“Fly The Friendly Skies”

“Travel,” they say with a reassuring smile. “Fly the friendly skies.”

Oh, but the skies aren’t quite as friendly as they once were. Not when you have to sit next to an air marshal with a loaded gun and questionable training and background. Don’t worry, though, he’s there for our security. Do you feel more secure yet? No? Hm, maybe get him a bigger gun.

“There is nothing to fear, but fear itself,” Roosevelt once said. I wonder if he ever had the joy of being threatened by security agents with automatic weapons, strolling from gate to gate in an airport. Not threatened directly, of course, but I consider myself relatively threatened by the presence of high caliber weaponry, even if it isn’t pointed in my exact direction.

But they are there for your protection, so there’s nothing to fear from them, really. Assuming you don’t move to tie your shoes too quickly. Of course, there is the threat of being “randomly” selected for extensive and invasive searches of your person and belongings. Unfortunately, the heavily armed guards will not protect you from what I like to call the “security rape” that was once a big grey metal detector and x-ray machine for baggage. Think of it this way, though: the search makes the hours of waiting in line seem much, much less horrible and degrading, right?

Oh, wait, no. I mean, don’t be afraid of that, though. The search is really no big deal, nothing to fear, it’s all in the name of safety. Unless, of course, you are any shade darker than white. If you are, well. I’m afraid a trip to the airport will be similar to a trip to the dentist: you will meet many individuals who are really, really interested in your cavities.

The television tells me that I should be afraid. I should be afraid of wild-eyed brown people who scream about Allah and have a shocking lack of regard for their own lives and the lives of others. Don’t fear the men in black with automatic weapons, don’t fear being searched for explosives in the soles of your shoes or box cutters hidden in your boxers. It gets very confusing. Believe me, I understand. Let me see if I can clarify for you.

You should be afraid of wild-eyed brown people on planes that shout about Allah and hate us for having paved roads and Big Mac sandwiches that you have never seen outside of dramatic re-enactments on the news. You should not be afraid of the patrolling security agents with rifles in airports that wear reflective sun glasses so you don’t know where they’re looking. They are there to protect you! Unless they suspect you are a terrorist, in which case they are there to shoot you to death. But, hey, just don’t act suspicious, you know? No big deal.

And, hey, why not take it a step further? You should fear a couple of bored students who tape fireworks to a soda bottle full of draino. You should not, however, wonder or fear what happens to the money left over on your Cat Card at the end of the year.

You should be afraid of quiet young men of eastern descent with guns on college campuses. You should not, however, be afraid of the old white men in suits that will kick and scratch and fight for said young man’s right to obtain those weapons as easily as possible hours after said young man of eastern descent murders 32 people on a Virginia campus. You should be afraid of the shooter, not the people who justify being able to obtain deadly weapons with a minimum of fuss because, “He could just get them anyway.”

You should not be afraid of the President. You should not be afraid of the government that does not care about you. You should not be afraid of a war wherein the enemy is an abstract concept that can never, ever be extinguished no matter how many sons and daughters of America are sacrificed. You should not be afraid of politicians who get away with opposing gay marriage because of their religious beliefs while acting as immorally as possible in their private lives. You should not be afraid of the people in charge. They are there to keep you safe. Sit down, shut up, do what you’re told and let the men with guns keep you safe.

Or else the terrorists will get you.

But seriously, travel. Flying is totally safe these days.