You don't protect freedom by confiscating it

Scanners and pat-downs are humiliating and counterproductive

What an excellent column in this morning’s New York Times by Roger Cohen, the paper’s only foreign-affairs columnist who can still surprise readers with his choice of topic or improve their day with the elegance of his prose. (Was that a dig at the others? Why yes it was.) The topic is airport scanners and pat-downs. Cohen makes his own points best, but to sum up, he says they’re (1) humiliating; (2) counterproductive; (3) precisely what the terrorists wanted, beyond the immediate slaughter: to hobble the enemy for the very long term.

There’s been a debate around Ottawa about whether Michael Ignatieff was serious this week when he was scrummed about these issues. All I know is, he missed a chance to make these arguments, so by my lights he was about as serious as John Baird ever gets.