Monday, November 19, 2007

Fascist tactics deter tourists

By Libby

Remember that old flypaper theory? Well it's finally working, except that somebody obviously misread the the manual and thought they said we should fight tourists here, so they would stay there. Tourism is booming everywhere, except in the US which is not surprising. Horror stories of Customs detentions and other humiliations abound, enough to deter the prudent traveler who prefers their vacation not be ruined by overzealous autocratic flunkies. And then there's stories like these.

A tourist from New Zealand, Rick Giles, mistakenly overstayed his visa in America by a few days and found himself summarily arrested for six weeks earlier this fall. Treaty obligations say his country's embassy should have been informed of the arrest, but it wasn't. A German visitor, Valeria Vinnikova, overstayed her visa by a couple of days and tried to remedy the situation—so that she could spend more time with her fiance, the Dartmouth College squash coach. Instead she was handcuffed and had her feet shackled, then was carted off to be imprisoned. She now faces deportation and a 10-year ban on entering the United States.
Small wonder that the only people willing to travel here anymore in any numbers are illegal immigrants. And the cost of this ineffective, heavyhanded approach to counterterrorism is not small.
Discover America, a travel-industry-funded organization that tries to boost tourism, estimates that the 17 percent overall decline in tourism since 9/11 has cost America $94 billion in lost tourist spending, 200,000 jobs and $16 billion in tax revenues.
The terrorists have won. And their only weapon is fear. Playing off the greed of a corrupt administration willing to exploit that fear to further its own power, they've destroyed our allegedly hated freedoms and are wreaking havoc on our economic health without a lifting a finger. But the real hell of it is -- fully 40% of America hasn't even noticed.