24 reasons to get a passport

Joey Slinger

Everybody flying into the U.S. needs a passport now, and that definitely includes us foreigners who are residents of the Relatively Peaceable Dominion.

Before long, everybody entering the U.S. by any means – land, sea, or through the tunnel at Windsor – will need passports.

This is one security measure our neighbours are very serious about, and we should be pleased to go along with them, because they're scared silly.

It's kind of sweet, the faith Americans have in a passport.

They're not jaded like those Brits who take it for granted that every passenger landing at Heathrow with a passport from any country you can think of in the European Union is a Russian spy who is looking for a former Russian spy they can poison.

Mind you, don't automatically assume that a valid passport, even a valid Canadian passport, is the be-all and end-all when it comes to reaping the benefits of U.S. hospitality if you happen to be a foreigner, even a foreigner from Canada, who has a suspicious-sounding name, or worships a suspicious-sounding deity, or has a suspicious-looking suntan, because there are limits to even American faith.

And whatever you do, don't tell them about websites like The ID Shop's which markets fake passports "strictly on a first come first served basis due to our limited supplies at times." It will upset them just when their new passport regulations are making them slightly less upset. Whether The ID Shop's passports are as good as the ones for sale on the Danforth, I have no idea. And whether the Russian spies flocking to London buy their passports in bars or online, I don't know either.

The last time Americans were scared almost this silly was when Ronald Reagan pointed out that the Sandinistas in Nicaragua were only a two-day drive from the Texas border. Since then, the Sandinistas have become the democratically elected government and can save themselves a tedious motor trip by flying to the U.S. and entering on valid Nicaraguan passports.

Just how scared – "silly" may not be the word – Americans have become since 9/11 isn't something we can easily appreciate. It could be they're this way because, as a result of their limited access to news, they've never heard of terrorists attacking any other country.

A week ago this newspaper ran a story about yet another concerned group that believes the graphic images in video games and on TV are turning children into psychopaths. Worrying about children is all well and good, but an older demographic might present a greater danger, since it is often even better armed and in charge of entire nations.

Consider the "CSI effect." This is already a documented problem in criminal trials. Juries expect the authorities to solve crimes as efficiently, swiftly and beyond all doubt (reasonable or otherwise) as the TV CSI investigators, and get irritated when they don't.

Now consider this: The other morning I came downstairs to have the member of the household whose task it is to remain au courant shout, ashen-faced, "They set off a nuke in L.A.! Can you believe it?!''

I couldn't! I plotzed! Had the U.S. nuked Iran in response?!

Only slowly did I realize – it was early in the morning – that she was recounting the previous evening's season premiere of 24.

So add to the "CSI effect" the "Jack effect" after the agent who must track down the bombers in one day without going to the bathroom. When does he have time? Talk about holding your all for the cause.

A republic, possibly including its president, that gets its news from 24 is going to believe this is the actual situation it, and its president, faces. And the clock is ticking.

No wonder they're scared – maybe "loopy" is a better word than "silly."

And if they haven't seen anything about the attack on Los Angeles in the mainstream media, it's obviously because since 9/11 the mainstream media have been joined in an unholy conspiracy to suppress the truth.

To which, as a) a paid employee of that mainstream media, and b) one operating in another, and suspect, country, I can only say, "Guilty."

Why else would I spend so much time writing critically about Stephen Harper, the only unquestioning friend George W. Bush has left in the free, God-fearing world? Do you think I would do such a thing – apart from for the money – if the terrorists hadn't kidnapped my family and are holding them in – wait! Was that a phone ringing?

I'm waiting for a call.

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