Until the blond, blue-eyed Norwegian terrorist killed so many people in acts of terror, many travelers may have been swayed with the knee-jerk opinion that racial profiling is effective. However, that glaring example of a murderous extremist reveals that anyone of any race or physical appearance can be a potential threat.
Another factor is that Homeland Security’s power keeps growing while its efforts becomes less effective. Airport security has become a nightmare for travelers because of the ever-more time-consuming and invasive screening methods. While the agents are allegedly not permitted to do racial profiling, they’re creating too many examples of babies, people in wheelchairs and others suffering the indignities of useless searches.
Additionally, the machinery of airport electronic scanning devices continue to evolve into what are supposed to be more effective ways to detect boarding passengers who may be carrying weapons. Other than the possible negative health effects, their blatant images only cause delays, embarrassment and growing anger among air travelers.
Of course, the threat of terrorism is a reality, and measures must be taken to prevent it from ever happening. However, criminals taking over commercial flights didn’t start on September 11, 2001. For 30 years before that, there were scores of incidents of attempted criminal take-overs or destruction of commercial flights.
In the 1960s and 1970s, there were numerous hijacking of American commercial aircraft by Cuban activists. In 1988, the infamous Lockerbie crash of a PanAm flight. Through the 1990s and first decade of the 2000s, acts of terrorism against commercial aircraft have continued.
Several highly-publicized captures of potential hijackers and suicide bombers have done nothing to make traveling easier for the millions of people who fly. However, the question still persists. With the ever-improving sophistication of airport security equipment, so is the weaponry of terrorists. If they really wanted to board an aircraft with intent to hijack or destroy it in an act of suicide, it’s always a possibility.
Racial profiling is always distasteful to Americans, where it has a sad history of discrimination against people just because of their physical appearance. Until a blond Norwegian murdered so many people, to many the practice at airport security seemed logical.
Because many acts of terrorism have been perpetrated by Muslims, agents are instructed to pay particular attention to dark-skinned young men wearing Middle Eastern dress. Of course, when the agents are too industrious in their jobs, that may also include suspicious-looking babies and old ladies in wheelchairs.
What’s needed is a system that may seem impossible at this time of uncertainty. Commercial air travel must be made safe from terrorists, but blatant racial profiling isn’t the answer. However, effective security measures are absolutely essential, so that people can once again be allowed to travel expediently and in comfort.