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Joseph Sobran’s
Washington Watch

Terror at the Departure Gate

(Reprinted from the issue of December 7, 2006)

Capitol Bldg, Washington Watch logo for Terror at the Departure GateFar 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 me.

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.

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them!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. “Al-Qaeda?”

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 exasperation.

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 ratified.

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 Zionism.

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 SOBRANS, my monthly newsletter. If you have not seen a copy of it yet, give my office a call at 800-513-5053 and request a free sample, or better yet, subscribe for two years for just $85. New subscribers get two gifts with their subscription. More details can be found at the Subscription page of my website.

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Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2006 by The Wanderer,
the National Catholic Weekly founded in 1867
Reprinted with permission

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