Tuesday, May 03, 2011

not proud to be an american

i can tell you without a doubt that the death of osama bin laden did not bring the immediate return of reason to the wheels and cogs of american government. i spent a bit of time outside the american embassy in copenhagen today and what an experience it was. i witnessed instance after instance of lack of common sense in relation to people who had come to the embassy on various errands.

if you come to the embassy with a telephone, computer or iPad, you will not be allowed in. period. they will suggest to you that you take a train 3 stops back to the main train station in copenhagen and stow those items if you didn't come with your own car, where you could leave them to be broken into and stolen. they are so afraid of electronics (despite an elborate x-ray box of an entrance that appears to be encased within a safe, to protect it from the rest of the embassy), you can't have any of that with you at all.

they were even worried about people's car keys that have a little button you can press to lock and unlock the car. i saw a swedish woman being refused entrance due to her car keys. how do they think people get there? and do they think they leave their keys in the car? and do they really think that there's anyone on the planet today who doesn't have a mobile phone that they are likely carrying on their person? good odin, we don't even have a landline telephone at our house, we all have a mobile and let's face it, that's not unusual.

on top of it, you're not even allowed into the x-ray area with your bag until your bag has been thoroughly inspected - without you being present. you stand outside the mirrored doors until they decide your bag is ok - handing it back and forth to the guard for you remove various items. true story.

me, i was refused entrance because of the computer thing, but also because my errand there wasn't important enough to warrant my coming in. i was trying to drop off the papers for the renewal of sabin's passport. i had everything in order and simply needed to hand them over. i was actually supposed to send them, because we obtained all of the relevant signatures and such a couple of weeks ago in århus, when there was a consular visit there. i still had the papers on my desk and thought that since i was going to copenhagen, i'd drop them by. wrong. and would you believe they wouldn't even TAKE them from me? they said if i was there in person, the consular officer had to SEE me, and witness my signature (despite the stamp that it had already been witnessed) even tho' it was clearly all filled out and signed and stamped and ready and if i were SENDING the papers, no one would see me.  good odin, we'd had to raise our right hands and give an oath over the signing of the papers a couple of weeks before, but that wasn't good enough for them to take my friggin' envelope of papers. so i had to go to the post office down the street, buy an envelope and stamps and send it.

this is what all of this fear has done to common sense.  it's completely and utterly gone. and i can tell you that it's this kind of absurd and rigid inability to make sense of a situation that's right in front of you that will keep me from ever again living in the land of my birth.

i shouldn't be surprised, i guess a similar sort of temporary(?) insanity was also evident in the jubilation in the streets of various american cities yesterday. the power we ascribed to a man named bin laden will haunt us for years to come. look how it's made us behave.  it all has me feeling quite embarrassed to be an american.

12 comments:

Amanda said...

I would be willing to bet you'd get the same kind of treatment at the British embassy or maybe the French one too...

I also agree that it all seems a bit over-reactive and ridiculous. But you're lucky that you have the true and valid "choice" to no longer live in the country of your birth. I would guess the majority of us out there don't have that luxury to make the choice to just up and leave.

I guess that's the joy of democracy? The ability to disagree with what the government and other citizens are doing without fear of repercussion...

Great post!

mrs mediocrity said...

I have had similar feelings lately, not just about the reactions to bin laden's death, but before that, the craziness of the the "birthers" and donald trump's big victory that he is so proud of and the fact that we, as a country, allow someone like that to publicly question and ridicule our President, at the same time that people are dying in tornadoes and... oh my, don't get me started!
i said on my blog last week, it is time for the "normal" people to stand up and be counted, and push the crazies back to the fringes where they belong.

poet said...

Ditto to all. I read somewhere that this whole security theater is probably actually what the terrorists intend to cause (and the death of so-and-so many civilians just a means towards that goal, not a goal in itself), and I find that a very wise observation. With respect to the dancing-in-the-streets about Osama's death, I must say I'm positively ashamed. Yes, he was a Bad Guy, and probably "deserved" to die in whichever way a person can deserve that, but it's still not an event to celebrate without respect. And it's also not like his death is going to change the situation except on a symbolic level.

Indiri said...

Well, yes, they do stupid things (they are human) but at this particular time I would expect them to be especially wary. Of all times I would think the next few weeks won't be better because of OBL's death but worse because they security has a need to be tightened. They expect to be attacked back, they just don't know where.

As for the celebrations, well, that's just over the top. Though I do think Mark Twain had a good thought about things like that. "I've never wished a man dead, but I've read some obituaries with great pleasure." I'm not celebrating his death but I am certainly not un-pleased that it happened.

MissBuckle said...

You make me laugh :-)

Meri said...

The frenzy seemed more fitting for the Superbowl than anything.

foto-sh said...

...?? that sound strange .. hope you get every how you wanted ..

Bill said...

Manzanar. My Lai. Kent State. Slavery. Mississippi lynchings. The Spanish–American War. The Wounded Knee Massacre. 23 nuclear detonations at Bikini Atoll.

Richard Nixon. Ronny Raygun. George Bush 2. The current Republican Party.

These are things I consider when thinking I'm not proud to be an American.

Ink Spiller said...

This is the same kind of insanity that makes Swedes who live in Australia and New Zealand able to only renew their passports in person in Canberra. Yes, you actually have to travel to Canberra and present yourself. It cannot be done through any consulate. When you ring the embassy in Canberra they advice you to renew your passport the next time you're in Sweden because it's easier. This is why I'm finally getting my Australian citizenship after over 20 years of remaining just Swedish...

Lynne said...

It sounds exactly like the US embassy in Cape Town... same procedure, except it is like that every day. And you are not allowed to park within a kilometer of the embassy either... you have to park at a nearby shopping centre and walk. Once you finally enter the hallowed halls, you wait forever (despite having an appointment) with only state tourism brochures and pre-millennial New Yorkers to keep you from boredom.
And, of course, when you finally get to see a person you have to talk to them through the armoured glass by telephone.
I had gone to get my visa, and hadn't realised that I wouldn't be allowed to collect my passport when it was ready, so had to go back to the car to get money to pay DHL (they have an office in the embassy). The money and I had to go through the whole scanning process all over again before I was allowed back in to pay.
They did give me a 10 year visa though... so I won't have to go through it all again in a hurry!

One Woman's Thoughts said...

There is a lot of truth to the post and comments here.
I used to go back and forth from the USA to Canada frquently and easliy. We enjoyed the neighboring countries restaurants,shopping, entertainment, events, sights and people.
It can be more hassle than it's worth anymore to get across customs now. And the two countries LIKE each other. The hardest part is coming BACK home to the USA.
Our worlds will never be the same innocent place it was . . . . every war, every hate, every suspision, every attempted attack on a cpountry makes the common sense so afraid that it swings scarily to the extreme.

Magpie said...

I had to go to the IRS office to pick up a form (that they just refused to mail to me because, oh, I wasn't authorized or something) and they made me leave my multi-tool garden clippers in the bushes outside. On 44th Street. I felt ridiculous tucking my clippers in the bushes, but they were still there when I got back.