Monday, August 28, 2006

Must we deal with hysteria? And don't forget the conference!

I read the posting on the Arabic T-shirt with some interest, as I have just been in the skies myself.

I have just returned from Germany, post the London flight scare, not being able to take water bottles on the plane for thirsty kids. I had to listen to "MOM! I'm THIRSY!" for a good hour until drinks were served. (Due to the lengthy security process, there was no time to buy a drink to finish before boarding either). Not to mention I forgot my son's luggage had a bug spray in it, which was confiscated. I felt like a criminal, and then I thought, why should I, an honest American with no intention of ever blowing up a plane, feel like a criminal because my son had a small thing of bug spray in his carryon?
My chances of being blown up in a plane are much lower than being hit by lightening, and certainly much much lower than driving I-5 from the airport. This hysteria must be reined in somehow. Normal people should not have to feel like criminals because they are flying transcontinental flights with small kids. What is the next step, flying in the nude? Obviously, not being able to wear a T-shirt is a step in that direction. And even if we were all in the buff, getting to know our fellow passangers much too well for my taste, I am sure there would be a way someone would figure out something with a nude body, so even that would not be the answer to the terrorist threat.

Within Germany there was a great deal of nervousness due to the failed attempt of the suitcase bombers on the train. For the first time ever, I saw policemen with weapons patrolling the train as we rode through Germany. For some reason, this did not help us feel safer, on the contrary. However, we could bring water bottles on the train.

Meanwhile, the German literary scene was filled with rants against Gunther Grass and his failure to disclose his Waffen SS background. It was the front page news for days.

But the ALTA conference is coming up in only two months, so my attention is turning away from Germany and back to our upcoming conference. You should be able to see the preliminary schedule on the website: and we are looking forward to seeing many ALTA members and visitors there. Please register today!

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