Acquiescence or inconvenience

Acquiescence or inconvenience

The United States government has developed a repugnant strategy for making traveling citizens cooperate with intrusive security measures.  Here's how it works:

  1. It asks you to do something simple but invasive.  For example, TSA asks you to step inside a body scanner that saves a picture of your naked form.  Or CBP asks you to use a kiosk to provide biometrics like your fingerprints.
  2. It provides little or no notice that there is any alternative to this invasive measure.  This tends to create an impression you have no choice.
  3. It makes the alternative inconvenient to the point of being antagonistic.

Want to opt out of the body scan at the airport?  A TSA agent will yell to ask for a screener (as if you've done something suspicious that warrants investigation), you will wait until a screener is available, then you will have to undergo what can be described most politely as "aggressive full-body touching" by a TSA employee.  (These patdowns have been widely abused to sexually assault travelers.)

Or do you perhaps have the nerve to skip that CBP kiosk at customs?  Then be prepared for processing as a second-class citizen.  Watch your more acquiescent countrymen line up in the fast lane, while you queue with the non-citizens in the slow lane.  They will often reach a CBP agent in 30 seconds, but you will have to wait something more like 30 minutes.

Background (red arrow): An American being rewarded for his acquiescence at the US CBP Preclearance Area at Toronto Pearson International Airport on 20 October 2018. Foreground: Other Americans, along with all non-citizens, being inconvenienced by a much longer line.

The TSA PreCheck program is another example.  Want better treatment by TSA?  Just "consent to have [your] personal data [including your fingerprints] added to the FBI's Next Generation Identification (NGI) database" to be shared with any organization the government wants, regardless of your continuing consent, forever.

What the United States government is doing is wrong.  It shouldn't be allowed to create classes of citizenship depending on who is more cooperative with its police state tactics.  But it's getting away with this "acquiescence or inconvenience" strategy because so many Americans fail to complain after they're subjected to it.  It's time to speak up.  It's time to say no.