Is Life So Dear

By Jerry D. Haight


Patrick Henry once asked "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains or slavery?, God forbid. His modern day oration might be "Is life so dear or freedom from terrorists so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of submission to unreasonable search and seizure'  those same rights for which so many have and continue to sacrificed for? Are we so willing to expend our resources of time, energy and money on our protection that we lose the opportunities the same resources might otherwise be applied; like education (we have dropped to 25th among other nations), or the continuing battle against diseases of all kinds, or repairing our infrastructures?. The debate on the issue of invasive techniques escalates. It is questionable when or if the American public will reach a boiling point regarding just how much they will tolerate and trade off for "security". And, will the tradeoffs really make us secure or will the terrorists simply change tactics. If so, will those new tactics thus require ever more stringent and more invasive methods as to in effect  turn us into a  "police state"? It would seem so. The attack on 9/11 caused us to create the TSA, the shoe bomber incident required us to remove our shoes at the airport, the underwear bomber now causes us all to be invasively inspected or patted down.


Will the next attack stem from use of someone's throat or other body cavity? If so, will future searches require further exploration? It seems our response to terror is to little by little, mandate by mandate, measure by measure cause us to give up our very personal rights, those for which so much blood and sacrifice have been made on the battlefields in the name of peace and freedom. The TSA mandate is to monolithically do everything possible to prevent  terrorists from destroying our aircraft. Were another plane to blow up in the sky, would we not wish we had done any and all we could to avoid such a horrific assault? Their answer is "we do what we have to do? This is the premise, argument  and trigger for the invasive tactics we now face, and ostensibly this argument would be made for whatever other measures they feel necessary to make us secure. But have they really made us secure? Like the proverbial elephant in the room, there is another obvious but perhaps not so palatable or politically correct issue at the core of the debate.  


Profiling; a tact used by every police agency now. For example, were a 6' 2"  middle aged male with black hair rob a bank, would the police stop a 5' 3 blond eleven year old female for questioning just to avoid profiling? Of course not. Then why waste time and resources stopping, all those who are extremely unlikely candidates for terrorism such as grandmothers, children, wheelchair passengers, those with long term records of citizenship, such as those on medi-care or social security. While we seem diligent to avoid discrimination, we choose to violate the privacy of all our citizens even when Article four of our constitution declares our right to be free from "unreasonable" search and seizure.  


The U.S. government retaliated against an American for refusing to allow airport security to grope his genitals while at the same time, the nation’s Homeland Security secretary considers waving the intrusive “pat-downs” for Muslim women who consider them offensive.  That demand came last week from the politically-connected Muslim rights organization that serves as the U.S. front for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. They called the searches “invasive” and “humiliating,”  They advise Muslim women wearing religious head covers to reject full-body checks before boarding planes. Perhaps we have arrived at a point of being forced to look with a cold and pragmatic eye as the terrorists overcome our security barriers. Which is worse, profiling or deprivation of rights. As we continue encroaching of our rights, it can be argued "the terrorists have already won" as we all, like sheep, succumb to allowing our very private selves probed and x=rayed.