Thursday, December 02, 2010

Airports: Pat Down or Welcome Home?

After reading all of the chilling stories about the recent invasive pat downs of airline travelers, followed by TSA's defensive and aggressive response to the public's outrage, it should have been with happy relief that I watched T Mobile's video "Welcome Back at Heathrow Airport" and then to listened to the public response to the unexpected singing and dancing in the airline terminal.
Instead of smiling, I wept. I've listened to this video over and over and I weep each time I hear the music and see the smiles on faces of people of different colors, ethnicities and faiths.
I am reminded of Barbara's Ehrenreich's book "Dancing in the Streets", A History of Collective Joy. She offers a fascinating take on the human impulse for sharing joy in communal celebrations. Ehrenreich suggests that our celebratory impulses are deeply embedded in each of us and that governments and repressive regimes and times never completely erase our compulsion to express joy with those around us.
I am truly tired of hearing the orange alert message at Houston Intercontinental Airport. I fly often and there is not a time when I walk through the terminals that I do not hear that we are on 'orange alert' followed by instructions 'while these measures are in effect.' Turn the thing off.
But, I doubt the tape will ever be turned off, because repetitions may force folks to 'sort of' believe the message. Wrong. Repetition becomes much like 'Chicken Little, The Sky Is Falling.'
Interestingly, I spent an hour in the Portland Airport earlier this week and heard their public address system which gave travelers Portland facts and figures, citing the good things we could see and do on our visit. What a difference.
Led me to wonder if there was a reason that the FBI carried out a terrorist sting operation in Portland, that most liberal and unafraid of U.S. cities, just in hopes they'd get their orange alert quotient revved up.
There are no coincidences. There would have been no sting in Kansas.

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