There is a piece creating a firestorm in the libertarian blogosphere today written by Rachel Burger called LAX Shooting: Now We Know What Blowback Means. In the piece, she argues that the recent shooting death of TSA agent Gerardo Hernandez was an example of the blowback theory. This piece has ignited a firestorm on libertarian social media. I myself was contacted by a media outlet asking my opinions on the piece.
I did not like the piece for many reasons. I thought it was way too soon to try and make political points off this death. I also did not like the Nuremberg Trials reference (more on that in a little bit). I also didn’t like some style aspects of the piece, but I won’t go into that. Finally, while I strongly disagree with the way airport security is handled in this country and do believe there needs to be more emphasis on the dignity of passengers, I do believe that the TSA screening procedures are legal under current law.
Having said all that, Rachel did not compare the TSA to Nazis. At least that was not her intention. Again, I did not like the Nuremberg Trials reference. But here’s the paragraph in question (bold emphasis is mine)
As a Jew, I am consistently reminded of the Nuremberg Trialswhen it comes to the TSA. Those who slaughtered the Jews in the Holocaust were “just following orders,” but that did not mean that they were any less accountable. Just following orders, just doing the job that they signed up for, did not excuse their actions. Of course, the Nuremberg Trials specifically addressed war crimes, but I think that the idea of just following orders extends beyond that. Being an ethical person requires critical thinking about everyday actions, whether commanded or not.
What she was trying to do (albeit poorly) was trying to make the point that obeying orders to persecute their fellow citizens was immoral. Again, although I believe the TSA is not a good example of her point, it is clear she was not comparing Hernandez and other TSA agents to Nazis. She also condemned the killing of agent Hernandez and said it was an unacceptable way to express frustrations with the TSA.
A personal note about Rachel Burger, she is not a violent radical. Like most libertarians, she adheres to the non-aggression principle which rejects violence as a means of political change. She would agree with me that changing the law peacefully through persuading our fellow Americans through the democratic process is the best and only moral approach. I hate that she is being portrayed otherwise.
One last thing, I have to take a little responsibility for this kerfuffle in a way. Five days ago on Twitter, I was (playfully) teasing Rachel about her lack of edginess sort of speak in her writing. She was obviously trying to prove me wrong. If you’re looking for someone to blame, blame me.
Other than that, it is unfortunate if the reputation of such a great writer like Rachel is destroyed over one piece.