I visited the Post Office yesterday to pick up shipping envelopes for Christmas presents intended for friends and family in the Northern Hemisphere. Imagine my shock to discover a new shipping charge: $9 extra per package shipped to the United States. The flyer at the post office and the internet says 48 hour delay, my postmaster says he understands a package can be held up to two weeks. Basically I have to pay extra to enjoy the benefit of delay and search, with no guarantee when my Christmas packages will arrive.
I understand, I do. Terrorists want to send mail bombs, I get it. Do I blame the terrorists? Not really.
I traveled in Israel in the summer of ’06 as a student. Along with everyone else, I was subjected to bag searches every time I entered a shop, restaurant, bar, or museum. I saw the wall. Pristine, plain white, with banners about peace on the Israeli side. I drove down Israeli highways with high walls on either side because the highway cut through a Palestinian village. Angry villagers threw stones on the highway and took pot shots at cars, so Israel built protective barricades.
In the airport, hard-faced young Israelis question you sharply and intensively before you board a plane. Your bags are searched for dangerous objects and traces of explosives. A classmate had his copy of Orientalism by Edward Said confiscated. Another classmate was detained at the airport for 6 hours because he was of Egyptian descent. Christian Egyptian, second generation American.
All I could think was that any country that needed to protect itself so thoroughly must be doing something very, very bad to its neighbors. Every security measure I experienced was there as a reaction to an attack. I get that. Rather than addressing why their neighbors would want to attack them, they explained it as anti-Semitism. “They want to attack the Jewish State, they hate Jews.” Then they’d build a few more feet on the top of the wall, maybe bulldoze a couple of Palestinian homes for good measure. That’ll teach them.
I’m not defending terrorism. Murder is wrong, a sin against God and humanity. However, I refuse to accept the simplistic line that terrorists hate freedom and/or hate America. I think it is time to take a good look in the mirror and ask why?
If we have to open and inspect every package entering the country, if government officials leak documents because they feel they’ve had to act against their consciences in the course of performing their jobs, if you can’t go through the airport without being x-rayed, maybe these are symptoms of a deeper problem. Maybe that problem is not just with those who would build bombs, maybe the problem lies in the policies of a government.
The mail bombers? From a Yemeni cell, rife with former Gitmo detainees who learned to hate America while being tortured and humiliated in a Cuban prison. The tip-off came from another former Guantanamo detainee. These issues of terrorism are not as simple as “us” and “them,” “freedom” and “oppression.”
Tell me: who to blame for my postal surcharge and delay? I’d be tempted to pick up a plane ticket and take my gifts in person, but I don’t fancy a holiday “pet-down” by airport staff. (I admit the 17 hour plane ride is a bummer, too.)
I don’t post much about politics here- I love my sewing world because it lives apart from other concerns. However, this small annoyance with the mail brings home the politics of terrorism, and bears consideration.
Don’t forget the Giveaway, it ends tonight. I’ll extend the time a little to 9pm, since I’ll be at work at 5pm. If the winner is in the U.S., you’re in for a wait on the shipping. Good luck!