The Necessary Price for Safety

I must admit that once September hit this year, I started to worry a little about September 11th. With the landmark ten year anniversary and the threats that were leveled at our country by the crazy people who live in this world, I braced myself for potential problems. I do tend to get paranoid at times. In yet another amazing job by our government, the United States escaped September 11, 2011, without a single attack. Lord only knows how much security, diversion,  and intelligence went into keeping everyone safe last Sunday.
A story that made news early this week centered on a woman who happened to be half Arabic and half Jewish named Shoshana Hebshi. After a flight from Denver to Detroit, her plane was stormed by homeland security agents and the row that contained her and two Indian men who did not know each other were detained. Little did Hebshi know at the time but the plane was escorted to its landing by fighter jets. You see, someone on the plane reported suspicious activity when the two Indian men got up at the same time to use the rest room. The three people in the row were taken into custody and questioned extensively. It was then determined that all three passengers were not involved in any type of suspicious plot.
Hebshi wrote an extensive blog post blasting the authorities for detaining her and the two Indian men based on her belief that it was due solely on how they looked. She also wrote quite a bit on how humiliating the whole experience was.
Do I doubt for a second her assertion that she was detained because of the way she looked? Of course not. Do I believe that her experience was probably humiliating? Yes, I do. Do I think that the person on the plane who filed the complaint, the airplane pilot, and the authorities acted inappropriately? Absolutely not.
While I do have some sympathy for Ms. Hebshi for the traumatic experience she had to go through, I completely support the measures taken to ensure that no one was hurt on a day that had everyone shaking in their shoes. I just don’t see how anyone could object to a serious and thorough reaction to any perceived suspicious activity on the tenth anniversary of the worst day in American history. When I go to airports and when I am on planes I am very mindful of my surroundings, it is just my nature. If I saw something that I thought was out of place, especially on any 9/11 date, I am alerting authorities. Do you realize that we have gone ten full years without a terrorist attack on American soil? Do you realize the myriad of ways that a destructive act could have been carried out during any given minute of the past decade? We did not achieve this by letting the small signs go by the wayside. Yes, this does result in false alarms but that is a price all of us should gladly pay for our safety and the safety of our families.  This summer, people have said I look Arabian. If I got on a plane and started doing weird stuff and someone called me out on it and I got apprehended, I would thank the authorities.
To be brutally honest, I don’t think it was too much of an overreaction by the anonymous passenger who reported the suspicious activity as Ms. Hebshi contends. Again everyone, put yourself in the context of sitting in a plane on 9/11 and you observe three people who look of middle eastern descent sitting next to each other. Next, you see two of them get up at the same time and head to the bathroom where you see them disappear. Like it or not, some people are going to grow concerned. Because this tip was anonymous with few details released, who knows what else he/she saw that might have pushed this person even more to react the way he/she did. Hate to use a cliché but it is so appropriate….better safe than sorry.
But really, who flies on 9/11? Better yet, who flies on the tenth anniversary of 9/11? You could not pay me money to fly on that date. Sure, people say they fly on 9/11 so they can travel without experiencing long lines and busy airports but you are still running a greater risk than any other date on the calendar. To me, it just seems a little morbid and a little out of place. I personally think all air travel should be shut down on September 11. I know people might say that is just letting the terrorists win but I like to think it is much more along the lines of paying respect to the victims who lost their lives on that day with the skies quiet.
Back to the topic at hand though. I am 100% behind the system of looking out for each other and reporting suspicious activity. After all, the airports repeat this message like a broken record. Let’s just accept the fact that innocent people are going to get searched and they are going to get apprehended. Don’t worry, things will all get sorted out and they will get cleared. Hebshi was detained for just a few hours. It is the times we live in. There is no way to ever know but If I was pressed to give an estimate I would say that for every innocent person who has been taken into custody for a short period of time, 500 lives have been saved as a result of our government’s intelligence and the watchful eye of citizens like us. Let me say it one more time, ten years without a terrorist attack on our soil. Let’s not complain about the small price that accompanies the gift of safety for ourselves and our families and let’s ccheers to ten more years of homeland security perfection. Don’t Blink.

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