Regarding the whole issue of the USA subjecting us shifty-looking foreigners to ritual humiliation and suspicion before allowing us entry into the “land of the free” (tee-hee!), here’s a nice little article (via Burnt Toast):
Put it this way, if you were hustled away at an English airport, fingerprinted, photographed, interrogated, bullied, harassed, and slapped in handcuffs for complaining, then told that you shouldn’t mind because it’s for the safety of your allies, the English people, because one of you Americans might conceivably be a bomber, you wouldn’t like it, would you? No, so I’m not quite clear why you think doing this to people coming into your country is not going to damage your tourist and travel industry at all. Oh, of course, silly me, because we’re protecting the American people, aren’t we?
That’s the whole problem with this ludicrous measure: it is grossly asymmetrical. US citizens are not required to pass through this catch-all security dragnet, and the US state department cries “foul!” whenever another country reciprocates. Are US citizens somehow magically exempt from being terrorists? Of course not, otherwise why would the federal government be making underhanded grabs for more yet more powers of Fatherland investigation and surveillance? So why not make all Americans give up their fingerprints at border checkpoints? Oh, might that be an invasion of privacy? Morally repugnant? Unconstitutional?
The article makes another point later on (emphasis is mine):
“Yours used to be a fine country, Mr Government Affairs Spokesman; I liked the straightforward way most people went about their business, and the ‘how can we make things work for you’ attitude. It was invigorating and I got a real buzz out of visiting. Now I’m not so sure I want to come and visit. I can stay at home and experience administrative paranoia; I don’t need to see that your country can do it bigger and better than anyone else. I feel uncomfortable trying to deal with an administration that feels so threatened, without being able to define what that threat really is, that it has to tell itself bigger, ever more bizarre stories about perceived threats in order to justify its reactions to what are now effectively pieces of fluff moving in the breeze. This is not healthy. The USA is no longer a healthy country, and this is clearly demonstrated in the way it deals with the rest of the world. 9/11 was a terrible thing, in and of itself, but so was bombing Afghanistan and Iraq because your administration thought the perpetrators might be hiding there, even though it had few grounds for thinking so, and even fewer now that weapons of mass destruction are providing elusive.”
I have been thinking this for some time now. The USA is sick. On the world stage, its behaviour is that of a paranoid schizophrenic. No, really. Take a typical description of paranoid schizophrenia from a typical mental health web site:
[Victims] often begin to hear, see, or feel things that aren’t really there (hallucinations) or become convinced of things that simply aren’t true (delusions). In the paranoid form of this disorder, they develop delusions of persecution or personal grandeur.
Yes, 9/11 was a single, enormous terrorist attack, but that does not mean the whole world has it in for the US. There’s a difference between taking all reasonable security measures, and outright paranoia. There’s a difference between hunting down the perpetrators of an atrocity, and killing thousands of people in the process of invading two countries and wildly lashing out at one’s closest allies. The whole “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” attitude speaks volumes.
But it’s more than just America’s recent performance on the world stage. Take a look at the obscene and ever-widening gap between rich and poor. Take a look at the medical system that soaks up 50% of the world’s healthcare budget, yet leaves 15% of the population out in the cold. Take a look at the hijacking of its political machinery by corporate interests. We’re talking more than just a few social injustices here–we’re looking at an accelerating breakdown in the entire social fabric of the country, and what is the best headline its Leader can come up with to usher in the new year? A moon base. Wow. That’s really going to make people feel good about themselves when their job is off-shored, and they find themselves without medical insurance.
America, the rest of the world looks upon you with a mixture of horror and fear. And part of your problem is that you don’t see that this is a problem. As we all know from pop psychology, acknowledging that you have a problem is the first step towards solving it. So can you please get rid of Bush this year? Thanks. The world will be a safer and nicer place for it.