TSA Harasses Student, Gets Away With It

By Connor Wilson

“Do you know who planned 9/11?” asked the federal agents interrogating Nicholas George. “Do you know what language he spoke? Do you see why these cards are suspicious?”

George, a Middle Eastern Studies Major at Pomona College, was detained, handcuffed and aggressively interviewed by the TSA and FBI after Arabic flash cards were found on his person at a Philadelphia International Airport security checkpoint.

This is not okay. There is no reason why a country that prides itself so much on freedom and justice would allow for this. We have dragnets set up (profiling and dehumanizing people to specific traits) that lead to people like George having their freedom of speech revoked.

“Nick George didn’t pose a threat to flight security,” said Zachary Katznelson, an ACLU attorney. “Locking him up, simply for studying a certain language, is clearly unconstitutional.”

9/11 changed something in the psyche of Americans that supposedly made all of this okay. But this is a subversion of unalienable rights. Rights that were designed to keep the American government in check.

I would hate to think that we have become a nation that is so afraid, but I have no evidence for the contrary.

These cases where people are unjustly detained because of a paranoia and xenophobia are anti-American.

What precedent are we setting for the next generation? Are we creating a world we want to leave behind or one with filled hate and fear?

TSA harassment has become so standard today that is almost comical. It’s surreal.

Thankfully there are organizations like ACLU that are able and willing to stand up for George. Still, incidents like this shouldn’t even be happening. We are better than this.

Or at least I thought we were.

We used to pride ourselves on being a melting pot of nations and culture. However, we have since turned into the antithesis of that: a nationalistic country with a bad case of xenophobia.

Hearing about a case like George’s is just so demoralizing.

Or rather, what is demoralizing is not that this is what we’ve turned into, but that I can no longer shake the fear that we have always been this way. There is a hope that we somehow evolved into this strange nationalistic monster, and yet we have so few examples of our country without fear.

George’s case is just one shining example that shows why we need organizations like the ACLU and Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation to keep the government in check. It proves why we, the people, need to assume a more proactive role in what we allow to happen.


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