In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, “propaganda of the deed” — individual acts of violence intended to inspire revolution — became the signature anarchist activity. Among the prominent casualties were French president Sadi Carnot, American president William McKinley and Italian King Umberto I.

Although propaganda of the deed has faded into history as an actuality, it tends to pop up frequently in anti-anarchist demagoguery, and I can’t help but think it’s set to do so once again. Early state and media spin on the killing of Gerardo Hernandez, the first US Transportation Security Administration employee to die “in the line of duty,” already attributes “anti-government views” to his alleged killer, Paul Ciancia.

As an anarchist, I’m not a fan of propaganda by the deed for three reasons:

First, it’s strategically useless. No single act is likely to produce anarchist revolution in an environment not yet primed for such revolution.

Secondly, it’s tactically counter-productive. Anyone with the intelligence and energy to plan such an act could do so much more for the cause in other ways than getting himself killed or imprisoned in this kind of one-off project.

Finally, all such activities carry a heavy risk of “collateral damage” and we anarchists, unlike state actors, actually shoulder true responsibility for our actions instead of seeking excuses for them.

All that said, if Ciancia did what he’s accused of doing, in the manner he’s accused of doing it, whether he intended it as “progaganda of the deed” or not, he deserves the thanks and support of a grateful populace.

Former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, a senior adviser to US president Barack Obama, justified the Obama regime’s cold-blooded murder of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki — a 16-year-old American accused of no crime whatsoever — with the claim that if he didn’t want to be murdered, he should have “had a more responsible father” (his father, Anwar al-Awlaki, was in fact accused of crimes, although the evidence seemed pretty weak).

To riff on Gibbs: If Gerardo Hernandez didn’t want to be gunned down in reprisal for he and his fellow TSA employees’ terrorism, he shouldn’t have accepted employment as a terrorist.

Yes, TSA is a terrorist organization. Its entire purpose is to frighten travelers for political purposes — the very definition of terrorism — by subjecting them to unwanted and unjustifiable searches of their property and persons, sometimes assaulting them sexually or otherwise in the process, sometimes abducting them.

By all accounts, Ciancia was extraordinarily careful in his attack. He asked each person he encountered whether or not they worked for TSA. Those who did not were sent on their way unharmed. He shot terrorists, and ONLY terrorists, with no “collateral damage.”

I don’t have to think that’s smart, or particularly useful to my cause, to admire both the morality of the action and the careful restraint with which it was performed.

The world would be a much nicer place if every government employee dreamed dark dreams of Paul Ciancia and his potential copycats every night, arrived at work every morning with those dreams very much in mind, and aspired only to keep a low, polite profile and cause no offense until such time as he or she could leave the life of crime and find a real job.


    Yes, TSA is a terrorist organization. Its entire purpose is to frighten travelers for political purposes

Alternately the TSA might just be a bloated, spectacularly inefficient government organization trying to keep dangerous weapons like bombs and knives off planes, along with dangerous people who might use them, while erring on the side of "over-reach" where any gray areas occur.

Most TSA employees are just poorly paid people who have been fighting for over 10 years to unionize in the face of fierce government opposition (imagine that, government employees battling government agencies). They don't view themselves as fulfilling a mandate to "frighten travelers for political purposes" because no such mandate exist.

These TSA employees are not philosophers. They do not test their actions by viewing the morality of them through the lens of various world-views (especially radical minority ones that most people have never heard about) before acting. If they have though about it, they probably see themselves as showing up to work every day to a job that is thankless an boring, but at least does some good as they are keeping people safe. That's it.

If you have a problem with the TSA philosophically, confront it on a philosophical level and enact change there. Do it legislatively. Convince people of the bloat, the waste, and the ineffectiveness and change the laws.

But don't gun down some poor guy that has probably spent some time fighting the TSA itself for better treatment and who doesn't, for one single second, subscribe to or believe any of the things you're accusing him of believing or subscribing to. There are very strong arguments to be made on both sides of the debate regarding TSA, since any thinking person knows that there is a massive tension between liberty and security, and we have an unfathomable number of laws written in our society to try an navigate these gray lines.

    He shot terrorists, and ONLY terrorists, with no “collateral damage.”

He is the very definition of a terrorist, and just bolstered the case for intensive security checkpoints and weapons screening at airports unimaginably in the public's eye, and more importantly for his "cause", in the eyes of the decision makers in the government. Ciancia is both a coward and a fool.

EDIT: I have a little more to add. It's an anecdote I've been meaning to share for a while and this is probably as good a thread as any.

When I was travelling back from my honeymoon at New York's LaGuardia airport there was a significant delay. This was a few months ago when that Southwest plane's landing gear collapsed, tearing up the runway and causing many flights to be cancelled or significantly delayed. We were flying out the day after.

