Friday, November 10, 2006

What does competence have to do with it?

My predecessor in the Association that I work for joined us for our annual meeting over the last two days. I asked him to help us think about accountability measures for higher education - to listen to our discussions and then offer a slightly distant sage's perspective. He did a superb job. Colleges and universities are entering a new era where they need to be more transparent. Many in higher education do not understand that perspective - but our discussions helped my members begin to think about how we can resist those calls for more information that are silly and at the same time be proactive in living in this new world.

But as I was driving him back to the airport he told me that he is one of those people on the TSA watch list. Mind you this guy is 75 years old, has a PhD, was a college administrator for a good part of his career. But the TSA has him on the list - that means more hassle when he wants to fly. But to get off the list is even more trouble. So he puts up with this minor inconvenience because it is not worth the trouble to correct it.

But here is the rub. He is a vehement opponent of the President's policies in Iraq. He has been quite vocal to me and others about his position. None of this is any the bit outside of normal bounds of reasonable discourse. I think the President has been a lousy protector of budget integrity - domestic spending has been rising at a much faster rate than college costs. So I am critical too of this president. But this guy is profiled. So the TSA for whatever reason takes this 75 year old, highly educated, retired moderate and labels him a terrorist. My lord he is a regular reader of The New Republic.

He speculated that he might be in the group because he has a "daughter" who is Turkish; he had a student from Turkey live with his family and they have remained close. He has been critical in emails to his family including his former exchange student "daughter" - he thinks that might have been the thing. I think the explanation is more simple. His name is Moore and I am sure that the explanation is that the TSA morons believe that he is a moslem from Spain. (Moor)

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