Some years ago, after a particularly vigorous frisking in Heathrow Airport, London, I turned to the security agent and said: “I think we have to get married now.” He was not amused.
That was an age of innocence. Today, TSA is lustily engaging in full-body scannings and genital gropings of nuns at US airports. But there has been pushback: barefoot and beltless, the American public has had enough of the autocrats of the security queue, and is in a state of open revolt.
This man has become a culture hero by defying the airport goons while his iPhone camera was on. His cry of defiance has gone viral: “Don’t touch my junk.” The normally decorous Charles Krauthammer quotes him and piles on: “Don’t touch my junk, you airport security goon – my package belongs to no one but me, and do you really think I’m a Nigerian nut job preparing for my 72-virgin orgy by blowing my johnson to kingdom come?”
Janet Napolitano, head of the vast mindless horde known as Homeland Security, is not amused. What’s wrong with being groped in the groin by a goon in a uniform? It’s part of our “layered defense” and “layered approach,” she says.
Of course, we know Janet Napolitano can see right through those layers – and God help us if she craves a feel . . .
Since a lot of digital ink has been spilled on the subject, let me just make a couple of points – without once using the words “junk” or “johnson” – then withdraw into a discreet silence.
The political class now in charge of Washington has the ambition to control our lives, but lacks the wisdom and the courage to command the ways. Instead it issues vague generic instructions to a brain-dead bureaucracy like TSA, which proceeds to take nude x-rays of the citizenry and feel up its private parts.
For the individual, it’s a violation. For a liberal democracy, it’s an abomination – the surrender of sovereign power to government employees. But for a bureaucracy, it’s business as usual: show up, follow standard procedures, peep, grope, collect paycheck. Complaints? Threaten a lawsuit. Call it a layered approach.
The outrage isn’t a question of the public listening to its inner puritan. The clammy hands of TSA give physical reality to the more abstract urges of the Obama administration, and the anger at the airports is the same that was registered at the polls in the mid-term elections.
The people in power, disguised as good shepherds, like to echo the words of the prophet Isaiah, “All we like sheep have gone astray.” But we are not sheep, and they are not shepherds; and it is our government’s reach which has gone far astray.