VILE: USA treatment of tourists under Trump


I wrote this during Trump’s first address to a joint session of Congress (Day 40 as president). Pundits
praised his conciliation and delivery. Trump stayed on-point and appeared more “presidential” than in past.
This post is about action; not talk or appearance. It is testimony of his leadership earlier on the same day.

This weekend, Mem Fox—a well-known Australian children’s author—was pulled aside at the airport upon arrival. She describes a horrifying and undignified experience. One that made her abhor our country. Others in the room were treated even worse. Those who were not white, English-speaking and upper-middle-class were yelled at and mercilessly humiliated. No toilet or water was offered to arriving passengers—even a young woman with a baby.

You might wonder what was the reason for suspicion? She certainly doesn’t fit the profile of  a terrorist. Many American children grew up with her books. This was her 117th visit. She is white, wealthy, educated and articulate. (None of these traits are required to visit the United States). She was pulled aside and interrogated because her airline ticket appeared to be paid by her American publisher. The immigration official claimed that she was attempting to sneak in—and work in America, illegally.

Ms. Fox isn’t the only tourist to come forward today. The French Holocaust historian, Henry Rousso, was held for 10 hours at immigration. Was his entry suspicious? He has taught at Columbia University in New York and Sorbonne in Paris. He was visiting America to give a Keynote Address at Texas A&M. But just as with Mem Fox, the immigration agent learned that he was receiving a fee for his speech. He was told that he would handcuffed and deported on the next plain to Paris. If not for a sharp lawyer at the University, he would have been shipped away in humiliation and disgrace. Rousso sums up the experience by observing: “The US is no longer quite the US.

Their experiences make a mockery of the Emma Lazarus’ words at the base of Miss Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Apparently, under a Trump regime, even the upper class, the academics, and the distinguished don’t make the cut.

Is this the friendly and welcoming face that we wish to show our foreign visitors and academics? Do you think that they will travel to the United States or do business with us, if clueless border control agents behave in this manner?

What Chutzpah, Xenophobia, and misguided attempts at protectionism! Unfortunately interacting with minor officials under Trump seems a lot like the interaction between German citizens and Jack boots of the Nazi SS or Gestapo.

For many individuals like Fox and Rousso, it’s not just about fake news, narcissism, a string of lies, fearing the press, lashing out at critics, lining pockets at taxpayer expense, surrounding oneself with racists or buffoonery. Instead, it’s personal; it’s ugly; it reflects on all Americans; and it is reprehensible.

It doesn’t require a bipartisan gaggle of psychiatrists to recognize that our president is seriously deranged. That diagnosis is just plain common sense. Additionally, it doesn’t require a political analyst to observe Republican congressional leaders squirming in their chairs or struggling to show unity on the evening news. At least not if you avoid the ‘fake news’.

Now, we must summon the strength and the resolve to do something. Trump must not complete his first year in office. Even if his paranoia, vindictive ethos and contempt for the truth abates, think of the missed opportunities, the mass exodus of talent, the likelihood of a military orgy. Think of the lost business deals, the serious environmental damage and the fostering of hate between cultures. Think of a woman’s right to choose and the hard won LGBT right to marry and to be who they are.

Think about Mem Fox and Henry Rousso. I wish that I could get over the slimy behavior from his campaign trail, but here one last jab… Think about a leader who brags about his p*nis size and about grabbing woman by the p*ssy. Think like an individual who cares about the future of our nation, our alliances and our planet. Raise your voice. Join your neighbors. Seize the day. Do something!

In years of writing, I never thought that I would end an op-ed piece like this:

  • Resist
  • Defend
  • Restore our lost ethics and compassion
  • Embrace diversity—It is a core strength
  • Speak out for the environment
  • Deal honestly and fairly with other countries; lest they flee a relationship
  • The truth matters

2 thoughts on “VILE: USA treatment of tourists under Trump

  1. Ellery,

    This article obfuscates typical visa and border checks with the experiences of two individuals. The United States has the right to determine who enters this country, who is subject to heightened scrutiny, and what types of rights and security measures will be in place. There is no inherent “right” to travel to the United States, and anybody under such false assumption lacks an understanding of our basic constitutional principles.

    These are not citizens, these are visitors from foreign nations wanting to enjoy the freedom that our country has to offer. In exchange, they must abide by our standards and rules. What does Mem Fox’s skin color have to do with anything? What does Rousso’s religion have to do with anything? Because he was stopped, and because he happens to be Jewish, our laws are automatically anti-semitic? Did they look at his schlong to see if he was circumcised as well?

    We live in a world in which we face many enemies – both foreign and domestic. Would you like to fly on the plane that was boarded by individuals with no security checks, or the plane where everyone gave up a bit of freedom in order to better security for the whole.

    What I don’t understand about progressive liberals such as yourself is how you are in support of giving up personal liberty in the areas such as health care, gun control, and taxes, yet don’t agree with giving up a bit of freedom in areas such as security or immigration. That makes no sense to me.

    • I hear you, Nathan. I feel your pain! And I truly love that bit of sarcasm (and Yiddish) to get across your point. (“Did they look at his schl*ng…”). Snort, Youzah, Gufawh!

      I take only one tiny issue with your feedback, and it is not about your very clear position on border control as lawful and reasonable. It is your characterization of me as a “progressive liberal”. I do not consider this a fair label. I try hard to assess every situation with the full spectrum of my convictions, education and capacity to reason.

      Sometimes, my opinion leans to the left and often it leans to the right. For example, I admire Barak Obama as a highly intelligent and moral individual—and yet I have serious issues with his propensity to move in the direction of unrestrained social welfare. If I had to label myself with blue or red paint, I would claim to be an economic conservative, a social liberal and a realist when it comes to the 2nd amendment.

      Border control is a much more complicated issue. We must ask ourselves: What is the reason for border control?

      a) We can all agree on the need to block entry to terrorists. And, of course, there are the rapists and “bad hombres” that Trump talks about.

      b) I imagine that most people don’t seek to block visiting scholars and business travelers that are invited by a domestic organization for a conference or short stay. (Again, this is subject to criminal background or advocating anything that violates our freedoms or security … We all agree on that part).

      c) But what about economic immigrants who seek our freedoms or just want the opportunity to work here? This is where it gets tricky!

      • Some people feel that this takes jobs from Americans
      • Others feel that it contributes to a vibrant economy that floats all boats
      • Some recognize that career migration has reversed (i.e. more labor-class workers look to Mexico for economic opportunity!).
      • But there is another class of analysts. Some people fear that our population and our genetic pool will be overrun with Hispanic influence and Hispanic blood — just as they worry about Blacks, Jews, Asians and even Irish.

      This last category (economic immigrants) and especially the silent justification (fear of eugenics) is a matter that requires significant study, open debate, and rational legislation that avoids killing a great nation.

      Trump says that we should Make “America Great Again”. I understand the nostalgia for the can-do attitude of the WW2 generation and the massive industrial complex that employed everyone and exported goods. And I agree that it would great to restore some of that greatness. But greatness will be illusive if we become a closed society with a protectionist economy. In the end, that schema always fails.

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