Sunday, April 10, 2005

Let Feardom Reign

My country, ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims’ pride,
From every mountainside,
Let freedom ring!

The Department of Homeland Oppression has decided, in its infinite wisdom, that you and me and everyone else who travels to Canada (and Mexico) will require a passport to re-enter the country come 2007. And a citizen of those countries will be required to present a passport to gain entry into the US.

This really burns me up.

Those of us in the border states have spent a lifetime freely traveling across the border. We laughed at how ridiculous it seemed to even have a border crossing. On any given Saturday thousands of Canucks flock across the border to shop and sightsee, and thousands of Yanks do the same thing. We are the living embodiment of the oft-bandied about political catch-phrase, a community of nations, nations without borders.

My folks explained to me back when I was a wee kid that we were "free", and that means we're not required to carry papers or any other justification as to who we are and why we are there. They always said it proudly, pointing to the practice of "checking papers" in Nazi Germany, and being carted away to who-knows-where when they aren't in order. We've all seen the movies at least. One must be very careful when making such comparisons, as there is always an emotionally charged and indignant rebuttal awaiting those who do. And yet, if the shoe fits .....

I ask, what will be accomplished by such an edict? Do you think that a terrorist cell, with the technology and financing to create and deliver a weapon onto our soil does not have the know-how to forge a passport? Or buy one? Every dirt-poor border-busting illegal seems to know where to get forged official documents. It doesn't seem much of a stretch to conclude that a well-organized and financed effort would be inconvenienced in the least.

This is a useless and hollow act that will irretrievably alter the very conception of the word "freedom". It will change nothing those for whom it is supposedly intended, while changing everything for millions of lawful Americans, Canadians, and Mexicans. It will erase the practice of our open-border history, and with it, our national pride.

To my Canadian brethren, I apologize. I apologize that every authoritarion idea suppressed by our collective notion of freedom in the past 50 years has suddenly been embraced in a knee-jerk reaction to 9/11. I apologize that we Americans do not seem to have any further interest in defending the very freedom that sets us apart from the rest of the world, in which we used to pride ourselves go greatly. I apologize that we have deluded ourselves into believing that we can somehow trade freedom for safety, when in fact every ounce of freedom lost is gone forever, while promises of a risk-free existence will remain forever fleeting. We are giving up the very things that made us great in our relatively short history.

Perhaps it is not to late? We can stop this. But to do so, we Americans must have the collective backbone to stand up, address our government and say without equivocation:


It is, after all, up to us. By the people, for the people? We the people. Do we have it in us to do this? To stand up and insist to our leaders that this is not what we want for ourselves? That we as a nation are willing to endure some measure of risk, to preserve some measure of freedom?

I sure hope so, because something precious, so very very precious is about to be lost. Forever.

1 comment:

sooray said...

I heard a piece several weeks ago on national NPR. They were interviewing some town official in Point Roberts. This guy was talking about how traveling acroos the border (by both yanks and canucks) several times a day was just part of everyday life.