Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Face of our Fears

The term pre-9/11 mentality has been used by Republicans as a pejorative term to describe Democratic opponents who (these Republicans would have us believe) do not exhibit the requisite sense of urgency and understanding of the nature of the terrible "terrorist threat" that lingers over our nation. But reading the story of Eva Ósk Arnardóttir you get a sense that perhaps the only sane people left in this paranoid asylum we call America are the blessed few who still cling to the vestiges of that same "pre-9/11" mentality.

Eva is a blonde, Icelandic woman who recently travelled to New York to do a little Christmas shopping. But upon discovering that on one of her several vacations to the U.S. (and not the most recent one either) Eva had overstayed her Visa by three weeks, DHS officials had her detained, chained, imprisoned and deported, without so much as a call to the Icelandic embassy or the benefit of a consular visit.

This, folks, is one of the many faces of New Paranoia, propagated by alarmist demagogues such as George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Rudy Giuliani, Fox News, Pat Roberston and the entire Neocon commentariat. It is sad to say that her case will prove compelling to many, simply because she is a pretty, young blond woman who was forced to endure 24 hours of humiliation over a rather trifling lapse that she had good reason to assume had been long ago forgiven or forgotten. Sadly, that assumption proved naïve to say the least. America is slowly transforming itself into a Security State where privacy, civil rights and even common sense give way to the vigilance of our paranoid overseers. Of course, other less lucky and less fair skinned travelers have endured far more savage treatment at the hands of our lawless proto-fascist security agencies (and those same agencies have shielded themselves from responsibility, recompense or oversight by invoking various secrecy acts.) But in a nation that sits zombielike, glued to the 24 hour machine-gun coverage of cable news outlets every time a young blond woman is abducted or murdered by a depraved husband or lover, perhaps Eva's story will make some inroads and help rouse a dozing populace from this pernicious nightmare we are dreaming.

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