This post isn’t going to have a lot to do with Argentina, as a warning. If you’re coming for updates, you’re not really going to find them today.
When I signed up to go to Argentina, the study abroad group I am with automatically signed me up to be in contact with the State Department. It sounds kind of excessive, I know, but it means that if something like the volcano problems in Iceland or the earthquake in Chile happen again the US government has the ability to contact me and make sure I am safe and accounted for.
This morning I received my first travel warning from the US government. Did they want to tell me that it’s earthquake season? That another ash cloud is making its way across the continent? Or that perhaps Godzilla decided to take a vacation and trample another city for once?
No, no, and no. The reason that we got a message from the US government is because the 10th anniversary of the events on September 11 is coming up in a mere six days, and they wanted to issue a travel warning. The exact wording of the message is this (though the bold spots are highlighted by me):
“As we mark the 10th Anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Department of State informs U.S. citizens traveling and residing abroad of the continued threat posed by al-Qa’ida and its affiliates. While we have not identified any specific threats from al-Qa’ida affiliates and allies to attack the United States or our interests on the 9/11 anniversary, U.S. citizens should be aware that al-Qa’ida affiliates and allies have demonstrated the intent and capability to carry out attacks against the United States and our interests around the world. In the past, terrorist organizations have on occasion planned their attacks to coincide with significant dates on the calendar. This Worldwide Travel Alert supplements the July 26, 2011, Worldwide Caution, and expires on January 2, 2012.”
Ridiculous, no? The fact that they are basing this warning around a date on the calendar? Why not issue warnings for every major holiday, or even every day? And does the fact that this warning is effective until January strike anyone else as overly excessive?
This has started me thinking about terrorism.
By my standards, the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 accomplished their goal. They have created a world where Americans live in fear. They have created an environment in which it is okay for the government to inspire fear in its people for the sake of “safety.”
I still remember a time when you could go through the airport without having your privacy invaded. Now, we take off our shoes, empty our water bottles, and make sure we aren’t carrying shampoo in our carry-ons. While trying to get on my flight to Argentina I went through a spherical machine that scans your entire body for weapons and then was put through a full-body pat down. Why? Because I had forgotten to take off my money belt before stepping into the machine, and it had created a suspicious bulge in my jeans. The obvious response was, of course, to search my entire body for weapons.
I guess living in America has given me the false impression that the entire world lives in fear, but coming to Argentina has made me realize that I was completely wrong in thinking this. Even the differences between Argentine and US airports are astounding. They have so much less security, it’s almost like they trust people. Not having to take my shoes and my coat off to go through a scanner was so refreshing. There wasn’t even a scanner for people to go through. We had to put our bags through an x-ray machine but I didn’t even have to take my computer out of my bag. It was a breath of fresh air.
In fearing everything for the sake of safety, we as Americans stand alone. The government has taught us that it is a good thing to give up our right to privacy in order to catch potential terrorists (though in all reality, HOW many have they caught since all these measures were put into effect?). They have taught us to fear the strange in our daily lives. They have set us on edge for inauspicious dates. And that, my friends, means the terrorists have won.
EDIT: okay, so my mom pointed out that I had already passed security leaving the US, so I’ll have to wait and see what security is like while leaving the country. I blame my tired brain. But still. My point about the warning still stands. Ridiculous.