Well, we can all sleep peacefully in our beds knowing that the tough US border and customs agents are busy shaking down scary threats to our country like Mem Fox.
Yes, that was sarcasm.
There’s no doubt there are people who might pose a threat to our country, but it is difficult to imagine anyone who is further from being a threat than Fox.
She might be described as an anti-threat, if there is such a thing.
Fox, 70, is a beloved author of children’s books with a broad smile and a twinkle in her eye. Recently, she was on her way to Milwaukee to address a conference and promote her newest book, which is about welcoming new people.
The reception she received at the Los Angeles Airport, however, was far from welcoming.
She was detained for nearly two hours by Customs and Border Protection officers who accused her of coming to the country on the wrong visa (she wasn’t).
“I have never in my life been spoken to with such insolence, treated with such disdain, with so many insults and with so much gratuitous impoliteness,” Fox told ABC News.
She described the incident as “traumatic,” and said she felt like she had been “physically assaulted.”
She later received a written apology from the US Embassy in Canberra for the treatment she received.
This was far from her first visit. She had visited the US 116 times previously, but now she told ABC it is unlikely she will return, despite the friendliness of ordinary Americans.
It is one thing to be vigilant about people who are entering this country.
It is something else entirely to bully and traumatize people who are entering the country legally.
If the actions of the Border Protection Officers was due to ignorance or inadequate training, we need to improve training for these people.
If these actions were consistent with the training provided, it’s time to re-evaluate our objectives and our methods.
We need to keep in mind that the vast majority of people entering this country are honest people entering the country lawfully and going about their business.
We do not need to treat them like criminals.
It is obviously possible to verify documents and do any checking that is necessary while treating people with respect and maintaining their dignity.
It is not necessary to insult or humiliate them.
Unfortunately, when some people are given a small amount of authority over others, they abuse it and become evil little tyrants.
Mem Fox is just one example of the people who have been detained lately, and some, who have a legitimate right to be here, have been denied access to the country.
Maybe it’s time to dial back the paranoia and take a good look at what we are trying to accomplish with airport security, and how we are going about it.
Do the activities of customs agents reflect the values of the country, or are they acting like abusive thugs?
I don’t think we want to be known as a country that bullies sweet little grandmothers. That’s an image that will do nothing to help the perception of the US in the world.