Sunday, October 3, 2010

Travel advisory: watch out for brown people with machine guns in public places everywhere in Europe

From today's news: The US is likely to issue a travel warning for Americans in Europe to "avoid public places" for threat of an al-Queda attack.

I'm curious of the history of US travel advisories: if this is par for the course (it isn't in the the years that I've been paying attention) or if this one is extra stupid?

What really worries me is the people who take this stuff too seriously, like we saw with the recent case of the American backpackers detained as spies in Iran. It was pretty shocking and disgusting to me to see so many Americans saying "serves them right!" because everyone knows that they'll kill you just for being American in a Muslim country. Even though the US travel advisory for Iran doesn't actually say "don't go there"; it says "be careful and understand that things work different there," which is fair enough. And even though Iran is not a warzone and people from other countries DO go there for tourism. Americans should know as well as anyone that a loudmouth president doesn't make your entire country into xenophobic murderers.

That case pissed me off, because suddenly travel to an Islamic country because a punishable crime in the eyes of some Americans. Not poor judgment; poor judgment is dressing like a hooker in a biker bar or flashing a Rolex on the midnight subway. We sympathize with crime victims who exhibit poor judgment.

But when someone has the audacity to travel to a country that Americans are afraid of? Let 'em rot. Despite the fact that I've met plenty of Americans who think they'll kill you for being American *in France*. (and by the way; if you're one of those Americans who wears Canadian flags because you believe this, you are a chicken shit and you suck) Hell, I had people in Seattle warn me that I should never drive east of the 10 freeway in LA because I had an ex-police car and all the gangbangers would open fire on sight. The less people have traveled, the longer the list of places they're afraid of are.

So my roundabout point is that this travel advisory is less than useless; it's irresponsible and only fuels an already out of control xenophobia. It sounds like somebody really wants to say "I told you so!" when pretty much anything bad happens. "Watch out for armed brown people and stay away from crowds in 1/6th of the inhabitable world?" Yeah, thanks a lot guys. Huge help.

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