Chet came by my office today and started talking about “When we were kids.” We are about double the age of most of our co-workers and have a little more in common with each other than we do some of the other people. We both grew up on farms. He in Kansas. And, of course, me in Idaho. It gives us a perspective that “some of the younger folk” don’t really appreciate. We remember when most of the homes had outhouses instead of indoor toilets. And our parents lived through the “Great Depression”. We remember what our parents told us about what they and others had to do to make it through. I keep wondering if that will someday be referred to as “GD I” and this go around “GD II” but that is another story.
We talk about economics quite a bit. “What is it going to be like this time?”, we ask each other. Back then it was a world-wide thing too. That was what enabled Hitler to gain power.
This time it wasn’t economics that Chet wanted to talk about.
“Remember those old movies about WW II when the Germans would stop someone on the train and demand their papers?”, he asked.
My officemate had stepped out for bit and I knew we were going to have “a session”. I leaned my chair back and put my feet up on my desk and said, “Yeah. I remember.”
He continued, “We used to think how scary that was. How terrible it was they would do something like that. Right?”
“Absolutely!”, I agreed.
“There is an article in the New York Times today about how our government is doing that today on trains that run between New York City and Detroit”, he said.
I told him I had just read a blog post about that same sort of thing this morning. We chatted a while about it. Neither of us knowing what we could really do about it. “But it sure ain’t right.” we agreed. We always used to believe it couldn’t happen here. We were “special”. We were a free country and that sort of thing just didn’t happen here. It couldn’t happen here.
But it is. It is happening here, right now. And as Roberta X said this morning, Getting Used To It Doesn’t Make It Right.
My officemate returned and Chet left with us both shaking our heads in sadness.
I found the New York Times article and after I read it I went over the Chet’s office. “The government is claiming that if they are within 100 miles of an international border or the three mile limit off the coast they don’t need warrant or anything. They can just grab people they think are ‘of interest’ and demand they prove they are citizens”, I told him. “Right here in this office we are within 100 miles of the Canadian border.” I let it sink in for a couple seconds then continued, “Think of what 100 miles inland from both coasts, the Gulf, and both the north and south borders cover. I’ll bet 50% of the U.S. population is covered by that.”
Chet and I didn’t have much to say after that you wouldn’t have already concluded. We could be headed for some scary times. We talked about it for a couple minutes and went back to work. I think we just got used to it.
If it makes you feel any better about the whole thing–the agent in charge of the Rochester station told the New York Times, “Our mission is to defend the homeland.”
Yeah, I’m sure it is. I think I heard that line in a movie when I was a kid.