Anyway, we got there at our regularly scheduled time, and my wife got selected for a pat down because her sequin skirt was wreaking havoc with the metal detector. Annoying but it actually didn't take too long, -3 extra minutes in a room with a couple female agents. . Turns out we had plenty of time as our flight was delayed 4 hours. The bigger crime was that TSA stole my coffee. I was very sleepy, and it was exceptionally delicious, and I had about a half a cup left when I got to the security checkpoint and I couldn't take it with me. Oh well.

Anyway, we get to our terminal and it is crowded. We are one of the very few people to snag a seat, and very quickly they filled and people started laying out on the floor and over into the hallways. We sat uncomfortably for about an hour when we first saw "The Guy." The Guy was interesting in that he was dressed in a sort of long white robe-type garb and a head wrap, with a long full beard. He kind of wandered into the terminal and looked around a bit before setting down in a corner on the floor. He asked a person nearby some question I couldn't hear, and they had a little back and forth exchange in which he appeared to have trouble understanding/communicating. Definitely foreign born.

Anyway, because he was the most interesting character in the terminal so far (and there were some interesting ones, not in a good way), I'm mentally trying to place him. Based off the head wrap and not much else, I'm thinking the dude is a Sikh, but who knows? That's was just a guess and I was entertaining myself trying to flesh it out. There aren't too many Sikhs in the US, but Detroit, where I was flying to, has one of the larger populations of them.

I joked to my wife that the poor guy must get so many stares from people on planes being obviously foreign and sporting the beard and head wrap. Probably a lot of "random selections" in the TSA line too. I shit you not, so sooner do I say this does The Guy get up with his bag and shuffle over to the charging station where he crouches low over it and reaches in. He proceeds to pull out a shitty black cell phone, reach into his robes and pull out another shitty black cell phone that looks identical, then places the cell phone he pulled from the black bag back into it. He then tucks the other phone back into his robe, doesn't charge either of them, and shuffles away. I start laughing because that was hilarious. I was just joking about him being profiled and dude literally hunches over and reveals two identical cell phones, one on his person and one in a bag, and if you've watched any amount of action dramas in popular culture, you now know that dude has a bomb and he just checked the detonator in the bag. I mean, come on. So yeah. Way to fit a stereotype.

A bit more time passes and The Guy gets lucky and snags a seat when someone gets up. He mashes in between two people and tucks his bag under his chair. The dude looks keeps looking around in what looks like a suspicious/nervous manner. We both notice he is checking out the people around him hardcore. What does this mean, if anything? Well, he's flanked by two young girls in shorts, and it's really hard to tell if he is nervous or just creepin. I really don't know what his life philosophy or religious views are, but it's entirely plausible that if he leads any sort of extremely conservative religious life that preaches modesty, he might be in candyland when it comes to hot young chicks in shorts sitting in close proximity. Bottom line is that the guy is trying to look at the people around him without being too obvious and he is failing more spectactularly than I have ever seen a person fail at it. He is Captain Obvious. I really can't figure out if he is scared of getting caught looking down that girl's shirt or if he is scared that she knows about his bomb. Did I mention I was bored?

We're about two hours into our four hour delay when I look up and see that The Guy is missing. I look over to his seat and it is empty, but there is his black bag tucked under it in the crowded terminal. I scan around and see him about 100ft away, heading into the men's room.


So this is where I am wondering what this guy is thinking leaving his bag behind in a crowded terminal. I couldn't imagine doing that. Not least because I'm terrified of it being snatched since that is extremely common for thieves to do, but also because of the omnipresent, incessant, loud, ANNOYING* recordings I have to listen to every time I travel in any airport about not leaving your bag unattended and alerting security if you see one. It is grating. So yeah. WTF dude? How do you not understand how you're not supposed to leave your bag unattended? Is it the language barrier or is it something else? At this point my wife is kind of raising an eyebrow.

So I tell her "Listen, it's fine. He's just a foreign Eastern dude that checked a cell phone from his bag with one on his person before leaving that bag in the terminal and walking away from it. Happens all the time." I was mostly joking, because I really do believe that his happens all the time to the point of being boring to security, but the cell phones thing was a little weird I have to admit to myself.

So whatevs. We wait with baited breath to wait for him to walk out of the bathroom and he does...and proceeds to turn left and walk down the escalator marked "EXIT and Baggage Claim."




