“What is this — the Gestapo”?

Peace activists are always hearing how our military is fighting overseas in order to preserve our right to dissent at home, but look what happened to Professor Walter F. Murphy, emeritus of Princeton University, when he tried to board a plane (via War and Piece):

On 1 March 07, I was scheduled to fly on American Airlines to Newark, NJ, to attend an academic conference at Princeton University, designed to focus on my latest scholarly book, Constitutional Democracy, published by Johns Hopkins University Press this past Thanksgiving.”

When I tried to use the curb-side check in at the Sunport, I was denied a boarding pass because I was on the Terrorist Watch list. I was instructed to go inside and talk to a clerk. At this point, I should note that I am not only the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence (emeritus) but also a retired Marine colonel. I fought in the Korean War as a young lieutenant, was wounded, and decorated for heroism. I remained a professional soldier for more than five years and then accepted a commission as a reserve office, serving for an additional 19 years.

I presented my credentials from the Marine Corps to a very polite clerk for American Airlines. One of the two people to whom I talked asked a question and offered a frightening comment: “Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that.” I explained that I had not so marched but had, in September, 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the Web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the Constitution. “That’ll do it,” the man said.

I’m almost afraid to ask how widespread this is, but I suspect it isn’t limited to American Airlines. So now we have to answer for our political opinions to every Epsilon-Minus semi-moron who checks baggage at the airline counter. Rose Wilder Lane must be spinning in her grave.