Saturday, September 4, 2004


On our recent flight to Chicago, flying standby, I was resigned to being pulled aside after checking our luggage for a full-body search. The TSA employees were respectful and patient (there wasn't much of a crowd) and they were doing the jobs quickly if brusquely. I did my best to be affable and responsive to their instructions as I always do, and displayed immense patience, even when the screener casually placed my religious cap on my shoes.

However, they then decided it was neccessary to search my sleeping two-year-old daughter. She had to be roused from sleep and forced to stand with arms apart while they ran the metal-detector over her, and refused to let me hold her during the scan. Fellow parents of two-year-olds can easily imagine the result on her temperament. Did I mention it was 6am and freezing cold in the terminal?

This news, however, gives me a deeper reservoir of patience for such measures. And appreciation for their rarity at present. That rarity is, I think, fragile.

Matthew nicely summarizes the response paradox. And do dwell at this intelligent discussion, whose rationality owes much to the fact that it's Russia-Chechnya being discussed rather than Israel-Palestine. The parallels are extremely strong, however - and carry fair warning for America-Iraq. But the brutality of the events simply drowns any policy analysis.

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