Injustice

Military guys and hula

I just returned from my second trip to Hawaii this year, this time with two of my besties, to start moving into my beautiful new house. But more about that later. In the meantime, I give you a rant, with humble apologies if this offends anyone, as I’m sure it will. On the other hand, this is my blog and I can say what I want, so if you don’t like it, go read People magazine. Or jump in a polluted lake. Or eat Brussels sprouts until they give you gas. I don’t really care. Here we go.

I am always very careful about airports. I carry no pointy things, no illicit liquids, no metal on my clothing, no balloons filled with heroin or Uzis disguised as bonbons. I always sail through security, especially since I quit smoking (exactly four years ago, not one puff since, no sir!) and never carry lighters anymore.

But this time, a man with a clipboard pulled me aside for “additional security” at Haneda airport, even though I’d already sailed through the x-ray and body scanner. A white-gloved woman made me sit on a folding chair behind a screen and swiped my palms and pockets with a little piece of paper then started pawing through my carry-on. As my annoyance boiled over into outrage, I asked, “Just what are you looking for?” and was told “residue of prohibited substances”. She apologized and said people are chosen at random by a computer.

Even so, prohibited substances? Do they really think I will fiddle around with gunpowder or crystal meth just before arriving at the airport and then forget to wash my hands? I am both suspect and stupid?

My friend Winston says he gets pulled aside for “additional security” every time, every single time, he goes through an airport. Winston is gentle as a lamb. Winston is also black. I wonder if this is the reality of all people of non-pink skin and then kick myself for allowing myself to exist inside a bubble of innocence, all the while knowing that self-same bubble is what makes it possible to cope with the world.

I understand that security has to do what it can to make the world a safer place, but how does endlessly punishing people for the color of their skin, and randomly punishing others in order to justify that punishment, do anything more than make air travel that much more unpleasant and pile one more block on the Jenga tower of injustice that the world has become? Or is this just another twist on the fundamental injustice that has always been and will always be?

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8 thoughts on “Injustice”

  1. Every time this happens to me (and it happens a LOT), I think congratulations, terrorists, you won. You make the lives of millions of Americans SO MUCH WORSE, every single day. Osama Bin Laden must be laughing his ass off in hell.

    1. Yeah, it’s One Bad Apple Syndrome. A couple of lunatics who think random killing is the solution to their problems make life miserable for everyone else.

      By the way, I’ve got free time coming up after Wednesday if you’d like to try for our coffee date.

  2. My ex-husband (who is white) used to get pulled aside every single time. He finally asked why, and the TSA person said, “It’s your bag.” He carried around an older duffel, not a pristine drag-along suitcase. He changed suitcases and wasn’t bothered again. It is completely ridiculous. I was pulled over once and given the complete treatment– residue testing and hands under ultraviolet, because I had packed a jar of homemade jam in my carry-on. It was deemed “too liquid” and like in Willy Wonka went down the “bad egg” chute.

    1. Yeah, the deadly jam gets flagged every time, while politicians rape the land and the people and the rich keep getting richer. Maybe we should all move to Oompa Loompa land.

    1. Maybe it is the backpack. I had one along with a perfectly respectable looking cabin attendant style wheelie bag. Maybe the contradiction was more than they could handle. Let me know what happens if you try ditching the backpack!

  3. Very interesting perspective. We travel quite often and every time one of us is pulled aside, which is maybe every other time we travel, we don’t mind at all. I’m thankful for the security who are taking it seriously and hopefully catching the assholes who make it necessary. I say this also because we fly out of Italy where security is crap and it honestly scares me that they are so relaxed. Maybe it’s being a military spouse but I appreciate the extra steps and we try to allow enough time anticipating a slight delay in getting to the gate.

    So, airport security agents, feel free to swipe my hands and check my bag. I don’t mind at all and I am thankful you are doing your job.

    1. I think we’re just taking slightly different angles on the same thing. I am thankful that the security people are doing their jobs, I just wish there was some better way to go about it. It seems to me that the odds of catching an asshole in a random sweep are very small. I don’t like being treated with suspicion for no reason.

Any opinions about that? I love to hear from you.

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