Thursday, March 3, 2011

Dehumanized

Passing through security this morning at SFO (a particularly Soviet-style security regime in that particular city), I felt for a moment the intense dehumanization and strangeness of the whole farce. A crowd of white passengers being waved through, berated, treated like garbage, ignored, and intimidated by a staff of non-white "security professionals." (there was not a single white person among the 20 or so TSA employees).

A huge, sweaty, fat Latin man joked around with his buddies instead of looking at the x-ray screen he was supposed to be monitoring. Meanwhile the line of people got longer and longer. Of course, no one dared to say a word. We were all completely cowed, like castrated mongrel dogs begging to be let inside. I went through the new body-scanner where a hugely fat black lately rudely directed me with hand motions without even deigning to look me in the eye.

Putting my belt and shoes back on, feeling a bit flustered and angry about the whole thing, I took a deep breath and looked up at the light streaming through the skylights in the terminal (not everything about SFO is terrible). Though the whole thing is dehumanizing and infuriating, there's nothing anyone can actually do to dehumanize me. I'm untouchable.

It is the TSA people themselves that turn into non-humans through their constantly engaging in their petty power, their lack of dedication and kindness, and their participation in a basically corrupt, absurd system.

Sitting down to eat my breakfast, waiting for my flight to New York, I notice I have a metal spoon, a metal fork, and a plastic knife. What a strange time to be alive.

8 comments:

  1. This is why I will not fly if I can drive.

    I've got no modesty taboo - but that's not the point. I'm down for posing for playgirl; but not these pencil heads.

    You're right though, about the dignity: "Happy is the man who finds refuge within himself."

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  2. "Though the whole thing is dehumanizing and infuriating, there's nothing anyone can actually do to dehumanize me. I'm untouchable."

    Keep telling yourself that, man. Along with "big is beautiful" and "diversity is strength". The brave ones go on shooting rampages. The rest of us eat shit and bear it.

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  3. "Keep telling yourself that, man. Along with "big is beautiful" and "diversity is strength". The brave ones go on shooting rampages. The rest of us eat shit and bear it."

    False bluster. There is actually such a thing as dignity. The undignified don't believe it; they think the dignified must be deluding themselves. They are like primitive people who don't believe in bacteria because they can't see them

    "Big is beautiful" and "diversity is strength" are modern, liberal absurdities.

    "The inner dignity of man is inviolable" is an ancient truth reported by the Confucianists, the early Christian martyrs, the ancient Hebrews, the Greeks, the Hindus, you name it.

    Both these kinds of statements (the absurd and the profound) seem to contradict day-to-day life. But one contradicts it stupidly, the other asks you to look deeper. Don't mistake a tree for a telephone pole just because they're both tall, skinny, and made out of wood.

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  4. It will be interesting to see what the blowback is. I remember Talleyrand making mention that white anger is a sleeping giant that others would be wise not to stir. I know my attitude has changed dramatically in the last 1-2 years, and I no longer put up with passive aggressive displays of power that are as transparent as this. These confrontations consistently surface for me now at airports, the DMV, jury duty, fast food joints, etc.

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  5. @Dogen

    Being herded around like a bunch of cattle by some neanderthals is hardly dignified, but these days we don't have much choice, do we?

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  6. @Anonymous.

    You are right:

    No, it isn't. And no, we don't.

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  7. "False bluster. There is actually such a thing as dignity. The undignified don't believe it; they think the dignified must be deluding themselves."

    Robert A Heinlein once said:

    "A slave cannot be freed, save he do it himself. Nor can you enslave a free man; the very most you can do is kill him!"

    I spent a brief time in prison on false charges (I was later found innocent) where I submitted to the cavity search and the taunts from the guards; but I never gave them room in my head.

    Dignity can never be taken. It can only be given away.

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  8. I agree, I refuse to fly if I'm not leaving the continent,

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