On a day when Tom Allard gets an SMH byline for a story on how easy it is to put a bomb on a jet as cargo, it is high time to blow the whistle on anti-terror security measures. They are overwhelmingly useless and dishonest.

All that airport security has achieved worldwide is to shift the target from the now almost impregnable aircraft cabins to the passenger-screening processes.

Want to know real fear of flying? Stand near someone wearing a backpack in a scrum of travellers fiddling with their belts, shoes, mobiles, computers and those dreaded liquids, aerosols and gels.

Aviation screening is much more the real target of concern than the jet.

And the intrinsic risks are identical to those of being on a crowded suburban train or in an underground station, or in a pub, or at a footy final, a popular or high-profile restaurant, or around a street entertainer at Circular Quay or Federation Square, or crawling along behind a large container truck halfway through the Sydney Harbour Tunnel.

There is nothing practicable that can be done to minimise these risks without locking down society and confiscating all but narrowly defined rights to personal discretionary mobility.

Ask what security measures will exist after a screening line is bombed at the MCG or an airport? Yet the public is fed feel-good statements about improved anti-terrorist measures, including the awesomely dumb American plan to have airlines check fingerprints on check-in so that they can be compared with ‘potential’ terrorist fingerprints.

Please! What is a ‘potential’ terrorist fingerprint? That of a Muslim, a Middle East scholar, or maybe a government critic, or someone who has been observed ordering vegetarian meals? The terrorists who may well strike anywhere at any time aren’t on the fingerprint data bases or discernible from the population at large.

The notion is as daft as ‘trusted traveller lines’, that the US Congress had the sense to knock back earlier in the year.

The only answer is really good interventionist policing (which is being diligently but almost invisibly practised in Australia) and a refusal to be cowed by fear.

Our oldest Australians knew this in WWII. The British knew this. In the London Blitz there was a 9/11-scale atrocity every night for weeks on end. People emerged every morning, and went about their lives as best they could, surrounded by the hideous aftermath of acts of mass murder. They did not construct layer upon layer of dishonest feel-good measures. They went on with life. They prevailed.

It was the same with the IRA and remains the case with ETA, and the suicide bombers in Israel and in India. There are murdering ar-eholes are out there, and they may well score a hit or two, but they will not prevail unless we fall for this obscene circus in which the politics of fear and futile security measures feed off each other, and our freedom.

Get Crikey for $1 a week.

Lockdowns are over and BBQs are back! At last, we get to talk to people in real life. But conversation topics outside COVID are so thin on the ground.

Join Crikey and we’ll give you something to talk about. Get your first 12 weeks for $12 to get stories, analysis and BBQ stoppers you won’t see anywhere else.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
12 weeks for just $12.