Time To Test our Might & Will by Sibel Edmonds

by Sibel Edmonds
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
originally published by Boiling Frogs Post
14 November, 2010

The movement against TSA’s systematic degradation of our nation seems to be gaining a bit of momentum; long overdue. A few lawmakers are making some noise. Let’s hope it is not for show only. Pilots and related organizations have been making a little headway. And we have more than a few citizens coming up with and organizing actionable plans and ideas. I hope none of this ends up settling for ‘little bones.’ By that I mean quasi cosmetic changes like: giving our CNN’s Fitzpatrick what she is asking for – a heads up and notice signs for coming violations at check points, or installing separate screening detectors for the pilots and flight attendants, or having the screener police touch and violate you using three fingers instead of their entire palm. We seem to have momentum. I believe with solidarity and persistence, refusing to give up or give in to a few ‘bones’ we will succeed. Please watch out for ‘highly coincidental’ terror alerts that may start popping up. OK? After ten years of those interestingly timed and never-sourced possible terror alerts we should be wise enough to recognize our government’s ‘cry wolf’ practices. Also, get ready for a handful of questionable entities who try to blend in with the movement and engage in repulsive (highly offensive) actions to cause backlash for our movement. Our government highly depends on ‘this type’ and of course, our mainstream media loves to showcase them. I am just saying.

I’ve been going through hundreds of e-mails and comments on my previous post. First, I want to thank you for sharing your thoughts and suggestions both publicly in various forums and privately through your direct e-mails; your feedback gives me a sense of solidarity and revives my long-dimming hopes. Next, I  am going to tell you a bit about myself and what I am prepared to do, however insignificant or little it may seem to some. So many of us either don’t do anything or say anything publicly because we as a nation have been long reduced to seeing ourselves and acting as insignificant and powerless subjects of those who govern. We are afraid of being ridiculed, or being rejected as feeble. That’s not the case here at Boiling Frogs Post, and I hope you’ll get that sense and keep your ideas and suggestions coming. You see, I am doing it despite my own set of reservations, and regardless of the ridicule I sometimes endure from the ‘elite academics & talk-and-write only mighty experts.’

Those of you who’ve been members here know that I usually don’t talk about, share, personal information. This is a slight exception, and you’ll see why:

I am a full-time mother to a handful 28-month old toddler. She is the love of my life, my number one priority and most important responsibility. I have had friends and readers who have told me:

‘I am disgusted with the indignities they make us suffer at the airports….BUT, I am a parent, with a hectic life, and with my hands full. I simply can’t afford to be active politically and participate in protests or movements…I’ll leave that to people who have the time, energy, and no responsibilities…’

As a mother with a hectic life and loads of associated responsibilities I have an even greater obligation to do what I can, however little, and to participate in the attempt to stop the degradation of our nation. I do not want my daughter touched, groped, squeezed and fondled by total strangers simply because she has to travel. I do not want my daughter to be treated as a suspect; a terrorist suspect. I owe it to her to stand up and fight for her dignity and mine. I am her example, and I don’t want this example to be: lower your head, take these violations silently, and do or say nothing. I believe this is one of our responsibilities as parents; to teach our children about dignity, honor and privacy, and to protect them from violations-physically and mentally. Don’t you?

I am a partial owner of a small retail business. Mainly I work from home, including after hours, and I take care of a bunch of exhausting tedious tasks. I care about our employees, and I do stress about ups and downs, risks and potential rewards. And yes, I pay taxes on every hard-earned dollar, and do so timely. I have friends and acquaintances who tell me:

‘Activism takes time and time is money. I have to earn income, so I work hard, and can’t possibly spend time and effort on these political issues and related activism. I applaud those who do, but unless you are a student or unemployed…basically with nothing to really lose…you can’t participate…’

As a worker, an owner and an employer, and a tax payer, I feel, and am, even more obligated, responsible, and outraged. I can think of thousands of alternative opportunity costs for the taxes I have been paying other than having my government use them to harass me and violate my rights. Imagine how many small businesses, thus employment opportunities, could be created by the billions of dollars that go to TSA police to rape us of our dignity on a daily basis? Translate those billions to the number of college scholarships for our kids?

Here I am as a mother and a worker and a businesswoman and a cook and a laundry-woman and a shopper and a saver with a home mortgage and a car loan and electric-gas-phone bills …trying to take action, however small, however simplistic, with unpredictable chances of success and tons of barricades stacked up high before me. Does all this sound familiar? Then, I am one of you, so please don’t look down upon me, or my little action steps, and instead, come join me and those of us who are trying to find ways, organize, and stop the degradation of our nation.

I am still exploring the best, speediest, and most feasible channels/options/possibilities to stop this TSA nonsense. It’s a work in progress. Here is what I have been doing so far:

– I have joined a small group of like-minded activists who have been actively working on this issue. We are working on organizing local meetings and forums.

– I found the following site: The TSA Opt-Out Project, which is organizing passengers to refuse TSA’s sexually explicit body imaging scanners and enhanced pat-down techniques. A nationwide day of protest is tentatively scheduled for May 7, 2011. I made my pledge, so I will be flying (or stopped from) out of Reagan National Airport.

– I worked with my friend, our great editorial cartoonist, Paul Jamiol. I told him about the idea of wearing ‘airport shirts’ with an appropriate slogan and related imagery during air travel, in airports. As always, Paul came up with the design idea, and then implemented it in less than two days. You can see the shirt above, or click Here (Thank you, Paul!). My family and I will be wearing these shirts every time we fly. I will also be wearing it when I go to the airport to see friends/families off, or greet their arrivals.

Here is why I am going to wear this shirt whenever I am in an airport, and why you may consider doing the same:

I’ll be proudly expressing my position and dissent against these government-police inflicted violations.

When I see another individual wearing this message I’ll smile and say ‘glad to see another like-minded citizen.’

When I see five proud message-wearing individuals, I’ll think ‘great, we are a real group.’

When I see ten, I’ll go ‘This has become a true movement.’

When I see twenty, I’ll wonder ‘how many others there may be?!’

When I read or hear about hundreds, I’ll start hoping again, and won’t stop until we have stopped the degradation of our nation.

On November 24, 2010, a series of opt-out and protests are scheduled to take place across the country and even internationally as growing backlash against full body scanners, and degrading and invasive pat downs. I will be at Reagan National Airport, to support and see them off, wearing my airport shirt. Hope to see and meet many hundreds of you there.


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