Article Homeland Security
by Missouri Rep. Ed Emery (R-126 including the counties of
Barton, Dade, Jasper and Polk)
"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." [and "A good conscience is a continual Christmas"]--Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
New TSA airport security rules have been frequently in the news. Perspectives vary from demands for increased security to concerns over invasion of privacy and assaults on modesty. The Christmas travel season plus my own recent venture to Washington DC make it timely to comment on the appropriateness and effectiveness of this latest government intrusion. I was also asked by a close friend to offer some comments. First, let me say that in my trip to DC, I didn’t set off any metal detectors so I was not forced to endure a pat-down or digital disrobing.
Nevertheless, that this preposterous policy would be conceived in America, much less tolerated by Americans is a testimony to several cultural phenomena:
- One-size-fits-all security – As Americans abandon independence and personal accountability, travelers have fallen to depending on for protection. Government might seem the appropriate institution except that fundamental principles of security are being ignored. Name a successful law enforcement agency or security company that does not profile for likely suspects. They rely on highly trained profiling experts to aid in protecting the innocent and apprehending the guilty. It works! I guarantee you that if airlines were in charge of security instead of our
infamous Homeland Security Department, profiling would be vital, not criminal. No intelligent person would choose random selection as the answer to airport security – only the federal government. Rejecting the truth makes one prey for foolishness.
- Motivated by fear over reason – “Don’t panic” is the notable advice in every emergency. Panic may motivate lots of activity but seldom effective resolution. Panic makes us open to unreasonable and even harmful ideas that reason would reject. What thoughtful person really expects an airline to be hijacked with a 1-˝ inch fingernail file? A delegated function of our government is to make and enforce rules for the common good. A measure of its power over its citizens is the amount of absurd and futile rules we will endure. Panic empowers government, not people.
- Panacea of a harmless society – Americans have been brainwashed that with enough power, government can produce a harmless environment. If that were true, there would be no crime or injury in China, Iran, or Illinois. Justice anticipates offense and provides for a response. For a free people to remain free, that society must accept that offenses will come and be prepared with just responses that range from fines to jail to the electric chair to stealth bombers.
- Neglect of our national identity – Liberty will always be opposed by those who demand submission. America is the central planner’s worst nightmare because we prove daily that influence, prosperity, success, and fulfillment come from individual freedom, not central government control. Our commitment to personal freedom is both substance and proof of American Exceptionalism. America is anathema to elitists and dictators. But the abandonment of our rich national identity hinders our response to terrorist acts because we fail to treat acts that target citizens (instead of armies) as national offenses. President Reagan’s targeted bombing of Libya is a case in point of how to deal with terrorists. It has changed world politics and protected Americans for decades.
Part of American Exceptionalism is that we have the government we chose (some would say we deserve). Walt Kelly, cartoonist, in his “Pogo” comic strip coined the phrase “we have met the enemy and he is us.” If we don’t like the path our government is choosing, we can change it, and it doesn’t take a revolution – it takes an election. The 2010 election proves we can still take charge, and it was another testimony to American Exceptionalism. But is America falling victim to a thousand cuts, and are new TSA regulations one of those cuts? I think so. The question is not so much what will I do the next time I fly, but what will I do in 2012 when I vote.