Thursday, October 30, 2003

Starting January 5th, every foreign visitor entering the United States by plane or boat will be fingerprinted and photographed, then checked against a national biometrics database of "known terrorists".

Instead of beginning a nonsensical rant about how the Americans are going too far, I'll try and keep my cool by reaching for a book that impacted me at a very young age.

This book is called "1984" and within its pages, George Orwell predicted these "times of terror". The methods used by Oceania resemble those of today's U.S.--monitor your citizens (PATRIOT ACT), keep them afraid of the "enemy" (War on Terror, etc.), remain in a constant state of war (Afghanistan, Iraq...), and have a human avatar of the enemy who is both to blame for all the current problems, and also at large (Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein). That way, you can neglect their domestic problems. Unemployment? Massive deficits? Tax cuts for the top 5% of the population? No problem. Any dissenters can be shut up with rhetoric (You just don't want to keep this country safe!) or with dogma (We're the most powerful nation in the world. Why shouldn't we unilaterally remove a potential threat?). They even use word games to foil us (You're either with us or with the terrorists), making neutrality both impossible and quite dangerous.

Perhaps I am being too rash or even paranoid. I understand that terrorists aren't rational and there is virtually no way to stop them from doing their horrible acts of violence. The funny thing is, how will America ever stop the terrorists by being harder? Being tough might work on the schoolyard but in the real world, it is better to temper your actions with gifts and praise, concilliation and respect, rather than M-16s and land mines. The U.S. has forgotten that in order to win the hearts and minds of the globe, they have to at least take us out once in awhile, or maybe send us a birthday card or pull out their troops out of our borders.

It is easy to chop the tallest tree in the forest. By that, I mean that I'm only being hard on the U.S. because they claim to be the Leaders of the Free World, we expect them to live up to their own hype and self-promotion. It seems that now, they're saying "Give me your tired and your poor, so I can scan their retinas and see if they're related to that Bin Laden character".

I wonder if Timothy McVeigh used a seaport or airport when he emigrated to the U.S. Wait, you mean he only had to cross state lines to blow up hundreds of people? He was born in the USA, just like Bruce Springsteen? Really! I thought that terrorists only come from Saudi Arabia, or maybe Sudan if you want to get picky. Wow. Who knew?

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