Friday, August 17, 2007
Matthew Good returns from Lebanon:
The customs officials at the end of the blue line checked my luggage after questioning me about the reason I was in Lebanon and other Middle Eastern countries that I had visited during my 4 year stay. They were actually very polite and I wasn’t really bothered until they pulled out my laptop. At first I thought they probably want me to just turn it on to make sure I wasn’t hiding a bomb in it. But then I was asked to put in my password and soon one of the customs officers was going through my personal files and photos. Something that really bothered me, I felt a complete invasion of privacy.
I was questioned behind the reason I had a document saved from a Lebanese newspaper, I then explained my interest in middle east politics and that I used to write for Dose and I blog occasionally. This was followed by the question “Do you write anti American material”. I said I didn’t, that I mostly concentrated on Middle East politics but for some reason one of the officers said that sometimes even Americans wrote anti American material.
If you asked me, "What would a contemporary police state look like?" I'd reply that it would look an awful lot like what America looks like right now. I would tell you that subsidized consumer affluence has proven a far more effective method of social control than centrally planned, faux-egalitarianism. I would tell you that someone finally figured out that breadlines breed rebellion but lines at the multiplex for the midnight opening of the next blockbuster do not. I would tell you that keeping up with the Joneses has proven a more effective enforcer of conformity than any book of Dear Leader's wisdom ever did. I would tell you that hope for Vegas vacations beats fear of the work camps for quashing dissent. I would tell you that subtle is better than overt, seemingly random better than routine, carnivalesque better than somber, colorful better than drab. Look at the billions of dollars and man-hours thrown into deciding between a guy from Massachusetts and a gal from New York who evince no convincingly held differences of belief. Has ever a nation been farther from revolution than the United States in the year 2007?
I feel a great many people waiting, breathing shallowly, as if one day at last the whole edifice will tip over and reveal its infested foundation. It won't. I feel as if a great many people are waiting for a president to suspend the government, or for black-hood squads to start snatching people in broad daylight, or for the police to establish checkpoint entrances to our cities and loyalty oaths in our schools. (That last, of course, already . . . ) They are waiting, in other words, for incontrovertible and public evidence that Denmark is rotten, some moment of national epiphany when Candidate-for-Life Benito Giuliani descends through the clouds in his own airline trailing some athletic blond with a camera on his way to a firelit vigil in Yankee Stadium.