Thursday, 28 October 2010
I miss America
Many of our TV programs (In the UK in the 1950s and 60s) came from the USA, all of the cowboys (The Lone Ranger, Tombstone, Wagon Train) and the police stories (Dragnet, Streets of San Fransisco) and the war stories (Combat) comedies (Hogan's Heros, I Dream of Jeannie, My Uncle Martian) and hundreds of movies.
The society of the USA seemed to be an immensely strong one, from the UK at least, it looked homogeneous.
What the hell happened?
I've just bought some tickets to fly from NZ to the UK, via Los Angeles, and I was informed that I would have to apply to Homeland Security for a Transit Visa.
What the hell happened?
The USA used to exemplify the priority of the individual over the State, but that seems to have changed.
Here's an example. In the 1970s (still as a reserve officer in the British Army), I planned to fly to Singapore to see my wife's family. We had very little money, and the cheapest flight was via Moscow on Aeroflot. (I had to get permission from my Colonel to fly through the USSR) We flew to Moscow in January, getting in to Sheremetyevo Airport about midnight. We had to carry our bags by hand to the transit lounge, and had to go through passport control to get to the transit lounge.
I can still remember the blank eyes of the Border Security guy who was stamping my UK passport. I can still vividly remember the finger of the KGB Guard behind him.
The reason I remember the finger is that it was curled around the trigger of the AK-74 he was carrying. Not around the trigger guard, but around the trigger. I couldn't see the change lever, but my sphincter was twitching. You just don't touch the trigger unless you mean to fire it. Either this guy's training was crap, or all Soviet training was crap, or he really wanted to shoot someone, like me maybe.
However, my passport got stamped and we continued to the transit lounge and eventually Singapore via India.
Even in the extreme paranoia of the USSR in the 70s, I didn't need permission from them to transit through Moscow, so why the hell do I now need a visa to go from one plane in LA Airport to another plane in LA Airport (It might even be the same plane, after re-fuelling)
The one thing in the USA that was always the best in the wolrld was their human rights. Their constitution protected their freedoms. Not anymore. I feel so sad that the champion of the individual has fallen so low. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a lefty-liberal, I'm not in favour of any form of gun control, but I can see the USA turning into a Police State.
When you have a more restrictive border policy than the USSR had, you're in the shit.
Hope you can make the old times come back.