Let us just forget the details for a moment. We all knew that air security folks are panicky. But what happened yesterday signifies how scared these people are. Agreed the guy behaved abnormally - and air marshals could not risk lives of so themselves and so many other people not knowing what the he was actually up to. So forced to act within split seconds , they acted on the side of caution. You cant fault them for doing what they have been taught to. And I am sure they don't deserve to go through the trauma of knowing that they killed an innocent man.
But this much more than that. For the last couple of years - I have flown domestic around the country a lot of times. And I do fit the classical description of a terrorist , a brown skin , single guy in mid twenties, sometimes unshaven, mostly disheveled, flying in a busy route. But I have never been subjected to any additional screening. Yes , I repeat , my experience with TSA has been unexpectedly good. And all these while , I have seen elderly white ladies subjected extensive search. Does not that look weird? A simple sanity check would convince anyone that those people just cant be those elusive terrorists.
Racial profiling is bad. It would reflect badly on policymakers. But that's precisely what needs to be done. Its very improbable that a white man with his wife in tow would be a potential threat - he may be a crackpot , but he wont be a terrorist. But sadly- the system is unable to judge that now. And that is a dangerous situation - if they can shoot a white guy - they can shoot anyone they deem a threat. A lot of times people do behave unexpectedly in airports , even if they are not mentally sick , but just the general travel related stress does crazy things to normally sensible people. Now you know - those can turn deadly. Not a comforting thought.