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    Inside U.S.A.: Keeping Americans Safe By Keeping Them Out
    Posted on Monday, June 05 @ 15:07:17 UTC
    Topic: Bushfire
    BushfireBy Ben Roberts

    Is nothing sacred in this country anymore? Since the dawn of the Bush ll era things have slid progressively downhill for us in America. The rug has been rudely pulled out from under our feet, as things we considered privileges, rituals, rights, and rights of passage have been systematically taken away. We always believed that we enjoyed a right to privacy, but now we know for a fact that a respectable four star general, along with his helpers, sit possibly in a dimly lit room in Fort Meade, Maryland listening to our phone conversations. We always believed our local library was a mecca of learning where we could find information in books on just about anything at no cost to us. Now we know that not only does the librarian check out our books, but so does our government, checking to see what we are reading, wanting to know why we have so much interest in that book on nuclear powered submarines, or the handyman's guide on America's tallest buildings.

    We always believed that we had the moral authority to take other nations to task on their human rights record, then we saw our soldiers at Abu Ghraib terrorizing youthful inmates with ferocious dogs, wagering on who would be the first to make his victim defecate from fear of being ripped to pieces. These developments are quite troubling, but there is one more that needs to be added to the list. It is Americans being turned away from the entrance of the Andrews Air Force Base Airshow outside Washington, DC by a pistol packing security guard. That does it!

    For those unfamiliar with Washington, DC and its environs the Andrews Air Force Base Airshow is the mother of all airshows. It is held annually at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, home of Air Force One. The two day event is a display of American military might and technological excellence, featuring either the famed Blue Angels, the Thunderbirds, and on some occasions both. Residents from the length and width of DC, Maryland, Virginia, and further afield flock annually to this show to be awed by, and bask in the glow of this country's might and power when the show is put on. I am one such person, and have made it a ritual to make my annual pilgrimage to witness the show. The show never gets old, and I have been taking my oldest son to it since he was the height of my knee, and now he towers over me. So imagine my dismay this weekend before Memorial Day when, after packing my entourage into the car, driving many miles to, and walking up to the base gate behind a little group of people about to enter the show, to be intercepted by a pistol packing base guard and told we were not allowed to enter the show. He said the following 'Let me explain this to you now so I don't have to go over it again. You cannot enter the show unless you have a military pass. If you want to get in you have to drive down to Branch Avenue Metro Station or FEDEX Field and buses will bring you into the show. But you cannot just walk in to this show. When we said open to the public, we don't really mean open like that.' When he said this last part he had a sheepish grin on his face as if he knew he sounded foolish, because that's what everyone else listening to him thought. A man behind me dressed in regular clothes piped in 'Are you allowed in with military ID?' The guard informed him that he was, and the guy and his wife and child were ushered in. The rest of us Joe Blows had to turn around and trudge back to our cars. How ridiculous! The guard did not say this but the reason for this departure from the norm of entering the base for the show was because of the war on terror and September 11 (Forgive me but I never say 9/11. The tragedy and loss on that day forbids me from reducing it to a number).

    First my take on what transpired at the Andrews base gate. At the gate the options were to go to Branch Avenue Metro station or FEDEX Field and be ferried by bus to the show. These options were not practical. The road from the base entrance was clogged with standstill traffic. So getting to the station would take forever. Moreover most people, including myself, would be hard pressed to find the station. And once found there would probably be nowhere to park. And FEDEX Field was some miles back from the way many of us had come. By the time we got back there the show would be over. The tax paying man and his family were allowed in because he had military ID. The rest us tax paying nonmilitary ID types were barred entry. This means that we, most with children in tow, were perceived as possible walk on threats because we had no military ID, but the guy with his military ID was not. How absolutely foolish. Timothy McVeigh who dispassionately massacred Americans in the Oklahoma City bombing and John Allen Muhammad, the sniper who terrorized this nation and coldly targeted and murdered citizens in this very same metropolitan area would have been allowed to calmly walk into the airshow. They were both military. So much for our post September 11 and war on terror vigilance and wisdom.

