Dog Duet
TSA and the Banality of Evil

Compensation for Indignity

Racial profiling is wrong, because it's an indignity that 99.999% of people must suffer because of the acts of the .0001%. Conservatives defend racial profiling for not totally retarded reasons:

After the 9/11 attacks, when 19 Muslim terrorists -- 15 from Saudi Arabia, two from the United Arab Emirates and one each from Egypt and Lebanon, 14 with "al" in their names -- took over commercial aircraft with box-cutters, the government banned sharp objects from planes.

Only about a third of all Americans flew even once in the last year, and only 7 percent took more than four round trips. The majority of airline passengers are middle-aged, middle-class, white businessmen with about a million frequent-flier miles. I'd wager that more than 90 percent of domestic air travelers were born in the U.S.

Middle class whites are not going to blow up planes, yet we're spending billions screening them. Yet in a free society, it is inappropriate to single out a group of people for additional screening. What to do?

Profiling Muslim men imposes a burden on Muslim men. Coulter and other conservatives want to impose the costs of racial profiling without conferring a benefit. This is unjust.

TSA spends billions on worthless security. We could save money while respecting human dignity with a simple solution:

  • Pay the people racially profiled.

Why is this idea so insane? When you pay a person, you recognize that the person has dignity. I work. If you tried making me work without paying me, we'd have a problem. When you pay me, you recognize my right to self-direction. Even if you're an "asshole boss," you still pay me. One might even say you have the right to be an asshole boss.

Of course, the people being racially profiled wouldn't be volunteering for it. Yet the government makes us do many things we'd never volunteer for. (Taxes, anyone?) And pay-for-profile isn't perfect, since it's still insulting.  Yet we could really make it worth their while.

Give every Muslim American man who has been "randomly selected for more thorough screening" $25,000 each year he travels and is subjected to an assault on his dignity. There aren't that many Muslim American men who travel within the United States. Twenty-five grand is a lot of money to a single person, but in the aggregate is cheap. If the Muslim man doesn't want it, donate it to his charity of choice.

Compensating Muslim men would be substantially cheaper than our current make-work, wasteful TSA screening process. It would also be more effective, because profiling should be done when non-radom patterns of terrorism emerge - i.e., if someone is going to blow up an airplane, it's going to be a Muslim man.

Whatever we do, it's time for we in the white majority to stop insisting that Muslims bears costs without being conferred benefits. It's easy to say, "Let's just racially profile" when we're not the ones being profiled. No one stopped me when I drove my U-Haul cross country - even though Tim McVeigh used a truck to blow up a building. Nor did I hear conservatives claim that whites should be racially profiled because of an extremist act.

If we're going to profile people, we should pay them. And if we're not going to profile people, what's the solution? Give TSA more power? Exactly how much more taxpayer money should be wasted on screening my grandmother?