Wednesday is the busiest air travel day of the year, and a horde of paranoid zealots—techno-libertarians, Tea Partiers, rabble-rousers, Internet activists, andcongressional demagogues—has decided to make it even worse.
His whole column is a great example of how mainstream journalism has assumed the role of government enforcer since 9/11.
First, there’s absolute acceptance of government justifications for the policy in question. He uses the innocuous term “electronic scanner” to describe the scanning machines. He points out that pat-downs are more time-consuming and invasive than the machines, without acknowledging that the TSA might have in interest in making pat-downs unpleasant to limit opt-outs. And he accepts without question that the underwear bomber’s unsuccessful bombing attempt is sufficient justification for spending billions on a scanning system of questionable efficacy.
Second, everyone who opposes this reasonable government action is motivated by irrational fear or ignorance. He constructs a straw man of the weakest arguments of one opt-out group. He doesn’t acknowledge the real issue, which is that people are fed up with years of pointless, time-wasting security theater, and that the scanners are just the last straw. There’s no effort made to understand those protesting — their “idiocy” is manifest since they oppose a sensible government edict.
I’ll grant that Saletan is an easy mark, but he’s also a typical representative of the post-9/11 journalist. He swallowed the justifications for the Iraq war hook, line and sinker. Even though he issued an obligatory mea culpa five years later, it made no discernible impact on his reporting. Every day is 9/12, and until the ill-defined yet omnipresent enemy is defeated, Saletan’s job is to make sure that nobody gets in the way of whatever the government says will keep us safe.