Terror at the Departure Gate

     Far be it from me to burden my public with my 
personal woes -- I am told I have already written much 
too copiously about my seasickness -- but my Thanksgiving 
ordeal seems to me to warrant recounting as an instance 
of how absurd modern tyranny can get at the level of 
practical detail.

     It happened at Dulles Airport. I was planning to 
spend the holiday with junior members of the Sobran crime 
family in Virginia Beach, a mere half-hour flight from my 
home. In retrospect, I should have hitchhiked down there.

     These days I never enter an airport without a sense 
of foreboding, as if I were treading into the valley of 
the Shadow of Death, but I thought I was prepared. I had 
official verification of my identity, and I was carrying 
no firearms, tweezers, or nail clippers that might set 
off alarms. What could possibly go wrong?

     I checked in, got my boarding pass, and headed for 
the departure gate at the end of a very long line. 
Finally, as I approached the gate, I was asked for my 
identification. I showed my driver's license to a small 
dark woman of Third Worldly appearance and indeterminate 
accent. She told me to get out of the line. The license 
was expired!

      Well, I knew that. There hadn't been much point in 
renewing it, since after my stroke I no longer drive. But 
what difference could that make? After all, a hijacker 
using a forged document would presumably make sure that 
the forgery was up to date, no? It was still recognizably 

     But you know how it is these days. They notoriously 
stop white grandmothers on any excuse -- in my case, a 
white great-grandfather hobbling along with a cane -- 
just to display their vigilance. The woman summoned her 
supervisor, a slightly paler fellow from elsewhere in the 
Third World with a different accent, and he ordered me to 
go back for "additional screening."

     Additional screaming was more like it. What was the 
point of this? What was the "reasoning" involved? "Hees 
license ees expired -- maybe he ees terroreest?" Good 
thinking there, Borat! If I hadn't been so furious and 
frustrated, I would have doubled over laughing. Obviously 
they didn't really think I was going to hijack the plane.

     But here was a chance to make trouble, and they 
couldn't pass it up. I pointed my cane accusingly at the 
fellow's face. "Who do you people work for?" I demanded. 

     So I lugged my carry-on bag all the way back to the 
check-in counter, where the very sweet young white woman 
there sent me through again, supplying a wheelchair 
because by now I was exhausted and nearly weeping in 

     A pleasant Ethiopian lad wheeled me back to the 
gate; he noticed I had a copy of Plato in my bag, and we 
struck up a jolly conversation about philosophy. At last 
I managed to board my plane, where the short flight was 
marred only by a stewardess who seemed to be warming up 
for Kwanzaa. I couldn't think of any fresh lines, so I 
asked her if she worked for al-Qaeda. (Grumpy silence.) 

     By the time we landed, I'd begun to understand why 
there are suicide bombers. It isn't necessarily political 
or religious fanaticism; it's the despairing fury you 
feel when at the mercy of a bullying power. Now and then 
we get a little taste of it. Imagine going through this 
sort of thing every day. This is the government that is 
supposed to be protecting us? It's a gluttonous, 
irrational monster. 

     As for my adorable great-granddaughter, I was unable 
to coax her to kiss me. She made it clear that she likes 
me only, so to speak, as a friend. Ouch.

Up to Old Tricks?

     Just when many were hoping for relief as the Age of 
Bush begins to wind down, the Democrats started reminding 
us of what we may be in for. Now that they dominate 
Congress again, they are talking about reviving the Equal 
Rights Amendment.

     The ERA already seems to belong to another era. The 
heroic Phyllis Schlafly defeated it almost 
single-handedly, as most Republicans feared to oppose the 
feminist juggernaut. Though it was short and blandly 
phrased, she rightly warned that the federal judiciary 
would discover limitless penumbras and emanations in it. 
Mrs. Schlafly stopped it dead on the one-yard line, but 
many judges have nevertheless proceeded as if it had been 

     Her warnings are more pertinent than ever. For now 
the Democrats will have more to say about the direction 
of the federal judiciary, and if the ERA is finally 
adopted, it isn't hard to foresee how it will be applied: 
All laws against same-sex "marriage" will be declared 
unconstitutional. We weren't talking about redefining 
marriage in 1975. Even the goofiest liberals weren't 
dreaming about it yet.

     If anything should recharge the demoralized 
Republicans, this should. Like illegal immigration, 
homomatrimony is an issue that unites, by angering, 
Americans of both parties. Do the Democrats really want 
to be saddled with it, just when they've finally started 
to scrub off their leftist odor?

The Great Victim Contest

     A lot of what passes for political debate in this 
country consists of accusing people of "hate." At times 
you get the impression that thinking straight is a 
hate-crime. Not long ago you risked being called "racist" 
if you opposed any claim made in the name of "civil 
rights." Likewise you courted the charge of 
"anti-Semitism" if you expressed qualms about supporting 

     And now, if you define marriage as an objective 
relation between a man and a woman, you risk being 
accused of hating homosexuals, or "homophobia." No use 
trying to explain that the idea just doesn't apply to two 
guys, any more than it applies to a bull and a kitten.

     As this suggests, these victimological word-games 
are pretty arbitrary. At one time, you'll recall, the 
General Assembly of the United Nations agreed that 
Zionism was a form of "racism"! Modern society quarrels 
bitterly over who are the victims and who are the 
victimizers. In keeping with this, it has developed an 
elaborate etiquette of speech, ethnic slurs, euphemisms, 
"code-words," and so forth. The forces of organized 
touchiness never sleep.

     And every week, it seems, a prominent politician, 
entertainer, or celebrity transgresses against the 
etiquette and is forced to grovel for dear life.

     The anomaly that most vividly displays this 
arbitrariness is that liberal opinion has never granted 
victim status to Christians, despite the ferocious 
Communist persecution of Christianity -- whereas the 
liberal myth of "McCarthyism" recognizes Communists 
themselves as victims. And needless to say, liberals also 
regard Christianity, especially the Catholic kind, as the 
source of persecution. 

                 +          +          +                  

     Warm your cold winter evenings by curling up with 
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                                        --- Joseph Sobran


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