Brian McLaren alerted me to a report by an organization called the Identity Project (at the ominous URL www.PapersPlease.org) that the Department of Homeland Security has proposed that, effective January, no U.S. Citizen be allowed to leave the country unless his or her name appears on a clearance list. As another organization called Friends of Liberty amplifies:
Think this can’t happen? Think again. It’s ALREADY happening. Earlier this year, [Homeland Security] forbade airlines from transporting an 18-year-old a native-born U.S. citizen, back to the United States. The prohibition lasted nearly six months until it was finally lifted a few weeks ago. Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union are two countries in recent history that didn’t allow their citizens to travel abroad without permission. If these regulations go into effect, you can add the United States to this list.
Yesterday, I tried to ignore this and write it off as paranoia. Today, there are banner headlines over the Times’ web pages from the State Department warning that starting January 7, U.S. Citizens will need passports to visit Canada and Mexico, and directing us to the State Department for more information.
Meanwhile, speed traps in the Hudson Valley are suddenly more numerous lately, spreading like Kudzu even on the remotest rural roads. A friend and I, in separate incidents, were each pulled over and given breathalyzer tests, which we passed, not based on any evidence of drunkenness. At every gas station I see big signs detailing newly increased ID levels for the purchase of alcohol and cigarettes. There’s a creepy sense of a heightened police presence in my life.
When does it stop being paranoia?