    With little choice, I had to satisfy myself with a little postage stamp size piece of grass near the sidewalk right across from the base gate, and watched as countless Americans walked up and were turned away just like my entourage was. They, like me, were just as irate. One rare moment to bask in the glory and power of America. And to be denied this for reasons that make no sense. Sure they were irate, and had every right to be. Most of them, on being turned away ended up right where I was, bivouacked outside the gate hoping to see the show from that vantage point. One guy with his kids walked by me. He told me he was turned away, and I welcomed him to the club. He went on to add, 'Man this is ridiculous. Everything is September 11. I'm sick of it. What am I gonna do if I go in there? Hijack a plane and fly it? I can't fly a plane. This is nonsense. I been bringing my kids since forever to see this show. Now this.'

    Minutes later a couple walked by. It was as if the guy could not wait to reach me to vent his dissatisfaction at being turned away. 'This is ignorance. Ignorance. They tell me I can't go inside. In two hours it'll be all over anyway. All done. Ignorance.' I realized by how he spoke and how close he was to my face that he and his partner had some mental incapacity. I would say Downs Syndrome. I told him he was quite right. We spoke some more then they moved along as he muttered his discontent. They were pushing a little shopping cart like the kind you buy to carry grocery or laundry bags home. That means they had walked much further in the boiling sun than most of us did, and had probably been looking forward to a little picnic at the show with the few items in their cart. Yeah, they had reason enough to be ticked off.

    No question the disaster of September 11 has left a grievous imprint on this nation and all who inhabit it. However, it is nothing short of disingenuous how this event is used to justify a multitude of things, many of which end up being a curtailment of privileges and rights for the average citizen. At the same time those entrusted with power and influence use the event and the subsequent war on terror to justify just about anything. When called upon to explain questionable excessive spending by himself and his office, Republican Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska boldfacedly cited post September 11 security as reason for his use of our taxpayer dollars. What a windfall this disaster has become for some. Families of those lost in the disaster must be repulsed at times at how their departed kin are used so unscrupulously. Consider this:

    Elected and appointed officials from Commander In Chief to Congressmen, to public transportation officials to four star Generals, continually tell us that post September 11 and war on terror measures put in place are to protect and better our lives. Since that time we in America have been spied upon by our leaders, checking who we talk to and what we read. We have been rattled by their baffling color code terror alerts and sent scurrying for duct tape and toilet paper. We get socked with a September 11 security fee when buying airline tickets even though the airline industry was on Capitol Hill before the dust settled from the fallen Towers lobbying our lawmakers for billions of dollars to cover their supposed financial ruin due to the disaster. And they got the billions of booty to boot. We get a punch in the gut everytime we venture to the gas station to fill up, all because this war has so destabilized the Middle East, our oil source. Then one of our lawmakers gets to spend our taxpayer dollars with abandon and tell us it is because of September 11. And now we go to enjoy a show, billed as open to the public, that puts on display the power and might of this country, and are barred from entry. It appears that the aftermath of these events have resulted in the red carpet effect for a few and the pulling of the rug out from the many.

    But all is not lost. The Blue Angels Topguns during the show must have seen the throngs of people camped outside the base, those turned away, because they did a lot of their amazing stunts right over us, instead of exclusively for those on the base. They no doubt decided that all of their fellow citizens mattered, military ID or not, regular citizens or those with diminished mental capacity. Is it possible that maybe someday our elected and appointed officials, base commanders and generals, will realize what the Blue Angels fliers realized? That the people matter more than the process.

    Ben is a newsletter editor, freelance writer and published author. He is the author of numerous Internet published articles. His action adventure novel, Jackals of Samarra, can be found at www.iUniverse.com, Amazon.com, and at all the major Internet book outlet sites. Contact him and leave email comments at: JackalsOfSamarra.Com

    Related Links
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