Back In The USSR

I Do Not Travel In/To/Through the USA

With thanks to The Beetles

Here is my one and only Standard Condition of Contract:

I will not travel in, to or through the United States of America or any of its closely-held territories.

This is not negotiable.

Some people would like to ascribe this to paranoia or America-hate. It is neither. It is simple pragmatism, and there are two reasons.

I harbour no fear being flagged as a potential terrorist by the US immigration and customs authorities. Hmm, no actually, I do harbour a bit of fear because the US border people seem to have become quite arbitrary and heavy-handed on this score, but I think it has a pretty low probability of occurring. On the other hand, being flagged for a Special Interview upon entry to the US… well, that is a different matter. For me it is a near certainty. For I live… on a farm.

A couple of hours before the plane lands at JFK, the cabin crew hand out those little forms for us foreign nationals to fill in.

It starts out innocently enough…

Are you now, or have you ever been denied entry to the USA?      Yes   No”

…but quickly gets tougher!

Are you now, or have you ever been a member of the Nazi party?     Yes   No”

Are you now, or have you ever been a member of a terrorist organisation?     Yes   No”

(Yeah, I’d answer those ones honestly if I were a terrorist or a Nazi, wouldn’t you?)

Have you visited or stayed on a farm within the past 6 weeks?

Oops.     Yes.

And I can’t even lie about it because my physical address, which the DHS and TSA already have squirrelled away in the bowels of their databases, is “Farm 1234,…“ Front and centre! So, without fail, I get singled out for a Special Interview.

Their concern is quite reasonable, really. They want to make sure that my shoes are clean: that I am not inadvertently importing foreign bacteria, fungi, weed seeds or insect eggs via the mud that might be clinging to the soles of my shoes, though it is not clear to me how farm mud is so much more hazardous in this regard than city mud. Nevertheless, it’s a real worry. I know one fellow who, after visiting Hop Farms abroad (he’s a Hop breeder) actually throws his shoes away upon boarding the plane home to ensure that he does not inadvertantly import any of the myriad diseases to which Hops are prone, but which are not – so far – found in South Africa.

The trouble is that the Special Interview Queue makes no distinction between

  • those of us who have (oh the horror!) Been On A Farm Within The Past 6 Weeks,
  • those who really are suspected of terrorist connections (or have travelled to One Of Those Shithole Countries recently and perhaps look a little Middle Eastern), and
  • those who are entering the USA on a tourist visa with the likely intention of disappearing into the Land Of The Free, Home Of The Brave as illegal migrants. (The most-likely category, for reasons perplexing to me.)

Everybody in that queue gets treated with the same degree of hostility and extreme suspicion. Who needs that? It’s just rudeness and arrogance, and completely unnecessary.

Second Reason: I am amazed and apalled by the treatment to which US citizens have inured themselves in the name of Security Theatre when wishing to board a plane. All that tedious removing of belts and shoes, those body scanners and professional gropers… It’s degrading, dehumanizing, and it achieves precisely fuck all other than justify some pork-barrel billions. I decline the opportunity, thank you.

So for those reasons, though I have many friends in the US I would like to visit, as much as there are wonderful places in the US I would love to experience and many lovely US people I shall lose out on the chance to meet, it’s not gonna happen.

Not until the Brave rise up to once more reclaim their Liberty.