There is nothing quite like Football Saturday at Michigan, the exhilaration of the crowd and unifying pride in being a Wolverine. Or so I’ve heard. As someone with a general disinterest in all things athletic, I have never really immersed myself in the college football culture, and regrettably, felt that I was always missing something. In hopes of changing that, I decided to sacrifice my penchant for sleeping in and finally purchased season tickets this year. I was beyond excited about our first home game against Northern Illinois. My tickets were so close to the action, I had been told that I would probably be able to feel the sweat coming off the players.I never got hit with any perspiration, nor did I even get to see the game. At the gates, I was refused entry because my handbag was “too large” and therefore posed a security hazard. Even after voluntarily opening the bag – which was a standard-sized purse, by the way – and emptying out the contents, the officials would not budge. As you can probably imagine, enjoying the game from my 27-inch television did not provide quite the experience I had hoped for. In the aftermath of Sept. 11, the Big House and numerous other college stadiums have implemented more stringent security procedures. There is absolutely nothing wrong with increasing fan safety, but one has to wonder: Just how will the prohibition of say, flasks and camcorders deter terrorism?My experience seems to echo the much larger problem of misplaced national security efforts. In certain aspects, there is a rigidity – anything and everything is scrutinized and labeled as a conduit for terror, from the FBI monitoring groups like BAMN to state officials using an anti-terrorism law to bust juvenile violence in schools. Ironically, in areas most vulnerable to future attacks, caution is slow to come or dissipating altogether. It took the summer terrorist bombings in London to catalyze New York City into heightening security for its immensely vulnerable subway network. Finally, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has pledged to install a substantial number of surveillance cameras and motion sensor detectors, albeit over the next three years.New York City is springing into action while, nationally, the Transportation Security Administration could be cutting back. Just last month, The Washington Post published a memo by the TSA that proposes lowering the screening standards at airports to minimize traveler inconvenience and wait time. Among these new ideas, are reducing pat-downs and shoe removal and exempting certain passengers like members of Congress, airline pilots and Cabinet members from checks. The memo also dramatically broadens the nature of allowable items on a flight to include ice picks, throwing stars and bows and arrows. Some argue that passengers equipped with exotic weapons could help fend off attackers, but given that mundane box cutters took down four airliners, is it really smart to give terrorists access to bonafide weapons? In defense of TSA, these ideas have not been implemented – but the fact that they could even make it on the table is disturbing.Like most things in our nation, vigilance is a double standard. At times, we espouse a McCarthyesque vision and embrace Big Brother in all facets of public life. But it’s only a matter of time until attention shifts and we relapse into old habits, which got us into trouble to begin with. Neither side of the gamut is correct. The war on terrorism must be ongoing, like terrorism itself; there is no quick-fix cure. Instead of pointing fingers superfluously – or worse – after the fact, we must be committed to more common-sense security.
Krishnamurthy can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.