Jean-LÃ©on GÃ©rÃ´me, Next Year at Airline Security, 1867, private collection.
I was appalled by the reactions of my classmates to news that the officialdom was responding internationally to the failed Christmas Eve underwear bombing by adding electronic strip searches to the pointless forms of harassment and humiliation inflicted on ordinary citizens of Western countries, in order to avoid singling out for special attention exotic representatives of the backward and benighted regions of Barbaria where the teachings of Mahound commonly inspire fanatical intolerance and a lust for blood.
There were all kinds of crude jokes about how trivial issues of personal modesty are by comparison to safety, and how happy they all would be to stripped completely naked in mixed company in order to avoid injury or death. This from a bunch of men over 60, who in general, doubtless, have plenty of reason for personal objection.
I thought myself that this particular measure represented a particularly apt metonymy for a number of the objectionable aspects of the contemporary liberal perspective: the eager submission and thoroughgoing surrender of everything, including personal dignity and privacy, to official authority; the elevation of egalitarianism to a position of absolute supremacy over any and every other value; cowardice and materialism; and limitless obeisance to the Other, combined with a complete disregard for either female modesty or human dignity.
The Telegraph reports that at least one modern leader actually is on the record objecting to the new full body scanners.
The Pope made his comments during an audience with airport workers held at the Vatican.
Although the Pontiff did not mention the words body scanner it was clear what he meant as he told the 1,200 strong crowd: “Every action, it is above all essential to protect and value the human person in their integrity.
“Respecting these principles can seem particularly complex and difficult in the present context.
“The economic crisis has had problematic effects on the civil aviation sector, the international terrorist threat which, precisely, has in its line of fire airports and aircraft to realise its destructive schemes.
“Even in this situation, one must never forget that respecting the primacy of the human person and attention to his or her needs does not make the service less efficient nor penalise economic management.”