On a more practical level, this obsession, when practised with such extreme lack of intelligence (in both senses of the word), as in the case of my detention, must be misdirecting valuable money and manpower into fighting journalism rather than terrorism. Ordinary Americans, rather than the powers that be, are certainly able to make that distinction. According to an editor at the LA Times, there has been a “tremendous” response from readers to the reporting on my case, and I have received many emails expressing outrage and embarrassment. The novelist Jonathan Franzen wrote, “On behalf of the non-thuggish American majority, my sincere apologies.”
That extract is from Elena Lappin’s chilling account of being detained in LA for entering the country to cover a story without a journalist visa–a requirement that has been dormant since 1952.
‘The officer said, pointedly, “You are Russian, yet you claim to be British”, an accusation based on the fact that I was born in Moscow (though I never lived there). Your governor, went my mental reply, is Austrian, yet he claims to be American.’
Even as I post this, I worry that any immigration officer who searches on my name during my next interview will turn up stories like this and take against me. Paranoid, but not unreasonable. Elena Lappin doesn’t even live here, but I do, and I’m afraid of their power in a country where I have no right to legal representation. What is happening to us?