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A well-known blogger on Middle Eastern affairs, Matthew Good, reports on his latest Department of Homeland Security reception on returning home at the Detroit Metro Airport following a long stay in Lebanon.
They were actually very polite and I wasn’t really bothered until they pulled out my laptop. At first I thought they probably want me to just turn it on to make sure I wasn’t hiding a bomb in it. But then I was asked to put in my password and soon one of the customs officers was going through my personal files and photos. Something that really bothered me, I felt a complete invasion of privacy.
I was questioned behind the reason I had a document saved from a Lebanese newspaper, I then explained my interest in middle east politics and that I used to write for Dose and I blog occasionally. This was followed by the question “Do you write anti-American material?” I said I didn’t, that I mostly concentrated on Middle East politics but for some reason one of the officers said that sometimes even Americans wrote anti-American material. I really wanted to say that those are probably the ones that are in jail. They then asked for the websites addresses that I blog on (So Matt, you might get a couple of extra fans) I just thought the wording was interesting, I mean asking if I criticized US politics is one thing but to ask about Anti-American material made me feel like they were insulting my intelligence. I mean even if someone was would they really admit it?
I don’t know about you, but I feel much safer knowing that customs agents interrogate U.S. citizens about the political content of their blogging. It gives a whole new meaning to Department of Homeland Security, don’t you think?
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”