Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A reminder...

...that we should always keep our eyes on the ball.  Let's face it, it is so ridiculously easy to presume the worst of the TSA--and be amazed only that we weren't cynical enough, in the end--that a claim such as a possible exemption for orthodox Muslim women is somehow no longer quite absurd enough that it couldn't be true.

As it happens, it may not be true at all.  Via the redoubtable Wendy McElroy:
The rumor: The Department of Homeland Security may exempt Orthodox Muslim women from the sexually invasive scanners and physical exams that others must undergo as a prerequisite of air travel.


Nevertheless, in the wake of Napolitano’s unwillingness to flatly answer no, parts of the blogosphere and media have exploded with speculation and anger. (See this segment from Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News.) To support the claim that the exemption had been allowed, some websites link to this CNSNews.com story, although it does not support the claim.


Thus, based almost entirely on an impromptu and awkward response by Napolitano, a myth has been constructed and surrounded by “evidence” that amounts to little more than speculation dressed-up with a few cherry-picked statements from Muslim organizations.

The “Muslim exemption” is a dangerous myth because it strengthens the TSA by making its critics appear to be foolish conspiracy theorists. It turns protesters against one another rather than uniting them. And, finally, it feeds a basic source of TSA’s strength: fear and resentment of Muslims.

She's right, of course. 

This is not, of course, to give TSA a pass.  That unconscionably vile mob has fully earned every nasty assumption you could make about it, even if some of them turn out to be untrue.  Consider:  McElroy's last point brings to mind a great line from Kevin Smith's delightfully amusing film Dogma:  "...and [Cardinal] Glick's the kind of asshole who would bless his own [golf] clubs for a better game."

But we should always keep our eyes on the ball, and not pursue rumor until we know it to be true.  (You know, like the old Russian joke:  at least wait for it to be officially denied in Pravda.)

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