I won’t bother with the details of my homecoming, but suffice to say that US customs officials are bullies who see nothing wrong with trying to coerce US citizens into giving up their constitutional rights. Full explanation of what I’m talking about, written by a lawyer, here.
Source: So… You’re A Cartoonist?
My personal take-away from this is the US is a nation of fucking cowards. I’ve been to six continents, including to pre-Arab Spring Tunisia (dictatorship), Thailand (can be imprisoned for insulting the king), and Hong Kong (technically communist now, scary signs everywhere about all the things you didn’t realize were illegal). But nowhere have I been treated with as much suspicion as in the US. (Britain was borderline–the guy at the border crossing thought it was mighty suspicious I knew the name of my hostel but not its address, because I had assumed the taxi drivers would know their way around.)
We are the richest, most powerful country in the world, but we still live in fear. Fear of our own citizens. Fear that if we, say, went to spending three times as much on our military as anybody else, instead of six times as much, the sky would fall. Fear of Iran, which has 1% of our military budget and is surrounded by countries hosting US military bases. Fear that if the president can’t murder people on a whim, The Terrorists Will Win.
Each star is a US military base.
So seriously, fuck the entire US government for seeing the constitution as a minor obstacle to be overcome. I’m not eager to go through the hassles of international travel again any time soon, but next time I leave, I’m going to see what I can do to avoid coming back. If I don’t leave for grad school, Australia looks very nice for as a new long-term home. (In addition to being where Alexander wanted to go, Australia has immigration laws that are very friendly to 20-somethings.)
Update: I pass on this Andrew Sullivan tweet without comment:
9/11 worked. It terrorized me and it terrorized a lot of people. Yes, I was excitable and over-reacted over Iraq: dish.andrewsullivan.com/2013/03/06/how…
— Andrew Sullivan (@sullydish) March 6, 2013