|Living in a Police State- The Airport Experience
Having just spent ten days in Italy, a country where you didn't even have to show your passport on heading to baggage claim, much less fill out a form indicating what items you purchased before entering the country, and the agricultural products you might be sneaking in, I was utterly astonished, upon my return flight, to be shown a 20 minute film "Welcome to the USA" which hammered home to me how far along the path to becoming a police state we have traveled.
This film, after presenting inspiring images which show what a multiracial, multicultural country we have become, suddenly starts indicating to travelers all the different forms they have to fill out, all the lines they have to pass through, all the documents they have to show, and all the occasions upon which they or their luggage might be searched upon getting to their baggage claim or a connecting flight. Each of these steps is accompanied by a picture of a grim faced border control agent, ready to protect the nation against disease, economic sabotage, terrorism, organized crime, and God knows what else.
The entire effect of the film was to present the United States of America as a nation under siege, fearful not only of visitors, but its own citizens. I felt insulted, embarrassed and frightened. What kind of country have we become? Why are we afraid of so many things? What are we protecting?
And all the multicultural imagery that began and ended the film could not prevent a chill from running through me as I returned to the country where I was born and where I live.