As it turns out, the new security protocols from TSA don’t just make American travelers unhappy. India has lodged a formal protest after an incident in a Mississipi airport in which their ambassador to the US, Meera Shankar, got a TSA patdown because she wore a sari while traveling. The State Department now says they’re “concerned” about the treatment given the diplomat despite repeatedly telling the TSA agents that Shankar had diplomatic immunity:
India’s foreign minister called last week’s pat-down of Ambassador Meera Shankar unacceptable. Shankar had attended a conference at Mississippi State University and was catching a flight to Baltimore from Jackson-Evers International Airport.
Witnesses told the Clarion-Ledger newspaper in Jackson that Shankar was told she was singled out for additional screening because of her sari, which drapes across the body and is worn by many Indian women.
Shankar reportedly said she would never return to Mississippi, but it hardly seems as though the state is at fault here. TSA says that diplomats are not immune from searches, and Janet Napolitano defended that position this week. CNN’s report also notes that other travelers seemed to think that if they have to put up with TSA’s groping, then the high and mighty should be subject to them as well.
But that’s the point, really. Lt. Governor Phil Bryant is right; we should be using common sense. Did we really face a threat from India’s ambassador to the US? No, and we don’t really face a threat from nuns and 3-year-olds, either. Pretending that we do is not just a waste of resources, it’s a source of embarrassment for everyone involved.