Borders Collapse

13 07 2007

Border Patrol

By Derek Beres

In preparation for an upcoming DJ gig in Mexico City, I was asked to submit scans of my entire passport for the Mexican government. Having  traveled internationally for DJing and journalism before, this was the first time I was ever required to give them more than the picture ID section prior to actually entering another country. While it proved little more than a nuisance to actually perform, I still wondered why they need to know where I’ve been over the past few years, in order for me to come in now – especially given the fact that we are being brought over to play at a global-focused conference centered around the idea that nations open dialogues to each other in politics, the arts and social customs.

For years I’ve heard horror stories in the international music industry, from bands and artists that are denied visas when they already have complete tours booked. This is not solely an American phenomenon, but the lengths our country goes to “protect” itself is astounding. And instead of getting better, its only getting worse – just check out this article regarding the havoc Canadian bands have to go through to perform here. The people behind the rules are not considering the actualities of performing and touring in any fashion, and given the rate increases stated in the article, soon only bands with major label support and large venue accessibility will be able to afford to perform abroard.

Add to this a little piece on ABC News that I stumbled into yesterday.  New York City policing officials are adding 3,000 public and private “security” cameras to the downtown district. That’s more than enough to scan every block, every street, all the time. Reality television is taking on an entirely new dimension.

This has gone beyond a war on terrorism, if that’s what it ever really was. A few isolated acts, in which the actual circumstances of why they occurred have never been explained or explored in any true depth by the governing forces,  do not account for the monitoring of every citizen, nor the strong-armed resistance of letting artists enter our country to share their craft. Given that under a quarter of Americans even have passports, and that to travel around our country is expensive as it is, both living in and traveling around this country is becoming more of a hassle, and to some extents, dangerous.

And danger it is that pervades the consciousness of a culture that has to constantly stare over its shoulder at ghosts in the shells of empty bullets. Fear is a mental condition and emotional reaction, one that has allowed us to becoming rather astute survivors. When that quality turns from manning the every day of natural forces and turns into a conspiracy against each other – and the invisible but ever-present “terrorists” – there is only suffering ahead. And while some crafty pharmaceutical company will no doubt develop the anti-terror drug (which, in some forms, already exists), that will not account to the many people that live life in constant fear of this ghost, nor in the fact that the richness and dexterity of life will never be experienced by so many because of that nameless, invisible fear.

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