Selective outrage

November 29, 2010

The usual Thanksgiving travel stories were
spiced this year with concern about enhanced security screening at airports. While
most Americans accept the screening procedure as a reasonable inconvenience
that all of us have to undergo for the sake of general safety, commentators
like Kathleeen
Parker
and Charles
Krauthammer
seized on it has one more sign of an intrusive government
intent on invading our personal space.

Of
course, that story line nicely fits with the antigovernment outrage of libertarians
and the Tea Party movement.

I
got an email from one Christian theologian by the name of Alex McFarland. Upset
by the screening methods, he wondered, "Is our country sacrificing its sense of
humanity for security?"

Now
that's an interesting question. But all this outrage seems awfully selective. Where
was this concern for security trumping human dignity when the issue was not the
rather trivial one of air travelers passing through a screening device or being
patted down for explosives, but the grave one of humans being subjected to
torture at the hands of the U.S. government? I wonder if the theologian worried
about what he calls "dehumanizing" body scans was disturbed when the U.S.
encouraged and approved of waterboarding.

As
for Krauthammer, he defended the use of torture whenever a suspect is believed
to have high-value information. "Under those circumstances,
you do what you have to do," he
wrote
.

See also Julie Clawson's post on TSA screening.