This week, Toni is off on a jolly ;) so it's my turn to have a rant. not too difficult to think of at topic as I have just returned from the US where I--along with every other visitor--is a suspected terrorist:
When you meet someone for the first time, you generally like to make sure there is no broccolli stuck in your teeth, your shirt is buttoned straight and devoid of obvious stains and your fly is zipped. You want them to like you, so you extend your hand in a friendly manner, smile and say, "Pleased to meet you."
Unless, of course, you're the United States of America. America seems to go out of its way to intimidate, frighten, frustrate and generally alienate visitors who comes to its door. I realize I have banged on about this before, but I will keep banging on about it until their policy of organized thuggary ends.
Some years ago, I gave up flying into America because I resented being treated like a criminal in my own country. My work-around involved flying into Canada, which improved the experience in several ways; it was cheaper, the Canadians were a lot more pleased to see us and we got to see a bit of Canada in the bargain.
The best part was, driving into America beat flying into America hands down. The border guards were generally friendly and chatty and it was a pleasure crossing into the US and feeling I was home.
This time, however, our trip took place a few weeks after yet another escalation in the "let's keep out all the foreigners" laws, and it was anything but a pleasure. We approached the border as usual and I explained I was an American with a British wife, but instead of inviting us to inside so we could fill out the customary form, they confiscated our passports and ordered us to drive to a special building.
At the building, I was ordered to park my car. Then my keys were confiscated and we were ordered to yet another building.
I don't know how many of you are familiar with international travel, but when a border official takes away your passport, it leave you feeling very, very vulnerable, more than a little nervous and likely wishing you'd worn your yellow underwear.
I was merely feeling vulnerable and a bit pissed off that I was, once again, being treated like a criminal in my own country. I wasn't too nervous because it was, after all, America and to my knowledge they were not yet sending their own citizens to secret prisons, but if this had happened to me in, say, Albania, I'd be wishing I'd worn my brown pants.
Now I understand the need for security, but I don't see the need for such extreme behavior. You take someone's travel papers and car keys and you might as well handcuff them because, until you return those items, they are, de facto, your prisoner. I'm an American citizen; what did I do to merit that?
I apologize to my readers but I have to say this: "What the f@%k is wrong with you, America!!! When did you become so frightened and insecure that you feel you have to intimidate innocent people to make yourself feel better? You used to be strong and proud and sure of yourself but after one sucker punch you turned into the playground bully. Get a grip, will you?"
There, I feel better.
No, actually, I don't, and I won't until my country returns to being the land of the free and the home of the brave. Do they really want people to stop visiting and to start thinking of them as thuggish and reactionary? Are they happy that people who might have vacationed in America with their families and tourist dollars are now going to other destinations because they don’t want to be treated that way? Are they purposely seeking out the last drops of worldwide good will so they can turn them sour? That's such a shame, because America is a great place and I want people to know that, but it's hard to get past the trauma of actually getting in.
America’s motto may be "In God We Trust" but they should consider taking on board, "You only get one chance to make a first impression."
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