UNESCO, the United Nation’s cultural and education agency, announced today that the United States’ airport check-in procedures would be added to its List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding. The annual list recognizes valuable social practices and customs that require urgent measures to sustain.
Over the past decade, the security procedures at the nation’s airports have become a series of Orwellian checkpoints and searches. Popular backlash in recent years, including lawsuits and congressional hearings, has curtailed some of the powers of the Transport Security Administration (TSA), the “local actors” who protect the vital tradition.
A panel of UNESCO experts felt the practices of enhanced pat-downs and radiation-emitting body scanning were in danger of being snuffed out.
“It’s imperative that measures are taken now to ensure the continued practice of this valuable piece of American heritage. A majority of people in opposition to the practice is precisely why we must take action now to preserve it,” a UNESCO spokesman said.
“The draconian procedures that each person is treated to at America’s airports are a living, breathing representation of the spirit of authoritarian government that made this country so great,” he continued.
This is the first time that an American cultural institution has been included on the list, which features other culturally significant entries like Viennese coffee culture, Indian Vedic chanting and Peruvian scissor dancing.
UNESCO singled out the TSA for “unwavering obstinacy in the face of popular sentiment,” calling the organization “a beacon of hope for oppressed customs around the world.”
They also acknowledged the participation of the American people, who in spite of virtually unanimous hostility to the practice allow it to continue relatively unabated.
“It’s a part of our heritage, to be sure,” said America’s secretary of culture, Emmanuel Goldstein. “It’s something every American should be proud of, whether they like it or not.”
[Image Credit: Public Domain]