Invasion of the Body Scanners

After a Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit was targeted by a terrorist during the Christmas holiday of 2009, both the UK and the US began to install machines in airport terminals that scans a person’s full body and briefly shows an image of them naked.

It seems rather strange that western civilisation would allow this sort of intrusion, which is usually reserved for prisoners who must shower and use the toilet in front of a group of cell mates and prison guards.

With the corporate idea of body capital reigning supreme, the very notion that there can be scans of people standing naked on a screen without security personnel reacting in some way is a difficult scenario to grasp.

So too is it difficult to imagine that women will not be ogled on screen, considering the patriarchal societies in which they live.

And what of those who are afflicted by illnesses, paralysis and the lost of limbs?    How did our privacy get taken away from us by the people we have voted into office?

The issue of privacy has been the main rival argument in the airport body scan matter.  Yet, consider that a more important view has been avoided.  Terrorism, a word used in western civilisation to a nauseating degree, is a concern that has been instigated by several components of the last two decades.


In 1996, then President Bill Clinton and the United States Congress passed an Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act; a fact that the late historian Howard Zinn mentions in his most famous book, The People’s History of the United States.

This act did not only allow the deportation of any immigrant in America, who had been convicted of a crime, it also made it possible for immigrants who were legal permanent residents, married to Americans with children, to be arrested.  This was the government’s answer after the Federal Building in Oklahama City had been blown up.  It did not seem to matter that the person who blew it up was, Timothy McVeigh, a man born and raised in America.

Over the years, the ideology of terrorism grew.  Nine months after George W. Bush became president, two planes had flown into the World Trade Centre.  This remarkable incident changed personal ideas of safety and security for Americans, as well as people in other major cities.  It was, therefore easier to convince a terrified and vulnerable nation that the ‘war on terror’ was anything but propaganda.  What nation, after all, would not be interested in retaliation after the deaths of so many innocent people?  What nation would not do all they could to feel safe again?

The very sad ending to this story is that Homeland Security has been given more and more power to undermine the liberty and freedoms of citizens.  And as long as this new power structure remains in place, there will be no area of human lives that are not catalogued, categorised, photographed, recorded, and controlled.  Big brother is indeed watching us, and there is no where we can go to escape his spying eye.