Now at this point I am thinking to myself that yes, this is totally mundane. I have a better chance of winning the lottery than having this be a Bad Situation. But thinking pragmatically about the thousands of times I've heard those unattended bag warnings, I reason that if there was ever a situation where one should report an unattended bag, -*this is probably it*. Plus I remember my cup of coffee. If my tax dollars are going to fund a billion dollar organization that steals my coffee, I'll be goddamned if I'm not going to make them do the job they were actually created to do. If they can check my coffee they can check that motherfucking bag. So I get up, walk into the hallway, and within a few feet I run into a TSA agent who looked like he was hurrying to somewhere, and it goes a little something like this:

Me: Hey, um, so this is probably no big deal, but there is an unattended bag over there.

Agent 1: Oh ok, thanks

Me: Yeah and it was a little weird because he pulled out two phones, one from that bag and one from his robes, looked at them both then put the one in the bag back and then took off. I'm sure it's nothing.

Agent 1: Ok, yeah, that happens all the time. If he doesn't come back in 10 minutes just come find me (he proceeds to walk off)

Me: (walking towards him) Uh, he left the bag, went to the bathroom, and then went down the escalators to the exit...

Agent 1: (still trying to walk away) Oh yeah, like I said we get that all the time.

Me: Do you just wanna check it real quick? Do you wanna know where the bag is?

TSA 1: Where is it?

Me: Right under that seat over there, dude has been gone for about 10 minutes.

TSA 1: Alright, yeah, like I said if he doesn't come back just come find me or you can go to any agent (jots quickly away).

Well that didn't go how I expected. I return to my wife who is incredulous when I tell her what happened. She got her ass patted because her skirt was shiny and these clowns can't be bothered to glance in an unattended bag per those mind-numbing non-stop announcements?

So we sit there staring at that bag for a few more minutes. I'm tempted to just walk over there and open it, but I fucking know it's just going have like, some underwear, a cell phone, and and apple and a bottled water, and I'll get to look like some shady asshole that went through some stranger's bag. I shouldn't have to be in this position. Fuck you TSA. I decide that I'm going to find more agents and tell them.

So that's what I do. I head out of the terminal and down the hall to the first security checkpoint where there is a podium around which three agents are standing looking bored and making small talk. I approach and tell them about the bag and The Guy.

Agent 2: You mean he just up and left?

Me: Yeah.

Agent 3: What he look like?

Me: Long white robes, head wrap, long beard, definitely foreign.

Agent 2: Alright well if he doesn't come back in 10 minutes let us know.

Me: Are you serious, it's been 10 minutes since I spoke with the first TSA agent, and he's not back!

Agent 3: Ok, where it that bag? (I proceed to point out the gate within view and where the bag is roughly)

Agent 2: Ok now that gate over there, that's not our sector

Me: Huh?

Agent 2: Yeah, that's out of our sector, what you need to do is see that wall over there by the gate and see that phone on it? You need go to that phone and call the agents from there cause that's not our sector.

Me: Are you seriously telling me to walk back into a gate where there might be a security issue in order to call TSA after talking with no less than 4 TSA agents about it? That's why I'm talking to you, -because I don't want to go back into that gate until this is checked out.

Agent 4 to her co-workers: Alright, I see you all later it's time for my break be back in 15.

Agents 2 & 3: Ok, see you later.

Me: Listen, you know the bag is unattended, I've talked to multiple agents and they keep telling me to just come back later, the dude left it there and headed towards the exit a while ago. I'm not walking back into the terminal to call a 5th agent. Why do I have to walk over to a wall phone to call you guys, -can't you call someone from "that sector" to check it out for me on your walkie-talkie?

And then:

Agent 2: Hey is that the guy?

Sure enough coming off an elevator and walking towards the gate is The Guy.

Agent 3: That Muslim dude right there?

Me: I don't think he's Muslim but yeah that's him.

Agent 2: Well he's going back to his bag now it looks like so I don't see an issue. If he leaves it alone again let us know.

Me: ....

So I head back to the terminal gate defeated. I dunno. Call me crazy, but if there was ever a time for the TSA to check a bag it was that. An unattended bag where the owner walked to the exit and remained away for at least a half an hour.

But no. It wasn't meant to be. I've heard the narrative of the TSA that OP and others have presented. What I found wasn't an evil political organization with an agenda. I found bored workers that were more than a little lazy that just couldn't be bothered. I couldn't have talked them into profiling or "violating the rights" of That Guy to save my life. They were more concerned with grabbing a snack or passing the buck onto one of their co-workers. I'm convinced that if stealing my coffee required any effort beyond glancing at a nearby garbage can and telling me I couldn't have it, I'd still have that too.

These are the people that Ciancia was gunning down. Bored. Indifferent. Not interested in stripping away even an ounce of your freedom in the slightest. They show up for a paycheck, and do what they're trained to do and nothing more, but often less. To paint them as something more and worthy of death as OP had done...well frankly, it's disgusting to me and displays a spectacular shallowness of thought. Intellectually weak as well as callous.

posted 2437 days ago