This is a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint at about 7 a.m. today at Orlando International Airport. If you stepped across the barrier (I wouldn’t recommend it) and talked with one of these air travelers, you’d discover they have one thing in common: They’ve all been profiled.
They’re standing in the Spanish-speaking line.
There’s a screener at the front of the line, where passengers’ IDs and boarding passes are checked. She’s a native Spanish speaker, and she’s funneling the passengers into the line, presumably based on their ethnicity and accent. There’s a Spanish-speaking TSA agent helping the travelers with their questions.
Well, there’s been a lot of talk lately about the TSA adopting Israeli-style screening techniques, including profiling every airline passenger. This makes sense. Terrorists who bomb airlines tend to fit a certain description.
I don’t know for a fact that someone in Washington said, “We need a Spanish line.” (Orlando has a family-only line that I’ve used, and it’s one of the greatest ideas ever.)
Maybe some agents just took it upon themselves, because it worked, to group all of the Spanish-speaking passengers in the same line.
Intentional or not, the line works. The travelers, many of whom don’t habla Ingles, move through the checkpoint faster. And that’s good.
What’s not good? Well, where does it stop? A line for single travelers? Expectant mothers? People who wear hats? Should they require every passenger that appears to be of Middle Eastern descent submit to a secondary screening?
I don’t know. I’m one of those passengers who could pass for Middle Eastern. Or Hispanic. And I’m just a little older than the average terrorist. I could end up in the “must screen” line every time, if profiling becomes a reality.
I don’t know how I feel about that.