Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Jumping to conclusions

My sympathy for a young British-born and bred Muslim teacher rose after reading that he was turned back from a flight to the US.  His apparent crime - having a Muslim name.  The US authorities quite rightly state that they don't have to give a reason for refusal - it's their prerogative after all to decide who they want in their country.  My sympathy rose because I had been in a similar position - I had just finished university and literally picked up the letter confirming that I had qualified from the University on my way to the airport as I had planned to spend the summer break with relatives in Canada.  While I was there, some cousins decided to drive over to New York as another cousin was getting married and I thought that it would be fun to go. I went to the US embassy in Toronto confidently not expecting a problem, only to encounter a know-it-all middle-aged woman who questioned why I had not applied for a visa in London (hadn't occurred to me as I hadn't thought of going over to the US!) and informed me that I was just the age of Guyanese looking to 'disappear' in the US (a couple of years younger than this teacher).  I was suitably astonished and I informed her that I had just received my degree and had a job lined up for my  pre-registration year and that my degree was not recognised in the US. I would have loved to see my face when she  turned me down...as it never occurred to me that THAT was possible. I was sooo annoyed I thought to myself they could stuff it and it would be their loss and I wouldn't ever go there.

Ten years later, I decided to open a business in Guyana and logically the best place to source equipment was ... the US!   Pragmatism won, and I had to fill in the part that asked if I had ever been turned down for a Visa before. Well I have to say, I found the Americans to be a very generous people on the whole and black Americans willing to go the extra mile and in return I have spent many thousands of (US) dollars in their country.

Really is it worth the Badwill generated by randomly targeting  and antagonising people with a different name/culture?  Surely a better tracking system should be instituted? My Iranian friend had to report to the British police on a monthly basis although she had lived in the UK since she was 13yrs old before she presumably applied to be a citizen.

I really wonder about the stupidity of the officers carrying out the duties of their paranoid and ignorant leaders. I had to endure a more rigourous search at Miami heading to the Caribbean (not exactly a target of terrorists!) on a Caribbean airline with mainly Caribbean passengers. What annoyed me was, I had only a couple of hours been through a similar but less invasive procedure from a connecting internal US airport, which I told the officer while being poked and prodded and if that officer didn't find anything, they were unlikely to! But I hasten to add it's usually the disgruntled working-class person OD-ing on power who is being ridiculous, most of the Immigration officers and men with dogs are very pleasant and respectful.  There is always a danger of doing more harm than good.
 PS..I would have said Wales, where this teacher hails from, is not exactly a hotbed of militant terrorist types but remember listening on BBC to an interview of a native Welsh woman who married a muslim and had five children.  Her only son became withdrawn and then left to join IS secretly one day and she was relating how she found out he had died subsequently; that son would have been about the same age as this teacher and I wondered if guilt by association meant this teacher was refused entry to the US?
PPS... a 10yr old girl-child??    http://abc11.com/news/family-upset-over-tsa-check-of-10-year-old-girl-at-rdu/1148445/
PPPS... and a 65yr old American woman??  https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/a-panty-liner-triggers-a-tsa-pat-down-just-one-step-removed-from-a-pap-smear/2017/03/30/ec86c10c-154d-11e7-ada0-1489b735b3a3_story.html?tid=sm_fb&utm_term=.09216d8633bf 
My gut feeling that the Americans are morons confirmed: http://theweek.com/articles/441310/confessions-former-tsa-officer

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