Security versus freedom

OK, so I read the story this morning on how the Transportation Security Administration is going to make airlines to turn over domestic passenger records "so the agency could test a new system to match passenger names against lists of known or suspected terrorists."

Then I reflected on a note Joan Eisenstodt posted on the MIMlist listserv today about intolerance, racial profiling, and basically how the U.S. is not treating all the ingredients in its "tossed salad" equally.

(I still disagree with her about the Louisville ad video being anti-Arab just because the theme the idiot boss wanted tossed was "Arabian Nights." It was pretty obvious to me that the whole point was that he wanted to take something great and turn it into something ridiculous and make the planner's life a nightmare in the process. Anyway...)

Then I heard about a blog called Brow Equals Terrorist, where a brown-skinned art student chronicles the racial injustices he sees daily. And I thought about yesterday's post about the flight being cancelled because of a Farsi note in a magazine.

I remember talking with my Mom shortly after 9/11, when she said something along the lines of, "risk is the price we pay for freedom." While I'm as edgy as everyone else is in these days of orange alerts and unspecified threats of terrorism at home, and I'm struck to the bone by the atrocities being committed by terrorists in Iraq, Dafur, and elsewhere around the world, I don't think racial profiling and American isolationism are the answer.

I think education is. That's where meetings come in. Where else do people of all religions, races, ethnicities, and countries of origin come together to learn about something they all have a common interest in? Meetings are--or should be--a neutral ground where differences are put aside and people work side by side, and learn that "the enemy" is really just another person pretty much like me. We all fear the unknown--that's only natural. The only way to begin breaking down the barriers is to look at those who aren't like us and see not an unknowable, scary "other," but a living, breathing human being we share more in common with than we have differences.

Of course, there is a risk to that. The Arab guy in the seat next to you on a plane could be a terrorist. And so could that white woman with a baby on her lap. Whackos come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, in my experience.

I guess it's a choice we all have to make, and I choose commonalities over differences, hope over fear, risk over "security," and love over hate. And if you disagree with me, I welcome the discussion because the more I learn about your point of view, the better I will understand you, and be able to call you friend.

Sorry for the rant, but I just got a little overwhelmed by it all this morning. Thanks for listening.

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