Buried deep in a recent New York Times story
is a rather astonishing passage that shows how
recklessly unserious we truly are about national
Under the headline "Retarded Immigrant Strives for
Independence," [November 20, 2002] reporter Arthur
notes approvingly that 21-year-old Kareen Dupervil,
a mentally retarded Haitian woman "with a first-grade
reading level," has applied for a job as a baggage
handler at La Guardia Airport in Queens, N.Y.
The Times writer tells us that Dupervil
"took a test at the airport with two other mentally
retarded adults. Though Ms. Dupervil did not pass, the
trainer who gave the test called [her job counselor]
to encourage her to study and try again."
Thanks to help from the Brooklyn Bureau of Community
government-funded charity that
provides disabled and
"undocumented" persons with employment assistance
and is supported by the Times`s
Neediest Cases Fund, Dupervil will be tutored
"for the test twice a week. She will take the test again
in a few months."
And she will take the test again and again,
presumably, until she passes – or sues under the federal
Americans with Disabilities Act to get the job.
best and the brightest security professionals at our
So much for the new and improved New York Times.
But let`s do as the Times editors
always do, and leave Dupervil`s immigration status
national guidelines, federal baggage screeners are
supposed to demonstrate the
"ability to distinguish
objects on the screening equipment monitor, distinguish
colors displayed on screening monitors, conduct
metal-detector and pat-down search procedures, and
`efficiently and thoroughly` manipulate baggage; be able
to read, speak, and write English well enough to carry
out instructions; read identification cards, airline
tickets, and credentials; provide directions and answer
questions to travelers; and write incident reports,
statements, and log entries."
Private airline baggage handlers who work on ground
crew teams are not only responsible for heavy lifting.
They must be able to operate ramp vehicles, forklifts,
and other ground equipment. They also have access to
planes` cabins and cargo holds, and can bypass
checkpoints and metal detectors with highly coveted
identification cards that open locked doors in
top-security areas throughout the airport.
Handling and screening baggage are not rocket science
tasks, but how is someone with a first-grader`s reading
comprehension supposed to do the job and demonstrate the
vigilance against terrorism, bribery, and
incompetence required in a post-September 11 world?
Should these responsibilities and privileges be
entrusted to individuals with nice smiles but who can
barely understand a Dr. Seuss tale?
It is not entirely clear from the Times
article whether Dupervil applied to be a federal airport
baggage screener or a private airline baggage handler at
La Guardia. Either way, we`re in trouble when we have
airport security test administrators so pathetically
desperate – or exceedingly cruel – that they`re calling
up mentally-challenged individuals who flunked the
eligibility exam and enticing them to retake it.
This irresponsible lowering of public safety
standards reminds me of poor Robert Jordan. He was the
man who applied to be a police officer in New London,
Connecticut, but was turned down because he
scored too high on a standard intelligence test.
When he sued, a federal judge
rejected his discrimination claim and ruled that it
was reasonable to reject people who score too well on
Jordan lost the case, but the police department
received nationwide scorn. Jordan thought he had the
last laugh. "Jay Leno made up this great song,"
recounted after the ruling. "The theme music was
cops, dumb cops, whatcha gonna do, whatcha going to
do with a low IQ.` "
Now we know. The slow and the witless can line up for
airport security jobs, smile brightly, flunk until they
pass their tests, and reap the rewards of the continued
dumbing down of America.
Michelle Malkin is author of
for Peter Brimelow`s review.
for Michelle Malkin`s website.
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