On our recent flight to Chicago, flying standby, I was resigned to being pulled aside after checking our luggage for a full-body search. The TSA employees were respectful and patient (there wasn't much of a crowd) and they were doing the jobs quickly if brusquely. I did my best to be affable and responsive to their instructions as I always do, and displayed immense patience, even when the screener casually placed my religious cap on my shoes.

However, they then decided it was neccessary to search my sleeping two-year-old daughter. She had to be roused from sleep and forced to stand with arms apart while they ran the metal-detector over her, and refused to let me hold her during the scan. Fellow parents of two-year-olds can easily imagine the result on her temperament. Did I mention it was 6am and freezing cold in the terminal?

This news, however, gives me a deeper reservoir of patience for such measures. And appreciation for their rarity at present. That rarity is, I think, fragile.

Matthew nicely summarizes the response paradox. And do dwell at this intelligent discussion, whose rationality owes much to the fact that it's Russia-Chechnya being discussed rather than Israel-Palestine. The parallels are extremely strong, however - and carry fair warning for America-Iraq. But the brutality of the events simply drowns any policy analysis.

1 comment:

Joshua Scholar said...

I didn't think the comments at on Tacitus' site were any more rational than the usual ones in an argument on Israel... But there was one statement (that I consider egregiously wrong) that I'm interested in your reaction to, because it's politically important.

Someone named Jason Bergman wrote: "We have a lot more to worry about that piddly matters like democracy and freedom right now. We're on the verge of a culture war that could last hundreds of years (or, rather, extend on the current culture war for hundreds of years) if we make the wrong decisions today. Iraq could be one of those -- we just don�t know yet. But make no mistake: freedom is irrelevant."Well I'm curious what do you think. You criticized Daniel Pipes for giving up on freedom in Iraq (and I agree with you on that), but I never got the impression that you were enthusiastic about freeing anyone in the first place. Perhaps you don't think freedom is relevant to the war on terror.

So do you think freedom is relevant to the war on terror? How about your commenter, do they think freedom is irrelevant in this context?

Personally, I think freedom is the answer, but that the argument is quite involved, so I won't try to summarize in this post.