becomes unbearable to them. The American people should have regarded the humiliating and emasculating airport security regime of the last nine years, designed solely to avoid discriminating against Muslims, as unbearable and protested against it, but they didn’t. Now, however, the naked-body-scan-and-grope policy has accomplished what nine years of a somewhat lower level of mass humiliation in airports did not achieve: it has brought the liberal prohibition of discrimination to the point where it has become literally unbearable to us, and we are rising up against it.

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  1. JK says

    “… it has brought the liberal prohibition of discrimination to the point where it has become literally unbearable to us, and we are rising up against it.”

    I’ll say. I rose up enough to cancel the one card in my billfold that accrues airline miles.

    (But I do have to wonder if the NYT writer chanced upon the same waitress I did in that Sioux City Waffle House).

    Posted November 29, 2010 at 9:05 am | Permalink
  2. the one eyed man says

    I have no interest in revisiting this discussion. Just wanted to say that the Wikileaks guy should be strung up by his tender parts. What an outrage.

    Posted November 29, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Permalink
  3. JK says

    It would appear Peter, we share an opinion. Unfortunately in our system hanging a fool by the “tender parts” isn’t an option. However:

    Posted November 29, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Permalink
  4. the one eyed man says

    I’m startled that I agree with Peter King on something, but I think that a terrorism charge is a stretch. I don’t know how you criminalize this kind of behavior without prohibiting more legitimate forms of whistle blowing (recognizing, of course, that the leaker can be charged with several offenses – hopefully including treason – but Assange’s conduct as distributor is more problematic).

    I realize this is not germane to this post. If thread hijacking were a crime, I would be doing life without parole.

    Posted November 29, 2010 at 7:11 pm | Permalink
  5. the one eyed man says

    To be more precise: distributing some kinds of classified information (e.g., troop movements or nuclear secrets) is an unlawful offense, not to be confused with whistle blowing.

    It is the fact that Assange is a foreign national operating outside US borders which makes it problematic.

    Posted November 29, 2010 at 7:33 pm | Permalink
  6. JK says

    It’s problematic in other ways too Peter (nevermind our hijacking of Malcolm’s thread). And though I’ve never copied and pasted a comment I left on another blog – in this case D&N…

    Prior to 9/11 only US military communications were routed thusly:

    After 9/11 (and we’ve GW & Co to thank for not “thinking-thru” on this) in an effort to make communication between agencies easier, the US established guidelines collectively known as ‘Net-Centric Diplomacy’ which led to the possibility that someone could write the sentence: “Secret-level wide area network. SIPRnet is accessible to cleared American military service members and civilian agencies around the world.” [emphasis added]

    Actually only that preceeding sentence need be read because putting the tidbit about the Prince getting miffed in the hands of “a civilian agency” could’ve been had by The National Enquirer – but I include the link only to show someone could write the sentence.

    As to a terrorism charge – I don’t see it. But I have this little tingly feeling a few Middle Eastern leaders might take the US’ “Assange problem” personal.

    Posted November 29, 2010 at 10:05 pm | Permalink
  7. the one eyed man says

    It’s bad enough that we have a leaky system in place, but why was a 22 year old Pfc cleared as a service member?

    Posted November 30, 2010 at 12:06 am | Permalink
  8. Malcolm says

    I’ve been too busy to jump in here, but one minor point that few media sources have mentioned is that the PFC who stands accused of the leaks is a gay man who was angry about DADT.

    Posted November 30, 2010 at 12:38 am | Permalink
  9. JK says

    Well Peter, as to “why” a lowly Pfc would be cleared – it’s the nature of the beast. If I could get a sugggestion through to State, I would suggest going back to the old (albeit slower) method of using pouches rather than packets and, completely severing diplomatic communications from military channels. I “think” it’s a given our adversaries are more interested in matters military (as evidenced by the reported number of probes directed at DoD websites).

    There is a ‘small problem’ however, occasionally the chiefs of entities such as CENTCOM and NATO engage in what can be termed “diplomacy.” But there appears to be evidence those concerned are coming round to comprehension that the current system – though well-intentioned – is inherently too leaky a vessel to transport important stuff in.

    (Incidentally – don’t believe the annoying flashing announcement that “You’re the 100,000th visitor!”)

    Posted November 30, 2010 at 10:40 am | Permalink
  10. the one eyed man says

    He’s a pillow biter? Didn’t know that.

    Regardless of his motivation, he is treasonous. I’m against capital punishment in nearly all instances, but this sort of thing makes me question my conviction.

    Posted November 30, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Permalink
  11. JK says

    Without making accusations or allusions Peter, as I understand the situation currently, Pfc. Manning may not be the (at least in the sense you and I seem to be agreeing to) solely responsible.

    Insofar as State and DoD communications are concerned, I have no problems with the prospect of a firing squad – “due process” of course.

    But if, the next Wikileaks dump is as advertised – that being documents concerning large banking institutions – I’d have doubts as to whether what I’m hearing about an “ultimate source” being a ‘cleared Pfc’ accessing DoD net. Problems with DADT objections notwithstanding.

    I *think* there’s something else afoot. I’m no “conspiracist” but everthing I’m looking at shouts to me, there’s something we’re not perceiving in the pattern.

    First, dated “after-action reports” out of Iraq (with the exception of a Reuters FOI request for gun-footage on it’s reporters) then dated Afghan reports (which DoD admits it can find “no evidence of compromised retaliatory action”) and now State generated reports which may [probably will – for a(n) individual(s)] or may not have unfortunate consequences.

    But a Banking Document dump?

    Gee, I dunno Peter – if such comes to pass – I’d rather be either Salman Rushdie or Hersi Allie[sic].

    Posted November 30, 2010 at 6:09 pm | Permalink