Equality in Airport Security Checks

Prejudices against people of certain races or geographical origin undermine the purpose of established procedures for security checks.

Subjecting individuals to such kinds of treatment results in feelings of discontent as a certain group of individuals unfairly targeted. Security checks at airports fail to uphold the equal treatment requirement as evidenced by the tighter searches directed towards travelers from less privileged countries. Pico Iyer in ‘The Terminal Check” however observes that the current state of global security has forced a shift from the privileges enjoyed by travelers from rich countries at airports. This was not always the case considering the inconveniences that people from certain races had to go through not just at airports but also in their daily activities. Often they are treated with suspicion and subjected to undignified checks. The events of 9/11, however, changed the perspectives of authorities towards security risks. Security checks at airports are now almost equal since Americans just like other travelers have to go through the same inconveniences of long and tedious checks.The perception that individuals from certain regions or races are likely to pose security threats is ill-advised and unfounded. The events of 9/11 were eye-openers to authority and served to prove that the previous strategies applied in providing security were a fallacy. Despite the advances in human thinking over the years, the inability of humans to move away from the notion that certain races or individuals from less privileged regions are a nuisance in the developed world is baffling. Iyer highlights the pervasiveness of these misconceptions in his recollection of events when he was detained at a British airport on suspicion of illegal involvement activities by crossing borders (3). The decision to detain the author was based on the misconception that a person of his race was unlikely to cross boundaries without ill intentions. Tying terrorism and other illegal activities to race is a significant undoing for most authorities world over. Such prejudices lead to inconveniences to the targeted individuals. While such notions on race are surprising in the current age, the fact that they are practiced even in the most unlikely of places highlights the depth of these beliefs. The inherent human ability to develop coping mechanisms and adapt means that travelers from underprivileged countries or prejudiced races become used to annoyances that they are subjected to at airports. The same cannot be said of Americans who feel that the current treatment is unfair and demeaning. Previously, travelers from these privileged countries enjoyed the luxury of exception from strict security checks at airports. Subjecting every traveler to stringent security checks mitigates the unfair treatment that was previously directed towards a particular class of travelers at the airport hence contributing to equality of races and origin concerning the way authorities view travelers.

Doing away with the privileges enjoyed by white travelers at airports contributes to equality of races reduces contempt towards the procedures employed by authorities. Uniformity of the races is not easy to achieve in the contemporary world where dark skin color is still viewed as inferior. Most rhetoric on racial equality fails to impact on the people responsible for developing policies that enhance equal treatment. Iyer asserts that “America can no longer claim immunity” in the current confusion (4). Seemingly, he enjoys the fact that anyone can be pulled aside for random screening at the airport unlike in the past when only travelers from underprivileged nations suffered the indignity of these checks. In the current setup, everyone is treated with suspicion, and none is exempted from the annoyance that comes with these security checks. While there is no improvement in the way travelers from the underprivileged races and developing nations are treated, doing away with the exemptions is s a step towards equality. For the longest time, the author was treated with suspicion going by the numerous accounts of his tribulations in the hands of authorities due to his racial origin. Even more frustrating was the fact that he remained powerless and had to comply with the procedures that were based on stereotypes. The attacks in New York and Washington brought an end to these stereotypes as authorities became aware that anyone can pose a security threat. Under the current state, the previous luxury enjoyed by American travelers no longer exists. Equality in the screening process signifies a great leap towards the elimination of prejudice in the airport security check process. Although the events that precipitated a change in procedures at terminal checks were unfortunate, the response signifies gains for the victims of the previously flawed process.

Complaints by Americans over the new approach to airport checks serves to highlight the troubles that others were subjected to for years. Although security checks remain critical to guarantee the safety of all travelers, the manner in which they were previously performed was unacceptable. Considering that others were subjected to the annoyances of these checks while whites were given a clean pass shows a total disregard for efforts to eliminate racial prejudice. The current approach to a large extent eliminates racial bias and exposes Americans to the same troubles that dark-colored travelers endured for years. Iyer describes the current state as 9/11 making “fear and suspicion universal” (3). The complaints by white travelers show the extent of suffering that people of color had to endure for decades. While Americans now view the procedures as a nuisance and unwarranted, it is somewhat surprising that none of these concerns were raised before the 9/11 attacks. The fact that the privileged whites remain oblivious to the suffering of others shows that society is only concerned about the issues directly affecting them. Due to years of undignified security screening, travelers from the materially underprivileged nations got used to the treatment. Whites now have to contend with the same trouble they ignored when they were directed towards others. As such, the current situation should serve as an eye-opener concerning the way citizens from developing nations are treated not just at airports but all areas.

Overcoming prejudices against certain individuals is inevitable in the current state of affairs. Prejudices undermine the perception of individuals resulting in undignified treatment of individuals to whom the prejudices are directed. The prejudices impair judgment hence leading to the formulation of policies based on the misinformation. Troublemakers or individuals with ill intentions do not necessarily need to be roughly dressed or come from developing countries (Iyer 4). The belief that well-born individuals cannot harbor ill intentions is poorly thought and unlikely to solve the global security problem. The 9/11 attacks to some extent erased some of the prejudices against developing nations hence the decision to subject all travelers to security checks at airports. Currently, no traveler is accorded special treatment concerning security although prejudices remain an issue in other aspects. Formulation of policies requires the correct approach to issues as opposed reliance on beliefs that lack factual backing. Consequently, there is a need to eliminate these prejudices to avoid catastrophic events such as 9/11. The adverse effects associated with racial discrimination can be avoided if issues are approached within a more objective manner.

In essence, the indignity associated with the stringent airport checks raises concerns on the selected approach to safety. For the longest time, travelers from developing nations were subjected to these checks while Americans enjoyed the luxury of travel without these inconveniences. The 9/11 attack resulted in a different approach where all travelers regardless of origin or race were subjected to these checks. The perception that individuals from certain regions or races are likely to pose security threats was found to be flawed. Airports had to do away with the previous system to guarantee travelers of their safety. Despite the complaints from American travelers, the current system seems more convenient in promoting equality. The past troubles and inconveniences of colored travelers are now shared by everyone regardless of race and origin. It is thus clear that prejudices create inconveniences and undermine a particular group of people. Developing policies based on facts rather than misconceptions becomes necessary in avoiding the current situation concerning terminal checks. At the moment, the terminal checks enhance equality by eliminating the special treatment that was accorded to American travelers.

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Work Cited
Iyer, Pico. “The Terminal Check.” Granta Magazine (2011).