Posted by Pattie on 11/12/2002 08:27:00 AM

Three entries in three days. I think this might be a record for me. This is going to be much shorter though because I have to go back to work today. Not that I don't do some sort of work everyday, but today is full.

I don't know if many Americans know what is happening on the Canadian/US border these days, but it ain't pretty. It seems that the U.S. government has decided that it is going to fingerprint everyone who enters the country who was born (emphasize born, not based on citizenship or passport, but on where a person was born) in specific Muslim countries (Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, and Sudan). The idea behind this dragnet is that the U.S. government can keep an eye on muslims travelling in the US and therefore know if there are terrorists among them. I guess if your fingerprints show up at a bomb site, they can come get you. Perhaps there is a "terrorist" database of fingerprints available for comparison. However, that begs a few questions.

On top of this, a Canadian man is under arrest and another is being detained in Maine for crossing the border in order to buy gasoline, something that has been allowed since there was gasoline in Maine.

Needless to say, the Canadians are livid. Or at least they were at first. It seems that a member of parliment was given the choice of being fingerprinted or not travelling to the US and then a Canadian citizen who held dual citizenship with Syria was sent back to Syria instead of Canada and has been detained there for some time. His family wasn't even notified and neither was the Canadian government. The Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs have backed down from a travel warning they were issuing last week. But Ashcroft has announced today something a little different than what The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bill Graham was told last week by the State Department and, well, the Canadians are leery again. I've heard several Canadian citizens on talk shows calling for a boycotting of travel to the US no matter where you were born. Tensions are rising. Now the Muslim Congress in Canada is advising Muslims in Canada not to travel to the US.

Now there are a bunch of arguements against this policy that I could make. The legal arguement: racial profiling is just plain wrong and anti-American, anti-Constitution. The economic argument: isolationism is bad for the US, especially pissing off their major supplier of electricity as well as the largest group of tourists. The law enforcement argument: the whole idea is impractical as it wastes a bunch of time on people who are no threat at all while not reserving resources for the really dangerous people--need I remind you that Oklahoma City was bombed by a lily-white boy who was trained by the US military machine (Okay, so was Bin Laden and Sadam Hussein, but who's counting). Those are all good arguments and I've heard them all discussed at least briefly.

But here is my major argument and one that I haven't heard anywhere yet. RACIAL PROFILING AT THE BORDER MAKES THE WORLD MORE DANGEROUS!!!! When is the US government going to learn that targeting Muslims without discernment is one more way of uniting forces that really don't get along well into a solid force fighting a common enemy. I know it is really hard for these people to figure out that the colour of one's skin and place of one's birth doesn't set one's political beliefs in stone for life. I know that trying to figure out who the enemy really is when the enemy may look like a friend or even like the boy next door. But isn't that what law officials make the big bucks to do? Are we really at the point where it doesn't matter who the bad guys are as long as we pick someone as the bad guy and then hurt them?

I don't buy the administration's assertion without proof that there are connections between Sadam Hussein and Al-Qaida because I basically don't trust W's motives. BUT if I am wrong and there are Al-Qaida terrorists being sheltered by Iraq then something really bad is happening, something no one in the public discourse in America is talking about. Iraq is a secular, fairly westernized country. Al-Qaida is a religiously based, religiously motivated group. If they are in cohoots with each other it means that they have set aside some huge differences. It means that they are coming together to fight a common enemy--the United States. It means that the world is more dangerous than it was.

There are one billion Muslims in the world. America has around 300,000,000 people, including quite a few Muslims. A holy war is not in America's best interest and it isn't necessary or optimal. I have mixed feelings about the "war on terrorism" because I see it as a means to enact social control and fascist policies domestically. But if there is really a need for a war on terrorism, shouldn't it be fought with America's best interest at heart and shouldn't it concentrate on the terrorists instead of the tourists? Maybe the border guards have just misunderstood W's strange Tex-Conn dialect. After all every time he's said "War on Terrorism," I've heard "War on Tourism" -- yikes, maybe that's it! Omigoddess, world war three started because of the lack of diction on the part of our leader. Now that's a scarry thought. (of course, one might argue that a war on tourism will be fought, but that's another story for another day.)

Okay, one last note. I was disappointed (and not alone among Canadians calling into talk shows) that the Canadian government reified the racial profiling by warning only their Muslim citizens. It seems to me than an appropriate response to the treatment of any of Canadian citizens with such disdain would be to warn all Canadian citizens about travelling at the border. Ashcroft's speech didn't make the distinction. He said that those north of the border would not be given special treatment. Bill Graham should follow suit and issue a travel warning to all Canadians. As one talk show caller put it, "such an insult to any Canadian citizen is an insult to all Canadian citizens."

(so much for being short and sweet today)