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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How it feels to be Second-class - Pt.1

Welcome to John F. Kennedy International Airport. Local time is 9:00 am, and it's a sunny day...
Welcome to John F. Kennedy International Airport. Local time is 9:00 am, and it's a sunny day. We hope you had a pleasant flight.
It's funny how life sometimes throws an interesting story your way with the perfect timing. I came home today thinking about writing an article about how the issue of survival seems to trump every other priority in life, and sets aside every consideration of rights and wrongs... and just before I started writing, I came across this article about the new policies for inspection of travelers going to the US. Here's an outline of what it said:

- The following instructions apply to travelers to the Unites States from the following countries: Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Algeria, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Cuba.

- Travelers from the aforementioned countries may be subjected to random manual inspection, which might include sensitive body parts

- Security guards have the right to monitor any individual using the on-board toilet facilities more than once during the flight, and the right to use x-ray vision at airport security checkpoints to get a naked look at the passenger.

- Passengers can be denied access to on-board toilet facilities an hour before the flight's arrival to any US airport

- Passengers are also banned from covering themselves with blankets throughout the trip


Now I've never been one to accord much pride to nationality. I am Lebanese, but that's merely a consequence of where I was born, and the fact that neither of my parents had any other nationality. I don't think people from a certain country, even mine, are better than others, and I am certainly not one to lie about where I come from. All this to say that this little set of policies REALLY rattled my cage.
When "Random security checks" were only a novelty which happened to pick a majority of arabs every time (yes, the word "random" was only there to make it P.C), I didn't mind it that much, even though I would've had to go through a longer and much more humiliating process before being allowed to board a plane heading for the US.

What this new set of rules does is pure segregation. At least when you earned yourself a "random security check", you could still go on the plane and be just like any other passenger... it's like they left racism at the airport. The new policies however, allow them to flag you on-board of the plane, and so every other passenger knows you're potentially harmful. You could be just another average person who happens to be born in one of those unlucky countries, and you can bet your ass you're not going to have a pleasant flight: If all the things you're not allowed to do won't get to you, I'm pretty sure the suspicious stares from people sitting around you will.

To Be Continued...

comments

January 27, 2010 at 7:20 PM Lara

I LOVE IT!!and perfect timing!!
i'm actually linking it to my post!

January 27, 2010 at 8:02 PM Fadi

Link: http://dumpofthoughts.blogspot.com/2010/01/visaphobia.html
(Apparently we've started doing advertisements on Survival First ... Got to pay the bills :P )

January 27, 2010 at 9:10 PM Lara

hahahahaha :D
(i get u visits,u get me visits..DEAL)

January 28, 2010 at 3:47 PM Pakos

Hem, what about we treat them with the same intimacy, and apply the same regulations on Americans coming to the Lebanese Airport... :P

January 28, 2010 at 4:04 PM Fadi

While it might draw a smile on a few faces, this would only do more wrong to people who don't deserve to be mistreated. I think these ways of "securing" flights are ultimately wrong. The christmas attempt was recognized as an intelligence mistake: while they knew that the guy was a threat, they did nothing to stop him. Now who's paying for it ? Everybody from a few select countries. Most of these people have never thought about doing any terrorist activity. The only thing these measures do is make middle eastern people hate Americans (who individually have nothing to do with the whole thing), and so it's nothing but a step further in an escalation that would inevitably have a very tragic turn.
I don't know what the solution is, but personally, I will avoid travelling to and spending my money in a country that considers me a second class world citizen. Useless, but that's all I have to work with.

January 28, 2010 at 6:12 PM Pakos

yes this is what my post meant to do to draw a smile), unfortunately the second class citizen is based on the image we are reflecting about us. i went to USA last year, didn't have any difficulties in the airport, and the moment i entered the US soil, i realized that Americans are a very lovely people. they just keep smiling and saluting you with every eye contact. an example, i entered a mini market to buy lotto tickets, all the 20 persons in the line behind me wished me luck.

January 29, 2010 at 4:01 PM carlitto

What I like the most is that our officials here in Lebanon were somewhat begging the US to exclude Lebanon from this list of BANNED countries.
As a free and democratic country, I think we should apply the same regulations. This theory of the big gun owner (mentioned in a previous survival-first post) should be fought back with all means possible.

Keep it flowing Fadi.

January 29, 2010 at 4:10 PM Fadi

"...the second class citizen is based on the image we are reflecting about us"
That's not entirely true. The unfortunate thing is that the media has picked this terrorist image to be our "ambassador to the world". Granted, most regimes in the area pick a rather shady image, often somewhat tied to religious radicalism, but that's not why we got here today.
We are a people that is used to being considered inferior: we've been politically dominated for centuries. Arabs once had a chance to be strategic power in the region, but instead chose to just be wealthy off of their oil. If you go over our agreements with the west, we tend to comply with what they tell us, instead of imposing what we want. The situation with Israel, even the signed peace agreements, indicate clearly that we just let everyone step on our toes without complaining.

I'm trying to avoid stepping out of the subject here, so to get back to the main idea, the US government decided that in order to ensure the security of its people, it is going to make a portion of the world population jump through hoops just so that they get a right to travel. Make an american go through these procedures, and you'll see how many complaints he will file on grounds of "violation of his rights". The shocking aspect of this is that we beg to be "spared", and when we are not, we don't do anything about it. This might be a reminder of one of my old articles, but the world has been telling us for centuries that "our rights are worth nothing", and we've heard it so much we now believe it. We don't even fight for our rights anymore, we seem to have accepted our stature in the world: We are the ghetto, the second class.

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