by Shadra Bruce
I read with complete horror and disgust the story of the 95-year old incontinent woman trying to get home and meeting with incompetent, insensitive TSA officials who lack even the smallest shred of common sense, and I realized that the terrorists have been far more effective than even they probably imagined.
Who needs foreign terrorists when we have TSA officials forcing 95-year old women to remove their diapers for a pat down, when we have states implementing laws that allow police to target people based on their skin color, and when we all live in fear of saying the wrong thing and suddenly disappearing from our homes. No, I’m not Russian, or Algerian, or from Darfur. I’m an American, though these days I seem to say it with as much sheepishness as pride.
The terrorists did more than kill 3,000 people in a sneaky, cowardly attack on our soil. They permanently transformed the mindset of America, putting the kind of fear into our lives that brings out the ugliest and vilest part of people – the part that used to remain hidden behind a thin veil of civility.
Since 2001 it’s not just people we’ve lost to terrorism. We’ve lost our right to privacy, our right to dignity, our ability to feel safe from persecution from our own government. Again, I must remind you, I’m not writing this from Libya, North Korea, China, or Syria but from America.
According to the Associated Press, the woman in question was wheel-chair bound, dying of leukemia, and simply trying to get home to where she wanted to be laid to rest. Instead of using a bit of humanity in deciding how to proceed with this woman, the TSA officers determined she was enough of a threat to require a full pat down. If that wasn’t enough, they made the woman’s daughter take her to a restroom to remove the diaper and then get back in line and go through security again. By this time, the daughter was so frazzled that she lost her pass and was unable to accompany her mother to the gate. If this were one isolated incident, I would say fire the TSA employee who acted like such an imbecile and move on. But the incident was defended by the TSA spokesman, who said the employee did nothing wrong. What??!!
When we target dying women who are no more likely to be terrorists than 2-year olds; when we try to strip care from the poorest and most frail in our society, when we divert all of the wealth to the powerful and rich, how are we any different from any of the countries on whom we attempt to force our brand of democracy?
When will the poor, the marginalized, and the frail band together, overcome whatever small differences exist among each group, and take back the dignity of this country? It’s time to retrieve our humanity, let go of our fear, and return to living as a society of people who have enough compassion and common sense to think for ourselves and protect the frail and marginalized of our society. No, it will never be the same and we have to be cautious, but if we continue on the path we’re on, the terrorists will demonstrate that they launched a very successful mission.