Sunday, February 24, 2008

San Francisco, day 7: Poof-worthy conduct

When Ari and I got to the airport on Saturday night, we noticed going through the security line that they had one of those newfangled machines that puffs air at you in an attempt to detect bomb-residue or something.

I had seen them before in action at Heathrow in London and the Buffalo, NY airport, but this one wasn't really in use - we were in line for 15 min and we didn't see anyone go through it.

What follows is a rough transcript of what happened when Ari and I got to the front of the line:

Security gal to me: Ma'am, can you come this way please?
Security gal to security dude, re: Ari: Should we screen him, too?
Security dude to security gal: No.
Security dude to Ari: Can you remove your beanie, please?
Ari removes kippah.
Aliza giggles while being puffed with air.
Ari to me, in Hebrew: They're screening you because of your hat.
You know what I call that?
Racial profiling.

All I can say is that if airport security can't differentiate between Orthodox Jews and Islamist terrorists, or for that matter, between Sikhs and Islamist terrorists, what's the point in racial profiling? Pacifist Sikhs are about as likely to blow up planes as 80-something grandmas in Arizona.

Doesn't that make you sleep better at night?

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At 11:30 p.m., Anonymous Ari B. said...

To be fair, he didn't actually say "beanie," it was more along the lines of "is it alright for you to take that off?" while pointing at my head.

I assumed he didn't mean "is your skull detachable?" and took off my kippah.

He then ran my kippah through the x-ray machine, which was a little silly given that it'd awfully hard to hide a hand grenade in a circle of crocheted material maybe four or five inches in diameter.

At 6:36 a.m., Blogger shanna said...

It also maybe have been a little silly (i.e. arousing of suspicion) to speak to each other in Hebrew (read: Arab-sounding foreign tongue!) in front of the screeners.

At 8:59 a.m., Anonymous AriB said...

The conversation took place after we were through the TSA checkpoint. :-)

At 10:07 a.m., Blogger Larry Lennhoff said...

If I was an arab terrorist, I'd give serious consideration to dressing as Jew - maybe even as a Hamid. Palestinian terrorists have even done this in Israel, where it is much harder to pull off - too many people know too much about Hasidim.

At 10:07 a.m., Blogger Dani B. said...

The fact that you got screened means they weren't racial profiling. If they were actually racially profiling short jewish girls would be waved through no questions asked.


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