Flying On Other Vectors: The Airport Ecosystem

Saddam’s statue is pulled down by U.S. Marines using a wench on a tank.[Source: AP/Guardian]I don’t mind flying, but airports oppress me. When I fly, I try to remember an epiphany I had in Atlanta several years ago: airports are complex ecosystems, and a blind traveler navigating through them with a white cane is just another bottom-feeder plying the food chain.

That day began with carefree dancing in the street at the French Quarter Festival. There were portents, though, of the trajectory to come. It was the peak of “major combat operations” in the ongoing Iraq war. The top news story that day - the story repeated over and over again as I passed from airport to airport on my wayward journey home - was the toppling of the Saddam Hussein statue in Baghdad.

The epiphany came on a flimsy fire escape teetering above the tarmac in the middle of a terror alert. What was going on? Did Saddam feel this kind of vertiginous careening out of control right before he toppled? Then I got a grip. It was the reassuring hand grip of my white cane. Read more.

About the image: Saddam’s statue was pulled down by U.S. Marines using a wench on a tank. It was big news in Baghdad on April 9, 2003. An Army report concluded later that the statue’s demise was not a spontaneous expression of Iraqi freedom. A Marine colonel first decided to topple the statue, and an Army psychological operations unit turned the event into a propaganda moment. [Source: AP/Guardian]

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