[-empyre-] passport privileges
misterwarwick at yahoo.com
Wed Jan 16 15:56:31 EST 2008
Naeem's story is one I have encountered often. As an ex-pat (American
living in Canada) the differences aren't as extreme as, LAX (Los
Angeles) vs DAC (Dhaka - don't ask me why I know the airport codes...)
but, the differences are noticeable, and not subtle. It's at the point
where my extreme level of disgust is such that I find it playful.
The issue of PASSPORT SOURCE is stunning, and Naeem's story is as
common as it is sad. Years ago, as a traveller, I stopped identifying
myself to random strangers as "American" and would pass myself off as
Canadian. Not because I felt alienated from other Americans (which to a
large degree I do anyway, but that's another issue) but more because I
found better treatment outside the USA as a Canadian. Now, I am an
American living in Canada, so I can answer test questions better (Yeah
I'm in Tronna - the NDP won in our riding - I prefer a pint of Wellie
over Creemore - I bought my drive at some tiny hole in the wall place
on College near Spadina...) and the various members of the public I
deal with treat me like I'm a normal member of of "International
Community" instead of some witless "denizen of the Empire" who needs a
lecture in civics.
So, while a pretense (soon to be ameliorated with perm. res. status,
etc.) it puts me in an odd place - yes, I do live in Canada. But I am
not a native Canadian. I don't yet have a Canadian Passport, but I
don't go letting on that's the case. My car has Ontario tags. It has a
digital dash, so it's been switched to read in km, not miles per hour.
And this past holiday we drove our little green thing to Indiana.
At the American border the American guard asked "Where you going?" We
answered "To grandma's house for Christmas in Indiana." He said "You
got any food?" We answered "Just this box of home made gingerbread
men." He answered "Oh, we'll have to take those..." We looked all hurt
and said, "Oh, OK..." and we began shoving the box out the window. He
said "No no no - I'm just joking..."
My daughter who sat on the far side in back asks "So why do we give the
cookies and then get them back, I don't get it."
The guard repeats he was just joking. I laughed and told my daughter
"Sweetie - I never argue with someone who has a gun". The guard,
laughed said "Well ya didn't get my joke - S'OK - go ahead - have a
In Canada, 3 people have died in Airports from being tazed by the
constabulary. So, it's not like the Canadian border patrol is a bunch
of nice guys.
Passports, borders, it all boils down to violence. The classic argument
is "Never bring a knife to a gun fight" but can a smile be more
All borders are virtual, satellites have provided conclusive
photographic proof of this. But all borders are real, as the phantoms
of social construction, the illusions we build our world from, are the
the borders we are willing to murder for, or pay others to do the dirty
deed. And so I left the well maintained roads of Ontario and found
myself navigating the bumpy broken forever-under-construction highways
of Michigan and its large cities, now half feral, and many roadside
farms shuttered and abandoned.
Borders do exist, and passports are the magic words, open sesame,
abracadabra, I'm privileged.
Follow in your book and repeat after me as we learn three new words in
May I see your passport please?
The passport is the emblem of brutality, the badge of force, the
control of the body through the illusion of the nation state. It is
essential and nonexistent, a figment of the imagination, as all true
essences are. It is the boot on the neck, DON'T TAZE ME BRO...
"Yeah, Bush is a dork. Sorry? Oh, I live in Canada. You do to, eh?
Tronna. Oh, Montreal? Nice place that, too cold for me. Live off
Queensway - out by Etobacko...yeah - the beer here sucks...not like
DON'T TAZE ME BRO.
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