The Fear Profiteers
OXFORD – Just when it seemed that America’s “Homeland Security state” could not get more surreal, the United States Transportation Security Administration has rolled out a costly Scylla and Charybdis at major airports: either you accept dangerous doses of radiation and high-resolution imaging of your naked body, or, worried about the health risks of cumulative radiation, you opt out of the new full-body x-ray machines (rapidly dubbed “porno-scanners”).
But if you opt out, you are now subjected, as I was last week, to an extraordinarily sexualized and invasive “pat-down” by TSA officials. “I will now touch your private parts,” a very uncomfortable female TSA official said to me when I flew out of New York’s Kennedy Airport. And, sure enough, I experienced the invasive touching of genitals and breasts that is now standard policy for US travelers.
Men report handling of their testicles and penises, TSA officials are instructed to open and peer down waistbands, and YouTube is now rife with videos of frightened children being – to describe it accurately – sexually molested, though this is the last thing most TSA officials wish to do.
We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.
To continue reading, subscribe now.
Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.
Already have an account or want to create one? Log in