I know you have a job to do. I know it’s part of your job description to be a dour-faced, humourless uniform. But I don’t have to like you. Especially not after you stop me and give me the third degree, for no apparent reason. And me in particular. Why me? Do I LOOK like a bloody terrorist?
America is now a police state. That’s what it felt like from my point of view these last few days, and I was merely passing through it on my way to far, far friendlier and welcoming Canada.
I remember reading spy novels set during the cold war, and the way America’s arch nemesis, Russia, used to be depicted in those books – grim KGB agents around every corner spot-checking and asking for ‘papers,’ which meant you had to be fearful of every step you took and everything you said, lest you raise any kind of suspicion and be hauled off for interrogation or worst. Something the KGB were always presented as very keen on doing.
Well I’d say that’s what the not so good-old-USA feels like now – certainly from my brief interaction with it. As I said, I was merely transiting through Seattle, trying desperately not to miss a flight to Vancouver, but it was as if I was trying to illegally enter the US with ulterior and sinister motives.
I’m British-born and carry a British passport, so technically there should not be any reason for me to be barred entry to the States, and technically I wasn’t barred – but I didn’t exactly feel welcomed either. The fact is that I’m brown, a Muslim, I live in the Middle East and have relatives in Pakistan. And my name, is ‘Sheikh’.
Okay, the atrocities committed by religion-abusing nutters is an absolute unforgiveable outrage and I want those lunatics stopped and brought to justice as much as anyone else, even moreso because they’ve clearly made things so much more difficult in certain parts of the world for the vast majority of us peace-loving normal folk, who just want to quietly go about our business.
So fair enough that they stop me the first time, even if I did nearly miss my connecting flight. I can just about understand that. Perhaps they needed to go through that to give me some kind of clearance in their system, satisfying themselves that I wasn’t the dumbest Al Qaeda operative in history, cheerfully going through US airport immigration with incendiaries stuffed in my belt buckle.
But then, just two days later, coming back the other way, I get the same extensive hassle again! And nearly miss my flight, again.
At this point you really do start to wonder why you’re being singled out and the humiliation is then joined by indignation. You feel like you’re guilty until you can prove yourself innocent – so much for a free country and civil rights. You also can’t shake the feeling they these homeland security types rather seem to be enjoying their power-trip a bit too much.
Maybe their intention is to just put people off from travelling there. Well if that’s the case, it’s worked. I don’t appreciate the undue delays, the inspections, the intrusive questions, and the suspicious gazes, or the embarrassment.
I’m a pacifist by nature, my religious beliefs are purely my own business and I condemn terrorism in all its forms whether conducted by Muslims or otherwise, anywhere in the world.
I have no need to go to America, and have no desire to tolerate the rampant paranoia of the local forces, fuelled by a diet of movies and TV shows that present us all as towel-heads harbouring a propensity to self-combust at the merest provocation.
They even asked me NOT to keep my hands in my pockets whilst they spoke to me. What? Did they think my cough sweets were chemical weapons?!
Well rest assured, I am not a terrorist and I’m not going to America, so y’all have a nice day now.