Airport security

September 27, 2007 at 3:00 am 4 comments

Following my post the other day on the Department of Homeland Security’s airport screening programme, here’s what it’s come to – an elderly Catholic nun being frisked by airport security in the US.

Dean Shaddock, who snapped the shot and plonked it on Flickr says:

This was captured as I collected my things from airport security (Detroit Metro Concourse A). I think of it as something like a Rorschach test. Is an elderly Catholic nun being frisked by a Muslim security agent the celebration of blind justice? Or is it simply an admission of absurdity?

There’s a lot going on in this image if you look closely – a Muslim woman frisking a Catholic nun against the backdrop of the American flag. A bored onlooker – reminds me of how complacent we’ve become in a society that is increasingly controlled, monitored and suspicious. I presume the photo was snapped on a camera phone – an example of sousveillance.

I guess you can react to this image in many ways. For example, why shouldn’t a nun be frisked? You can conceal a lot under the religious garb. And cunning terrorists might just adopt a religious habit to get through security. Then again, you might be offended that someone from a religious order, and an older person, is being frisked.

You might also ask why a Muslim woman (she is wearing a hijab) is a US security official, but then again why on earth not? Not all Muslims are terrorists of course. Anyone has a right to a job. So maybe this image is entirely normal and reflects the reality of the age we live in.

I guess the power of the image and its story lies within the reaction it stirs in different people. What’s your reaction?


Entry filed under: Airport security, Privacy, Surveillance society. Tags: , .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Dennis O'Connor  |  September 28, 2007 at 12:31 am

    This is a powerful image. I think we’re shocked because ‘security’ like this is relatively new in the US.

    Overseas shows of force and security have been common all along. i vividly remember seeing rosy cheeked 18 year old Yugoslavian border police casually walking toward me with scowls on their immature faces and loaded machine guns in their hands. Even the b movie chant of “Papers! Paper!” didn’t raise a grin in me that day.

    My 80 year old grandmother was strip searched several times while on a pilgrimage to the Holy land… over 20 years a go.

    The outside world has been grim as hell for a long time… now that we have this stuff here at home do you think it will ever go away?

    Dennis In San Diego

  • 2. thinkingshift  |  September 28, 2007 at 2:49 am

    Hi Dennis
    Thx for visiting. We’re also getting security like this in Australia..haven’t seen a nun frisked yet, but it’s getting pretty frustrating getting through the airport these days what with x-ray machines, hauling out your laptop, putting liquids in 100ml bottles etc. But that’s our world now, like it or not.
    See you on Teacher Librarian Ning :)-

  • 3. MESSIAH  |  October 2, 2007 at 6:52 am

    what if the pic showed an IMAM(islam priest) being inspected by a jew security guard complete with the little hat….

  • 4. Ash  |  May 25, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    I think this is just what security has become no matter who blows up planes and such things. No, I am not blind to the prejudices and such. Religious are people just like any other. So if they are wearing something that causes suspicion and they are being search in good faith concern/requirements of the job, then it happens. If they are taking advantage of the job and searching out of the box…then we might be concerned with the picture. We are just about all foreigners here anyways. I make the comments from the mindset that I wish to become a vowed sister and know that this could happen.


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