Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Someday the wolf is going to be real

A friend strongly recommended the following Keith Olbermann clip, which is every bit as damning as he said.

A small anecdote about how effective these tactics are: Much of my extended family lives in small-to-medium-sized cities in the Midwest. They occasionally travel out of state, but never fly. (Fact: I myself only flew once before age 21.) To them, air travel is an inherently scary process.

I saw them between the announcement of the UK bomb plot and my flight back to LaGuardia. Their level of concern about my personal safety while flying was touching, yes, but also insane. It was a concern better left for kidney transplants and bypass surgeries. My own response to the UK plot falling somewhere between skeptical and nonchalant, I showed a small amount of maturity (which is more than I usually show) and didn't openly mock them.

"This is just a bunch of hype," I said. They probably interpreted the remark as a death wish.

After seven years living in major urban areas and flying several times a year, my perceptions of risk do not match theirs. I'm nervous driving down a country road at night, but to my parents, it's second nature. I wouldn't think twice about boarding a flight to Heathrow, but that might literally incite nightmares for my cousin's wife.

The political effectiveness of the President's use of terror hinges relies on people who don't fly and have never seen a Muslim -- a much broader population than a narrow demographic that regularly flies between New York, Chicago and LA and doesn't think twice about jetting cross-country for a concert or a football game. Like so much else in the last 5 1/2 years, the terror warnings are just another means of exploiting people based on their geography and information biases.

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