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Monday, November 19, 2007


fortress paranoia

via andrew sullivan -- one of the purposes of bureaucracy is to remove the burdens of thought and joudgment from people ill suited to bear them. but, via andrew sullivan, one has to wonder how mentally perverse a united states customs agent must be to ignore both procedure and common sense to do something like this.

An ambulance rushing a heart attack victim to Detroit from a Windsor hospital ill-equipped to perform life-saving surgery was stopped for secondary inspection Monday by U.S. Customs, despite the fact it carried a man fighting for his life.

Rick Laporte, 49 -- who twice had been brought back to life with defibrillators -- was being rushed across the border when a U.S. border guard ignored protocol at the Detroit portion of the tunnel and forced the ambulance -- with siren and lights flashing -- to pull over.

U.S. Customs officers at the secondary inspection site told the ambulance driver to go inside the office to produce identification, said a frustrated Larry Amlin, of Windsor Essex EMS.

Other guards told the paramedic crew to open the back doors of the ambulance, then asked Laporte to verbally confirm his identify, said Lauzon.

further note that the ambulance had a canadian police escort! someone working customs has clearly been watching too much television.

but what is particularly revolting is that this state of abject, quasi-psychotic paranoia is becoming in many eyes the identifying trait of the united states as a place, as an institution, perhaps even as a people -- and (insane anecdotal incidents aside) not without reason.

[B]etween 2000 and 2006, the number of Britons visiting America declined by 11 percent. In that same period British travel to India went up 102 percent, to New Zealand 106 percent, to Turkey 82 percent and to the Caribbean 31 percent. If you're wondering why, read the polls or any travelogue on a British Web site. They are filled with horror stories about the inconvenience and indignity of traveling to America.

and here we're talking about the british -- not only our closest cultural kin but no strangers to the haze of statehouse bullshit themselves. imagine what it must be like to contemplate a trip to the united states if you are a self-respecting and decent pakistani.

the united states has been degenerating in social terms for decades already along with much of the western world. after september 11, 2001, however, the pace of the collapse took on a new earnestness and became deeply tainted by a fear borne of heartwrenching ignorance. i have sincerely waited on the oft-praised decency and sensibility of my fellow americans to belatedly reverse the excesses of the black spiral of fear, hostility and self-defeat since that day -- and have yet to be rewarded. one wonders if it hasn't already begun to feed on itself irretrievably, exploiting the cultural naivite and insecurity that has long been seen to be both a strength and a weakness of america.

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