Have I Mentioned We're Safer?

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Memo to America: YOU ARE SAFER.

Your government is protecting you. I know I've harshed on the War on Terror in the past, but three incidents of recent diligence by America's airlines and Homeland Security forces have convinced me that... AMERICA IS SAFER.

America is safer, because middle-aged special ed teachers with bookmarks are prevented from flying.

Yes, Kathryn Harrington, a 52-year-old special education teacher from Florida, was handcuffed, placed in a holding cell, charged with posession of a banned weapon, and faced up to a $10,000 fine before the charges were, after several weeks, dropped. All because she brought a bookmark with her. A fabric, weighted bookmark. That she'd flown with before. Several times. Through the same airport.

You see, in our new, safer America, a "prohibited item" is defined as any item on a list of items not allowed on planes, plus any other item that any other minimum-wage baggage screener decides is dangerous. To keep America safe, we must prevent people who didn't realize they were terrorists from bringing items they didn't know were prohibited on planes they didn't know were incredibly vulnerable to attack by bookmarks.

As Transportation Security Agency spokesperson Lauren Stover explained, "They probably felt that this item looked fairly dangerous. It looked like a bludgeoning type of weapon that could potentially harm someone." I would like to thank Ms. Stover for clarifying what I mistakenly thought was a vague policy that could treat any item not made specifically of Nerf as a potential terrorist threat, but I see now that they've thought this through, and as a result, AMERICA IS SAFER.

America is safer, because prayers are no longer tolerated on America's airplanes.

Well, at least if they're written in a language that looks like Arabic. A Midwest Airlines flight from Milwaukee to San Francisco was grounded on Sunday because a passenger found some Arabic-looking writing in an in-flight magazine. And I'm very glad that this passenger, and the in-flight crew, were alert and on the ball, because it's a common terrorist tactic to leave little notes in obscure places on objects they plan to blow up. It's like a party game, really. Makes the terrorism seem a bit more fun, like a scavenger hunt.

The passenger, who reports say was probably not Anne "Eek! There's A Terrorist On Your Shoulder!" Jacobsen, discovered the writing as the plane pulled away from the gate. Unable to confirm through DNA sampling that everyone on the plane was, in fact, white, the trip was cancelled, and passengers were delayed by a day. The message, which was written in Farsi, which is a different language than Arabic, said... well, we don't know. Something innocuous. It was reported in the press as "something like a prayer", and "something of a contemplative nature"*. That's OK. It's not like what the message actually said was important to the story. What's important is the terrorists were stopped, and AMERICA IS SAFER.

America is safer because Cat Stevens is not allowed in this country.

You think it's bad when a contemplative Islamic message is found in an in-flight magazine? Imagine how unsafe America would be if contemplative Islamic messengers were allowed to HOLD in-flight magazines? We'd all die in a nuclear holocaust accompanied by the gentle strumming of a guitar. Yes, Yusuf "Cat Stevens" Islam, the singer and songwriter who caused a big ruckus about ten years ago when everyone thought he said things about Salman Rushdie that he didn't actually say, was flying to Washington when his plane from London was diverted to Maine, where Islam was deported and returned to Britain "because of concerns about activities that could potentially be related to terrorism." This administration is really on top of the whole "people who might have wanted to do things" problem.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Muslim convert folk singers are so dangerous, they must not be allowed into the country, except for brief stopovers in Bangor, Maine, where a bunch of fucking hippies live in anyway, so when Islam nee Stevens blows himself up with an improvised nuclear device, as so many folk singers have done before him, he won't take out anything important.

AMERICA IS SAFER. We have learned the lessons of the past, we are alert and aware, and if those crazy Muslims want to attack us, they're going to have to find something better than bookmarks, pens, and folk singers to do it with. WE'RE ON TO YOU, TERRORISTS! Watch out!

*In my own more contemplative moments, I like to think that this description could describe the phrase "Oh God, this seat makes my balls itch, but if I get up to go to the bathroom to scratch them, Anne Jacobsen will tackle me in the aisle and beat me to death with her bookmark."